Dawni Manors is happy to see San Antonio in her rearview mirror. In search of peace, she rents a unit at Heart’s Haven, a quaint cottage-rental complex in East Texas. The place is said to be a hangout for angels—and for love. Dawni's not looking for love, and she's not convinced angels exist. What she yearns for, after a chaotic childhood as an orphan, is tranquility and hope. Maybe she'll find those things at Heart’s Haven.
Instead, she finds Pro Cowboy Gavin Sampson, an abandoned infant, and a whole lot of emotional chaos. If the Heart's Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking?
Soggy. That described the world as far as Dawni Manors could see at the moment.
She peered through the steadily increasing rainfall, straining to make out the cottages lining the graveled path. Rain pelted the roof of her car, its thunderous uproar all but drowning out the frantic slip-slap of the windshield wipers. At least she’d been able to see the big, hand-carved Heart’s Haven sign that marked the complex entrance.
A vivid lightning flash revealed the number nine on a plain silver mailbox, and she blew out a breath. As if in response, her car gave an unexpected sputter, jerked once, and then died—right beside the front gate.
An arched trellis over the white picket entrance supported thick green foliage loaded with vivid red roses. Most days, Dawni made a point of enjoying the simple beauty of that gate. But not on this wet, dreary day.
She gave the ignition a single turn, hoping the shuddering dance the engine had delivered a moment ago had been no more than a warning…like a physical “check engine” light. But her effort was rewarded by no more than an empty click.
With a huff, she tucked the keys into her coat pocket. Where were the so-called Heart’s Haven angels when she needed them?
Another burst of lightning zipped across the sky, and she cringed. OK, OK, angelic realm. I guess I should be grateful I got home before the whole sky opened up.
She grabbed an umbrella from the back seat and hooked her arm through the handle of her purse. Hesitant to get out of the car, she squinted through the windshield once more, hoping for a reprieve, but the rain showed no sign of letting up any time soon. With a frustrated sigh, she stepped out into the downpour, umbrella first.
Despite her hurry to get inside, she cast a quick glance overhead, to a beautifully carved wooden sign hanging on a chain across the top of the arch: May love find all who enter here. A smile teased at her lips as it did every time she passed beneath that optimistic quote. Corny or not, the place oozed charm.
She couldn’t say she hadn’t been warned beforehand.
The day she arrived in Angel Falls, three weeks ago, she’d stopped at the Law Firm of Hilliard and Beckett to clear up some legal questions about running a business from her home. The nice paralegal—Layne Beckett, obviously related in some way to one of the partners—seemed almost overly excited when Dawni told her she’d found a place at Heart’s Haven. Layne described the popular complex of cottage rentals as over-the-top homey.
The woman had lived there herself until a few months back, when she married a local horseman and moved to his family’s ranch. Then again, Layne had also mentioned some weird legend about folks who lived in these cottages falling helplessly in love—just as the wooden sign over the gate indicated. Well, love would not “find” Dawni…she had no intention of letting a thing like sappy emotion get in the way of all her plans. She’d worked too hard to make them happen.
The wet chill sent a shiver up her spine, and she hurried up the walk. This was not the time to be basking in Heart’s Haven’s atmosphere. Between a brisk wind and the driving rain, the air held a nippy little bite.
She rushed to the door and tugged the key from her pocket. A grin played at her lips as she inserted it into the lock. Even now, all settled in and unpacked, she found it hard to believe the adorable little cabin “belonged” to her. This place represented not only the home of her own that she’d longed for, but a whole new life.
The key refused to turn. Frowning, she pulled it out, turned it over, and tried it the other way, but then it wouldn’t even slide in. Dawni reversed it and gave the stubborn thing a firm jiggle. Not happening. Just her luck.
“Grrr!” She pounded a frustrated fist on the door and turned to face the wet world…again. She’d have to drive back to the big house up front—if her car would start, that is—and see if Miss Viv had another key. Or maybe a whole new lock, whatever worked.
Behind her, the door swung open. She swung back and her startled gaze landed on a taut midriff, all hard planes and muscular ripples. A simple white t-shirt revealed biceps that…oh, dear. She forced her fascinated gaze ever upward, denying herself the right to linger on broad shoulders and going past a strong, clefted chin to a set of full lips that twitched into a playful smile.
No way! She recognized this man. He’d walked past Layne Beckett’s office that day when she’d first arrived in Angel Falls. Layne had waved and smiled as he passed by.
And—with typical bad timing—Dawni’s tongue won the race against her normal reserve. “Now that’s one handsome Texas cowboy.”
A few steps past Layne’s door, he’d stopped, turned, and tipped his hat. “Why, thank you, ma’am.” He gave her a slow wink and then he was gone, while heat crawled up Dawni’s neck and into her face.
Layne laughed softly. “Gavin works for my husband, and yes, he’s very handsome—and he knows it, but I’m sure you picked up on that.” She shook her head and gave an expressive eye roll. “Still, the guy’s a sweetheart. Dex considers him a brother, and my daughter, Chloe, is absolutely crazy about him.”
Staring at the man now—standing in her doorway as if he belonged there—Dawni steeled her expression. Sweetheart or not, what was this over-confident cowboy doing in her cottage? She ignored those perfect lips and an impossibly straight nose as her gaze traveled to a pair of eyes that sparkled like rich emeralds under slightly longish hair the exact shade of his thick, black eyebrows.
Before she could speak, he did—in a deep, slow Texas drawl. “Well. Hello. Look what the storm brought me!”
My review: also on goodreads
When Dawni arrives in Hearts Haven, it's not exactly a great start. Esp when she tries to get into the wrong house. She finds way more than she was expecting - and not just in the form of a hunky cowboy either. An abandoned baby, angels and a path she never expected to follow. Toss in the aforementioned hunk and you have a story that touches your heart.
Born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, Delia Latham enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She has a thing for Dr. Pepper and loves to hear from readers. Contact her through her website, send an e-mail, "like" her on Facebook or follow her Amazon Author Page.