About Me

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Clare writes inspirational romance, usually of a suspenseful nature. Her books are available through her publisher Pelican Book Group and Amazon. She is married with three kids and lives in the UK. She loves watching sci-fi, crime drama, cross stitching, reading and baking.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Sunrise at Honeysuckle Cove - Mary Manners


The first in an exciting new series from Mary Manners.

Blurb:

Honeysuckle Cove Inn has been in the Brennan family for three generations. When Maggie Brennan’s parents retire, they call her home to Honeysuckle Cove and hand over the reins of the historical inn. If Maggie successfully maintains the business over the course of a year, the inn is hers forever. Maggie considers the timing perfect, with one exception—she finds her path entangled once again with that of Dylan O’Connor.

Dylan has made a name for himself as the go-to guy when it comes to renovations and repairs in Honeysuckle Cove, and he’s waited nearly a decade for high school sweetheart Maggie Brennan to return home. But his handyman skills will be put to the test when it comes to rebuilding the bridge between Maggie’s heart and his, and designing a future…together.

Extract:

Maggie Brennan tossed her overnight bag across one shoulder and slammed the door of her SUV. Her belly skipped with excitement and a jumble of nerves as she turned toward Honeysuckle Cove Inn. Her breath caught at the Victorian structure perched along an undulating knoll, its sweeping wrap around porch and turn-of-the-century style back-dropped by sun-dappled breakers of Wanderlust Lake. Whitewashed wood encased panels of glass that shimmered beneath late afternoon light, while a regal spire soared three stories to kiss the winter sky.
The rooms inside were filled with countless legends and stories that had grown throughout the years. Maggie wondered how many more tales might be woven over the coming months. The thought sent her pulse into a barrel roll.
Easy there, Maggie…pull it together. You can do this.
A light breeze ruffled her hair and whispered beneath the collar of her cotton shirt as she made her way up the winding walk. She shivered and gathered the overnight bag to her chest like a shield, wishing she’d thought to grab a sweater from one of the many suitcases and boxes piled in the SUV’s trunk and stacked across the backseat. She’d forgotten how cool January afternoons could be in East Tennessee. Not hard to do, since it had been several winters since she’d come home.
But an unexpected phone call from her mother had changed everything.
“Dad and I are heading south to the coast for the foreseeable future, Maggie. Surely the warm weather will soothe relentless aches that have worsened in your father’s battle with arthritis. The inn is yours. It’s too much for us to manage now, and it pains me to say we’ve really let things slide over the past year or so. Coaxing it back to life won’t be easy, but we know you have never shied away from a challenge…”
Maggie drew in a breath. With her sister Candice gone, the task of rescuing the family’s inn fell solely upon her shoulders. Her parents were right—she rarely shied from a challenge. But there had been one situation she’d run away from many moons ago. It remained the reason she hadn’t returned to the cove for more than a handful of days here and there since she’d graduated college and moved west.
And on those occasions she’d popped in for a visit, she’d done her best to stay put along the grounds of the inn, enjoying time with her parents and the beauty of the landscape while avoiding any chance of running into the one person she wanted least to see—Dylan O’Connor.
But the lure of the inn with all its intrigue and history…the many fond childhood memories that danced through her dreams when she lay her head against a pillow at night…made it impossible to stay gone any longer. Despite the fact that living twenty-four/seven in a small town like Honeysuckle Cove would make it much harder to avoid Dylan, she considered her parents’ offer to rejuvenate and manage the inn a blessing in disguise.
Who was she kidding? Considering recent disasters in both her work and personal life, their offer proved an answer to her prayers.
Except for Dylan…and the still-raw memories of her sister Candice, as well.
Maggie forced the thoughts from her mind before they had time to bloom. There was work to be done, and no time to waste energy on recent failures or regrets from the past.
The scent of honeysuckle drifted, drawing Maggie’s attention to a tangle of flowerbeds surrounding the inn and gardens. Broken pavers lined what once served as a walkway to the rear patio and lakeshore beyond, while unseasonably heavy rains had washed away layers of mulch, leaving trenches of dirt in their wake.
Maggie shook her head and heaved a sigh. Mom hadn’t been kidding when she said she and Dad had let things go. It would take a small army to put things to right. Not very promising, since she proved a lone soldier.
Refusing to be deterred, she made a mental note to launch an attack on the mess as soon as she had her bearings. She’d have to get moving if she planned to stick to the rigid schedule she’d outlined. Her parents hadn’t booked a guest room in more than six months and the inn’s business account now straddled the fence between operating in the black and plunging into red. But Maggie planned to start taking reservations just as soon as she had things in order again. She’d revitalize one room at a time, and also open the dining area to local dinner patrons as soon as the revamped website and a workable menu—as well as adequate staff—were up and running.
Which circled ’round to the fact that she’d need to hire a chef…and a landscaper…and possibly even a carpenter or handyman to help with simple—and not so simple—repairs.
Again she considered Dylan. He was the best carpenter she knew. Too bad she couldn’t call on him now. It would make things so much easier.
And so much more difficult.
Maggie’s belly blanched. So many things to consider. The enormity of the tasks that faced her threatened to wash over her like a tsunami, taking her prisoner if she allowed them to.
So she would keep her chin up and stand tall. She’d focus on first things first. The once-beautiful gardens tumbled with a graveyard of untended plants and tangled weeds. It wouldn’t do well to have visitors arrive to such unkempt grounds. And pulling weeds was a task she could manage on her own. She’d found digging in the dirt to be cathartic…at least when she was eight years old.
Clean-up would take some elbow grease, but all was not lost. As she neared the porch, a closer look at the flowerbeds proved that buried beneath the weeds a flurry of honeysuckle bushes lay dormant, their sleepy buds curled against the cold, waiting patiently for spring. Maggie imagined after so many countless seasons drenched in blooms, the inn itself had taken on the sweet scent that seemed to linger like a spirit, drawing its warm, fruity bouquet into the inn’s wood and fabric.
Even now, the inn sighed and whispered, welcoming Maggie home. The thought made her smile as she reached the front steps.
Suddenly a deafening screech ripped the air. Maggie tripped and stumbled. She clutched the stair rail and waited a beat for her heart to jig back into rhythm. What on earth…?
The earsplitting whine died and then wailed…died and wailed in a rhythmic assault to her eardrums. It took a moment for the realization to dawn that the brain-numbing sound came from inside the inn. She tilted her head and peered up toward the third floor of the spire. A shadow crossed the window and she zeroed in, studying the rangy figure that moved with an unmistakable, languid swagger. Her brain struggled to process information. It couldn’t be…it wasn’t…
Dylan?
No way. The inn was supposed to be empty—especially from the likes of Dylan O’Connor.
Maggie’s spine turned to steel as she climbed the porch steps and paused at the front door. She toed a worn welcome mat and found the keys her mother had tucked there waiting beneath. She bent, clutched them in her fist, and quickly realized there was no need for them as the door stood unlocked and more than slightly ajar.
It was just like Dylan to waste good money letting a steady stream of frigid winter air into the house.
She gave the door a shove, then dropped her bag in the hallway. Familiar scents of warm cedar, cinnamon-hazelnut coffee, and oak logs piled beside the fireplace conjured memories, while force of habit had her padding through the living room and past the library to a winding staircase that led to the third floor. She attacked the staircase, her heart thrumming with each footstep.
When the stairway opened to the third floor landing, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
There he stood—Dylan O’Connor—leaned over a pair of sawhorses with his back to her as he waged battle with a circular saw against a length of two-by-four.

The day had just become much, much more difficult.

Review:
The last thing Maggie wants or needs is Dylan back in her life. However it seems her parents, God and maybe even Dylan himself have other plans for her. Coming from Mary Manners, I knew this was going to be another good story and I wasn't disappointed. Can't wait for the next story in this series.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley - Elizabeth Maddrey and others


Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley includes:
Spring’s Blessing (Seasons of Faith) by Mary Jane Hathaway
Life gets complicated for Charlotte MacGregor when a motherless child and a handsome widower encroach on her carefully laid plans. Will she keep her heart above the fray, or take a leap of faith?
Loaves and Wishes (A Baxter Family Bakery Romance) by Elizabeth Maddrey
Inheriting her friend’s Bed and Breakfast in Idaho is a second chance to succeed, but falling for the farmer next door wasn’t in the plan.
Sheltered Hearts (Romance from the Heart) by Lee Tobin McClain
A curvy jilted bride gets stranded in a snowstorm with a handsome restaurant cook who’s not what he seems to be.
Sow in Love (A Garden Grown Romance) by Valerie Comer
A real estate consultant’s ideas for fulfilling a living trust are shot down by the elderly greenhouse owner’s grandson, but some of the arrows piercing her heart come directly from Cupid’s bow.
The Scent of Romance (Legacy of the Heart) by Danica Favorite
A high-powered lawyer must convince a woman determined to protect her family’s legacy to sell the family farm to his father’s development company, but finds his heart leading him away from everything he’s spent his life trying to accomplish.
A Romance Rekindled (A Homegrown Love Story) by Annalisa Daughety
When a formerly engaged couple find themselves thrown together after more than a decade apart, neither of them are thrilled about it. Can they let go of the past and consider a future together? Or are there some wounds that cannot be healed?

Extract from Loaves and Wishes by Elizabeth Maddrey:

Something banged against the back door. Ruth jolted.
Heart pounding, she leaned back and eyed the window. The mostly sheer and entirely too-frilly curtain barely hid the shape of what was absolutely a man. Fixing a polite smile on her face, she crossed to the door and pushed aside the curtain. Her eyebrows lifted and she raised her voice, praying it would carry through the glass.
“Can I help you?”
The man frowned. “Who are you?”
“I own the B&B. Who are you?”
He shook his head. “Where’s Naomi? Go tell her Corban’s here, would you?”
How did he not know? Ruth flipped the dead bolt and tugged the door open a crack, leaning her weight against it so she could slam it shut if she needed. Not that it would be much defense when the top half of the door was glass. But it might give her a few seconds to grab her phone and run. “How do you know Naomi?”
“I’m her neighbor. I live over there.” Corban gestured vaguely toward the farm across the road. But she hadn’t seen a farmhouse and had assumed it was just a set of fields that belonged to someone who lived elsewhere. However farms worked. “Not that you need to know, but I’ve been in Florida settling my parents’ estate. Naomi knows all this. Could you either let me in or go get her? I brought her the citrus she asked me for, and some avocados that she didn’t ask for, but I remembered she loves them and these are huge.”
Ruth sighed and opened the door. “You’d better come in. Why don’t you go through to the parlor, Corban, was it? I made some lemonade.”
He bent, his muscles flexing under his shirt as he lifted a crate off the step with what appeared to be no effort whatsoever. “Where should I put the fruit?”
“Um. On the counter, I guess. Lemonade?”
He shrugged one shoulder. “Why not? You never said who you were.”
Ruth took two tall glasses down from the cabinet by the sink. She filled them with ice at the refrigerator, poured the lemonade, and then decorated the rims with a transparent slice of lemon. “Let’s go sit.”
Another frown etched lines in his forehead, but he strode out of the kitchen. Ruth followed. Even frowns couldn’t mar his good looks. He was older than her by several years, if she had to guess. But not more than forty. At thirty-three, that wasn’t too much. Oh, good grief, what was she thinking? He’d probably had an eye on Naomi and now Ruth was going to have to break his heart.
He accepted the lemonade, his eyebrows lifting as he took a sip. “That’s good. Thank you.”
She couldn’t miss the implication that he hadn’t expected it to be good. Rude man. Ruth cleared her throat as she sat. Maybe it was better to blurt it out and be done. “Naomi passed away three weeks ago.”
Corban stared at her, his mouth open in a tiny O. Slowly, his lips came together and the furrows in his forehead deepened. He set the glass down with a thunk on the antique table by his elbow, completely missing the lace doohickey that would protect the wood. “I’m sorry. What?”
Ruth’s fingers itched to move the glass but she willed herself to stay still, perched on the edge of the settee. “She had cancer. And apparently never told anyone. I’ve been her best friend since kindergarten, we talk every week, and she only told me she was sick when it was clear that treatment wasn’t a viable option. Her obituary was in the local paper.”
“I told the guys watching the farm to read and recycle them. Nothing ever happens around here that’s worth saving a newspaper. I’m not even sure why I still subscribe, except that Ernie’s been a family friend for so long. She’d been acting odd. I knew I should have pushed.”
“You two were close?” Ruth watched his face. He looked shocked, certainly, but not as destroyed as a man in love should be.
“Not like you mean.” He offered a slight smile. “Though there were plenty of old ladies at church who were hopeful. No, Naomi was like a little sister to me. When she bought this place so my parents could move south, it seemed natural to keep an eye on her at first. And then...” He shrugged. “Then we were friends.”
“Naomi could make anyone into a friend.” Ruth’s heart cracked open a little wider. How was she supposed to go through life without her? “I’m sorry you had to find out from me.”
Corban nodded and stood. “I’ll be on my way. I... my number’s in her book. If you ever need anything, just give a shout.”
“Thanks.” He probably hadn’t heard her, given that he’d been striding into the hall before she’d managed to get the word out. The kitchen door slammed.
Ruth sagged against the back of the stuffy little couch and took several long swallows of her lemonade. She was going to make a success of her friend’s business. She had to. For Naomi, and for herself. And handsome, abrupt neighbors weren’t going to get in her way.

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

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You can find Elizabeth here:

Twitter: @elizabethmaddre

Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who loves romance and a good happily ever after.


Friday, 6 January 2017

An informal date by Heather Gray

Tagline:
Could two people be more different?

Blurb:
Kimi Fairchild is pursuing an Art Therapy degree while working as a barista at a local hospital. She takes life as it comes and has a smile for everyone who crosses her path. She’s never much cared for schedules, either…until a mysterious man starts showing up at her coffee kiosk every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at exactly 7:05 a.m.

Owen Pratt is a research scientist on the verge of obtaining FDA approval for a new cancer-fighting drug. He has limited people skills, a fondness for caffeine, and a love of strictly kept routines. He’s the antithesis of Kimi in almost every way. Something about her smile, though, keeps bringing him back for more.

How can two such different people go from a shared interest in coffee to a shared future? By getting out of God’s way and letting Him handle the details. Ha! Easier said than done.


Excerpt:
Kimi pretended to organize her muffin assortment as Dr. No-Name approached. She could set her clock by him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:05 in the morning, he came for his large half-caff triple nonfat medium whip white mocha. Even though she knew what he would order, she waited for him to arrive. One day not too long ago, she’d started his drink as soon as he’d stepped into view. She’d had the steaming beverage ready and waiting for him. The poor guy had been so flustered he’d knocked over the fruit basket and taken out half the cookie display in the process.
She’d learned an important lesson that day. Two, really. Patience paid off. And some people don’t handle change well.
Dr. No-Name glanced to the side and tripped over a covered cable that ran along the floor. He kicked the toe of his loafer into the top of the cable’s molded rubber protector, lost his balance, hopped a couple of times on his left foot, swung his arms like a grade-schooler doing the windmill in PE, and finally got his right shoe back down on the ground. Despite the theatrical gymnastics, nobody but her appeared to be watching the show. She had to give him points for the landing. Not a brown hair on his head was out of place, and his lab coat hung from his shoulders with straight lines in complete denial of its recent whirlwind of activity.
The same cable had been positioned across that floor for as long as Kimi could remember. The doctor had to know it, too, but unless his eyes were trained directly on it, he seemed to forget. She’d witnessed his footwork often enough to realize that much, at least.
Kimi turned her back on him lest he catch her spying. Despite his oddities, she enjoyed Dr. No-Name’s visits to her kiosk and didn’t want to scare him off by staring or — heaven forbid — laughing.
“Um, excuse me.”
She turned around, her smile in place and hopefully no pity in her eyes. “Good morning! The usual?”
Dr. No-Name nodded. Most doctors wore their name embroidered on their official white lab coats, but not this one. Plain white, no fancy frills, and no embroidery. Either he wasn’t important enough for a name on his coat or he was humble enough not to care. She secretly hoped it was the latter.
Kimi set to work on his drink and tried to make conversation. “You always order a triple shot, but you want half-caff. Most people who want to go easy on the caffeine avoid the triple.”
She caught his shrug out of the corner of her eye. Getting this guy to talk was harder than pulling a barking dog’s molars with a pair of tweezers.

Buy Links:


Author Bio:
Heather Gray loves coffee, God, and her family – not necessarily in that order! She enjoys people who embrace God even when life is hard and who aren't afraid to laugh out loud. Like her, the characters she writes are flawed…but loved anyway.

Social Media Links:

Additional Info:
An Informal Date currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 18 reviews.
An Informal Date can also be found in the Falling For You box set (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KWI4TDS) which has a 4.7-star rating with 46 reviews.
An Informal Christmas, book #1 in the series, won the 2016 Selah Award in the novella category.

An Informal Date on Goodreads