~WHAT THE STORY’S ABOUT~
Welcome to Willow Bay, the perfect place to stick a chair in the sand, your toes in the water, and get lost in the ebb and flow of life and love.
He’s home from the war. She’s back in Willow Bay to care for ailing parents. Both transformed by time and trauma, can they reconcile their present with the love they left behind but never forgot?
Jasmin Powter has put her ambitious life on hold to help her parents and their failing horse ranch. If she can’t find a way to safeguard their future, her family will lose everything. Luke Taylor, the man who left her all those years ago, has been helping her parents. Seeing him again opens old wounds—and old attractions.
Weighted by regrets, Luke only wants to escape the guilt that robs him of sleep and haunts his days. No penance is enough, and he can’t give Jasmin the love she deserves until he’s a whole person again.
Can the tender tide of a love remembered bring them peace and help them realize how much stronger they are together?
This sensual, small town romance is the fourth in the Willow Bay series, which can be read in any order. Grab your copy now and get to know the down-home folks who live and work here.
Gladys Hawthorne sat in her comfortable gray leather recliner staring through the open ivory brocade drapes at the September sunshine, so rare on the coast this time of year. After last winter’s abundance of rain, no one in Willow Bay looked forward to winter. Summer had been a glorious respite from mud puddles and flooded roads. She, for one, did not look forward to traipsing around in the rain. Her old bones complained more these days than ever before and her bobbed white hair went frizzy at the first drop. Still, it was the only way to keep an eye on her town.
That’s how she thought of Willow Bay, as hers. She’d moved here after her husband’s death several years ago and had adopted the town, and the town had adopted her. Except the town had no idea who Gladys Hawthorne really was. To them, she was the local street person, always around, eyes wide open, and always with an opinion of how the town should be run. She’d harangued Josh Morgan, Willow Bay’s Mayor, more times than she could count, yet he continued to treat her like a friend and always asked after her welfare. Did she have enough food? Did she want a place to sleep?
That wife of his, Dana, had really helped him to relax. Gladys smiled, knowing she’d had a part in making that happen. Same with the fiery redhead, Bernie, who owned the Square Peg pizza parlor, and her husband, Paul. A few choice words in the right ears had gotten them together and now they were expecting a baby, just like Dana and Josh.
Dana’s friend Aimi and Willow Bay’s sheriff… That had been the dangerous one. A deluded stalker had come after Aimi and Jackson had been the only one who could keep her safe. And now they were planning their wedding. Gladys hadn’t been able to help much with that one, but she’d done what she could and love, once again, had won out.
A deep sense of satisfaction filled Gladys as she sipped her morning tea from a dainty, floral cup. Mornings were her favorite time of the day. So much promise. New problems to solve, people to help past their stubborn nature. Speaking of which…
Noise, like a tool box closing, sounded behind her and Lucas Taylor walked from the kitchen into her light and airy sitting room, carrying said box. Construction and handyman work had certainly done right by the ex-marine. The man’s tall frame had muscles in all the right places, honed for work, not for show. But show they did. She might be old, but she had eyes and could appreciate a handsome man. With that short, thick blond hair that stood on end more than lay flat and those startling blue eyes, Luke was the quintessential boy next door. Man, she corrected herself. No way anyone of any age could call him a boy.
Gladys tapped her lips with her forefinger as if shushing a child. Luke was also very much a loner, something Gladys had mused about for some time now. With all he did to help others, he should be surrounded by the love of a good partner. And she’d finally come up with a solution for that.
“Leak’s all fixed, Gladys.”
“Thank you. You’re a good man to come spur of the moment.” She stood up and patted his arm. “And for keeping my secret.”
“When are you going to let Willow Bay in on this whole ‘not really a street person’ thing?”
“When I’m good and ready, Luke Taylor. And not a moment before.”
He shook his head. “You are an enigma, Miss Gladys. Not sure I’ll ever understand you.”
“Just keep fixing what breaks around here and we’ll get along just fine.” She pulled some cash out of her housecoat pocket and handed it to him.
“I don’t like taking your money.”
“If you don’t start taking more of it, you’ll end up like my alter ego for real. You don’t charge enough for what you do.”
He shrugged, so Gladys dropped the subject and moved on to something much dearer to her heart. “So, how are your neighbors doing?”
“The Powters? As well as can be expected.”
“That stroke of Katherine’s was a close call, wasn’t it?”
“Too close. They almost didn’t get her to the hospital in time.” The frown on Luke’s face showed his concern. “And Ned’s health isn’t great, either, with that bad hip of his.”
“I heard that their daughter has moved back home to help out.”
Luke’s eyes brightened for a moment and Gladys worked hard to keep her glee under wraps.
“Yep,” he said.
“Jasmin was always such a lovely girl. I don’t understand why she moved all the way to New York City.” Gladys had lived there for years and it didn’t hold a candle to the quiet, small town life of Willow Bay.
Luke shrugged, the scowl firmly back on his face. “Some people need change.”
“Yes, they do, don’t they? Sometimes, a change like that helps you figure out where home really is.”
Luke’s sharp gaze watched Gladys with too much intelligence. She’d planted the seed. Now all she could do was pray that it would grow. Maybe with the occasional nudge, but too much interference would send both these introverts in opposite directions.
That couldn’t happen. They were perfect for each other. So Gladys changed the subject to safer ground. “You going to the Cannery Park opening?”
“Yep. Want a ride?”
“Oh, no, dearie.” She put a hand on his arm again and walked him to the back door. “Wouldn’t do to have me seen on the arm of a hunk like you. Everybody would start thinking I’m off the market.”
Luke’s frown disappeared as he chuckled. “Like I said, you’re an enigma.” He reached down to kiss her cheek, then left with a wave, walking through her back yard at a casual pace. Because of her need for subterfuge, he would take the alley to the side street and walk around to his truck, which was parked several houses away.
“Such a good boy,” she said, closing the door and heading for her bedroom. It was time to get dressed and out and about to see what was happening in her town today.