Showing posts with label excerpt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label excerpt. Show all posts

Friday, February 15, 2019

"Anywhere" by Riley Lory


EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
Anywhere
(The Red Oak Bay Book 1)
by Riley Lory

Anywhere (The Red Oak Bay Book 1) by Riley Lory

This book blitz and giveaway for Anywhere by Riley Lory is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. Get your copy ON SALE for only $0.99 for a limited time.


Description
Alyx
My life is a mess.
I’m only twenty-two years old, and it’s been a mess for four years already. Every plan I had made for my future fell apart the day tragedy hit. Every dream I had found a new place in the smallest, most hidden corner of my mind. Responsibilities replaced them, and now it seems like that’s all my life is made of. And I’ve come to accept that reality. I don’t like it, but I accept it.
Until Noah drops anchor in the small town I never left and gives me a taste of what my life could be.
His smile and his intensity have my heart begging me to get closer, even though I know that I have no business wanting him. He makes me feel alive again, but I can’t let my heart lead the way if I don’t want to experience any more heartbreak. The problem is, I’m not sure that just one taste of this man will be enough.
Noah
I swore off relationships a long time ago.
The painful heartbreak brought on by the betrayal of the person you worship isn’t worth years of love, if you ask me. Especially when it turns out that that love was nothing but a lie all along. Now, I live on my boat, travel around and write my songs, and that’s all I need.
Until one of my stopovers. When I cross paths with her.
I look into Alyx’s beautiful, sapphire eyes and see the tinge of sadness despite the smiles easily brightening her face. She’s gorgeous. She’s also so sweet that I could let myself get attached without a second thought, if I didn’t know better. It’s always been easy for me to leave any town I’ve dropped anchor in, and I keep reminding myself how easy it will be to leave at the end of the summer. But it doesn’t matter how many times I repeat that thought to myself, I already know it won’t be. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting her.


Excerpt
While he busies himself adjusting the strap around his neck and tuning the guitar, I kick off my shoes and settle cross-legged on the bed, propping a pillow against the headboard and leaning my back on it. Noah sits down in front of me, only smiling a cute, almost shy smile before the first note rises.
It doesn’t take long until I can make out the melody Kellan and I played with for a few hours. It’s clearly there. I focus on the slow, quiet pace of the music. It’s a ballad, much more flowing and emotional than its first draft was. And Noah’s intense edge isn’t missed in it. The melody is beautiful up until the last note gradually fades inside the tiny room.
Noah’s soft, unsure gaze finds me, and I swallow thickly. “It’s beautiful. Really beautiful,” I add even though it doesn’t seem like the word is nearly powerful enough to describe how beautiful this music is, and how much it shook me to hear it. “Thank you,” I whisper.
Noah releases a barely noticeable breath, and a grin takes shape on his lips, so I must have made my point just fine. “My pleasure.”
“Would you teach me to play it sometime?” I ask him.
A ray of sadness crosses his eyes. He knows that my thoughts inescapably went to Kellan while he was playing. “Of course.”
“Have you written anything to go with it yet?” I ask him to shift the subject to a less doleful one.
He stretches his arms to set the guitar against the wall behind him. “I’m writing down words, ideas… But I’ll put them together once our time is up.”
When he turns back to me and our eyes lock again, I’ve plastered a bright smile on my face. It’s a pretense at its finest, because my gut feels like it took a mean punch that smashed into it hard and fast. Stealing the intake of air that I should have taken and skipping to the next one.
Once our time is up.
I already knew he doesn’t live here. I knew he’d leave town in six weeks. There was no secret. And it sounds ridiculous even to my own ears, but I’m suddenly wondering what I’m going to do once he’s gone. It’s not like I didn’t have busy days before he bounced into my life, but will I just go back to them like Noah didn’t share weeks with me? Those days were mine only two weeks ago, so it’s not like I don’t remember them well. The problem is, I’m not sure I want to go back to them.
“Good thing I introduced myself to new technology, huh?” he adds, breaking through the unease that this sudden understanding brought on me.
I force a snicker. “Good thing you introduced yourself to technology is more appropriate. New isn’t exactly accurate in your case. But yeah,” I retort with a wink. His phone really is a museum piece.
The atmosphere shifts right there as something flickers in Noah’s eyes. A primal sheen that has my belly fluttering in a crazy dance.
“I like it when you wink.” His voice is croakier than usual, enwrapped in a desire that has a mirroring one building right between my legs. The same desire that overwhelmed every part of me last night. “A lot,” he adds.
“And I like it when you look at me like that,” I admit as I stare straight back at the feral spark in his eyes, my low tone giving my own aroused state away. “A lot.”
I could swear a growl rumbles somewhere in his chest, but I can’t be sure because his hands running up my calves distract me. I look down at his sauntering fingers grazing my skin, then back up at his face, which is dark with the same need growing in me. My tongue darts out to lick my lips on pure instinct, but it triggers Noah’s next move, and suddenly, the tongue wetting my lips is his. There’s no thinking when I open my mouth to let him in either. A moan instantly tickles the back of my throat, and all thoughts of tomorrow evaporate. Only today exists. I dive in his kiss. Gentleness and animality both lead it, each one continually trying to surpass the other without ever succeeding. One of his hands twists in my hair, gripping it just firmly enough to feed my own wantonness. Yielding to the urge to feel him, I move to sit between his legs. My legs twine around his waist, my ankles locking behind him to bring me even closer.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


About the Author
Riley Lory
Riley Lory is the author of Anywhere, a small-town romance and the first installment in The Red Oak Bay series. She loves writing protective, sexy men, and the women they fall in love with.


Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Links
Amazon (Kindle Unlimited)


Books featured in this post:



Thursday, February 14, 2019

"The Unlounging" by Selraybob


REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
The Unlounging
by Selraybob

The Unlounging by Selraybob

The Unlounging by Selraybob is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
Mid-twenties, beaten down and out of shape, Selraybob spends his days on his worn out lounger, drinking quarts of Busch and talking to his buddy Herm on the phone. Productivity is a forgotten dream. Until, right in the middle of his wife’s long-overdue kiss-off speech, Selraybob has an epiphany. It’s about Time. Time, he determines, is a count. It’s only a count. Einstein was wrong. And life on the lounger will never be the same.
With warm wit and a complete lack of pretense, Selraybob shares his journey from a man stuck in his lounger to a verified, and often vilified, time-theory iconoclast.


Excerpt
Chapter 1: No Good Time to Lose a Wife.
I was sitting by the window, quart of Busch on my belly, when my wife Joalene walked in and commenced to tell me that I’m a witless, no-good, washed-up nothing and how I’m never going to amount to even a worm on a pile of mole scat if I spend all my time sitting on the lounger and drinking beer—which, just to be clear, I was not drinking, since it was on my belly. But while Joalene was talking, just as she said the word time, instead of looking out the window at the leafless oak like normal, I looked at the clock. And I started thinking about the black marks on the white face and the hands and how they go round and round and round and round and what that means now that we have digital clocks, one of which was on the top of the movie recorder. So I looked over there. The red numbers were 9:45, and the circular clock, as close as I could tell, was pointing at 9:38. So while Joalene was breathing in, which she almost never seemed to do, I asked her if she had seven minutes I could have. “Because I’m thinking,” I said, “that if you would just move over a bit, so as I can’t see the clock there that says 9:45, then it will only be 9:38, and I’ll have seven more minutes to sit here with my beer, and maybe drink some, and then, if you don’t mind so much, sweetheart, you can get me some lasagna from out of the fridge.”
She scowled and spun around. Her hair went swooshing past her neck, and she went swinging those delicious heart-shaped hips of hers into the bedroom and then back out a couple minutes later with her hair curled, eyes done up all blue and hot, and her lips puffed out showing teeth smudged red with lipstick in the way that used to make me want to jump up and start mashing my tongue into her mouth to clean them off. But it didn’t work that way anymore. She’d become the errand woman and me the pizza eater.
Now that’s no way to think about your high school cherry turned wife. I knew it, too. It’s crap. But when I looked at her parading herself back and forth for me, trying to get me going in that malicious way of hers, I didn’t think about us driving up to St. Louis to get her now dearly-departed toy poodle Lexie, or barbecuin’ quail by the river and sitting naked later and giggling.
No. I thought that she was wasting my time, and where was she going, and why wasn’t she getting me that lasagna? And if she was just going to flaunt herself at me and not come over close so as I could smell her, then she may as well call the pizza man and order us a large pepperoni.
I didn’t say anything, though. She may have been parading, but she was scowling while she was doing it. And even with this acorn I got in my head, after eight years you learn when to shut up. And sometimes you actually do.
So I looked at the clock again, at the circular one with a second hand that goes round and round, tick by tick, then back to the skirt hugging Joalene’s curves and back to the red numbers and back to Joalene as she walked back into the bedroom and slammed the door. I caught myself sitting up and listening and wondering whether she was packing or undressing or adding another coat of gloss to her lips. But I sure wasn’t going to have her burst out and catch me gawking at the light under the door. So I went back to staring at the clock. I almost got myself hypnotized watching the second hand go round and round, which would’ve been good, I tell you, to keep my thoughts from turning on. Because unfortunately, they did. I caught the red number clock flip four to five, and it got me to wondering why one time is right and another is wrong and why one is fast and another slow. Why do we even watch the clocks, and who decided what a minute is anyway?
Of course, then Joalene came out with her yellow suitcase, hand-painted with red flowers—by her, with the paints I’d bought—and planted her heels in the vinyl brick of the entranceway and glared down at me and said, “I’ve waited long enough for you to make something of yourself. I have. A long time, Selraybob.”
After she said that, I said, “Eight years.”
EIGHT YEARS!” she yelled. “And you’ve become fatter and fatter and less and less.” And I had, I admit. I’d tried plumbing school a few years back, thinking all that bending over and getting up would slim me down, but two weeks in, I flooded a funeral home with a backed-up toilet. After that came furniture moving with my friend Herm. But not three days after the fatal encounter between little Lexie and the blind man with the spiked cane, Herm and I dropped a dresser on a two-pound Chihuahua. Two dead dogs in three days. It was rough. Tearful even. I took it as a sign to ease back on the physical strain. So Joalene was right. “It’s a long time to wait, Sel. It really is.”
I hate to say it, because she sounded a little sad, but instead of looking at her while she was talking at me, I was checking the clock and counting. And the next thing I did was ask her, “Joalene,” I said. “What is this thing ‘time’ you keep talking about, and does it really make sense to wait, or have you just been working a whole lot on improving me while I’ve been doing a good deal of sitting on the lounger and enjoying my quarts of Busch?”
She called me an asshole and told me to get my own self to the unemployment office from now on. Which scared me a little. Joalene had done the financial statements for us. And it’d been three years since I’d been downtown. I didn’t even go the river anymore, and the Mississippi’s king. So I sure didn’t want to go searching Waketon, on a bus, for some office of biggeties telling me all the things I should’ve done. It was a traumatic moment.
What I should’ve done is gotten up and said something, like told her, Baby, all these years I know I’ve been bad, been a selfish swine, but in the future I’ll be different. Promise. Soon as you can blink an eye, I’ll be a new man.
Didn’t though. I couldn’t. Because I tell you, I sure as hell didn’t see any new man popping out of my gut. I did say, “Baby…” but then nothing. I clammed right up.
So she opened the door and let the frigid in, stepped out, turned around and told me, “I’m done caring for you, Sel. I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t.” I didn’t answer, and she waited a few seconds and then said, “Nothing? That’s it?”
My head was still empty and my body cold from the winter coming in, so I just looked at her and shook my head. She spun away disgusted and slammed the door, and I leaned over the arm of the lounger, picked the old corded phone off the floor and set it on my belly and then called the grocery mart to have them deliver a few more quarts of Busch. But I heard Joalene’s fan belts squealing in her old Malibu and then her tires screeching out of the driveway, and I got myself a hankering real strong for some chicken, which, because she’d grown up downwind of a chicken farm and couldn’t stand the sight of it or the smell, even on my breath, I hadn’t eaten since our first date in high school, three years before she’d moved in. So I ordered a roasted one, as large as they had, and mashed potatoes, and some slaw too, since I needed vegetables, and also a piece of chocolate cake. While the mart people were doing their calculating with the register, I looked out the window. The moon was gigantic and low. If I’d still been a farmhand, I’d’ve been out there harvesting into the night. But I wasn’t. Just a guy staring at the moon that pretty much took the whole window. It was a beautiful thing, dammit, and it got me to thinking of Joalene when she wears her gray pants. Not that she’s got an ass as big as a moon, but the pants are spotted, and she only wears them when she’s digging in the garden, which is how we spent our first anniversary together—seeding watermelon and cucumbers and getting ourselves all dirty before we went to the fancy hotel, sudsed each other up in the whirlpool tub and then did what married people do on their first anniversary.
My eyes got foggy. And I don’t mind admitting now that it was probably because of Joalene. No sense sitting and sulking all night though, so I said, “Dammit, Sel!” and punched my thigh—hard too, bruised myself—then I heaved myself out of the chair and put on my jacket, walked outside and stood and watched the moon. I stood so long I saw it move, which got me thinking about sunset and moonset and where Joalene was heading and if she saw the same moon I was seeing and at the same time? What would her watch say and what would mine if I had one, and would we be looking at the moon at two different times if there are two different watches?
The mart guy drove up and I paid and walked inside to the fridge and put the beer in. I found the forks and knives and napkins, got myself a plate and went to the lounger to eat. As I squatted to sit, I passed a little backside wind. And as I settled down I heard the chair squeak and smelled the thick cloud of gas from my insides—the putrid gas since Joalene had been forcing broccoli down my gullet. It was mixing with the spices from the steaming chicken, which should have watered my mouth, but nearly gagged me instead. Luckily, I only passed once, and since the chicken was still hot and steaming and still putting off its smell, I just had to sit quiet, breathe into my hand, and relax and let my bones settle and blood go while the nastiness squeezed its way out beneath the doors.
Once it had, I settled back and watched the clock circle and started calculating the minutes she’d been gone, and then the hours and the number of quarts I’d drunk that day, which wasn’t many really—three, in fact, like every day. Then I took a bite of chicken and tasted that long-lost succulent flavor. I closed my eyes it was so good. Moist and falling off the bone but not overcooked, and with still-crispy skin that I tore off and let sit on my tongue while I looked out the window at the moon and wiped chicken juice from my chin. I took another bite and chewed slowly, trying to make it last. And I found myself doing what they call ruminating. I took another bite and chewed and ruminated some more, then another, and I kept on ruminating.
What happened, the thing that pretty much changed my world—not to say watching Joalene step out didn’t—I’m not making light of that in any way; it’s just not the same—but the thing that screwed with me bad was that two-thirds through the roaster, right after sucking the meat off a wing, I had something foreign and strange—an epiphany, a new thought. A decision.
What I decided was this: all we’ve been doing when we tell time, since we started telling time, is counting things. That’s it. We’ve been counting. I wasn’t sure what things the cavemen counted, but I’d seen on the old westerns some Indians talk about many moons ago, so I figured they counted moons. What other folks counted, though, I didn’t know. I did know that I counted the number of times the clock went around and around and that every time the hours went around twice, I was supposed to put an X on the calendar and add one to the days. Simple. And I caught myself yelling towards the kitchen. “It’s a count, baby. Time is a count.” So I looked over and saw the counter clean and Joalene’s apron hanging on the oven handle. The dish towels were all folded and her spices organized. I glanced to the bedroom. A lamp was still on. I mumbled, “Baby?” And then, “Joalene?” And I heard the sink drip, and the neighborhood cur bark, and the round clock tick and the water drip and the clock again tick, and tick, and tick, and tick.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“This humorous novel is one I had one of my eyes on (the curious fun-loving eye) for a few months. It’s an indie book that received starred reviews from both BlueInk Review and Kirkus Reviews, even landing on the Kirkus ‘Best Books of 2018’ indie list. Color me impressed. Although, my other more cynical eye was skeptical, and here’s why. Usually for me, if someone says a novel is very funny or laugh out loud, then it isn’t. For me. I know that humor and what is considered funny is subjective and very different for everyone. But I rarely find books declared hysterical to actually be hysterical - until now. The Unlounging is funny - really funny. I burst out laughing often while reading it and - let me tell you, folks - that means something to me. It really does.” ~ Scott Semegran
“Selraybob grows on you: from a loser, that appears as a quitter and a cartoonish version of a redneck, comes a brilliant interpretation of time and deepfelt, meaningful and sarcastic opinions about daily life. This is a read that will give you a really good time.” ~ Marcia
“The writing is really great, it is funny, skillful, surprising and I really enjoyed every page. The character of Selraybob is also very entertaining and likeable, he grew on me more and more throughout the story. I can really recommend this book to everyone, and that is not something that happens often. I think that anyone can enjoy a well-written, interesting, funny and enjoyable story, regardless of age or literary genre preferences. If you have the chance, try it, it will grab you in the first five pages.” ~ Sanjin
“Funny, smart, and stimulating, the Unlounging of Selraybob will have you questioning your own preconceived notions of how we measure our days, and maybe even unlounge you out of your own rut of an existence. That is, if you can stop laughing long enough to consider getting up. Truly the most interesting book i've read in a long time. Read it now!” ~ Bob Dzik
“This book was a great read. Loved Sel, and Susy Liu Anne even more... the author captured their personalities perfectly. Laughed throughout and learned some interesting facts along the way. Pure entertainment!” ~ C Holmes


My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


By Lynda Dickson
When his wife Joalene walks out on him, Selraybob spends his time reclining in his lounger, drinking beer, and ruminating on random thoughts such as, “What is Time?” This leads to him starting to Think, which can never be a good thing. One epiphany leads to the next and, before you know it, to the unlounging of Selraybob. A road trip with his quirky friends in search of the meaning of Time might just result in Selraybob finding himself.
This book is written in the form of a memoir, with the main character being the author of the book. It is full of astute observations, humor, romance, mystery, and pathos. In the humorous glossary at the end, Selraybob explains difficult concepts in his own unique way. This is truly philosophy for the common man.
I love the reference to The Princess Bride being “the most romantic movie ever.” I totally agree!
Funny, touching, genius.


About the Author
Selraybob
Selraybob is a philosopher, writer, and, given his modest Missouri background, one of the least expected deep thinkers on the planet. His theory of time - that Einstein and Hawking and the rest of the spacetime preachers are misguided to the point of lunacy - has invited ridicule and hatred and threats of violence. He has become, arguably, an iconoclast. Selraybob continues to pursue Time, related physics theories, and, with the help of his buddy Herm, Herm’s wife Susy Liu Anne, and a small but growing band of supporters battle the narrow minds of the Time Fixers.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Unlounging by Selraybob.

Links

Books featured in this post:


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"Going Home" by Judith Keim


NEW RELEASE and EXCERPT
Going Home
(Chandler Hill Inn Book 1)
by Judith Keim

Going Home (Chandler Hill Inn Book 1) by Judith Keim

This book blitz and giveaway for Going Home by Judith Keim is hosted by Reading Addiction Book Tours. Please be sure to visit the other participating blogs as well.


Description
In 1970, Violet Hawkins’ only wish at eighteen is to escape her life in the Dayton, Ohio, foster-care system and make her way to the west coast to enjoy a mellow life and find the love she’s been missing all her life. She makes it to San Francisco, but soon learns she needs a job if she’s to live properly. A kind, young man named Kenton Chandler offers her a sandwich and a job at his father’s inn and vineyards. With nothing to lose, Lettie takes him up on his offer and begins a whole new life in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. She immediately falls in love with the land and is fascinated with the idea of growing grapes in order to make wines. She, Kenton, and Rafe Lopez become friends as she learns about running the small inn on the property.
At the same time she marries Kenton, a stroke kills his father. And then before she can tell Kenton she’s pregnant, he dies in an automobile accident. Heartbroken and burdened with the gift of the Chandler Hill Inn and Winery, she’s left with the task of making them a success. Struggling to raise a child alone while working to grow the business, Lettie makes a shocking discovery that changes everything.


Excerpt
Chapter One
Some people’s lives unfold in the most unusual ways.
In 1970, the only things Violet Hawkins wanted for her eighteenth birthday were to escape the Dayton, Ohio, foster-care system in which she’d been raised and to make her way to San Francisco. There, she hoped to enjoy a mellow lifestyle and find the love that had always been absent in her life.
Though she made it to San Francisco easily enough, she soon discovered she couldn’t afford a clean, safe place in which to settle down. At first, it hadn’t seemed to matter. Caught up in the excitement and freedom of living in a large city where free love and openness to so many things reigned, she almost forgot about eating and sleeping. One couch, one futon was as good as any other as long as grass or other drugs were available, and others didn’t mind giving her a place to sleep. But after spending four months there, the dollars she’d carefully saved, which had seemed so many in Dayton, were nothing but a mere pittance in a city where decent living was too expensive for her. She took to wandering the streets with her backpack until she came upon a friendly group willing to give her a sleeping space inside or a bite to eat.
One June day, feeling discouraged, she’d just sunk down onto the steps outside a row house when a young man emerged.
He smiled down at her. “Tired?”
She was more than tired. She was exhausted and hungry. “Looking for work. I need to eat.”
He gave her a long, steady, blue-eyed look. “What’s your name?”
“Violet Hawkins. But call me Lettie.”
His eyebrows shot up. “With all that red hair, no flowery name for you?”
She shook her head. She’d always hated both her hair and her name. The red in her hair was a faded color, almost pink, and the name Violet indicated a delicate flower. She’d never had the luxury of being the least bit frail.
He sat down beside her and studied her. “You don’t look like the hippie type. What are you doing in a place like this?”
“On my eighteenth birthday, I left Dayton, Ohio, to come here. It sounded like a great plan—all this freedom.”
“How long have you been here?”
“Four months. I thought it would be different. I don’t know … easier, maybe.”
He got to his feet. “How about I fix you a sandwich, and then I’ll tell you about a job, if you want it. It’s at a vineyard in Oregon. I’m heading there later today.”
Her glance slid over his well-built body, rugged facial features, and clean, shoulder-length, light-brown hair. He didn’t fit into the usual crowd she’d been with, which made her cautious. “Who are you? And why would you do this for me?”
“Kenton Chandler.” His lips curved into the same warm smile he’d given her earlier. “I’m heading to Oregon, and, frankly, I could use the company. Keeps me from falling asleep.”
“Yeah? And what is this vineyard?”
He shrugged. “A couple of years ago, my dad bought a small inn with 75 acres in the Willamette Valley south of Portland. He’s planted most of the land with grapes. He doesn’t know that much about making wine and wants me to learn. That’s why I’m in San Francisco. I’ve been working at a vineyard in Napa Valley just north of here, learning the ropes.” He grinned. “Or maybe I should say, learning the vines.”
“What kind of sandwich?” she asked, warming toward him and his wacky humor. Her stomach rumbled loud enough for them both to hear it.
“How does ham and Swiss sound?” he said, giving her a knowing look.
“Okay.” Lettie didn’t want him to think she couldn’t manage on her own. That was dangerous. She’d learned it the hard way, fighting off a guy who thought he could have her just because he gave her a puff of weed. She’d been careful ever since to stay away from situations and guys like that.
“Well?” He waved her toward the door.
Lettie checked to see if others were within hearing range if she needed them. Plenty of people were hanging around nearby. Thinking it was safe, Lettie climbed the stairs behind Kenton. He didn’t know about the knife tucked into one of the pockets of her jeans.
Inside, she found the same kind of contrast between this clean house and others she’d been in. It wasn’t sparkling clean, but it was tidier than most.
He led her into the kitchen. “Sit down. It’ll only take me a minute to make your sandwich.” He handed her a glass of water. “Mustard? Mayo?”
“Both,” she replied primly, sitting down at a small pine table in the eating area of the room.
She sat quietly, becoming uncomfortable with the idea that he was waiting on her. She wasn’t used to such a gesture. She was usually the one waiting on others both in her foster home and at the church where she’d spent hours each week attending services and events with her foster family. Thinking of them now, a shiver raced across her shoulders like a frightened centipede. It had been her experience that supposedly outstanding members of a church weren’t always kind to those they’d taken into foster care primarily for the money.
“Ready!” said Kenton, jarring her out of thoughts of the past. He placed a plate with the sandwich in front of her and took a seat opposite her.
She lifted the sandwich to her face and inhaled the aroma of the ham. Keeping her eyes on Kenton, she bit into the bread, savoring the taste of fresh food.
He beamed at her with satisfaction when she quickly took another bite.
“Who lives here? Lettie asked.
“A friend of mine,” said Kenton. His gaze remained on her. “You don’t look eighteen.”
She swallowed, and her breath puffed out with dismay. “But I am.”
“And you’re not into drugs and all the free-love stuff everyone talks about?”
Lettie shook her head. “Not really. I tried weed a couple of times, but it wasn’t for me.” Her strict upbringing had had a greater influence on her than she’d thought.
“Good. Like I said, if you want to ride to Oregon with me, there’s a job waiting for you at the Chandler Hill Inn. We’re looking for help. It would be a lot better than walking the streets of Haight-Ashbury. Safer too.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “And if I don’t like it?”
He shrugged. “You can leave. One of the staff recently left for L.A. That’s why my father called me to ask if I knew anyone who could come and work there. You’re my only choice.”
Lettie’s heart pounded with hope. Acting as nonchalant as she could, she said, “Sounds like something I’d like to try.”
###
The ride to Oregon was mostly quiet as an easy camaraderie continued between them. Kenton answered any questions she had about him, the inn, and the way he thought about things. Lettie was surprised to learn he hadn’t joined in a lot of the anti-war protests.
“My best friend died in ’Nam. He believed in serving our country. I want to honor him,” he said to Lettie.
“A boy in my high school was drafted. His parents weren’t happy about it.”
“Well, if I’m drafted, I’m going,” Kenton said. “I don’t want to, but I will. I don’t really have a choice.”
As they talked, they agreed that John Wayne was great in the movie True Grit.
“And I love the Beatles,” said Lettie.
“Yeah, me too. Too bad they just broke up.”
“And what about the new group, The Jackson 5?” Lettie said.
“They’re great. And I like Simon and Garfunkel and their music too.”
At one point, Lettie turned to Kenton. “Sometimes you seem so serious, like an old man. How old are you, anyway?”
He gave her a sheepish look. “Twenty-two.”
They shared a laugh, and in that moment, Lettie knew she’d found a person with whom she could be herself.
###
Lettie woke to someone shaking her shoulder. She stared into the blue-gray eyes of a stranger and stiffened.
“Lettie, we’re here,” said a male voice.
As she came fully awake, she realized Kenton was talking to her.
“Here at Chandler Hill?” she asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
She looked out through the windshield of the Ford Pinto and gaped at the huge, white-clapboard house sitting on the top of a knoll like a queen overlooking her realm.
Lettie scrambled out of the car and stood gazing at the clean lines of the two-story building. Across the front, four windows offset by green shutters were lined up with identical windows below. Beneath a small, protective, curved roof, glass panels bracketed a wide front door, welcoming guests. To one side, a two-story wing had been added to the house.
Green, leafy bushes offset by an assortment of colorful flowers she didn’t recognize softened the front of the building. As she walked closer, she realized between the main house and the addition a small, stone patio and private garden had been installed.
“Come on in,” said Kenton. “There’s a beautiful view from the back porch.”
Feeling as if she were Alice in a different kind of Wonderland, Lettie entered the house. As she tiptoed behind Kenton, her gaze darted from the polished surfaces of furniture to gilt-edged mirrors to a massive floral bouquet sitting on a large dining-room table. It all seemed so grand.
Kenton led her to a wide porch lining the back of the house. Observing the rolling land before her and, in the distance, the hills crouching in deepening colors of green, Lettie’s breath caught. The sun was rising, spreading a gold topping on the hills like icing on cake.
“Nice, huh?”
Lettie smiled and answered, “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful, so peaceful.”
At the sound of footsteps behind her, she whirled around.
A tall, gray-haired man with striking features similar to Kenton’s said, “Welcome home, son.”
They shook hands, and then the older gentleman turned to her. “And who is this?”
Shy, she stared at the man who seemed so familiar to her.
Kenton nudged Lettie.
Minding her manners, Lettie held out her hand as she’d been taught. “Lettie Hawkins. I’ve come for a job.” A niggling feeling kept her eyes on him longer than necessary. When she could no longer stop herself, she blurted, “Aren’t you Rex Chandler, the movie star?”
He smiled. “Yes, I am. But I’ve changed professions.”
Lettie held back a chuckle of delight. A friend’s mother had privately adored him.
“Why don’t the two of you come into the kitchen,” said Rex. “Mrs. Morley will want to talk to Lettie, and I need to talk to you, Kenton.”
As Lettie followed the men into the kitchen, a woman hurried toward them, crying, “Kenton! Kenton! You’re home at last!”
Laughing, Kenton allowed the woman to hug him. “You’d think I’ve been gone a year, Mrs. Morley.”
“You almost were,” she said, smiling and pinching his cheek. “And look at you! More handsome than ever.”
Looking as if he couldn’t wait for her to focus her attention elsewhere, Kenton said, “Mrs. Morley, I’d like you to meet Lettie Hawkins. She’s here for a job.”
Mrs. Morley’s gaze settled on Lettie. “So, you like to work?”
“She likes to eat,” said Kenton, bringing a smile to Mrs. Morley’s full face.
“By the looks of it, Lettie, you could use more food,” said Mrs. Morley. “Let’s you and I talk about what kind of jobs you could do around here. I’m short-handed at the moment.”
Kenton and Rex left the kitchen.
Mrs. Morley waved Lettie over to a desk in a small alcove in the kitchen. After lowering her considerable bulk into a chair, Mrs. Morley faced her. Her green eyes exuded kindness as she studied Lettie. Her gray-streaked brown hair was pulled back from her face and banded together in a ponytail, giving Lettie a good look at her pleasing features.
“Have a seat, dear.”
Lettie sat in the chair indicated for her and clutched her hands. After seeing the small inn and the beautiful countryside, she desperately wanted the job.
“Where are you from, Lettie? And why in the world do you want to work here in the country? I’d think a pretty, young girl like you would want to be in a city having fun.”
Lettie paused, unsure how to answer her. She’d thought she’d like living in the city, being free to do whatever she wanted. But after four months of doing just that, the excitement had worn off. She liked to know where she was going to sleep at night and when she’d next eat.
“Maybe I’m just a country girl at heart,” she answered lamely. Her two best friends at home would scoff at her, but right now, that’s how she felt.
“Well, that’s what you’ll be if you stay on. A lot of activity is taking place around here, what with people buying up turkey farms and the like, turning them into vineyards, but it is country. I hope it always will be.” She leaned forward. “Know anything about cooking? Cleaning?”
“Yes,” said Lettie. “I used to do both in my foster home. I was the oldest of eight kids there.”
“Eight? My land, that’s a lot of kids to take in,” said Mrs. Morley.
“It’s a lot of money,” Lettie said, unable to hide her disgust. “That’s why they did it.”
“I see,” said Mrs. Morley, studying her. “So how long have you been on your own?”
“Four months,” she replied. “I was in San Francisco when I met Kenton.”
“Such a good, young man. I’ve known him for a while now,” Mrs. Morley sighed with affection. “You’re lucky he found you. Why don’t we start in housekeeping, see how it goes, and then maybe you can give me a hand in the kitchen.”
“Okay,” Lettie said, jumping to her feet. “Where should I put my things? I need to get them from the car.”
Mrs. Morley gave her an approving look. “I like your eagerness. Let me show you to your room and then I’ll give you a tour.”
The north half of the front of the house consisted of a large, paneled dining room she’d seen earlier. The long mahogany table that sat in the middle of the room held seats for twelve. A summer flower arrangement consisted of pink roses and pink hydrangeas interspersed with white daisies and sat in a cut-glass vase in the middle of the table. Along one wall, above a service counter, an open cupboard made of dark wood stored coffee mugs, extra wine goblets, and water glasses. A coffee maker and a burner holding a pot of hot water sat on the marble counter. A bowl of sugar, a pitcher of cream, and a dish of lemon slices were displayed nearby. At the other end of the counter, a large plate of homemade, chocolate-chip cookies invited guests to take one.
“How many guests do you usually have?” Lettie asked.
“We have six guest rooms, so we have as many as twelve people for the breakfast we serve. During the day, people come and go on their own, tasting wine at nearby vineyards or sightseeing. We offer a simple dinner to those not wishing to travel to restaurants at night.” A look of pride crossed Mrs. Morley’s face. “Sometimes my husband, Pat, grills out, or Rita Lopez cooks up Mexican food. Guests like these homestyle meals. In fact, we’re becoming known for them.”
Lettie’s mouth watered. It all sounded so good.
Mrs. Morley led her to a sideboard, opened its drawers, and gave her a smile. “Let’s see how well you polish silver.”
Later, after being shown how, Lettie was working on the silverware when Kenton walked into the kitchen.
“Well? Are you going to stay?” he asked.
“Yes,” Lettie said with determination. The whole time she’d been cleaning the silver she’d been able to gaze at the rolling hills outside. This, she’d decided, is where she wanted to be. It felt so right.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“I have another new author that I enjoy reading. This is my first read and I love it! The story lines involved in the telling of this young woman's life weaves a fabric of love, despair, happiness, fear and always the importance of family. […] I enjoyed the author's easy to read writing style, the variances in her characters and their realistic dialogs along with the vivid descriptions that painted pictures in my imagination of all the good, the bad and the beautiful surroundings and loving people. If you love Binchy, Pilcher, Grainger and their company, you'll love this book as much as I do.” ~ Texas
“Going Home is an exceptional start to a new series from Judith Keim. It is a sweeping saga of the life of Violet (Lettie) Hawkins from age 18 into her 60s. Alone in the world, Lettie accepts a ride to Oregon for a job she desperately needs. She immediately falls in love with the land where the inn and vineyard are located. This emotional, well written story gave me great joy as well as causing some tears. I could not put the book down until I finished! I am eagerly waiting for the second book.” ~ Bernadette Cinkoske
“What a fantastic emotional book. This book will take you on a roller coaster ride and have you needing tissues several times. Lettie ages out of the foster care system and heads to San Francisco. Her money doesn’t last as long as she hoped and when she sets down on some steps, she meets Kenton, who will change her life. I don’t want to leave any spoilers because I really hope everyone will read and review this amazing story. I will say, you will love these characters and the descriptions will have you wishing you was there.” ~ Penny L
“In this novel, Keim captures the 1970's era perfectly. It is a poignant story of a young woman coming to grips with the unfortunate hand life has given her. It is well-written and well paced. A great start to what promises to be a good series.” ~ Bette Crosby


About the Author
Judith Keim
Judith Keim was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Idaho with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.
Growing up, books were always present being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. Information from the books was shared in general conversation, giving all in the family a wealth of knowledge and a lot of imagination. Perhaps that is why she was drawn to the idea of writing stories early on. She particularly loves to write novels about women who face unexpected challenges and meet them with strength.
A hybrid author who both has a publisher and who self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming stories of strong women who face challenges and find love and happiness along the way. Her books are based, in part, on many of the places she's lived or visited and on the interesting people she's met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many, loyal readers love.

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