Monday, November 08, 2010

Emily's Chance; Winter Reunion

Callahans of Texas, Book 2
Sharon Gillenwater

Emily Rose Denny is only in Callahan Crossing for a little while. Her five-year plan is all laid out, with the goal of landing an assistant curator position at a big city museum. She isn't about to let a certain handsome rancher/builder change her mind. But Chance Callahan is as determined to win her heart as she is to be a success. Is there room for both in her life?


Man meets woman. Man loves woman. Man marries woman.

Chance Callahan looked down at the three cartoon scenes he'd drawn on some scratch paper a few days earlier. A scruffy cowboy and pretty lady running from an old building, a raging fire behind them. Pretty lady smiles at tired, dirty cowboy, and his heart pounds out of his chest, stars in his eyes. Beautiful bride and love-struck groom standing before the preacher.

If only it were that simple.

It was only the second of February, and he already had spring fever.

Shaking his head, he turned his attention back to the notes he'd made that afternoon while he and the insurance claims adjuster inspected the old museum. As a building contractor, Chance had figured out before the man arrived that the structure couldn't be saved.

Which meant the Callahan Crossing Historical Society meeting tonight was going to be about as cheerful as a coroner's inquest. He wished he could tell them—and his pretty lady—that the building could be repaired at a reasonable expense. But it couldn't. It had suffered too much damage from the fire that ravaged their small town a week earlier.

The building was almost a hundred years old, and most of it had been affected in some way by the fire. The whole thing would have to be brought up to current fire and health codes. It would cost far more than what the insurance would cover.

In many ways, worrying about a museum when a third of the town had been destroyed seemed just plain wrong. So many families had lost everything; some both their homes and businesses. Ranchers and farmers had lost livestock, pastures and miles of fencing.

The only blessing was that no one had been killed or seriously injured. Though badly shaken by the experience, folks would pick up and get on with their lives. Most planned to stay in Callahan Crossing. But a few had no way—or no heart—to rebuild and had already moved away.

His mom felt that opening the museum again after a decade long closure would lift folks' spirits. She thought it might even bring in a little money from tourism and give the town a boost. Particularly if it was done right this time, with good displays and organization instead of a bunch of odds and ends thrown together in a jumble.

He didn't see how that little ol' museum could do much for the town, but setting it up would keep Emily Rose Denny around for a while. And that was something he wanted. Badly.

Satisfied that he'd included everything in the report, he clicked the print icon on the computer screen and waited as the laser printer zipped out thirty copies. He didn't know how many people would be at the meeting tonight, but he believed in being prepared.

He couldn't think of any suitable options for the museum right off the top of his head, though surely there must be some. He owned a building downtown that he'd been fixing up, but it was four times the size of the one they'd planned on using. His mom had been concerned because they'd barely had enough items to put in the old one. They had less after the fire. Even if he offered to donate his building, it wouldn't be suitable. Two big rooms with a handful of odds and ends would look dumb. And it sure wouldn't draw tourists.

For now, Emily was busy trying to salvage what she could, but he didn't know how long that would last. Though only part of the building had burned, there was extensive smoke and water damage to the contents. He doubted there was much worth keeping. They might have to abandon the whole project, and she'd skedaddle back home fast as greased lightning.

He'd find a way to stop her from heading back to San Antonio, even if he had to propose marriage to do it. Courting her first would be better, of course, but sometimes a man had to charge out of the chute to win the prize.

And hope he didn't land in the dirt instead.

Copyright 2010. Do not reproduce without permission.

Emily's Chance is available online at,, and other online retailers. It is also available through most local bookstores.

Visit Sharon's website to learn more about previous and upcoming books.

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Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense
November, 2011
Roxanne Rustand

Home to heal...and reconcile?

When wounded marine Devlin Sloan comes back to Aspen Creek, he's surprised by his late mother's will. His new business partner for the next six months will be Beth Carrigan. His ex-wife.
This might prove to be Dev's most difficult mission yet. He never stopped loving the sweet bookstore owner, but his military career broke them apart. Now, as they work together at helping others get a new start in life, he hopes he can break down the walls between them....and explore the possibilities of renewing the life they had with each other.


Beth Carrigan took a last glance at her cell phone, shoved it in her pocket and heaved a sigh.

A crisp, sunny, October weekend in Aspen Creek, Wisconsin, usually brought crowds of tourists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and all parts in between. It didn't bring unexpected calls from Washington DC, California, and the Henderson Law Office. Calls that now had her stomach doing crazy cartwheels.

What on earth was she going to do?

But everything is going to be fine, Lord. It's going to be fine, right? She surveyed her bookstore, breathing in the beloved scents of books, dark roast coffee and apricot tea as she walked to the back, where her friends were already settled in an eclectic mix of comfy loveseats and rockers she'd pulled into a circle before unlocking the entrance for them at nine o'clock.

Their voices fell silent as five pairs of worried eyes looked up at her. Their concern was so palpable that she forced herself to dredge up a nonchalant smile. "How's the coffee? Is it better this time? I bought a new fair trade brand and--"

"The question is, how are you?" Olivia Lawson, the oldest bookclub member at fifty-two, had been a high school English teacher for years, and was well known in town for keeping her students in line. Her brows, dark in contrast to her short, silver hair, drew together in a worried frown. "If this is a bad time, we can all leave, dear. Unless, of course, there's something we can do to help."

"It's...well, a little complicated."

For five years, they'd been meeting twice a month on Saturday mornings, an hour before the store opened. They'd been friends in good times and bad, and she knew she could count on them for support and the utmost discretion. Still, she stumbled over her thoughts trying to frame her news in the best light.

"The first call was from my mother. She's on her way here from California, and will arrive next weekend--probably on the 10th. Isn't it great?"

"Maura?" The glint in her eyes betrayed Olivia's true feelings behind her smile. "How wonderful. You two can spend some quality time together, and catch up."

"Definitely." I hope. If things go better, this time. Beth took a deep breath. "The second call was from Dev. He's coming back next week."

Olivia' mouth dropped open. "Your mother and ex-husband. In the same town."

"If he stays that long. But he never does. After a few days, he's always headed for the Middle East...or wherever."

Toni shuddered. "This should be interesting."

Beth managed a smile. "With luck, she won't run into him, and all will be well. I doubt he'll be out and about much."

A hush fell over the group. "I-is he all right?" Toni ventured after an awkward pause.

"He's had some sort of serious shoulder injury. Nothing life-threatening, but enough to land him at Walter Reed for a few weeks. He's on medical leave right now."

Hannah Dorchester's brow furrowed. "Will he end up with a discharge, then?" Petite, blonde and vivacious, she worked as a physician's assistant at the local hospital. "Even a rotator cuff can take six months to heal. A battle wound could be much worse."

"I did ask, but he vehemently denied it." She felt a twinge in a small, scarred part of her heart as she recalled just how dedicated Dev was to military service.

There'd been a time when she would've given anything for him to come home for good. But those romantic feelings were long gone, and now she only felt sympathy for a man whose entire adult life had been focused on covert Special Forces operations that he could never explain. If he had to leave the service, she could only imagine how difficult the adjustment would be.

Olivia shook her head. "That has to be tough."

"Definitely. Still, his parents owned one side of an entire block of valuable property here in town, so he'll have a lot of options. That third call a few minutes ago was from his family's attorney."

Toni's dark eye's filled with worry. "That doesn't sound good."

"Just a formality, because he's the only heir. Dev was home briefly for his mother's funeral last spring, but now he's finally coming back for the reading of the will. Apparently Vivienne was very specific about both of us needing to be present, even if it meant a long delay because of his military service."

Just the thought of the meeting gave her jitters.

Dev would soon own an entire block of property on Hawthorne--including her bookstore. He'd always made it plain that he wouldn't ever want to live here again. Would he decide to terminate her lease? Sell everything to the highest bidder?

If he did, she'd lose her home, her livelihood. Her customers and the members of the book club were her only family now, and she'd lose them as well, if she couldn't find an affordable place to close by. And as for her biggest dream of would go up in a puff of smoke if she ever had to move.

The bitter end of their marriage made it a distinct possibility.

Keeley North, owner of an antiques shop a few blocks away from the bookstore, sat forward in her chair and shoved a wedge of gleaming, honey streaked brunette hair behind her ear. "Maybe she left everything to you."

"The divorce ended any future claims to their property." Beth shrugged. "I'll show up at the meeting, say hello, then slip away so Dev and the lawyer can get down to business. If I can just get past this next week, then Dev should soon be gone and everything will go back to normal. I hope."

And she would be praying on it, every single day.

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