~ About the Book ~
When Amy Somers loses her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she’s crossing bridges she’d burned years before. With all the mistakes she’s made and the uncaring things she’s done–even to her own family–she can hardly believe that happiness will find her, especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.
A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy’s hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, he finds it difficult to see the path ahead.
But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them.
Series: #3 Misty Willows
Release date: 2 May 2017
~ Excerpt ~
Still avoiding his gaze, she bit the inside of her mouth, pressing her teeth into the tender flesh. Physical pain she could handle. But not the anguish churning inside.
If only she’d had other options. Though the truth was, she had hoped to find the same peace here that Gran had found. Despite her protests of hating the country, Amy wanted to be near Brett so he wouldn’t forget the little sister he’d promised never to leave. And she wanted to be near Jonah.
Never had she expected to run into Gabe Kendall.
He stepped into her peripheral vision and tilted his head to catch her gaze. “You’re Amy Somers.”
“I am.” Only because it’s too late to be anyone else.
“We rode together sometimes. When you took lessons from my aunt.”
His words floated along the breeze between them, as the memories slipped from the canopy into her consciousness. She glanced at the buckskin. With her creamy coat and black stockings, her ebony mane and tail, the mare could be Marigold. But that was impossible. To many years had gone by. Too many to indulge in a childhood crush.
“I don’t remember you,” she said, her tone clipped and even.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.” He gave a sheepish shrug. She’d have found it endearing if her heart wasn’t made of stone.
She stood, pushing away from the table and the nostalgic scent of horse sweat and leather. “I should be going. It was nice meeting you.” Again.
“Do you want to ride?” he asked hurriedly.
“You said you were tired. Daisy and I can take you back to the hide—the cottage.”
Panic gripped her throat, and she clutched the neckline of her top.
“I’ll walk alongside if that’s what’s got your rope in a tangle. Though it looks to me like you could use a good gallop. May be just the thing to set the world right again.”
She grasped the table edge and dug her fingernails into the wood. “You know nothing about me,” she finally said. Her voice rasped with harshness.
“Maybe I should take my own advice then.” He topped his hat and gathered the reins. With a fluidity that took Amy’s breath away, he was astride the mare. Daisy took a few steps forward, and Amy shrank against the table.
“You’re not afraid of Daisy, are you?” The concern in his voice also shone in his eyes. “She’s as gentle as they come.”
“I’m not afraid of anything,” Amy retorted. But her voice wavered, and her breath seemed to strangle in her throat.
He held his gaze steady, and it took all her practiced skill not to wither into a heap. But he couldn’t know she cared anything about what he said or what he thought. Nor could she show weakness. That only led to pain.
~ Review ~
It always makes for an interesting read when a character who’s been something of a villain in the series gets the chance to tell their story. A hard-nosed, high-powered lobbyist, Amy Somers sued her cousin AJ for the rights to Misty Willow so that she could develop the land into an upscale retreat—a plan that would further both her personal and her professional ambitions. Those plans collapsed with her body on the floor of a nightclub and, after undergoing treatment for an eating disorder, she’s come to live at the family cottage. She’s feeling more abandoned and alone than ever, despite having both AJ and Brett (and their families) nearby, and she’s hoping that she will somehow find the same peace her Gran found in that little cottage. But there are two problems: Gabe Kendall and Logan Cassidy.
Gabe has returned to Glade County to find his feet and help his Aunt Tess with Whisper Lane Stables. The place has steadily declined since his uncle’s death and he’s determined to help her get the farm back up and running again. But Gabe isn’t aware of the extent of the financial debt his aunt is in, or of the pressure she is under to sell to property developer Dylan Tapley—Amy’s former client. He’s surprised and a little hurt that Amy claims not to remember him, but it’ll take more than that to discourage him.
Fellow lobbyist Logan Cassidy was often Amy’s confidential sounding-board during her lobbying days, not to mention an obliging plus-one when she needed an escort. Dylan Tapley is his client now, but when he arranges to meet with Amy to discuss Dylan’s plans, it becomes clear he has more than just business on his mind.
Like the other novels in this series, there’s a gentle pace to the story, but there were some definite surprises toward the end. Amy’s a tough nut to crack—she’s defensive, and often goes on the offensive to avoid being hurt—but Gabe’s constant friendship and the memory of the way he reached out to her after her parents’ death gradually soften her towards him. I couldn’t help feeling the story wrapped up a little quickly in the final pages, but the collision of ambition, hope, and regrets made for a strong conclusion to the Misty Willow series.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Previous Books in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
Johnnie Alexander is a wannabe vagabond with a heart for making memories. While relaxing on her Sunshine State patio with her dogs Rugby and Griff, she writes stories that tug at your heartstrings.
In addition to winning the prestigious American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest (Historical), Johnnie was named a Bronze Medalist in the My Book Therapy Frasier Contest and has received several conference awards. Her popular debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, is a CBA bestseller and has been translated into Dutch and Norwegian.
She is marketing director for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference and past president of both the ACFW Memphis and ACFW Central Florida chapters.