Tag Archives: Sweet Romance

With Good Intentions by Jo Huddleston

A sweet romance spiced with deception, set in 1959.
With Good IntentionsJean Stewart and her mama stand firm to protect their family business from a big-city developer’s takeover. Oscar Wainworth sends his son William to convince the ladies to sell their property. William has an instant attraction to Jean, believes he shouldn’t be the one to discuss the sale with the Stewarts, and gives them a fake name. If they know he’s a Wainworth, he’s likely to find himself out on the sidewalk.

One lie leads to another until William may have dug a hole too deep to escape. By stealth he learns that Jean can’t associate with anyone who is dishonest. To win Jean’s love, William must convince her that his lies flowed from good intentions.

huddlestonJo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series, her Caney Creek series, and her standalone novel, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of ACFW and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Learn more at www.johuddleston.com where you can read first chapters of her novels and novellas and also sign up for her mailing list.

 

 

 

Book’s Purchase Link:

http://amzn.to/2lTR7LF

 

Links to Huddleston Online:

Website and blog (Read novel first chapters here): http://www.johuddleston.com

Sign up for Jo’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2cfSroU

Facebook author page: http://bit.ly/2aqFEeT

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

October 1959—Birmingham, Alabama

William Wainworth shifted in his chair, stretched his long legs beneath the massive conference table, and braced for the impending reprimand from the CEO. This regular Monday morning meeting of Wainworth Development sales staff had gone on longer than he’d expected.

He would loosen his necktie but doing so would violate the expectations Wainworth’s CEO held for his male employees: wear a coat and tie when representing Wainworth Development. His daddy being the CEO of Wainworth Development, William had that rule ingrained in him from an early age.

Among other stellar traits, his daddy dressed immaculately, and he expected his workforce to follow his example. His appearance had favorably impressed many clients who sat with him in his Birmingham office. Every weekday, he never ventured outside his home without the requisite coat and necktie. William had never seen him wear wrinkled pants or curled-up shirt collars.

Now, Oscar Wainworth stood tall, slender, and good-looking between the head of the table and an easel, his index finger tapping on a sketch positioned there. William moved his attention from his daddy to the sketch, a street-level drawing of storefronts along a sidewalk in Conroy, Alabama.

Wainworth Development sought to purchase that entire block of businesses, demolish the buildings, and replace them with an apartment complex having a bookstore on the first floor. Sitting across the street from a growing college, the location proved ideal for Wainworth’s purpose.

The building plans had received the city’s approval. Wainworth representatives had successfully gained signatures on real estate contracts to acquire all the properties except one. The smallest business on the block refused to sell, despite repeated overtures from Wainworth Development.

Oscar Wainworth faced the dozen or so men seated around the table in chairs upholstered in rich, brown leather. He put his palms on the gleaming tabletop and leaned forward. “Gentlemen, this one small store is the monkey wrench in this whole deal. We’ve bought up all the properties on the block, yet here’s this little hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop smack-dab in the middle that you’ve not convinced to sell. Why is that? Why this one store?”

Mumbled reasons and comments circulated around the massive table. William and Oscar had heard them all before. Oscar Wainworth stood straight, his six-foot-four height menacing, and met the eyes of each salesman. “Yes, the owners are females, and you’ve all probably tried to be gentlemanly in your contacts with them. That’s commendable and appropriate.

“But, men, you need to work with these ladies just as you would any other client. Wainworth Development is a business, and you must conduct yourselves accordingly—doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a man or a woman. However, it’s time to get tough with these women. Understood?”

The men bobbed their heads in sync as if they followed the directions of an orchestra conductor, and his daddy continued. “Do I have to go down there and show you how it’s done? Must I close this deal myself? I assure you I will not be happy if I do.”

His gaze settled on his son. “William, I want you to go down to Conroy and convince the owners to sell. This has become a special case, and if you’ve learned anything from me in your thirty-two years, you’ll be successful. You drive on down there and stay as long as it takes to get the job done.”

“Yes, sir, I will.”

“Get going. Now.” He waved a hand toward the closed door to spur William into motion. “Ask Gloria for the files on this property and be on your way. Check back with me when you get there.”

William pushed his chair away from the conference table and rose. “Yes, sir.” His daddy was a workaholic, especially since his wife, William’s mama, had died five years ago. Oscar Wainworth put in a sixty-hour work week, never leaving a job undone. He expected similar dedication in his staff.

Finally outside the conference room and waiting at Gloria’s desk for her to collect the files, William exhaled. He didn’t mind that his daddy booted him out of the meeting—anything beat sitting in a stuffy roomful of cigar smoke.

Gloria returned and handed him several file folders. “Here are the files you need. Good luck. I hope your trip goes better than those of the other men Mr. Wainworth has sent down there.”

“Thanks. Where did the other guys stay? You got the name of a hotel?”

“Yes, they stayed at the Conroy Hotel. I’ll telephone to reserve you a room. How long will you be staying?”

“Maybe for the remainder of the week.”

~

Same Day—Conroy, Alabama

William carried his luggage up to a second-floor hotel room, then returned downstairs to grab a late lunch in the hotel’s dining room. When he crossed the lobby, the antiquated wooden floors groaned beneath his every step. Inside the dining room, booths lined one wall and tables covered with white linen tablecloths dotted the floor space.

He asked the hostess for a booth, and she seated him at a high-back wooden booth near the entrance. After a light lunch of steaming vegetable soup and a ham sandwich, he found a pay phone in the lobby and stepped into the booth to call Birmingham.

“Good afternoon. Wainworth Development.”

“Gloria, ring my daddy’s office, please.”

Shortly, he heard his daddy’s voice. “That you, William? How does the lay of the land look down there?”

“Just letting you know I’m here. Haven’t seen the owners yet, but plan to go there now.”

“Fine, fine. How about you call me every morning about ten o’clock to bring me up-to-date with what you’re doing? We’ve got to get this deal finalized.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll do that.”

William stepped out of the telephone booth to walk outside the red brick hotel. He stood on the sidewalk, hands shoved into his pants pockets. Without haste, he scanned what he could see of the town—to his left, a bank stood on the corner, and to his right, a drugstore anchored that corner, its front facing away from him.

Not many folks moving around, and from the casual dress of those passing by him, then had to be college students. He glanced at his polished shoes and creased dress pants—shades of Oscar Wainworth. He’d stand out like a palm tree at the North Pole among these young people. Might as well put a sign on his back saying, Here I am from the big city. I want to buy your property.

He returned to his hotel room, tugging off his necktie as he opened his luggage. Later, again on the sidewalk, dressed in blue jeans with his long-sleeved dress shirt now open at the neck, his black leather bomber jacket, and loafers, William breathed in the fresh air. A satisfying change from the pollution that filled the air over Birmingham.

Turning to his right, he sauntered west until he reached the corner and stopped. He faced the street in front of the drugstore and read the signpost: College Street. Some committee must have worked many hours to come up with that original name—the street sliced through downtown Conroy, Alabama, between the college and the town. The next block to his left held the businesses Wainworth Development had bought. Except for the ice cream shop. Might as well head on down there.

He crossed the street when the traffic light changed. Again on the sidewalk, he passed the stores that would soon disappear once Wainworth had acquired all the properties.

Before he reached his destination, the clock tower atop a lofty red brick building across College Street tolled the hour. Three o’clock. A spattering of foot traffic moved across the manicured lawns of nearby campus buildings. Probably class-changing time.

A short distance farther, William stood outside the building whose purchase depended on him. The sign above the door read: Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop.

Inside, William verified that his daddy had been correct when he referred to the business as a hole-in-the-wall place. With about only 400 square feet, the twelve-foot wide, deep room measured about thirty-five feet from the entrance to a closed swinging door in the back. Along the right wall, chairs occupied the length of the room, stopping at a pay phone attached to the wall and a display case that faced the entrance.

The tile floor shone, and on his left stood three ice cream cases, each about eight feet long. Their fronts were white and spotless, and no fingerprints smudged the glass through which sat numerous opened tubs of ice cream. The sweet, pleasant scent of ice cream filled the room and drew William to follow the customers already in the shop.

He fell in line with a few college students awaiting their turn to be served. The kids weren’t impatient, but rather they calmly shuffled toward the cash register. He’d skipped dessert in anticipation of his visit to the ice cream shop, and the various flavors listed on the wall tempted him.

An attractive woman probably in her late forties with dark hair and a pleasant face worked efficiently behind the counter. Another female stood behind the tall display case near the rear of the room. He could only see the back of her head and didn’t have a clue to what she did. Soon William stood first in the line.

“May I help you?” the woman asked.

“Yes, ma’am. I’d like a cone—two scoops, please.”

“What flavor?”

“Vanilla and chocolate. Would you please put the vanilla on the cone first and then the chocolate?”

The woman dipped his ice cream onto a cone while William read the flavors painted on a wooden board hanging above a counter behind her. “You certainly offer a lot of flavors here.”

“And yet you choose our trusty standbys—vanilla and chocolate.”

“Yes, ma’am. Always been my favorites.”

William paid for his treat and took a seat in the last chair against the wall. From there he had an unlimited view of the business except for the area behind the display case to his right. His attention fell to the contents of the case. Behind the glass sat numerous delicious-looking desserts—artfully decorated cakes and pies waiting to be personalized with someone’s name, a tray of individually-wrapped ice cream sandwiches, and two log rolls made of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

Everyone had been served, and either left with their ice cream or taken seats along the wall to eat their treats. The woman who had served him sauntered toward where William sat. She stopped at the empty counter space across from him, reached underneath it, and brought out a large piece of flat cardboard decorated with balloons of red, blue, green, and yellow and the name of the ice cream shop.

While the woman worked with the cardboard, she spoke to the girl behind the display case near him. “Did any Wainworth people contact you before I came to work?”

William angled his body toward the entrance, pretending lack of interest in what the woman had said. He watched the traffic outside the front window but kept his attention on the conversation before him.

The girl behind the display case joined the woman assembling the cardboard into a cake box. “No, ma’am. No one has come by or called, which is unusual for a Monday. For weeks now they’ve been persistent, showing up here almost every day.” The girl had on a white basic bib apron, as the older woman did, over her skirt and blouse and wore blue Keds on her feet.

“Maybe you’ve finally convinced them you mean it when you say we don’t want to sell.”

“Mama, I hope so, but I doubt that.” The two could be sisters, as attractive as they were, rather than mother and daughter. Probably the owners. The girl reached beneath the counter and pulled out another sheet of cardboard to give the older woman. “I’ve talked with some of the other business owners, and it appears we’re the only holdouts on the block.

“If that’s the case, rather than give up, Wainworth Development will increase their pressure on us to sell. I cringe every time someone dressed in a suit and necktie come through the door. All the Wainworth people think they can make us sell—they’re so arrogant and expect us to roll over and play dead when they wave money in front of us.”

Good thing William had changed clothes before visiting their shop.

“Their money would be nice, Jean. We could pay off the mortgage here and have some left over. I could get used to not working outside the home again.”

“Mama, please don’t go soft on this. We’re not going to sell! Daddy started this business, and we’ll do everything we can to keep it going.”

Jean’s mama put the assembled boxes underneath the counter and started toward the cash register to help new customers. The girl returned to whatever kept her busy behind the dessert case.

William left his chair and stepped nearer the display case, continuing to enjoy his ice cream cone. Bending at the waist and peering inside at the cakes, William didn’t notice the girl behind the case had approached him. A female voice drew his attention. “May I help you with something from the dessert case?”

He straightened and turned toward the voice. When their eyes met, hers were the color of the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico waters and turned him into a bumbling adolescent. “Ah, well, no, thank you. Just, uh, looking. Did you make all these pretty cakes?”

She smiled, apparently enjoying his discomfort. “Yes, I did. See something you like in there?”

Not in the dessert case, he didn’t. But he wouldn’t mind getting to know the dark-haired woman standing next to him. “No, thanks. Guess I’ll just finish this cone I’ve started.”

“I recognize our regulars, the college kids, but I don’t believe you’ve been in here before. You new in town?”

“Yeah, you could say that. I’m, er, I’m doing some work on the college campus.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Uh, helping one of the professors with some research.”

“Then welcome to our town. I’m Jean Stewart.”

“Thanks. I’m Will….” Beyond her shoulder, he saw the wooden board where they listed their ice cream flavors. “…Will Woods.”

 

 

 

#Free books by Kimberly Rose Johnson

Happy Saturday! This is a special post to let all of you know that I currently have two books that are being sold for FREE for kindle. Each book is the first in my most current series.

Island Refuge cover 25080381The first is Island Refuge. Here is the back cover blurb.

Five-Star-Chef Zoe Griffin walked away from her dream job. Did she make a mistake?

Her engagement off, Zoe Griffin retreats to tiny Wildflower Island in the Puget Sound. Hiding out as a cook and maid at a shabby bed-and-breakfast seems crazy for a chef who’s used to running her own five-star kitchen. And just as she starts to feel at home, her klutzy mishaps make Zoe fear her handsome new boss will fire her.

Dr. Nick Jackson is done with medicine, and owning a B&B is as far from doctoring as he can get. He needs help, but his only employee’s mistakes give him doubts. As Zoe lets her defenses down, Nick begins to see a competent and caring woman. One whose wounds are as deep as his own. But as they fall for each other, Nick and Zoe must learn the hardest lesson of all—to forgive. Only then can they heal the past and embrace the future . . . together.
http://amzn.to/2e79zsB

The second is A Love to Treasure. 

A Love to Treasure Cover bk1School teacher Nicole Davis is on summer break, but this vacation is unlike any other. Her beloved Grandmother’s final wish has landed Nicole smack in the middle of her favorite destination—Sunriver, Oregon, following Grams’s clues on a mysterious scavenger hunt. Unexpectedly, Nicole finds more than just a fellow sleuth in a handsome police officer, Mark Stone. But Mark must return to his job in Portland at summer’s end, and Nicole must guard her heart.

Mark is hoping for a quiet summer in Sunriver as he contemplates his future in law enforcement, but a string of burglaries draws him from his self-imposed break from detective work and thrusts him into the middle of the investigation. To complicate matters, Nicole is in jeopardy, and he knows his growing feelings for her could cloud his judgment. Will their differing career goals be the end of their summer romance—or just the beginning of forever after? http://amzn.to/2ct1vkH

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Please help me spread the word by sharing this post with your friends who enjoy reading sweet romance, or sharing on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Thanks!

#NewRelease A Love to Treasure by Kimberly Rose Johnson

I’m excited to introduce you to a new series I have contracted. This series takes place in Sunriver, Oregon–one of my favorite places to vacation. Keep reading for an excerpt and pictures. Here is the back cover blurb.

A Love to Treasure Cover bk1School teacher Nicole Davis is on summer break, but this vacation is unlike any other. Her beloved Grandmother’s final wish has landed Nicole smack in the middle of her favorite destination—Sunriver, Oregon, following Grams’s clues on a mysterious scavenger hunt. Unexpectedly, Nicole finds more than just a fellow sleuth in a handsome police officer, Mark Stone. But Mark must return to his job in Portland at summer’s end, and Nicole must guard her heart.

Mark is hoping for a quiet summer in Sunriver as he contemplates his future in law enforcement, but a string of burglaries draws him from his self-imposed break from detective work and thrusts him into the middle of the investigation. To complicate matters, Nicole is in jeopardy, and he knows his growing feelings for her could cloud his judgment. Will their differing career goals be the end of their summer romance—or just the beginning of forever after?

On Mother’s Day my photographer son and my husband took me to Sunriver. This grocery store is the one mentioned in the story.

SR Viallage Grocery store

Chapter 1

Nicole Davis drove past a huge welcome sign to Sunriver, Oregon, and grinned. She was finally here. She loved this resort community and still couldn’t believe it would be her home for the next few months.

She bore to the right around the traffic circle. Suddenly a black car came out of nowhere. Nicole swerved and slammed on the brake, her front bumper barely missing the side of the black car. Her heart pounded as she weaved her Mini Cooper onto the miniscule dirt shoulder a few feet from a large pine tree. She put the car in park, her breath coming in quick puffs. She looked around to make sure she hadn’t hit anything. Whew. Everything looked okay.

The crazy driver who ran her off the road drove around the circle again and pulled off the road in front of her. This couldn’t be good. She gulped as a dark-haired man wearing jeans and a dark gray T-shirt stalked toward her.

Her gut clenched. She checked her reflection in the rearview mirror and noted her wide green eyes filled with fear. Not good. She needed to appear unaffected by the incident or he’d see her vulnerability She took a deep breath then let it out in a whoosh. After making sure no cars were coming, she stepped out of her Mini Cooper and onto the shoulder, refusing to be intimidated by the man. His height caught her by surprise. Most men were only a few inches taller than her, but not this guy. He towered above her five-foot-nine inch frame. And those biceps—maybe she should’ve stayed in the car. But he didn’t look dangerous, only irritated.

She offered him a tentative smile. “That was a close call.” “No kidding. You didn’t yield.” He pointed to a yellow sign.

“Oops. Sorry.” Her face heated. Grams always said she barreled through life. But she generally obeyed traffic signs. “I didn’t see the sign.”

She focused on the handsome man before her with close-cropped hair and dark brown eyes the color of Swiss chocolate.

His brows turned down. “Are you okay?”

Her gaze dropped to his mouth, which was pulled into a frown. She shook her head and focused on the concern in his eyes. “I’m fine. No harm done, as they say. And I really am sorry about not yielding.” She backed against the car door. Her grandmother had paid for this adventure, and she would enjoy it—she just needed to be more careful. “I haven’t been to Sunriver in years and was trying to find the resort lodge.” She took in her surroundings—a paved bicycle trail, roadway, and woods. Beyond the woods she spotted several structures dotting the landscape. “I don’t suppose you could point me in the right direction.”

He peered down at her, his stance relaxing. He even ventured what appeared to be a small smile. “Like you said, no harm done.” He pointed slightly left. “The lodge is that way.”

The breeze rustling through the tall pine trees didn’t help the heat burning in Nicole’s cheeks. “Thanks.”

“No problem. Watch for the signs. They’ll keep you on track.” He sauntered back to his car, then pivoted. “By the way, welcome to Sunriver. I hope the rest of your stay goes better.”

“Uh, thanks.” Nicole slid behind the wheel and drove away, hoping she wouldn’t run into that man again. Talk about embarrassing! She breathed in deeply of the pine-scented air and focused on her reason for being here—Grams’ letter. She owed it to her grandmother to fulfill her final wish.

Nicole turned left into the lodge’s parking lot and pulled into a spot. The lodge was even prettier than she remembered. The planters, a combination of red, purple and white flowers mixed among shrubs and trees, were perfection. She got out, grabbed her luggage and walked toward the grand entrance. A young couple strolled hand-in-hand nearby, and several people dressed in business attire ambled out of the lodge. The sound of crashing water drew her attention. A beautiful rock water feature off to the right of the main entrance looked like the perfect place to escape the busyness of life.

She dragged her attention away from the waterfall and climbed the concrete steps to the entrance. The huge door opened with surprising ease. She pulled off her sunglasses and allowed her eyes to adjust to the dim lighting. Straight ahead, stairs led to a restaurant where a few guests milled about. To her left, several smartly dressed people stood behind a counter waiting to check in guests.

Nicole squared her shoulders and marched toward check-in trying to ignore the knot in the pit of her stomach. Why was she so nervous? Grams had loved scavenger hunts, and this vacation promised to be an adventure, beginning with the letter that led her to the resort.

Nicole approached the first person at the long reception counter. “Hi, I’m Nicole Davis. I have a reservation.”

The woman smiled. “Welcome to Sunriver. I love your hair color. Is it natural?”
Nicole nodded. “Yes and thanks.” Grams had loved her long blonde hair as well.
“You’re lucky.” She lowered her voice. “Mine’s from a bottle.” She sighed then clicked on

the computer keyboard. She raised a brow. “You have a package. I’ll be right back.”
A package—so the game begins. Grams had a creative streak few could compete with. The package would likely contain the first clue to this adventure Grams had sent her on.
The woman came back and held out a small box wrapped in bright red paper with a shiny white bow on top. “Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome.” She handed her a key card, then showed her where her room was on the map and explained how to get to it. “Enjoy your stay.”

Nicole pocketed the key. “Thanks. I’ll try.” She left the building and followed the path to the stairwell that led to her nearby suite. What was in the box? Whatever it was, she knew Grams had put a lot of thought into it.

Nicole’s throat burned at the thought of her late Grandmother—so much regret. If only she’d spent more time with Grams and less time working on lesson plans this past year. She’d loved her grandmother and wished for a do-ever, but death didn’t have do-overs. Instead, Nicole would honor her grandmother’s final wish and play along one last time. Hopefully this game wouldn’t end in disaster like the time she’d ended up in the middle of a lake with a broken oar.

The picture below is of Mt. Bachelor and was taken from the golf course behind the Sunriver Lodge.

Mount Bachelor at SR Golf Course

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There is currently a pre-order discount for A Love to Treasure for Amazon Kindle http://amzn.to/1XkCbyU