On Tour with Prism Book Tours.
Can people truly change?
Two things keep Holly Campbell grounded: her precocious son and preserving her forty-year-old family diner in the face of expansion and change. She doesn’t need a blast from the past like Luke Saxon, who’s back in Butterfly Harbor after more than a decade away. The hard-luck kid who nearly destroyed her family, leaving her to pick up the pieces, is taking over as sheriff. She can’t trust him, even if Luke’s ideas for the town’s upcoming anniversary seem to show he’s trying to give back to their community. Has Butterfly Harbor found its unlikely savior? And has the widowed single mother finally found a man she can believe in, rely on…and love?
USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J. Stewart can’t remember a time she didn’t have a book in her hands or a story in her head. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family centric romances with happily ever afters for the independent heroines she writes for both Harlequin and Berkley. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it’s Snickers who tolerates her).
12/14: Mythical Books, beck valley books, & underneath the covers
12/15: I Am A Reader, Word Wranglers, Enthralling Dimple, & Mommabears Book Blog
12/16: Getting Your Read On, Teatime and Books, & deal sharing aunt
12/17: Christy’s Cozy Corners, Katie’s Clean Book Collection, Thoughts of a Blonde, & Book Reviews @ Athena
12/18: Singing Librarian Books, Becky on Books, & Zerina Blossom’s Books
12/20: Grand Finale
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Ends December 24th
~ Excerpt ~
Unwrapping the bundle of flatware on the table, Luke tore bits off his napkin. He’d spent extended time in war zones. He’d put his military training to use with the Chicago Police Department in their bomb squad. He’d been the department’s go-to when it came to potentially explosive domestic disturbances and had overseen rookie training for the explosive disposal unit. He could manage a year in Butterfly Harbor.
Or so he’d told himself on the cross-country drive.
Apparently Holly Campbell hadn’t gotten the memo.
Luke glanced over as she swept out of sight into the kitchen, her shoulder-length brown hair tumbling in waves. She’d been pretty as a girl, but as a woman she was stunning. Like a throwback to the glory days of vaudeville, with her big doll eyes and a small, pert mouth. Her curved, rounded figure set a man to thinking about late-night bonfires and moonlit swims in the ocean. Luke caught the gaze of the boy sitting at the counter, questioning hostility shining in eyes so familiar he had to be Holly’s son.
“Jake should have told her,” Gil said. “Hiring you was his idea in the first place.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Luke was a big boy. He could take whatever punishment Holly and anyone else in town saw fit to dole out. And if there was one thing Holly Gordon—no, Holly Campbell—excelled at, it was getting her point across. Luke pretended to skim the menu Gil set in front of him.
“To be honest,” Gil said, “I’m surprised you took the job.”
The pencil-thin, raven-haired waitress set a mug and two glasses on the table. “Here’s your coffee, black, and water, no ice. And for you?” She batted mascara-thick eyelashes at Luke as she pulled out her notepad.
“Water’s fine, thanks.” He’d already drunk enough coffee this morning to keep him awake for a week. “I’ll have the BLT, hold the B, no mayo, sweet potato fries if you have them.”
“We do.” She nodded. “Mr. Mayor?”
“Burger, medium and loaded, Twyla. Garlic fries.”
“You got it.” Twyla bounded off to greet a new influx of customers that raised the noise level in the diner. Luke relaxed enough to take in the polished diner’s surroundings. The space was brighter than he remembered. More welcoming in a way. The stainless steel sparkled and the orange and black hues were a tribute to the diner’s location on Monarch Lane. Classic retro with a twist of home. He flipped over the menu and smiled when he saw the list of Holly’s homemade pies, something she’d dabbled in as a teen, had expanded. Combined with the late-morning aroma of frying bacon and the early afternoon promise of onions and garlic, the diner felt, and smelled, familiar. “While I’m grateful, I’m not entirely sure why Jake recommended me for the position.”
“When Jake and I discussed his retirement, I asked for names. Yours was the only one on the list.” Gil dumped three packets of sweetener into his coffee. He caught Luke’s arched brow and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know. If this job doesn’t kill me the chemicals will.”
“Your life.” Luke shrugged. “Up to you what you do with it.” A lesson Luke had learned thanks to Jake Gordon, the only man who had ever given a damn about him. He owed Holly’s father more than he could ever repay, and now his debt to the man had increased. Dealing with twelve years of built-up small-town hostility and resentment seemed a small price to pay if he could set things right with Jake once and for all. Besides, it was only for a year. “What else is going on, Gil?”
Gil shrugged. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Don’t you?” Luke glanced over his shoulder toward the Cocoon Club and lowered his voice. “Here’s what I know. I know the election was rough on you, and Jake Gordon was one of the reasons why since he backed your opponent. Letting Jake have a say in who replaces him was your way of mending fences. But you still have to prove you aren’t your father’s son, that you’re more than a walking bank account. Now you need to show you care about this town more than how many buildings have your name on the title.”
“You never were one to mince words.” Some of the friendliness disappeared behind Gil’s hawk-like green eyes. “Anything else you want to get off your chest?”
Luke sat back. “I know your dad left you in a heap of trouble when he died last year and you’re still digging out from under. And there’s the baggage that comes with having a real SOB for a father. You figure I can relate. But you’re wrong if you think I won’t give you grief over plans for the town that I believe are out of line as you try to make amends.”
“You might be right.” Gil looked out the window onto the side street as if scanning the empty streets and abandoned businesses. Boarded-up windows. Peeling paint. Crooked signs and broken panes of glass. Luke had seen it the second he hit town; he’d felt it, heard it, as if the town was crying out in silent agony. Butterfly Harbor was dying.
“I want to get one thing straight before I pin that badge on. I’m nobody’s tool, Gil. You and the town council hired me to oversee the town’s transition and make sure law enforcement is up to the challenge of taking Butterfly Harbor in a new direction. While I’m grateful for the opportunity, it doesn’t mean I’m going to automatically agree with everything you say.”
“You mean you won’t be shy about telling me when I’m wrong?”
“I mean I’m my own man. Same as you’re trying to be. And don’t act as if we were buddies back in the day. We both know you and I lived in different worlds.”
“Yeah.” Gil let out a sharp laugh. “I guess you would think that.”