Tag Archive | harlequin publishing

Marriage By Arrangement by: Sophia Singh Sasson

The perfect read for those steamy summer nights. Sometimes the biggest risks in life are the ones that bring you all the happiness in the world. I was drawn into Rani and Arjun’s story from page one. The sparks were flying from their very first meeting.

MARRIAGE BY ARRANGEMENT by Sophia Singh Sasson – Title information, author bio, author links & sales links

Book description: 

When a business proposal turns very personal…
Rule #1: Don’t fall for the client.
Because he’ll rock your world…

Architect Rani Gupta will never let a man compromise her career or freedom again. Which is a problem now that her newest client is irresistible hotelier Arjun Singh—aka the sexiest bachelor in India. A little fling with this gorgeous man would be scandal enough. But a fake engagement might just be more trouble than they bargained for—especially if Arjun has a prior arrangement!

Author bio:

Sophia puts her childhood habit of daydreaming to good use by writing stories that will give you hope, make you laugh, cry and possibly snort tea from your nose. She was born in Mumbai, India, and has lived in the Canary Islands, Spain and Toronto, Canada. Currently she calls the madness of Washington, DC, home. She loves to read, travel to exotic locations, bake, scuba dive and watch Bollywood movies. Contact her through http://SophiaSasson.com.

Author links: ● Author website: http://sophiasasson.com/● Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sophia_singh_sasson/?hl=en● Twitter:https://twitter.com/sophiasasson?lang=en● Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSophiaSasson/● Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14584440.Sophia_Singh_Sasson

Sales links:● B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/marriage-by-arrangement-sophia-singh-sasson/1136665452?ean=9781335209290● Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Arrangement-Nights-Mahal-Book-ebook/dp/B082WHMVCQ/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=marriage+by+arrangement&qid=1593186014&sr=8-1● Google: https://books.google.ca/books/about/Marriage_by_Arrangement.html?id=zRrFDwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y● Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335209290● Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488063084_marriage-by-arrangement.html● Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49427408-marriage-by-arrangement

Excerpt, MARRIAGE BY ARRANGEMENT by Sophia Singh Sasson

***

“Are you okay?” Rani asked.

The changing stage lights threw seductive shadows across her face, and he felt himself gazing into her dark eyes. He’d always thought she was beautiful but tonight she looked spectacular. He knew she wasn’t wearing a designer dress, and if he had to guess, she probably hadn’t spent all day at the beauty salon getting her hair and makeup done. Yet she looked more stunning than any woman he’d ever met. Those heels that she clearly hated showed off her long, shapely legs and the way her hair framed her face made him want to weave his fingers into it. She was looking at him with such intensity, it seemed she could see into his soul.

“Just family drama,” he said, surprising himself. He pulled his hand away from hers before he was tempted to take things further. Last night when he’d said good-bye in the car, he’d felt such an urgent need to kiss her that he’d almost canceled their plans tonight. He prided himself on always being in control.

He took a sip of the neat whiskey he’d ordered, hop-ing the raw burn down his throat would bring him back to his senses and shake loose an idea on how to deal with his family.

“Tell me about it.” Rani leaned in close to him, and he caught a whiff of her vanilla scent.

Where do I start? With Divya or Hema? Hema was a not a problem to solve. She was an obligation he had to come to terms with. “My sister Divya has been offered a job in Jaipur and wants to take it, but that’s not done in our family.”

“Why not?”

He shifted in his chair.

“What I mean is, what is your parents’ specific concern beyond the fact that it’s not the tradition? The parampara?”

He looked at her in surprise. She gets it.

“I think they fear that if she’s financially independent, she won’t follow the house rules.” Even as he said the words, he realized how horrible it sounded. “You have to understand that my parents are doing what they think is best for her.”

“They’re trying to control her.”

“They are trying to protect her.”

“I don’t think we’ll agree on that point. So what do you plan to do?”

“I’m thinking of secretly increasing her allowance. That way she can buy what she wants without having to ask my parents’ permission. That’s how this whole job thing started. She wanted to buy a car for herself and they questioned her spending.”

Rani shook her head. “You’re not understanding her.” He frowned. While he wanted Rani’s perspective, she didn’t know Divya. Arjun talked to Divya almost every day. How could Rani be so confident in saying he didn’t understand his sister?

“Divya doesn’t want to work just to buy things. She wants to work to have a sense of purpose, of independence. To do something meaningful with her life. I don’t think you can appreciate what it’s like for an intelligent person to sit at home all day with nothing to do. It’s maddening.”

“She has lots of things to do. There is staff to man-age, social events to plan, charity work. My mother is always complaining about how busy she is.”

“But those aren’t things that satisfy a young, educated woman who doesn’t want to be a socialite. She wants do something that is uniquely hers, and have control over some aspect of her life.”

It seems you’re speaking from personal experience.” She nodded. “My ex-husband’s family didn’t have your kind of wealth but they were comfortable. My in-laws asked me to quit my job, which I foolishly did. My days were filled with shopping and social events that I couldn’t care less about. I’m guessing your sister lives a similar life. Working is not about the money, it’s about independence. Of the many things I lost during my marriage, the one I lament the most is my career. I was almost at the point of making senior architect at RKS when I left. After the divorce, I had to start at the bottom of the junior level because I’d been out of the game so long. Divya doesn’t want to become obsolete.”

Arjun spread his hands. “So what do you suggest I do? My mother will not agree to let her get a job. I’ve already tried to convince her and she is firm on this point.”

“What is Divya qualified to do?”

“She studied law.”

Rani chewed her lip, and he found himself staring at her. “Your business is big enough that you surely need lawyers.”

He nodded. “Of course. I have a couple in every city that we have a hotel.”

“So hire her for your legal team in the Jaipur office.” “Jaipur is an hour away from our home.”

“Do you do the commute?”

He rubbed his neck. It could work. “We have a trusted driver who could take her every day.”

It was a nice idea. His brother, Sameer, had no interest in working for the family business, and Arjun could use a trusted person to take on some of the responsibilities of the company while he was in Vegas. He was tired of having to wake up in the middle of the night to get on the phone with someone in India.

“It’s a potential solution. Thank you, Rani.”

The crowd became louder as the warm-up act wrapped up and introduced Russell Peters. Rani started laughing at one of the jokes. Arjun hadn’t heard it. All he could focus on was the way her mouth crinkled, and the happy sound of her giggles and laughter. He’d been with a fair number of women in the last several years; all of them had been socialites who clearly understood that he wasn’t looking for an emotional attachment. His relationships were always physical. None of them had made him want to connect emotionally like this.

“Am I really more amusing than the comedian?” Rani turned to him, grinning.

He smiled sheepishly. “You certainly are more beautiful.”

Her eyes widened and her mouth opened slightly. He took a breath to keep from leaning over and kissing her irresistible lips. As if reading his mind, she suddenly snapped her head back towards the stage. He took a long slug from his glass of whiskey.

So what if we work together? The project would be over in less than six months and he’d be returning to India to a lifetime of obligation. If she was attracted to him too, what was wrong with a brief affair? He knew how to be discreet; he would protect Rani, and make sure there would be no fallout for her at RKS. After all, what happened in Vegas could stay in Vegas.

***

A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

I have been a fan of Rochelle Alers for a few years now so for me this was a must read. Not only did the story appeal to me but so did the author. This was a fun read. I really enjoyed the characters and the storyline. The main character, Zoey, is the kind of character you find yourself rooting for to find a happily ever after. A great summertime read.

A WINNING SEASON by Rochelle Alers – Title information, author bio, author links & sales links

Book description: 

Sliding home…for a lifetime.
The girl next door…or a grand slam love?

Baseball ace Sutton Reed’s returned home triumphant after years in the majors. When he moves next door to a troubled young man, he’s determined to help—for the boy’s sake and for the boy’s gorgeous older sister, Zoey Allen. After sacrificing everything to keep her family together, Zoey has no time for romance…even with a hometown hero. But will this unlikely combo be the home run love story they all deserve?

Author bio: Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today’s most popular African-American authors of women’s fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award. Visit her Web site http://www.rochellealers.com

Author links: • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rochelle_alers/?hl=en• Twitter: https://twitter.com/rochellealers?lang=en• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rochelle.alers• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/107119.Rochelle_Alers

Sales links:• B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-winning-season-rochelle-alers/1136387501?ean=9781335894793• Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084JNV4YL/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1• Google: https://books.google.ca/books/about/A_Winning_Season.html?id=serODwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y• Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335894793• Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335894793_a-winning-season.html • Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51183102-a-winning-season

Excerpt, A WINNING SEASON by Rochelle Alers

***

Sutton gave Zoey her mug, noticing her hand had trembled slightly when their fingers touched. “Are you all right?”

“I’m good,” she said.

He wanted to believe Zoey was all right but the rigidness in her body said otherwise. He stood and moved to a nearby chair. “I’m sorry if I invaded your personal space.”

She lowered her eyes, staring into the contents of her mug. “It’s okay.”

Sutton drank his coffee, staring at Zoey over the rim. He was perceptive enough to know she had been completely at ease with him the day before, but this morning her body language said otherwise, and he wondered what he’d said or done to make her uneasy.

Suddenly it occurred to Sutton that he may have made a faux pas when he had referred to Zoey as pretty lady, especially when he did not know whether she was involved with someone. “I’m sorry, Zoey.”

She halted putting the mug to her mouth. “For what?”

“For making you uncomfortable because I called you pretty lady. Hell, I don’t even know if you’re involved with someone.”

Zoey swallowed a mouthful of coffee. The corners of her eyes crinkled when she smiled. “I really have to give it to you, Sutton Reed.”

A slight frown marred his natural good looks. “What are you talking about?”

“You did not make me uncomfortable, and if you wanted to know if I’m involved with someone, then all you had to do was ask.”

A hint of a smile replaced his frown. “Are you?” The seconds ticked as she met his eyes. “No. And I can’t afford to because of a promise I made to Kyle and Harper when they were little boys. I told them it would be just the three of us until they were old enough to take care of themselves.”

Sutton set his mug on a side table. “I can under-stand you  ​that promise when they were boys, but I doubt if Harper would hold it against you if you decided to start dating.”

“Right now, Harper has no say in how I live my life.”

“Is he giving you a problem?”

Zoey went completely still. “Why would you ask me that?”

“I was sitting out on the porch when he came home last night. Someone had dropped him off and I noticed he was a little unsteady on his feet.”

If Sutton saw Harper coming home obviously under the influence, then Zoey wondered how many of her other neighbors had also witnessed it. Zoey did not want or need people gossiping about the Allen boy drinking or possibly drugging. She had managed to raise Kyle to adulthood without an incident, but life was testing her because Harper had decided he wasn’t going to make it that easy for her.

“I don’t know you and you don’t know me, Sut-ton, and there’s no way I’m going to dump on you about my problems.”

Sutton angled his head, giving her a long stare. “You’ve lived in the Falls all your life and you should know that folks here always look out for one another. Those who have more than they need always share with those who don’t have enough. And it’s not al-ways about money.”

Zoey knew he was right. The people in the town had been more than generous when tragedy struck her family. Even now some folks still asked if she needed anything. She nodded. “You’re right. I give thanks every day that I live here and not somewhere else, because without the help of Preston McAvoy, the chamber of commerce and the worshippers at the church, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.”

The local law firm had handled her legal prob-lems; local contractors had volunteered their services to make certain the house was free of violations; a company selling and installing gas heaters set up an installment plan for her to pay off the cost of the unit over three years.

“So once Harper graduates you plan to stay here?” Sutton asked.

Zoey smiled. “Where would I go?”

He shrugged broad shoulders under his tee. “I don’t know. Maybe you’d prefer someplace that has a little more excitement.”

She took another sip of the delicious brew. Sutton had made the coffee exactly how she liked it. “The Falls has enough excitement for the four thousand-plus folks who live here. Someone had submitted a proposal to the town council to open a club and it was unanimously voted down. What we don’t need is a club with people getting drunk and acting like fools. The town council in Mineral Springs has closed two clubs in the past four years because of fights and rowdiness.”

“The Springs has almost twice our population, so there’s bound to be a few more incidents than we have here.”

“Speaking of excitement, why did you decide to move back here after spending half your life in Hot-lanta?” Zoey had asked the question that had plagued her since hearing word that Sutton Reed was moving back to Wickham Falls.

Sutton closed his eyes for several seconds. “I never really got used to living in a big city. The crowds and noise didn’t upset me whenever I was at the stadium, but once the game was over all I wanted was some-place quiet where I could decompress.”

“Whenever you were interviewed you seemed so confident, so in control of yourself.”

“That was all an act, Zoey. I’d learned early on to switch it on for the cameras and microphones. There was one Sutton for the sports reporters and another Sutton when he was home behind closed doors.”

***

Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

From the moment I first read the description for this book it sounded like a good read. I’m not going to lie there were a few times it got to be a little much for me and I thought about walking away from it. But I didn’t. Overall Julia and Rocco’s story was fun and interesting. This was defiantly a first of its kind book for me. But don’t let my struggles keep you from reading it. It’s always good to broaden your horizons (even in reading) and this book sure did that for me for sure.

Carina Press Blog Tour Program: Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Title and Author Details

Title: Here to Stay

Author: Adriana Herrera

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press

On-Sale: August 25, 2020

Format: Ebook (Trade Paperback & Audiobook formats also available!)

Ebook ISBN: 9780369700926

Ebook Price: $3.99 USD

Book Description: “Hot, heartwarming, and hilarious…This is a knockout.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Award-winning, highly-acclaimed author Adriana Herrera delivers the sexy, modern enemies-to-lovers romance you’ve been waiting for.

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.

Buy Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780369700926_here-to-stay.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Here-Stay-Adriana-Herrera-ebook/dp/B086R2QY77

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/here-to-stay-adriana-herrera/1136795733

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/here-to-stay/id1506190677

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Adriana_Herrera_Here_to_Stay?id=_-zaDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/here-to-stay-20

About Adriana Herrera

Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s ‘Best Romance Debuts of 2019’, and one of the ‘Top 10 Romances of 2019’ by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezclaand Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective. Represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.

Connect with Adriana Herrera

Website: https://adrianaherreraromance.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladrianaherrera

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laura.adriana.94801

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ladriana_herrera/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18639202.Adriana_Herrera

The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season by: Molly Fader

Wow! Is all I can say about this book. Again another book that I would not normally pick up on my own. But this may be the best book I have read so far in 2020. Really left an impression.

Hope (the main character) is in need of a safe place and some love. Peg, Hope’s Aunt, has let the past rule her life and she too is in need of some love. Tink, Hope’s daughter needs extra love and to get her childhood back. Three generations of woman and one cherry season maybe just what is needed to move forward from the past and find love and happiness.

This book was the perfect mix of seriousness and entertainment. For me it was a real eye opener. I may have to try a few more books by the author. Great find if 2020.

THE BITTER AND SWEET OF CHERRY SEASON

Author: Molly Fader

ISBN: 9781525804557

Publication Date: June 6, 2020

Publisher: Graydon House Books

BIO

Molly Fader is the author of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets. She is also the award-winning author of more than forty romance novels under the pennames Molly O’Keefe and M. O’Keefe. She grew up outside of Chicago and now lives in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter, @mollyokwrites.

BOOK SUMMARY

For fans of Robyn Carr, commercial women’s fiction about three generations of women who come together at the family orchard to face secrets from the past and learn to believe in the power of hope and forgiveness.

In cherry season, anything is possible…

Everything Hope knows about the Orchard House is from her late-mother’s stories. So when she arrives at the Northern Michigan family estate late one night with a terrible secret and her ten-year-old daughter in tow, she’s not sure if she’ll be welcomed or turned away with a shotgun by the aunt she has never met.

Hope’s aunt, Peg, has lived in the Orchard House all her life, though the property has seen better days. She agrees to take Hope in if, in exchange, Hope helps with the cherry harvest—not exactly Hope’s specialty, but she’s out of options. As Hope works the orchard alongside her aunt, daughter, and a kind man she finds increasingly difficult to ignore, a new life begins to blossom. But the mistakes of the past are never far behind, and soon the women will find themselves fighting harder than ever for their family roots and for each other.

SOCIAL:

Author Website: http://mollyfader.com/

TWITTER: @MollyOKwrites

FB: @MollyFader

Insta: @mokeefeauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18435981.Molly_Fader

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Chapter 1

HOPE

​Night up in Northern Michigan was no joke. 

Hope had never seen a dark so dark. It had heft and dimension, like she was driving right into an abyss. She thought about waking up Tink in the back to show her, but the girl had finally fallen asleep and she needed the rest. 

And Hope needed a break. 

Who knew traveling with a completely silent, angry and traumatized ten-year-old could be so exhausting?

Hope’s phone had died when she got off the highway about twenty minutes ago. In those last few minutes of battery she hadtried to memorize the directions:

Left on Murray Street.

Slight right onto County Road 72. 

Your destination is five miles on the right. 

But County Road 72 wasn’t well marked and now she feared she was lost. Well, for sure she was lost; in the grand scheme of things she was totally off the map. 

But she was clinging to the one ratty thread of hope she had left in her hand. 

And then just as that tiny bit of thread started to slip out of her fingers, from the murk emerged a blue sign.

County Road 72.

The road took a long arcing right into the dark, and she unrolled her window, trying to keep herself awake. Adrenaline and gas station coffee could only do so much against two sleepless nights. 

Her yawn was so wide it split her lip. Again. Copper-tasting blood pooled in her mouth.

“Shit,” she breathed and pressed the last of the napkins against her mouth. She was even out of napkins. 

In the back, Tink woke up. Hope heard the change in her breathing. The sudden gasp like she was waking up from a nightmare. 

Or into one. Hard to say. 

“Hey,” Hope said, looking over her shoulder into the shadows of the back seat. Her daughter’s pale face like a moon slid into the space between the driver and passenger seats.  “We’re almost there.” Hope sounded like they were about to drive up to the gates of Disney World.

Tink rubbed her eyes. 

​“Did you see the stars?” Hope’s voice climbed into that range she’d recently developed. Dementedly cheerful. Stepford Mom on helium. She winced at the sound of it. That wasn’t her. It wasn’t how she talked to Tink. And yet she couldn’t tune her voice back to normal. “There are so many of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars.”

​Tink ducked her head to look out the windshield and then turned to cock her head at an angle so she could look out the passenger windows.

​They’d gone to an exhibit about the constellations at the Science Center a year ago and Tink still talked about it. Pointing up at Sirius like she’d discovered it herself.

“Aren’t those the pieties?” Hope got the name wrong on purpose, hoping for a snotty-toned correction from her miniature astronomer. Or at least a throat-clearing scoff. 

​But no.

​“Sooner or later you’re going to talk to me,” she said. “You’re going to open that mouth and all the words you haven’t said all day are gonna come pouring out.”

​Silence.

​“Do you want to ask me questions about where we’re going?” They were, after all, heading deep into Northern Michigan to a place she and Tink had never been, and Hope had never told her about until today. 

​Tink rubbed her eyes again.

​“Or maybe what happened…tonight?” Her gaze bounced between Tink and the road. 

​When you’re older, you’ll understand. When you’re a mom, you’ll understand. She wanted to say that to her daughter, but she herself barely understood any of what had happened the last two days.  

​Still silence. 

​Hope tried a different angle. “I’m telling you, Tink. I know you and you can’t keep this up much longer. I’ll bet you ten bucks you say something to me in five…four…three…two…” She pulled in a breath that tasted like tears and blood. 

Please, honey. Please.

“One.” She sighed. “Fine. You win.”

Her beat-up hatchback bounced over the uneven asphaltand Tink crawled from the backseat into the front, her elbow digging into Hope’s shoulder, her flip-flopped foot kicking her in the thigh. 

The degree of parenting it would take to stop Tink from doing that, or to discuss the potential dangers and legality of it,was completely beyond her. She was beyond pick your battles, into some new kind of wild west motherhood. Pretend there were no battles. 

They drove another five minutes until finally, ahead, there was a golden halo of light over the trees along the side of the road, and Hope slowed down. A gravel driveway snaked through the darkness and she took it on faith that it had been five miles. 

“This is it.” 

Please let this be it. 

The driveway opened up and there was a yellow-brick, two-story house. 

The Orchard House. That was what Mom called it in the few stories she’d told about growing up here. Actually, the words she used were The Goddamn Orchard House. 

It was a grand old-fashioned place with second-story windows like empty eyes staring down at them. White gingerbread nestled up in the corners of the roof, and there was a big wide porch with requisite rocking chairs.

Seriously, it was so charming, it could have been fake. 

The car rolled to a stop and Hope put it in park. Her maniacal new voice failed her, and she just sat there. Silent. 

Suddenly the front door opened and a dog – a big one, with big teeth – came bounding out. Cujo stopped at the top of the steps and started barking. Behind the dog came a woman in a blue robe carrying a shotgun.

Tink made a high panicked sound in her voice, climbing up in her seat.

Hope’s impulse was to turn the car around and get out of there. The problem was there was nowhere to turn around to. They had no place left to go. 

“It’s okay, honey,” Hope lied. She went as far as to put her hand over Tink’s bony knee, the knob of it fitting her palm like a baseball. “Everything’s going to be all right.”

More desperate than brave, Hope popped open the door. The dog’s bark, unmuffled by steel and glass, was honest-to-god blood curdling. “Hi!” she yelled, trying to be both cheerful and loud enough to be heard over the barking. 

“Get your hands up,” the woman on the porch shouted.  

Hope shoved her hands up through the crack between the door and the car and did a kind of jazz hands with her fingers.  

“What do you want?” the woman asked. 

“Are you Peg—”

“I can’t hear you.”

She stood up, her head reaching up over the door. “Are you Peg?”

“Never mind, me. Who the hell are you?” She pointed the business end of the gun toward them.

Hope quickly side-stepped away from the car door, and Tink reached across the driver’s seat and slammed it shut. 

The heavy thud of the engaged lock was unmistakeable. 

“You don’t know me—”

“No shit!”

“My name is Hope,” she said. 

The gun lowered and the woman’s face changed. From anger to something more careful. “Hope?”

“Yeah. I’m Denise’s girl. I’m…well, you’re my aunt?”

Excerpted from The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Seasonby Molly Fader, Copyright © 2020 by Molly Fader. Published by Graydon House Books.