Cover, Excerpt & Trailer
Stonehill Romance Book Four
Jessica’s father Phil has worked his entire life to create a more stable childhood for his daughter than he had. His own nomadic, single-parent childhood has made him fiercely committed to raising his daughter with everything he didn’t have, with one exception: two parents. After his wife left him, Phil’s mother stepped in to help her son with their infant daughter. But rainbow pancakes, ponies, and princesses can’t color over the dark void left in Phil’s heart which he won’t even admit is there.
Jessica’s grandmother takes in foster babies like some people take in stray dogs, her grandfather just came into the picture for the first time in her life, and her father may or may not be looking to replace the mother who left them with her 6th grade teacher. There is nothing Jessica wants more than to be like everyone else, but between her Down Syndrome and her colorful family, “average” isn’t part of her vocabulary. This year when she blows out eleven candles on her homemade vegan cake she makes the same wish she’s made for as many birthdays as she can remember: she wants a mother.
Mallory had it all: a college degree and a dream job offer in a glamorous city far from the small town where she grew up. But when her mother’s life unexpectedly turns upside down, Mallory realizes her dreams come second to her heart, and she moves home set on helping her fiercely independent mother recover. She forms a bond with her mother’s unexpected ally, Jessica. Between cosplay and Jessica’s hot father, Mallory finds that coming back to Stonehill she might just have found a way to make all of her dreams come true. But as their families start not-so-subtly pushing Phil and Mallory together, old insecurities and Phil’s worst fears threaten to break up the happy trio and catch Jessica in the emotional crossfire.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content/Theme(s): Single Dad, Second Chance, Down Syndrome
Release Date: January 22, 2016
Excerpt & More
“I think part of the reason we stayed in Seattle as long as we did was because part of me was hoping she’d come back. Not for me.” Phil nodded toward his daughter. “For her. I get why Katrina left. It was hell not knowing if Jess was going to live through her surgery. Raising her has had certain challenges that most parents probably don’t face. I couldn’t have done it without Mom. So, I do understand why Kat left. I just don’t understand how she could follow through on it.”
Mallory smiled slightly. “My dad signed paperwork before I was born. Mom made sure of it. I never met him, but she swears we were better off. I believe her. If he’d been worth a damn, he wouldn’t have signed away his rights to me. And if he wanted to find me, he could have. We’ve always lived in Stonehill. Mom’s name is all over her business. Her shooting was all over the news last year. If he wanted to find me, he could. Clearly he doesn’t.”
“His loss,” Phil said.
She nodded. “And not being here for Jess is Katrina’s loss. Not Jessica’s.”
He started to remind his daughter not to put her face next to the dog’s, but when she put a kiss on the black head, she received a lick in return and Phil smiled. “They’re going to be inseparable, aren’t they?”
“I think so.”
“Have you decided on his name, Jess?”
She finally tore her attention from the dog and looked at Phil. “I think we should call him Lucky. Don’t you?”
“I think that’s perfect. Say good night to Lucky.”
“Dad. He’ll be lonely if I leave him.”
Phil pushed himself up. “He’ll be fine.”
Jessica looked at Mallory, clearly seeking support, but Mallory just lifted her hands helplessly. “You can’t stay up with him all night.”
Jess stuck her lip out a bit, but pushed herself up. “Sleep tight, Lucky.” She hugged Phil, but then shocked Mallory by walking to the couch and throwing her arms around her neck. “Night, Mallory.”
Mallory hugged her tight. “Night, Jess.”
Leaning back, Jessica looked in her eyes. “Thanks for taking me to the lake today and for staying with us at the vet’s office and for helping us buy stuff for Lucky. I’m glad you were there today.”
“I’ll be right back,” Phil said to Mallory. He followed Jessica toward her bedroom. “Teeth brushed, hair brushed, jammies on, and in bed in ten minutes.”
“I know, Dad,” she said with the same exasperated tone she used every night these days. She used to get upset if he didn’t follow her around, telling her what to do. Now she seemed to have no use for his reminders. Leaning on her bedroom doorjamb, he watched her open one of her dresser drawers and pull out a nightgown. “Stop growing up so fast, Punk.”
She turned back to him, her face dead serious. “I can’t control how fast I grow.”
“Well, try.” He crossed the room and put a kiss on her forehead. “See you in the morning.”
“Is Mallory going home?” she asked before he reached the bedroom door.
He turned to face her. “She’ll go home sometime. Why?”
“Do you like her?”
“But do you like her?”
“She’s my friend, Jess.”
She dropped her shoulders. “What’s wrong with her?”
He laughed softly. “Nothing.”
“Then why don’t you like her?”
“I haven’t known her very long.”
“That’s not true. We met her when Dianna and Paul got married. Dianna is Grandma’s best friend, and Paul is Mallory’s uncle, and we were at the wedding. You talked to her. Remember?”
“Yes, Jessica. I talked to her, but I didn’t really know her.”
“And when Annie was in the hospital, after she got hurt, you talked to Mallory then.”
“Yes, Jessica,” he said again. “But I’m just starting to get to know her.”
“Me, too, and I like her.”
He crossed the room and sat on her bed. Resting his elbows on his knees, he sighed and ran his hands over his face. “Listen, kiddo, I know you’ve been feeling like maybe there’s a hole in our lives. All your friends have moms who do stuff with them and teach them things that maybe I don’t know a lot about, but we can’t just decide that we like Mallory and put her in a role that maybe she doesn’t want to fill. I know you want a mom, Jessica. I get that. I understand it more than you know.”
“Because you didn’t have a dad.”
He nodded. “But before I let someone even think about getting close to you like that, I need to know that she’s the right person for you and for me. That takes time. It takes a long time to know if you love someone enough to marry them, and even more time before you know if they are going to be a good parent to your kid. I’m not going to let just anybody into our lives, Jessica. Not like that.”
“Mallory isn’t just anybody. She’s Annie’s daughter and my friend.”
“I know. And she’s a good friend, too. But that doesn’t mean she’d be good at being your mom. You know what she said today? She said if you ever need anything you can talk to her. She said she’d be your friend, no matter what.”
“That’s not the same,” Jess whispered.
“I know. But it’s the best I can do right now.”
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