Willow Park Romance # 1
By: Sarah Hegger
Releasing March 31st, 2015
In this evocative new series from author Sarah Hegger, a woman returns home after a long absence—and wonders if two wrongs really can make a right...
Nine years ago Lucy Flint ran away to Seattle, taking her friend's boyfriend and leaving her high school sweetheart without a word of explanation. Now she's back in Willow Park, Illinois, to help care for her ailing father—and it's no surprise that her ex, Dr. Richard Hunter, is still angry.
Still, she's a different Lucy now. Sober, wiser, ready to make amends to the long—make that very long—list of those she mistreated during her wild younger days. Falling for Richard all over again would mean wreaking havoc in both their lives and possibly squandering her opportunity for redemption. But here, in the place where everything went wrong, is the one person who always felt right, and a second-chance that could be the best mistake she ever made…
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnj4IHOhcuU
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/nobodys-angel-willow-park-1-by-sarah.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22494932-nobody-s-angel?from_search=true
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | ITunes | Kobo
Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.
Mimicking her globe-trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.
She loves to hear from readers and you can find her at any of the places below.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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Excerpt (Please use assigned excerpt)
Excerpt #1 (Underneath the Covers, 4/6 | Katie Oh!, 3/31 | J.R. Richardson Fics, 3/23)
Silence hung heavily over the phone lines. “Lucy? Lucy, are you all right?” “Um, I am.” Lucy peered into the gathering gloom nervously.
Her heart sank. Nothing outside the car had changed. The dark thing spread across the snow was definitely human shaped. The object near the human thing, wheels spinning senselessly, was the bicycle it had been riding. Riding, until someone had opened their door on it. And that someone was her. “I’ve gotta go.”
“What was that noise?”
“I doored a cyclist.”
“You what?” There was nothing dulcet or dreamy about Mads and her smoky vocal chords now.
“It seems I doored a cyclist. I’m going to have to go now.”
“Is the cyclist okay?”
“It’s moving.” Lucy stepped from the car, shut her door, and took a ginger step forward.
A soft noise rode the steady sibilance of the wind. “And I think that’s it groaning.” She held the phone out nervously at the bipedal stain in the snow. “Can you hear it?”
“I can’t hear anything but this howling noise. That’s not it, is it?”
“Nope.” Lucy was reasonably sure on this point. “That’s the wind.”
“I know, right?” Lucy took a half shuffle closer. “I think it’s a him.”
“How do you know it’s a him? Can you see its face?”
“Nope.” Lucy blinked away a sloppy snowflake. “But it’s either a man or a very large woman, with a butt that looks like a man.” And she certainly noticed the taut, muscular lines of his thighs and ass. She tilted her head to the side to get a better look. Those were male and not too bad, current situation aside. The Thinsulate pants could not be doing much good against the cold, because they left very little to the imagination. The figure on the ground moved again and rolled carefully onto his back. Yup, that was very definitely a he and not a she.
“Uh-huh, it’s a him,” she clarified for Mads without taking her eyes off the cyclist. “Excuse me? Are you all right?”
The cyclist cursed softly.
Lucy inched a little closer, ready to launch a heroic retreat into her childhood home if the injured party got pissed at her, the front steps of which loomed tantalizingly close. Coward. Lucy tried to master her yellow streak. “Should I call nine-one-one?”
“Does he look like he needs an ambulance?” Mads asked.
“I’ll ask him.” Lucy raised her voice. “Are you hurt? Should I call nine-one-one?”
The man on the ground moaned and struggled into a sitting position.
Her victim didn’t look all that injured or dangerous, yet.
He stretched out his legs with a hiss.
“I think he’s getting up,” Lucy whispered into the phone.
“Then he can’t be too badly hurt, right?” Mads sounded hopeful. “Any blood? Exposed bones? That sort of thing?”
“I don’t see any blood.” Lucy leaned forward and peered. Now that the cyclist was moving she didn’t want to risk getting any closer. “No bones either. I think that means he might be all right.”
“I can hear you,” he spoke.
“He can hear me,” Lucy reported to Mads. “Oh.” She stopped talking and stared.
“That’s good.” Mads kept it positive.
“I think he’s going to be okay,” Lucy whispered.
The cyclist ignored her and started unbuckling his helmet.
“It’s a good thing he wore a helmet,” Lucy reported into her phone.
“Why?” Mads whispered back.
“Because it’s sort of . . . busted up.”
“And his head?”
“Seems fine.” Lucy stood on her toes for a better look. “Are you sure you’re all right?” Her voice shook slightly as she risked speaking to the cyclist.
“No thanks to you.” The man examined his helmet. He shook his head angrily.
“I didn’t see you.” Lucy kept her tone conciliatory. “You came out of nowhere.”
“Then perhaps you should stop talking on the phone and concentrate on what you’re doing.”
Lucy froze. She knew that voice. “Ah shit.”
The cyclist whipped off his goggles and tucked them into his helmet in short, angry movements.
“This is going to get ugly.” She hadn’t realized she’d spoken out loud until Mads replied.
“Well,” Mads huffed, outraged on her behalf. “Okay, I know you hit the guy with your door. But for the love of God, what kind of dork rides a bike in a snowstorm?”
The wind dropped just then and Mad’s voice squawked out of Lucy’s phone loud and clear. The cyclist jerked his head up and Lucy swore again. All the way west in Seattle, Mads had no idea. Lucy ignored the steady stream of rationalizations coming through the phone as her stomach sped south, into her boots.
“Bye,” she whispered and hung up.
The man in the snow had gone dead still. His gaze locked on her like a heat-seeking missile. And Lucy knew he knew that she knew and he knew that she knew he knew. Or something. Her mind went blank. There must be something to say in situations like this, but she had nothing. She stared at him and he stared right back.
“What the hell are you doing here?” All things considered it was a very reasonable question.
Excerpt #2 (Jami Denise, 4/4 | Wicked Reads, 3/31 | Carrie Elks, 3/24)
“For Christ’s sake.” Lucy leapt back a step as the door was suddenly yanked open. “Are you going to stand there all night?”
And she got her first good look at Richard. Her tongue got glued to the top of her mouth as she stood on his doorstep and stared. Holy Mary, Mother of God, but he looked good. He’d been a handsome boy, but he was so much more now. Her gaze roamed over features that had hardened around the edges, having lost the softer fullness of youth and been replaced by sharply hewn angles. His mouth was still the same, only the lines bracketing it were deeper. It was a stern mouth, but it always seemed to look as if there were a smile waiting to appear.
Except for now.
Now, it was drawn into a single, harsh line. Lucy realized he stood there and glared at her, his eyes colder than the February weather.
“My mother sent over some of her soup.” Lucy lifted the container to show him. Soup sloshed convincingly against the sides.
“Tell her thank you, from me.” His voice sounded a bit deeper and more gravelly. Or perhaps that was because he was thoroughly pissed off. It was still a great voice. She used to call him up just to hear him say her name. His father had been from Willow Park and his mother French Canadian. The accents mixed in Richard’s single-malt baritone like old friends. She wondered if his voice would still caress the two syllables of her name like a lover. Not likely, if the look arcing her way was any indication.
He reached out.
Lucy almost leapt back again before she realized he was going for the soup. Damn.
He raised an eyebrow at her and she gave him the soup. She felt stupider by the second.
He stepped into the house again and the door started to shut. “Um.”
“Yes?” Richard glared at her.
“May I come in?” She could see him mentally battling that one. Richard had the manners his father ground into him and the natural chivalry of a born gentleman. He wanted to slam the door in her face. She could read it in his white-knuckled grip on the wood, but his good twin wouldn’t let him do it. With a grudging nod, he stepped back and made a brusque motion with his hand for her to enter.
He turned and strode down the corridor and Lucy trailed him obediently.
His jeans were old and worn, but they clung to his thighs and butt in a way she would have to be three weeks dead not to notice. Lucy stepped into the bright light of a kitchen and gulped.
A white, long-sleeved T-shirt molded his body in all the right places. This might have been easier if he’d had the decency to grow the smallest paunch or perhaps be losing his hair. But no, Richard looked better than ever and angrier than hell. Lucy realized she was stretching even his legendary gallantry to the breaking point.
“I offered to bring the soup round because I wanted the chance to speak to you.”
He crossed his arms over his chest.
“I wanted to apologize for . . . um . . . the thing with my car door. Out there in the storm. I didn’t see you until it was too late.” Silence descended between them. Lucy could hear the soft tick of the kitchen clock behind her.
“Is that it?” His eyes were like a shark’s, all relentless focus and no leeway.
“No,” she responded carefully. “But I might be here for a while.” He started looking murderous. “I’m here to help my mother and I thought it best to break the ice, so to speak.”
Not a flicker, not a twitch, just the same hostile silence.
“Break the ice.” She motioned the snow and ice outside the window and attempted a light laugh. “Anyway . . .” She cleared her throat when she got nothing. “We got off to a bad start and I wanted to apologize.”
There, that wasn’t so bad. She could do the adult thing, even with her heart going like a jackhammer inside her chest.
“You came over here to apologize for us getting off to a bad start?”
“Yes,” Lucy said, nodding. “I thought we could be civil, maybe, for the time that I’m here.”
The silence in the kitchen hung heavy.
“You did, did you?” he spoke at last. “Like we could put it all behind us.”
“No.” That’s not what she meant. He was due an apology and he would get one, but not like this.
“Would that be after dooring me the other night or the way you ran out of my life nine years ago?”
Excerpt #3 (I am, Indeed, 4/7 | Babs Book Bistro, 4/2 | Dani Jace, 3/27)
And of course, his pisser of a day would not be complete without a visit from his mother. And Richard knew from the moment he saw her marching toward the front porch, Donna had heard the news.
“Hello, darling.” She gave him that special smile he’d been getting since she fetched him after his first day of kindergarten. Donna was not a beautiful woman, but it was easy to forget that in the charming symmetry of her neat, delicate features. Her eyes were the same as those he saw in the mirror, the sort of clear, impenetrable blue that was not merely a shade of green in disguise.
Her skin was flawless and her bone structure good, if a little too definite for feminine beauty. But it was her smile that drew people to Donna. It appeared as suddenly as the sun through the clouds and was as welcome. She turned that celestial grin on him now, but Richard wasn’t fooled.
“You’ve heard.” He folded his arms over his chest and planted himself in the middle of the Oriental rug Ashley had insisted would give the entrance hall a “pop” of color. Whatever that meant. Beige was good enough for him; it went with the wood and the walls.
“Are we really going to do this tonight?” Richard wasn’t buying the vague thing for a second. Donna was her most penetrating and deadly like this. His mother looked up at him, her smile at half wattage, but just as charming. “I’ve had a living shit of a day, I’m tired and I’m hungry and I don’t feel like playing games.”
“You never did feel like playing games, Richard.” She used the mother voice that took all the starch out of his shorts and made him want to squirm. “Even as a little boy. You were always so serious.” She amped up on the friendly and waved a shopping bag at him. “And I brought dinner with me.”
“What is it?” Richard eyed the bag warily; man enough to know the way to his heart and not too proud to go with it.
“Spaghetti and meatballs.” She had him and her eyes told him so.
“Your spaghetti and meatballs?” He would at least go down swinging.
“Richard Hunter,” she said, taking a menacing step forward. “Have I ever, ever fed you store-bought spaghetti and meatballs?”
“Non, maman, je m’excuse.”
The French got her every time and she melted like a snowball in front of him. Richard could reach out and touch the glory now.
“Verse-moi un verre se vin, espèce d’enfant ingrat.”
Yes, indeed, her ungrateful child would pour her a glass of wine. The prospect of a good feed always made Donna’s boys more malleable.
“So, tell me?” Donna settled on the opposite side of his kitchen table.
More of those “pops” of color in the bright, green flower things on the seats. He didn’t get it. He really hated those cushions, he realized, as he watched Donna get comfortable. He didn’t like flowers and he especially didn’t like flowers that looked like they should be painted on the side of a sixties passion wagon.
Stripes. He dug into his dinner with relish. What he needed in this room was something manly, like stripes. And not in that girly green color either. Blue. Blue stripes. When Ashley came back, he would speak to her about it. Make her see that stripes were a much better option. That settled, he risked looking over the edge of his wineglass at his mother.
Donna looked at him, her eyes unfathomable but full of love, and Richard sighed. Her love wound around him like a spider’s web and he knew she would outpossum him.
He tried for nonchalant. “She’s back.”
Donna, however, had the advantage of having handled him since the day his ass was cracked and she sat perfectly still and waited.
“Aw, jeez, Ma. What do you want me to tell you? Lucy Flint is back.”
“I want you to tell me how you feel, Richard.” Donna took a hefty sip of her wine.
“I am a guy,” he barked at her. “We don’t have feelings. We have urges.”
“Richard, tu me tapes sur les nerf, fais pas le niaiseux et dis-moi ce que tu penses de tous ça.” It all came out in a torrent and he knew he was beat. She was not going to back down and Donna could turn this into the War of 1812 if she chose to.
“All right.” He threw up his hands in disgust. His fork clattered noisily against the side of the bowl. “She’s back and she’s as beautiful as ever. No.” He slashed his hand decisively through the air. “She’s even more beautiful. Leave it to Lucy not to get fat or dumpy looking. She’s smoking hot and just as deadly.”
“And you feel?”
Excerpt #4 (The Many Faces of Romance, 4/10 | Gemma’s Giornale, 4/3 | Voice, Write, & Kim’s Insight, 3/28)
Lucy was so absorbed in her own private misery she heard nothing until he spoke.
“I’m afraid I don’t know the password.” She looked up and for the first time that morning, her face split into a smile. He certainly didn’t need the password and even less so when he came bearing a steaming mug of pure heaven. Lucy drank in the sight of him and stopped. He was wearing some kind of Lycra tight things.
“You planning a pas de deux?” She motioned to his muscular legs.
“Ha, ha.” He handed her one of the mugs.
Lucy groaned her appreciation as the aromatic waft touched her nostrils. Sweet God in Heaven, he’d even put cream into it. If this wasn’t love, it damn well should be.
“I was on my way for a run when I saw you out here.”
“What the hell are you doing going for a run?”
“What the hell are you doing sitting out here in an old children’s fort?”
Lucy shook her head at him. “I asked you first.”
“I’m in training. Your turn.”
“I’m in mourning.”
“Is that why you look like crap? No offense.”
Lucy let out a shocked little gasp of laughter. “I am so taking offense at that.”
“Hmmm?” Richard crouched down at her side. He tilted forward and reached out with one hand to catch a tear from her cheek. His knees bracketed the side of her leg from hip to knee.
Lucy grew suddenly lightheaded. He was awfully close. It would be laughably easy to lean slightly to her left. She would tuck her face into that sweet spot between his neck and his shoulder. His chest would be broad and impenetrable beneath her cheek. She would feel the warmth of his body as his arms closed around her. And everything would be all right.
“Lucy?” He frowned at her. Clueless as to what was going through her mind. “What are you doing out here in your pajamas?” He looked down at her legs and then turned his head to the side and looked some more. “Is that SpongeBob SquarePants?”
“This is pretty desperate stuff, Luce.” He took a sip of his coffee and nudged her cup to her lips. Lucy sipped obediently and cradled her hands around the warm ceramic. “Sitting out here in the snow in your Patrick pants and crying.”
“What do you recommend?” Lucy gave a watery chuckle.
“A good, stiff shot of—” He stopped suddenly and looked stricken.
“I tried that.” Lucy took another sip of the coffee. “It didn’t work so well for me.”
“Shit, Lucy, I’m sorry.”
“Forget it.” Lucy waved a hand dismissively. “I’m not going to go flying off on a five- day bender because somebody makes a remark.” She sniffed and he handed her a dishcloth. Lucy took it with a laugh. She scrubbed her face with the cloth. “I’m feeling sorry for myself.”
“So you decided freezing your ass off would be a suitable fate?”
He surprised a snort of laughter out of her. “No, I was getting some space. Dad is bad this morning.”
“Yeah,” he exhaled softly. “I tried having a talk with your mother yesterday. She doesn’t seem to want to hear it.”
“I know,” Lucy said, shrugging. “Every time I try to get her thinking about making any sort of choices, she digs in her heels.”
“Lucy”—he rapped her knee gently—“are you sure your mom wants to do something about this?”
“Nope.” Lucy sipped her coffee and sighed. “She sounded so desperate on the phone. I thought if I came here, I could help her, be here for her to lean on, like I should have done all these years.”
He took a sip of his coffee. “People have to want you to help them for that to work.”
“Now you sound like Mads.” Lucy laughed softly. “My sponsor,” she told him when he gave her a questioning look. “She is always saying stuff like that to me.”
He opened his mouth to speak and then shut it again. He’d done that before and she suddenly wanted to know.
“Nothing.” He shrugged, not at all convincingly, and Lucy continued to glare at him.
“What was it like?” he asked suddenly. “Getting sober.”
“Pretty hellish,” Lucy answered, grimacing. “But the worst part is staying sober. Being here”—she motioned to the house behind them—“brings all the stuff up again, all the reasons why I drank.” He waited for her to say more. “Having to face up to all the stuff I did. What a total screwup I was. That’s the hard part.”
“You weren’t that bad,” he tried, but Lucy gave a snort of laugher.
“I was a nightmare.”
“Okay,” he said, grinning sheepishly. “There were certain parts of your past behavior that still make me want to break out into a cold sweat.”
“Is that all?” Lucy said a little breathlessly as they skirted closer to dangerous territory.
“It wasn’t all bad.” His voice deepened slightly or perhaps it was her imagination, but Lucy forgot how to form a sentence. Not when he looked at her with those summer-sky eyes gentle on her face. She had been sure she’d banished that look from his eyes forever.
“You look tired.” He reached out a finger and gently traced the dark patches under her eyes.
Lucy forgot to breathe. His touch against her skin was blissful.
His eyes grew dark and he didn’t rush to take his fingers away, but traced the line of her cheekbone to the edge of her mouth. His focus narrowed onto the small spot occupied by his index finger.
“I’m not sleeping too well,” she admitted.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Lucy. I think if you look fast, you’ll see that even we are becoming friends again.” The blue of his eyes grew hotter, more intense. “Or something.”
Excerpt #5 (Raine Balkera, 4/9 | What’s Beyond Forks? 4/3 | The Sassy Bookster, 3/31)
A slight shift in the light was all the warning she got before a warm hand closed over hers. Lucy dropped her iPod and he reached out quickly and caught it. Adele sadistically launched into a heartrending chorus. Tell me about it. Lucy sniffled.
Richard’s mouth moved, but all Lucy heard was Adele wailing away enthusiastically. His eyes were bluer than a clear sky and Lucy sank, came up for air, and then sunk all the way down to the bottom.
His mouth moved. He frowned, shook his head, and plucked the earphones from her ears. “These things will make you deaf.”
“Is that your considered medical opinion?” She was proud she could still come out with the wisecracks. Given that she truly wanted to disgust Gloria Steinem and the girls and fling herself against his manly chest and have him sweep her away to the happily-ever-after place.
“What are you doing?” Prince Charming asked with a frown.
“You have to ask?” Lucy looked pointedly at her shovel.
“Lucy.” His mouth tightened. “It’s the middle of the night and you’re shoveling snow?”
“Did I wake you?”
“Not with the shoveling.” Richard pushed a hand through his hair, making it stand on end around his head. “You look like you need a friend,” he said softly.
“Is that what you are?” Lucy heard her voice wobble dangerously and cleared her throat.
“Or something,” he muttered, and took her arm. “Come on.” He took the shovel from her hand and propped it against the side of the house. “Let’s be sleepless together.”
“Not a good idea.” Lucy dug in her heels, but he tightened the grip on her arm and tugged her a few steps forward.
“I don’t care,” he said, and hauled her a few more steps. “I don’t give a shit right now.”
And just like that, Lucy realized she didn’t give a shit, either.
He took her silence as agreement and kept her hand in his as he walked them through the silent garden to his house.
“Coffee?” he asked as he hung up his coat and reached over for hers to hang it beside his.
“No,” Lucy answered, pulling a face. “I would like to sleep at some point.”
The dim light of the entrance hall danced across the strong lines of his face. He cupped her chin and turned her face. “You’ve been crying.”
“A bit,” Lucy murmured.
His hand on her face was warm and gentle, but it sent a shaft of longing arcing through her body. She shifted away and dropped her head. Needing to move, she padded restlessly into the house.
“What is it?” He caught up with her on silent feet. “Is it last night?”
“Not really.” She didn’t have it in her to outright lie. “Something happened, earlier, and I . . .” She trailed off and followed him into the kitchen. She almost laughed. This kitchen had seen a lot of action since she’d been back in town.
“Tell me,” Richard urged her softly.
“I hurt someone.” She pulled out a seat and sat.
He went very still above her. “A man?”
Lucy nodded and looked down at the floor. His bare feet stuck out the bottom of his pants. He must have just pulled on his boots when he spotted her in her crazy wee-hour mania.
“Not really.” Something in his tone made her look up. His gaze was trained intently on her face. The muscles of his jaw bunched.
“You sure you want to hear this?” Of all the things she and Richard could discuss, another man must be close to the top of the awkward list.
“No.” His eyes bored into hers, as if he were trying to see past her face and into the center of her. “Tell me anyway.”
“His name is Elliot and he’s a really good man.” The pain in her chest unraveled slightly and she dared a bit more. “He’s been amazing to me. He picked me up when I was at my lowest point and helped me get sober. He’s one of the good guys.”
“He loves me and wants more from me. I don’t feel the same.”
Richard flinched, the slightest crease around the corner of his eyes.
“It isn’t the same,” she addressed the thoughts she could almost hear whirling around his brain. “Elliot is not you and I was always honest with him.”
“Really?” His skepticism rubbed salt on an open wound.
“I never loved Elliot.” Lucy hissed in a breath. “I never pretended to love him either. He . . .” She was making a mess of this. “Why don’t I tell you the whole story and stop you from leaping to conclusions?”
She thought he might refuse and then his face relaxed slightly and he dragged out the chair beside her. “Why not?”
It was not exactly enthusiastic, but Richard was still listening.
“I met Elliot when I first went to Seattle,” she said. “He was the perfect catch for me at that time. He had money, he was good looking and just that bit older to want to take care of me. I used him.” She hated even admitting it. “Until I found something I liked more. I was drinking, heavily, and Elliot was a bit too grown up for me. Then I ran out of money, got scared, and went straight back to Elliot.”
Lucy managed a dry laugh. “And he took me back. He asked me to stop drinking and I did. I didn’t stay for long,” she said, shrugging. “I found someone more exciting, more like me, and I left him again.”
“The prick with the fists?”
“That’s the one.” Lucy grimaced. “Then I got sober and Elliot has been waiting for me to get serious about him. He’s been hanging around for me, all this time, and I had to let him go.”
“Wow.” Richard blew out a soft breath. He spun away from her and stood staring out the window into the dark. “There’s a whole team of us. The men who never get over Lucy.”
My hardcore review
I’m a huge fan of Sarah Hegger, having fallen in love with her historicals Sweet Bea and The Bride Gift, and I was blown away by this contemporary, Nobody’s Angel.
Lucy is a beautifully flawed character, so well written and relatable. I love how Sarah didn’t gloss over all her issues, instead, she showed the strength of this character and how she returns to her childhood town to make amends for her past and tries to move forward.
And then there’s Richard, her ex-boyfriend and the one she left behind. This is a man with a lot of hurt from the past, but he’s got the grace and consistency of a man that can love no matter what.
I loved reading about their second chance and the secondary characters were spectacular. I am truly looking forward to move in the Willow Park series and anything else Sarah Hegger writes! She’s definitely on my must read list!