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Sara Goode is leading an exciting life in New York until her radio talk show is cancelled. She heeds the advice of a homeless woman--who insists she speaks with angels--and returns to Bland, Virginia for Thanksgiving. But not everyone in the small town is happy to see her.
Sara learns there is more to forgiveness than just receiving, but granting it as well. It doesn't hurt that she's falling for the town's most eligible bachelor, Luke Sterling, the handsome minister of her family’s church. Luke has his own connection to NYC. He also has rejection angst since going from "college football field hero" to "has been" overnight.
Can they face their fears and embrace love? Manhattan's bright lights still call to Sara, and Luke's fears of being rebuffed may just be too deep to overcome.
Page Count: 292
Word Count: 70490
Stealing a cursory glance in her direction, the background beyond her mom’s profile was the same as it had been the last time she’d visited. It slid by in flashes of white saltbox houses dotting November’s gray-green landscape. Sara realized little was different in the appropriately named Bland, Virginia.
If duller, less vibrant now, perhaps the only change was in her perspective. Living in the city, energetic colors intersected all views, if just from red-soled heels entering yellow taxis beneath Broadway’s flashing neon signs. Maybe it was her current lackluster attitude or the fact she’d previously returned to Bland only during spring and summer when the alfalfa fields bloomed with emerald brightness and the deciduous trees formed shady canopies beneath the surrounding blue mountain ridges.
Nor had her mother changed much. Her fluffy hairstyle was certainly the same as it had been for years. It had only paled, growing lighter and lighter until now it was nearly white. She had accumulated more wrinkles around the eyes, weakening their sparkle—or was the duress Sara’s presence caused the more likely culprit to their reduced shine? She knew better than to mistake diminishing appearance for waning resilience.
While Sadie Goode might look fragile to the eye, her fortitude was as sturdy as Bland Chapel’s foundation—built on rock, circa 1819. Her opinion of Sara was as strictly adhered to as the tenets forming the little white church her family attended. And her viewpoint of her younger daughter—Sara supposed—had been cemented a long time ago. Success in Sara’s career had not altered it.
Sara had entertained the notion that her radio show’s cancelation might accomplish what her achievements had not. Anticipating her mother might respond to her defeat in ways she had been unwilling or unable to during her successes, Sara now knew she’d been wrong.
Her nervous throat-clearing cough bit into the silence as Sara tested the air for its acrimony. “Isn’t the Hanging of the Greens service being held earlier than normal this year?”
Her mother’s fingers tightened on the steering wheel, the effort forcing tendons and arteries to visibly lift upward on the backs of her hands. Whether the tenseness was from Sara’s voice, or the impending sharp turn from White Pine Drive onto Suitor Road, her daughter couldn’t be sure.
Ignoring the distress signal, Sara stared out the window onto the rise to her right. The frostbitten field was distantly speckled with dark bodies she knew indicated a deer herd was moving in to feed on the hay remnants left behind by the cattle.
After making the turn, her mother sighed. “Yes, Sara. A lot has changed while you’ve been gone.”
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