Thursday, October 22, 2015

Return to Me by Taylor W. Law ♥ Review & GIVEAWAY ♥ (Contemporary Romance)




Jill Edwards is just now learning the true definition of an empty nest. With her only child deployed in Iraq and her husband always gone on business, she finds herself often alone and awfully bored. Worse, it's getting harder and harder for Jill to relate to the other housewives of Faithville, the little Christian college town she calls home.

Luckily, salvation comes in September.

Every year, Jill gets her only glimpse outside of Faithville when Faithville University welcomes its international students. This year, when one of these students moves in across the street, she’s surprised to find herself unusually drawn to the intriguing, athletic young man from half a world away.

As their unusual friendship develops, Jill discovers parts unknown within her soul - wild desires never before entertained. Awakening her long dormant hunger for life seems to be exactly the thrill she needs, but she soon finds herself on a journey that not only challenges her faith, but life as she knows it.

Return to Me is inspired by true events observed and experienced by the author during a pivotal tenure in rural North Carolina.






An excellent, emotional, enveloping story!

I read this in one sitting. I could not put it down! This book is SO well-written and it flows so smoothly that it completely kept my interest from beginning to end.

What intrigued me from the synopsis was that this story was inspired by real events. Seeing that expressly stated and keeping that in mind while I read gave this book a whole different flavor.

While I must admit, I was a little wary of where the story was headed when Jill first met her new neighbor, the subsequent sequence of events alleviated any hesitations I had about liking Jill or the story as a whole.

The supporting characters added some nice comic relief; nothing over-the-top, but just quirky things that I could easily see someone really saying if put in a similar situation.

This is just a very REAL book, one not overly embellished with obvious creative license. The totality of it seemed like something that could (and probably does) actually happen, and I absolutely loved it!

And thank goodness for the ending! I was VERY pleasantly surprised with the Happy For Now and would love to know more about what happened to Jill!!!!!

***I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***






Copyright © 2015 by TWL Publishing

Chapter 1

Jill kicked off the last of her clothes and cranked the second floor air conditioner to the coldest it could go. She was never a fan of summer and its muggy grip on her and her home. No bright-colored sundress or carefully chosen bathing suit was going to change that.
But despite her strong distaste for the heat, she was so ashamed of her habit that it was reserved for the days when she was home alone. This summer, that was more often than not. And though she was glad to have the freedom to indulge in her wasteful routine, there wasn’t much to do without her husband or daughter around.
Jill was bored.
Not bored enough to subject herself to the exhausting company of some of the other empty-nested ladies around town, but bored nonetheless.
She shrouded her nudity with a light throw and made her way to the window at the end of the hall – her summer fireplace. She leaned on the ledge, peering through the glass and into the wet haziness of the summertime air. The afternoon sun landed gently on her crossed arms, which actually felt good now that cold air was trickling from the vents. She took a deep breath and tried to bury the guilt of driving up the electric bill.
Outside her home was an extensive country landscape that sprawled out beneath her, mostly covered by a vast, green-checkered lawn. In the distance was a century old bell tower that reached skyward from a brownstone library that was once a church. It still chimed every hour, and despite having a plethora of devices in her home that could tell the time, the bell tower had always been her preferred method.
There wasn’t a whole lot to do in town, but Jill still loved living in Faithville. It was a small town, built around a Christian college – Faithville University. It was surrounded by seemingly endless cotton fields and spotted with modest country houses. Most of the people who lived there were either working for the college or working with the college. Everybody knew each other. Everyone looked out for one another. During the daytime, no one really locked the doors, including Jill. It was a warm and welcoming place. It was peaceful. It was the definition of a close-knit community.
Though most of the homes had ample space between them, across the street from hers was another wooden two-story house, built in the late 19th century. For years, it had served as a dorm for a group of female honor students. The nine girls who had lived there had graduated at the beginning of summer and had already gone their separate ways. Jill had loved hosting bible studies and dinners for her student neighbors. Doting upon them was a lovely way to pass the time.
As she gazed at the now empty house, she wondered what life after graduation would be like for them. They hadn’t left for long enough that Jill had begun thinking about the new set of students that would be moving in, but the sudden presence of two sedans, neatly parked outside the dorm, quickly prompted those thoughts.
She grabbed her cellphone.
I see two cars. The new girls are here. Miss you.
She sent the email to her daughter, Lena, who was serving as a unit supply specialist for the army and was currently based in Iraq. In the last two years since Lena had been away, the girls across the street had also unknowingly served as surrogate children to Jill. Since they’d been gone, the empty house prompted daydreams about planning her daughter’s future wedding outside that wooden dorm. The front lawn could easily fit a hundred chairs. A jazz band would go under the tree. And there would still be room for people to mingle around a long hors-d'oeuvres table.
Her train of thought landed on food, and now that the house was cool enough to cook, she figured it was time to fix herself some lunch. But just as she turned from the window, she caught a white college shuttle pull up to the house from the corner of her eye. Jill slipped behind the wall, peeking out just enough to take a look. The door slid open and a man stepped out. He looked to be about six feet or so and she could tell he was young by the way he moved, though she could barely see his face from under his baseball cap. He wore a dark red polo shirt and white shorts. His skin was a golden-bronze, boasting of a life spent mostly outdoors. Jill watched as he opened up the back of the car and fished out a brown leather duffel bag, swinging it across his body before pulling out a heavy-looking golf bag with ease.
Jill couldn’t help but notice the shape of his torso beneath the light fabric. He was athletic, to say the least, and it became more and more apparent each time he adjusted the strap that hung off his strong shoulders and crossed his broad chest.
He opened the door to the house as if he knew it was not locked and marched in as if he were already home. Jill blinked in surprise. So it’s a boys’ dorm now. The thought of it being a co-ed dorm had crossed her mind for just a second, but she quickly reminded herself that this was a Christian college in a Christian town. Co-ed just didn’t exist here.
Before the front door could fully shut, it swung open again. The man came bursting through, leaping off the porch in his mighty white sneakers and returning to the van for the rest of his luggage. Jill still couldn’t see his entire face, but she managed to catch a glimpse of a strong nose and an almost mischievous smile that matched his youthful exuberance. He was certainly not fromFaithville, or anywhere near. Not by a long shot. In fact, he looked, for lack of better words…exotic.
He grabbed more bags from the back of the van, hoisting them onto the porch with less care than he had for his golf clubs. The driver of the van came around and the young man pulled him in for a tight hug and a warm pat on the back, a pat that inadvertently showed off his strong biceps and a hint of a farmer’s tan. But Jill supposed in his case, it was more a golfer’s tan. Though she never realized golf was the type of sport that could produce such a physique…
Jill felt a slight heat invade her face. She touched the back of her hand to her cheek, blushing at where her thoughts of her new neighbor seemed to focus. Oh Lord, how rude of me, she laughed to herself. Embarrassed, she retreated from the window.
He was probably a foreign student, half the world away from home. Faithville University hosted their fair share of international students. Lena had been friends with many of them. The young man was far from his family, in a new country to pursue an education. And here she was wondering how he got as built as he was.
She peered over her bare shoulder at the now closed front door. A male dorm. Not what she hadexpected. Not what she was used to after four years with that lovely group of girls. This would definitely be a different experience.
Her stomach growled quietly, reminding her of her hunger and the lunch that had yet to be made. But she waited by the window for just a couple seconds more, wondering if that young man would come out again.





Chapter 2

The afternoon sun streamed through the window and fanned itself across Jill’s sparkling white kitchen. She lit up her favorite wild hyacinth candle set on her Calacatta marble countertop. The sweet floral aroma gently filled every square inch of her spacious kitchen. It smelled like early spring, her favorite time of the year. Her husband, Dave, had gifted her the pillar candle after a business trip in London. Since his recent promotion to Vice President of Academic Affairs at Faithville University, he had been doing a whole lot of traveling.
With great purpose, Jill pulled out an old notebook from her creaky wooden drawer, which she noted was overdue for a little lubrication. She squared her hips to the counter to force the stubborn drawer back in. When it finally retreated, it triggered a shrill clink from her Limoges dinnerware sitting inside the antique cabinet.
She flipped quickly through the ragged pages, filled with handwritten recipes from her mother. Dust fluttered up from the age-stiffened leaves. Then suddenly, a stack of recipe clippings plopped out from between them and scattered all over her dark parquet floor. She groaned, dropping to her knees to collect them.
Spongy Pizza…Teriyaki Chicken…Gratin Dauphinois…Yorkshire Pudding…
Where the heck was the recipe for the coconut cream pie?
She carefully flipped through the clippings, one by one, but her efforts were fruitless. Jill was certain that she had safely tucked that recipe in the notebook. She sighed, wondering how it managed to just evaporate into thin air.
As she knelt on the cold kitchen floor, a gap between the refrigerator and the floor suddenly caught her eye. She leaned forward, lowering her body to take a peek. Not too deep within the gap, she saw what she thought was the dog-eared corner of a piece of paper.
“Yes,” she whispered.
Hopeful, she clambered up to grab a spatula, knelt back beside the fridge and with just a little effort, managed to bat the clipping out. Lo and behold, it was exactly what she thought it was - that glorious recipe for her favorite coconut cream pie.
Thank goodness! She felt a satisfied smile creep across her lips.
It was only then that she noticed a flash of silver, gleaming just beyond the clipping. She peered up over the little piece of paper at the mysterious object before her. Her spatula had unknowingly dragged out another item from under the fridge – a small silver case.
Intrigued, she picked it up.
She leaned up against the refrigerator, examining the reflective square case while admiring its clean, symmetrical design. The back was engraved.
D.E.B.H.
D…David. E…Edwards. Her husband’s initials. That would make sense.
But what did the B and H stand for?
Without a thought, she popped it open. Inside were three thin foil packets. She ran her fingers along the front of the packet and felt a recognizable rim.
Male prophylactics.
For a moment, she sat stunned. But just as quickly and unexpectedly as she had found them, she managed to shake off her bewilderment. Nodding to herself, she carefully replaced the foil packet and closed the case.
Jill held the small box in her palm, admiring its intricate design and wondering about its verydedicated purpose.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
- Proverbs 3:5

Jill replaced the case beneath the refrigerator, calmly and carefully. She picked up the recipe, brushed off the dust and posted it on the refrigerator with the photo magnet she had made with a family Christmas portrait.
The high-pitched ring of her doorbell shook her from her daze. Jill held the throw to her body and rushed up to her room for a quick change. She grabbed the first thing she saw – a boat neck T-shirt dress with Chinese porcelain print. It belonged to her daughter, Lena.
“Who is it?” she yelled out as she hurried down the stairs, stealing a fleeting glimpse at her reflection in the mirror.
Not bad.
She was still slender enough to fit into her daughter’s wardrobe – it was a little loose, even. And her normally messy blonde hair looked surprisingly good today, billowing out behind her as she descended.
“I’m coming!”
Through the frosted glass door, she could see the vague silhouette of the postman. It looked like he was holding a parcel. She smoothed back her hair and swung open the door.
“Oh,” she said with a tilt of her head. The man at her doorstep was not the postman.
Her new neighbor stood before her, his face clearer now that she was looking up at him rather than stealing peeks from her upstairs window. Up close, his age was apparent. He looked maybe months shy of still being a teenager. Yet, this man with the youthful face was still very much a man. He exuded a quiet confidence and strength that she didn’t see much in boys his age.
“Does Jill Edwards live here?” he asked. His voice was deep, but gentle – devoid of the gravelly nature of most overly masculine timbre. His English was just slightly accented, something she wouldn’t even have noticed had she not been listening for it.
“That would be me.” She felt a faint smile on her lips.
“The postman mistakenly left this with us.” He indicated the craft paper wrapped parcel in the crook of his muscular arm.
“Well, thank you so much for bringing it over.”
“Of course, Mrs. Edwards.” She stepped back, allowing him to place the parcel on the foyer table.
“Call me Jill,” she said, holding out a hand. “What’s your name?”
“Sean.” He accepted her handshake, enveloping her delicate fingers in his brawny grip. His hand was warm, his fingers well manicured. His formal smile dissolved into something warmer.
“Very nice meeting you, Sean. You just moved in across the street?” Jill asked.
“Yes, just today.”
“Ah,” she replied. Her brain struggled for something more to say. She needed something, anything to continue their conversation. Jill had been deprived of human interaction for longer than she would have liked and it was driving her mad. In her desperation, she came up empty. Jill continued to smile in lieu of words, happy just to continue looking at Sean. He certainly broke up the monotony of her recent days. Definitely distracted her from her recent discovery.
But just when she came up with offering her assistance with his new home, she noticed Sean’s eyes flicker to the dipping front of her boatneck dress. It was quick, but it was obvious. And Jill definitely noticed. As a woman who had long been gifted in that department, she had learned early on that few men were capable of subtlety.
“It was nice meeting you, Jill,” he said with a sheepish grin, meeting her eyes once again. Jill furrowed her brows, laughing to herself. Did he realize he had been caught? If so, he was awfully unapologetic about it.
“I’ll see you around,” she replied. Sean turned, bounding off the steps and back towards home. His cologne still clung to the hot air before her. It was foresty, minty, musky – all at once. Jill allowed herself to watch him. It’s only polite to make sure he gets home okay, she thought, allowing herself the ridiculous justification.





Chapter 3

“Mama!” A familiar voice called through the speakers of Jill’s computer.
“Lena, baby! So happy you called! I was just about to send you another email.” Without the means to text her daughter, Jill found herself emailing her thoughts to Lena throughout the day. They were always short little things, just enough to fill the subject line. Jill adjusted her laptop, positioning the camera so she could look right into it. She cradled the edges of the screen, beaming back at her daughter’s bright, cheery eyes. Lena sat in uniform, her hair pulled back neatly.
“That dress looks familiar,” Lena teased, squinting.
“It looks great on me, doesn’t it?” Jill teased right back.
“Sure, Mama,” Lena smiled, shaking her head with a smile. “Did you get the package I sent? I got an email that said it was delivered today.”
“Yes, thank you so much, darling!” Jill grabbed the box from the floor, setting it on her lap. Inside was a crate of six earth-encased, crepe-skinned bulbs. She picked one up, holding it in front of the camera. “They’re tulips, right? There’s no actual label on the box…but I can’t imagine you went through all that trouble to send your mother a half dozen onions!”
“Yes, they’re tulips,” Lena laughed.
“It’s a shame we’re already well into summer, I would have loved to see what these pretty things look like fully bloomed.”
“You can bloom them indoors!” Lena said, excitedly. Jill felt her eyes crinkle, delighted by her daughter’s enthusiasm. “A friend here said his grandmother does it all the time. I wrote down the instructions. They’re in the box! I hope you haven’t lost it already.”
“Lena, please! Have some faith in your mama,” Jill said, subtly searching the box for the instructions. “I don’t spend my days here just losing important papers.” She laughed at her own little lie as she pulled out the handwritten instructions Lena had included with the bulbs. “See? Right here.”
“Alright,” Lena smirked.
“I’ll get right on this once I have that coconut cream pie going.”
Jill lifted the laptop up and carried it to the kitchen.
“Oh, is daddy coming home tonight?”
“No, why do you ask?”
“Because that’s his favorite. I thought you were going to surprise him with it.”
“I wish.” Jill looked away, crimping her lips. “Your dad has been traveling quite a bit.” She had been saying that a lot about David lately, anytime someone inquired about why he wasn’t home. But today, the words felt very different coming out of her mouth.
“Mama, you know he’s wanted this position for a very long time. It’ll take some time to adjust.”
Jill nodded. Silence crackled between their webcams as she quietly pulled out the measuring cups.
“So…” Lena started. “Who are you making the pie for? A new boyfriend?”
“Oh, yeah right,” Jill laughed. “Thanks for believing in your old mama, I guess. But no, it’s actually for the new neighbors across the street.” Jill felt her face flush. She shook her head to free her head of silly thoughts.
Suddenly, a group of handsome army men leaned into Lena’s camera, interrupting her before she could reply.
“Hey, Mrs. Edwards,” one of them said. “You know, Lena is one badass driver.”
“Hey y’all.” Jill smiled.
Jill watched as Lena acted annoyed with her colleagues, swatting at them until they cleared the screen.
“So, you got anyone special over there?” Jill smirked.
“I can’t hear you, mom.” Lena cocked her head, raising her eyebrows.
“Haha, very funny, Lena. You’re always avoiding that question.”
“Mama?” Lena asked again, pointing down at something.
“Honey, hello?” Jill waved. “Can you hear me?”
“I can’t hear you,” Lena shook her head. “Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” Jill nodded.
“I think you need a new microphone,” Lena said. “I can see you, but I can’t hear you. Get an external one, you can buy those at…” A deafening alarm went off at the base. Jill covered her ears, watching as her daughter looked casually over her shoulder. “Gotta go mom. Love you!”
Jill drew a heart with her fingers as she mouthed, “I love you,” right back at her.
~
As she plotted her unannounced visit, Jill whisked up the batter for the coconut cream pie. She would be making two pies today, one for herself and one for the new neighbors.
There was a fine dust of powdered sugar across the dark parquet floors, stamped with Jill’s dancing footsteps. It wasn’t long after delicately placing the pies in the oven that the rich, buttery coconut scent flooded the kitchen. Jill tipped her head back, inhaling deeply, humming a happy little song she imagined as the theme of her very own cooking show.
She wasn’t sure if Sean would even like coconut cream pie, but she found that her cooking always turned out best when she chose to do what her heart compelled her to do, instead of worrying about pleasing everybody.
As soon as the pies were ready, she poured herself a glass of sweet tea and cut herself a slice from her own fresh-out-the-oven pie. Her lashes fluttered shut as she savored the reward of her efforts.
To die for, she thought, tipping her head back with a giggle. So good.
Jill wiped the cream off the edge of her lips with a neatly manicured finger before swiping off the excess with the tip of her tongue. She loved the balance of the recipe – so perfect that she never trusted herself to recall it from memory when it came time to make it. That dog-eared little clipping was what gave her the confidence to find that divine harmony between the silky coconut cream and the tart, freshly grated lime zest.
She glanced out her kitchen window, hoping her efforts would be just as appreciated across the street. And after a quick primping, just enough to look presentable but not enough to be considered vain, she was out the door.
The plastic wrap around the coconut cream pie wasn’t enough to shield its fragrance. Jill arrived at Sean’s front stoop shrouded by a cloud of its heavenly scent.
She was nervous as she pressed the once familiar doorbell. She used to visit the girls a lot when she was bored, but this time, it wouldn’t be any of them answering the door.
Jill heard a couple of quick, bounding footsteps before the door swung open. A blonde, bearded man stood on the other side.
“How can I help you?” The man greeted her, his voice overly enthusiastic.
________________________________________
End of this sample Kindle book.

   



Taylor W. Law works in the television world in New York City. Storytelling has always been a core part of his job, but the notion of writing a book had never really crossed his mind.

His interest in writing was sparked after casually sharing a story with his co-workers in the office cafeteria. He was encouraged to write it down, and since then, hasn’t stopped writing.

Taylor’s first romance novel, Return to Me, is scheduled to launch early October.

When Taylor is not working, he enjoys cooking up a storm in his kitchen or hopping on a train down to North Carolina for some quiet time.

A wise friend once told him: “A good story can heal a wounded past.”



    



Win an eCopy of Return to Me!  (10 winners, gifted via Smashwords)



#ReturntoMe @TaylorWLaw http://goo.gl/MZEt3x pic.twitter.com/KkLhezn6ON

No comments :

Post a Comment

♥ Thank You for Your Comment! (It means more than you know) Good Luck in the Giveaway! ♥