Shannon here: Pat Jeanne Davis shares a romantic excerpt from her Historical Romance, When Valleys Bloom Again. Comment or answer the question at the end of this post to enter the drawing for a copy. Print for US, e-book for international. Deadline: August 31st, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Pat:
Excerpt from When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis:
Main Line Philadelphia, June 1940
Abby’s first year at Weston Teachers College over and classes out for the summer, she again offered to help out in the greenhouse. She’d overlook Jim’s response to her question two months ago on America joining the war and would work alongside him. She found him in the potting area, a large red, white, and blue handkerchief around his neck.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Jim said, grinning. He gestured toward empty ceramic pots on the ground. “I think we’ll tackle those, if that’s all right with you?”
Abby flashed a quick smile. Did he remember his curt reply back in April and her hasty departure afterwards? She squatted next to a jumble of ornamental containers.
Jim rummaged through them, then thrust his trowel into a bucket of thumb-sized stones. “About two inches of these should do.” He tipped the stones into one of the pots. “They provide slow drainage so the plant won’t dry out.” He crouched beside her. “Then fill up the container with compost—your ‘muck’—and a little top soil.”
Abby scooted to one side. Still he was good at his job. “How much of each?”
“I’m sorry, I forgot this is still new to you.” Jim moved in closer. “Half-and-half, see? Put tall daisies in the back, red impatiens in the center, and lastly along the outer edges of each container, the trailing begonias, petunias, and nasturtium so they cascade down the sides.” Suiting action to words, Jim completed one arrangement and set it beside her. “Use this as your guide, leaving two to three inches between each plant.” He smiled. “If you have a question, I’ll be nearby.”
As she toiled, Abby sensed Jim’s eyes on her and tried to catch him at it. But whenever she’d glance over, he’d look down at his hands and whistle, making a game out of it and beating her every time. Then Jim set down his trowel and strolled over, giving her one of those captivating smiles. “Off for the summer, are you?”
Abby nodded, focusing on the flowers in her hands. Please don’t come any nearer.
He removed his hat and twirled it in his hands like the first day she saw him. “Is college all you expected it to be?”
Abby’s wall of indifference collapsed, and she gazed up into those intense blue eyes below his dark eyebrows. “I’m looking forward to going back.” Her throat tightened. “Still, sometimes I feel se-se-selfish. There’s so much I could be doing at home for the war effort.”
Jim rocked back. “Selfish?” His brow furrowed. “When you complete your training, you’ll be teaching kids who’ll be future citizens.”
Abby—without breaking the lock of his eyes—flinched, taken aback by his response.
“My squirt sister with the big mouth says she wants to quit high school.” Jim hunched beside her, lowering his voice. “And the older one who had great dreams didn’t finish school.” He looked into the distance. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t go on like that.”
Surprised by his revelation, her cheeks grew warm.
“I’ll probably be one of the first call-ups if we enter this war.” He stood and swatted his hat against his thigh. “But until and if that happens my duty lies at home.”
In a flash of self-reproach, she understood. She’d misjudged him. His mother and sisters needed him, and he doesn’t want to leave them. And what had he said about his job, and how grateful he was to have it?
Jim slapped his palms together to dislodge the dirt. “It’s none of my business, but you might think about teaching on the estate during summer.” He plunged his hands into a watering can. “I know some of your uncle’s staff have youngsters who could use help with their schooling.”
How clever he is. “That would never have occurred to me.”
Jim bent to pick up a toppled container. “I must go. It’s trout season,” he said, as if to explain the urgency of his mission.
Abby’s stomach dropped as he strode off between the long rows of tables. She wished he’d stay longer. When he headed back in her direction, her pulse quickened.
“You’re doing fine here.” He grinned. “If you like, when I get back I’ll take you to see the new bonsai collection.”
She let out a breath. “Let me know when you return.”
Abby craned her neck to keep him in view as he strode off. He opened the door to his truck and glanced back. Their eyes met.
About Pat: Pat Jeanne Davis lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Pat loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter www.patjeannedavis.com
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About the book -When Valleys Bloom Again:
A Wartime Romance Set On Two Continents
As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.
Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?
Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
Have you seen this fantastic giveaway from BookSweeps? You can win Pat Jeanne Davis’ World War II inspirational romance, When Valleys Bloom Again, plus books from authors like Sandra Ardoin, Karin Berry, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Misty M. Bellar and others. There’s more, you’ll also get a brand new eReader if you win and FREE e-reads just for entering. This giveaway ends Aug. 28, so make sure you hurry and enter! Join the fun here! bit.ly/InspyRomance-August2019
Question for Readers: Before Jim, the hero in When Valleys Bloom Again, is drafted by the US Army in December 1941, he is a gardener on the estate of Abby’s, the heroine, uncle. While working on the gardens together, Jim and Abby’s friendship grows in to romantic love for one another. Do you as I do enjoy working in a flower or vegetable garden? Do you sometimes work there alongside someone else?
Come back August 27th for Jeannette Marie Mirich!