Since Arkansas Weddings is a 3 in 1 collection including my entire White series, I’m sharing a short excerpt from each book. If you don’t own any of my White titles, comment on any post dated Sept 16 – 20 to get your name in the drawing for Arkansas Weddings. If you own any of the White titles, you can comment for a copy of Rodeo Hero. Deadline: Sept 28, 11:59 pm central time.
Excerpt – White Roses:
“Whoa!” Adrea Welch teetered on top of the rickety three-step utility ladder. With both arms flung out, surfing style, she regained her balance and pressed a hand to her pounding heart.
“Let me hold that for you,” a deep voice echoed from the back of the sanctuary.
The man hurried toward her. Emerald green eyes, windswept sable hair, and an irresistible cleft in his chin. Late-twenties, maybe thirty. Probably the groom. All the impossibly handsome men, especially the nice, mannerly ones who hung out in church, were taken.
Especially in tiny Romance, Arkansas.
But looks weren’t everything and he might never have been in a church before, just here for the wedding. Underneath that heart-tilting smile, he might be a jerk.
“Thanks.” She glanced down, making sure he wasn’t helping as an excuse to check her out. He wasn’t. Instead, he studied her work.
“I’m almost done.” Adrea looped yellow roses through the white latticework archway.
“The church should invest in a better ladder.”
“Actually, it’s mine.” She weaved ivy through the roses and climbed down. He was tall, at least six foot three. The top of her head came just about nose level on him.
“Are you in the wedding party?” He slung his jacket over one shoulder. Shirtsleeves, rolled up almost to the elbow, revealed muscled forearms.
“I’m the florist.” Always the florist; never the bride. “Adrea Welch.”
She nodded at the correct pronunciation. “Very good, but I’ve been known to answer to Adrian and Andrea.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Adrea.” He offered his hand. “I’m the pastor at Palisade over in Rose Bud. Grayson Sterling. Most folks call me Pastor Grayson.”
She suppressed a gasp and shook his hand. Warmth spread over her at his firm, yet gentle grip.
“I’m sorry, have we met?”
“Um, I usually do the white roses.”
The light in his eyes snuffed out.
Six years of standing orders for his wife’s birthday, their son’s birthday, and their anniversary. For the last two, he hand-delivered the flowers to the cemetery. And added Valentine’s Day to mark the date of her death.
“Sara always treasured them and thought it so romantic to get flowers from Romance.” His voice sounded forced. “Even though mine is always the same order, you make each one unique.”
“I actually enjoy the challenge of making each array distinctive.” How lame. Might as well tell him I take pleasure in arranging flowers for his dead wife. “She must have been a very special lady.”
“Yes.” He stuffed his hands into his pockets. “How long have you been at Floral Designs?”
“I’ve been a patron and pastored the church almost that long.” He frowned. “Odd that we’ve never met before.”
“I hardly ever go out to the showroom, and only started decorating wedding sites in the last few months.” She fluffed the swirl of tulle at the base of each brass candelabra to catch the rainbow of light reflecting through the lone stained-glass window.
“This is the first wedding I’ve agreed to officiate since Sara. . . So, you attend here at Mountain Grove?”
“From the time I can remember, and my sister’s husband is the preacher.” She cocked her head to the side, surveying the archway. Yellow roses were her favorite. Once upon a time, she’d planned to use them for her own special day.
She checked her watch. Almost time for the round of afternoon weddings to start. “I better get out of your way.”
“Nice meeting you. I’ll pick up Sara’s arrangement later.”
“It’ll be ready.” She hurried out of the church, slipping on her jacket. Preachers really shouldn’t look so good. How could any self-respecting Christian female concentrate on the sermon? He definitely lived up to the romantic hero her employees mooned over every time he came to pick up the roses. No wonder the salesclerks called him Prince Sterling.
Adrea stashed empty boxes and transport forms in the back of the van.
Three down, three to go. And none of the nuptials were hers.
Her hometown thrived on weddings. Half her livelihood came from weddings. She was so sick of weddings.
A Valentine balloon bouquet tried to escape from the van. She punched a heart-shaped, pink foil number bobbing beside her head.
“Roses are red, my love,” a tinny tune played. “Violets are blue-ooh. Sugar is sweet my love, but not as sweet as you.”
She slammed the door shut.
Excerpt – White Doves:
The post office door opened and Laken closed her eyes, waiting to hear Mother’s accusing tone. A whoosh of June’s humidity blasted her with its hot, steamy breath. Nibbling on the inside of her lip until she tasted blood, she realized it was the employee door.
“Welcome to Love Station,” a male voice said from behind her. “Hope you like weddings. I’ve got a whole passel of invitations.”
Laken turned around. A man swung an overstuffed mail sack from his broad shoulder. Tanned calf muscles rippled beneath knee-length khaki shorts as he bent to scoop up a stray Post-it. He turned to face her. Laugh lines crinkled the corners of olive eyes.
“You must be the new postmistress.” He wore a day’s growth of beard, the kind that made a woman want to rub her cheek against it. A wind-blown coffee-colored lock dipped low over one eyebrow. He brushed away the stray wave and pressed the back of his wrist against the perspiration beading his forehead.
Until that moment, he looked like he’d stepped out of one of those cheesy soap operas, where perfect male specimens serve up a daily dish of melodrama. But romantic heroes don’t sweat—even in Romance, Arkansas’s sticky heat.
Get a grip, Laken. So he’s cute. She tried to concentrate on the paneled walls, the tan commercial tile, the mail instead of the male.
“You’re the. . .”
“Mail carrier at your service.” He made a low, sweeping bow as if she were royalty, then straightened with a cocky grin and offered his hand. “Your loyal servant, Hayden Winters.”
Laken hadn’t paid much attention to what the transferring postmistress had said about the carrier, picturing a graying, potbellied Cliff Clavin, not a member of the hunk-of-the-month club. She cleared her throat. “I don’t have any servants. Just coworkers. I’m Laken Kroft.”
With a genuine smile, he grasped her hand and shook it then deposited another stuffed manila envelope on her counter. He strode to his three-sided sorter, pulled the envelopes from each slotted divider, and stuffed them into his tray.
“Do you live around here?”
“I moved from Little Rock last week.” She set a flats tray full of magazines next to him. “No packages today.”
“Since my parents retired here a few years back, I moved from North Little Rock last month so my nephew could be near them.”
She propped her hands on her hips. “I’d like to know how you got to transfer exactly where you wanted to.”
“I prayed for God to work it out and waited almost a year.”
Her mouth went dry. Well, he was almost perfect. Too bad he had to start talking about God. She went back to stamping, with more determination.
Clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk, clunk-clunk reverberated in Laken’s ears. With perfect precision, she imprinted the famous postmark barely at the edge of the entwined wedding rings on the fancy postage stamp. Just like the former postmistress had shown her.
“Do you have family in these parts?” Hayden scratched his chin. “Seems like there’s a lady at my church in Rose Bud by the name of Kroft.”
Laken stifled a sigh. If only her promotion could have materialized somewhere else. Somewhere far away from Searcy and her parents and all the people who knew them.
Already this morning, three customers had figured out her family ties. An imaginary clock ticked in Laken’s left temple. Any minute, Mother would show up with a disapproving frown ready to dredge up the past.
Surely Mother had better things to do than drive forty-five minutes just to hassle Laken.
Hayden cocked an eyebrow.
She pursed her lips.
“Never mind. Just trying to make conversation.” He stuffed more mail into his case.
Keeping rhythm with the tick-tock in her head, Laken clunk-clunked the metal stamp a little harder.
The door from the lobby opened and seemed to suck the cool air from the building. Forcing a smile, Laken turned to greet her next customer. Her smile died.
Over-bright, bottle-red hair and garish watermelon-colored lipstick drew attention to the wrinkles in her mother’s face. Too many for a woman not quite fifty.
“Laken, I can’t believe you’re here.”
Something in Mother’s green eyes tugged at her. Hurt? No. No one could hurt Sylvie Kroft, even if they ran her down with a mail truck. She’d just come up slinging gossip about the driver.
Excerpt – White Pearls:
Great, just what Shell needed to spoil the view from the balcony. A church full of Holy Rollers across the street. At least the old plantation sat back off the road a good two hundredyards. The Bible-thumpers wouldn’t be able to spy on her.
With an exaggerated eye roll, she ran her forefinger and thumb back and forth over the faux pearl necklace she wore. She stood at the railing and surveyed the grounds of the crumbling, two-story relic. Transform this place into a happening bed-and-breakfast? On the edge of town in tiny Rose Bud, Arkansas?
But the place had charm. It had obviously once been a grand estate. Oh the balls and cotillions this house must have hosted. Oh the grand, fine ladies who’d lived here. Grand, fine ladies who looked down their snooty noses on the likes of Shell Evans.
“Shell Evans.” A hoarse male voice came from behind her.
She stiffened. Probably a carpenter. How did he know her name already? She’d barely gotten here. Already the gossiping tongues wagged. Wade Fenwick’s floozy is in town. She could almost hear the whispers. Paranoid. Of course, her boss had told the man her name.
“Who wants to know?” She smiled, trying to sound confident as she turned to face him.
Her jaw dropped. Her heart skittered into overdrive. Her knees turned spongy and she leaned back against the railing.
If only this could be an April Fool’s joke.
A massive brick of a man—but she knew how gentle he could be. Despite his imposing size, he was easy to look at. Same model-worthy, sculpted bone structure with tousled dark waves almost brushing his shoulders, and haunting moss green eyes. Eyes that bore into her soul and seemed to hold all of life’s hurts in their endless depths.
Hurts she’d once tried to ease. Instead she’d almost lost her heart. “Darrell hired you?”
Something cracked. The railing gave way, and Shell screamed.
Ryler grabbed her arm and jerked her toward him. They landed in a heap by the door with her face buried in his solid chest. She pushed away from him.
He helped her up. “You okay?”
“Fine. Thanks.” The balustrade where she’d stood was gone, leaving twisted, splintered wood in its wake. Yellow pollen dust smeared her pink T-shirt and jeans. She swiped at it with shaky hands, and managed to pat most of it out.
Ryler coughed and cleared his throat. A few gasps later, he caught his breath. “Are you sick?”
“Allergies. All this pollen. If it’s green and grows in the spring, I’m allergic to it.”
“And you’re a landscaper?”
“Gotta make a living somehow.” Ryler ran a hand through his dark waves, sending them tumbling in disarray.
Shell swallowed hard.
“I don’t remember you having allergies before.” But she remembered everything else. His deep voice that sent shivers over her spine, his touch that shot lightning through her veins, and his kiss that turned her into a quivering, brainless idiot.
Curious minds want to know: Which excerpt interests you most? If you answer the question, your name goes in the drawing twice.
About the book – Arkansas Weddings: Love’s never easy in three Arkansas romances.
Pastor Grayson loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. He knows he needs to move on, but it’s not until florist Adrea Welch arrives at his church that the seeds of healing are planted in his heart.
Laken left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she’d end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her past—and Hayden Winters?
Shell doesn’t have a good reputation. But no matter what everyone in Rose Bud, Arkansas, thinks of her, she’s back in town with a job to do. Ryler also has reasons for being in Rose Bud, and they don’t include Shell.
But God’s love can soften the hardest heart and overcome the darkest past. These hearts may not know it, but they’re about to change.
To purchase Arkansas Weddings logon to:
BARNES & NOBLE
Come back Sept 23rd for Lillian Duncan!