Read an excerpt from this new small-town romance... To Have and Let Go by Julieann Dove (Excerpt) #newbooks #bookx #romancebooks #cleanromance #cleanreads @CaffeinatedPR


Welcome to my tour stop! Check out this new clean small-town romance...

To Have and Let Go
(The Women of Boone County #2)
By Julieann Dove
Contemporary Romance, Clean & Wholesome
eBook, 312 Pages
July 9, 2024

Summary

Chelsea Hayes is no stranger to running away from her problems. That could explain why she moved six states away from Boone County. And the reason she works a second job to go talk in circles to a therapist bi-weekly, to avoid hitting the dead end and facing her demons.

Unfortunately for Chelsea, a call from back home forces her to hang up her running shoes and return to face some ghosts that never left, even if she did.

Patrick Jergan is new in town. Someone to take away some of the tension from all the things spinning out of control in Chelsea’s life. But like Chelsea, he’s fighting his own set of problems. The two might make a good match, except for one thing…or one person. He’s the topic her therapist knows nothing about. In fact, no one in town knows of their past. If they did, there would be no end to the tongues wagging.

"If you haven't discovered Julieann Dove's books, start right now with Coming Home, the first book in her latest series. It's filled with the complex characters and smalltown charm I love." Sherryl Woods, New York Times #1 bestsellling author of The Sweet Magnolias and Chesapeake Shores series.

(Affiliate links included. Available in KU.)

Excerpt

I was out of town a mile or so, and the same distance from home. The water cascaded down the windshield in sheets. A shiver ripped down my naked, wet arms. I turned off the car’s air conditioner and ignition. How long would it take for someone to pass by and help? Throw out a cable, and it magically hooked where it needed and pulled me out?

Oh, cars came. And passed. Nothing that resembled a large truck with a winch or push bars to give me the slightest nudge I needed. I sighed. More rain poured. Never the patient one, I got out, locked the car, and began to walk home. How long could it possibly rain, anyway? This was Texas, not Seattle, Washington.

It actually took only minutes for water to collect in the soles of my shoes as I pondered the probability and forecast of a monsoon. And less time for the weight of the rain to form clumps in what used to be my wispy bangs. Even my eyelashes were unable to withstand the pelting of the rain, and my eyes strained to stay open. I was cold, wet, and looked down to find that my shirt now clung to my skin like a cheesecloth.

A bright-orange car passed. The water from the tires sprayed mist that covered my entire body. It was useless to try to do anything about it. I took another step, my feet sloshing with every motion forward. Bright, appalling brake lights that glowed from the rear bumper lit the now monochromatic scene before me. My eyes fluttered against the elements and squinted to figure out what it was doing. Reverse lights blinked, and slowly it backed up to where I dripped on the side of the road.

The window lowered to halfway, and I peered inside to see a man hunched forward, speaking in elevated sound. “Need a ride?”

The question was absurd. Of course I needed a ride. The thing was, I didn’t need to be killed by agreeing to a ride. Crime television taught me lots of things. Not getting in a car with a stranger was one of them. Albeit, a nice-looking stranger. His smile, when he asked, was the kind I’d get if he’d just taken my order at Starbucks. Not a leering one like the weirdo who wants to shove you in his trunk once he’s given you a sniff of chloroform. Still, I couldn’t be sure, so I declined.

“No thanks. My house is just up the road.”

He persisted. Like a gentleman or a serial killer. It was hard to tell when buckets of water were being poured upon you. “Really, I’m not a creep or anything. It’s pouring. I can give you ride.”

I got close enough to smell the coconut air freshener.

Again, my lifelong training of female survivor kicked it. For all the na├»ve girls who just wanted to get out of the storm. Forge ahead, stay alive. “Nah, I’m good. But thanks for the
offer.”

He hesitated. “Okay, well, I hope where it is you’re going isn’t far.”

I smiled. Water dripped from my chin. “It isn’t. Thanks for stopping.”

He shook his head and waved before moving forward.

I watched as the lights trailed out of sight. I just saved my own life. Or denied myself a chance not to get a stupid cold. I’d never know.

I walked the rest of what felt like two miles hunched over, covering my chest with my wet hand, in the pouring rain. Each step thinking the storm would slack off. It didn’t. I passed houses with their inside lights on, and watched through their windows as people were going about their time eating, watching television, or one window where a cat was watching me. He probably was being reminded that’s why he was an inside cat.

A left turn on Miller and two more houses to go. A blister was beginning to form on my big toe as it took the brunt of the travel, shoved forward in what used to be my favorite brown flats. I looked down at the stained dark color and wondered whether they’d ever look the same.

When I looked up again, I noticed that bright-orange car. A spoiler on back, shiny hubcaps, and a black line down the body of it. I looked at the house where it found itself parked in the driveway. It was my house! What in the world was it doing parked in my driveway? Well, my mother’s driveway. This killer was persistent and clairvoyant, it seemed.

I went around to the side door and fished for the key from underneath the mat. Mom was a genius to leave it in the most inconspicuous place. I looked in the window before turning the lock. Trying to see the man. At this point of being soaked to the bone, I couldn’t imagine I’d be too tempting to murder. The bigger mystery was what he was doing here.

I shoved open the door and crossed my chest when I felt the air conditioning bite at the water standing on my arms. Mom never ran the air conditioning. Oh my gosh. The thought plowed me over. Maybe he was one of those types who found out someone died and he stalked the place for a few days, saw no one else lived there, and he moved in. I looked around for something to defend myself. Nothing. Why was my mom such a minimalist? No iron skillet. No rolling pin. Had I been able to get my hand in my wet pocket, I may have checked and found nothing there too. Before I raided the fridge for a jar of pickles to club him with, he appeared in
the doorway.

“You? What…who…”

“I think I should be asking the same thing,” I said, mopping the water that still leaked from my stringy hair. “Who are you and what are you doing in my house?”

Still with that Forest Gump look, he exclaimed, “Chelsea! Of course it’s you. I didn’t recognize you—” His eyes moved down my body.

I covered my front, realizing I was a peep show in my white tee shirt.

“You look different not in pigtails and braces.”

Lord, my full-on anxiety stage of life. And Mom kept it prominently displayed on our mantle. She had my 8x10 third-grade picture next to my cap and gown wallet-sized one.

I fidgeted with my hair. Not much better than ponytails at the present moment. “Okay. But who are you?”

He ran and pulled a kitchen towel from a drawer. Funny he knew which one. How long had he been squatting here? He handed it to me. “I’m Patrick.” He held out his hand for me to possibly shake. I looked, still stuck in the moment, and continued to sop water from my skin. “Okay, well, I’m Patrick.” He shoved his hand back in his jean pocket. “I’m the chef at your mom’s restaurant.”

“The chef?” Mom had a chef—er, rather the main line cook, Mr. Newton. He’d
sometimes accidentally leave his teeth soaking in a cup by the employee restroom. I guess it made sense now that he might’ve not lived long after I moved away. Mom did get him a stool to sit on to help ease his back when he had to stand long hours.

“Yeah, I…well, she hired me about six months ago.” He went and grabbed some paper towels and began sopping up the water that puddled around me.

“Okay, but why are you in our house?”

He looked up from where he was kneeling. “It’s a long story, actually.”

Other Books in the Series

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About the Author


Julieann Dove takes great pleasure in writing about love and all the mess that goes along with it. How else does happily ever after become realized, if not for some type of hardship and journey? When she’s not writing, she loves playing with fabric at her sewing machine, baking new recipes, and playing in the dirt, trying to get things to grow. Julieann loves old movies, and never tires of listening to music—it’s where she finds most of her inspiration for her books.


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