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Forge’s June $2.99 eBook Sale

The eBook editions of Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor, The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber, and People of the Canyons by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear are on sale for the month of June for only $2.99 each!


An Irish Country WeddingAbout Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor:

An Irish Country Wedding is another heart-warming tale from New York Times bestselling author Patrick Taylor.

Love is in the air in the colourful Ulster village of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly has finally proposed to the darling of his youth, Kitty O’Hallorhan. There’s a wedding to be planned, but before O’Reilly can make it to the altar, he and his young colleague, Barry Laverty, M.B., must deal with the usual round of eccentric patients—and crises both large and small.

Being a G.P. in a place like Ballybucklebo often means more than simply splinting broken bones and tending to aches and pains. It can also mean helping a struggling young couple acquire their first home, clearing the name of a cat accused of preying on a neighbor’s prize pigeons, and encouraging a bright working-class girl who dreams of someday becoming a doctor herself. And, if you’re Barry Laverty, still smarting from a painful breakup, there might even be a chance for a new romance with a lovely school teacher, if her passionate political convictions don’t get in the way.
Much has changed in Ballybucklebo, and bigger changes are in store, but the lives and practices of these Irish country doctors remain as captivating and irresistible as ever.

The Lights of Sugarberry CoveAbout The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber:

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a charming, delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

People of the CanyonsAbout People of the Canyons by  Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear:

In People of the Canyons, award-winning archaeologists and New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear bring us a tale of trapped magic, a tyrant who wants to wield its power…and a young girl who could be the key to save a people.

In a magnificent war-torn world cut by soaring red canyons, an evil ruler launches a search for a mystical artifact that he hopes will bring him ultimate power—an ancient witch’s pot that reputedly contains the trapped soul of the most powerful witch ever to have lived.

The aged healer Tocho has to stop him, but to do it he must ally himself with the bitter and broken witch hunter, Maicoh, whose only goal is achieving one last great kill.

Caught in the middle is Tocho’s adopted granddaughter, Tsilu. Her journey will be the most difficult of all for she is about to discover terrifying truths about her dead parents.

Truths that will set the ancient American Southwest afire and bring down a civilization.

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What’s New from Forge this Winter

A new year is upon us, which means a slew of new books are arriving on the scene from Forge! We’re so excited to share the lineup of amazing books we have coming your way this winter. If you’re on the hunt for some books to curl up with during these chillier months of the year, take a look at what Forge has in store for you!


Cutthroat Dogs by Loren D. Estleman

Image Place holder  of - 55“Someone is dead who shouldn’t be, and the wrong man is in prison.”

Nearly twenty years ago, college freshman April Goss was found dead in her bathtub, an apparent suicide, but suspicion soon fell on her boyfriend. Dan Corbeil was convicted of her murder and sent to prison. Case closed.

Or is it?

Available to read now!

A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

A Thousand Steps-1Laguna Beach, California, 1968. The Age of Aquarius is in full swing. Timothy Leary is a rock star. LSD is God. Folks from all over are flocking to Laguna, seeking peace, love, and enlightenment.

Matt Anthony is just trying get by.

Matt is sixteen, broke, and never sure where his next meal is coming from. Mom’s a stoner, his deadbeat dad is a no-show, his brother’s fighting in Nam . . . and his big sister Jazz has just gone missing. The cops figure she’s just another runaway hippie chick, enjoying a summer of love, but Matt doesn’t believe it. Not after another missing girl turns up dead on the beach.

All Matt really wants to do is get his driver’s license and ask out the girl he’s been crushing on since fourth grade, yet it’s up to him to find his sister. But in a town where the cops don’t trust the hippies and the hippies don’t trust the cops, uncovering what’s really happened to Jazz is going to force him to grow up fast.

If it’s not already too late.

Available to read now!

Margaret Truman’s Murder at the CDC by Margaret Truman and Jon Land

Margaret Truman's Murder at the CDC2017: A military transport on a secret run to dispose of its deadly contents vanishes without a trace.

The present: A mass shooting on the steps of the Capitol nearly claims the life of Robert Brixton’s grandson.

No stranger to high-stakes investigations, Brixton embarks on a trail to uncover the motive behind the shooting. On the way he finds himself probing the attempted murder of the daughter of his best friend, who works at the Washington offices of the CDC.

The connection between the mass shooting and Alexandra’s poisoning lies in that long-lost military transport that has been recovered by forces determined to change America forever. Those forces are led by radical separatist leader Deacon Frank Wilhyte, whose goal is nothing short of bringing on a second Civil War.

Brixton joins forces with Kelly Lofton, a former Baltimore homicide detective. She has her own reasons for wanting to find the truth behind the shooting on the Capitol steps, and is the only person with the direct knowledge Brixton needs. But chasing the truth places them in the cross-hairs of both Wilhyte’s legions and his Washington enablers.

Coming 2.15.22!

The Chase by Candice Fox

The Chase

“Are you listening, Warden?”

“What do you want?”

“I want you to let them out.”

“Which inmates are we talking about?”

“All of them.”

With that, the largest manhunt in United States history is on. In response to a hostage situation, more than 600 inmates from the Pronghorn Correctional Facility, including everyone on Death Row, are released into the Nevada Desert. Criminals considered the worst of the worst, monsters with dark, violent pasts, are getting farther away by the second.

John Kradle, convicted of murdering his wife and son, is one of the escapees. Now, desperate to discover what really happened that night, Kradle must avoid capture and work quickly to prove his innocence as law enforcement closes in on the fugitives.

Death Row Supervisor, and now fugitive-hunter, Celine Osbourne has focused all of her energy on catching Kradle and bringing him back to Death Row. She has very personal reasons for hating him – and she knows exactly where he’s heading…

Coming 3.8.22!

Assassin’s Edge by Ward Larsen

image alt textA U.S. spy plane crashes off the northern coast of Russia at the same time that a Mossad operative is abducted from a street in Kazakhstan. The two events seem unrelated, but as suspicions rise, the CIA calls in its premier operative, David Slaton.

When wreckage from the aircraft is discovered on a remote Arctic island, Slaton and a team are sent on a clandestine mission to investigate. While they comb a frigid Russian island at the top of the world, disaster strikes yet again: a U.S. Navy destroyer sinks in the Black Sea.

Evidence begins mounting that these disparate events are linked, controlled by an unseen hand. A mysterious source, code name Lazarus, provides tantalizing clues about another impending strike. Yet Lazarus has an agenda that is deeply personal, a thirst for revenge against a handful of clandestine operators. Prime among them: David Slaton.

Coming 4.12.22!

Traitor by David Hagberg

image alt text1When McGarvey’s best friend, Otto, is charged with treason, Mac and his wife, Petey, set out on a desperate odyssey to clear Otto’s name. Crossing oceans and continents, their journey will take them from Japan to the US to Pakistan to Russia. Caught in a Kremlin crossfire between two warring intel agencies, Mac and Petey must fight for their lives every step of the way.

And the stakes could not be higher.

Coming 4.26.22!

And here are some great books coming out in trade paperback!

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

Waiting for the Night Song-1Cadie Kessler has spent decades trying to cover up one truth. One moment. But deep down, didn’t she always know her secret would surface?

An urgent message from her long-estranged best friend Daniela Garcia brings Cadie, now a forestry researcher, back to her childhood home. There, Cadie and Daniela are forced to face a dark secret that ended both their idyllic childhood bond and the magical summer that takes up more space in Cadie’s memory then all her other years combined.

Now grown up, bound by long-held oaths, and faced with truths she does not wish to see, Cadie must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, as drought, foreclosures, and wildfire spark tensions between displaced migrant farm workers and locals.

Waiting for the Night Song is a love song to the natural beauty around us, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise.

Available to read now! Reading group guide also available.

My Brilliant Life by Ae-ran Kim; translated by Chi-Young Kim

My Brilliant Life-1Areum lives life to its fullest, vicariously through the stories of his parents, conversations with Little Grandpa Jang—his sixty-year-old neighbor and best friend—and through the books he reads to visit the places he would otherwise never see.

For several months, Areum has been working on a manuscript, piecing together his parents’ often embellished stories about his family and childhood. He hopes to present it on his birthday, as a final gift to his mom and dad; their own falling-in-love story.

Through it all, Areum and his family will have you laughing and crying, for all the right reasons.

Coming 2.1.22! Reading group guide also available.

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Her Perfect Life-1Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

Coming 3.8.22! Reading group guide also available.

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove-1Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

Coming 3.1.22! Reading group guide also available.

The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska

The Widow QueenThe bold one, they call her—too bold for most.

To her father, the great duke of Poland, Swietoslawa and her two sisters represent three chances for an alliance. Three marriages on which to build his empire.

But Swietoslawa refuses to be simply a pawn in her father’s schemes; she seeks a throne of her own, with no husband by her side.

The gods may grant her wish, but crowns sit heavy, and power is a sword that cuts both ways.

Coming 3.15.22! Reading group guide also available.

Comes the War by Ed Ruggero

Comes the War-1April 1944, the fifty-fifth month of the war in Europe. The entire island of Britain fairly buzzes with the coiled energy of a million men poised to leap the Channel to France, the first, riskiest step in the Allies’ long slog to the heart of Germany and the end of the war.

Lieutenant Eddie Harkins is tasked to investigate the murder of Helen Batcheller, an OSS analyst. Harkins is assigned a British driver, Private Pamela Lowell, to aid in his investigation. Lowell is smart, brave and resourceful; like Harkins, she is prone to speak her mind even when it doesn’t help her.

Soon a suspect is arrested and Harkins is ordered to stop digging. Suspicious, he continues his investigation only to find himself trapped in a web of Soviet secrets. As bombs fall, Harkins must solve the murder and reveal the spies before it is too late.

Coming 3.29.22!

A Dog’s Courage by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's CourageBella was once a lost dog, but now she lives happily with her people, Lucas and Olivia, only occasionally recalling the hardships in her past. Then a weekend camping trip turns into a harrowing struggle for survival when the Rocky Mountains are engulfed by the biggest wildfire in American history. The raging inferno separates Bella from her people and she is lost once more.

Alone in the wilderness, Bella unexpectedly finds herself responsible for the safety of two defenseless mountain lion cubs. Now she’s torn between two equally urgent goals. More than anything, she wants to find her way home to Lucas and Olivia, but not if it means abandoning her new family to danger. And danger abounds, from predators hunting them to the flames threatening at every turn.

Can Bella ever get back to where she truly belongs?

A Dog’s Courage is more than a fast-paced adventure, more than a devoted dog’s struggle to survive, it’s a story asking that we believe in our dogs as much as they believe in us.

Coming 4.5.22!

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Books to Read This Fall, Based on Your Latest Binge Watch

By Lizzy Hosty

With all the new content lately, it’s easy to get sucked into a series and binge the whole show. After catching up on the latest season of a popular show or watching an intense limited series with twists and turns, check out the books we suggest below to complement your watching experience!


If you love You then try Her Perfect Life

Image Place holder  of - 46If you use social media, then you’ve probably seen the memes from You (season 3) floating around right now. And rightfully so! This gripping series showcases what happens when charming yet awkward crushes become something even more ominous and obsession goes a little too far. If you’re a fan of You, then we promise you’ll love Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest novel, Her Perfect Life, which is a thrilling story about a successful and beloved television reporter who has it all. But to keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret: Her own. While You poses the question: “What would you do for love?,” Her Perfect Life poses the question: “How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?” And both have the same sinister answer: “Everything.”

If you love The Undoing, then try I Don’t Forgive You

Poster Placeholder of - 9If you couldn’t get enough of watching Nicole Kidman (and her gorgeous coats) as the successful psychologist watching her world fall apart in a twisty murder mystery, then make I Don’t Forgive You your next read. Allie Ross thinks she has it all – career, family, new house in the suburbs. But it all comes crashing down when she is suspected of murdering one of her new neighbors. This page-turner about a mother’s desperate attempts to keep her life together is a ride you won’t forget. 

If you love Mare of Easttown, then try And Now She’s Gone

Placeholder of  -20After you finish watching the twists and turns of Mare of Easttown, be sure to check out And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall. Both Mare and Grayson Sykes have to make tough decisions to try and find people who may or may not be missing – and both will have you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out just what is the truth and what is deception.

 

If you love The Great British Baking Show, then try The Lights of Sugarberry Cove

Place holder  of - 5Are you someone who likes to try their hand at creative baking and finding new recipes? Do you have a sweet tooth that you’re always looking to satisfy? Or do you perhaps like to wind down at the end of the day by focusing on some good, wholesome content? If any of these apply to you, then we heartily suggest you check out The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webbera delightful book about family dynamics, healing, love, small town Southern charm, good food, and a touch of lake magic. And while you’re at it, you can accompany it by watching episodes of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix because it’s equally as wholesome and endearing! 

If you love Joe Pera Talks With You, then try A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape

Image Placeholder of - 66If you’re a fan of Joe Pera’s cozy comedy Joe Pera Talks With You  on Adult Swim, then it’s a no-brainer that you’ll love his first book. Here you’ll find all the wholesome, deadpan comedy you’ve come to expect from Joe. But you’ll also be delighted to find Joe Bennett’s illustrations that bring the book to life. This charming little read will not only make you feel good, it will make you feel better. Who doesn’t love a bit of sincerity along with silliness?

If you love Hallmark holiday movies, then try An Irish Country Yuletide or It’s a Wonderful Woof

Have you found yourself ready to skip straight to the holiday season and watch cozy Christmas Hallmark movies? You are not alone! Hallmark started their Christmas countdown on October 22nd, which means it is now totally acceptable to start drinking eggnog and hanging stockings. While you sit by the fireplace, be sure to grab either It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn or An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor, two delightful holiday treats!

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Start a Discussion With The Lights of Sugarberry Cove Reading Group Guide!

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The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a charming, delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

Get your book club discussion started with our reading group guide below!

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Order Your Copy of The Lights of Sugarberry Cove—Available Now!

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Forge Your Own Book Club: The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

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By Ariana Carpentieri

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she can’t help but wonder why she was saved.

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. But in order to make it work, they have to put aside their differences and rediscover the power of a little lake magic. If you’re planning on reading this charming tale with your book club, read on for our recommendations on what beverage, food, and music you should have to accompany your discussion, as well as what to talk about and what to read next!


What to Drink:

We think a southern sweet tea would be a perfect pick to pair with this book! If you’re looking for something boozy to spice up the club, then perhaps this recipe will hit the spot:

Directions

  • Steep 8 black tea bags in 1 cup boiling water for 6 minutes
  • Discard the tea bags
  • Stir in 1 1/2 cups raw sugar and the zest of 1 lemon (in strips)
  • Let cool
  • Strain into a pitcher
  • Add 3/4 cup lemon juice, 2 cups southern comfort, 4 cups ice cubes and 1 sliced lemon
  • Stir to partially melt the ice
  • Pour into glasses and enjoy!

What to Eat:

Reading a book this sweet calls for an equally as sweet treat, and we think that a southern-style banana pudding would make the perfect pair! The author, Heather Webber, put together a delicious recipe card so that you can try making it for yourself!

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What to Listen to:

This book is full of southern charm and touches of lake magic, so we think a whimsical, magical song like The Lakes by Taylor Swift would be fitting, relaxing background music for your discussion.


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What to Discuss:

Download The Lights of Sugarberry Cove Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going.

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What to Read Next:

If you’re looking for more stories that are perfect for summer reading, we suggest you check out Heather’s other books, Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe and South of the Buttonwood Tree! These books are also full of sweet southern charm, touches of magic, and would be excellent picks for your next book club discussion.

Order Your Copy of The Lights of Sugarberry Cove—Available Now!

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Heather Webber’s Literary Guest Wish List for Sugarberry Cottage

Poster Placeholder of - 47The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber. The book features a charming B&B called the Sugarberry Cottage, where a wide array of quirky guests come to stay. Heather shared with us the literary guests she thinks would show up at the B&B, and the stories they would make along the way.


By Heather Webber

On the shores of Lake Laurel in Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, you’ll find the Sugarberry Cottage B&B, run by proprietress Susannah Scott, who in her almost-sixty years has yet to meet a stranger. With her big heart, booming laugh, affinity for storytelling, and flair for the dramatic, her guests are never lacking entertainment as she serves up an abundance of southern charm. The following fictional guests would leave Susannah with plenty of stories to share in the future.

Literary Guest Wish List for the Sugarberry Cottage B&B

  • Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennet

With five daughters and a histrionic wife, this man needs a vacation. Of course, he’s not likely to get much rest at the Sugarberry Cottage when he realizes Susannah’s personality is a touch too similar to his wife’s. His dry, somewhat sarcastic wit will irritate Susannah, but she’ll enjoy his accent so much she’ll let it pass. He’ll spend most of his time under a sun umbrella with his nose buried in a book, trying to ignore her.

“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.” –Mr. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice

 

  • Hugh Lofting’s Dr. Doolittle

Susannah will bombard Dr. Doolittle with her near-death anecdotes and pepper him with medical questions while he nods sagely and offers little advice. Other than the time he spends on the cottage’s dock, communicating with the loon that floats on Lake Laurel, he can often be found in his room with the “do not disturb” sign hung on the door knob. His self-imposed isolation is viewed by other guests as a means to escape Susannah’s attentions, however upon his departure it becomes clear that he’d been secretly harboring a vast array of animals in his room. Susannah charges him a steep cleaning fee.

“But I like the animals better than the ‘best people.” –Dr. Doolittle, The Story of Dr. Doolittle

 

  • Anne George’s Patricia Ann (Mouse) and Mary Alice (Sister)

These fun, sassy, snoopy sisters from Birmingham, Alabama, will fit right in at the Sugarberry Cottage like long-lost kin. Patricia Ann will likely fuss about Susannah’s grammar while Mary Alice tries to convince Susannah that the lake needs a floating honky-tonk. Both sisters will agree that the cottage needs a makeover. Sister suggests a vibrant color scheme while Mouse thinks neutrals will be more soothing. By the time the sisters’ stay ends, they’ve all agreed to spend Thanksgiving together, and Susannah plans to bring the brilliant honky-tonk idea before the town council.

“I looked at my sister in amazement. I swear she’s half a bubble out of plumb. In fact, if our mother and father hadn’t sworn that we’d been born at home, I’d have been willing to bet that we had been mixed up somewhere.” –Patricia Anne in Murder Shoots the Bull from the Southern Sisters mystery series

  • Janet Evanovich’s Lula

Susannah will take to Lula like a duck to water, drawn to her loud no-nonsense, bigger-than-life personality. There will be lots of laughing, watching reality TV, and eating (and drinking) their way through the best restaurants and bars in town. By the time Lula checks out of the cottage, Susannah will have ditched her sensible tunic tops in favor of tube tops, and back in New Jersey, Lula will be blessing hearts left and right.

“Lula’s a plus-size black woman in a size seven white world and Lula’s had a lot of practice at pulling attitude.” –To the Nines

 

  • Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot

If anyone has a chance at solving the mystery surrounding the Lady of the Lake it’s Hercule. Plus, everyone in Sugarberry Cove will love his accent. And his mustache. His patent leather shoes, however, might earn him a side eye or two. Susannah will regale him with tales of Lady of the Lake and turn him into a bourbon aficionado before he knows what’s what. He, of course, will have smugly known about Dr. Doolittle’s smuggled pets the whole time. However, it is Dr. Doolittle alone who knows the truth about the Lady in the Lake—because the mysterious loon told him.

“I, Hercule Poirot, am not amused.” –The Hollow

Pre-order The Lights of Sugarberry Cove—available on July 20, 2021!

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Excerpt: The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

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The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a charming, delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove will be available on July 20, 2021. Please enjoy the following excerpt!


Chapter

1

Sadie

 

“Whereabouts are you from, Sadie?” Mrs. Iona Teakes asked as she deftly chopped pecans on a wooden cutting board in her sun-steeped kitchen, the summery afternoon light spilling through a bay window overlooking the Coosa River.

Across the yawning stretch of water, the main street of a small town fluttered with activity as people went about their day. Before coming to Mrs. Teakes’s charming home, I’d  stopped for lunch  at the local burger place, not only for something to appease my grumbling stomach but to also get a feel for the town. Its people. Its mood. Its potential. Its heartbeat.

I’d been looking for a place to call my home for so long now that I was beginning to think I’d never find it.

But Wetumpka, Alabama, had promise.

A revitalization initiative was in full swing, and the heart of the community was evident in the rebuilding that had taken place in the years since a tornado swept through uprooting trees, buildings, lives. Heart was my number one requirement when it came to a hometown.

“I was born and raised about an hour and a half north of here. In Shelby County.”

Curiosity burned in Mrs. Teakes’s watery eyes as her gaze shifted to my hair, then away again, but she was much too polite to ask any prying questions, for which I was grateful. I’d rather not talk about myself at all, but especially not about my hair and the circumstances of how it had come to be this particular color. My mama has often said my glittering silver tresses reminded her of starlight, as though all the stars in Alabama had fallen directly onto my head, leaving me with a sparkly crown, a stunning glow. Time and again, I’d pointed out that Alabama’s famous fallen stars had been meteorites, and if they’d crashed onto my head, I’d be dead. But Mama always argued the fact that I had died the night my hair turned color, and who was to say it hadn’t been the stars that had caused my brief death? 

It hadn’t been the stars. It had been a watery accident. But Mama wasn’t one for accepting small truths, favoring bold exaggerations instead.

Stars bested water, plain and simple.

I’d drowned that summer night nearly eight years ago in Lake Laurel, at just eighteen years old. But I’d been saved. Brought back to life. Brought back to a new life. To a new normal. All these years later, I hadn’t quite figured out who this new Sadie Way Scott was exactly. Or why I had been saved. No matter how far I ran away from my hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, that particular why haunted me, following my every move, because there had been a reason. I felt it, deep down, like a pulsing bubble of pressure that kept me searching, seeking.

“Is there anything I can do to help, Mrs. Teakes?” I needed a diversion from my thoughts or else I was bound to fall into a deep mudhole of self-pity. I’d already set up my cameras, three  in all, to frame specific shots of the homey kitchen that breathed vintage charm, which was easy to do since it hadn’t been updated in at least sixty years, possibly more. The room was painted a cheerful blue, and the scent of vanilla floated in the air, as if being exhaled by the colorful floral wallpaper that served as a backsplash. The bulbous white fridge, covered in family photos, postcards, and old newspaper clippings, hummed loudly, its long chrome handle gleaming. The wide stove with side-by-side ovens had two storage drawers at the bottom, and I could only imagine the stories it could tell of the meals it had cooked.

But those stories would have to wait. The focus of today’s video was on a dish served cold. Several small glass bowls were lined up along the ceramic tile countertop, each filled with a different ingredient. Shredded coconut. Mandarin oranges. Sour cream. Maraschino cherries. Pineapple chunks. Mini marshmallows. Once the food prep was complete, I’d be the one asking all the questions for the sake of the video, which would be posted the following week on my YouTube channel, A Southern Hankerin’.

The videos were about more than Southern cooking. At their heart were human-interest pieces featuring people across the South willing to share a family recipe and the story behind it. Last week, I’d had an in-depth preliminary phone interview with Mrs. Teakes, and today, I’d film her while she told me how, in the late 1960s, she’d captured the heart of her late husband with her recipe for ambrosia salad.

During the interview I’d be sure to mention how the South proudly labeled some desserts as salad. To those who lived here, this came as no surprise. After all, this was the land where mac and cheese was considered a vegetable. But my audience wasn’t limited to the South. I had viewership that spanned the globe, a fact that amazed me—though it shouldn’t. People tuned in for the heartwarming, relatable stories, which were needed in the world more now than ever.

Mrs. Teakes set down her knife and flexed age-spotted hands. Intelligent brown eyes, framed in an abundance of delicate wrinkles, assessed while their softness begged for more information. “Not much left to do, only these pecans to finish chopping. Whereabouts in Shelby County?”

I fussed with a camera setting that needed no adjustment. “Sugarberry Cove.”

The river water below Mrs. Teakes’s kitchen churned with happiness, white-crested rapids pushing and pulling and racing. Farther down the river, the water calmed, gradually stretching into stillness near a bridge with five arches that created circular reflections on the water’s suddenly smooth, glassy surface.

Still waters that reminded me of what used to be my home. “On Lake Laurel? How wonderful! I’ve been several times for

the water lantern festival. A lovely little town. So enchanting. Do you still live there?”

Much like the rapids, my stomach churned as I glanced at the clock on the countertop microwave, wishing time away. My gaze shifted to a tarnished brass teakettle that rested on a stove eye, then to two teacups that dangled on hooks under a golden oak cabinet, one cup having Mr. stenciled on it, the other Mrs. The former looked pristine in condition, the latter well used, well loved, with its tea-darkened interior and chipped handle. Hung askew on the wall by the fridge was a framed, stained cross-stitched cloth with the words Home Is Where Your Heart Is.

Old wounds ached at the simple words, and I turned to look out the window instead of at the phrase that haunted. Mocked.

“No, ma’am, but I still have family up that way. My older sister, her husband, and their little boy live up there. And my mother owns a bed-and-breakfast cottage on the lake and my great-uncle, who’s more like a granddaddy to me, lives and works at the cottage, too.” I bit my lip to keep from saying any more, from spilling my heart onto the cutting board next to the pecans. Why was I revealing so much?

But I knew why. The water.

I missed Sugarberry Cove. I missed my old home.

The home, the family that I’d had before the watery accident that had changed everything and everyone. Most especially me.

Mrs. Teakes picked up the knife once more. “Where do you live, Sadie?”

I turned my back to the window and on old memories. “Here and there and everywhere. I travel a lot, and I’m still looking for the right place to settle down. This seems like a nice area. Wetumpka, I mean.”

“Indeed it is. I grew up here, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.” She chopped another pecan, the sharp knife slicing nutty, brown flesh into small, pale pieces. “The water lantern festival is coming up soon, if memory serves. The weekend after next? Will you go back for that? Such a special event.”

“No, ma’am.” Truly, it was the last place on earth I wanted to be. Setting the knife down again, she faced me. Slim, graceful fingers fiddled with the top button of her pale-blue cardigan as she said, “No? The lady of the lake, Lady Laurel, might be especially generous this year, granting multiple wishes. You don’t have any

wishes to set afloat?”

The lanterns at the festival carried wishes across the lake, which came true only if Lady Laurel pulled the floating vessel from the surface of the dark water to fill her underwater home with the glowing light created by pure, heartfelt wishes.

Deep lines fanned across her cheeks as Mrs. Teakes smiled, and the warmth in her eyes pulled at my heartstrings, making me want to tell her the whole story, start to finish, about how sometimes during the water lantern festival it was important to be very careful what you wished for.

“The festival will make do without my wishes.” Faking a smile, I picked up the knife to finish chopping the pecans, etiquette be damned. The sooner I could stop talking about myself, the better.

Mrs. Teakes’s gaze slowly drifted to my hair again. “I’ve heard told several stories of Lady Laurel’s kindness, not always having to do with the lanterns. There’ve been rescues, haven’t there? Boaters? Swimmers? Didn’t she save a young woman once from drowning?”

The glimmer in her eyes made me suspect she already knew why my hair was this color. There had been a flurry of media interest after my accident, but it had died down fairly quickly, thankfully. I’d hated the attention. Everyone stared. Whispered. The doctors had been mystified by my hair but ultimately chalked up the startling change in color to a traumatic shock reaction. These days the looks my hair garnered were a sight easier to deal with because most people assumed I purposely dyed it this color. To be edgy or artsy or as a brand, to set myself apart from a zillion other online creators. But back home in Sugarberry Cove, everybody knew its true source: lake magic.

I’d been saved by Lady Laurel, the lady of the lake.

There were many days I cursed the wish I made the night I’d fallen into the water, the wish that had ultimately caused my accident and its aftermath. I’d love nothing more than to go back in time to make a different choice. But there was no going back to what used to be. It was gone, left behind in the lake after I’d been pulled out, floating away on a water lantern carrying a wish that had changed life as I knew it.

In a span of a few short weeks, I’d died, been brought back to life, dropped out of college, shattered people’s belief in me, suffered crushing heartbreak, and began drifting around the state in search of odd jobs to keep afloat until I eventually started making videos to tell other people’s stories. Now I lived out of a suitcase as I traveled the South for A Southern Hankerin’.

Why had I been saved?

Using the blade of the knife to sweep pecans from the chopping board into a glass bowl, I barely noticed as the knife bit painlessly into the side of my thumb. A spot of red blossomed instantly.

I quickly folded my fingers over the wound, pressing tightly.

Mrs. Teakes gasped and set her hand on my arm. “Oh dear. I’ll fetch a bandage.”

“No need. It’s only a nick, and I’m a quick healer.” An understatement, to be sure. “It didn’t even hurt.”

“Nonsense. I’ll be just a moment.”

As Mrs. Teakes hurried out of the room, an incoming text message vibrated the phone in the back pocket of my jeans. I pulled the phone free and saw the message was from my sister, Leala Clare.

Sadie Way, you need to come home. Mother’s okay but had a minor heart attack. She’s at Shelby Baptist.

My stomach lurched into my throat, and my hands shook as

I stared at the screen. At first I was disbelieving that my sister would text me this news, but then I remembered I’d asked her to always text before calling in case I was filming. And even in the face of something so important, she hadn’t ignored my request. Leala was nothing if not a rule follower.

“Sadie, are you all right? You’ve gone ghostly white.”

Mrs. Teakes stood before me, concern flaring in her eyes, bandage in hand.

“I’m okay, but I’m sorry, I need to go. There’s been an emergency.” I quickly gathered my cameras and notes. As I headed out the door, I said, “I’ll call to reschedule our interview.”

“Anytime, dear. Anytime.”

A few minutes later, I turned down the jazz playing on the car radio and backed carefully out of the narrow asphalt driveway. Mrs. Teakes stood on the front porch, waving, the bandage fluttering in her hand like a tiny white flag. My gaze dropped to my thumb on the steering wheel, to the spot where the knife had pierced. The wound had already disappeared, the skin as smooth as it had been before being sliced.

As I headed north toward the home I’d  barely seen in years, I couldn’t help but wish that my emotional wounds could be so easily healed as well.

Copyright © 2021 by Heather Webber

Pre-order The Lights of Sugarberry Cove—available on July 20, 2021!

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