Heath Beckett would have never moved his renowned stained glass business to the artisan boutique town of Beauford, Tennessee, if he’d thought there was any chance Hope MacKenzie would return there. Ambitious and career-minded Hope left him with a bleeding heart years ago when she couldn’t fathom that his art would ever turn out to be more than a hobby.
Now she’s back because her family’s bank needs her desperately. Although she reluctantly settles into a quiet life in her hometown, she’s soon embraced by the knitting circle at a local shop, and Hope finally begins to understand the charms of small-town living: the neighbors who truly care for you and the slower pace that affords an appreciation of more simple joys.
She steers clear of Heath, knowing she foolishly lost her chance with him long ago. But when she gives a personal loan to the women who own the local knitting shop without consulting Heath, who has helped them with their finances for years, the two must work together to ensure the ladies’ business plan is in tip-top shape.
Surely a man capable of creating such pure beauty has a heart that can forgive. But can he still love?
Free knitting pattern inside!
by Alicia Hunter Pace
“I absolutely love the Alicia Hunter Pace books. They have such a quirky sweetness, and the characters always ring true and make me cry.” — Linda Howard
Sensuality Level: Sensual
USA Today best-selling author Alicia Hunter Pace is a writing team who live in North Alabama, where they share a love of football and old houses while having a lot of fun writing romances together.
An excerpt from Heath’s Hope:
Hope walked toward Piece by Piece, the quilt shop where Neyland sold her handcrafted jewelry. She had to pass by Heath’s shop, Spectrum, on her way to meet Neyland, but the streets were so thick with people, there was little chance he’d see her.
Her parents had never given up hope that she’d return home and go to work in the family bank. She sometimes wished for that, too, but as long as Heath was in residence, that would never happen. But no matter. She was happy in Charlotte with her impressive client list and ever-growing salary.
But if Beauford were capable of calling her home, it would be on a night like this. The air was just crisp enough, and the streets were resplendent with pumpkins, gourds, and mums. Costumed children played games in the closed-off street and music drifted from a portable stage a block away. Beauford’s most famous citizen, country music star Jackson Beauford—soon to be Neyland’s brother-in-law—would perform later.
Hope was getting near Spectrum. Just to be safe, she’d cross the street and double back to Piece by Piece.
But just as she started to do that, something round and orange in Spectrum’s window caught her eye. Could it be? Her stomach rolled over as she walked toward the window. She knew she ought to run, ought to do it now. But she couldn’t. The memories came hard and fast.
Fall, senior year. They’d been together eight months. Heath had been sweetly amused when he’d discovered her almost giddy love of Halloween, had said he’d given up hope that there was anything beyond a spreadsheet that would excite her—though that wasn’t true. He’d excited her plenty. But he’d made her the jack-o’-lantern sun catcher that now hung in his shop window. Having no place for it in her room at the sorority house, she’d left it at Heath’s off-campus apartment. It had hung in his apartment window even after Halloween passed, and it had still been there that raw, March day when she’d left him for good.
But was it the same one? Or had he smashed it or sold it and made another that was no more than a decoration for his shop? It looked the same. The jack-o’-lantern was wearing a top hat with a bat on top and, with its star-shaped eyes and crooked sweet grin, it looked like it was in love. When she’d told Heath that, he’d given her one of his smiles that was so quick it was almost gone before it appeared, and said he’d tried to put how he felt in the jack-o’-lantern’s expression. It was the most romantic thing he’d ever said to her.
Now she was inches from the window. Yes. Even after all this time, she knew the nuances of the glass—the bubbles, the swirls, the little bead of lead in the corner of the mouth that Heath had said ruined the whole thing.
But she’d laughed and kissed Heath’s mouth in the precise spot that worried him so on the sun catcher. And then she’d settled her mouth on the sweet spot on his neck above his collarbone, and he hadn’t worried about that little imperfection anymore.
She put her hand against the shop window. “My jack-o’-lantern,” she whispered as she caressed the spot that would have been its cheek if the glass of the window had not been there.
“Hello, Hope.” The voice was familiar, beloved, and far from gentle.
She spun around to look into brandy-colored eyes.