Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ozark Sweetheart by Helen Grey

Back Cover Blurb:
She's too busy helping her family survive the Depression. When she returns home to their Missouri farm, she sees her childhood crush, Trace Gentry, and it stirs up old dreams she tries hard to ignore. Trace is kind, handsome and wealthy. He'd never be interested in a poor girl like her—would he?
Successful businessman Trace is crazy about Callie, and he knows she thinks she's not good enough for him. But he's clueless how to woo her. Until he devises a plan that will prove his love to Callie and make all her dreams come true.

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1
Missouri, 1930

Callie Blake picked up a couple more sticks of firewood from the slab pile and added them to her load. Arms full, she rounded the sawdust pile near the family sawmill and headed for the house. She twisted her head, wishing she had a free hand to wipe the sweat that trickled from beneath her bonnet and dampened the collar of her blue cotton dress. The smell of fresh sawdust permeated the still, parched air.

The family dog lay panting in the sweltering shade of a huge oak tree, his tongue hanging out. The calendar said today was the third of September, but the heat of August persisted in the Missouri Ozarks.

The sound of a motor drew her attention to the road. A 1927 Chevrolet truck slowed and pulled into the strip of ground between the road and the yard.

Callie paused as the visitor got out of the truck and came closer. Then she got her first look at his face.

Trace Gentry.

The sight of him sent her tumbling back in time. He was as tall as she remembered, six foot or a little more, and as good looking as ever. His dark brown hair held just a hint of curl, and deep set blue eyes made hearts flutter—including Callie’s, once upon a time. Which had been pointless then—still was now. Time and trials had changed him from a “cute” boy to a lean, muscular man. A heart-stoppingly handsome man.

He carried himself with assurance and always seemed at ease with everyone. Nobody else had ever fascinated Callie the way he did, or sent her stomach into somersaults at the mere thought of him. Or been so far from her world.

Time stood still as he came closer. Suddenly his eyes collided with hers in recognition. She struggled for control and forced the shock from her expression.

“Callie?” Surprise colored the word.

She nodded, held mute at his sudden appearance. “Are you just visiting, or have you moved back here?”

His voice was deep and smooth. “I came home six months ago.”

She had to force the words past numb lips. I’ve stayed close to the house. Our paths would seldom have crossed anyhow.

As a child—and as she grew older—she had adored him from a distance. In high school he had only seen her as the poor little Blake girl he had once felt sorry for. Trace had dated Joanna Michaels, a girl his own age who had been a perfect match for him, and Callie had put away her childish fairy tale dreams.

“Are you looking for Dad?”

He gave her a breathtaking smile. “I want to get some advice from him and order wood to build a display case in the showroom.”

She tipped her head, slowly regaining her composure. “For all your trophies?”

A smile hovered around his mouth. “No, for my license plate collection.”

“He was at the sawmill, but the steam engine stopped running a few minutes ago. If he’s not right there, he may have gone to the barn.” Callie indicated with a jerk of her head where the engine sat just beyond the second sawdust pile. She clutched the load of wood tighter and hooked her hands together around it to keep it from slipping from her tired arms.

Trace looked at the wood in her arms. “You’re busy. I’ll go on down and find him.”

He moved toward the barn, and Callie continued to the house. Just then movement to her right caught her attention. Her brothers, Riley, one year older than her at twenty-three, and eighteen-year-old Delmer, sprinted from the barn and cut across the backyard to the other side of the house where the buckboard sat, a team of horses already hitched to it.

Callie’s mouth tightened in irritation. Ducking out on their chores again. Why did she have to be the only one who took care of everything? Would she never be free to have a life of her own?

Callie picked up her pace and opened her mouth to yell that Mom needed more wood for the cook stove. But the sound of another approaching motor brought her to a halt.

A black car pulled to the side of the road. A man in black pants, shirt, and hat got out and rounded the front of the vehicle, its motor still running. She froze in her tracks. Could it be? The familiar looking man stopped at the ditch and stared across it at Riley and Delmer. A bolt of fear zinged up her spine as he studied them from beneath the shield of his hat brim. He said something she couldn’t hear.

The wood nearly slipped out of her hands, but Callie tightened her arms just in time to keep from dropping it. Could it be him? How could he have found her? Oh, please, no.

Callie edged backward around the corner of the house, keeping her eyes glued to the man and her brothers. Intent on each other, they had not noticed her. The man suddenly reached behind him. When his hand came back around, he was pointing a gun at the boys. Cold, paralyzing fear held Callie’s feet rooted to the ground.

Run. Move—before they’re both dead.

A shot rang out, and Riley collapsed. In a flash the man swung his arm around toward Delmer, who flung himself to the ground in a fast rolling movement. More shots fired, bullets hitting the dirt around him.

Callie screamed and broke into a run, nearly tripping over the wood that fell at her feet. Acting on sheer instinct, she flung a chunk at the man. It landed several feet short of him. Still running, she fired another missile from the middle of the yard. It bounced off his ankle. The man hesitated and turned, giving her a partial view of a face identical to the one in her nightmares.

To buy her book, go here:

Parable Print

About Helen:

Helen Gray grew up in a small Missouri town and married her pastor. They have three grown children. If her writing in even a small way touches others, she considers it a blessing and thanks God for the opportunity.

Connect with Helen here:

Helen is giving away a copy of Ozark Sweetheart. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


Susan Johnson said...

This sounds like a great book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
susanmsj at msn dot com

Anonymous said...

Looks great! :) A want to read for sure!


Nadine Keels said...

Sounds like good "comfort reading"! nadine(dot)keels(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda Marie Finn said...

I saw the cover and had to come , so reminded me of the waltons ! Your book sounds wonderful !
Linda Finn

susanlulu said...

Sounds like a delightful read for this spring. Thanks.

Merry said...

Ozark Sweetheart sounds awesome. My mom grew up there during the depression. Thanks for the giveaway!
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

sam said...

I like the plot of your book with a poor lady and a rich man falling in love. I would love to win your book. sharon wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Patricia Bradley said...

Great excerpt. Sounds like an intriguing story! pat at ptbradley dot com

Terri said...

Helen, im so excited for you and the book sounds great! I like the depression era concept. It isn't something I see often in books.

Terri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PriviesAndPrims said...

How sweet to honor your mother's memories. :)

priviesandprims [at]yahoo[dot]com

Jackie McNutt said...

Loved the excerpt!
The cover is very well done. I am looking forward to adding to my TBR list
thank you

Wendy Newcomb said...

This sounds like a great book, thank you for the chance to win it.


Anonymous said...

This is so neat Helen that you used your mom's notes about her life to write this book. Would have been wonderful if she could have read this onee. I absolutely love the cover on the book. I love those old cars. Have seen some while groeing up. My mother and daddy were a young couple with several children during this time. I believe they were living in Oklahoma then. I was born in 1935 during the big duststorms. not good! Mom said she tho't she was going to lose me from the dust still getting in the house even with windows covered. But I was number seven. Please add my name to the give-away. And, thanks to you and the Book Barn Book Loft Maxie

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