Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Release: Autumn Falls (Paradise Pines, Book 3)

A special message from my friend Delia Latham.......

I had a book release on the 1st...and I've been so busy I didn't even think to raise a noise about it. My very bad! lol 

Anyway, AUTUMN FALLS is now available on Amazon. Yay! So excited. This is Book 3 in the 4-book Paradise Pines series.

Autumn Warren and her friend Cecily determine to have one last hurrah before the crazy whirl of planning Ceci’s wedding. Autumn reluctantly agrees to lay off the barbed comments about her friend’s imminent move to Italy—for no better reason than that she fell in love!—and the girls rent an apartment at Cambria’s Paradise Pines Lodge for the entire fall season.

Autumn’s agreement to silence her outraged protests in no way indicates a change of heart about letting a man into her own life. She’s watched enough friends get married and divorced to sour her forever on the subject of love and the sanctity of marriage. If she ever does fall in love, it’ll be forever…and she's seen absolutely zero evidence of that kind of devotion even existing. Autumn doesn’t believe in divorce, and given the current statistics, why even risk it?

Then she meets Russ Amundsen and his adorable daughter, DeLyn, and finds herself in danger of losing her carefully guarded heart. And what is it about the mysterious Miss Angelina Love—who may or may not own Paradise Pines—that makes Autumn believe her heart never stood a chance once she set foot inside the lodge?

Purchase links:

Pelican Book Group

And a special message from me, Mary Manners:

I will be giving away a copy of Autumn Falls on Monday, September 11. Please leave a comment to be entered into the drawing. Good luck, stay safe, and check back on Monday to see if you are the winner!

Week 36: Crystal Wishes by Mary Manners


As a clothing-buyer-turned-seamstress with an eye for fashion, Skylar Lannigan’s hands whisper tender ballads over fabric. She fills a sketchbook with flowing and whimsical designs—including versions of a to-die-for wedding dress for her own wedding day—if she’d only find Mr. Right. She’d once imagined a bright future with Adam Caldwell, until he took off with no explanation.
Adam Caldwell’s life has been a series of hairpin curves since the night a tragic accident claimed both his parents and nearly the life of his sister, Faith, as well. When Faith, who's still recovering from her injuries, asks for help selecting a wedding dress, Adam accompanies her to Diamond Knot Dreams. He's soon reunited with beautiful and lively Skylar Lannigan.
Adam would love to rekindle a romance with Skylar, but will events from their past rise up to destroy any hope for a future?

1st Chapter:

“Skylar, do you have a minute? I could use some help.”

            Skylar Lannigan lifted her gaze from the sketchbook on her desk to find Claire Kendrick—it had taken some practice to drop the surname, McLaughlin, since Claire had married architect Ryan Kendrick last April—standing in the doorway.

“Sure. What’s up?”

            “Faith Caldwell is here for her fitting, and we’re having a bit of trouble with the dress she ordered.” Claire strolled into the room. Her deep blue eyes radiated happiness. She splayed one hand to her growing belly as the life blossoming inside kicked and squirmed. “The bridal gown that she ordered months ago—that’s what she’s come to try on again today—is too tapered and snug to conceal her bulky leg brace. And, she’s a bit self-conscious of the sleeveless bodice, due to scars that are continuing to heal.”

            “She was in that terrible car accident a few months ago, wasn’t she?”

“Yes…along with her parents.” Claire paused as she reached Skylar’s desk. “Unfortunately, her parents didn’t survive.”

“Oh, how awful. I remember the news report.” Skylar’s heart tugged as the segment flashed through her mind.

            “Two people are dead, another seriously injured as the driver of an SUV traveling north along I-75 lost control and breached the median, barreling head-on into the oncoming lane. All traffic is being rerouted and an investigation is underway…”

            “The wedding was postponed to give Faith time to recover. She’s still got a way to go, but the nuptials are back on track again.” Claire reached for the sketchbook, glanced at Skylar’s detailed drawing, and gasped. “Oh, what a gorgeous dress!”

“Thanks.” It was an elegant ball gown style that sported a scoop neck adorned with a delicate mesh overlay, tastefully embroidered with tulle at the bodice and then tapering along the whimsical sweep train. Skylar melted at the thought of it. Now, if only the brides she catered to might feel the same. She mentally crossed her fingers.

“Are you going to spotlight it on the Diamond Knot Dreams website?”

            “Avery already took care of it.” Avery Lakin—now Ingram, since she’d married Jason Ingram the previous year, Diamond Knot Dreams’ marketing genius and best friend to Claire and Skylar. “She’ll have all of the dresses posted to the site within the next few weeks.”

“That’s fabulous.”

“I know. June seems like a long way off, but it’s never too early to prepare for the summer rush.”

            A trill of excitement danced along Skylar’s spine. Her dream of designing bridal gowns for a living was quickly coming to fruition.

            “The skirt on that dress is just what Faith Caldwell has been looking for.” Claire rounded the desk and eased in at her side. “And I think the flowing train—”

“Yes, it’s a sweep train,” Skylar explained.

“Right. I believe that particular style, coupled with a sheer overlay at her shoulders, would heighten Faith’s comfort level and make her feel like a princess.”

            “Every bride should feel like a princess.” Skylar believed that with all her heart. She prayed to one day know first-hand what it felt like to walk down the aisle to a man who would become her life partner…her husband.

            Only in your dreams, Skylar.

            She brushed aside the thought as Claire continued. “Yes, this design would most definitely afford a princess-like feel for Faith despite the bulky leg brace she’s required to use.” She tapped the sketch, nodding emphatically. “The therapist said Faith will have to continue wearing it for at least another month, past the date of her wedding, which is merely three weeks away.”

“Three weeks?” Skylar’s voice squeaked. “Did you say Faith’s wedding is only three weeks away?”

“I did. December seventeenth. She’s here today to make a last-minute attempt to avert wedding day disaster. She held out so long because she hoped…she really, really hoped she’d be out of the leg brace by now. But she’s not, so that mermaid-style, strapless number she chose last spring just isn’t going to work.”

“Yikes. This is an emergency. We need a miracle.”

“You can do it, Faith. I have complete confidence in your abilities.”

“I hope I don’t let you—or Faith—down.” Skylar closed her sketchbook and stood to stretch a nagging ache that had set up along the base of her spine. “Did you say she’s waiting by the dressing rooms?”

            “Yes.” Claire slung her purse strap over one shoulder. “I have a doctor’s appointment in half-an-hour, so would you mind if I bowed out and let you take things from here?”

            “Of course not.” Skylar’s gaze drifted to Claire’s ballooning abdomen, covered in a maternity shirt that was stretched to the hilt. “How’s little Abby doing today?”

            “She’s kicking up a storm.” Claire patted her mounded belly. “I believe she’s trying to somersault her way out.”

            “It won’t be long now until you’re a mommy in addition to Ryan’s wife and sister-in-law to Caleb.”

Caleb was Ryan’s step-brother, about to turn fourteen. He lived with Claire and Ryan since his mother had taken off to points unknown and his grandmother, who had been his primary caregiver, had passed away. Both Ryan and Claire had become Caleb’s legal guardians.

            “That’s a lot to take on, but this little one still has a while to go. Her due date is December twenty-fourth—Christmas Eve.”

“I know. Do you think you’ll make it that long?”

            “Today, I don’t think so. It’s a race to see which will happen first—Faith Caldwell’s wedding or Abby’s birth. I’m hoping Faith wins, because the doctor says every day that passes gives Abby a chance to grow stronger.”

            Claire had endured a few complications during the course of her pregnancy, so Skylar sent up a quick prayer that Abby would stay put for the time being.

“Go on to the doctor and then head home to prop up your feet. I’ll make sure all your upcoming cake orders are organized and order any supplies you need.” Claire had jotted a list during lunch. “Lila, Avery and I will make the kitchen sparkle.”

            “Thanks. I left my list for everything I’ll be needing to finish the holiday orders on the kitchen countertop, and Mrs. Burchett is supposed to call with last minute details for her granddaughter’s reception.”

“I’ll field the call and take notes. No worries.”

“I owe you, Sky.”

            “No, you don’t.” Skylar gently squeezed Claire’s shoulder. “This is what friends do—we take care of each other.”

            “Thank you.” Claire smiled through a sudden flurry of tears. “Goodness…oh my…here I go again, spouting waterworks. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Lately I get weepy at the drop of a hat. I’m just so…”

            “Happy?” Skylar finished for her. “Yes, those are happy tears. The joy radiates from your core, Claire.”

            As they neared the dressing area, Claire turned to Skylar. “I’m so glad you decided to come to Diamond Knot Dreams.” She hugged her hard. “Now we’re all here—you, me, Lila and Avery. It’s a blessing to work with such good friends.”

            “Yes, it is a blessing.” Skylar returned the hug, warmed by the thought that, despite the detours she’d taken to get here, God had seen her through. She sniffled and handed Claire a tissue. “Now, go take care of that baby of yours and then head home for a breather.”

            “Ryan’s been a gem. He and Caleb cooked dinner last night and they even washed all the dishes and tidied the kitchen. It was sweet to watch them roll up their sleeves and fumble through the kitchen cabinets, searching for pots and pans and mixing spoons. And, the spaghetti was delicious.” Claire dabbed at her pretty blue eyes. “Abby is all Caleb talks about. He’s excited to be an uncle. I’ll have plenty of help when my sweet little baby finally makes her grand entrance into the world.”

            “You’re a lucky woman, Claire, to have found a man who loves you so unconditionally. I hope I’ll be as fortunate one of these days.”

            “Oh…never fear, my friend.” Claire patted Skylar’s cheek. “God has a plan for you.”

            “Hopefully, He’ll reveal that plan before I turn eighty.” Skylar rolled her eyes. “These days, I’m not so sure.”

            “Never fear. Great things are in store for you.” Claire balled the tissue and stuffed it into her purse. “Now, enough of this babbling. I’m off to the doctor. I’ll call you later with a full report.”

“You’d better.”

“In the meantime, good luck helping Faith. I know you’ll find a way to please both her and her brother.”

            “Her brother?”

“Yes, Adam.”

Skylar’s throat went dry as a vision of Adam Caldwell’s light brown hair and denim-blue eyes leapt to mind. Though it had been more than eight months since they’d last seen one another, the vision was crystal clear. “I didn’t know he was in town.”

“Sure he’s in town. I thought you knew…he’s rented a place on Bradford Street and has been commuting from Clover Cove to Knoxville for work since Faith came home from the rehab center. I heard through the grapevine that he’s considering relocating to Clover Cove permanently.”


“Yes, really. It all hinges on a surgical position at the hospital. He’s been consulting there.” Claire’s lips curved in a knowing smile. “You mentioned the two of you met a while back?”

“We…sort of met.” Skylar turned away, because she knew Claire had the ability to read her emotions better than a forensic scientist reads fingerprints. “But you’re right…it’s been a while ago.”


“It was a disaster, so I never expected to see him again…and especially not like this.” Skylar fisted her hands as her throat tightened. “Never mind. It’s all water under the bridge…a lesson learned the hard way. But I suppose I can understand why Adam might want to join Faith here today, given the fact that…their parents…oh, my.”

            Skylar pressed the fingers of one clenched hand to her lips, unable to finish. Her heart swelled with sympathy for the orphaned bride-to-be. With her father gone, who would walk Faith down the aisle to meet her groom?

            Suddenly, the scent of roses flooded the room. Skylar pivoted, looking for the source. Faith’s voice murmured down the hall as she spoke with Adam. Perhaps she’d splashed on perfume.

            “You’re being very cryptic, Skylar, but I’ll get to the bottom of things.” Claire nodded to affirm. “I always do.”

“You’d better get going.” Skylar nudged her toward the door. “The baby…your appointment…”

“Nice little two-step, my friend.”

The floral scent grew even stronger. Skylar lifted her gaze to the second floor staircase, which seemed to lead to the source. Perhaps Lila had ordered a few floral arrangements to freshen the upstairs offices, and the scent had found its way to the first floor.

Claire continued, “Maybe you and Adam were meant to see each other again…to pick up wherever the two of you left off.”

“We left off in disaster, so there’s no point in that.”

“There is a point in everything—and a future—where God is involved.” Claire patted her belly as if to emphasize the thought. “But, I suppose there’s nothing more to Adam’s visit today than the fact that Faith covets his support, seeing as their mom is…gone.” Claire sniffed the air and suddenly shifted topics. “She’s at it again…Ellie and her mischievous antics.”


“Yes, our spirited visitor from the past. And if I know anything about her, I know she’s come for love.” Claire winked conspiratorially. “And, if she has her way, I’m sure that soon we’ll both have news to share.”




“Don’t worry, Faith, we’ll find—” Adam paused as a shadow crossed the doorway, casting a reflection along a three-way mirror that lined one wall of the dressing area. His gaze swept toward the source, and his breath caught as his pulse cartwheeled.

            “Good morning, Faith.” Skylar Lannigan strolled toward them, her movements every bit as fluid as Adam remembered. Her hair was quite a bit longer than the last time he’d seen her, now a fountain of rich chocolate that tumbled to the middle of her back. A sweep of bangs framed smoky gray eyes while her lips were washed in a soft pink color. His heart to stammer through several painful beats as his mind replayed one thought…

            I’d like to kiss her.

            “Skylar.” Adam rose from his chair and took a step toward her. “I didn’t expect to see you here. But I had hoped—”

            “Hello, Adam.” Her voice clipped like a honed pair of sewing shears. She nodded curtly as she made a beeline for Faith, who stood on the circular dress-fitting pedestal, frowning at her reflection from the three-way mirror.

            “This just isn’t going to work at all,” Faith groaned as she tugged at the skirt of the mermaid-style dress, trying her best to coax the fitted, narrow skirt over her bulky leg brace. The fabric refused to cooperate, and Adam grimaced because there was nothing at all that he could do to fix the problem.

But Skylar could, he thought with a ray of hope as he settled back into his chair and ordered his heart to find a respectable cadence. He shifted his attention to Faith. “It’s going to be OK, sis.”

“No, it isn’t. I can’t get married looking like this!” Tears filled Faith’s eyes and Adam’s heart splintered. Hadn’t she been through enough with the accident and losing their parents, then months of recovery? “Oh, what am I going to do?”

            “You’re going to step down and take a breath.” Skylar rounded the pedestal. She drank in the metal brace that ran thigh to ankle along Faith’s right leg. Scars, finally beginning to fade to a pinkish-white sheen, crisscrossed along Faith’s collarbone, now fully revealed by a sleeveless neckline. “Listen to your brother. What he says is true. Everything’s going to be OK.”

            “Really?” Faith swiped at her eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry to act like such an ungrateful bridezilla. It’s really not my nature to stress like this. It’s just—” She smiled weakly as she took the tissue Skylar offered and mopped her eyes. “Are you a miracle worker?”

            “No. I’m Skylar Lannigan…Diamond Knot Dreams’ dress designer and seamstress. I’m here to customize a new dress of your dreams. The sky’s the limit.” Skylar placed a notebook in the empty chair beside Adam and offered Faith a hand. “I won’t quit until you feel every ounce the beautiful bride.”

            “Thank you.” Faith’s sigh of relief seemed to release every ounce of tension she’d been harboring. She straightened her shoulders. “You’re very kind. When I heard you’d come to Diamond Knot Dreams I knew I had to see you. Channel Ten said you’re the best of the best, and the Clover Cove Times did that feature on you last week. Finding you here is fortuitous. By all accounts you’re…amazing.”

            And you’re also positively gorgeous, Adam thought as guilt stabbed him straight in the heart. He’d hurt Skylar. The evidence resonated in her wideset eyes and the tiny clench of her jaw that he sensed she was trying very hard to control.

            She avoided eye contact. Was her heart racing as much as his? Did she entertain any warm—he’d even, at this point, settle for lukewarm—feelings toward him, cloaked by the resentment clearly evident in her eyes? He could only pray…

            “Well, I’ll do my best to live up to all the pomp and circumstance that’s been built through the media.” Skylar rounded the pedestal, scrutinizing Faith from all angles. “Let’s see here…I’m imagining several ideas, but don’t have much time to bring them to fruition. So we’re going to have to work at lightning speed.”

            “I’m ready. Things have been moving slowly for too long now. This wedding was supposed to happen last August, but…” Faith sniffled as fresh tears sprouted. “By the way, Adam came with to…help me.”

            “I see.” Skylar refused to look his way, though she smiled readily at Faith. “I suppose he’s the one who told you about my designs.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“I’ll have to thank him for that.” She said the words as if they had a sour flavor. “In the meantime, I’m so sorry about your parents.”

            “Thank you.” Faith squeezed Skylar’s hand. “I wouldn’t have bothered you with my problem. After all, I did buy this dress last spring before the accident and before I knew I could find you here. I only came here today in an attempt to have it re-altered, because when I saw you on the news Adam mentioned that he’d met you in Chicago and that it’s true you are amazing when it comes to bridal gowns. He positively gushed when he told me about you, and…and I thought maybe you could help. He insisted you could—and you would—even though the wedding is only weeks away and it’s hardly your fault that this dress no longer works for me.”

Faith rambled on, and Adam figured the verbal flood was better than a waterfall of tears, so he let it go. Skylar seemed to sense the same as she stepped back, folded her hands—bare of an engagement ring, he noted with an odd mixture of relief and anticipation—and waited oh-so-patiently for Faith to talk herself out.

“I put off making any changes to the dress because I was hoping…” Faith slapped at the brace. “I was hoping I’d shed this contraption like a snake shedding old skin. But it’s not going to happen soon enough, so here I am.” Faith blew out a breath and her blonde bangs danced above pretty green eyes. “I don’t expect you to make an exchange, but Adam cajoled me into coming for the fitting anyway, insisting that perhaps there’s something you can do to the skirt so it will fit over this.” She patted the bulky brace once more. “And add a shrug of some sort to conceal these scars.” Again, she motioned to her shoulders with a flourish. “He said—”

            “Adam was right—about you returning here today, at least. We are going to make this right, Faith, if it takes every moment right up until the Wedding March begins.”

“But, as I told you before, my wedding is in less than a month. So how on earth—?”

“Prayer—especially coupled with faith and hard work—can move mountains. You just leave the worrying to me.” Skylar nodded curtly as she took Faith’s hand and helped her from the platform. “So, let’s get started, shall we?”

“Of course.” Faith’s eyes lit up like a child’s, and Adam could hardly fathom that in less than a month his younger sister—the only immediate family he had left in the world—would become a wife. It seemed incomprehensible. He still thought of her as his baby sister, since at barely twenty-four she stood a full six years younger than he.

“Come with me.” Skylar turned toward the doorway. Her hair caught the overhead light, and for a moment she seemed to be crowned by a shimmering halo. The slight scent of roses drifted, filling the room with a breath of warm, sweet anticipation.

As he had on so many occasions the past eight months, Adam wished he could take back the hurt he’d caused Skylar. But it was too late to turn back time. He could only move forward.

As Skylar and Faith exited the room, Adam knew he had to make things right again, no matter how long it took. He had never been a quitter. Now, if only he could prove that to Skylar, they’d have a chance.

A chance for what, Adam wasn’t quite sure. He simply knew he had to press forward, starting today…starting now.


Thanks so much for joining me this week. Hope you have enjoyed this peek into my Diamond Knot Dreams series. Please leave a comment to be entered into the drawing. Winner will be announced Monday, September 11.  Good luck!