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This past Monday was Presidents’ Day. I hope you all enjoyed an extra day of leisure or travel. Paul and I took a picnic lunch to nearby Bass Lake. The spring sky and lake were simply perfect.

My beautiful new daughter-in-law, Sarah, celebrated her birthday with both leisure and travel—to Reno for a whirlwind of activity my son set up, followed by a very chill stay in Bishop. She’s such a joy and fabulous addition to our family.

Happy New Decade, dear girl.

Did you celebrate Mardi Gras?

I’ve only been to New Orleans once, but visiting the Big Easy is still on Paul’s bucket list so we might get there again.

That said, I have no desire to be part of the Mardi Gras crowd. That’s just not my thing. But it’s fun to watch from afar. I love the colors, the history and pageantry, and the fun.

Plus, it always reminds me that Easter is not far away. This year, we’ll be returning home the day before Easter after an 18-day RV Trip I’m calling: SOUTH/SOUTHWEST WITH FRIENDS.

I’m so excited. Our destination/turn-around point is Carlsbad Caverns in eastern New Mexico. I visited it with my mom when I was just a kid, and I can’t wait to go back. We also plan to explore the Salton Sea, Yuma, Saguaro National Park, White Sands*, Roswell, Sedona, and, possibly, the Grand Canyon, time permitting.

*When Paul and I first started dating in 1969, his family drove to New Mexico from South Dakota to visit friends that had just moved to Las Cruces. I still have the White Sands postcard he sent me…somewhere.

I can’t wait to share pics and videos from this trip with you all. I feel the need for speed…about 57MPH in our RV.😉

Did you have a chance to read any/all of my February TBR books?

Midnight Son by Michelle Pace
Mr. Mayfair by Louise Bay
Heroes of Providence by Lisa Mondello
Sweet2Heat’s What About Forever?

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I adored MIDNIGHT SON and MR. MAYFAIR…and I plan to look for other books in the two series. I also raced through Lisa Mondello’s HEROES OF PROVIDENCE box set because Book 1—MATERIAL WITNESS—yanked me into it from page 1. Heart pumping excitement and danger with two amazingly likeable lead characters made it nearly impossible to put down—even if I had to get up the next morning. If you like a little action and adventure with your romance, give these hunky heroes a try.

I just started reading our Sweet2Heat box set: WHAT ABOUT FOREVER? (Marriage of Convenience).

Did you notice my book, HER SECOND CHANCE HOMECOMING, is the lead story? I’m truly honored. I hope you’ll enjoy Kristin and Donnie’s story as much as I loved writing it. If ever two people deserved lasting happiness, it’s these two. Teenage mistakes were made. Life got real…real fast. You may tell yourself you’re doing the right thing for the right reasons, but what if what you’re really doing is the BEST thing for the BEST reason: love.

Here’s a little snippet I thought you might enjoy:

You can go home again, but you never know what awaits you…

“The associate administrator for civil aviation security is pleased to inform you that your application for employment with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Federal Air Marshal Program has been approved.”

       Coyote Springs Deputy Donnie Grimaldo reread the opening line of the official-looking letter a third time.
       I made the cut.
       He’d read somewhere that after 911, more than one hundred thousand people had applied to the Federal Air Marshal Program. Naturally, that number must have leveled off some over the years since then, but Donnie knew the competition for this job was fierce.
       “Donnie,” a voice hollered across the open, mostly messy common room of the Coyote Springs Sheriff’s Department. “Where’s the dang paper for the dang copier? When I find the person who moved it—”
       Housed in a building that made a Quonset hut look stylish, the office supported six full-time deputies, the sheriff, and three part-time dispatchers/clerks. Bethany Martin, the person grumbling at him, was the department’s student intern—a position Donnie had held while in high school. Serious to the point of glum, Beth was the kind of person who would rearrange the world if someone gave her permission.
       “I think we’re out, Beth.” After tucking his letter under a stack of reports, he got up and fished the key to the storage room from his pocket. “I meant to grab another ream on my way past this morning. Slipped my mind.”
       She advanced on him with a look that reminded him of his ex-wife. Sandy carried a grudge like most women carried a purse. Donnie tossed the key ring in the air—partly to test Beth’s reflexes and partly to keep her from getting too close. She wore a fragrance he associated with Kristin Sullivan—his first love. Kris had returned to Coyote Springs amid a flurry of gossip and speculation, and he’d been trying his best to avoid her. He didn’t need his olfactory memories complicating the issue.
       “Your mother called while you were on the phone with that state guy,” Bethany said. “And your ex called, too. Jeesh. Where in my job description does it say answering service?” She caught the key ring with both hands.
       At seventeen, Beth possessed a gawkiness he found charming. It, too, reminded him of Kristin, but Beth’s attitude was more like that of Kristin’s sister, Andi, who was married to Jonathan Newhall, publisher of the Coyote Springs Ledger. Andi and Jenny, the third of the Sullivan triplets, were good friends of Donnie’s. Too bad Kris and I can’t be—
       He didn’t finish the thought. Why bother mending fences when he was leaving town?
       “Did either of them leave a message?”
       “Your mother said to call her if you had a minute. Sandy was more…um…” She fiddled with the keys.
       Donnie gave her credit for trying to find a diplomatic way of saying his ex-wife was a witch. “Strident?” he supplied with a smile.
       “If you say so.” She shrugged. Her thin shoulders lifted the stiff uniform shirt that she wore with denim jeans in a sort of Don Knotts way. Beth was one of the few bright spots in his job. She was brash and testy at times, but eager to learn. She reminded Donnie of himself at that age—before the real world had intruded.
       Donnie’s idealism hadn’t disappeared overnight. It had taken two elections—two terms under Sheriff Magnus Brown’s so-called leadership—to grind it out of him.
       He returned to his desk intending to give his mother a call, when a buzzer sounded, alerting him to the arrival of someone at the bulletproof glass entrance.
       “I’ll get the window. You get the paper,” he told Bethany. “Those copies need to go out ASAP.”
       Donnie was still two steps away from the glass partition when he caught a glimpse of tousled blond curls and a sweetly compact body in a lime-green sundress. Oh, Lord. Not today.
       He braced himself to greet his former high-school sweetheart. The winsome, slightly scatterbrained beauty who’d broken his heart.
       Kristin Sullivan was standing with her back to the window as if preparing to flee. It wouldn’t be the first time. That’s what she did when things got hairy—she ran.
       He pushed the microphone button so that he could be heard past the glass. “Kristin.”
       She jumped as if poked. When she spun around, her blue eyes were wide with surprise.
       “Um…hi, Donnie.” She stepped closer to the small circular speaker. “I didn’t expect you to come to the window. You’re a captain now, right?”
       In any other town he would have been a captain, but Sheriff Brown didn’t share power easily. In Coyote Springs’s sheriff’s department, the glass ceiling was made of iron. “We don’t stand on ceremony around here. When everyone else is at lunch or out on calls, I still answer the phone and greet people. What can I do for you?”
       She held up her hands. Small, white, and lovely. He’d always liked to hold her hand.
       “You need a pair of handcuffs?” He tried to keep things light.
       Her sunny grin was one that anybody in town would recognize. As a child, she’d been a favorite of the old men at the barbershop, who tolerantly emptied their pockets of change anytime she came by.
       “Fingerprints. I was told I need to have them on file in order to complete my business license. Can you believe that? It’s so real world.”
       He knew what she meant. Change might come slowly to Coyote Springs, but it came. Especially lately. His old nemesis, Tyler Harrison, reportedly was buying up property all over town. And according to the grapevine, Ty had big plans in mind—perhaps even a strip mall.
       Donnie wondered what Kristin thought of that development. After all, Ty was the father of her son.
       “I believe Margie does those on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” Donnie tried to picture the clerk’s schedule he’d seen posted in the crime lab.
       Kristin’s face fell. “Oh. Okay. I’ll come back next week.”
       If today had been Wednesday instead of Friday, he might not have opened his mouth, but he could tell she was disappointed at having to wait. “If you need it right away, I could probably help you. I used to handle all the bookings before Margie took it over.”
       “Really? I’d appreciate it, but I don’t want to put you out. If you’re busy…” She was sincere. One thing about Kristin Sullivan, she didn’t fake her feelings. He’d only known her to lie once—about the reason she’d left town—and even that had been more a sin of omission than a flat-out lie.
       “Step to the door. I’ll buzz you in. You’re not packing, are you?”
       She blinked in confusion. “Packing?”
       “A gun.” He smiled to show he was joking.
       She tossed her head with a laugh. Her curls danced beneath the fluorescent lighting. “Of course not. I thought you meant a picnic lunch, and I was immediately sorry I hadn’t…not that you would…never mind.”
       She rushed to the door, but Donnie took his time pushing the button. He could only see part of her face from this angle. The rosy shade of pink was a color he’d forever associate with the first time he’d kissed her. God, he’d loved her back then.
       Kristin had loved him, too. But as a college freshman, Donnie had discovered a world filled with temptations. He’d done the honorable thing—broken up with her so they were both free to play the field. But he’d never expected Kristin to wind up with Tyler Harrison in the back seat of her great-aunt’s Caddie.
       Too bad she didn’t… He let the thought go and pushed the button.
       He took a deep breath then yanked open the door. Six inches shorter than his five-eleven and hardly an ounce over a hundred pounds, Kristin looked closer to Bethany’s age than Donnie’s. His birthday and the triplets’ were exactly seven months apart, and he’d turned thirty last month.
       “Welcome home,” he said to break the ice. “I don’t think I’ve seen you since Jenny’s wedding. And that was a little crazy.”
       To the family’s dismay, Tyler Harrison had shown up at the Rocking M Ranch where Sam O’Neal and Jenny Sullivan O’Neal were holding their wedding reception. He’d demanded to talk to Kristin. Donnie and several of Sam’s friends, including his lawyer, had managed to defuse the situation. Harrison had left without seeing Kristin.
       “That freaked me out. I’d hoped to have more time to handle things diplomatically.” She sighed. “But how diplomatic can you be when telling a man about a child you kept secret for nearly eleven years?” She threw up her hands in a manner that told him she didn’t expect an answer.
       “Have you and Ty talked since then?” he asked and immediately wished he hadn’t. He didn’t want to know about her troubles or any custody battle that might be brewing. He hadn’t even met her kid yet, but word had it the boy had spent most of the summer with relatives back East.
       She moved her shoulders slightly. “Our lawyers are talking. Apparently, Ty just got back from doing business in Japan. At least that’s what his mother told Beulah Jensen who told Ida Jane who told me.”
       Donnie thought he heard nervousness in her voice. Not surprising. By all reports Tyler Harrison was now a man of wealth and power. Donnie didn’t envy Kris in the least.
       Good thing I’m leaving. He was a sucker for the underdog in any battle, and the last thing Kris needed was Donnie’s interference in her life.

A reminder: Your reviews are sooo important to the success of a book, both in sales and in connecting with new readers.

And because four books, which include 2 box sets, can be a challenging number of pages to squeeze into a single month, I thought I’d introduce my MARCH TBR READS now.

Brooklyn Monroe Wants It All by Karen Booth

Weekend Wife by Erin McCarthy

No Ordinary Family Series by Linda Barrett

Love in the Heart of Gold Country by Debra Salonen

Thanks for reading everyone.


Next Newsletter:
3/9 – Another cowboy hits the dust
3/17 – Happy birthday, son. St. Patty’s Day snippet. On the road again…



Copyright © 2023 Debra Salonen