- N. N. Light
A Year of Firsts by @LizFlaherty1 is a Best Books of '22 pick #sweetromance #romance #giveaway
Title: A Year of Firsts
Author: Liz Flaherty
Genre: Sweet Romance
Widow Syd Cavanaugh is beginning a “year of firsts” with the road trip she’d promised her husband she’d take after his death. An unplanned detour lands her in Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania, where she meets the interesting and intelligent editor of the local paper. Television journalist Clay McAlister’s life took an unexpected turn when a heart attack forced him to give up his hectic lifestyle. He’s still learning how to live in a small town when meeting a pretty traveler in the local coffee shop suddenly makes it all much more interesting. While neither of them is interested in a romantic relationship, their serious case of being “in like” seems to push them that way. However, Clay’s heart condition doesn’t harbinger a very secure future, and Syd’s already lost one man she loved to a devastating illness—she isn’t about to lose another. Where can this relationship possibly go?
If I fall in love again, this will be how it happens.
The thought came from nowhere she could identify, although she knew deep in her soul that it had to do with the tall man in shorts and a polo shirt walking up the incline of her yard to meet her. The man whose heart would likely not last as long as her own, whose every wince made her fear he was having a heart attack. His attitude toward exercise and diet was that of the middle-aged man in perfect health he appeared to be, not one who had a zipper-like scar up the center of his chest.
But just the sight of him, with his light brown hair that needed cutting blowing into his eyes even though his graying beard was as always short and neat, made her heart beat harder and faster. She smiled, remembering his explanation of why he had a beard.
At first he’d said it was because he had a weak chin he didn’t want anyone to notice, but then he’d admitted it had been an ongoing struggle between him and a producer of his show. “He was pushy and I was usually compliant. It was a great gig and I knew it. But it got to where he wanted to…create the brand he wanted me to be, I guess. I mostly went along because he was a pretty smart guy who knew his stuff, but when I came back from vacation with a beard and he gave the order to have it gone before I went on the air, it became the proverbial last straw.”
Everyone had last straws sometimes, she thought abstractedly, stopping and waiting for him to join her. “Rehearsal was okay, wasn’t it?” she said, thinking her voice sounded horrifyingly breathy. It went along with the movie scenario. “I didn’t make a complete idiot of myself, did I? Or mess things up for other people? I never want to do that. Where’s Toby?”
Of course, she didn’t. People who were pocket protectors protected not only themselves, but others from themselves.
During all the long months of his illness, Paul had never seen her angry. She’d confined that to times alone. She’d hidden her anger to protect him, yet it had probably created a chasm between them. She should have let him see her last straws sometimes.
“He’s asleep. Braxton is staying the night.” Clay didn’t hesitate as he joined her, just put his arms around her and led her into a dance. “You were great.”
Syd wasn’t a good dancer, by any means. When friends used to tell her to “listen for the beat,” she always said, “what beat?” because she could never hear it. But she’d loved to dance anyway. It was emotion in motion, and sometimes…sometimes after Paul got sick it had been better than running screaming into the woods behind the house, which had been both an alternative and a temptation. Abba and Billy Joel and Journey had often brought some semblance of peace to the crashing cacophony of her anger.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d danced in a man’s arms—probably at the girls’ weddings, when Paul was already having trouble moving but had been determined to dance not only with Haley and Shiloh but with Syd as well. It had been excruciating, the fear that he would fall and be injured or become so exhausted he couldn’t stay to enjoy the receptions.
The memory was fleeting, and of happy times, and then it was just Clay McAlister. Taller and more muscled than Paul had been, his arms creating a circle of light for just the two of them as they danced across the grass.
When he kissed her in the shade of the willow tree, she wasn’t sure where the stars came from, only that they filled her eyes and, for a long and tender moment, her heart. She’d been so tired when she came outside, but weariness gave way to the magic of the clear night and being in Clay McAlister’s arms. She’d set her glass down somewhere, or he had, leaving her arms free to go around him.
It couldn’t go anywhere, whatever “it,” this meeting of hearts and minds, was. She couldn’t go through it again, the caring for and ultimate losing of a man she loved. She didn’t think Clay wanted to settle into a committed relationship, either, and she didn’t know how to have any other kind.
“Boat ride?” he said quietly, meeting her gaze in the dim lights from the deck.
She nodded. That much, she could do. Saying no never even occurred to her.
Buy Links (including Goodreads):
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Everyone needs second chances at one point or another in their lives. Going with Syd and Clay on their path to those chances is a warm, hopeful pleasure.
Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.
Runs December 27 – January 5, 2023.
Winner will be drawn on January 6, 2023.
Liz Flaherty is rather bewildered by where she’s at in life. She doesn’t feel…er…elderly, but the truth is that she is. The Magnificent Seven grands have grown up on her, her own kids are all now older than she is, and her husband Duane has the same firm hold on her heart he’s always had. And it’s all good.
Social Media Links: