top of page
  • N. N. Light

Across the River by Melissa Westemeier is a Summertime Books Event pick #fiction #humor #summertime #giveaway

Title:  Across the River


Author:  Melissa Westemeier


Genre: fiction, humor


Book Blurb:


Across the River is the first of Melissa Westemeier's funny, heartfelt series set in Bassville, a quirky fishing town on the Wissipaw River. All the locals have a story to tell in the Bassville Pub, and Mona Butterfield--bartender extraordinaire--lends a willing ear. Her world is upended when her old crush, Jake Paulick, returns and her family’s fighting about the future of their third-generation dairy farm. If that weren’t enough excitement, local bait shop owner Maw Cooper is becoming famous for his minnows and the townspeople are divided over a farmer's plan to sell his land to pay for his daughter's cancer treatments.




Mona pushed back her chair with a reverberating scrape and followed Sean outside; the door banged shut behind her in a sudden gust of wind.  She caught up to him at his car and grabbed the sleeve of his jacket.  “You can’t leave like this.”  How cruel to have slow motion and fast forward, but no rewind button to press.

“Mona,” Sean grabbed her shoulders so tightly she flinched.   “This town’s a dead end.  If you have any sense at all, you’ll leave too.  Go to college.  You’re smart enough.  Hell, move to Northport and start at the tech.  But get out while you still have the chance.”

He leaned his forehead against hers, a gesture of affection they’d shared since he was a baby in his highchair and Mona would feed him Cheerios with grubby, pudgy fingers.   Then he folded his tall body into his car.  Mona watched him drive away and hugged her arms tight against the chill in the air, strands of her hair catching in her half-open mouth and wetly stinging her cheeks.

Mona returned to the house to hear the familiar clink and clatter of supper dishes being cleared.

“Where did we go wrong?  My son.  The son I raised to take over this farm.”  Loyal stood by the back door and stared at the black shadows of the barns, silo, clothesline poles and fence line.  His broad back was rigid, and June stepped behind him, reaching up to trace her fingertips across his shoulders.

“Maybe I could do it, Dad.”  The words came out suddenly, surprising them all. Mona hardly knew if she meant them or not. 

Loyal turned to look at his daughter and his expression softened when he spoke.  “You’re sweet to want to keep the peace, Pumpkin.”  He shook his head.  “Sean was supposed to be the farmer here.”

“No,” Mona protested, moving towards her father.  “He doesn’t want to—he hasn’t for a long time.”  She paused, searching for the words to express the ideas now buzzing in her head.  She didn’t think she wanted to leave like Sean did.  Maybe not having a better plan was a sign that she belonged where everyone thought he belonged. “I’m not going anywhere.  I could learn how to do it.”

Loyal reached over to brush a strand of hair off her face, careful not to touch the bangs she relentlessly teased and sprayed stiff each day. “You’re a hard worker, but farming—it’s a tough go of it anymore. That’s why we sent Sean to school.  Milk prices are down, interest rates are up, the cost of feed and insurance always rises—hell, farming is more business and math than milking these days.  You never showed any interest in college and whoever takes over needs to understand more than how to operate a tractor and a milking machine.  I know you’re trying to be helpful, but this is between me and Sean.”

June moved between them, pulling them both into a hug.  “We’ll let this rest until tomorrow.  It’ll all work out.”

Mona leaned into her mother’s soft embrace and wondered, Will it?  She closed her eyes.  I never saw myself tied to the farm anyway.   She kissed them goodnight.  “I’m going home.  It’s getting late.”

Zipping her new winter jacket against the cold night wind, Mona started her car and turned towards the one-bedroom house she’d bought a month before T.C. left.  Buying the old Zimmer cottage advanced the inevitable end of things, pressing her roots deeper while he’d cashed out his assets to head west.  He took the proceeds from his boat and snowmobile to fund his escape while she picked up a second job cleaning summer cottages to scrape up a down payment to stay put. 

It only took five minutes to drive from her parents’ farm to her house in town, not enough time for her car’s heater to kick in.  She glanced across the river as she crossed the bridge and saw the lights were on in the little blue cottage.  Jake Paulick was home now.  Funny how he’d come back to town.  She’d always pegged him as someone who’d go places.  She let the thought of him carry her home where she draped her jacket over the back of a kitchen chair and walked towards the glowing fluorescent grow light hanging over the countertop.  There, in empty Butterfield’s Best containers, grew five rows of young plants.  Mona gently ruffled the tips of their fuzzy leaves, inhaling the earthy aroma of potting soil and green—that peculiar green smell that only comes from tomato plants.  

Bold black letters on popsicle sticks tagged their identities—“Mr. Stripy” and “Brandywine” tomatoes, “Delicata Squash,” “Lemon Cucumber.”   Mona found the seeds in February after Grandma Butterfield died.  They’d been in her dresser drawer, twenty-two envelopes labeled with her shaky, spidery handwriting.  As a sort of tribute to her grandmother and the memory of the huge gardens she’d maintained around the farmhouse, Mona tried to germinate the seeds.  Out of the hundreds of seeds Grandma had saved, these straggly green plants sprung hopeful towards the light.  A new vision of her back yard had sprung into Mona’s mind since this modest success—a garden.  Not just any garden, but a garden full of old-fashioned plants that most people didn’t grow any more.  Eggplants and beets.  Celeriac.  Huge yellow-striped tomatoes.  A garden like Grandma’s.

“Too bad Dad’s not a vegetable farmer or I’d step up in Sean’s place,” Mona murmured before switching off the grow light purchased last month at Fleet Farm.  She watched the kitchen window rattle in the wind before turning towards her bedroom.

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):




What makes your featured book a must-read?  


It’s about love, fishing, farming, a small town rallying to save a young girl’s life—there’s even a bait shop owner whose minnows become famous!


Giveaway –


Enter to win a $30 Amazon gift card:



Open Internationally.

Runs June 25 – July 4, 2024.

Winner will be drawn on July 5, 2024.


Author Biography:


Melissa Westemeier grew up around the edge of nerd culture, but marriage and motherhood with three sons immersed her in it. She’s fluent in Marvel, DC, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Godzilla, and more thanks to their influence. Her fiction work includes rom-com and a trilogy loosely based on her experience tending bar on the Wolf River in Wisconsin. She’s thrilled to realize her childhood dream of writing murder mysteries, Old Habits Die Hard comes out in April 2025. Her books blend her humor and appreciation for nerd culture while tackling serious themes and unpacking the puzzle of whodunnit (and how and why!). In her spare time, Melissa needs to be outside or near a window. Her passions include hiking, swimming, biking, reading, and fantasizing about her next vacation destination.


Social Media Links:


2 comentarios

28 jun

One of my fave books to read in summer is driven series by k Bromberg

Me gusta

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
25 jun

Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your book in our Summertime Books Bookish Event!

Me gusta
bottom of page