Title: DEARLY BELOVED (A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN, BK 1)
Author: Peggy Jaeger
Genre: Small town romance, Enemies to lovers romance, Rom Com, Family
Colleen O'Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with a demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she's worried she'll never find Mr. Right. Playboy Slade Harrington doesn't believe in marriage. His father's six weddings have taught him life is better as an unencumbered single guy. But Slade loves his little sister. He'll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. He doesn't plan on losing his heart to a smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner, though. When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen must choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.
“Lucas, what’s all this about? What’s Nanny done?”
“I’ve done nothin’ child. I’m falsely accused. Police brutality, ‘tis. Pure and simple.”
Nanny did her best to pull herself up some in height, but even standing on the tops of her toes, she couldn’t achieve more than four foot ten.
“Nanny, please.” I turned back to the Chief. “Lucas?”
“It’s what she didn’t do, Coll, that has her sitting here. Her driver’s license expired.”
“Oh, my God, is that all?” I relaxed for the first time since the phone call. “She can just retake the test, then. Her license isn’t that far out of date, is it?”
Lucas looked at Nanny and said, “Do you want to tell her when it expired?”
Nanny’s mouth clamped shut.
“Well?” My gaze bounced between them. “How long ago?”
“Ten years,” Lucas said.
Lucas nodded, flicked his gaze to my grandmother and then back to me.
“Obviously, you didn’t know. I wouldn’t have either, but she ran through the stop sign—”
“I did no such t’ing!” Nanny shouted.
Lucas ignored her. “—on Purgatory Place. Pete Bergeron was sitting in the squad and saw her blast through it.”
“Lies! All lies.”
“Nanny, please.” My hand flew to my left eye, bracing it when it started twitching like a meth addict in need of a fix. I turned back to Lucas. “Go on.”
I had to give the man credit. He never lost his composure when Nanny yelled her accusations. He simply waited until she wound down. “Like I said, Pete saw her run the stop and then gave chase.”
“Lights a’blaring, sirens a’blasting like he was chasing a nortorious criminal.” Nanny shook her bottle-dyed head, the corners of her lips pulling down to her chin, a click of her tongue echoing with disgust. “The whole of Glory Road saw him barreling down on me like I was Whitey Bulger himself, come back from the grave!”
I ignored her outburst, never correcting her that the famous mobster was still alive and well and living out his days incarcerated.
“When he finally got her to stop,” Lucas continued, “he asked for her license and registration, and where she was speeding off to so fast she blew the stop sign.”
Nanny made a rude noise, crossed her arms in front of her chest and said, “The man’s a complete askhole.”
“Excuse me?” Lucas’s voice dropped several notches. I imagined criminals wet their pants when he used it on them.
“That what she calls people who ask—in her opinion—stupid and pointless questions,” I explained. “Askholes.”
My pulse slowed a little when I saw the ghost of a grin tug at his mouth.
“The car’s registered to your dad,” he said after a moment.
I nodded, rubbed my eye, then batted it a few times to focus. “Daddy left it for her to use when he and mom moved. Is the registration expired, too?”
“No. Just her license to operate a vehicle.” He finally turned his full attention back to my grandmother. “What I can’t understand is why you let it go so long, Fiona.”
“Don’t’cha be addressing me as anyt’ing other than Mrs. Scaloppini, young man. You’ve lost the right to use me Christian name, treating me like a criminal. I’ll have you know, I used to wipe your snotty nose when your ma brought ya to catechism class. You’ve no cause to be calling me Fiona as if we were friends. We’re not from this moment on and never shall be.”
“Nanny, stop,” I pleaded. I lifted one of her gnarled hands in mine. “Answer Lucas. Why did you let your license lapse and for so long? It’s not like you wouldn’t have known.”
Nanny Fee’s tongue clicked again as she shook her head. “It’s not me fault,” she said, her tone softer now that she was addressing me.
“Than whose is it?”
“Killian Harper’s,” she said after a few moments. Reluctance for giving voice to a name was evident in the way she hung her head a bit and all but whispered it.
“Doc Harper? Why is it his fault? I can’t even remember the last time you went to see him.”
“Probably about ten years or so, I’d bet,” Chief Alexander said.
“And aren’t you just the smartest one in the room,” Nanny spat. She glanced up at my face and all at once the fight seemed to drain from her. Her tiny shoulders slid down from their raised and locked position at her neck, her chest heaved once, deeply. “He told me I needed surgery.”
“Su-surgery?” My lips started to tingle and the tips of my fingers felt numb.
“Sit down, child before ya fall,” Nanny commanded.
The next thing I knew Lucas shoved a chair at the back of my knees and gently pushed me into it. I hadn’t stoppe looking at Nanny’s face the entire time. “What…what kind of surgery?”
“Cataract removal. Both eyes. The old fool said I’d be as blind as a dingbat by the end of the year if I didn’t have it done. It’s been ten years and I can still see foine, I can.”
“That’s debatable,” Lucas said. “Did you see that stop sign?”
She slanted him a chilly glare. As a child, when I’d been the subject of that squinty-eyed glower, I usually cried. Lucas was made of sterner stock. He kept talking, never one ducking at the daggers shooting his way.
“Because Pete said you never even slowed down. Just kept on going. Luckily, there were no cars coming along Eden Lane. Otherwise you would have t-barred.”
The implication of that statement made me gasp.
“You’re upsettin’ me girl,” Nanny admonished. “Puttin’ images in her head that have no place being there.”
It was at this moment Slade made his presence known. “Is Mrs.—I’m sorry, but is it Scaloppini?” he asked, addressing her.
“Aye, lad.” She nodded. “Like the dish, minus the veal.”
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Mothers come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. Nanny Fee is more mother to her three granddaughters than their actual mother, and couldn’t love them more if she’d been the one to give birth to them. On this celebration of Mother's Day 2022, DEARLY BELOVED celebrates a woman who will do anything for her “girls,” has lived a life most people envy, and exhibits the strong, loving, and ferocious qualities of a mama lion when her cubs are threatened or challenged. I think we could all benefit from a little Nanny Fee in our lives!
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Peggy Jaeger writes contemporary romances and rom coms about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all aspects of life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness, and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"
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Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0