- N. N. Light
Let it Simmer by Margot Johnson is a Shake Off Winter Doldrums pick #romance #newrelease #giveaway
Title: Let it Simmer
Author: Margot Johnson
Genre: Contemporary romance
He crashed her holiday…but will he break her heart?
A sensible, mature widow like Susan doesn’t belong on a tour bus seated next to her high school crush. Thirty years later, Phil is as charming and handsome as ever, but she doesn’t need a new partner, especially not a love-’em-and-leave-’em guy.
Happily single, Phil tags along to celebrate his matchmaking mom’s eightieth birthday. She’s embarrassingly persistent, but maybe she’s right he should, finally, settle down with the right woman.
Susan only wants a little family time with her two cousins and a scenic vacation to Northern Saskatchewan…so why does she feel like a fluttery teenage girl? Can Phil spark even more excitement than games, scenery, and wildlife?
Susan swung out of her car and took a deep breath to settle her swirling anticipation and uncertainty. She hoped buying a ticket on the Summer Funshine tour wasn’t a mistake.
Unloading her suitcase from the trunk, she scanned past assorted vehicles across the hot asphalt to a single-story, wheat-colored building with large windows. Then she hustled toward the far edge of the parking lot, where an intercity coach waited next to a grassy field.
A whole week traveling on a bus with mostly strangers didn’t sound like the time of her life. But she liked her cousins Audrey and Jill and didn’t want to disappoint them by declining their enthusiastic invitation. The two were convinced the trip was just what a widow like her needed, and maybe they were right. She felt a vague tug toward a vacation from the routine activities that jammed her life.
This morning, she drove forty-five minutes from Regina across the baking, dry, Saskatchewan prairie to the small town of Goldview to meet Jill and Audrey here outside the local community center, the departure point for their vacation excursion. Now she joined a group of fellow tourists dressed in red and white who milled around, greeted each other, dropped their suitcases near the bus luggage compartment, and waved little, paper Canadian flags.
Pausing, Susan smiled at the scene. The novelty flags added a patriotic touch to today’s national holiday. July First celebrated confederation and Canadians, and sudden pride leapt to her chest. She couldn’t live anywhere better.
“Happy Canada Day! I’m so glad you joined us.” Trim, brunette Audrey, the older of the two cousins, hugged Susan and welcomed her into a circle of other passengers. “Let the adventure begin.”
“I’m sure we’ll enjoy as much fun holidaying together as when we were twelve.” Jill, Audrey’s lookalike, younger sister, threw her arms wide and hugged Susan.
Genuine fondness shone in her cousins’ gentle, brown eyes, and instantly, family warmth and a twinge of excitement flooded Susan. Maybe this vacation was a good idea, after all.
“Hello, everyone.” She scanned the group, bent an elbow, and swooped a forearm in a motion like a windshield wiper. “Kirk and Jack, nice to see you again. Audrey and Jill invited me along to help keep you two in line.” She laughed and flitted her gaze over her cousins’ partners.
Tall and broad, Kirk exuded youthful energy, despite the gray streaks in his reddish hair. Sandy-haired Jack showed off muscular arms that suggested he spent a lot of time in a gym. They were both good guys, and she didn’t mind spending time with them along with Jill and Audrey. She’d share plenty of laughs with the foursome, and she was perfectly content to join in as a single.
“You have your work cut out for you then.” Jack stuck his hands in the pockets of his denim shorts and puffed out his chest underneath his red golf shirt.
“I’m easy to tame compared to that guy.” Kirk chuckled and nodded his head toward Jack.
Susan joined the good-natured laughter and locked her gaze on the silvery-haired man opposite her. He couldn’t possibly be the person she thought she recognized, could he? Not after all these years. But his good looks and tall build jibed with her memories. She blinked, and suddenly, an unsettling sensation as fizzy as soda rose in her chest.
“You haven’t met Phil and Evelyn.” Jill extended an open palm toward the pair. “Phil lives in Regina like you. He’s Jack’s former neighbor, and Evelyn is Phil’s mom.”
Susan swallowed. Phillip Knox had returned to his hometown, the same place she still resided. He was the guy she had drooled over in high school—a lifetime ago. He sat in front of her in English class, and she daydreamed about accompanying him to the grade twelve graduation dance. But who was she kidding? Back then, he barely knew she existed.
After graduating, she lived at home and attended the University of Regina. Someone told her he headed to college in Ontario, and between her studies and Craig’s appearance in her life, she almost forgot Phil existed.
“Phillip booked us on the tour as a surprise for my eightieth birthday.” Evelyn crinkled her face into a wide smile. “He always was my favorite son.”
“Mom, I’m your only son.” Smirking, Phil tossed up his hands and then dropped them to his sides.
Susan had never expected to see Phil again. Why would she? More puzzling, after all these years, why did his presence make her feel like a fluttery, teenage girl instead of a mature woman? These days, dating held no appeal, and if the past was any indication, he wasn’t interested anyway. Maybe he wouldn’t even remember her. She glanced at his mom, and Evelyn’s twinkling eyes gave away her delight in teasing.
“You want to talk about how to keep someone in line?” Evelyn jammed a hand on her hip. “I have my hands full with Phillip.”
Susan inhaled a deep breath of hot, dry air and adjusted her white visor against the blazing sun. She had made sure to follow Merilee’s pre-trip instructions, and with her red T-shirt and white shorts, she blended right in, except, of course, for her flaming-russet hair. Nobody would assume by appearance she was related to Jill and Audrey with their average heights and subdued coloring in shades of beige and brown. She had inherited her dad’s height and her grandmother’s vivid hair color.
“I’d know that hair and smile anywhere.” Phil grinned and stuck out a hand. “Pleased to re-meet you, Susan.” He lifted a hand to the side of his mouth and swooped his gaze around the circle. “She’s the one I let get away.” He delivered his secret in an exaggerated whisper.
Phil had always liked to tease. His blue eyes glittered in the intense, morning sun, and she drank in the rest of his appearance.
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What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
My husband and I take a winter break in Mexico and soak up some sun. Closer to home, we get together with family and eat pizza and play games. Bundling up and going for an invigorating walk gives me a boost, too.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
Let it Simmer lets you escape winter with a story of a summer vacation to Northern Saskatchewan. Hot weather and a little romance will warm anybody’s heart and make you forget the cold. A reader calls it “a story as sweet and warm as summertime at the lake.”
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs March 1 – 31, 2023.
Drawing will be held on April 3, 2023.
Margot Johnson writes feel-good stories about dreams, family and romance.
She is the author of five romances--the novels LOVE TAKES FLIGHT and LOVE LEADS THE WAY and three novellas in the Merilee Tours series--LET IT SNOWBALL, LET IT MELT, and LET IT SIMMER. Her characters can't possibly find their happy endings...or can they?
Before turning her focus to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. Her motto is "Dream big and work hard." When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it's minus 40!)
She lives with her husband in the Canadian prairies.
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