Title: Will Rise from Ashes
Author: Jean M. Grant
Genre: Women’s Fiction (contemporary)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one.
Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.
He slid closer and placed a hand on mine and squeezed. “I see a strong woman who has been hurt deeply. I see a resilient mother who would journey through hell for her children. I see somebody who has become jaded and has trouble trusting, unable to sort through friend and enemy. I see a woman with hope.” He held my gaze. “And I’d like to be your friend, Audrey Jane.”
My jaw may have dropped. I wasn’t sure. I recovered quickly. Or at least I tried. “You’ve been talking with my therapist, haven’t you?” God, I was teasing him. I was joking. I was like Will. Will always got goofy with his peers in social situations when he didn’t know the expectations, or how to behave.
Either way, Reid didn’t laugh. Thin lips pressed into a frown that I couldn’t decipher.
I didn’t prod any further. I broke the gaze and released my hand from his, then stoked the fire for the tenth time, sleep luring me with sweet abandon. I tossed the stick into the fire. “I should turn in.”
“I’ll stay awake,” he offered. “Until the fire goes.” “Okay.” I nodded, though the fire could have been quickly snuffed.
I paused in my opening of the tent flap, turned around, and peered at him. My arms dropped to my side, my hands still. “I’m sorry about the hotel. I was sick and wasn’t thinking straight. Thank you for your help today.” A part of me couldn’t disclose the unvarnished truth. Part of it had been crazy withdrawal symptoms AJ. The other part—I’d been paranoid he’d been drinking. Harrison’s death remained a ghostly echo in my mind, perhaps clouding my judgment. The scent had been on his clothes though. I was sure of it. The more I pondered, I believed his story. Perhaps I had been triggered. Perhaps I really did have trauma or PTSD. I shook my head. I didn’t know.
Firelight glistened off the growing beard hairs on Reid’s chin and spots of amber danced in his dark, round eyes. Speaking of soulful eyes… “You were looking out for Will. I understand. I had been gone far too long.”
“You had a legitimate reason. Shit happens,” I countered.
His lips curved into a resigned smile. “Yeah. Rest, Audrey Jane.”
“You, too, Reid,” I whispered. I added in a deep exhalation, “And yes, yes, I’d like to be your friend.”
As I stepped into my tent, I observed Reid’s normally straight shoulders slouch a hair. Perhaps he, like all of us, was on his own road of atonement. Searching for meaning, searching for answers…searching for absolution.
I had treated him poorly. I didn’t know what the hell had just happened between us, but I tucked it away into a corner of my brain to contemplate upon another time when I was lucid. My remorse had lifted somewhat.
Ignoring my exhaustion for at least a few minutes, I clicked on my headlamp and pulled out my journal. It was time to unburden my heart.
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Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.
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