Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  Share an excerpt fewer than 500 words from your family friendly book in the comments below.  Be sure to include the title and one buy link.  Then go spread the word about this post so even more people will find it.

Happy reading (and writing)!!


Redemption, Click to Buy

"Sheriff…" The mayor's voice sounded weak, and his face was ashen.

"Yes, sir?"

"Do whatever you need to do. Find and take care of my girl."

Art gave the mayor a brisk nod, grabbed his saddlebags, and sprinted out the back door of the sheriff's office. He hadn't bedded the horse down yet, so thankfully, Mutiny was still saddled and ready to go. Art tied his saddle bags into place, put the rifle in its scabbard, mounted, and gave a loud, "G'yup!"

Without hesitation, Mutiny took off and followed the directions Art gave him with both the reins and his knees. Snow flew up behind them as the horse's feet dug into the ground covering. About two miles out of town he saw a flash of color on the side of the road. After dismounting and searching the area, he climbed back on Mutiny's back, fired one shot, and continued down the road.

The urgent need to find Minnie pressed in on him. She was out there somewhere without her horse, a horse that had been injured beyond the hope of recovery. He dreaded telling her he'd had to put it down, but he'd gladly deal with it as long as she was healthy enough to be angry at him for it.

Visibility faded more with each passing minute as the weather continued to worsen. It took an hour to cover the next mile of road and another thirty minutes past that before Art again saw something on the side of the road. The black buggy was almost masked under the blanket of snow. Art threw himself off of Mutiny and began yelling. His calls went unanswered as he scaled the buggy to search its interior. Seeing the way in which the buggy rested on its side, he next began digging through the snow in the surrounding area.

His gloved hand touched something soft, and he began to dig more frantically. "Minnie! Minnie!" He brushed the snow away from her face and ran his hands over her arms and legs, checking for broken bones the best he could. When he went to check her head for injury, his glove came away with blood on it. Using his teeth to yank one of his gloves off, he cradled her head in his lap.

With his now bare hand, he felt for a pulse.

Please God, not like this…

Go Back

Excerpt from Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure which you can purchase here. Paperback coming Soon!

As they walked farther down the path, they soon became aware of one strange fact. The city was completely empty.

Penny chewed on her thumbnail. “Where is everyone?”

Aside from the ticking and sound of the fountain, it was silent. It gave Penny the creeps. A crow swooped down from the sky and came to rest on a lamppost. It let out a single rasping caw that was magnified by the silence around them. Chip, who had been dozing on Penny’s shoulder was brought to attention by the sound. The little owl hopped down Penny’s arm and buried his face in her shirt.

Crane peered up at the bird. “Hey, he’s made of metal just like Chip.”

Only this bird didn’t look nearly as friendly as the owl. There was something about his red eyes that didn’t sit right with her. The bird tilted his head toward them as he studied the small group. His razor-sharp talons seemed to be cutting into the lamppost. It was soon joined by another bird, and another, until they were surrounded by the ominous-looking crows.

Penny licked her dry lips. “Let’s um...let’s go this way.”

The little mechanical owl shook with fear. She tucked him away inside of her jacket and led the way down a narrow alley, hoping the buildings would provide some cover from those searching eyes. They could hear the crows cawing behind them as they picked up their pace. They were soon sprinting down the alleyway. They turned left, then right.

“I think we lost them,” Crane said as they slowed to a jog.

They stopped and listened. All was silent.

Haldor took off his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt. “That was odd. At least they seem to have lost interest in us.”

But their moment of peace was broken by a shrill caw. They saw the bird too late. It swooped down out of nowhere and clipped Penny with its sharp claws. She swung at the bird and put her hand to her forehead. She could feel the warmth of the blood as it dripped down into her eyes. The horrible racket resumed just as quickly as it had stopped. It seemed to be coming from everywhere. Crane pulled off his sweatshirt and gave it to Penny to hold against her head as they began to run again.

“Hey, you there, stop!” yelled a man from a bridge in the distance. He and several other men dressed in the same guard uniforms as the men from the ship were now running toward them. The friends ducked down another alley.

“A dead end!” Pete slammed his fist against the wall. They could hear the shouts of the guards as they drew closer.

Penny gritted her teeth. “Looks like we may have to fight.”

They turned and readied themselves for battle.

“Psst, down here,” came a voice near their feet.

They looked down to see a man with a pointy nose and a grey top hat looking up at them from a manhole. “Hurry,” he whispered, “follow me.”

They didn’t wait for a second invitation and followed him without question down the ladder that led beneath the street.

A Splash of Substance, Taste of Romance Book 1
Available as part of the We've Only Just Begun boxed set of series starters for $0.99 --

She could do this. Paige Jackson smoothed a hand over the neat bun at the nape of her neck and threw back her shoulders. She let out a breath, flicked a ball of lint off her black A-line skirt, and clutched her portfolio to her chest. The contract was all but hers, she just had to make a good impression on the guy in charge. What’s his name? Her mind went blank. Oh no.

The moisture evaporated from her mouth as grasshoppers started up a conga line in her stomach.

“Can I help you?” The woman at the desk had to be in her sixties. Steel-grey hair cut close to her head that somehow still managed a whiff of femininity was her most welcoming asset.

“Um. Yes. I’m Paige Jackson, the owner of Taste and See Catering. I have an appointment…”

“I’ll let him know you’re here. Have a seat.” A glint of something—it couldn’t be humor, could it?—flashed in the woman’s ice-blue eyes before she picked up the phone.

Paige hugged her leather folder and turned to study the expensively framed pictures on the wall. All featured the Senator with some dignitary or other politically important person. But her eyes were drawn to the tall, handsome man, probably in his late twenties, who stood in the background of most of the photographs. What was it about the stylishly spiked brown hair and dark eyes that made him stand out? Or was it the confidence that sparked off him?

“Ms. Jackson?”

Paige turned at the rich baritone, her breath catching in her throat. The photos didn’t do his height, or his confidence, justice. With his height and build, if he hadn’t played football growing up, his high school had missed out on a killer receiver. Unless he was uncoordinated. Or slow. She swallowed the saliva that had pooled in her mouth and extended a hand. “Hi. Paige, please.”

“Jackson.” He took her hand in his firm grip.

“Paige is fine, really.”

His lips curved into the ghost of a smile, causing the barest promise of a dimple in his left cheek. “And I’m Jackson. Jackson Trent. Why don’t you follow me back to my office and we’ll look over your proposal?”

“Of course.” Now she remembered his name. Though the woman who called had simply said Mr. Trent, Paige had gone online to look up the Senator’s staff. Hadn’t her roommate even made a joke about the Jackson thing? She followed Jackson down a long hallway lined with offices. Any wall space was covered with patriotic art or more photos of the Senator at events.

“Here we are.” Jackson gestured for her to precede him into the small space. Had it been a supply closet before he jammed a desk into it?

“Excuse the mess.”

There wasn’t room for a mess. Papers littered the desk, but it was more the debris of someone with too much to do and too little space. She sat in the guest chair and drew the menu plans out of her portfolio.

The Countess Intrigue - a sweet, Regency romance
~ Engaged to a rumored murderer, what's a lady to do? ~


The evening had already been harrowing with the abduction of her dearest friend from that very ballroom mere moments earlier, but it already felt like eons. After she had left it in the Duke of Wrentham’s hands there had been nothing she could do to help. She had no desire to stand about wringing her hands so she was making every effort to remain calm, keeping up appearances in order to prevent Rose’s absence from becoming common knowledge, in an effort to preserve her reputation. The last thing Elizabeth needed was to be seen conversing with the controversial earl. But despite every instinct shrieking for her to leave the man’s presence on the instant, she forced herself to meet his eye as she bade him good night.

His handsome face always made her blink. Well defined, with a sharp jaw and angular cheekbones. His skin looked smooth, as though he had just left the ministrations of his valet. His wide set eyes were a unique color, somewhere between blue and green, and leant an air of watchful intelligence to his beauty. She wondered if he found it amusing to be constantly faced with wide-eyed women or if he had become immune to it. Perhaps he took it as his due, Elizabeth thought absently, before she refocused her attention. She ought to be keeping her wits about her. Exhaustion from the evening’s turmoil was dulling her senses.

~Happy reading~

Excerpt from A HUSBAND FOR HOLLY by Marion Ueckermann
Available in the Candy Cane Kisses box set on Amazon:

Holly threw off the covers and jumped out of bed. She grabbed the quilt and wrapped herself in its autumn shades. Then she padded her socked feet down to the kitchen. As she looked out onto the field bordering her house and the old St. Stephen’s Church—used only once a month during summer—the breaking dawn cast an eerie glow across the light mist hovering above the green grass. She shoved her feet into her flowery-print Wellington boots and pushed open the back door, stepping into the half-light. Cold air hit her face, but she was too steamed up to ponder turning back for a hat and gloves.

Pulling the quilt tighter, she strode off between the trees to cross the field behind her house, headed straight for the church. The drone of the bagpipes grew louder with each step. One small mercy to this morning—it wasn’t raining.

“Holly, wait for me.”

Already halfway across the field, Holly turned to see Heather waving as she ran toward her, draped in a quilt, as well. She paused to wait for her sister.

Vapor turned the air a misty white with each breath Heather huffed out. She bent over to catch her breath. “Who on earth is playing bagpipes at this hour? Do you have a new neighbor?”

“Not that I’m aware of. Whoever he is, he’ll have to find another spot to play. I’m surprised old man Winkler isn’t already up that hill, giving the piper a piece of his mind.”

“Maybe he can’t hear. He’s rather deaf. Perhaps it’s not as audible at his house—we are the closest neighbors to the church.”

“Perhaps. Whatever the reason, I’ll save Winkler the effort.”

Silence descended for a moment before another blast of the pipes. Holly raised a hand to her brow. Where was that noise generator? She pursed her lips. “There he is.” She pointed toward the church entrance before taking off, weaving between the weathered gravestones, waving a hand. “Oi! What do you think you’re doing?”

The man carried on playing. Was he ignoring her, or could he not hear above the blare of the pipes?

Holly glanced back at Heather, following close behind, before she marched up to the insufferable musician. She planted her flowery wellies firmly on the ground, not that he could see with his eyes closed. Holding onto the quilt with one hand, she eased the other out from under the covering and poked his arm. “Some of us are still trying to sleep!”

His eyelids flew open to reveal pale cornflower blue circles. As his cheeks deflated, a gorgeous dimple formed on either side of his face, just above his strong, smooth jawline...with its cleft chin. Too much attention to detail. This wasn’t a room interior she was scrutinizing.

“Mornin’.” He rolled his ‘r’. His smile weakened Holly’s knees and her resolve died a slow, miserable death like the bagpipe emptying of air.

Heather elbowed her in the side before smiling wide.

SAMARITAN by Robin Bayne

Tim Gardner has worked hard to rebuild the family business after his older brother nearly destroyed it. He’s restored the clientele base and the restaurant's reputation. But if Rachel Martin can’t get her act together, she won’t fulfill his orders for the Gardner’s Gazebo signature dessert, a gold-leaf cheese cake, which also happens to be Rachel’s secret recipe.

JoAnn Durgin

My newest release: WHISPER TO MY HEART

Amazon Buy Link (also available in KU):

Book Description:

The unlikely romance between a concert pianist and a construction worker.

After a decade of touring the globe, Manhattan-based classical concert pianist Annalise Redmond needs a break. What’s a Juilliard-trained musician to do when she wants to live a “normal” life for six weeks?

Weston Galloway, a former firefighter and member of an Atlanta-based construction crew, is as much into soul-winning as building the new bank in little Darling, Georgia.

Anna’s barely been kissed. Weston’s not looking for love. When these two souls collide in small-town Americana, is their time together destined only to be a precious memory or will they listen to the whispers in their hearts and dare to dream of a future together?

Throw in Anna’s quirky sister and brother-in-law, Weston’s challenging coworker, spirited employees at The Darling Diner, and a cast of lively townsfolk, and you won’t want to miss this journey to Darling!

Whisper to My Heart. A contemporary Christian romance celebrating love, faith, community, and family.

True Colors (Landry's True Colors 1) Clean fiction about middle school
by Krysten Lindsay Hager


A lot of girls at school were talking about trying out, but most of the girls at Hillcrest were jocks. Yasmin McCarty, the most popular girl in our class with one thousand-three people on her social media friends list, could win a modeling competition, but she would never enter because it would be beneath her to stand in line and wait to be judged on her looks. She was always saying modeling and stuff was so superficial, but she was also the same girl who walked around school pretending she was freezing so the teachers would let her wear her designer hoodie over her uniform.

I dunno, maybe some girls just knew they were hot and didn’t need some TV show to confirm it. I loved watching the show, but the thought of going up there to be judged on how I looked scared me. I was afraid of the judges but even more afraid of Ericka. I knew she’d get mad at me if I didn’t try out. So while some girls were secure enough not to need strangers to tell them they were pretty, I spent the whole day trying to figure out the right outfit for my audition (and my dad wondered why my math grades sucked). I mentally went through my closet, and nothing seemed right. My clothes said American Couch Potato, not American Ingénue.