Monday, October 23, 2023

#Tour #NewRelease #SmallTownRomance - My Darling Christmas (Willow Valley Series) by S.L. Sterling

Title: My Darling Christmas
Series: Willow Valley Series
Release Date: October 19, 2023
Author: S.L. Sterling
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Tropes: Small Town Romance, Second Chance at Love, Brothers best friend, Widower
Cover Design: Thunderstruck Cover Design

Darling Ranch. It was a family name in this town, a family business and a family way of life.

Over the past year, the place hadn’t felt like family, or home, and I was barely staying in business.

My wife had died from an aneurysm while pregnant with our first child. It happened one morning while I was out in the field tending to the animals. The doctors told me it wouldn’t have mattered had I been by her side, the outcome would have been the same. Still, I beat myself up. My best friend and neighbor, Gabe Bentley knew this. He let me mourn my own way, but now he’s pushing me harder than ever.

“What’s the rush?” I asked him one morning.

“I’m being deployed. I need to know my sister and the farm are taken care of….by the only man I trust in this town…you.”

I’d known the army was recruiting again but I didn’t know he’d been called upon. I also didn’t know Cadence was back in town. I really didn’t know if I could be the man, the friend, the rancher that he needed me to be.

What I did know?

No matter how much it pained me, I’d try to do whatever it took to make sure that I didn’t let Gabe down.

Then I saw Cadence and for the first time since my wife died I actually thought I could heal. She made me feel alive, made the pain go away. So why did I feel so guilty? One minute I was longing to hold her, the next I was pushing her away, until I finally pushed too hard and sent her running.

I didn’t want to fail my best friend, and I didn’t want to fail Cadence. We all needed our Christmas wish and I decided to do whatever it took to make sure we got it.

We both grew quiet as we looked out over the farmland. I’d help my friend, he knew it. I owed him after everything he’d done for me. There wasn’t much more to say. Gabe knew I’d been struggling. That was why he’d been here daily since Ella had passed—to check on me. He may not know that I noticed, but I did. I couldn’t get mad either. He was being a friend. The friend I needed.

“Are you going to be okay?” he questioned.

“What do you mean?”

“If I leave, are you going to be okay?”

I leaned back in my chair and nodded. “Do I have any other choice? She’s been gone for over a year. It’s time that I pick up the pieces and move on. I know you’re worried. It’s written all over your face, but I’ll be fine.”

“I know. I just feel like I’m abandoning you in your time of need. It’s just…”

“It’s just you have to do this for you. I get it, Gabe, I really do. Why do you think I do nothing but work? It’s my way of coping. This is yours.”

“I just wish your way of coping had changed.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked, emptying my beer.

“Oh, I don’t know, perhaps you could cope by, getting involved with a woman. A relationship may do you good.”

I looked off into the distance. “Nah, I don’t think so,” I muttered, getting up and returning with two more beers. The last thing I needed right now was to have a conversation about my personal life. Gabe should know better than to start on me about dating again.

“Sorry man, I just thought that it may help you cope with things.”

I passed him another beer and sat back down. “Now I’ll do what I can to help you out, but you say you are trying to figure something else out? Care to shed a little light on that subject?” I asked.

“I’m heading out to see Cadence, to see if I can convince her to return home. If she does, I know she’ll need help. Our farm is twice the size of our grandparents’.”

First, he started with my personal life and then he mentioned Cadence in the same sentence. He better not be thinking what I thought he was. I took another mouthful of beer and cleared my throat.

“You aren’t suggesting that Cadence and I…”

Gabe shrugged and sort of smirked as he tipped the bottle back.

There had been a time that I’d had a crush on her, but she gave no hints. Then Gabe made it very clear to me and some other guys at school she was off-limits. In fact, I remembered him muttering something about the bro code after he gave another kid in town a black eye for hitting on his sister. After that, I knew better than to think about touching his sister, as did every guy in town. I enjoyed having my balls intact. Since I hadn’t been willing to ruin our friendship, I pushed my feelings to the back of my mind and gotten involved with her friend Ella.

“Cadence, from what I remember, can look after herself,” I muttered. “She’s looked after your grandparents’ farm just fine with no help from anyone. She doesn’t need my help.”

“Yeah, but it’s different here. More moving parts, bigger operation, and I’d just feel better knowing that I can count on the only man I trust here to be there if she needs something,” Gabe said, looking at me.

I chuckled.

“Please, Connor.”

I hated seeing my friend beg, but at least he was begging me and not some woman who would only slap him across the face when he got close enough. I drank back the rest of my beer and nodded my head.

“Fine. Let me know once you figure it all out. I’ll help her for a bit, but once Cadence is all settled in and things are going well, I’m done.”

Book 1: Memories of the Past
Book 2: The Holiday Dilemma
Book 3: Letters from the Heart

*Please note all books can be read as standalone, but recommended you read all the books in the series.*

S.L. Sterling was born and raised in southern Ontario. She now lives in Northern Ontario Canada and is married to her best friend and soul mate and their two dogs. 
An avid reader all her life, S.L. Sterling dreamt of becoming an author. She decided to give writing a try after one of her favorite authors launched a course on how to write your novel. This course gave her the push she needed to put pen to paper and her debut novel "It Was Always You" was born. 

When S.L. Sterling isn't writing or plotting her next novel she can be found curled up with a cup of coffee, blanket and the newest romance novel from one of her favorite authors on her e-reader. Her favorite authors include Kendall Ryan, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Lauren Blakely, Alessandra Torre and Willow Winters. 

In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking, sunny destinations, spending quality time with family and friends and of course reading.


No comments:

Post a Comment