Thursday, March 28, 2024

#NewRelease #MustRead - Scars on my Heart (Willow Valley) by S.L. Sterling

Title: Scars on my Heart
Series: Willow Valley
Author: S.L. Sterling
Tropes: Single Dad, Single Mom, Friends to Lovers, small town romance, second chance at love, only one bed scene
Cover Design: Thunderstruck Cover Design
Release Date: March 28, 2024

Willow Valley had become like home to me and my two boys, Dylan and Noah. Everyone knew everyone in this small town, and they helped us heal from our devastating loss.

Once I knew my kids would be okay, I started looking for work. Bluebird Books hired me almost right away. I was to run the new kids program that Trinity was starting. That was where I met Zach and his daughter, Grace.

Zach was the new owner of the Willow Valley Inn. He’d come in to return a book his daughter had borrowed from the program. We exchanged pleasantries and that was when the computer had gone down. Zach lost his patience, and that was when our pleasant conversation turned sour. I wasn’t worried about it because I figured I’d never see him again.

I was wrong. It turns out in a small town, everyone sees everyone almost daily, if not twice a day. At the grocery store, the gas station, the elementary school and as luck would have it, the bookstore. Soon, our conversations turn pleasant again, and without even trying, I find myself drawn to him. Then he asks me out on a date.

Despite my reservations, I decided to take a chance on love again. But just when things start to look up, Zach’s ex-wife suddenly reappears, causing chaos in his life once more. Which somehow causes chaos in mine when my children begin acting out.

Leaning on one another for support, we navigate obstacles that life throws at us. As time passes I begin to wonder if another chance at love will bring us closer together or make each one of us run the other way?

I entered, grabbed a cart, and began making my way through the store over to the junk food aisle. I was about to round the corner when another cart rammed into the base of mine. Irritation growing, I poked my head around the corner and was about to apologize when I caught sight of Zach.

“You again!” I gritted.

This time, a smile fell onto his lips. “Apparently so. Sorry about that. I wasn’t—”

“Paying attention?” I grumbled. “Like earlier?”

This time he chuckled. When he wasn’t scowling or yelling, he was a handsome man, dark brown hair, blue eyes. He wore a black T-shirt that hugged his body, showing off his impressive build.

"What exactly is your problem?" I demanded. “And what the hell is so funny?”

"My problem?" He smirked, crossing his arms over his chest. When I didn't answer right away, he stopped, and his face started to get a little red. He began to shift from one foot to the other, and then he dropped his arms to his sides. "Look, I'm sorry," he said, finally letting his guard down. "It's been a hell of a day. Shit, a hell of a month, and to be honest, I'm just not really at my best right now."

"Could have fooled me." I shrugged, still feeling a little under attack.

"I think perhaps we should start off on a different foot. I'm Zach," he said, holding out his large hand to me.

“What if I don’t want to?” I bit back, watching him. When he didn’t move, I finally slipped my small hand into his and gently shook it. "Zach, it’s nice to meet you. I'm Iris."

"Iris, nice to meet you," he said, slowly letting go of my hand and meeting my eyes.

"So, what has you all frazzled?" I questioned.

"God, what doesn't. It all started this morning with my eleven-year-old."

Small world, I thought to myself. "You have an eleven-year-old? My oldest just turned eleven a couple of weeks ago. Right now, my boys are home, probably killing each other." I smiled, and we both laughed. I glanced at my watch. I really should grab what I came in for and get back to The Deep Dish. I needed to order the pizza before too much longer.

“Look, I should get going. I’ve got to get our pizza ordered,” I said, reaching in front of him and grabbing two bags of the boy’s favourite chips and a bottle of soda.

"Taking pizza home for dinner?" he questioned.

Almost forgetting our run-in only a few minutes earlier, I nodded. "Yep, I promised them tonight would be pizza."

Zach glanced at his watch. "Once I get our pizza, I have to get my daughter. The guy at the pizza parlour said it would be a good fifty minutes. Did you want to grab a coffee while you wait?"

I glanced around at the people passing by. I’d never had coffee with a stranger, especially one who had treated me the way Zach had earlier. However, he seemed to have a lot going on, and he seemed to be a little calmer at the moment. I glanced at my watch. "I guess it won't hurt. I’ll go pay for this and then go order the pizza, and I'll meet you at The Crispy Biscuit."

“Sounds good. While you order your pizza, I’ll grab us a table.”

Ten minutes later, butterflies in my stomach, I met up with Zach outside of The Crispy Biscuit. It took no time for us to get a table and a cup of coffee.

“I don’t normally do this,” I said, shrugging out of my sweater.

“Do what?” Zach questioned.

“Meet up with complete strangers for coffee.”

Zach chuckled. “I wouldn’t call us strangers. We are on a first-name basis.” He winked. “And you know I have a daughter.”

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.


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