Title: The Best Laid Wedding Plans
Author: Lynnette Austin
Series: Magnolia Brides, Book 1
Release date: November 3, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Sourcebooks Casablanca
SOME DREAMS ARE WORTH WHATEVER IT TAKES
Jenni Beth Beaumont left her broken heart behind when she took her dream job in Savannah. But after her brother’s death, Jenni Beth returns home to help mend her parents’ hearts as well as restore their beautiful but crumbling antebellum mansion. New dreams take shape as Jenni Beth sets to work replacing floors and fixing pipes to convert the family homestead into the perfect wedding destination. However, some folks in their small Southern town are determined to see her fail.
Cole Bryson was once the love of Jenni Beth’s life, but the charming architectural salvager has plans of his own for the Beaumont family home. As the two butt heads,
old turmoil is brought to the surface and Cole and Jenni Beth will have to work through some painful memories and tough realities before they can set their pasts aside and have a second chance at their own happily ever after.
The luxury of staying home when the weather turns nasty, of working in PJs and bare feet, and the fact that daydreaming is not only permissible but encouraged, are a few of the reasons middle school teacher Lynnette Austin gave up the classroom to write full-time. Lynnette grew up in Pennsylvania’s Alleghany Mountains, moved to Upstate New York, then to the Rockies in Wyoming. Presently she and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, PASIC’s Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Contest, she’s published five books as Lynnette Hallberg. She’s currently writing as Lynnette Austin. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all their business, for better or worse.
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Full Name: Thomas Eugene Crenshaw
Occupation: Own and operate Tommy’s Texaco
Physical description: Five-feet-ten and muscular with a mass of wiry, copper-colored hair and green eyes. He generally wears coveralls and a baseball cap.
Describe yourself in 100 words or less:
I grew up here in Misty Bottoms and played linebacker the year we took the district championship. That was a big moment, let me tell you! I’d just turned twenty-one when I married Erlene, the prettiest little gal in the Low Country. My dad and his dad before him, both named Thomas by the way, ran the Texaco station here in town. My friend Beck and I are kind of alike in that way. We both inherited our futures, occupation-wise anyway. Sooner or later everybody in town wanders into my place. I’m a lot like a bartender in that they all talk to me, share their stories with me. But I can keep a secret.
What is your favorite thing about living in Misty Bottoms? Where in Misty Bottoms can you most often be found?
I’m rather fond of the laid-back way of life here in Misty Bottoms. Of course the fact that we’ve got the Savannah River right in our backyard’s no hardship, either. I spend the best part of my time at the gas station, but that’s not so bad. I enjoy talking to my customers. They’re all my friends.
When not working, how do you spend your time?
I love to fish. Erlene and I pack a lunch and a jug of iced tea and head down to the river. We have a little boat, nothing fancy, but it runs real good. I fish and Erlene reads her romance novels.
If money was no object and you had 3 weeks of vacation, what would you do with your time?
I’d head to Ft. Lauderdale to the Barrett-Jackson Auction and buy myself a sweet little ‘Vette like the ’65 Jenni Beth Beaumont drives, with a side trip to the Keys for some deep-sea fishin’.
Describe your dream wedding:
I don’t need to dream about it. I already lived it. When Erlene came down the aisle in that white lace gown, my heart about burst out of my chest. She carried pink roses and her family Bible. We kept it simple. For the reception, our mamas and our aunts made all the food, and Ms. Kitty did our cake. Best day of my life!
Her experienced gaze scrutinized the scene, took in both the setting and the people, alert for any problems. The arbor, with its draping of wisteria, had turned out beautifully and smelled like heaven itself. The bride’s family, the groom’s family—both wore expressions of happiness mixed with a touch of relief.
Jenni Beth’s eyes drifted to the flower girl. Daniella was antsy, her little fingers busily plucking the lace from the basket that held rose petals. And what in the world was Ricky, the ring bearer, doing to his shoelaces? Her eyes narrowed. Had he tied them together? Oh, boy.
As the sun set, the minister announced the newly joined Mr. and Mrs. Talbot, and Jenni Beth clapped with the rest of the guests while checking to make sure the walkway remained clear. The music began on cue, and the happy couple started down the aisle, hands laced, smiles bright.
When the ring bearer tripped, the best man scooped him onto one shoulder, diverting a minor catastrophe. She’d have to remember to thank him for the quick thinking.
If the reception went as smoothly, she could congratulate herself on a job well done.
While the bride and groom funneled their guests through the receiving line, Jenni Beth bolted to a separate section of the garden to make sure the cake, the bubbly, and the band were in place. She did a last-minute check on table settings, place cards, candles—the list was never ending.
The music started, the bridal party wended their way to the area, and the celebration began.
As the evening wore on, Jenni Beth relaxed.
A familiar voice whispered in her ear. “Dance with me.”
Cole Bryson. She hadn’t seen his name on the guest list.
Shivers raced down her spine, and her heart stuttered. It had been too long, not long enough. “No.”
She wouldn’t turn around, wouldn’t meet those mesmerizing eyes.
His hands settled on her bare arms, and she nearly jumped. As the work-roughened hands moved over her skin, her stomach started a little dance of its own.
“I’m working, Cole.”
“Nothin’ needs doin’ right now. Come on, sugar.”
Knowing she shouldn’t, she turned to face him. Mistake. She always had found him irresistible, and that hadn’t changed. He’d perfected that slow Southern drawl, had the sound of a true gentleman. But the twinkle in his eyes gave him away. Revealed the bad boy tucked not far below the surface.
Right now, dressed in a dark suit and tie, the man looked like every woman’s dream. He appeared smooth and debonair, but beneath lay the wild.
He took her hand, and, God forgive her, she followed him, weak-kneed onto the portable dance floor, telling herself she didn’t want to, that she only did it to keep peace. Knowing she lied.
A full moon shone overhead and candlelight flickered. When he drew her into his arms and pulled her close, she sighed. One hand held hers, the other settled south of her waist.
“You smell good, Jenni Beth. You always do.”
His voice, low and husky, sent goosebumps racing up and down her arms. Despite herself, she rested her head against his chest, seduced by the strong, steady beat of his heart, the illusion he could make everything and anything all right.