Friday, July 31, 2015

EXCERPT: Harper's Wish by Cerella Sechrist


This September, the first title in my Findlay Roads series is releasing with Harlequin Heartwarming. I'm so excited about HARPER'S WISH, which introduces us to Findlay Roads, a fictional town in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland:

Twenty years ago, Findlay Roads was a small community with a strong Irish presence from the immigrants who had settled in the town in the eighteenth century. With its quaint coastal charm as part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it was eventually discovered by developers and tourists, and in the past five years, it’s been touted as the newest tourist destination for summer vacationers from nearby Baltimore and Washington D.C. With this new tourist boom, the locals have either learned to take advantage of the economic influx or have struggled as they’ve watched their town be recreated into an eclectic mix of old world charm and new century chic.

The first story, HARPER'S WISH, places disgraced restaurant critic, Harper Worth, at the mercy of Connor Callahan, the man whose career she nearly destroyed three years ago with one of her vitriolic reviews. This scene is where Connor first realizes just who Harper is...


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“You’re Harper Worth.”

She flushed but still managed a smile. “Guilty as charged.”

“Get out.”

He’d obviously stunned her because she sat there, blinking for several long seconds.

“Excuse me?”

“I said…getout.”

Harper Worth. In his restaurant, his second restaurant, after all this time. And not as a critic but looking for work. He wasn’t sure whether to feel outraged or vindicated.

“My name is Connor…Callahan,” he stated, the words clipped.

Her expression didn’t budge, not a glimmer of recognition there.

He’d never seen a proper photo of her. Restaurant critics often concealed their identities so they wouldn’t be recognized when visiting establishments. And with Harper’s vitriolic reputation, he assumed she’d made every effort to keep her image from being exposed when dining out.

Now he finally had a face to put with the name—a much prettier face than he had imagined. He had built her up in his mind’s eye as the harpy he’d dubbed her, thinking she’d be thin, gaunt, with unnaturally long teeth and beady eyes.

She was nothing of the sort. But she was still the woman who’d nearly ruined his career, he reminded himself.

“You don’t even know who I am,” he said.

Her eyebrows dipped in confusion. “Sorry, should I? Have we met?”

He couldn’t help it. He cursed.

“Connor Callahan?” he repeated his name. “Éire?”

Satisfaction flooded through him as he watched the color slowly drain from her face.

“Éire?” she whispered.

“Ah, you remember what the restaurant was called, even if you can’t remember the name of the man whose reputation you ruined.”

“I—” But she stopped there, seemingly at a loss for words.

“Let me see if this rings any bells.” He cleared his throat before he began the recitation of her review from memory.

“Though barely competent, Éire’s executive chef tries too hard with the menu, putting on airs with mediocre aptitude.”

Her face whitened further, her expression becoming pinched as he continued.


“The filet mignon, though a fine cut of meat, is decimated by the lack of skill in preparing it. It will never measure up to the succulent cuts to be had at nearby restaurants in the district, and if ingredients as pure as this can be prepared with such average talent, then imagine the rest of the dishes.”

“Oh. That Connor Callahan.” She attempted nonchalance, but by the pink rising in her cheeks, he knew he had her right where he wanted.

“Can I tell you my favorite line? The one my investors quoted when they pulled out on me?”

She shifted in her seat. He injected a full Irish brogue into his voice and spread his arms to accommodate the full theater of the words.


“Éire is owned by Institute of Culinary Distinction–trained Irishman, Connor Callahan, who clearly believes his own blarney when he claims his restaurant is a dining experience to delight the senses. Perhaps he could use a taste of humble pie since I remain unimpressed and dub his establishment notworthit.”

The silence that followed these words was thick. He watched the fine cords in her neck flex as she swallowed. Her cheeks were stained crimson with what he hoped was embarrassment and shame, the very same emotions he’d felt when he’d read her defamatory review.

***

Want to read more? Visit my website for links to more excerpts via OverDrive and to pre-order your copy of HARPER'S WISH.

And don't forget there's only one week left to enter the ENDLESS SUMMER GIVEAWAY from me and Loree Lough! The prize includes $150 worth of goodies, including an Endless Summer gift basket, $20 Amazon gift card, and FOUR autographed Harlequin Heartwarming novels from Loree and me! You can enter at this link...and then check back here at the Heartwarming blog the following Friday (August 14) to find out who the winner is PLUS discover another huge giveaway! (It's another great one, I promise!)

***

About Cerella:

 CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at www.cerellasechrist.com. Harper’s Wish, her third Harlequin Heartwarming novel, releases in September.

22 comments:

  1. I love the excerpt, Cerella, and I look forward to reading the book.

    Best wishes with the release!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! I appreciate it! :) Have a great weekend!

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  2. Great excerpt, Cerella! Having grown up in Northern Virginia area, I loved visiting the Chesapeake Bay area. I can't wait to read your story. Wishing you the best with the release.

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    1. Hi Jill! I've lived all my life in southern Pennsylvania, really close to the Maryland border, so the Chesapeake Bay area isn't too far from me. It's such a great location! Hope you enjoy the book! Thank you!

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  3. Congratulations, Cerella. Anxious to see how she gets out of that. And another gorgeous cover. Wish you great success!

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    1. LOL, Muriel! Harper and Connor were so fun to write - such a great pairing to play with! :) And isn't that cover amazing??? Love that Heartwarming art department. Thanks!

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  4. Love your excerpt...preordered it! I would love to visit the Chesapeake Bay area.

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    1. Thanks so much, Patricia! I appreciate the pre-order! The Chesapeake Bay area is gorgeous. One day, you should try and find the time to visit. And if you get that far, LMK because I'm only an hour to two away in southern Pennsylvania. We can do lunch! ;) Have a great weekend!

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  5. Cerella, I'm hooked! Love that excerpt. I'm dying to know what happened....and what happens LOL! This sounds like a really fun one. Congratulations!

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    1. Carol, this is great, it means I picked the perfect excerpt to share! (It's the one that would have hooked me, I know!) I always think it's super fun to write in food-centric settings, and Connor and Harper were great fun. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks!

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  6. Love it Cerella!! With a restaurant review like that could those two possibly find love? Thanks so much for sharing it. I'm looking forward to Harper's Wish. I've been waiting for another Heartwarming book from you. ( :

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    1. That's exactly what I want readers to find out, Laurie - how those two find love! :) I really appreciate your ongoing support, my friend! I hope you love Harper's Wish!!

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  7. Cerella, I love the cover and look forward to reading the story. Love stories set in small towns.

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    1. Thanks, Roz! I agree, small town stories are the best. And the Heartwarming art department did it again, didn't they? :) Have a great weekend!

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  8. Excellent, Cerella! Can't wait to read the rest of the story! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Loree! I feel the same way about your SWEET MOUNTAIN RANCHER! :)

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  9. That's some tension! I can't imagine how you get these two together - nice work!!

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    1. Thank you, Amy! This was a challenging one to write, but those two certainly provided some conflict. ;)

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  10. What great conflict! Can't wait to see how these two get together.

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    1. Thanks, Leigh! I hope you enjoy it! They were certainly a fun couple to write. :)

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  11. Holy Cats, Cerella, this is great! I love conflict like that. Sounds like real life. Hmm. How many times have some of us gotten into tight spots like that? Can't wait to read it and I agree, your cover is fabulous. I bet you like looking at it on your shelf.

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    1. Thank you, Catherine! I love that kind of conflict, too. So much fun to work with. ;) I haven't received my hard copies yet, but believe me, that cover is posted on all my computer backgrounds! It's gorgeous!

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