Crossroads Serenade and The Pink Victorian
by Laurie Adair Grove
by Laurie Adair Grove
Meredith is managing okay since she left her hometown of Crossroads, Montana - she’s working, paying the rent and putting food on the table for herself and her child, at least. But no matter how much time passes, she can’t forget Pete, the only man she’s ever loved. Meredith wonders how she can move on, when just looking at her little boy so painfully reminds her of everything that's happened.
Her son is five when Meredith returns to Crossroads to claim The Serenade - a popular hotel, bar and restaurant - which she inherits from a dear friend who treated her like family when her own family did not. A single mother from a rough background, Meredith knows life is not all roses, and that she will have to work even harder than ever with her new responsibilities. But she has no idea of the obstacles that she must overcome, now that she has moved back home to claim her inheritance and hopefully reunite with Pete. The story continues in the sequel, The Pink Victorian.
I will never forget his last words to me, in a letter I received when I was living far from home. “I know you are quite familiar with the workings of The Serenade, dear Meredith, but I trust you to follow my business plan until you are strongly on your feet.” The handwriting was strange to me - pained and spidery. “Sam at the bank will be your financial advisor - check in with him often. Charlie and Mona will share my estate equally with you, although you are receiving The Serenade and some bare land, and they are receiving all bare land …”
“Mom?” Grant, my five-year-old son, asks from the backseat, jolting me back to the present. “Is this the place Uncle Duck left you?”
“Yes! This is it!” I say, reaching across the seat behind me to tousle his black hair. I rummage through my purse for the keys Sam Overgaard had sent me.
“Why is it so dark in there, Mom?” I look back at him, noting worry in his blue eyes, even in the dimness of the car’s dome light. “It’s dark because it’s been closed since Uncle Duck died. Nobody’s in there. But we’re going to change that! I love this place, Grant. I hope you will too.” I open my car door and take a deep breath of the fresh northern Montana air. “Smell the air, Grant - it’s the best in the world!”
“It’s too cold!” he says as he opens his window. Before he closes it he takes a loud, deep breath that I’m sure to hear.
“Yep! That’s good air, Mom!”
The darkness of this late May night can’t hide the surrounding beauty from me. I know in the light of day I’ll see a wide expanse of prairie, dotted with craggy outcroppings and stubborn patches of deep snow, the magnificent glacier-laced Rockies on the horizon beyond. Close by, red paintbrush, purple bitterroot and yellow sagebrush buttercup will just be beginning to bloom, and ponderosa and quaking aspen around the property will provide shade on the warm summer days to come.
“Well, it’s late, so let’s go take a quick look around inside, and then we’ll carry some things in so we can get settled for the night. There will be time for exploring tomorrow,” I say as I take Grant’s hand to climb the fifteen flat log steps to the hotel entrance. “Now let’s hope Mr. Overgaard had the electricity and phone service turned on for us, like he said he would.”
I just finished the book and I can truly say that I was sad to see it end. The characters are real and you easily become attached to them. The writting style is excellent because the story unfolds in such a natural way that it makes you feel as if an old friend is sitting at your table sharing coffee and a tale about her life. Crossroads Serenade is more than a romance novel, it is a story about an enduring love for a man and the many choices we have to make in life. It is also about the family we are born into and the family we choose to create that makes us who we are today. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.
The Pink Victorian
by Laurie Adair Grove
In this sequel to Crossroads Serenade, an unwelcome character from Pete’s past shows up for a show-down, which can either drive a permanent wedge into his relationship with Meredith, or cement it in place so they can build their future together - a future that will include their son Grant, whom Meredith and Pete hope will remain happy and well-adjusted, even after they saddle him with a reality no child should ever have to deal with.
Former Serenade employee Ralph returns to Crossroads and now works at the McBride ranch. A bad experience in Las Vegas has left him afraid to love again until he meets Helene and her spirited little girl, Arlee, who are on the run from Arlee’s father. When the gas gauge of their car lands on empty, Helene and Arlee land in Crossroads and change a lot of lives, including their own.
Mona, The Serenade’s flirty fifty-something head waitress who took Meredith under her wing and taught her "Waitressing 101", finds retirement so boring it’s "killing" her! Replaced by JoLynn as the head waitress, Mona appears to be stuck in a lifestyle that is so not Mona!
Finally, Jenny’s dream of a charity to serve the underprivileged children of the area has come to fruition. Over time, the truth takes hold in Meredith’s heart - that the good the charity does for the children far outweighs some bitter memories she has of having grown up there - in The Pink Victorian.
I look toward the door and see JoLynn, the pretty blonde head waitress who took Mona’s place. “Darn, you found me. Just kidding. I was working on these fundraiser plans in the kitchen, but there’s no way,” I explain, motioning in the direction of the jackhammers.
“It’s pretty bad,” JoLynn agrees. “But speaking of the fundraiser,” she says, just as my desk phone rings, “I was wondering what exactly Mona’s job is while she’s here?”
I nod at the phone, answer it, and in a few seconds say, “It was Mona. She wants me in the kitchen for a minute. Sorry, I don’t know what’s up, so I better go.”
JoLynn sighs. “I don’t know how people expect you to get anything done when they interrupt you anytime they feel like it.”
I ignore the dig. I miss Mona if I don’t see her for a few weeks. We always got along so well, even though we’re decades apart in age. When I was a teenager working here, she took me under her wing and taught me as much as she could from ‘Waitressing 101,’ as she called it. She had tried like heck to get me to swing and strut like she did, but she had the curves for it and I’ve always been pretty much straight up and down. She has always listened to my problems, and has a way of making me laugh.
In the kitchen a minute later I see Mona sitting comfortably at the employee break table in her old spot, her back to me.
“Hey you! Why aren’t you working?” I yell over the din outside.
Mona turns around and laughs at me. “Hey Blondie, how ‘bout a cup of coffee, on you?”
“Sure, why not? But I only have a few minutes.”
Mona is up and getting a coffee pot off the warmer before I even sit down. She whisks by a tray filled with coffee mugs and swiftly snatches up two with her free hand before coming back to the table.
I catch a glimpse of disapproval on JoLynn’s face. I have been surprised at her attitude towards Mona every time she’s stopped by in the last few months.
“I’m just going to take a short break to catch up with Mona,” I tell JoLynn pleasantly. “Then it’s back to the planning.” JoLynn is an efficient head waitress, and I really need someone of her caliber in this position. I smile at her and take a drink of the fresh hot coffee, which really hits the spot.
JoLynn marches over to me and takes the coffee pot Mona has put on the table in front of us. She splashes a drip of coffee in my cup and puts the pot back on the warmer. In seconds she’s disappeared through the swinging door that leads into the dining room.
“She sure is icy, huh?” Mona laughs, pursing her lips prudishly. “It’s amazing she thawed out enough to have a kid, don’t you think?”
I can’t help but giggle, but I tell Mona to shush.
I first read this book as a beta reader for the author. It was interesting reading the rough drafts and actually putting input into the final product! I loved the paths the author took in this sequel to Crossroads Serenade. The sequel is a must read to those who enjoyed reading Crossroads Serenade. However, even if you have not read Crossroads Serenade you can easily pick of The Pink Victorian and read it as a single book. This Old Marine's Wife gives it the STAMP OF APPROVAL!
From the Author
I grew up the fourth of five children; I have three sisters and one brother, so we had plenty of drama! My family lived in a number of towns in Oregon, Washington, and Montana, which is probably why tall evergreens, majestic mountains and wide open spaces make me feel at home and often figure in my writing.
I enjoy family sagas; stories about how people meet and form strong bonds and relationships and manage the challenges they encounter. Contemporary women's fiction, romance and historical fiction are also often on my reading list.
My first book on Amazon is Crossroads Serenade, followed by The Pink Victorian, which is the sequel.
I live with my husband in a rural area of western Oregon, where I can often be found working on my next book!