Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Following His Heart" by Donna Fasano

Following His Heart
(Ocean City Boardwalk Book 1)
by Donna Fasano

Following His Heart, the first book in Donna Fasano's new Ocean City Boardwalk series, was released in December 2014. The series will tell the stories of best friends Sara, Heather, and Cathy, who have known each other since school days. This is Sara's and Landon's story. The author stops by today to share an excerpt.

Sara Carson is a 30-something widow with a busy life. Two fun-loving best friends, a caring mom who needs her, and a thriving sweet shop. What more could a woman want? But when the ancient plumbing in her shop springs a leak and a gorgeous, dark-eyed stranger rushes to her rescue, hilarity unfolds - and Sara quickly sees exactly what she's been missing.
Something most peculiar draws Landon Richards to Ocean City, Maryland - and to the lovely Sara. This woman touches his heart like no other, and the two of them explore the heady attraction that pulses between them. But haunting dreams have a way of encroaching on reality, and the strange phenomenon that brings these two together will also threaten to tear them apart.
This is the first book in the Ocean City Boardwalk series, where life for three enterprising women, Sara, Heather, and Cathy, isn't just fun in the sun - love is waiting on those sandy shores!

Chapter One
Up to her elbows in sudsy water, Sara Carson frowned as she watched the heavy baking sheet slip from the counter and bounce off the ancient pipe that ran along the baseboard. Her eyes widened in absolute horror when water from the busted fitting sprayed a forceful, ten-foot arc toward the cooling racks in the center of the room that held the hundreds of perfect, jack-o-lantern-shaped sugar cookies she'd spent hours baking. The mouth-watering aroma of warm vanilla that she'd just paused to savor seemed to swirl and drown in some awful eddy along with the satisfied smile that had been on her lips just a moment before.
Without even thinking about it, she dove for the tray—soap bubbles flying everywhere—and wielded it like a shield against the onslaught. Water soaked her blouse and apron and plastered her bangs against her forehead, but the tray redirected the shower for now. Her eyes were wild as she looked around and tried to figure out what to do next. She couldn't continue squatting here for long. Someone needed to run to the utility room and turn off the water at the main valve.
She'd never make her deadline if she didn't save those cookies.
"Cathy!" she yelled. But she knew she would never be heard above the morning news that was blaring in the cafĂ© next door to her shop. And she didn’t dare do the job herself; by the time she reached the water nozzle, every single cookie would be ruined.
She ran a frantic gaze around the kitchen and saw a tea towel over on the island. Wrapped around the fitting, the towel might hold back the water long enough for her to get to the utility room. Sara stretched out her arm, continuing to hold tight to the cookie sheet with her other hand. Reach. Oh, for criminy’s sake. It was impossible. Too far away.
The water struck the cookie sheet on one corner, shoving it into Sara’s face and knocking her off balance. A stream escaped, shooting into the air and landing, dead-center on a full tray of cookies.
“Damn it!” Sara muttered as she twisted back around to block the spray.
By now, her white canvas sneakers were sodden, her toes swimming in the spongy cushion-soles each time she shifted her weight. Her knees and thighs began to ache.
The phone! The thought seeped into her thoughts and sent her scrambling in her back pocket for her cell, but when she let loose of the sheet, it once again smacked her in the forehead and allowed more water to douse her.
“Time for a new plan,” she said right out loud, and she reached around, curled her fingers around the pipe until her palm was directly over the leak. She squeezed as tightly as she could. Then with her free hand, she pulled out her phone and called Cathy.
It only rang once.
“Can’t talk. The place is packed and I’m short one waitress.”
Sweet and soft-spoken were not words anyone would use to describe Cathy, and Sara wasn’t surprised that her friend answered so tersely. The woman might own a sharp tongue, but she had a heart of gold and had been one of those rare, you-can-count-on-me kind of friends for a lot of years.
“I’m at the shop. I’ve got a leak,” Sara said, clear panic in her voice.
“Look, the pancakes on the griddle need to be turned. I’ve got three customers who want to eat their eggs while they’re still hot. And the timer’s going to go off any second now. I have to be here to pull the biscuits out of the oven.”
The Sunshine Grill was Cathy’s pride and joy. Open for breakfast and lunch, it had an abundance of loyal locals who frequented the restaurant as well as the throng of boardwalk tourists who flooded the place. When Cathy divorced her husband several years ago, she’d thrown herself into making a success of her establishment. Her customers came first, above all else.
“I’m feeding people here. Can you call Heather?” Cathy asked.
The hypotenuse of their triangle, Heather owned the building and ran The Lonely Loon, the B&B located above Sara’s Sweet Shop and The Sunshine Grill.
“She had an appointment this morning. I need you to turn off the water.”
Sara heard kitchen noises, the clatter of utensils and porcelain plates, along with the blare of the morning news being broadcast from the television anchored high on the wall in sight of all the customers.
“I’m in the middle of breakfast service, Sara. I need water.”
The building had been constructed in the 1920s and the plumbing and wiring were forever failing. Years ago when the first floor had been turned into a restaurant, Heather’s mother, The Lonely Loon’s proprietor at the time, knew someone on the City Counsel who had grandfathered the plans so that the restaurant could share water pipes with the bed and breakfast. And by some amazing miracle, the woman was able to grease more palms when a portion of the restaurant had been refurbished into an ice cream parlor more than two dozen years ago. The parlor had since been turned into Sara’s Sweet Shop—a bakery that supplied local restaurants with delicious pies, cakes, cookies, breads, and other baked goods.
The need to have the plumbing overhauled and the building rewired was often a topic of conversation between Heather, Cathy, and Sara, but they continued to bandage, staple, glue, fold, cinch, and pad the leaky pipes and fixtures until they could decide on the best time, not to mention finding the money, to close down all three businesses in order to do some modernizing.
“We can’t shut off the water for a drippy faucet,” Cathy groused. “Wrap a towel around that thing. We’ll fix it later.”
At that very moment, a small jet of water forced its way between Sara’s fingers and struck her under the chin. Icy water ran down her neck and between her breasts, and that’s when she lost her temper.
“You get your ass to the utility room right this second,” she screamed, “and turn the damn water off!”
Cathy went silent on the other end of the phone for several long seconds. Yelling and cursing wasn’t in Sara’s makeup. Not normally. But she looked over at her sugar cookies and the thought of all those hours of labor and the cost of ingredients wasted short-circuited all the niceness that was in her.
The muscles in Sara’s hand and wrist were growing fatigued, and she was just about to give a second shout when she heard her friend’s voice.
“Um, hon,” Cathy told her, “you’re on speaker.”

Praise for the Book
"At first, I thought this was going to be a typical romantic comedy. But, it's so much more. There's mystery, subtle paranormal, healing from past grief and loss, as well as laugh out loud humor. [...] I was excited to find recipes at the end. I thought that was a nice touch." ~ DMP
"I found it thought-provoking in ways I’d have never anticipated." ~ BigAl
"This is the first book I've read by this author, and it will not be the last. From the first page I was sucked into the story and couldn't put the book down. It's well written and the characters feel real and relatable. The story it's so much more than just a romantic one. Yes it's a sweet and sentimental book, but it also deals with loss, friendship, family, second chances, a bit of mystery, laughter and fate." ~ Beatriz from Cover to Cover Book Blog
"You'll enjoy this read and feel every emotion the author has written. You will be glued to the page as Sara and Landon discover feelings and a past that they may not be able to overcome." ~ Delene E. Yochum
"What a beautiful story. The author caught your interest early and gently teased you along with a tidbit here and a hint there till you just had to know where the story went. This book had everything: good friends, good food and love that would not die. I fell in love with not only Sara and Landon but with her friends, Heather and Cathy as well. I will be reading the rest of this series as well as looking for other stories from this author. Another plus for this book is that it has NO cliffhanger." ~ sharon schramlin

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Donna Fasano is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl's Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #5.