USA Today Bestselling Author
Welcome to Hathaway House.
Rehab Center. Safe Haven.
Second chance at life and love.
Keith came to Hathaway House at his sister’s insistence. For he has already given up on regaining the future she keeps telling him that he can find here or, for that matter, any other future worth having. And, besides, don’t they know he’s too weak for the trip and for the treatment and for any of the plans the team has for him? Don’t they know he’s broken beyond repair, and nothing they can do will fix him?
But apparently they don’t because no one listens to him. Not the doctors. Not his sister. And definitely not the tiny woman who keeps delivering his coffee at 5:00 a.m.
Ilse, head chef for Hathaway House, rarely ventures out of the kitchen she manages. It’s easier to deal with the groceries and the staff than it is to see the pain and suffering of those she feeds. But something about Keith and his frailty calls to her. She can’t help but go out of her way to ensure he has everything he needs. Even though she knows she cannot keep their relationship on a professional level, once started.
Even if not in her best interests to do so. Because, in this case, surely Keith’s best interests matter, so much more than her own.
Keith’s sister Robin works at the Veterinarian Clinic at Hathaway House. She’s seen the almost miraculous progress people make, and that includes her fiancé Iain. She is determined that Keith come to Hathaway House and he gives in. He doesn’t believe there is anything more for him, there’s been too many surgeries, too many backslides. He isn’t full of hope like his sister when he arrives at Hathaway House.
One of the first people he meets on that first day is Ilse. Ilse is a Chef and in charge of the kitchen at Hathaway House, quite the challenge to feed all the patients and staff. Ilse is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen.
Keith is surprised that Ilse would even consider delivering food to him on this first day. Although it’s Dennis who delivers it, Ilse creates a dinner for him that he finds he can eat.
This is a favorite scene.
Keith was dozing in bed and shivering slightly when a knock on his door got his attention. He opened his eyes to see a huge male, wearing a big grin, walking in the door, carrying a tray. He put it down on the small swing table and moved it closer to the bed.
“Hi, I’m Dennis,” he said. “Ilse sent this over for you.”
He looked at the food, looked at Dennis, and said, “I’m pretty sure I told her that I didn’t want anything to eat,” he said with caution.
But Dennis studied him with a critical gaze. “And you’re shivering,” he said bluntly. “You need some hot soup, and we need to get you some warm blankets. You start eating. I’ll take care of the other.” With that, he was gone.
Now that he was more awake, Keith realized that he really was quite cold. The hot soup was a good idea; he hadn’t really expected to get room service. It was a nice concept, but the thought that Ilse had sent it was what he struggled with. Still, he picked up the spoon and took a sip. Only partly admitting he was doing it for her.
Then he stopped, savoring the taste in his mouth before swallowing. Not only was it good and the flavors beautifully blended but it added a wonderfully warm and soothing element to his body. He picked up another spoonful chock-full of tender meat, and, before long, his soup was half gone.
He stared at his bowl, surprised. He almost never ate this much. And he noted a plate with meat and cheese was on the side too. At first, he wouldn’t have any, but he picked up one and then a second piece. The next thing he knew, one of the big pieces of toast was gone, as was most of the meat and cheese.
By the time Dennis walked back into his room, Keith was pushing away the tray.
Dennis caught sight of it, looked at him, and said, “Wow, you were hungry.” Quickly Dennis opened up the heated blanket and laid it across Keith’s body.
Immediately he moaned. “Oh, God. Now I know how cold I was. I had no idea.”
Dennis tucked him in, and the shivers started.
“You let those shivers work,” Dennis ordered. “Let’s get that body temperature back up again.” He nodded at the tray. “You ate half of everything. Do you want any more?”
“I want to,” he said, “but I’m scared of pushing my stomach.”
“You know what? That’s probably wise,” he said. “Let’s just call it quits with this amount right now, if that’s okay with you.”
Hesitating, Keith looked at it. “Let me have a few more bites of that soup.” Struggling to keep the blanket tucked around his chest, he had another three or four spoonfuls until it was mostly gone. As the tray was about to go, he picked up the rest of the meat and cheese and said, “Okay, now I’m done.”
“Good thing,” Dennis said, “because the only thing you left was a half a piece of bread.”
He smiled, sank back into the covers. “Man, I don’t know where you got this heated blanket from, but, God, it’s exactly what I needed.”
“Yeah, we all need them sometimes,” he said. “Now hopefully you’ll get some sleep tonight. That must have been a rough trip getting here.”
“Yeah, it was pretty painful. Right now, I’m mostly just cold,” he said.
“Of course you are. Your body has been through a lot. Now rest. That’s what you need.”
He nodded and sank farther under the covers, slowly munching the last of the meat and cheese. By the time that was gone, his eyelids drifted closed. He wasn’t sure how Ilse had known what he wanted to eat, but it was a perfect choice, and he appreciated it.
As soon as he got the chance, he would tell her. Later. Anything that required movement right now was way too much to contemplate. He closed his eyes, and, within minutes, he fell asleep.
Dale Mayer. Keith (Kindle Locations 235-265). Valley Publishing Ltd.
Ilse noticed on her arrival in the early morning hours that Keith’s light was on. She begins visiting him in those early morning hours, sometimes bringing him coffee. She doesn’t quite understand her attraction to him but she can’t seem to stay away.
Keith has Shane for his PT, and if you’re reading this series you already know he’s a stern taskmaster. Keith is making progress he doesn’t realize, but it’s also a mental process and he has some hurdles there.
Ilse faces some issues in her kitchen along with the realization she’s falling for Keith and wants the opportunity to see if it can become something lasting.
I love how the animals come into play here, they too are an important part of the healing process. Iain also comes for a visit to meet his future brother-in-law, but also to give encouragement.
I loved reading this journey to healing and romance and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.