USA Today Bestselling Author
A broken heart that needs mending…
A wounded soul that needs answers…
And a buried secret that could destroy everything…
After years of fighting with her mother, Riesling decides it’s time to mend fences, even if it means she has to admit her mother was right. Moving back to Candlewood Falls is a big step. Dating her boss is an even bigger one and Riesling’s meddling mother is up to her old tricks, making things difficult, as usual. When another buried secret surfaces on The River Winery it will not only test Riesling and her new relationship, but it might just destroy everything that the River family holds dear.
Doctor Treyton “Trey” Jefferson wants answers as to where he came from and no one seems to be able to tell him that. Not his parents and not the doctor who made the arrangements for the closed adoption because he’s dead. Trey’s only clue is a piece of paper from the doctor with an address that came from The River Winery in Candlewood Falls. Trey will do whatever it takes to find his birth parents, including using his new physician’s assistant, who happens to have a stake in the winery, to obtain information about the doctor who facilitated over thirty adoptions in the area. He has no idea he’s about to unearth a scandal that holds the power to destroy the woman he’s falling in love with and her family’s business.
Treyton ‘Trey’ Jefferson gets a bit of surprise at the beginning of this book. While he always knew he was adopted, he didn’t know the circumstances of it. When his mother died, she left him a letter and a request. A plea really, to find his birth mother. He hadn’t opened the letter right away and he kind of blindsides his father with it since it’s been a year.
The details of his adoption are sketchy and his only lead is the doctor who died long ago. Fortunately for him that particular town is looking for a doctor to buy the retiring doctor’s practice. Who better than him?
Riesling is a Physician’s Assistant and she will be working with the new doctor. She’s trying really hard to make peace with her mother. The hurt of being more or less exiled when she chose to follow her child’s father instead of staying home still burns though.
Trey stops at the winery his first day in town. He wants to buy his co-worker a starting gift. Then he realizes it’s her family’s business. He meets her brother Malbec first and then the matchmaking Weezer, her mother. He also realizes they Reisling could be the source of information he needs about the doctor who also had an office on the Winery’s property.
When he arrives at the farmhouse that holds the office and his upstairs apartment, Riesling was heading up to be sure things were in order for his arrival.
This is a favorite scene.
She was halfway up the stairs when she heard the door creak open. She turned.
“Hello? Can I help you?”
“Are you Riesling?”
“I am.” She paused at the bottom of the stairs and desperately tried not to stare at the man standing in the lobby holding a basket from her family winery while sporting a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved black shirt, and a sexy unshaven face. “Treyton Jefferson?”
“In the flesh.”
“You’re a couple of days early,” she said. “I was just about to go upstairs and make sure everything was ready for you.”
“That’s awfully nice of you and totally not necessary.” He set the basket on the desk. “This is for you.”
She covered her mouth and laughed. “You do know that’s my family’s winery, right?”
“I do.” He nodded. “Your mom and brother helped me put it together.”
She peered over the side. “Oh God. That pie. It’s sinful and I’m going to gain like ten pounds eating it.”
“Why don’t you let me cook you dinner, and then I’ll be happy to help you polish it off.”
“That’s very sweet of you, but I take it my mom and brother didn’t inform you that I also have a six-year-old little girl.”
“I was not informed of that piece of information. Though your mom did ask if I liked kids.” He shook his head. “That said, I make a mean mac and cheese and we need to talk about how I do business and that can’t all be done during working hours and I wouldn’t want you to have to get a babysitter. So, what do you say?”
“I can’t tonight. But you’re on for tomorrow.” She held up her index finger. “On one condition.”
“I don’t know what my mom may have said to you or implied. But I’m not interested in dating you or anyone else for that matter.” A thick lump formed in her throat as the word dating rolled off her tongue. Oh, in the looks department, Trey was all that and more. His eyes were this deep blue color, like the Mediterranean Sea. They were so intense it was nearly impossible to look away. He had light-brown hair that wasn’t short, but she couldn’t describe it as long either.
And he hadn’t shaved in what appeared to be a couple of weeks.
But she suspected he kept his beard and mustache that length at all times. It was a good look for him since he had a bit of a baby face, so it aged him just a tad.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be social that way,” he said. “I’m sorry if I implied otherwise.”
“No. But I bet my mom did.”
Trey laughed. “She might have a little. Does she do that a lot?”
“To every single man between the ages of thirty and forty who sets foot in this town.” Feeling a little less on edge, she leaned against the counter. “I do appreciate the basket. That was kind of you and so very not necessary.”
“If I had been smart enough to put two and two together, I would have stopped somewhere else.”
“No. This is perfect. I do love everything the family business offers, except my own name.”
“I heard that too.”
She cringed. “Well, just don’t believe everything my mom has to say about me. Or my siblings for that matter. Hell, this entire town has an opinion, and every single one of them enjoys expressing them.”
“I’ve never lived in a small town, so this should be interesting.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets and glanced around. “Where is our receptionist and all our patients?”
“Anna has the day off. It was easy to give it to her because everyone rescheduled until they could see you.”
He tilted his head. “And why didn’t they want to see you?”
“Some did.” Her stomach filled with doubt. Theo had taken money from half the people in this town and promised to double it in one of his early get rich plans. This was back when she was pregnant with Ashling and he was turning over a new leaf. He even had the blessing of Weezer and Carter and that meant something in this town.
But the company Theo had gotten involved in was nothing more than a small-time Ponzi scheme. Thankfully, because of her father, no one lost too much money, but still. It had tainted her name because she’d followed the father of her child out of this town as everyone had done him wrong.
And not the other way around.
“But there are a few who don’t trust me.” She felt she should be honest. “In part because of my ex and in part because when I was little, I used to try to undress all the little boys in town to play doctor. That didn’t go over too well with all the parents.”
Trey tossed his head back and let out a hearty laugh. It was deep and rich and it filled her belly with warmth like hot fudge smothering ice cream. “I hope you’re joking about the latter.”
“I am,” she admitted. “But I did chase everyone around with a stethoscope, trying to listen to their heart or get them to lie down so I could push on their belly. I had two strikes against me as a kid. My mother being The Weezer and me being the weirdo who actually had people believe they might have some rare disease.”
“You’ll have to explain to me about The Weezer but I get the whole diagnostic thing.” His expression turned serious. He ran a hand over his beard. “The worst part is when playacting becomes a reality.”
She was about to ask what he meant by that when the front door flew wide open. “Riesling,” old man Koontz said. “I need your help.”
“What is it? What’s wrong?” She raced to Koontz’s side.
He had to be pushing ninety at this point. He was hunched over, clutching his right side and panting for breath like a dog. “It’s Ella. We were in town enjoying the warm weather. She got stung by a bee and we don’t have her EpiPen. She’s in the truck.”
“Did you call 9-1-1?” He shook his head. “I don’t have my cell. Forgot it. I swear I’m as bad as she is these days.”
“Don’t you worry.” Riesling pushed past Trey and into the first exam room where she found what she needed. “Trey, call an ambulance. Tell them we have a sixty-year-old woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s having—”
“I got it.” Trey held up his phone.
She nodded as she stormed out the front door. Ella should be in a long-term care facility. Hell, so should her father at this point, but they were all each other had and who was she to lecture either of them. She pulled open the passenger side of the vehicle and stabbed Ella in the leg before climbing into the truck and cradling the woman in her lap.
Trey was one step behind with an IV drip. “Ambulance is eight minutes out.” He began checking her vitals and finding a vein while she rested her cheek against Ella’s forehead.
The older woman’s breaths were shallow, but Riesling had seen her in a worse state before.
Koontz stumbled out of the old farmhouse and down the steps. He leaned against the hood of the pickup. “Is she going to be okay?”
“I believe so,” Trey said.
Jen Talty. The Buried Secret (Kindle Locations 469-526).
These find they work well together right from the start. However, Reisling is very guarded when it comes to relationships.
The mystery he’s trying to solve, is one that could hurt a lot of people including the River family. He really doesn’t want to hurt anyone but as clues come to light, it seems there may not be a way not to.
Between the search for answers, the building attraction, and the ex-boyfriend showing up in town, there was no way to put this book down.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.
I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.