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Combining heart-soaring contemporary romance with heart-pounding suspense is a trademark of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lori Ryan—and in her novel Ever Hopeful she delivers spectacularly on both counts.
Two-months pregnant and trapped in a violent marriage, Laura Kensington realizes that her ruthless and powerful in-laws will never let her go, even after the strange sudden death of her abusive husband. Fleeing far away to the Texas ranch of Cade Bishop, a strong yet tender man who believes in second chances, Laura finds herself irresistibly drawn to Cade’s gentle passion and giving heart. But there is no escaping the shadows of her past and soon danger re-enters her world, pulling Laura into a deadly web of lies, betrayals, and murder. And only Cade Bishop’s quiet strength and unwavering love can set her free.
Enjoy an excerpt:
“So,” Cade said as he packed hay into slow feeders that leaned against one wall of the center aisle of the barn. Once filled, the feeders were hung in each stall to fend off boredom. The horses had to manipulate the feeder to work the hay out a bit at a time. “If you could grow things for a living, had start-up money and any resources you’d need, what would you grow?”
Laura didn’t answer. She kept measuring grain into buckets and focused her eyes on the scoop of grain not on Cade.
“Come on, tell me.”
Laura stopped measuring and looked at Cade. “You really want to know?”
Laura was used to people not only assuming she wouldn’t amount to anything, but also telling her that. It occurred to her that since she’d arrived on the ranch, no one had treated her that way. May, Cade, and Shane all acted as though she could easily be a contributing member of the ranch. When she asked what she could help with, they’d taught her how to help with the horses and thanked her for pitching in.
“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to know,” Cade said.
Laura tried to sound nonchalant.
“I’d grow seeds.”
“What? I thought you grow plants from seeds not the other way around. Well, I mean, I guess everyone knows that plants produce more seeds, but why would that be the focus of what you grew instead of the plants themselves?” Cade asked.
“Because there aren’t enough people breeding and growing organic seeds that are specifically bred to thrive in an organic environment. Most seeds are bred in conventional systems of gardening and they perform best in those systems. When you take those seeds and plant them in an organic system, they don’t do as well. It’s sort of like taking a child who speaks one language and plopping her into a classroom where another language is taught. She may be able to do some of the things the class is doing just by following along, but she won’t thrive,” Laura said, then flushed as she realized he was watching her intently. She hadn’t intended to say that much.
“How do you know that?” Cade asked.
Laura answered with a shrug. Cade continued to work, quietly, as if he didn’t care whether she answered or not.
Laura relented. “I read a lot about organic gardening. I would have loved to grow all our own vegetables, but Patrick thought that was…below us. He didn’t mind my ‘little flower hobby,’ but he drew the line at growing food.”
“So, that’s what you’d do if you could do anything? Breed seeds?” Cade asked with a grin.
Laura’s heart shouldn’t have skipped a beat but it did. She turned back to the grain buckets.
“Yeah. There’s a science to it, but it’s also creative and I’d be able to work with plants. My greenhouse was the only place I could be alone, be at peace.”
“What would you need to get started?”
Laura busied herself with measuring grain. She didn’t want to dream and fantasize about what couldn’t be. She’d accepted a long time ago that there wasn’t room for dreams in her life. She would soon have a baby to take care of. She needed a steady job, not a fantasy.
“Laura, come on, humor me. It’s fun to just dream sometimes,” Cade insisted.
No, it’s not. Dreaming leads to hope and hope lets you down every time. In the end, hope hurts like hell.
“A commercial sized greenhouse. Just one at first, but eventually you’d need a lot more than one. Space for those greenhouses,” Laura said.
“Texas has a lot of space. What else?” Cade asked.
“Pots and starter plants – organic starter plants or heirloom seeds – and soil and a few tools. Not much. A way to keep records of your crosses and backcrosses.”
“A laptop,” Cade nodded as though he were making a list in his head.
“It’s just a dream, Cade. I’m not actually going to do it. I need to find a real job, a job that can keep clothes on my baby and food in our stomachs.
Cade just smiled at her as he began hoisting the feeders up onto the hooks in each of the stalls. “Never hurts to have a dream, Laura,” he said, but Laura knew better than that.
About the Author:
Lori is an award winning author and stay-at-home mom. Her second book, Penalty Clause, won first place in the romance category in Lucky Cinda Publishing’s Annual Global Writer’s Contest in 2013.
Lori has had a number of careers before embarking on her newest adventure of writing novels. After graduating from the University of Connecticut School of Law, she practiced law for three years, working primarily in the areas of utilities law and intellectual property litigation.
More recently, Lori owned and operated a dog training business in Austin, Texas, where she specialized in aggression and became an expert in the field of dog bite analysis. Lori sold her dog training business in 2013 and is now a full time writer and mother of two.
Lori still lives in Austin with her husband — who is endlessly supportive of her changing career paths — and her two children, one cat, and three dogs.
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Lori will be having events and contests January 26th through February 9th
Ever Hopeful will be priced at 99 cents for the first two weeks!
Price increases to 2.99 on February 10th.