Hometown Girl Memories
Publication date: October 1st 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
If you enjoy novels featuring strong women, this is a book you are sure to enjoy!
Winnie is content in her role as the reining matriarch of Smithville, but when a letter arrives from a long-lost friend, memories draw her back to 1968. Those were turbulent but exciting days, her college days; a time filled with people and events she hasn’t allowed herself to recall.
Tara appreciates Winnie’s help with little Bella, she could never manage motherhood and running her Inn without help. Even though she’s preoccupied and busy she’s noticed a difference in her husband, Justin. He’s up to something and her gut tells her there’s more to it than just busy schedules. Not one to sit still, she’s determined to find out what is going on.
Join in the fun as Smithville’s leading ladies unite in this charming, must-read novel filled with love; past, present, and future.
Tara climbed from her car, and a hot September breeze tossed hair in her face. As she hurried to the back door of Winnie’s house, she wound her hair into a thick twist over one shoulder and glanced at her watch. Bella had already been with Winnie for an hour longer than planned, and she worried that the little monster had run the old woman ragged. Winnie was tough in her own right, but Lord knew Bella could wear down the devil himself.
She pushed open the kitchen door expecting to hear screeches of two-year-old laughter. Instead, she halted at the sight of Winnie sitting alone in silence. “Where’s Bella?” she sputtered in surprise. She hurried around the kitchen island to the old woman’s side. “What is it? Bella—”
Winnie swiped self-consciously at her cheek as she hurried to fold a sheet of paper and tuck it into an envelope. “Everything’s fine. Bella’s napping upstairs.”
Tara dropped onto the stool. This motherhood thing was aging her prematurely, she could feel it. The rise and fall of her blood pressure alone was enough to kill a person. Her gaze fell on the envelope as Winnie tucked it away, unwilling to share.
Winnie hobbled to the replica stove. “I tucked her into my bed when I saw you were running late,” Then, with a clank, she hoisted the antique tea kettle and plodded over to fill it at the sink.
Guilt replaced relief in Tara’s expression as she watched Winnie work. There was an unusual frailness about the old woman today. Had the letter upset her? The handwriting on the front had been spidery, like Winnie’s, and she’d only been able to make out the lone name, Kinkade, in the return address. No one she knew had that last name. It must be from one of Winnie’s old lady friends.
Had an old friend upset Winnie, or was Bella too much for a woman Winnie’s age? Winnie cherished the little girl, but the kid was fast and smart as a whip. It was all Tara could do to keep up her, so it must be even harder be for Winnie. “I really appreciate you letting Bella come here while I deal with morning checkouts. She runs wild the second my back is turned and gets into everything.”
Winnie placed the kettle on the stove and lit the burner. “The inn has been busy lately, hasn’t it?”
Tara wandered across the kitchen and opened an upper shelf. “I’m glad for the business, but it’s more than I can handle some days.” She took out cups and saucers and put them on the kitchen island. “Bella deserves more of my attention. It seems like all I do is holler at her, and that’s not the type of mom I want to be.”
Winnie arched a brow knowingly. “Do you think you’re the only mother who feels that way?” With tea tins in hand, she returned to the island. “Because I can assure you, you’re not.”
Tara pulled a lock of hair over her shoulder and ran her fingers through it. “I’m fine.”
Winnie gave the younger woman an I know better than that grandmotherly look.
Tara sighed. She’d never been able to hide anything from Winnie. “Oh, I don’t know, it just seems like I don’t enjoy anything anymore. Not Bella, not the Inn, not my time with Justin — like I get any of that,” she added under her breath. Winnie waited for Tara to continue. “I’m just— I’m too busy worrying about the next thing I have to do. I’m never even sure if I’m doing the thing I’m doing right.” She waved one hand. “You know what I mean.”
Winnie grunted, indicating that she did indeed understand, but she didn’t reply. Instead, she moved to her stool, eased up onto it, then adjusted her empty cup and saucer on the counter, deep in thought.
“Anyway,” Tara huffed, tossing her hair over her shoulder, “I need to hire a maid to help clean the guest rooms or something.”
“Or a maid and a manager,” Winnie offered.
Tara’s head whipped up. “A manager?”
“Well— yes,” Tara sputtered. “Why would I hire someone to do what I can do? I’ve run the Inn since it opened.”
“Because you’re only one person, dear, and running the Inn is a 24 -hour a day job. You’re a wife and mother too.”
Tara pulled a face. “But, we live there. That would be weird.”
The kettle rattled on the stove, then hummed to a low whine, so Winnie slid from the stool.
Tara followed her with her eyes. “Do you think I’m doing a bad job with the Inn?” She certainly felt overextended, but she hated to think that others had noticed.
“Don’t be silly,” Winnie scolded as she poured steaming water into their tea cups. “I can just see how exhausted you are, that’s all.”
Tara sniffed, watching Winnie return the kettle to the stove. Winnie didn’t hold back when it came to her opinion, but the old woman definitely felt a bit off today. “Are you feeling all right?” she asked. “Did Bella wear you out? I could see if Julia could take her tomorrow—”
“Don’t you dare,” Winnie interrupted, waving the pot holder at her. “I love that little girl — she’s no trouble at all!”
Yup, Winnie was definitely not herself today; usually, nothing ruffled her. Watching the old woman from the corner of her eye, Tara pried the lid from the tea tin and dug absently through tea bags.
Winnie collected spoons and returned to her stool, where she watched Tara with pursed lips. Once every tea bag was spread across the top of the island, she spoke. “You know there is only one type of tea in there. What are you looking for?”
Tara shrugged. “I can hope, can’t I?”
“No,” Winnie replied with a frown. “I only keep breakfast tea in there and you know it. You can bring your own if you don’t like it.”
Tara’s tea bag froze half dipped into her cup, her gaze searching the old woman’s face. Finally, she wrapped the tag around the handle of the tea cup, the way Winnie had taught her. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
Winnie’s spoon clinked the sides of her cup, but she didn’t look up.
Kirsten is a dreamer with an eye for art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted free lance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.
As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.