Secrets, by Kristen Heitzmann (Bethany House, 2004)
Lance Michelli’s beloved grandmother can’t speak, following a stoke, but she’s desperate for him to accomplish something for her – something urgent, something secret. The few clues she can give lead him to an old home in California wine country, which he suspects should truly belong to her.
Everyone else thinks it belongs to Rese Barrett, a young woman who’s left a successful construction business to restore the building and run it as a bed and breakfast.
Lance talks himself into a job as Rese’s cook – and maid. His Italian relatives taught him all he needs to produce beautiful meals, and if cleaning toilets is what he needs to do to make things right for his grandmother, he’ll do it.
Falling for Rese is not part of his plan. How can Lance help Rese heal her hurts when finding justice for his grandmother may take the property away from Rese? How can he tell her he came under false pretenses, now that she’s beginning to trust what he says about God?
Here’s one of Lance’s observations of Rese:
She headed for a wide flat rock on the creek’s bank, her posture still demanding “no trespassing” but no longer “trespassers will be shot.” [page 270]
I liked both main characters, and the secondaries were intriguing too, especially next-door neighbour Evvy and Rese’s friend Star. And the fictional food was amazing.
This is one of those novels I read slowly, not wanting it to end. So I was pleased to discover it’s book one in a trilogy. Now I’m looking for book two, Unforgotten, which continues Lance’s quest.
Kristen Heitzmann is a new-to-me author with plenty of published novels. She writes contemporary romantic suspense, historical fiction, and psychological suspense. Secrets won the Christy Award for Romance in 2005. For more about the author and her books, visit kristenheitzmann.com/.
[Review copy from my local public library.]