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If the rest of the property was in the same sad condition as the front porch with its missing rails and bowed floorboards, Robyn Warner would be in Pine Hollow, Arizona, far longer than she'd anticipated. She wheeled her suitcase over the flagstone walkway and paused at the foot of her father's home to absorb the onslaught of memories.
It wasn't too late to turn around and hand the keys back to the lawyer managing her father's estate, though the sad huddle of cabins hardly qualified as such. What had once been a cozy mountain resort now looked pitiable and highly susceptible to a stiff wind. Her father certainly hadn't done her any favors by willing the property to her, but after more than a dozen years of silence, she was glad to be remembered at all.
Gravel crunched near cabin two—Robyn's favorite during her summer vacation stays as a child. A man in work pants and a paint-splattered T-shirt meandered out from between the ramshackle buildings. "Can I help you? It's easy to get lost out here."
"It certainly looks different than I remember, but this is the right place." She shaded her eyes to get a better look at the man who was tall and muscular without being imposing. He was the most clean-cut maintenance man she'd ever seen—and a nice contrast to the surfers with sand in their hair she was used to back at the surf shop she managed in California. She propped up the suitcase. "I'm Robyn Warner. And you are?"
"Caleb." He gestured toward the road. "Pine Hollow Resort is on the other side of the wash, about five miles down. Are you sure that's not where you were headed?"
"I'm here to check out.. " She caught herself before referring to Lakeside Cabins as hers. "I'm staying here. Dan Dawson was my dad." She fished the keys from her pocket and held them up. "I'll just let myself in."
The handyman scrutinized her as though assessing her legitimacy, much the same way her half siblings, Brad and Abby, had during the funeral last week. Gauging her motives and questioning her right to be there. Her right to grieve.
He swiped his brow with his arm and slid on a pair of sunglasses. "No one told me you were coming or I'd have cleared out."
"If it makes you feel better, the lawyer didn't tell me about you, either." She offered a tentative smile. "Or maybe he did, and I was still in shock." She recalled her conversation with Phil Harding, who'd upended her world when he contacted her after the funeral and said Lakeside Cabins was hers, though all her father's personal items would go to Brad and Abby. "Do you work here?"
Caleb shuffled the paintbrush from one hand to the other. "I've been fixing Lakeside up, but I can leave if you'd rather have the place to yourself." His tone held a hard edge.
"Not at all. I'll be glad to have your help. It looks like we have a lot of work to do." Though she didn't have a clue how to pay him. She made a mental note to ask the lawyer if there were provisions of some kind. After taking an unpaid leave from the surf shop, she was living on savings—meager ones, at that. "The sooner Lakeside is all fixed up, the sooner I can sell it."
"It could take a while." Caleb's neck bobbed with a hard swallow, as though he wanted to say more. His sunglasses kept her from further reading his expression, though it was becoming clear she made him uncomfortable.
"With the two of us working together, it'll speed things along." She smiled, hoping to defrost his stoic demeanor. Having an easy rapport with the handyman would make the work and the memories of Lakeside less painful. "Either way, I'll be here as long as it takes. But please, keep doing whatever you were doing." She gestured toward cabin two. "Every little bit helps."
Caleb offered a curt nod before he crossed back over the clearing and disappeared behind the small building.
Wind moaned through the trees, sending birds skittering from the branches. Robyn rubbed a chill from her arms. Something about being in the quiet space where her father lived so many years without her, so many years without birthdays and Christmases and simple phone calls, left her unsettled. She wished she'd disregarded her mother's repeated warnings to leave her dad and his family alone, that she was no longer welcome to visit. She should have at least tried to make peace. Now she'd never have the chance.
Robyn drew a fortifying breath before inserting the key into the lock. She worked the key and turned the knob several times, but it refused to budge. Before she could shimmy it out and try again, the phone in her pocket rang. Her thumb hovered over the button until she finally worked up the courage to answer. "Abby, how are you?"
"As good as can be expected. Listen, Brad and I haven't finished moving everything out yet, so he wants to make sure you don't take the armoire in the bedroom." Abby's voice had matured and no longer resembled the giggly pre-teen Robyn remembered.
She plugged her ear to drown out the wind. "I haven't even been inside yet. Trust me, I wouldn't have a way to move the furniture out even if I wanted to." She glanced at the rental car she'd put on her painfully thin credit card.
"Sorry, I know it's awkward." A long pause stretched over the line. "Brad just wants me to remind you that the furniture and personal belongings are ours. We'll be back to get them."
"I haven't forgotten." She swallowed her sadness. She and Abby had once been close until the argument that drove Robyn away from Pine Hollow—an argument with their father about how she felt less important than his other children. Lately she'd begun to crave the closeness of a real family, and now that circumstances had brought her back, she'd do whatever it took to restore her relationship with Brad and Abby. To find some sort of normalcy.
"Good. We wouldn't want any misunderstandings."
"Abby, I would never take what doesn't belong to me." She fingered the cross on her necklace and prayed for wisdom. "Maybe when you come out for the furniture we can have dinner. We have a lot of catching up to do."
Silence pulsed between them until Abby cleared her throat. "I'm not sure that's a good idea. We're still shaken up."
So was she. The tragedy of losing a parent—even an estranged one—was overwhelming.
"I mean, why would Dad leave Lakeside Cabins to you? No offense, but you haven't exactly been around."
The words stung with truth, and her face heated from the rejection. "I understand. Give me a call when you're ready to come by."
The line went dead. "Is everything okay?"
She whipped around, disconcerted. "Caleb, you startled me." She scanned his face to figure out how much he'd overheard. His expression remained neutral behind the sunglasses, which left her even more flustered.
"I heard voices and thought maybe you were talking to someone."
"I was. It was a private conversation." She jammed the phone into her pocket.
"I was only trying to help." Caleb held up his hands in surrender, then turned and stalked off.
"Wait." She scrambled down the stairs, her sandals slapping the wood. Exactly why she chased after the maintenance man or even cared what he thought, she'd have to reason out later. "I didn't mean to snap at you."
Caleb angled toward her, his mouth quirked. The masculine scent of turpentine and hard work drifted off him, and for some reason, it wasn't entirely unpleasant. "Apology accepted." His somber tone seemed to say otherwise.
Robyn ran her hand through her hair, snarled from the wind. "Really—I'm sorry. I'm not exactly great company right now after what happened to my dad. I'm normally easy to get along with—you'll see when we fix this place up, and before you know it I'll be long gone."
Judging from Caleb's formidable posture and the twitch of his jaw, her departure wouldn't be soon enough.
Caleb stormed into the office of Harding and Company and bypassed the receptionist. Without knocking, he entered the office of Phil Harding, attorney-at-law. "Why didn't you tell me she was coming?"
Phil tapped the keys on his computer without missing a stroke. "Almost finished. Then we can talk."
"You should've at least given me a heads-up." He pulled the door closed with a thud. "Didn't you think I might need that bit of information?"
All the way from the outskirts of Pine Hollow, he had rehearsed the diatribe he wanted to unleash on his so-called friend. But none of his imagined scenarios included Phil calmly pecking away at the keyboard.
Phil closed the program and spun around in his leather chair. "I presume you're talking about Robyn."
"Who else?" He dropped onto the cushioned seat, and if he dirtied the upholstery with his paint-stained pants, so be it.
"What'd she do?"
"She showed up." Simply arriving at the cabins was enough to infuse him with a jolt of reality. What originally seemed like a brilliant way to fulfill his promise quickly turned into the single worst idea he'd ever had the moment Robyn, with her sun-bleached hair and sorrow-filled eyes, told him she was Dan's daughter.
"Look, Caleb, I realize it's a little awkward."
"You think?" He blew out a frustrated breath. "I tried to play it cool in front of her, but you have no idea what that was like."
Phil removed his wire-rimmed glasses and wiped them with a handkerchief. In a placating tone, he resumed. "I can't control every variable. Did it occur to you I might have other projects I'm working on?"
He pushed out of the chair. "A phone call, Phil. That's all I needed."
"She came in only an hour ago and asked for the keys. I wasn't expecting her back in town so soon." Phil steepled his fingers and assessed Caleb with a concerned look. "I did mean to call you when I got the chance, but you're right. I should've made sure you were aware."
The admission took Caleb's boiling blood down to a simmer. He gripped the back of the chair and stole a few deep breaths. It wasn't entirely Phil's fault. The unease that chewed on Caleb day after endless day had fueled the tirade. "I shouldn't be this upset."
"You're under a lot of stress. It happens." Phil came around the desk and palmed Caleb's shoulder. "I know you want to do penance or something by fixing up Dan's place, but if you ask me, you should be home. You need time to recover."
"That's what the chief told me, but it was code for 'stay out of the police station until we decide whether or not you can keep your badge.' Waiting for the decision is killing me." A knot formed in his windpipe, cutting off his air. This was not the time to have a meltdown.
"It's procedure. Don't take it personally. You need to let go of the guilt."
"My career is personal. It's the one thing " He stopped short of telling Phil it was the only reason his own father had accepted him and that carrying on the family tradition had come to mean everything after his father's untimely death while on active duty. Caleb took a moment to compose himself. "Bottom line is that I made a promise I intend to keep." He flinched at the unbidden memory of crouching over Dan on the sidewalk after he'd been hit by the reckless teen Caleb had been chasing. The older man had pleaded for help, and Caleb had looked into the dying man's eyes and promised to do everything in his power to make it all right—a promise he wasn't able to keep. At least not during the few remaining moments Dan was alive. Caleb swallowed the emotions that threatened to choke him. "I couldn't help him then, but fixing up his property is what I can do now. This isn't about me or guilt. It's all about keeping my promise to Dan."
"If that's what you need, fine. Don't worry about Robyn. She seems friendly enough, but it's not like you have to talk to her. Of course, she'll probably have some ideas about what she'd like to have done, but you pretty much have a handle on the situation."
"Her being friendly has nothing to do with how she'll feel once she knows."
"There are some things you can't control." Phil rubbed his temple. "I know you're worried about what happened, but I've looked into the station's policy myself. Legally speaking, you're not necessarily in the wrong. There's room for an officer to use discretion when a subject flees."
Too bad Caleb's discretion had led to Dan's death—the worst tragedy in Pine Hollow's history.
At the time, he was sure pursuing Aaron Dirkson was the right decision. How could he have known the teen would take the corner too fast and hit Dan? Still, he was compelled to defend himself. "The kid was a troublemaker. I was sure he'd been drinking that day, and I had a responsibility to get him off the street."
"You don't have to convince me." Phil met Caleb with a soft look. "You may not have been officially cleared, but I have faith Aaron will be convicted, and you'll be back patrolling the streets before you know it. In the meantime, give Robyn the benefit of the doubt. She might be surprisingly understanding."
"I don't want to borrow trouble." Caleb rubbed the back of his neck to ease the building tension. "I know I need to tell her, but as soon as I do she'll probably make me quit working on the cabins. I have to have something to keep me busy while I wait to hear whether or not I have a career left."
"Giving up your work at Lakeside wouldn't be the worst thing in the world." Phil's gentle tone burned like acid on an open wound.
Knowing his decision cost a man's life slammed his conscience as much as if he'd been the one behind the wheel. How would he quiet the guilt if he couldn't keep his promise to do everything he could for Dan? It was all he had left, especially if they stripped his badge.
"You don't understand." He paused for a deep breath. "I made a promise to a dying man, and if fixing up the cabins is all I can do to keep it, then that's what I'm doing." He gripped the back of the chair, knuckles white, and locked gazes with Phil. "Just give me a few days and let me tell her in my own way."
The intercom buzzed. "Yeah, Marge."
"Robyn Warner on the line for you."
Phil shot a reassuring glance. "I'll take it." He picked up the phone. "Robyn, what can I do for you?" His forehead wrinkled. "Stuck? You haven't been inside yet?"
Caleb shook his head as a warning.
Posted April 25, 2013
This book is not just a feel good romance. It deals with a lot of issues we are all familiar with: guilt, regret, forgiveness, loneliness, and starting over. Georgiana unwraps the truth of what’s caused the hurts in Robin Warner’s life layer by layer. She leaves you wondering if these issues will ever be resolved. Caleb Sloane has major issues of his own and when Robin begins to share with him details of her life, he pulls away from her because of his own guilty feelings. It’s a classic scenario but not as predictable as you might think. Georgiana knows how to weave a tale. She writes believable characters and her settings are great! I was hanging on until the very end not 100% sure it was going to end the way I hoped it would. I recommend this story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2013
Posted January 14, 2013
Robyn Warner was estranged from her Dad and was surprised that he left her his resort in Pine Hollow. When she arrives she is bewildered to see how run down it was. Her Dad had died suddenly, and she was never able to set things right with him and her half brother and sister.
Working on the repairs when she arrives is Caleb Sloane, and she figures he has been hired by the estate to get the property ready. She begins to work along side of Caleb, and finds a big attraction to him. He is so kind and looks out for her, but he is hiding a big secret.
What will Robyn do when she finds out who Caleb really is? Will Brad her brother, and her sister Abby, be able to gain control of the property?
We find that her Dad was a Christian before he died, Robyn is and so is Caleb. Will they be able to forgive? Will the whole town recognize what a gem they really have in Caleb?
Be ready for some loving relationships and a bit of romance, along with the help of God.
I received this book through First Wild Card Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
Posted December 19, 2012
A Daughter's Redemption drew me in from the start. I really liked the characters and the feel of the book. Robyn Warner inherits her father's run down resort after he is killed by a reckless driver. She has been estranged from her father and half brother and sister for a long time and can't believe he left her anything. She hopes to renew her relationship with her family and restore the resort to its former glory. Caleb Sloane, the cop responsible for the chase that caused the driver to loose control and hit Robyn's dad is determined to fulfill his promise to the dying man. He is using his own money to fix up the resort and doesn't tell Robyn that he is not only working for free, but fronting the cost. Caleb knows he should tell Robyn his part in her dad's death, but just when he was about to fess up something happens to stop him. This book was provided to me for the purpose of review. This is my honest opinion and I was not required to give a positive review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.