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A Touch of Autumn (Heartsong Presents Series #1050)

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Overview

Everyone knows Olivia Shepherd loves Charles Waverly

It's as plain as the aroma of peach pie in the kitchen of the Quincy School. The only person who doesn't seem to notice is Charles. For years, Olivia has been his friend and confidante, hoping one day he would return her love. She never expected that tragedy would bring them together.

After his marriage proposal is rejected by Helen, Charles is eager for a fresh start. As he and Olivia spend ...

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A Touch of Autumn (Heartsong Presents Series #1050)

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Overview

Everyone knows Olivia Shepherd loves Charles Waverly

It's as plain as the aroma of peach pie in the kitchen of the Quincy School. The only person who doesn't seem to notice is Charles. For years, Olivia has been his friend and confidante, hoping one day he would return her love. She never expected that tragedy would bring them together.

After his marriage proposal is rejected by Helen, Charles is eager for a fresh start. As he and Olivia spend more time together, he starts feeling more than friendship for the lovely pastor's daughter. When a forest fire threatens everyone in the school, will Charles come to the rescue—and admit his love—before it's too late?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373486618
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Series: Heartsong Presents Series , #1050
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Frances Devine is the author of nine historical romance novels, three cozy mysteries, and four novellas. The desire to write was instilled in her heart at the age of nine. In her sixties, after raising her family, she decided to pursue publication.

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Read an Excerpt

Georgia, September 1893

"There you go, Miss Olivia. That's the last of it." Rudy Baker rubbed his hands on his overalls then stepped back and turned mournful brown eyes on Olivia Shepherd.

Oh, dear. Surely he wasn't still carrying a torch for her. Olivia dropped her gaze to the list Pa had given her, then matched each item with the goods Rudy had loaded in the wagon.

"Thanks, Rudy." She gave him a hint of a smile. No sense in giving him any ideas. He was handsome enough, but.. She sighed and climbed up on the seat.

If only Charles Waverly would look at her the way Rudy did, maybe he'd see her as something besides a sisterly, old-maid friend. She huffed. Twenty-six wasn't so old, but you'd think it was ancient from some of the whispered remarks she'd overheard from time to time.

Well, she could tell the gossipy old women a thing or two. She'd probably had as many, if not more, offers of courtship and marriage as anyone else in the community.

She blinked back a tear as she guided the mules toward the edge of Magnolia Junction. The problem was that she didn't want any of those prospective suitors. If she couldn't have Charles, she'd just as soon stay at the parsonage with Ma and Pa forever.

"Olivia, hello!"

Olivia glanced to her left and reined in the mules. Helen Flannigan stood on the boardwalk that lined the left side of the square with her eleven-year-old stepdaughter, Molly. Great. More salt in the wound.

"Hello, Helen, Molly. Awfully hot to be out walking. Can I take you somewhere before I leave town?"

"No, we're meeting Patrick at the hotel for ice cream." Helen shaded her eyes against the late-morning sun. "We'd be happy if you'd join us."

"Oh, thanks. I'd love to, but I have to get home and help Mama with dinner. Besides, I have a few perishable items." She motioned over her shoulder to the supplies in back.

"All right. See you at church on Sunday, then." Helen waved and continued down the street with Molly.

With a flick of the reins, Olivia urged the mules forward. She really had to get over the kicked-in-the-stomach feeling she got every time she saw Helen. After all, it wasn't the teacher's fault that Charles had fallen in love with her. Or thought he had. It was no one's fault. A long sigh made its way from deep inside her. Just as it was no one's fault that Olivia had fallen head over heels in love with Charles six years ago when he came to teach at Cecilia Quincy School for the Deaf. One glance into his laughing, brown eyes and she was done for.

She still felt guilt over the relief that had washed over her when Helen turned him down and married Patrick Flannigan. Shouldn't she have felt grief for Charles instead? Especially when he'd unloaded his sorrows on her for nearly two weeks. Which, of course, was more proof that he'd never thought of Olivia as anything but a friend.

Tightening her lips, she focused on her driving. She had no intention of falling into a pit of despair today like some schoolgirl mooning over a boy. She'd rather enjoy the live oaks and magnolias she drove past. She smiled when the road curved around a small pond and the weathered frame church and parsonage came into view. They needed a fresh coat of paint, but Olivia's heart filled at the sight anyway. Home.

She urged the mules around to the back door of the house and reined them in. As she climbed down from the wagon, Jake, the hired hand, walked over from the barn.

"How was your trip into town, Miss Olivia?" Jake shoved his hat back from his wrinkled forehead, and shot her a friendly grin.

"Oh, same as usual. I bought plenty of grain for the chickens this time."

"That's good. We were a little short last month." He grabbed a crate and headed for the house, not mentioning the fact that Olivia had knocked over last month's container of chicken feed, spilling at least a third of it. Once the house supplies were all unloaded, he waved and climbed in the wagon to take the rest of the supplies to the barn.

Olivia's mother came into the large, comfortable kitchen. "Did you see anyone we know in town today, dear?"

Olivia smiled as she gave her mother a hug and kiss. Hannah Shepherd's face was as smooth as Olivia's, except for the laugh lines around her eyes.

"Mr. and Mrs. Baker, of course, and Rudy." She grabbed a pair of scissors and snipped the thread on the bag of flour. "Oh, and I saw Helen and Molly."

"That's nice." Mama pushed the big lard bucket into a corner. "I wonder if the deaf school has found anyone to replace her."

"Abigail said Helen plans to continue teaching for a while." She emptied the flour into the bin, taking careful aim, but it still rained a shower of white all over her.

"Why, that's scandalous! A married woman's place is in the home."

Olivia shrugged. "I guess she doesn't think so. And Patrick's allowing it, so he must not care."

Her mother frowned. "At least Molly will be in school all day. I'm sure Helen won't teach once she's…" Her face turned pink and she turned away, bustling around the supplies. "We should have plenty of sugar and flour for the baking now. I promised chocolate cakes and custard and apple pies. So we'll be busy this week."

Olivia hid a grin that Mama would think it improper to mention someone in the family way to her unmarried daughter. "And cookies. Don't forget that you promised oatmeal-raisin cookies."

"Yes." Mama sighed. "And that doesn't count the fried chicken and potato salad. I'm not sure combining the Labor Day picnic with the back-to-school celebration is such a good idea. It's an awful lot of work."

"I can't see that it matters, Mama. If we held them separately, everyone would come to both anyway. So we'd still have the same amount of work, only twice."

"You're right of course. Oh, Olivia. I forgot. Charles dropped by while you were in town. He seemed quite disappointed to find you gone."

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Great story

    Its always good when someone can claim that they married their best friend. The hard paart is getting out of the friend zone which can be really awkward and ubcertain. Does he feel the same? Will putting your feelings out there destroy your friendship and make things awkward or will it be the begining of something more. Something better? I think the author did a great job portraying all these mixed feelings.

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