Grace Growsby Shelle Sumners
Grace Barnum's life is precariously balanced on sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits textbooks that, she fears, may be more harmful than helpful to kids. She is engaged to a patent attorney who is steady and reliable. She has a cautious relationship with her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mom… See more details below
Grace Barnum's life is precariously balanced on sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits textbooks that, she fears, may be more harmful than helpful to kids. She is engaged to a patent attorney who is steady and reliable. She has a cautious relationship with her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mom slightly drunk.
Always a planner, Grace feels prepared for most eventualities. Until the responsibility-challenged Tyler Wilkie shows up. Fresh in town from the Poconos, Tyler has warm eyes, a country drawl, and a smile that makes Grace drop things. Worst of all, he writes devastating songs. About her.
Tyler reaches something in Grace, something she needs, but can't admit to. Something she wants, but won't succumb to. Tyler Wilkie loves Grace Barnum and ruins everything. And Grace grows.
“I loved this novel, and not just because of the dogs. Grace Grows is enormously fun and tender, a new take on the whole opposites attract approach to love ... and sex.” Julie Klam, New York Times bestselling author of You Had Me At Woof
“Grace Grows is a funny and romantic page-turner with a swoon-worthy hero and a wonderfully down-to-earth heroine. A great read, and original songs are a cool bonus!” Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of Blue Bloods and Witches of East End
“Grace Barnum is a charming and relatable character torn between playing it safe and going for it. You'll find yourself smiling and swooning as you fly through Sumners' witty, honest and delightful novel about taking a chance on love...” Elisabeth Robinson, author of The True and Outstanding Adventures of The Hunt Sisters
“Shelle Sumners sparkling debut novel is romantic, funny and wise. You will root for Grace Barnum as she lets go, takes a chance and falls in love.You will swoon as a troubadour wins her heart the old fashioned way, through poetry and persistence...and to think he's from the Poconos. You just never know. ” Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of the Viola series and The Shoemaker's Wife
“The story's focus on its frustratingly stubborn heroine, her well-developed family ties, and the confusing dance between longing heart and shuttered psyche creates a slow yet satisfying, engaging quality that keeps the pages turning.” Publishers Weekly
“Readers will fall for the swoonworthy hero and root for the couple to overcome each obstacle.” Booklist
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.86(d)
Read an Excerpt
GRACE GROWS (Chapter 1)
day zero: my unravelment begins
(unravelment: is that a word?)
The first time I met Tyler Wilkie, I was dressed like a call girl.
By pure, titillating coincidence, my strategy for work that day was cleavage. The big guns. Or, in my case, the medium, B-verging-on-C ones. Because yesterday, having dressed like a Mennonite librarian for our meeting with the textbook lobbyists from Texas, I'd sat there mute and limp while imagination was besieged by the powers of ignorance.
Forbes and Delilah Webber loved my blouse with the Peter Pan collar. Delilah called me "the sweetest little thing" and "precious." They promised to recommend our middle school Teen Health textbook for statewide adoption if we agreed to:
a) Remove all information regarding condoms.
b) Change the word imagine to suppose. Imagine being "too like the word magicit might upset some people."
They also asked us to get them orchestra seats to The Lion King.
After the meeting, I begged my boss to refuse the Webbers. My traitorous coeditor Edward, who happens to be from Texas, capitulated and offered to do the edits, reminding me that we "don't mess with Texas" and its four-hundred-million-dollar book-buying budget.
We were meeting with the Webbers again today, to show them the changes. I didn't know what I could do to stop the anti-imagine machine. I had tried to come up with a plan all the sleepless night, and I had nothing. This ship was going to sink, but I decided that I, their "sweetest little thing," could at least try to look taller going down. I could project confidence and strength. Defiance. Sex. A tall, cruel, European dominatrix vibe.
It was so not me.
I donned the black pin-striped suit my mother gave me for Christmas two years ago, which I have worn exactly once. To a funeral. Only I hiked the skirt up a couple inches and wore my push-up bra. Found an ancient pair of stockings in the back of my drawer. Then I squeezed into the black, four-inch-stiletto-heeled, pointy-toed shoes I bought on sale at Lord & Taylor to go with the suit. I pulled my hair into a low, severe knot, and put on mascara and lipstick. Red.
I pulled on my raincoat and grabbed an umbrella, my laptop, and the twenty-pound green leather shoulder bag that contained All I Might Conceivably Need, which might include (but was not limited to):
big hair clip
book (Lolita, it happened)
bottle of water
bag of raw cashews
70% dark chocolate bar
red cardigan sweater
tacky vinyl zipper bag with photo of fuzzy kitten on it, stocked with:
small tube of antibiotic ointment
antihistamine and antidiarrheal tablets
Tylenol with caffeine
Tylenol with codeine
water lily oil
travel-size Shower Fresh Secret
tea light and matches
tiny fold-up scissors with needle and black thread
ginger tea bags
pocket copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, for grammatical emergencies (memorized, but sometimes a tired mind becomes uncertain)
Oh, and one more thing: the silver pocket angel Edward gave me, wedged deep into a rip in the lining of the bag.
Thus aggressively attired and equipped for any eventuality, I headed down the three flights of stairs to the lobby.
Big dogs, barking.
I came around the last bend in the stairwell and saw themour across-the-hall-neighbor Sylvia's prize-winning giant schnauzerstugging at a guy who sat at the bottom of the steps with their sparkly leashes wrapped around his hand. He heard me coming and moved to one side, murmuring "sorry," as I stepped carefully around him.
When I reached the door, God help me, I looked back. Might as well have gone ahead and turned to salt.
He was rubbing his face.
"Everything okay?" I chirped, willing him to say yes so I could go. The dogs shifted their Batman-like ears toward me.
"Uh, not really. She left me a note." He spoke with a slightly countryish kind of drawl that reminded me, unpleasantly, of the Webbers. "Blitzen and uh...Bismarck here have just been groomed for a show and I'm not supposed to get their feet wet."
Clearly Sylvia was even more insane than I had suspected. And the guy looked pathetically bleak.
"Hold on," I said, and went back upstairs. I grabbed a cheap umbrella from the pile of extras in our hall closet and a box of zipper bags from the kitchen, and rooted around in our junk drawer until I came up with an assortment of rubber bands and a roll of masking tape.
I tiptoed back downstairs (the shoes), sat next to the guy, and bagged one of Blitzen's meticulously pedicured paws while she tickled my neck with her beard.
Once I had just about successfully finished the first foot, I looked to see if the guy was watching and learning.
He lifted his eyes from my chest and said, "Oh hey, thanks!" He grabbed a bag and got busy on Bismarck.
It took the two of us about six minutes to double-bag all eight paws. Then I lurched back up en pointe, belted my raincoat firmly across my waist, and picked up my laptop bag. The guy stood too, handed me Big Green, and startled me with a smile that was blindingly sweet. I blinked and lost my grip on the strap, but he caught it and resettled the purse firmly on my shoulder.
"Thanks, you really saved me," he said.
I held out the umbrella. "Here, take this. I think the rain's just about stopped for now, but you might need it later."
He smiled the smile again and tucked the umbrella in the pocket of his army/navy outerwear.
"I'll bring it back to you," he said. "What's your apartment number?"
I waved a hand. "Don't worry about it."
He took up the dogs' leashes and pushed the door open for me. Blitzen and Bismarck pulled him toward the park and I tippy-toed double time in the other direction, toward the subway.
"Hey!" I heard him call out.
I turned around. He was at the other end of the block. He mouthed the words thank you.
I smiled and shrugged. No big deal.
GRACE GROWS. Copyright © 2012 by Shelle Sumners.
Meet the Author
SHELLE SUMNERS has worked as a waitress, actress, copy editor, bookseller, and wedding chapel receptionist. Sometimes she only pretended to do these things while furtively scribbling notes for screenplays and novels. Shelle lives with her husband, Lee Morgan, and daughter in Pennsylvania.
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