Hometown Girl (Chesapeake Diaries Series #4)

Hometown Girl (Chesapeake Diaries Series #4)

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by Mariah Stewart

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New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart presents a captivating contemporary romance novel in the tradition of Robyn Carr, Susan Mallery, and Barbara Freethy.

Life was always just about perfect for Brooke Madison Bowers. She was the prettiest, most popular girl in small-town St. Dennis, Maryland, a prom queen, local pageant star, and the

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New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart presents a captivating contemporary romance novel in the tradition of Robyn Carr, Susan Mallery, and Barbara Freethy.

Life was always just about perfect for Brooke Madison Bowers. She was the prettiest, most popular girl in small-town St. Dennis, Maryland, a prom queen, local pageant star, and the pride and joy of her loving parents. She even married the man of her dreams. But the promise of happily ever after fell to pieces when her husband was killed while serving in Iraq. Brokenhearted and longing for the solace of better days, she returns to the idyllic world of St. Dennis, and the familiar comfort of the family farm. Surrounded by her loving family and friends, she’s determined to build a new life, complete with her own cupcake bakery. She’s equally determined never to fall in love again.

For Jesse Enright, life has been a challenge. A fourth-generation attorney, he’s spent his life fighting to escape the shadow of his irresponsible father. Now he’s moved to St. Dennis to run the family law practice, and he’s ready to find the right girl, get married, and settle down. But his carefully laid plans go out the window when he meets Brooke and finds himself caught between the unbreakable law of attraction and Brooke’s resolve to go her way alone—despite the undeniable feelings Jesse stirs in her. But just like catching lightning in a bottle, is it possible to fall head-over-heels, heart-and-soul in love all over again?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This latest Chesapeake Diaries tale is filled with truly delightful characters and will leave you eager for a return visit to St. Dennis." —Romantic Times

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Chesapeake Diaries Series, #4
Product dimensions:
6.86(w) x 4.20(h) x 1.08(d)

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Chapter 1

At the moment the moon began its descent and the sun started to rise, the back door of the old farmhouse opened and a petite woman with a long strawberry-­blond ponytail stepped out onto the porch. Brooke Madison Bowers hesitated for a moment before walking on bare feet through the cool dew-­covered grass that was a week overdue for a mowing. When she reached the small fence-­enclosed garden, she pushed aside the squeaky gate and headed for the stone bench, where she sat alone in the soft shadows and the hush of the new day until the dawn began to break in earnest.

The backs of her thighs drew the chill from the damp stone despite the sweatpants she wore, and she shifted uncomfortably. She pulled up her legs and wrapped her arms around them and wished she’d grabbed a jacket on her way through the kitchen. Shoes would have been nice, too. Goose bumps rose on her arms under her sweatshirt, and she thought it would be especially nice if the sun, just now nudging over the smallest of the three barns, would move just a little faster.

Light silently fanned out across fields she’d played in once upon a time. The memory of chasing their dogs through the rows of corn was so fresh, so real, she had to stop and mentally tally just how many years it had been since she’d been a child.

That many? Really?

The dogs were long gone, and her life had taken many an unexpected road since they’d romped together. It was hard to believe that the onetime Miss Blue Claw and Miss Eastern Shore—­the golden girl, the beauty queen, the girl most likely to succeed—­was once again living on her family farm, sleeping under the familiar red roof with her mother down the hall to the left in the room she’d shared with Brooke’s father for forty-­two years, and her brother two doors down to the right. Déjà vu all over again. Except that it wasn’t.

For one thing, her father had passed away two years ago. For another, the room next to Brooke now belonged to her son. The biggest change of all was that the once happy-­go-­lucky girl was now a not-­so-­merry widow.

“Brooke? You out there?” her brother called to her as he crossed the yard. She’d been so lost in thought she’d heard neither the back door nor his footsteps.

“Here, Clay. In the herb garden.”

He pushed through the gate, telling her, “I’ve got coffee.”

“You’re a good brother.”

“The best.” He handed her a mug of coffee and took a seat next to her on the bench.


“Sure.” Clay stretched his long legs out in front of him and took a deep breath. “Everything okay? How are your finances holding up?”

“Fine. Between Eric’s benefits and the life insurance and some investments, I’m fine.”

“You know if you needed anything . . .”

“I do know. And I thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Beautiful sunrise,” she observed, mostly to change the subject.

“Nothing like early morning. Watching the light spread across the orchard like that . . . I never get tired of it.” He raised his mug in a sort of salute in the direction of the apple trees that formed the property line beyond the garden.

“Old Clay Madison had a farm,” she sang under her breath. “Do I have to add the ‘E-­I, E-­I-­O’?”

Clay laughed. “Hey, it’s all old Clay Madison ever really wanted.” After a pause, he asked, “What about you, Brooke? What do you want?”

“Today?” She sighed. “I just want to get through today without going off the deep end. I keep going back and forth between feeling just plain sad and just plain pissed off.”

“Please accept my apologies in advance for being an insensitive ass, but what’s today? Other than Logan’s birthday.”

“That’s it. Logan’s eight years old today.”

“And that makes you sad and angry?”

“Because Eric isn’t here for it, and he’ll never be here for any of Logan’s birthdays.” She paused. “Actually, Eric hasn’t been around for any of his birthdays. He was in Iraq for the first four, and these past few years, he’s been gone.”

“Damn,” he said softly. “Has it been three years?”

“Two and a half since my husband was blown up in Iraq and my life blew up in my face.” She cleared her throat and tried to keep her voice from quivering.

She glanced at her brother and could tell he was struggling to find something—­the right something—­to say.

“It’s okay,” she assured him. “I mean, what do you say? ‘I’m sorry Eric didn’t live to see his son grow up and I’m still sorry that he died’?”

“I am still sorry that Eric died. He was a hell of a guy.”

She turned her back on him and rested against his shoulder.

“Did I say the wrong thing?”

“No, you said exactly the right thing. I just want to lean,” she said. “  ’Member when we were kids and we sat out here at night and tried to count the stars?”

“Yeah. I think the most I ever counted was a hundred and fifty-­three before I gave up.” He turned and faced the opposite direction so that she could rest her back squarely against his. “Better?”

“Much. Thanks.”

They sat in silence and drank their coffee while the day unfolded around them.

“I guess I should go in and see if Logan—­”

“Brooke, I know how hard the past few years have been for you. I know it’s still hard. But . . .” Clay hesitated, as if not sure he wanted to continue.

“But . . .?” She waited.

“But maybe . . . well, maybe it might be time to try to start to rebuild your life.”

“I am rebuilding my life. By December, I’ll have my degree and I’m starting my own business. I’d call that rebuilding.”

He nodded. “It is. You are. Of course you are. And I’m really proud of you for doing all those things. A lot of people wouldn’t have bothered to take those last courses for their B.S., and I know you’ve put a lot of time into starting up this business of yours, but . . .”

“But . . .?” She swung her legs around and plunked her bare feet on the ground. Her toes curled up against the cold.

“But maybe it’s time for you to, you know, get out a little more.”

“I get out. I get out plenty. Last night I went with Dallas to look for her wedding dress. Tomorrow night I’m going over to Vanessa’s to help get things ready for the engagement party she’s hosting this weekend for Steffie and Wade.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant. I meant, like, with a guy.”

“You mean dating?” She frowned. “I’ve gone on dates. I’ve gone on lots of dates.”

“You’ve gone on lots of first dates.”

“What’s your point?” Brooke loved her brother but knew where he was heading and she didn’t really want to go there.

“My point is that sooner or later you’re going to run out of guys to have first dates with.” His voice was gentle, and she gave him points for the effort. “I’m just a little concerned that you never seem to give anyone a real chance.”

She stared at him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you flirt with a guy, you go out with him, then . . . nothing. I mean, every guy on the Eastern Shore can’t be a dud. There are a lot of nice guys in town.”

“I know.” Mentally she took back the points she’d just given him. “I’ve gone out with several nice guys.”

“Once. You go out with them once, then find a reason to never go out with the same guy again.”

“No chemistry.”

“I think the truth is that you don’t want there to be any chemistry. You like the company, you like the attention, and I know you well enough to know that you like getting dressed up and looking gorgeous and going out. But the bottom line? You don’t really want a relationship with anyone.” He took her hand. “You’re too young to give up, toots. You’re beautiful and fun and you deserve to have a beautiful, fun life with someone who adores you.”

“I had that.” She pulled her hand away. “Now I don’t. End of story.”

“Doesn’t mean that it’s the end of your story.”

“Yes, it does. You get one soul mate, Clay. I had mine.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I loved Eric so much. We had the best plans for the best life you could possibly imagine. We were going to have more kids, he was going to go back into the business he started with his brother, we were . . .” She swallowed back the lump in her throat. “We were going to grow old together. Raise our kids and spoil our grandkids. Buy a boat and travel the Intercoastal Waterway, then retire on a beach somewhere. Then bam! Gone.”

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"This latest Chesapeake Diaries tale is filled with truly delightful characters and will leave you eager for a return visit to St. Dennis." —-Romantic Times

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Hometown Girl 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 41 reviews.
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this wonderful story. It will keep you entertained for hours.
Anonymous 10 months ago
dutcheja More than 1 year ago
I am so in love with this series. This is book 4 and I am getting ready to jump in to book 5. I love the town of St Dennis and if it were real I would be packing my bags to move there. Everything about this series says "HOME". The characters are all fabulous even with their flaws, the places are all quaint and scream small town. The stories are so romantic and filled with all the things wonderful and annoying about small town life. This series is a definite to read if you are a fan of romance and Mariah Stewart is fast becoming my new favorite author.
Joan50JM More than 1 year ago
I am enjoying the entire Chesapeake Diaries series. This is the fourth one. It's a very sweet love story...somewhat predictable...but I enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks for naming your books after me . My name is mariah you guys are the best thars why your the best.
NINASWORLD1 More than 1 year ago
Book 4 of the series, easy read. Cute story, Brooke isn't my favorite character but it picks up where the previous book left off. I love this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Student of the year
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
(Chesapeake Diaries #4) Brooke was the typical pretty and popular small town girl and married the man of her dreams who later was killed in Iraq with a small son Logan. She does not want to fall in love and sets her sights on opening a cupcake bakery. I thought she was very boring and not very interesting in the book. However, the hot sexy Jesse, a new attorney in town escaping the reputation of his irresponsible father moves to St Dennis to take over his grandfather’s law practice and prove himself worthy. Of course he falls in love with Brooke and the typical story. I would like to have seen more fireworks from Brooke as she definitely did not match the heat from Jesse. Of course, Grace as usual was great and the other BFF (girls in town who are planning their weddings). Everyone falls in love with someone in town and all the girls own a store of some sort. No a lot of plot here.
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sulky597 More than 1 year ago
I love Mariah Stewart - BUT lately her books have become run of the mill. I like a good romance, but this is so syrupy that I gained 10 pounds just reading it. What is it with authors lately?? First Nora Roberts and now this. Very disappointing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Review by Valerie: Book four in this series and while predictable can be a boring thing, in this instance, it¿s not. Predictable for this series is like going home to put on your favorite pajamas and snuggle up with hot chocolate on a cold night with a fire crackling in the fireplace. You know the two characters will end up together but getting there is most definitely the fun. Brooke has a lot to overcome in this book. She¿s returned to town to live with her mom and brother, along with her son, after her husband¿s death in Iraq. When she was younger, she was one of those girls, you know, the mean ones. She made fun of several girls in high school and always got the hot guys. Then, she got married and life was still great for her. Now, she returns to a small town as a different person on the inside, grieving, remorseful, but who will believe it? As she tries to make a small business for herself and her son¿s future, she deals with a lot of small town kindness that surprises her. Jesse wants Brooke, no way to mistake that look in his eye, but her brother tells him he better play like he¿s not interested or else she¿ll run fast and far away from him. Geez, how¿s a guy to pretend he just wants to be friends? Since he¿s a lawyer, he offers his services to Brooke and makes sure to plan the visits when it¿s time for lunch or supper, etc. However, his year at the law firm is almost up. What will he do if his grandfather doesn¿t accept him and offer him a job? As things heated up, it was fantastic to read about how the characters coped with their growing attraction, as well as read about some of the other characters from previous books. I simply love this series! A special shout out to Molly Edwards for sharing this book with me! Quote: ¿She waited for the stab of pain in her heart, for the ache that would remind her of the finality of this action. But for the first time, she didn¿t feel as if Eric were watching from somewhere, accusing her of betraying him, of forgetting him too soon. She felt only that she was taking care of some necessary business and that Eric would approve.¿ Page 219
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So far have liked the series
ShereadsALOT More than 1 year ago
It saddens me to say that Hometown Girl was not my favorite book of the series. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that this is a bad book. I just wasn't drawn into it, like I was Home Again. You have to respect Brooke for the maturity that she has now. She is ALWAYS trying to over come her past. Probably a little bit more than she should. I could not imagine having to endure the things that she did. I think her story is gripping in that alot of military women have to deal with the same things. Jesse is a good guy, dispite who his sperm donor was.... You will love him.... Like Brooke, Jesse is trying to also overcome his past. I'm really looking forward to the next book.... Sadly, knowing/thinking that it will be the last we hear of St. Dennis does not make me happy at all. You don't have to.... But I think that it would help you better understand somethings.... YOU SHOULD READ THE ENRIGHT SERIES, BEFORE READING THIS BOOK.
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