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A Fresh Start
Paula Reynolds is looking for a new job, a new home, a new everything—except for love. Determined not to repeat old mistakes, she's staying away from romance. She never counted on falling for handsome firefighter Clint Donatelli. Clint is used to saving lives, but with the beautiful Paula, he faces a challenge. Getting to know her is a daunting task, especially since he's just as wary of relationships. When he learns a stunning secret from her past, he...
A Fresh Start
Paula Reynolds is looking for a new job, a new home, a new everything—except for love. Determined not to repeat old mistakes, she's staying away from romance. She never counted on falling for handsome firefighter Clint Donatelli. Clint is used to saving lives, but with the beautiful Paula, he faces a challenge. Getting to know her is a daunting task, especially since he's just as wary of relationships. When he learns a stunning secret from her past, he must choose—to live the way he's always lived, or trust in a new love.
Paula Reynolds looked down the church aisle and watched the guests being seated. She felt as jittery as the bride. She checked her watch and studied her cousin. "How are you doing?"
"Nervous and anxious." Ashley sent her a playful grin. "Today my life changes forever."
Paula gave a nod, unable to voice the words that were caught in her throat. Forever had been her cousin's hopes when she married Adam, but fate had had other plans. Ashley had endured a bitter blow when Adam had died in Afghanistan, leaving her and a baby son he'd never met. The memory overwhelmed Paula.
She moved closer, trying to avoid crushing Ashley's wedding gown, and gave her a hug. "I'm so happy for you."
Ashley's eyes grew misty. "I know you are." She held Paula in her embrace and gave her a squeeze.
"Don't wrinkle that gorgeous dress." She eased out of Ashley's arms and shifted back toward the doorway to wait for the music to signal her down the aisle. A bridesmaid. She'd never have believed it six months ago.
Images swept through her, filling her with longing. She wished she'd had siblings of her own, but she smiled now, enjoying the friendship of her two cousins, who'd hurried to her side when they'd learned of her mother's death. They'd opened their arms as if she were another sister. With their recent closeness, Ashley had asked her to be a bride's attendant. Make-believe sister or not, her cousins' love touched her more than anything had in years.
Silly how she'd worried that Ashley felt obligated to ask her, and to give Ashley an out, she'd insisted the honor wasn't necessary. Thankfully, her cousin's determination won over, and when Paula accepted, her heart had tripped and the ripple of pleasure surprised her.
Ashley had not only insisted she participate in the wedding, but the bride-to-be solicited her sister, Neely, and her to help select an appropriate wedding dress for a widow. They found the lovely gown Ashley wore today, a calf-length cream-colored dress with three-quarter sleeves and scooped neckline with a formfitting waist that fell in soft folds over Ashley's trim figure. Today her cousin looked gorgeous as she stood close to her father, who waited to walk her down the aisle.
Ashley beckoned to her again, concern on her face.
Paula hurried to her side. "What is it?"
"Is something wrong? You were looking at me, and I thought-"
"I was admiring your dress." She chuckled. "We all loved it the moment we saw it."
Tension vanished from Ashley's face. "Look at you. I've never seen you in a gown. You're beautiful."
No one had called her beautiful before. She lowered her gaze to the pastel coral dress she wore, a color in autumn leaves floating from the trees outside the church.
"Thanks. I love it."
Images of fall flashed through her mind, a time of rejuvenation as the summer foliage took a rest anticipating a rebirth in spring. That was what she wanted for herself. Her lingering memories needed to be buried so her life could sprout new hope. Though her optimism didn't always deaden her difficult past, little by little she'd seen the sun. She had her cousins to thank for that. "I love this time of year."
Ashley's voice cut through her thoughts. "I know. It's when Devon and I settled in as a couple following my accident." Her eyes grew misty. "I'll never forget wakening that day with a gorgeous angel-"
"Okay, it was Devon, but he was like an angel. He was peering at me and holding poor little Joey, who was so frightened." She blinked tears from her eyes. "He saved me in so many ways. He heard Joey crying and then saw the downed tree and came running."
"He's that kind of man, Ash, a gift after all you went through." Her cousin's remembrance filled her heart. She couldn't picture herself being rescued by anyone.
Ashley glanced at her dad and then her watch. "I wonder what's taking so long." She lifted concerned eyes to Paula. "Is Devon up front yet?"
Paula stepped back to the doorway and shook her head. "He'll be there." She drew back to her stance near the wall, her eyes on the chancel. The ceremony should have started five minutes earlier, but that was life, too. Things didn't always happen as planned.
With Ashley's past heartbreak in her mind, Paula wished this time her cousin's marriage would last a lifetime, the kind of union she'd dreamed about for years. Though still single at thirty-five, Paula would still enjoy Ashley's wedding and sometimes let her thoughts consider marriage to a wonderful man-whether it would happen or not.
Organ music diverted her from her thoughts. The men were filing out from somewhere, and she gave Ashley a thumbs-up. Her heart skipped as she began her trek down the aisle. Ahead, Devon, his brother, Derek, and his firefighter friend Clint Donatelli observed her slow pace to the front. Though uncomfortable with all eyes on her, she managed to concentrate on the happiness she'd found living in Ferndale, welcomed by her cousins and Uncle Fred, who had graciously invited her to stay with him until she found her own place. She'd do that one day. Soon, she hoped. But that precluded finding a job and finalizing her mother's estate. Too much to think about today.
The scent of the flowers drew her back, and she gazed at the men, still observing her snail-paced journey. She'd grown fond of Devon with his sturdy frame and not one ounce of fat-just solid muscle. So was his friend Clint, handsome in his dark suit, tall and lean, his Italian heritage reflected in his dark brown hair flecked with gray and classic features. But the stereotypical Italian image ended when it came to his deep blue eyes.
Clint was her idea of a perfect man, but those dreams, as much as she loved them, seemed out of reach. Her relationships with men had always ended in disappointment. Sometimes worse.
Drawing her focus from Clint, she concentrated on her long, slow trek. When she reached her place at the front, she turned to admire Neely gliding down the aisle, wearing a hunter-green dress shimmering in the light from the windows and carrying a bouquet the same as hers, a blend of autumn flowers-golden black-eyed Susans, orange roses, flame calla lilies, green hydrangea blossoms and burntorange hypericum berries.
The music grew louder, introducing the bridal fanfare. The guests rose and faced the entrance as Ashley moved forward on her father's arm. Startled by her tender feelings, Paula blinked to clear her blurred vision as tears sneaked from her eyes and formed rivulets down her cheeks. With everyone's attention on Ashley, she brushed away the moisture, digging deep to shoo away her emotion. This kind of reaction had been unwelcome in her life. Whatever bad happened, she'd always buried her emotions, unwilling to give way to something as useless as tears.
Ashley nudged her sister with the bridal bouquet, and Neely grasped it as Ashley and Devon exchanged vows. The familiar words swept over her, leaving her with questions. How could anyone promise to love someone forever, to be faithful and true to them in sickness and health until death? Her parents' lives had provided no example of love or faithfulness. Her own experiences left her empty and frustrated.
Instead of wasting time thinking about the past, she needed to focus on the future, just as Ashley was experiencing today. She studied Ashley's and Devon's faces, seeing what she'd never seen in her own reflection. Even Neely's gaze toward her husband, Jonny, seated in the second row, was filled with a kind of beauty that she'd always considered part of a fairy tale-Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty awakened with a kiss.
Her own experiences identified more with the Beauty facing the Beast but without the loving tears that turned the beast into a handsome prince. Instead of tears, her emotion had turned to ice. The man who'd promised her a lifetime of happiness but never offered her a ring had left her with a wounded heart and an empty purse. A longtime relationship filled with promises as cold as a winter ice storm.
But today the moisture in her eyes unleashed more positive thoughts. Could the new door that had opened with her uncle's family unlock her heart and her trust, as well? Life didn't always offer such choices. Yet here she was in a new environment surrounded by a supportive family.
As gentle as a breeze, the wedding kiss ended, and Ashley reached for her bouquet. On Devon's arm, she smiled at the guests as they moved down the aisle to greet them in the narthex before they left for the hall. Neely latched arms with Devon's brother, and Clint stepped to Paula's side. Her pulse skipped when he locked his arm to hers, noting his strength beneath the dark suit that complemented his over-six-foot frame.
Her reaction frustrated her, but she managed a smile and ignored her pulse, which was galloping like an unbridled mare. Somewhere in her subconscious, an alert sounded. Vic had been out of her life for almost three years, but she still knew better than to even think romantic thoughts. Not again. She'd fallen prey before. Reacting to someone she barely knew put her on dangerous ground. Yet, despite her wise counsel, Clint melted the ice in her veins and sent warmth coursing through her. Her mental struggle floated away on the organ music. Today was about Ashley's wedding and not some kind of ridiculous fairy-tale moment.
Clint guided Paula down the aisle, surprised at her response when he'd taken her arm as the others had done. He didn't think of her as timid, but he'd felt her guard mount at his touch. When they'd met for the ceremony rehearsal, she'd stood back, observing before she became involved. Beneath her quiet demeanor, he sensed her mind snapping. And that was what did it. She'd aroused his interest. No one had done that for years. He'd chalked it up to her vulnerability. Firefighters had a penchant for helping people in trouble. Though she smiled and chatted once she'd warmed up, beneath her smile, he sensed something deeper churning inside a locked trunk. Yet she couldn't hide those lovely eyes, the color of caramel, which seemed to match her long, wavy hair.
He almost shook his head at his concocted analysis. The woman was new to town. Some people took longer to get comfortable. He'd spoken a little to her and sensed she wasn't a churchgoer. Yet faith seemed a stronghold for her family. It was what had helped Ashley through the loss of her young husband, a man who'd never seen his newborn child other than in photographs. Clint's chest constricted, wondering how he might feel being denied that amazing privilege of seeing a child created from the love of a man and woman.
A smidgen of envy wheedled into his consciousness. Nothing good ever came of envy. Not one thing. Envy caused displeasure and longing, sometimes resentment. Envy thwarted what lay ahead and signaled lack of trust in the Lord. He dismissed this negative thought and pinpointed a new goal.
He hoped the occasion would lower Paula's guard. He would enjoy learning more about her, and he juggled ideas how to make it happen. His discouragement grew while standing in the reception line. Seeming on edge, she appeared to know few of her relatives and spent most of her time explaining who she was by mentioning her mother, Dorothy, who'd died recently. If she wasn't comfortable with her relatives, what hope did he-a stranger-have?
The last guest greeted them before heading for the reception hall, but he'd been warned they had to stick around for photos. He studied Paula's expression and took a chance. "Do you mind posing for pictures?"
He jerked his head back, an instinctive reaction to her abrupt response. "Not really."
Her short response held a playful tone, and she made the cutest face, her nose wrinkled while the corner of her mouth curved to a faint grin. He plowed ahead. "Do you think we can escape?"
"If you know Ashley, you already have the answer."
He liked her snappy responses. "Then we'd better give in and follow them."
She released a dramatic sigh and hooked her arm through his, different from her earlier reaction, which made him curious. They followed the others to stand beneath the lovely cross where the stained-glass windows puddled brilliant colors on the carpet.
"Ready to plaster on a smile?" He gave her arm a squeeze.
"Ready as I'll ever be. How about you?"
Making a move, he slipped his arm behind her back and guided her toward the photographer. "Same here."
She considered him a moment and, to his pleasure, she didn't draw back.
Rather than scaring her off, he left well enough alone. He'd acted like a naive schoolboy, noticing for the first time that girls were different. Today the same awareness slithered down his spine. It was natural. Four years had passed since being with a woman who attracted him.
He'd pretty much steered clear of women until now, since Elise had walked out of his life without one backward glance. Why she'd waited so long, so close to their wedding day, he'd never know. No wonder he'd been confused. Perhaps one day he would figure out what he'd done wrong.
Trying to be subtle, he studied Paula from a peripheral view. She didn't seem ready for anything either, so who was to say he and Paula couldn't be friends? Friendship served both involved. Fun, laughter, companionship. Maybe that was all he needed-time to adjust to a woman's companionship. It might be easier than he thought.
Paula touched his arm, an inquiring expression on her face. "Come back to planet earth. The photographer is giving you a look."
So was she, and he liked it.
Music filled the hall as Paula entered with Clint at her side. She spotted the deejay near the dance floor, a middle-aged man who'd probably been entertaining wedding parties for years.
"I think our seats are over there." Clint beckoned her to follow, and behind him she admired his physique as he guided her to the bridal table. At first, she'd felt trapped, and it made no sense. Clint had been pleasant company, polite and tempting her smile to appear. For too long, she hadn't smiled much, and, since coming to stay with her uncle Fred, she'd found herself chuckling at his amusing comments and her cousins' easy wit. Today she discovered the same kind of playfulness in Clint.
Though his comments didn't draw out belly laughs, they tickled her. Sometimes he echoed her own terse responses, teasing innuendos that he tossed out on the fly. Nothing at all like Vic. When she allowed herself to face the truth, the "trap" was different. She'd felt knotted in a web but not a spider's dinner, instead a maze luring her to follow a path different than she'd experienced before. Though tempted by the adventure, a thought struck her. Had Ashley put Clint up to entertaining her? Maybe he was the one who really was trapped.
Irritation bristled down her back. Why dwell on what had been? Somehow she had to stop comparing Clint to Vic. Better she let the present cover the ashes of her past. Beauty from ashes.
"Are you all right? You're quiet." Clint pulled out her chair and waited for her to sit.
She managed a pleasant look. "Thinking."
Posted November 6, 2014
Gail Gaymer Martin's "Rescued by the Firefighter” is the third and last book in her 'Sisters' series. Even though this is part of a series, it can stand alone as the author provides enough of her previous characters' stories for you to understand this one. If you didn't read “Her Valentine Hero” and “The Firefighter's New Family” before this book, I think you may want to read those afterwards.
The characters are very real and believable. Both Paula and Clint are carrying a lot of baggage into their relationship. Clint has a strong faith but is still struggling to feel worthy of someone's love. Paula was not raised in an emotionally healthy home or with a faith background. She struggled to find love and got scammed. Paula's family and Clint encourage her to learn about God though Bible reading and their example. Both Paula and Clint grow personally as their relationship blossoms.
Posted April 22, 2014
“Rescued by the Firefighter” by Gail Gaymer Martin is the third and final book in her 'Sisters' series and what a finish. Though this is part of a series, this is also a great stand alone book. We see prior characters and if there is anything important to know from either “Her Valentine Hero” or “The Firefighter's New Family” it is explained in this book so that no one is lost while reading this book.
One the things that I always look for in a book is the believability of what is happening in the book, could somewhere be really happening in real life in some kind of degree. I understand that I love to read fiction romance which means that anything can happen does happen within an author's mind. If I could give a 10 star rating on the believability of this book I sure would for everything about this book just seemed that it could very well happen to my closest friends.
I found that the struggle with accepting faith not to be new, but how it was portrayed, thought about, the seeds watered and tended, actions by others, no pushing of faith but encouraged gently, and so much more with just the faith aspect of the story I found to be unbelievably beautiful. A good portion of this story is that journey, and though that might bother some who read this and want something more from the book, to me it was just beautiful in the transformation of this character. I rejoiced in the journey with the character as they took that final step though it is not really seen, the readers though do indeed see the after effects of that final step.
Both characters are scarred from their pasts, left with wondering if they could have done something different, what made them so unlovable. One has more secrets because of their past, a past that is horrid and that no one should go through, but with the right person walking with this character they were able to them walk through the past into the bright future. Secrets that both characters battle with are something that many deal with in today's world, and react differently with each person. Hurt and pain is a fact of life, but it is all how we handle it, and this is just two examples how through different pains of the past are handled.
There is a romance that does happen along with the other threads that are happening. The romance between Paula and Clint is something that happens everyday with the catching of each other attention but not sure how to go about pursuing anything before the first move is finally moved. There is no dancing around the attraction other than the usual do they like me or not and how do I go from here. I was really surprised that the Christian character was not trying to stay away because the other character is a nonbeliever. Instead the Christian character is willing to continue but with caution, use their actions of their faith to show the other what faith is. I was actually very surprised that it was the nonbeliever who pulled back because they understood that they couldn't move forward together because of the difference in their faith.
Everything about this story rang true to life to me. The desire to be loved and to love. The normal dance of fighting attraction in a lot books is missing instead it is the dance of do they like me or not and what should they do next. The steps toward faith was not done with a few words over a few pages, but of a course of time with the example of actions and character. The after math of a person's mind after going through what one of the character went through was something that I couldn't even begin to say was correct or not but I can imagine that might just be somewhere correct in how they acted.
I hope that everyone who reads this book sees the same beauty that I did and if not still enjoys it as much as I did.
Posted April 6, 2014
This is a really sweet romance. The kind that makes you smile and sigh and feel gooey inside. But it's not so sweet that it's nauseating like you've eaten too much candy. Paula and Clint are very likeable so I was eager to see how they'd handle the obstacles on their road to their happily ever after. The plot is character driven. There's lots of internal dialouge and introspection that allows us to grow along with the characters. As always Mrs. Martin brings a maturity to her characters and and an organic spiritual thread. Lots of clean romance balanced with realistic hurdles that the couple must overcome in their relationship. Clint is a fun take on the alpha hero. He's been burned by an old flame. But instead of letting the scars affect the way he treats women he waits patiently for the right woman to let his guard down with. Paula has a lot of guilt about her past but shes's working hard to find beauty from the ashes of her mistakes and build a better future. This is the final title in the Sisters series but can be read as a stand alone. We get to catch up with characters from "Her Valentine Hero" and"The Firefighter's New Family." It was a fantastic way to wrap or begin the series.
*I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Posted March 31, 2014
Rescued by the Firefighter is Paula and Clint's inspirational and compelling story of forgiveness.
In the beginning I had a hard time getting into the story because of Paula. She had built up a wall around herself not letting anyone in or close to her. I began to get closer to her when she started taking the wall down and letting you get closer as she began to open up about her loveless childhood, her resentment and anger at her mother over her childhood and relationships with men ending in disappointments, the last relationship ending with her losing everything she had worked so hard for. Clint has had his own relationship problems. His wife with no warning just up and left him and he has yet to know why.
As walls came down and events began to happen along with some surprises I fell in love with Paula and Clint's story and found it hard to put the book down till I had finished it.
I like how Gail Gaymer Martin uses real life issues that connect real people and real problems in her stories. I relate to the characters feeling a part of the story.
*I received a free copy of this book from the Author in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*