As long as she can remember, Bella Erikson’s been the unofficial sweetheart of Ghost Falls, Utah. And ever since Nate Evans dipped her braids in purple paint in the first grade, he’s been her dream guy. Not that she minds the attention, but sometimes she wishes people saw more in her than just the girl who still has a crush on Sheriff Evans. She has a life after all, a new dress shop to run, and more mature relationships to pursue . . .
Nate knows he’s not good enough for sweet Bella. But he’s pretty sure the new guy sending her heart emojis and giant bouquets isn’t either. And when Bella’s suitor turns stalker, protecting Bella isn’t just Nate’s instinct—it’s his duty. Crammed together for safety and really talking for the first time in years, Bella and Nate can’t fight the moment their chemistry turns into pyrotechnics. Whether it will burn them out or light up the sky, only time will tell . . .
Praise for Positively Pippa
“A world that readers will want to visit time and again.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“This is the type of romance that makes readers fall in love not just with characters, but with authors as well.” —Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
“Truly wonderful.” —RT Book Reviews
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Read an Excerpt
Bella cranked the volume on Bing Crosby crooning Christmas carols until it carried into her yard. Let all of Ghost Falls hear that Bella Erikson was busting out of her mold and coming out. Not out-out, but out as in letting her freak flag fly. Besides which, Christmas wasn't Christmas without the Binger.
She wanted — no, invited — her neighbors to peep out their windows to see Bella, the new and improved version, taking charge of her life. Timer and lighting cord — ready. Rechecking the length, she made sure she'd bought the right one. Normally, Dad did this, but Bella had taken control, starting with Christmas, and these suckers were going up with her putting them there.
Ladder propped up against the side of the house, extension cord curled up like a forest-green snake beside it, she got down to item one of her "Spending Christmas Alone" checklist: decorate.
"You've got this." The ladder loomed above her. "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." And heights. Heights made her knees shaky. No, heights used to make her knees shaky. This Christmas Bella laughed at heights. She climbed ladders in stiletto heels if she wanted to. Bing hit the chorus and Bella joined in.
"Pick a focal point." She consulted the pamphlet she'd picked up from Lowe's when she bought her string of warm white Christmas lights. Reading it out loud to the tune of "Silver Bells" made it less daunting.
With a telltale squeak, her neighbor's door opened, and Liz Gunn stepped onto her matching porch. Bella waved and, this being the holidays, gave her voice a dollop of goodwill to mankind. "Hi, Liz."
Liz, known as Headlights Gunn throughout Ghost Falls because of her propensity for pointing her surgically enhanced chest at anything with a penis, tugged her cardigan over her painted-on sweater and nodded. "Whatcha doing?"
"Hanging Christmas lights." While Bella didn't like the nickname, Liz did always have her perfect double Ds rounded up and pointing.
Liz stepped off the porch onto the dried winter grass of her lawn. "On the house?"
"Yup." Waving her pamphlet, Bella tried to sound more competent than she felt. "It's easier than you would think."
Apparently, you still had to test the lights even if they were new.
"You're going to hang lights on the outside of your house?" Liz crossed the small strip of driveway separating their lawns.
"Yup!" She tossed Liz a chipper little smile. "It's Christmas."
"So I can hear." Toeing the dark green box of new lights, Liz stopped next to her and stared at her house. "You didn't hang lights last year."
"No, I didn't." Because last year she had spent most of Christmas, like so many Christmases before, wallowing in the bitter knowledge she would spend another Christmas single and stuck in her rut. This year there would be no more wallowing, no more pining, and definitely no more bemoaning her single state. As for her rut, today she'd hauled herself out and it all started with Christmas lights. "I'm getting into the holiday spirit."
"Aren't you spending Christmas with your family?" Liz peered over Bella's shoulder at the pamphlet. Those breasts stuck straight out and Bella moved her arm out of the way.
"No." She stomped on the residual all-alone pang and forced another smile. Being alone for Christmas didn't mean being miserable. "My family went to Florida and I stayed behind to look after the store."
Liz looked vaguely skeptical. "They left you here."
"I'm fine with it." Actually, she was more than fine. Not that she'd admit this to Liz, or anyone, but escaping Nana's gruesome turkey dinner didn't hurt in the least. Her plan for Christmas started with these lights and ended in a glorious new epoch in the life of Bella Erikson.
Liz eased the pamphlet out of her hand. "It says here you have to check the lights, even if they're new."
"I'm about to do that." Bella took her pamphlet back.
"You need to plug them in."
"I know that." Plug in hand, Bella marched over to the outside power outlet. Three years she and Liz had lived side by side, barely speaking a word to each other after the incident with the tree — which Bella still didn't quite believe hadn't been deliberate — and now Liz wanted to chat. Still, it was Christmas, which meant goodwill, peace on earth, and all that. She shoved the plug into the outlet. Her lawn lit up in a magical sprinkling of warm white. Bing provided the soundtrack and she loved it. "Did you need something, Liz?"
Liz bent down and connected another string to the lit string. More warm white sprang to life. "Looks like these are fine, too." She flicked her Christmas-themed nails at the ladder. "Why don't you get up there and I'll connect the lights?"
"Really?" Liz wanted to help? Maybe the magic of Christmas had gotten to Liz too.
"Why not?" Liz shrugged. "I've got nothing better to do."
Bella's guilt monitor crackled. "You staying here for the holidays?"
"Like I have anywhere to go." Liz waggled her head and jammed her fist on her teeny-weeny hips. "Are we going to hang these lights or what?"
"We're going to hang these lights." Bella put her foot on the first rung. She needed a little mantra reinforcement first. Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will. Gripping the higher rungs with both hands, she climbed. First one rung, then two, and away she went. This really wasn't that bad, and before she knew it, the gutter came within easy reach. "Hand me those lights."
"Aye aye, Cap'n." Liz grinned up at her.
When she smiled like that, and not the coy lip smirk she did whenever a man wandered into view, Liz looked really pretty. An opportunity to bridge the gap with Liz opened and Bella took it. "Maybe when we get done here, we can hang lights over at your place," she said.
Liz pulled a face. "I don't do Christmas."
"Why not?" Everybody did the holidays in some way or other.
"Doesn't seem much point." Liz fed her the string of lights. "With just me on my own."
Bella clipped until she ran out of reach, then came down the ladder again. She'd never thought of Liz as lonely. With her flashy clothes and brassy attitude, Liz didn't strike her as the sort to have vulnerabilities. But then, everybody had a soft underbelly somewhere. Even if they kept it buried beneath a titanium exterior. "I'm on my own."
"It says here you need to make sure they're all either pointing up or down." Liz squinted at the gutters.
"Yup. Pointing down."
"Okay, then." Bella moved the ladder across. "Let's keep at it."
Talk about weird. Her and Liz hanging Christmas lights like they didn't spend most days giving each other tight-lipped how-are-yous from safe sides of their yards.
They fell into a rhythm that took them all along one side of the house and into the front. When they reached the porch, the focal point, Bella stepped back and eyed the sloping gutter line. "We need to do something different here."
"Like what?" Liz stood shoulder to shoulder with her.
"A focal point."
"We could wrap the lights around the poles holding the roof up."
Liz scrunched up her face. "Nah! They're too skinny. A wreath would be nice."
"Yeah, hanging in the center there. Do you have one?"
A wreath would be great. "No."
"I do." Liz nodded. "I'll run next door and fetch it."
"I thought you didn't do Christmas." Bella raised her voice as Liz dashed across the lawn.
"I don't." Liz turned and trotted backward. "But I used to be married and we did Christmas. I got the Christmas decorations. He got a twenty-three-year-old blonde who looks like she should be decorating the top."
Ouch. She'd known Liz was divorced, but the younger-woman thing must bite.
"And these." Liz pointed to her chest. "Can you say alimony?"
Bella laughed. Turns out spending time with Liz didn't suck. See, this was what came of opening yourself up to new experiences.
Liz reappeared with her wreath. "If you wrap lights around it, you can hang it in the center there," she said.
"Are you sure?" Bella took the wreath. "We could always hang it over at your house."
"I'm sure." Liz pursed her lips. "Are we gonna stand here all night or get this shit finished? It's so cold out here my nipples are gonna break through any second."
Bella blushed. She couldn't help it. Nobody in her world spoke about nipples or boobs, or — God spare them — down there. Even in her head the phrase came with Nana's wide-eyed, furtive glance southward.
Daring to go where she never had before, Bella said, "Mine too."
Perched on top of the porch overhang, leaning forward to hang the wreath, Bella made the mistake of looking down. The ground rushed up at her, dipped and heaved to the side, taking Bella's stomach with it.
"What are you doing?" Liz peered up at her.
"Hang the wreath and then we can get a glass of wine."
Wine would be lovely. "Err ..."
"No, you're not." Liz moved to right beneath her.
Liz's eyes widened. "Are you scared of heights?"
She crossed her arms. "Then why didn't you let me go up the ladder?"
Because she hadn't exactly planned on freezing and sticking to her roof like a demented icicle.
"Edge back." As if directing traffic Liz waved her hands. "Move away from the edge and you'll be fine."
"I can't." Was the ground getting closer? Or was she leaning even farther over? A whimper escaped her and she shut her eyes. Dear God, that was worse. She popped them open to find Liz frowning up at her.
A smile suddenly spread over Liz's face. "You're really stuck?"
"As in can't move?"
"You know what this means?" With glee, Liz whipped out her phone. "I'm going to have to call the sheriff."
"Don't." It came out in a breathy hiss. The idea of Nate Evans having to rescue her off her roof burned through her. Ghost Falls would have a field day if that happened. She could hear them all now.
"Did you hear Nate Evans rescued Bella Erikson from her roof?"
"What was she doing up there?"
"Waiting for him to rescue her." Snicker, snicker. "Is that girl ever going to wise up and realize she'll never catch Nate Evans?"
She had wised up — mostly — and she could do this. All she had to do was edge back the tiniest bit to where she couldn't see the ground anymore.
"Hi, Sheriff Evans." Liz purred into her phone. "This is Liz. Liz Gunn." She growled. "Liz Gunn from Grizzly Drive. I have a problem."
One, two, three ... edge back. Nope. Bella's hands refused to let go of the roof lip. Years of limiting contact with Nate and now this.
"No, it's not like that time." As she spoke, Liz paced beneath her. "Actually, it's not me. It's my neighbor."
From up here, Bella could see the darker roots of Liz's platinum do. Nowhere in her grand visions of conquering Christmas had she needed a rescue.
Liz nodded. "That's right, Bella."
Oone ... twooo ... and three. Oh God, she was going to fall. She knew it.
"She's stuck on her roof."
All she had to do was release the edge of the roof and scooch back. This time, her butt scooched, but her fingers stayed stuck.
"Hanging Christmas lights." Liz hummed and glanced up at Bella. "Right now, she looks a bit like she's twerking on her roof."
Bella lifted her left index finger. Then her middle finger. The index finger snapped back around the ledge. Darn! Bella did not get beaten by a roof. Bella, for certain, did not get caught twerking on her roof by Nate Evans.
"Right you are." Liz keyed off her phone. "They're on their way. Do you need anything?"
"A frontal lobotomy."
Liz grinned at her. "Nate said to keep talking to you." She stopped right under Bella. "So? How you doing?"
"Not so good."
"I can see that. Let's take your mind off the fact that you're about twenty feet from the ground."
"Erp." Twenty feet? Her head went woolly.
"I know." Liz cocked her head. "Let's talk about our yummy sheriff."
"Um ... no."
"Um ... yes." Liz tucked her hands into the pockets of her bright pink cardigan. "Just how long have you been in love with him?"
"I'm not ..." Everyone in town knew anyway. "I did have a crush on him. For most of high school." And a little bit after, but she wasn't confessing that. "Well ... it started in first grade, but it ended when he joined the police academy in Salt Lake."
"Wow." Liz winced. "That's not what they say."
Oh, Bella knew that, only too well. And Liz had no room to talk, calling Nate out at least twice a week and answering the door in her negligee. "And you?"
"Oh, I'm in lust, not love." She waved a breezy hand. "I was married, remember. I don't want anything more to do with love, but lust ..." She chuckled like a bordello madam. "Now that I've got time for."
Nipples and down there and sex — definitely sex — weren't things Bella had been raised to talk about. Ever.
"You all right, Bella?" Mr. Powell from across the road stepped out onto his porch.
Her situation plummeted from bad to hideous as Ghost Falls's biggest gossip followed her husband onto the porch. Bella was supposed to be launching her new epoch, darn it.
Bella put as much chipper into her voice as she could manage. She did not need the Powells coming over and getting a front-row seat of the action. "I'm fine, Mr. Powell."
"She's stuck on the roof," Liz called out. "We were hanging Christmas lights, but Bella didn't tell me she was scared of heights."
"Oh, dear." Mrs. Powell came across the road toward them. "I had a cousin who was afraid of spiders."
"Vertigo," announced Mr. Powell as he led the charge. "Irrational fear of heights."
That was acrophobia, but Bella was too busy having it to argue the point.
"Isn't that a movie?" Mrs. Powell tucked her hands into her pockets.
"Hitchcock." Liz scrunched her shoulders up around her ears. "Man, it's cold. How you doing, Bella? Hang in there."
Yes, dear." Mrs. Powell's face crinkled with concern as she gazed up at Bella. "I'm sure help is on the way."
"Did you call Sheriff Evans?" Mr. Powell stared up at her.
"Sheriff Evans?" Giggling, Mrs. Powell smirked at her. "Are you sure you're scared of heights, Bella?"
"Oh, she's scared all right." Bless Liz for coming to her rescue.
Mr. Powell took hold of the ladder and gave it a shake. "Just hop on the ladder, Bella. Seems sturdy enough."
"Mike." Mrs. Powell stood on her tiptoes and whispered in his ear.
Bella dug her fingers into the roof. She didn't need to be clairvoyant to guess what was being said. Would Ghost Falls, for the love of everything, just let this go? She was not wasting away for Nate.
"Oh." Mr. Powell scrutinized her. "Are you sure that's a good idea, young lady?"
Maybe she should end it now and throw herself off the roof. Then again, they'd only whisper over her coffin how she'd killed herself for unrequited love.
"Sometimes a girl has to take matters into her own hands." Mrs. Powell tossed her a conspiratorial wink. "It's not like you have all the time in the world, dear. You can't keep waiting for that man forever."
"I'm not —"
"It's a dreadful waste of taxpayers' money." Puffing out his chest, Mr. Powell stalked to the ladder and gave it another good rattle. "Now, buck up, Bella. You can't call the sheriff out unless it's a genuine emergency."
"Really?" Liz examined her fingernails. "It's one of the perks of living in this town."
"Disgraceful." Mr. Powell flushed. "The man is the representative of law and order in this town, not ..." He sputtered and huffed for a bit.
"Man candy?" Liz looked smug.
Turning his back on Liz, Mr. Powell harrumphed and put his foot on the ladder. "I'm coming up."
Dear God, save her that.
"Oh no, Mike, your back." Mrs. Powell fluttered over to her husband. Small and compact, the top of her head barely reached his armpit.
"Perhaps you're right." Mr. Powell made a manful show of regret. "I would hate to risk her by dropping her."
Mrs. Powell patted her husband on the chest. "That's so like you, Mike, always thinking of someone else first."
Liz looked up at her and rolled her eyes.
Bella stifled a giggle and then choked on it as blue and red flashing lights turned into her street.
Oh boy. Nate couldn't be subtle about this, now could he? He'd delighted in tormenting her since first grade, when he'd dipped her waist-length braid in purple paint.
Excerpted from "Becoming Bella"
Copyright © 2017 Sarah Hegger.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the first book that I have read of Sarah Heggers and the first that I have read in her Ghost Falls series. What first attracted me to reading this book was the cover. After the cover I really liked the synopsis as the storyline had more than just your typical childhood crush story. The author, Sarah did a great job setting the scene of the book from Bella's house to her store. You really felt like you could visually see all the different scenes in the book by her imagery in her writing. In addition to the setting of the story I think that the way she developed the story line between the two main characters was great. She did it slowly and honestly which is not always what you read in other books. The characters were also well developed too. She gave you enough background to understand them but not too much where it bored you. I also liked that she gave you great supporting characters that really added to the story. In addition to the storyline, characters and romance in the book I also like how she incorporated the thriller aspect of it with the online dating gone bad. It added an edge to the book that wouldn't have been in there with out it and it really made me want to keep reading to find out what happened. One of my favorite quotes in the book was when Bella was talking to her neighbor Liz about men and relationships. "None of us are perfect. Nobody can love perfectly. In the end, its always going to be a leap of faith" All in all this was a great book. I am interested in reading more from this author and more in the series. I recommend this book to readers who like the romance but also a little bit of thriller (not the super scary though).
I loved Positively Pippa and was so excited to read this next book in the Ghost Falls series. Hegger writes fantastic and unforgettable characters. I couldn't wait to see what was to come for Bella and Nate. Watching Bella work so hard to reinvent herself was great, because who hasn't wanted to start over a time or two in their life? She was sweet and easy to relate to for sure. When things started to happen with Adam, I was on the edge of my seat worrying about what he would do next. I was also eager to see where things were going to go with Bella and Nate. They were really beginning to toe the line as their attraction slowly took over. Add to that Nate's concern for Bella, and this book had me on the edge of my seat unable to put it down. I enjoyed watching him battle his caveman-like feelings. Their passion was palpable, but they had those emotional hurdles yet to leap. Nate's plan and his interaction with Bella at the end of the book had me both fuming and giggling. Hegger is brilliant at bringing out a wide variety of emotions from me all within one book. I loved Becoming Bella and I absolutely cannot wait to see what she will write next!
Bella and her decades old crush on Nate is so darn cute. And you have to feel for her because it definitely isn’t a secret – the whole town knows and isn’t afraid to point it out. But you have to give her some credit for trying to move on … except she happens to do it with a stalker. Yeah, that didn’t go so well. The good part is that it puts her in close proximity to Nate and finally has him addressing his own feelings. And the bad part is, well, there’s a stalker. I think that Hegger handles that part really well. There’s danger but she never makes light of the situation. It is a serious issue and they take it as such. I think she also handles everyone’s feelings well too. Now, some may think that with a stalker on the loose that Mr. Alpha Sheriff might want to tone it done a few times but Bella doesn’t seem to mind :) It’s a slow process for Nate to forgive himself for his past and figure out that he’s good enough for Bella. But lucky for him she’s willing to wait him out. And once he gets his act together, Nate is definitely gold in the SO department. *** I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. ***
Becoming Bella is the second in Sarah Heggar’s Ghost Falls series. While Positively Pippa sparkled, Becoming Bella is much more subtle. Well, it was subtle until the end and this happened, “She wanted to throw her wine at him, but it was wine, and she wanted to drink it more.” One of my all-time favorite lines. Bella is proof that sometimes we have to change to realize we are already our best self. It is only then do we find what we are truly looking for. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this novel.
This second installment in the Ghost Town series was even better than the first, Positively Pippa, which I didn't think would be possible. Belle Erikson is a small town girl living under the pressure and expectations of her family and entire town. This trait make Bella completely relatable to anyone who ever struggled with becoming the person they always wanted to be. While her family is celebrating Christmas out of town she decides that she will begin her transformation: the family store (which she now owns) will be brought into this century and more importantly she will convince the entire town that she her childhood crush on Nate Evans is a thing in the past. Nate Evans loves his home town and being the youngest sheriff, but there are times that he could live without the rumor mill. For years he has known that Belle has been half in love with him, but as he has a no relationship policy, Belle has never been given a second thought. That is until he finally has a real conversation with Belle and realizes that what he has been ignoring for years will no longer be ignored. Only problem is that Belle has convinced herself that she has moved on and is trying to pursue over relationship. Yet when the man Belle went a few dates with turns into a stalker Nate knows that not only is it his job to protect Belle, but pure instinct cannot let him stand by. As Belle and Nate are thrown together again and again neither will be able to deny the raw chemistry, but will each of them be able to overcome their own insecurities and preconceived expectations? I received this book from the author at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.
Bella has been in love with Nate for years. Nate knows Bella is special, but doesn't think he's good enough for her. Bella decides to make some changes and while her family is away she starts on them. Let the laughs begin. It's not all laughs, as we learn the further we read. No spoilers, so get your copy and read this beautiful story. I bet you'll want to slap Nate upside the head a few times yourself, lol. This is the second book I've read by Sarah Hegger and I'm looking forward to reading more. Also, if you haven't read Positively Pippa, you should check it out. That is another fabulous read.
Adored this story!! It's very well written with a great pace to the story and characters that will steal your heart. Bella is a young woman working hard to become the woman she wants to be. More importantly she wants the people in her hometown of Ghost Falls, UT to take her seriously. Hard to do when they still think of her as that sweet little girl with a huge crush on the town bad boy. Nate Evans may be reformed and now the Sheriff of Ghost Falls but he knows he's still not good enough for the town sweetheart. He's better than the jerk she met in the bar though. And now that she has a stalker, he'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe. A fantastic story that should go on the must read list. I highly recommend it.
From first page to last I was engaged. I could not put this book down. The plot, location, characters and story pulled me in and made me want to join the people described. I love a book that makes me feel, think, care and leaves me wanting to read the next book in the series because I just have to find out who will have their story told next. There are so many characters I want to know more about and I am eager to find out if it will be Daniel or Simon or Gaby or one of the Evans siblings that still has not found their special someone. It was a great cast of characters with so much going for it! Bella has loved Nate for decades and finally has decided to move on not only from him but by creating something new. She is ready to stand up for herself, better define herself, make her business into what her vision of it truly is, make some new friends and oh so much more. Little did she know that one of the ten items on her to-do list for Christmas would land her with a stalker – a nasty sicko psycho creepy – though very handsome guy. This is not your typical holiday romance but it is a romance and a very good one. There might be triggers if stalking, kidnapping and potential torture is not your thing but it is a small portion of a story that it works within. I don’t want to say more BUT will say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thank NetGalley and Kensington Books-Zebra for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4-5 Stars