New York City flight attendant Annie Taylor is grounded, putting a halt to weekends in Rome and her jet-setting lifestyle. Soon her noncommittal boyfriend’s true nature is revealed, and to top it all off, she loses her apartment. With nowhere else to go, Annie leaves the city for the family farm in Kentucky, a place she’s avoided for years. She finds a shotgun-wielding grandmother, a farm in disrepair, and a suspicious stranger renting the old stone house. The country quiet haunts Annie with reminders of a past that can’t be changed. She tries persuading her grandmother to sell the farm, but is met with stubborn refusal? Yet in the midst of her crashing life, Annie sees a glimmer of hope for a second chance. Jake Wilder is contemplating jumping off the corporate ladder to follow his passion for sustainable farming. He’s almost ready to propose to Camille, a girl who wants more, not less. Annie believes Jake is about to make a terrible mistake, but does she have the right to tell him? As the summer heats up, so do Annie’s unexpected feelings for Jake and her interest in the land. When a sudden phone call comes from New York, Annie is forced to choose between coming to terms with her past or leaving it all behind.
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Annie couldn’t wait to get home. Up from the subway station and into a downpour, she wrestled a book out of the black leather handbag and used it to cover her head. The book made a poor umbrella, but with her other hand dragging luggage, it was the best she could do. Maybe getting soaked would at least wash the red stain off her khaki skirt.
Good rain, good rain. It was something her grandfather used to say years ago on the farm. Annie could see him in her mind, standing at the window of the farmhouse, a contented smile on his face and pipe smoke curling around his white head. But that was when rain was vital to food and income. Now it was a messy inconvenience.
The weather delayed their landing in New York and added to an already difficult flight. The crew had celebrated her birthday the night before, and she’d had too much wine. A dull headache lingered into the first few hours and then there was the businessman from New Jersey who could not be pleased. As soon as she brought him a newspaper, he wanted a drink. Then he wanted another newspaper and on and on it went. A bossy teenager flying alone complained about the music selection, all the while going through three headsets to find the one with the best sound. What was a teenager doing in first class anyway? And what happened to the iPods that seemed to sprout on every teenager’s body like an appendage at thirteen?
The apartment building in sight, Annie ran the last few yards, her feet bitterly complaining in the high heels. Under the stoop, she unlocked the door and stumbled over the threshold with her luggage.
The air was thick with the rich scent of curry. She hoped it was coming from the Agarwals and not from her apartment. Stuart had said her hair smelled like the Kashmir Indian Restaurant when they’d gone out last week.
Nearly to the door, her luggage caught on the grate in the floor, jerking her backward. When she reached down to dislodge the wheel, her purse fell, scattering phone, hairbrush and lipstick across the floor.
Snatching up the errant items, Annie nearly stuffed her phone back into her bag before seeing a text from Stuart.
“Running late today…meet me at the apartment?”
She rubbed her temple, working it to release the tension. The last thing she wanted to do was go back out in the rain and ride the subway uptown.
“Annie, you are home!” Prema smiled, her warm dark eyes alight with excitement when Annie finally struggled through the door. “Oh, what happened to your skirt?”
“Tomato juice. We had a little turbulence and a passenger who had too many drinks. It could have been worse.”
“Yes, like my flight to Delhi a few weeks ago. A child threw up on me! It was most unpleasant.”
Amused at the understatement, Annie hid her grin since Prema was entirely serious.
“You’re cooking,” Annie said.
“Yes. I invited Jatindre to come for dinner. He sounded so sad, all alone.” The gold hoops in her ears swung as she moved from the living area to the kitchen, the scarf of her purple sari flowing behind her.
“And you’re in traditional dress,” Annie said. “Why do I think this is more than just a ‘welcome to New York?’”
“I am doing as my father asked of me. But this friend of my father’s is newly arrived. I don’t want to shock him with my American style clothing. Can you have dinner with us?”
Annie tossed the book she had used for an umbrella on the side table and picked up her mail. “I’m going out with Stuart, thanks.”
“There will be leftovers, I’m sure.” Prema pointed to the chalkboard hanging next to the door. “Kate and Evie are gone through Tuesday. Whatever is left is yours. I leave tomorrow for Delhi.”
In an apartment of four flight attendants, the chalkboard was the only way to keep up with who was coming or going. Days of the week were listed at the top. To the side each girl’s name was written. An “X” meant you were out that day and night. A small “x” meant you were out part of the day. It helped with planning for social activities.
Four women in a three bedroom apartment had worked out well for the most part, since it was rare for them to all be home at the same time. Annie had the master bedroom, Prema had her own room and the two younger flight attendants Kate and Evie, shared another bedroom. Annie earned the larger bedroom by being in the apartment the longest, as several roommates had come and gone after getting married, or transferring to another city.
Annie tossed the mail on her bed and stripped off her TransAir uniform before stuffing it in the dry cleaning bag that hung from a hook in her closet.
The hot shower enveloped her in warmth, washing off the grime of an overseas flight. Her aching head felt as if a bowl of cotton were stuffed into her sinus passages. Breathing deeply of the moist heat, she could feel the pressure in her head easing and with it, her body relaxed.
She had snapped at two passengers today and that was after biting her lower lip so much it was now as raw as sandpaper. For a couple of weeks she had been on edge, as if a black cloud of foreboding had settled on her. Annie knew it was based in the news reports that kept coming out about the airline’s financial crisis. She had tried to shake it off, but the paralyzing fear of losing her job was at the heart of it.
The water massaged her skin like a thousand small fingers and she tried practicing the deep breathing exercises she had learned in exercise class. After several deep breaths, she felt somewhat more relaxed and pried herself from the water cocoon. Annie wrapped a towel around her body and leaned in close to the mirror. She peered at the lines around her eyes to see if they had gotten deeper since she turned thirty-two. Digging eye cream from one of her toiletry bags, she dabbed a bit in each corner before putting on her make-up then drying her dark, shoulder-length hair.
Dressed and left with some extra time, she sat to read through her mail. Bills, junk mail, a letter from the airline, and a letter from her grandmother.
“Bad news first,” she said to herself and opened the envelope from the airline. It was a letter from the CEO updating the employees on the attempts by another airline to take over the company. Nearly the same as the letter that arrived a month ago: “We are trying to fight the takeover. We want to continue to provide the routes and services we’ve been providing since 1969…please be patient as we work through this with our shareholders…” She threw it in the trash.
They had to work it out. Other airlines had cut services or even cut pay, but they would continue until the company grew healthier. With full passenger loads on most flights, how could they not make it work?
She reached for the envelope from Kentucky.
We sure do miss you around here. Your short visit at Christmas was not enough. Do try to come this spring and stay awhile. We look for a wet spring, which we need after last year’s dry summer.
There is a new single preacher in town. Evelyn met him in the meat section of the Kroger and invited him to eat lunch with us on the Sundays he doesn’t have an invitation from his congregation. Mary Beth White’s divorce is final and she’s been taking lunch with us on Sundays. She was so pitiful after her husband ran off and left her with those two young children. Evelyn thinks she and the new preacher might be a match, but I don’t know if his church will let their preacher marry a divorced woman.
I’m thinking about painting the house, but the Millers moved out of the stone house and I hate to take on a new expense with less money coming in. Maybe if I can find a good renter, I’ll do it.
Jake was promoted again by that big bank up in Cincinatta and Evelyn says he’s getting right serious with a girl from up there.
Joe and Betty Gibson have a new grandbaby. It’s a little girl called Frances Grace. You know people are going for the old fashioned names nowadays, but I’ve yet to hear of someone naming their child Beulah.
P.S. Don’t forget we have a new area code now. We got new addresses five years ago for the EMS. Why they can’t leave well enough alone, I don’t know.
Had it really been four months since she had gone home? Even then it had been a quick visit, squeezing in a ski trip with Stuart on the back end of the holidays. Maybe she would plan a trip this summer and bring Stuart. Annie smiled at the thought of him in his Armani suit and alligator shoes on the farm. Maybe she would buy him a pair of Redwings for his birthday.
Annie let herself into Stuart’s apartment with the key he had given her. His Upper East Side apartment was spacious and neat compared to her cramped quarters in the village. Chester, the orange tabby a client had given Stuart, pranced, tail swishing in greeting. The cat’s soulful green eyes beckoned the usual scratch behind his ear.
“Hey, Ches, did you miss me?” The soft fur felt good on her hand and she lingered, giving him an extra rub down his back.
Annie straightened and put her purse on the low slung black leather couch. Behind the couch, paintings with geometric patterns in reds, oranges and blacks by the same artist hung three in a row. Metal end tables next to the leather couch and chairs held black lacquer lamps, and central to any bachelor’s apartment, the latest technology in flat screen television suspended like a movie screen against the far wall.
The only thing that looked out of place to her was the wilting peace lily in the corner of the room. It had been her subtle attempt to soften the room and make it more ‘homey’ but it continually suffered from neglect since its arrival two months before. Stuart had seemed happy with her gift, but clearly plants weren’t his thing.
In the kitchen, Annie looked around while she filled a container with water. Not one thing was out of place. Stuart was compulsively neat and his cleaning lady came three days a week. Just once, Annie would like to find something awry, like a dirty glass or plate, even a pair of socks on the floor.
After watering the peace lily, Annie wandered into Stuart’s bedroom. A stack of sales books were on the bedside table, a Wall Street Journal was folded neatly next to them, and there was his perfectly made bed.
“Chester,” she called to the cat. “Does he ever mess up anything?” Chester came to her in the bedroom and looked as if she were telling him something important, his head tilted slightly to the side, his ears pointed forward.
There was a time when he did look a mess, she remembered. The night they met, more than six months ago. Her best friend Janice DeVechio had invited Annie to a charity fundraiser for cancer research. She had tickets given to her by an aunt who had married a wealthy Sicilian. Janice firmly believed her new uncle had mob connections, but it never stopped her from accepting the generous offer of tickets to plays, events and shows frequently doled out by the aunt to her favorite niece.
“It’s costume, but don’t worry, I know what you can wear.”
Annie had rolled her eyes. “I’m afraid to ask.”
“Jimmy is going as Hansel, I’m Gretel, and you’ll be Little Red Riding Hood. You look great in red.”
Annie had gone to the party in red tights, a red cape found at a consignment store, and carrying a small basket. Janice and Jimmy danced to Bobby Darin and Annie stood at the hors d’oeuvres table debating how long she would need to stay before she could go home.
She had decided to get some fresh air on the terrace when a man’s voice said, “Not so fast, Little Red Riding Hood.” Annie turned to face a wolf man grinning at her, rows of straight white teeth peeking from under pieces of brown fur taped to his face and intense green eyes peering between strands of a long brown wig. She burst out laughing as a piece of fur dropped onto a plate of crackers.
“That is the worst costume I have ever seen,” she said.
“This is the worst party I’ve ever seen. I had to come for business. What’s your excuse?”
“I’m with a friend,” she said.
“That’s too bad,” he said, and looked disappointed.
“Not a date. A couple, they’re out there dancing.” Who was this man? She had been immediately intrigued.
“Aha. The story is getting better all the time,” he said, grinning.
“I don’t know why I’m here. Bad social life I guess.”
“Well, since you’re not here with another wolf, I think this means we are meant for each other,” he said, raising his eyebrows in feigned sincerity.
Annie laughed at him, but something deep within her stirred at his words. It was as if there was a magnetic field around him and she was helpless to fight the pull. His convincing green eyes, laughing one minute and piercing the next, reshaping her belief on the spot that love at first sight was possible.
“Let’s go to the bar. We can talk there.” He put a hand gently on her back and guided her out of the room. She helped him remove the silly pieces of fur from his face while they talked, telling each other their life stories up to how they ended up on that night in that place. The attraction had been immediate and seismic.
Annie was so lost in the memories, she didn’t hear the lock click and the apartment door open until Chester jumped off the bed to greet his master.
Stuart filled the doorway of the bedroom, one arm behind his back. He was tall with perpetually tanned skin and dark blond hair that curled naturally. When he entered a room, it was as if he owned the entire block of buildings, so strong was his confidence.
“Wow, you look great. I missed you,” he said, his eyes taking in her whole body and opening his arms for her. Annie responded with a warm and lingering kiss, taking in the smell of his cologne mixed with the white roses he held in his hand.
“I missed you, too,” she said. She forgot her irritation at having to come to his apartment. All that was important now was being with him.
“Let me look at you again.” His green eyes moved appreciatively down her body. “You are stunning.” He handed her the flowers and kissed her again.
“Thank you! I’ll put these in water.”
He loosened his tie and followed her in the kitchen. “You are never going to believe who I went to lunch with today.”
Annie reached for the scissors and pointed them at him. “If it’s a rich, young heiress, I’m not sure I want to hear about it.”
He grinned and moved behind her, hugging her from the back. ?“I think it is safer back here.”
“Okay, now I’m in suspense. Who?” Annie carefully snipped the ends of each stem, diagonally, as her grandmother taught her to do.
Stuart poured a Scotch for himself and a Chardonnay for Annie.
“Jack Carney.” He waited for Annie’s reaction.
“Carney the developer? The one who did the big project over in New Jersey?”
“That’s him. We hit it off, Annie. He’s into poker, loves golf. We couldn’t be more alike. I need to work the relationship, but I think he’ll invest with me.”
“That’s great!” She placed the last rose into the vase.
He handed her the wine. “Did you miss me?” she asked.
“Bad. Chester was even worse. He batted a whole roll of toilet paper off into the bathroom floor while I was at work.”
“No, I’m serious. Vera was not happy about the extra work, and believe me, she let me know about it.” Annie remembered the first time she had met Vera. The older woman made sure Annie knew she worked for Mr. Henderson and no one else. No girlfriend would be leaving her orders.
Stuart took her hand and pulled her over to the couch. “I don’t know why I ever let that client talk me into taking that cat. But I did get a good sale out of the deal.”
“That’s why you’re so successfulanything for the customer.”
Stuart looked at watch. “I better hop in the shower. I have a car coming at seven thirty.” The dimple in the cleft of his chin deepened with his smile as he leaned in for a kiss. “This is a special night for us. I’ve got a surprise.”
Gino’s was known to be a discreet restaurant where lovers, both illicit and legitimate, could meet in complete privacy. The wine list was first rate, the service excellent and the lighting dim. Like the director of a play, Gino himself attended to the details, giving cues to his staff with a raise of his dark eyebrows or a small hand gesture. Stuart was a regular, bringing both clients and friends, and Gino showed his appreciation by giving them the best corner table.
Stuart ordered an expensive bottle of wine. After the waiter poured the glasses, he lifted his to Annie’s. “Happy belated birthday!” They clinked glasses and drank.
When he leaned in, Annie thought he was going to kiss her and closed her eyes. Instead, he whispered: “This Jack Carney connection could be huge. He is estimated to be worth half a billion. His friends could be worth even more. He asked me down to Miami this weekend to play golf.” Stuart reached for Annie’s hands. “I know we were going to spend the weekend together, but this could be the biggest meeting of my life.”
Annie leaned back, disappointed. This was the first weekend they could spend together in two months because of her work schedule. As a ten year flight attendant, she was fortunate to do the overseas flights, but she generally only got the weekend flights, even though she always tried bidding for the weekday, just in case. Occasionally she got it, like the coming week.
“No, that’s okay. I know it’s important,” she said.
Stuart leaned across and kissed her hand. “That’s why I love you. You’re so free and understanding.” Annie didn’t feel very free and understanding. She was bummed out, even a little upset. But it was her birthday celebration and she didn’t want to spoil it.
“Any more news from the airline?” Stuart asked, as the waiter placed the entrees on the table.
“Another letter today, but nothing new. I don’t think it looks good, but I’m trying not to worry.”
“I’ll take care of you no matter what happens. Did I tell you how much I missed you while you were gone?” He reached for her hand.
She smiled back and said, “Yes, but you can tell me again.”
“I missed you.”
The lemon sole was delicious, but Annie only took a few bites. The anticipation of the surprise had taken her appetite.
After the plates were removed, Stuart reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out a small square box, pale blue with white ribbons, Tiffany’s signature packaging. She felt as if a flock of hummingbirds were fluttering between her heart and stomach.
Annie studied his face as he pushed the box gently across the table. His blond hair looked golden in the candlelight, the short curls highlighted by the aura giving him an almost angelic halo. He was one of the handsomest men she had ever seen. And to think, he loved her.
She held the gift in both hands for a moment before untying the ribbons and carefully taking off the top. Annie felt her breath catch and wondered if there might be a ring inside? Her heart banged like a gong inside her chest. Could he hear it?
Lifting out the small black box, an eternity seemed to pass before Annie reached the treasure. Glitter spilled out reflecting the candlelight from two shimmering stones. Two diamonds. Two large and glistening earrings.
“Do you like them?” he asked, his words coming from a faraway place.
“They’re beautiful! I’m overwhelmed.”
He took the box and laid it aside, taking both of her hands in his. “Annie, I’ve never felt this way before, but I’m finding myself needing you with me all the time. I’ve never even considered this with another woman, but it seems right with us. Will you move in with me?”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Did I enjoy this book: Yes, I thought this book had a good amount of Southern charm and a whole lot of heart. It’s definitely predictable at times, but it didn’t take away what it makes me feel. Grounded made me want to sit out on the front porch sipping sweet tea. The characters made this book special. Annie and her grandmother were definitely standout characters, but each character in this book had a part to play. They weren’t just written as filler, and they made you aware that this was a small farming town community. This book gave me the sense of home and family. The only con for me was that the ending was too abrupt. Things were tied up much too fast, and I wish that I could have seen a bit more information. I love happily ever after, but I just wanted to see a bit more into the future of some of the characters. Would I recommend it: Yes, ma’am. As reviewed by Gina at Every Free Chance Books. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Annie loses her stewardess job when her airline is bought out. This sends her back home to visit her grandmother. With intentions of staying only a few months, she quickly rediscovers her roots and her love of the country and the farm she grew up on. While visiting her grandmother, her best friend from school, Jake, returns home with his fiancée, Cam; Stella, a mysterious stranger, rents the Stone House; and her grandmother has knee surgery needing more help than ever. As the summer moves on, Annie begins to wonder about her future and if New York is really where she belongs. My Review: I started this book and could not put it down. The beautiful country described throughout the book was also found in my dreams. I loved that Annie’s Grandmother lived in the same house and kept the traditions and ways of Annie’s childhood alive. Angela Correll portrayed the differences in family members perfectly with the tension between Annie and her Grandmother. Even with the tension you could feel the love and respect between them. This book has everything you would want in a book. A tad of romance, lots of family and friends, a ripple of mystery, and lots of lessons to learn can be found within these pages. As a debut novel Angela Correll wrote a perfect book. It is a book I will highly recommend to everyone.
When you think of the term "grounded" often times you associate it with what happens when you have a flight scheduled and something affects that flight, whether it's a weather delay or technical issue. Your flight has been "grounded." To others the term means simply to find roots where you can stay, often times making it a permanent home. In the debut novel from author Angela Correll, both of these terms work when applied to Annie Taylor, a flight attendant who has been working for TransAir for well over ten years. By accepting whatever schedules are available, she has managed to travel to places in the world, most never get to but dream of often like Italy during her international flights. However like all companies in a worrisome economy, TransAir is no stranger to corporate takeovers and that is just what happens, leaving Annie with no job. Force to abandon her apartment when she was considering moving in with her boyfriend Stuart, she learns during a conversation with a passenger that Stuart isn't all he claims to be. Besides being afraid of commitment, she learns that her entire relationship with him has been built on lies that he has spoon fed her. Now she isn't about to waste anymore time with him and heads back home to her grandmother's home on the farm in Kentucky for some time to consider just what lies next for her. Beulah Campbell believes her greatest gift is hospitality and to prove that point she hosts a dinner party with close friends every Saturday night. Mostly it is her chance to share with others the bounty of her garden, pot roast, green beans, macaroni and cheese, homemade biscuits and of course pie during most of the meals. Her close friends always came and offered to bring a dish or stay and help cook. It was truly a wonderful time to sit around the table and share not only great food but friendship and conversation. She just never expected her granddaughter Annie to return to the farm after living in New York. But perhaps God has a greater plan in all of this and thus the reason for the timing. Beulah, now 70 is facing the need for knee surgery but has put it off because she has no one to care for her. Annie is the only family she has left. Annie's plans are to hope that her old boss will be able to find a position available for her soon with the new airlines so can resume her busy life once again. But there is something healing about not only coming back to her roots but the change of pace she finds here simply smelling the fresh air and listening to the sounds that only country living can provide. Yet will the call of a new life involve a close friend Jake Wilder that is just now returning home as well? Only this time he has brought his new girlfriend home as well. I received Grounded by Angela Correll compliments of McAllister PR and Koehler Books for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are strictly my own. This is such an incredible story that anyone can relate to. It's about finding out where your home truly is. For some, they feel they must spread their wings and search for it somewhere else, but for others it simply means coming back to those who love and accept you for who you are and a different change of pace. This is such an outstanding book because of how well it's written, I could smell the fresh soil as Annie and her grandmother worked in the garden, feel the breeze on my skin as the birds from the field were calling their music. Just the picture alone calms the soul and creates a longing for a simpler life. I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars and can't wait for many more books from this author. She is definite on my must watch list and this novel joins my permanent collection of great books to enjoy over and over again.
As someone who is interested in sustainable living, and hoping to start on that journey soon, this was an intriguing read. Although that was not the focus of the book, these ideals are used by the main character to help refocus her life. As a Southerner, half raised by my grandparents doing many of these same things, I felt a real connection to Annie. I, too, went off and tried to make my way in the world, only to realize being back home was the only place I really wanted to be. As Annie’s life seems to fall to pieces around her, she decides to move home and try to reconnect with the grandmother who helped raise her after her mother passed. Annie and her grandmother must now learn to live with each other without her grandpa as a buffer. Along the way, she also reconnects with her childhood friend, Jake Wilder, who has some serious life decisions of his own to make. Their connection rekindles some old feelings that make both of them rethink the future. Their journeys offer insight into what is really important throughout this life and how our priorities can so easily be neglected along the way. It is a charming summer read that will not only teach you some family lessons, it will also teach a few about good ‘ole country living with a heaping helping of southern charm and hospitality. An excellent debut novel that will leave a warm feeling in your heart and make you wish you were sitting in a porch swing, drinking sweet tea, on a lazy summer afternoon. Rating: 4 HEAT Rating: None Reviewed By: Daysie W. Review Courtesy of: My Book Addictions and More
Readers won't know this is the author's first book; it is one of those you can't put down. I read the last two chapters slowly because I didn't want the story to end. It is good read that includes a community of interesting characters, some conflict, a little mystery, choices that must be made, and a hint of romance. It will put you down on the farm where you'll get a "taste" of Buelah's home cooked meals and some R & R away from the everyday rat race the 21st century has most of us trapped in.