His neighbor might be beautiful, even up to her elbows in dirt, but Drew Keegan had to keep God's plan in sightmarriage to the socialite of his father's choosing would enable him to help those who needed it most. But when Jessica's designs were jeopardized, Drew began to see his goaland Jessicain a new light .
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Read an Excerpt
Hearts in Bloom
By Mae Nunn
Thorndike PressCopyright © 2004 Mae Nunn
All right reserved.
There was just something so appealing about dirt.
Jessica Holliday couldn't remember a time in her twenty-six years when she hadn't been fascinated by the stuff and the miracles it generated. She breathed deeply of its comforting smell and lightly massaged the site of her knee injury.
Atlanta's top orthopedic surgeon had performed the anterior medialization, grafting bone and marrow, inserting titanium screws and closing the knee with thirty-five staples. But no amount of medical skill would ever restore full strength to her leg.
A small price to pay, considering Adam Crockett was lost forever to his grieving family. A family who blamed her for his death.
At least she had the chance to start again. She'd planned better than her mother, who'd ended up with no education and a child to support after her ex-military husband had abandoned them. Thanks to a green thumb and a very tight budget, Jessica had learned something besides dance. She could design, plant and tend gardens of all kinds, and the proof covered the ten-acre campus of Sacred Arms.
Sitting cross-legged in the shade of six-foot-high fuchsia and white azalea bushes, she admired the beds in bloom. Tall clusters of purple iris and feathery, light pink plumes of astilbe surrounded her. Fragrant bunches of lavender wavedin the warm spring breeze.
An afternoon sun glinted through the shady gardens of the town-home complex and she ducked her head to avoid the momentary brightness. Her downcast eyes were drawn to her hands, to the nails that were in desperate need of a manicure. The fashionable mid-town salon had probably figured out months ago that she wouldn't be keeping her regular appointment any longer.
She'd kept her nails maintained only out of responsibility anyway, hating the busy metallic clicking of the clippers and the rough filing and the smell of acrylic. But a principal performer for the Atlanta Dance Theater could hardly greet supporters with soil under her fingernails. Now the trace of dirt beneath her short nails was a welcome sight.
How quickly priorities could change. One moment she had been navigating the dark highway, the next she'd been blinded by the overhead lights of the operating room.
From where she sat, Jessica had a clear view of the security gate. It swung open to admit a fancy white sedan that pulled a little too quickly into the parking lot. That could mean only one thing. Valentine was late to meet a prospective buyer.
With the always immaculately dressed real estate agent close by, Jessica paused to consider her own attire. She surveyed the baggy sweat suit, stained with everything from mulch to mustard. She needed new clothes desperately, but refused to acknowledge the result of her sixty-pound weight gain in such a permanent manner.
From outside the gates, a sports car's too-loud engine growled. A shiny blue car glided to a stop beside the sidewalk and a hulk of a man rose from the car and stepped into the sunshine. Standing ramrod straight, he surveyed the community of private town houses. With an arm raised to shield his eyes against the glare, he appeared to salute.
Jessica scoffed at the memory it evoked. Her worthless father had teased her mother with a similar gesture on the rare occasions when he'd meandered through their lives. The braided rug beside Jessica's childhood bed had worn thin where she'd knelt. Prayers for her father to stay with them had gone unanswered, so she'd given up on prayer altogether.
She wagged her head to shake off the daydreaming, a thick ponytail swishing about the neck of her shirt, and swiped at her forehead with a dirty hand.
With an aluminum cane tucked beneath her arm, she returned to the task of fertilizing the prizewinning azaleas. She scooted backward across the grass to the next spot needing attention, eased over, careful to avoid the still-mending leg, and returned to work.
Drew Keegan had emerged from the shady interior of his perfectly restored '67 fastback into the afternoon sun. He stood, hand raised to block the glare, admiring the grounds of Sacred Arms. In many ways the property, located in the historic Grant Park district of Atlanta, still had the look of the 1920s Christian school it had once been.
"Very interesting." He spoke aloud to himself.
Making the scene even more interesting, the same white luxury car that had blown past him on the interstate was now pulled to the curb farther inside the gate.
The driver swiveled to the left, extending shapely legs. She offered an appealing view of cream-colored stockings that led to a fashionably short, pale pink linen skirt.
Just as he realized the long, low whistle came from his own lips, the matching pink jacket appeared and above it a charming face, sporting a devilish smile.
"Dahhhlin'! You must be Drew. How sweet of you to make a pass at a woman old enough to be your mama."
The woman was actually old enough to be his grandmama, but she'd probably never look it as long as there were good plastic surgeons in Georgia.
"Ms. Chandler?" Drew had a terrible suspicion that he was blushing, something he'd rarely done in his adult life. "Please accept my apology, ma'am. I don't know what possessed me to do such a thing."
"Oh, honey, you couldn't help yourself. I've always had that effect on handsome young men."
Excerpted from Hearts in Bloom by Mae Nunn Copyright © 2004 by Mae Nunn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Drew and Jessica are the perfect couple, but of course it takes them awhile to figure that out. :) This story is great fun, very touching and will keep all kinds of readers coming back for more.
I loved these characters from the start. Mrs. Nunn brings real people into conflict and growth both personally and with their relationship with God and each other. I loved this book from page one to the last. You will too! I'm off to buy SEALED WITH A KISS tomorrow at my local Barnes & Noble tomorrow!
Jessica is a woman to root for. She loses her dance career after surviving a terrible crash, but rises out of the dust like a phoenix to build a new life as a landscape designer in spite of some tough obstacles. Drew is a man committed to his faith, his family and his future. Though he's a neat-freak who can't stand clutter, you'll love this man who sees nothing but beauty in his independent, disheveled, full-size neighbor who'd rather dig in dirt than have a manicure. The clash of personalities is humorous and endearing. Jessica must learn to accept the new robust 'her.' Drew begins to see his neigbor in a new light, but has a problem, a big one. For him to keep what he believes is God's plan for him in sight, he's expected to marry a socialite - a union of two families that will help those who need it most. The story is engaging with a great ending and the characters are still with you days after you close the book. It's a wonderful novel that Inspirational will want to keep on their shelf to share with others.
Jessica was doing really well with a dance career until a car accident caused her to retire. Since then she's been doing landscaping. While she's happy with what she does, she still feels embarassment and perhaps even some guilt for things in her past. When she meets her new neighbor Captain Andrew Keegan she refuses to get close to him for personal reasons. Drew only wants to get to know Jessica and doesn't understand why she is so resistant. After a while and a little bit of success with her he is brought face to face with his real reason for coming to Atlanta. Drew came back to work on a relationship with an old college flame, however the woman has an unhappy connection to Jessica. Will it be enough to destroy the attraction between Drew and Jessica?
This was my first book by Mae Nunn and I was definitely impressed. She did a great job of depicting more "real" characters. Jessica isn't totally skinny, is pretty in her own way, and is just as human as the rest of us. Drew can annoy at certain points, but only because he doesn't realize he isn't actually following God's plan. The author did a great job with keeping the story interesting, while not a lot really happened it seemed like it did and it was a very enjoyable read. I would definitely suggest this to my friends. It was a great inspirational romance that a lot of people could appreciate.