How can Shelby Hawkley forgive Gage Jamero for bailing on her when she needed him most? He and her husband, Nick, were the best part of her life. Now her former best friend is back, shaking up the widowed wine harvester's world. The safest bet is to protect herself. Except Gage is awakening feelings that are decidedly unfriend-like.
Shelby is the woman Gage has secretly loved since high school. Starting overtogethercould be the best dream he's ever had. If only he can find the courage to say what he should have said all those years ago.
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Shelby Hawkley knew what it was like to go from fulfilled and happy to broken and sad, knew how fast it could happen, knew how it came at you from your blind side.
It could happen in a blink. It could stop your breath. It could break your heart.
It being disaster. It changing her life forever.
Just moments ago, she'd been happy, secure in the knowledge that things were looking up. And then she'd blinked.
"If there's an earthquake now, there'll be trouble." Shelby stood in the middle of a narrow trail carved through her grandfather's living room, willing herself not to blink.
Thirty or so five-foot-tall stacks of books, journals, periodicals and magazines occupied the space. It looked like crowded Manhattan skyscrapers, minus the straight-gridded streets. Her grandfather had created twisted paths, one of which ended at the television, leaving just enough room for him to sit on the hearth and watch the news.
"Don't move and everything will be all right," her grandfather replied, nonplussed. Warren Wentworth sat cross-legged, all sharp, bony angles, his hair a dry white mop. He looked like he'd been lost on this trail for too long, and had missed too many dinners.
"Grandpa, we've got to move. Now.''" Before she bumped something and their surroundings tumbled upon them. There'd been a time when she thought she and her loved ones were impervious to disaster. That period was long past.
Her grandfather turned off the TV, unfurled his limbs and rose, wobbling slightly.
Shelby reached for him, careful to keep her elbows within the confines of the path, hy-peraware that she was prone to stumble if she didn't keep her attention firmly on the floor. "How did this happen? This this book maze."
He harrumphed. "Don't overreact, hotshot. This is my library. I'm exploring the stacks. Didn't you once tell me I wasn't very adventurous?"
"Grandma said that." Keeping her tone matter-of-fact, Shelby began backing toward safety, towing him gingerly along with her.
"It's called the adventure of life." Grandpa's breath smelled of coffee. He couldn't have been sitting on the hearth for long. "What fun would life be if it was a wide, straight road and you knew the ending?"
"What fun would it be if all this fell down on us?" His bones were old and fragile. "If this collapses I'm just saying I'm done with surprises and hospitals." Morgues and funeral homes.
"You're still grieving, love. I understand." He squeezed her hands. "I miss your grandmother terribly."
Grandma Ruby and Shelby's husband, Nick, had died within a week of one another nearly two years ago. Shelby and her grandfather had leaned on each other through those difficult first few weeks. As only children from a long line of only children, the pair didn't have a lot of family to rely on.
Shelby wasn't still grieving. She wasn't still lost. But she was cautious. She couldn't say the same about her grandfather. "Tell me the rest of the house isn't like this." She'd had lunch with him a few weeks ago, but hadn't come inside the place.
"Young lady, if it is, it's none of your business." He spoke in grandiose tones, as if he was a knighted explorer being led out of a newly discovered jungle instead of a retired veterinarian being led out of his living room in the small remote California town of Harmony Valley.
"I take that for a yes."
"That is a no."
Their footsteps were muted by the worn avacado shag. One more turn. One more twist.
"Where's Mushu?" Her grandmother's ancient cocker spaniel.
"That dog's been spending a lot of time in the backyard."
Shelby couldn't blame her. One misplaced wag of the tubby dog's tail and she'd be history. The house needed disaster-proofing.
Shelby navigated the fork toward the kitchen, refusing to dwell on how bony her grandfather's hands were. One disaster at a time. "And Gai-pan? Did you chase her outside, too?" The old Siamese was probably upset that she couldn't sit on the back of the couch and dream of pouncing on the birds in the front yard. The couch was littered with books, haphazardly stacked, ready to tumble.
"Gaipan doesn't like me. Never has," Grandpa said. "She stays outside mostly, except when she's hungry."
They reached the kitchen, which was blessedly stack-free and optimistically yellow, just as her grandmother had been. Goldenrod Formica. Daisy patterned linoleum. Canary-yellow walls. The September afternoon sun angled through the windows facing the backyard, making Shelby squint. Mushu lay on the grass in the shade of a peach tree, a black ball of curly fur. Beyond the fence, the Jameros' empty pastures rolled up toward Parish Hill. The Jameros had left town, like the majority of residents after the grain mill exploded and jobs disappeared, until the once quaint and charismatic town was quiet and quirky. Not exactly the thriving, supportive community of her youth, but a community she longed for nonetheless. And one that was growing again in dribs and drabs.
Shelby released her grandfather and sat on a walnut ladder-back chair. The room was clean and unclutteredthe collection of animal salt-and-pepper shakers lining the kitchen counter and grouped in the center of the kitchen table didn't count. They'd been there as long as she could remember.
"Do you ever hear from the Jameros?" She couldn't keep herself from adding, "Or from Dead Gage?"
"Don't call him that." Her grandfather gripped the chair next to hers. "He's not dead."
"He's dead to me." Had been since the day of Nick's funeral. He hadn't answered any of her calls or pokes on social media. She picked up the bumblebee saltshaker, wiping dust off the curves of its black and yellow body.
"If he was really dead to you, you wouldn't ask about him." Her grandfather traversed the kitchen as though he was aboard a ship deck, pitching and rolling with each step.
When had his equilibrium worsened? "Where's Grandma's cane?" Shelby stretched a hand toward him.
He tottered backward. "I don't need a cane."
"You don't need to fall." She extended a hand again, but he swatted her away.
"Give a man some room."
"I would, but look what you did with the living room," she said drily, giving up for now. "My question is, why?"
"I'm writing a paper on the non-invasive assessment of equine musculature recovery post-delivery." Since he'd retired, he'd written many papers. As titles went, this one was almost decipherable. Almost. After a moment, he obliged her questioning look. "How a mare's muscles regain their tone after delivering a foal."
"And you need all those books and magazines for that?" Shelby knew her expression was incredulous. It was the face Gage Jamero, her former best friend, used to take one look at and say, "Barnacles." He claimed her features twisted up as firmly as her resolve, and were just as reluctant to let go. Not that he'd ever given in to her. On the other hand, Nick used to recognize that expression, raise his hands in surrender, and say, "Babe."
Her grandfather wasn't looking at her. He'd turned in his chair to see through the archway back toward the living room. "No, no, no. The stacks by the piano were for the paper I did on canine word retention. The stacks by the fireplace were for the paper I did on bovine stimulus-response. The stacks"
"Hold up." Shelby raised a hand. "There are stacks in there from papers you've already written?"
"Submitted for publication?"
He shrugged. "Mostly."
"So we can get rid of those."
"No, no, no. What if someone challenges my findings? I may need to write a rebuttal or be asked to write a companion piece." He drew himself up in bony regalness. "I have a system. Don't touch a thing."
"You do remember I'm here to stay with you through harvest?" She'd landed a job as the cellar master at the local winery. Grape harvest at Harmony Valley Vineyards started soon. She'd be working ten hours or more a day from now until the holidays, managing the various containers and equipment where the grapes would ferment, plus making clean transfers as the wine moved from crusher to tank to barrel to bottle. Once this was under way, as well as launching construction of a wine cellar, she'd have time to find a place of her own. And she'd know if Harmony Valley would live up to its name and her memories of it being a close-knit town. "You do remember I'm not that graceful."
"Of course I remember." Grandpa tapped his temple with a thin, age-spotted finger. "I'm not senile."
"We need to find a place to put your inactive research, so I won't" and her grandfather wouldn't "come in late at night when my reflexes are shot, and knock everything down." Given how he walked, it was a miracle the stacks hadn't toppled already.
"I like my library where it is. You can come in the kitchen door." Her grandfather had a barnacle expression of his own, reminding her why his nickname was War.
Shelby realized she'd have to raise the stakes. "You know, Grandma Ruby wouldn't approve."
"Maybe not," he allowed. "But she'd understand. You'll come through the kitchen door."
"Accept my apology, Sugar Lips?" Gage Ja-mero was up to his elbows in trouble with his latest lady love.
Well, at least one elbow.
Sugar Lips's contraction built like a blood pressure cuff around Gage's right biceps. His face heated, his fingers numbed, his body felt as if it was wrapped in a too-tight ace bandage.
"Breathe easy, honey." Gage tried to follow his own advice. During his internship and residency, he'd gained quite a reputation as a horse whisperer when it came to peevish, pregnant horses. Since then, he'd soothed countless mares and saved many foals trapped in utero by breach positions, like this one was. But this foal, sired by a Kentucky Derby winner, was the equivalent of a million dollar baby.
On the floor of a hay-lined stall, sprawled on his back, his legs half across Sugar Lips's chestnut flanks, Gage sweated through the mare's next contraction. He hadn't been this nervous about his performance since he choked while asking his lab partner out in the twelfth grade. Saving this foal would make or break his fledgling career.
He'd graduated. He'd passed his licensing exam, both in California and Kentucky. He had a job offer in Lexington. All he was waiting for was his predecessor's retirement. Until then, he was working for lucrative per-delivery fees from the Thomason Equine Hospital, a facility in Davis which was also an open classroom to local university vet students. They received notification when a procedure or delivery was imminent at Thomason and were able to observe through specially installed viewing windows. Today they were witnessing Gage, one of their own a year ago, on the main stage. He'd never been requested to deliver such a valuable foal before. If he screwed this upand there were many ways to fail hereit would be a blow to his young career. He might even lose the job in Kentucky.
As if sensing what was at stake, the student onlookers and support staff in the hallway of the birthing center fell into a hushed silence, much like the gallery at a golf tournament before a pro-golfer shot for birdie and the win.
And just like that pro-golfer, Gage knew he had supporters and detractors. No one wanted anything bad to happen to the mare and her foal, but everyone was hungry for the spotlight he'd recently claimed.
The contraction faded and Gage regained use of his fingers, pressing them harder against the flat of the foal's forehead, pushing it farther back into the mare's uterus. He shifted more weight onto his shoulders and the mare's haunches. Extending his arm, he found the foal's front leg and eased it forward without snagging the umbilical cord until he had two delicate hooves in his grasp.
"Here we go, Sugar Lips," he crooned, much too aware that his back was at the mare's mercy should she kick.
The mare's wet flanks heaved as if this breath would be her last. She was young and this was her first pregnancy. She'd spent much of her prelabor huffing, glaring and kicking at Gage, blaming him for her condition. So far he'd been extremely lucky in avoiding injury, but luck only lasted so long when idiots were present.
"Dr. Jamero?" The question echoed through the birthing stall.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Shelby grew up in Harmony Valley she married her high school sweetheart who has died. She has moved back home to help her grandfather in the winery. Gage lives in Harmony Valley he, Shelby and her husband have been good friends until her husband’s death than Gage wouldn’t take her calls. With them both being in the same town for a while it is hard for Shelby to forgive Gage for not being there when she needed him most. Gage has his own demons that he is fighting he feels guilty of his friend’s death. Gage has always had strong feelings for her now that they are living close will these feelings come to a head. What are her feelings toward him? The was a cute funny read that will break your heart one minute and leaving you laughing the next. I loved the humor and the fun of the matchmakers. If they have their way these two will be together. This is well written with wonderful characters you can relate to. Before long they seem like family. I hope you give this author a try I really enjoy and love her book there is always humor, heartbreak, love with lots of romance.
One Perfect Year ( A Harmony Valley Novel ) By: Melinda Curtis One Perfect Year is the fourth book in A Harmony Valley Novel. I believe One Perfect Year is my favorite so far . I laughed and at times there was tears. Curtis pulled me in right at the start and did not let go till the end. Harmony Valley is mostly elder generation , but the younger generation is starting to come back. This is Shelby and Gage’s story . Shelby’s husband ,Nick, died two years ago and she moved back to start over. Gage just comes back , he is a veterinarian , but he does not plan on staying. Shelby , Nick, and Gage were all friends , but Shelby can’t forgive Gage for not being there for her when Nick died. Shelby just cant get passed the hurt. The elder people in this story want to play matchmaking . You will really love them . Can they get Shelby and Gage together or is there to much hurt? I was given a copy of this book by the author for my honest review.
Heartwarming! I think a word on the cover describes the story very well: Heartwarming. It fits the story perfectly, as I did indeed find One Perfect Year to be a very heartwarming story. As romances go, the story had a little bit of a different story line. Many romances are about a past love rekindled, but this one begins instead with a past friendship. Shelby has been widowed for a few years. While Shelby, her husband Nick, and Gage had been friends since their school years, Nick and Gage had been best friends. When Nick passed away, Shelby was counting on Gage to be there for her, but such was not the case. Consequently, Shelby was very hurt by Gage's absence. A few years later, Shelby and Gage reconnect. The story moves through the hurt, pain, and even guilt that both of them had been feeling and moves into a very heartwarming story of forgiveness, love, and new beginnings. While Shelby and Gage's story is the main plot, the author included a few other threads in the story. She did so in a way that doesn't take away from or overshadow Shelby and Gage's story. Instead, they contribute to the story in a way that blends in very well, making One Perfect Year a very heartwarming story. *****I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and viewpoints are my own.
'One Perfect Year'(Harmony Valley Book 4) by Melinda Curtis is a great story. I loved getting to know Shelby, Gage, Mae, Shelby's grandpa and catching up with all the other wonderful people from Harmony Valley. This is an excellent series. Highly recommend to all fans of romance.
Shelby Hawkley has yet to recover from the accidental death of her husband. She's come back to Harmony Valley where she fell in love and married. She's looking after her grandfather and helping set up a new winery. Gage Jamero has also come home. He has always loved Shelby even when she married his best friend. Can they put the past behind them and find love? This is such an emotional story. I'll admit that I cried as I watched Shelby and Gage struggle to come to grips with Nick's death and the resulting guilt. They make such a perfect couple. Their attraction was so tender and sweet. I cared for them and wanted them to find happiness. Harmony Valley is filled with caring and loving people. It made me wish I lived there. The secondary characters were powerful. Mae was a wise woman and a matchmaker. She faced death with dignity and courage that touched me. Shelby's grandfather was determined to make sure that she moved on. I laughed at his cantankerous attitude. The story was a tribute to the human spirit. I loved it! I hope that we'll see more stories about Harmony Valley. Melinda Curtis did a wonderful job! She created a story that
One Perfect Year is the fourth installment to the A Harmony Valley series. It is the first I have read of the series and loved it. I thought it was a fun, engaging, and, of course, heartwarming. I look forward to reading more of this series. A great, clean read. 5 stars.
Shelby Hawkins has returned home two years after the death of her husband to help her ailing grandfather. Gage Jamero is THE vet to call when you have a pregnant racehorse. He is also the best friend of Shelby’s late husband and the protégé of her grandfather. Gage’s mentality is that if he had only asked Shelby out that long ago day in school she would be his, but his buddy got there first. So Gage respectfully bowed out. Now that Shelby is a widow, Gage can’t decide whether to honor his long ago commitment and just be a friend to Shelby or to reveal his true feelings. Shelby’s grandfather has offered Gage the opportunity to revamp the vet office in Harmony Valley and Gage has to decide if he’s willing to give up his dream of being the vet to Kentucky Derby winners or get his chance with Shelby. Book four in the Harmony Valley series is a wonderful, wild ride of emotions wrapped in a great story of likable characters.
This is my first Harmony Valley book and I think even though it is part of a series, it can be read alone without you feeling that you are missing something. The cast of Harmony Valley characters are really fun and I really enjoyed each and every character. One Perfect Year is a story which has depth and it really touched my heart. Love this sweet and clean romance story.
This is the first Harmony Valley novel that I have read, and I want to go back and find out about the other stories and characters I missed. Gabe is a vet who has become the "go to" doctor when it comes to handling mares giving birth, which is no easy task. Working with race horses is his dream job and he has been offered a job in Lexington, Kentucky, which would start after the current vet retires. He had hastily left Harmony Valley two years prior when his best friend Nick died. Shelby, who had been married to Nick, tried to keep in touch with Gabe, but he refused to respond to all forms of communication. Since Nick's death, Shelby has stayed in Harmony Valley, and now works at a winery. She has just moved in with her grandfather, known as Doc, who is pretty fragile in his old age. Gabe commits to temporarily go back to Harmony Valley and work with him to help reopen his veterinarian practice due to the growing population of both people and animals. Doc and Mae, both elderly and endearing to the heart, attempt to use their own life experiences in convincing Gabe and Shelby to get past their grief and move on with life. I love the characters, the visions of wineries and race horses, and the manner in which the author brings it all together.
Melinda Curtis brings Harmony Valley and its residents to life in One Perfect Year. I loved the charming characters, both main and secondary, and the entertaining storyline! The relationship between Shelby and Gage is full of chemistry and was such fun to read. Witty and romantic, this wonderful story warmed my heart and left me smiling. I loved visiting Harmony Valley and look forward to returning again soon! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.
What a completely engaging and heartfelt story! One Perfect Year tugged at my heartstrings with its heroine who is a young widow, scared to love again, and the man who has silently loved her since he set eyes on her in high school. The community of Harmony Valley drew me in. It is mostly an aging community and those elderly characters provided for a lot of fun and tender moments. I did not realize when I read this book that it was book four in the series. It can definitely be read as a stand alone novel! Gage was a great character. He returns to Harmony Valley temporarily. Having achieved quite a bit of success as a veterinarian with an equine focus, he specializes in helping thoroughbred horses with difficult deliveries. Shelby has just relocated to Harmony Valley and has a great position with a local winery and has a promising career ahead of her. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Gage and Shelby. There were hurt feelings, guilt, a broken friendship, fear, and hidden love to navigate through. The way the author dove into each of these emotions and wove them into these characters made them come alive to me. I was cheering for Shelby and Gage and hoping they could work things out. This was such a beautiful and sweet story! My thanks to the author for the complimentary copy of this book that I was given in exchange for an honest review.
A sweet romance that takes place in Harmony Valley. Shelby returns home to work at the local winery and help her aging grandfather. They both loss their spouses two years ago. Gabe also return home temporarily to help out at the local vet. Gabe ass not been back home since his best friend, Nick died who was Shelby's husband. Gabe has always had thee hots for Shelby since they wee even in school. Shelby, calls Gabe, "Dead Gabe" since he wanted no part of Shelby after the funeral. There is a chemistry between these two, but Shelby does not want love to hurt. I really enjoyed this sweet romance between Shelby and Gabe, very likeable characters. I loved how the whole town was trying to play matchmaker for these two. I received this book from the author for an honest review. I highly recommend this book. I will now go back and read the other Harmony Valley stories.
I was given an ARC copy for a review. This is the first book I have read by this author and I must say, I am hooked! I love the small town romance novels because they make you feel a part of the town. I especially loved Grandpa and Mae. These type of characters make the story! Looking forward to reading more books by Melinda Curtis!
Shelby has a lot of baggage. Not only did her husband die, but her best friend all but abandoned her in her greatest time of need. Now Gage is back and things aren't the same as they were before. Shelby is a very compassionate and passionate woman. She loves deeply and holds onto the past. She's afraid of the unknown and often thinks of the "what ifs" in life. Yet, from dogs to elderly ladies, she has just the knack to make those around her feel loved and accepted. I wanted to see her get over her issues because she really has a lot to offer, but I can understand how she wants to protect herself and her heart. Gage let emotion and fear drive him away, but now he's ready to man up. I like Gage, but had a hard time understanding why he struggled making a big decision--love or career? Those choices aren't easy for anyone to make, but the answer was clear for me. I loved returning to Harmony Valley. The characters are quirky and endearing and the setting is heavenly. I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this story and felt a lot of emotion in relationship to the events that happened. Mae, an older woman, is selling her old wedding dress store and I could feel her regret at having to do so. There were quite a few humorous moments, especially involving Lucky, the stray St. Bernard. I enjoyed the romantic connections, but wish the tension would have been throughout the story, instead of so close to the end. I look forward to more! Content: Squeaky clean romance (kissing); mild language (one or two mild words); mild violence (relating to injuries sustained from animals); no religious elements. *I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*
This was a wonderfully emotional story. Shelby is a young widow, back in Harmony Valley working for the winery. Gage is her former friend, who secretly loved her since the moment they met in school, but his friend, Nick, got to her first. After Nick died, Gage left and never looked back. Now he is back in Harmony Valley as well. With help from the town's elderly residents, including Shelby's grandfather, Shelby is slowly learning how to let go of her pain and trust again. She sheltered herself trying to save herself from the pain of losing someone again. I laughed and cried while reading this story.
Melinda Curtin's One Perfect Year. Welcome to Harmony Valley!! Shelby Hawkley grew up here. She married her high school sweetheart who recently died in a water sport activity. So now Shelby is back in town with her grandfather to work at a winery in the Valley. Enter Gage Jamero, a veterinarian who grew up in Harmony Valley. Gage, Shelby and her husband, Nick had always been close friends until Nick death then Gage ignored all Shelby calls. So what happens now? Will Gage and Shelby be able to re-establish their friendship? Why was Gage ignoring her calls? Why did Gage feel he could have prevented Nick death? Will Gage let Shelby know he has loved her since high school? Shelby’s grandfather wants Gage to take over his veterinary practice in Harmony Valley. Will Gage consider this at all? Gage has been working with race horses and is one of the top in his field. Would he be able to trade racehorses for small animal care and treatment? All these questions will need to be answered amidst the shenanigans of the colorful, quirky & fun town people, a big lovable dog, two kitten and a crazy goose. Very entertaining read!! Thank you to the author for this eBook. My opinion is my own.
Shelby Hawkley is a young widow who moves back to her hometown of Harmony Valley to pick up the pieces of her life and start living again. Little does she know that her grandfather and a couple other locals have decided to play matchmaker. However, Shelby isn’t ready to move on and fall in love again. Not only has she lost her husband, but she’s also lost her former best friend, Gage, who mysteriously quit talking to her after her husband died. It’s now been 2 years since she’s seen or talked to Gage and it has nearly broken her heart. Gage Jamero is an up and coming veterinarian who’s starting to make a name for himself treating racehorses. He’s well on his way to achieving his dream of moving to Kentucky to work exclusively with the thoroughbreds. But, just weeks before he’s supposed to be moving to Kentucky, he decides to temporarily help the veterinarian from his hometown rebuild his old practice. While back in Harmony Valley, it’s inevitable that he will run into Shelby, his former best friend and the secret love of his life. However, ever since her husband died 2 years ago the two friends haven’t spoken at all due to the fact that Gage has some secrets that he’s sure will push Shelby away forever. However, resuming their now fragile friendship may be just what the both of them need. Can Gage get the courage to tell Shelby how he feels? Can Shelby open her heart to love again and forgive Gage for abandoning her during her time of need? Oh, this was such a lovely story! It’s such a sweet tale of loss, friendship, and love. I LOVED the history between Shelby and Gage. I thought it was endearing how the townspeople rallied around each other and took care of their own, even if it meant that there was some meddling going on! It was great to see how Shelby grew and learned to let go of some fears that she had been clinging to and how Gage was willing to put down his pride. I especially loved the ending. It couldn’t have been any sweeter or better in my opinion. Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be read as a stand-alone. This book was seriously hard to put down and I definitely wasn’t disappointed with how it ended. I HIGHLY recommend this sweet book. It was such an enjoyable, heartwarming read and I was hooked until the very last page. I loved it! (I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. These opinions are entirely my own.)
One Perfect Year is romance at its best. A tale of how the life challenges change individuals into a better person. This story engages the reader in the compelling plot nuances as the two main characters work out a romance that is stronger for enduring over miscommunication and misunderstandings. A good romance has a story within a story and this book has that particular aspect. Enjoyable, thrilling, and just plain fun, this book brings the reader right into the action. I would highly recommend this book. Loved the characters!!
Another fabulous story in the Harmony Valley series. After two years Gage Jamero is back where he least expects to be. Back in Harmony Valley facing Shelby, the woman he has loved since high school but who was married to his now deceased best friend. Shelby is furious at Gage for deserting her when she needed him after Nick died but slowly they repair their relationship. When it starts to become more than friendship, Shelby is too afraid of loving again to really let it develop. This is a beautiful sweet romance about learning to love again through the fears and doubts. I definitely recommend this one.