About the Author
A lifelong reader, Cindy Loven is an active church wife of a minister and mother to one son who is a home school graduate. Cindy and her family reside in Conway, Arkansas.
Read an Excerpt
Quilts of Love Series
By Laura V. Hilton, Cindy Loven
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2014 Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven
All rights reserved.
Sara Jane Morgan gasped for breath, scanning the crowded pathways. Everyone showed up for the Heritage Festival, which was good for the artists and vendors, but bad for her. Especially considering ...
No. She couldn't voice her concerns. At least not yet. But losing a loved one in this mob would cause anyone to panic. This was why mothers kept their toddlers locked securely in strollers and older children attached to harnesses with straps.
But one couldn't exactly fasten a grandmother to a leash. And Sara Jane, being a grown woman, shouldn't be having a panic attack.
She pulled in a shaking breath and forced herself to calm down. She could handle this. Stepping to the side of the paved walkway, she let a woman pushing a double stroller pass, then a man driving a motorized wheelchair. She feigned interest in the open-air tent beside her. A display of corncob dolls. People still made them?
Well, this was the Appalachians. There were tourists here from all over the country who expected to find mountain handcrafts for sale.
She merged into the crowd and peeked into the next tent, making sure to get a look at the people inside. This one showcased CDs and DVDs by Appalachian musicians—or rather, one particular group. Pretending to shop while scanning the customers, she lifted a case off the rack by the entrance and looked at the picture. Banjos, played by guys in overalls. She put it back.
Another booth held pocketknives and hunting, fishing, and utility knives. Grandma wouldn't be here. Mostly men anyway. She moved on.
The tent next to it held screen-printed t-shirts ...
Panic filled her again. Grandma had wandered further than she expected. How long had she been missing before Sara Jane realized she'd disappeared? She pushed her way past a few people holding a conversation in the middle of the sidewalk. She caught a glimpse of a uniformed Boy Scout. Weren't they supposed to help people? He disappeared into the throng before she caught up to him.
Sara Jane went on to the next display. Oh. Wow. Brightly colored quilts. This was where she would have expected to find Grandma. She loved to quilt and belonged to the Christian Women's group at church. But Grandma wasn't with the women oohing and ahhing over the quilts.
Maybe. A gray-haired woman stood off to the back, head bowed as she studied the stitching. No, she wasn't Grandma. Her hair was a different cut, and she wore a green t-shirt and a blue jean skirt. Sara Jane would come back and check this tent again later, in case Grandma made her way here.
The next tent was completely enclosed, the canvas doors tied open with twine. Sara Jane poked her head in, ready to rush on. The tent was void of people except for two, a man and Grandma.
Expelling a breath she hadn't realized she held, Sara Jane grasped the edge of the tent door and forced herself to look around.
Grandma was in here. With brooms. Whoever knew there were so many ways to make a broom?
The man behind the table looked as bushy as his wares. His shaggy brown beard hung down to his collar, and a rumpled button-up shirt draped over his blue jeans. His hair was almost as long as his beard. He looked up as she entered. His eyes reminded her of dark chocolate.
Grandma stood beside the scruffy-looking man, holding a piece of paper, saying words Sara Jane couldn't catch due to the sudden rush of blood in her ears. She turned. "Oh, there you are, Sara Jane. I hired Andrew to do some odd jobs around my house since I'm thinking of selling. Doesn't he have the cutest business card?" She held out the cardstock.
Sara Jane took it and gave it a cursory glance. Starving artist/pay the bills handyman in bold, colorful print topped the card. Andrew Stevenson. Followed by a phone number, and a picture of a bright-red tool box. She handed it back to Grandma. "Adorable."
The adjective didn't apply to the owner of the card.
"Grandma, don't you think you'd rather hire someone we actually know to do the repairs?"
* * *
"Sara Jane! I raised you to treat people better."
Drew Stevenson tried to control his grin as the older woman tore into the younger one.
Rude or not, he couldn't tear his gaze away from Sara Jane. She was ... stunning. But so not his type. A woman like her would never look twice at a man like him. Not as if he'd want her to.
She had long, dark hair, the color of espresso coffee. He couldn't see her eyes, hidden behind sunglasses, but he imagined they'd be brown, like her hair. Or maybe hazel. She wore tailored jeans, undoubtedly designer, the type with a permanent crease up the front middle of the leg. A fitted blouse in a shade of a pinkish-orange reminded him of peaches. The top two or three buttons were unhooked, giving a tantalizing glimpse of ...
He glanced away. He had no right to look. Her husband ... he scanned her hand. Not married. Her boyfriend wouldn't appreciate another man ogling his girl.
Her gaze skittered over his brooms with a dismissive look, the same one she'd bestowed upon him. As if he weren't worthy of consideration—either as a broom maker or a man. His passion and art deserved some appreciation. Irritation ate at him. His hand tightened around the handle of the broom closest to him.
"Sorry, Grandma, and you too, Mr. uh ... sir, but I don't think ..."
He ranked so low on her importance scale she didn't remember his name. Oh. That hurt. He clenched his jaw. He refused to think of the time he asked a woman out and she laughed in his face, as if he'd been telling a joke.
The older woman stiffened. "I don't care what you think. It's my decision, Sara Jane. My house. And my right to ..."
Drew straightened his spine and turned away from them, re-arranging a display as he tried not to listen to the animated conversation. It wasn't too hard when other people drifted into the tent.
"Oooh, look at these brooms! Isn't this a cute little one? What's it used for?"
He looked at the middle-aged woman in front of him. "It's called a turkey wing broom. It's used for brushing off countertops and tables, or other surfaces."
"It's so cute. How much do you charge for it? Do you do custom orders? I like pink, and try to keep everything as pink as possible around my house."
He worked his mouth a second before he found his voice. "Pink. Yes, ma'am, I do custom orders." But pink? "It'd be slightly more expensive, though."
"Oh, it's okay." The woman whipped a pink cell phone out of her pocket. "Let me take a picture of you with this broom. You look like a real mountain man."
* * *
Sara Jane's mouth dried even as tears burned her eyes. Grandma intended to sell her house? Since when? She'd never mentioned it in all the conversations they'd had recently.
Putting the Appalachian-style log cabin Grandpa had built Grandma as a new bride aside, how could Grandma think of hiring someone who looked like this man? Didn't he own a razor? He looked as if he came straight out of the wilderness, like a John the Baptist wannabe. Maybe he ate locusts and honey.
Her stomach clenched. By the looks of him, he could be a mass murderer, with the beard to keep people from recognizing his picture on the most wanted list. She peered at him again. He looked familiar. He'd probably been on a recent episode of America's Most Wanted.
He did make nice-looking brooms, assuming he'd actually done the work, but it didn't matter in the least. She couldn't allow Grandma to hire him.
Besides, Grandma kept hiring incompetent people, like the last one Sara Jane discovered stuffing sterling silver candleholders in his toolbox.
Maybe if she changed the subject.... Sara Jane gently took her grandmother by the elbow and steered her farther away from the table. "You scared me out of my skin, taking off like that. What were you thinking?"
Grandma frowned and shook her head. "I didn't take off. You were the one who wasn't paying attention. You obviously didn't hear me when I said I wanted to see what else was out there. Not everyone is interested in looking at books about Daniel Boone and forts and what types of Indians were native to these hills."
Okay, that'd been about the time Grandma had gone missing.
"I didn't know you were thinking of selling your house. We'll discuss it later. If you need a handyman, why don't you hire your nice neighbor, Charlie Jones, to work on the house for you? We don't know this man."
Grandma made an unfeminine snort and rolled her eyes. "I don't need a babysitter. Have you ever considered you're smothering me?"
Sara Jane gasped. Smothering? How could Grandma think she was smothering her?
"Besides, Charlie Jones can't work on my house. He died a year ago." Grandma folded her arms and stared Sara Jane down.
Sara Jane tried hard not to sigh. Her handy excuse to get Grandma away from the John the Baptist impersonator disappeared and made her look foolish in the process. And since when did Grandma get so argumentative? It had to be something to do with old age. She'd read something about it in a magazine article somewhere.
"Sara Jane, I like this young man and I intend to hire him. It's my house and my decision. And that's final." Grandma punctuated it with a decisive nod. "He'll be there Monday at eight."CHAPTER 2
Monday morning, Drew held his buzzing electric razor and stared at his reflection in the mirror. Should he—or shouldn't he?
He scowled at his image. It shouldn't matter what Sara Jane Morgan thought. Her grandmother hired him. And he wasn't attracted to the uptight, modern type. So why was he suddenly obsessing over his looks?
Drew unplugged the razor, turned the bathroom light off, and headed for the kitchen in his small rental house to find something for breakfast. He might have one toaster pastry left. His coffeemaker was preprogrammed to turn on automatically.
After feeding his dog and letting her out, he poured a cup of java and opened his cupboard door, reaching for the discounted brand of toaster pastries he'd bought. The package lifted light in his hand. He peeked in. Empty. He tossed the box in the trashcan and frowned at the bare shelf. He'd have to go grocery shopping on the way home tonight. He'd go through a drive-through on the way to Mrs. Morgan's house this morning. No, on second thought, he'd go in and order the big breakfast—pancakes, scrambled eggs, and whatever else came with it. No telling what kind of handyman chores she'd have him do and he'd need his strength.
He raked his fingers through his long, tangled hair.
Especially if her granddaughter was there.
* * *
Sari scratched her head. There'd been something she planned to do today. Something to keep Sara Jane present, yet away from her new handyman. She wanted them to get acquainted, but didn't want her granddaughter harassing him to the point where he'd quit, like the last man she'd hired.
But it didn't matter. Nor did the fact Sara Jane had done such an amateurish job painting the bathroom that Sari needed to find someone else to redo the task. What mattered was the chore she'd had in mind.... If only she could remember what it'd been. She should've written it down the moment she'd thought of it, especially since lately, she'd been forgetting more things than she remembered.
She whispered a prayer God would help her remember, and started walking around inside her house. It might help. Maybe a hot shower would jar her memory. She headed for the bathroom, when something clicked, like a door latching shut. She stopped and listened. If it was Sara Jane, she'd call out. If it wasn't ... Sari would need to call the police.
A phone. Now, where'd she leave it?
"Grandma, where are you?"
Sari sagged in relief. It was Sara Jane. "Just fixin' to take my shower, dear. Have you had breakfast?" No point in worrying her granddaughter with her bad memory.
"No. I'll go ahead and make some coffee and oatmeal. Then we can start our search in the sewing room."
Ah, that's what she'd forgotten. She'd planned to clean and search the sewing room for the ballad quilt blocks she'd started years ago. It was something her grandmother told her about. For centuries, Appalachian women created quilts depicting the many folk songs popular in their area. Sari had picked The Ballad of Pretty Saro for her quilt, since Saro, Sarah, Sari, and Sara were all names in the family for generations. She'd been thrilled when her son and daughter-in-law decided to name their baby girl Sara Jane, keeping the tradition alive.
Sari finished her shower, then went out to the kitchen as Sara Jane placed buttered toast on a small plate next to her bowl of steaming oatmeal. Sari noted Sara Jane skipped oatmeal for herself, and had only taken two slices of toast, with peanut butter.
Sara Jane glanced at her as she entered the room. Her mouth was set in a firm line, the way it always was when she got perturbed. Sari should apologize for fussing in front of Andrew, but she wanted Sara Jane to stew. Grandchildren weren't the keepers of their grandparents, and Sara Jane needed to understand, even if it had been the two of them for the past twelve years.
* * *
Sara Jane had taken one bite of her breakfast when a loud knock came from the back door. Before she could put the peanut butter toast down and get to her feet, Grandma hustled over and swung the door open.
The handyman Grandma had hired stood on the porch in all his bearded glory. He nodded briefly in Sara Jane's direction without meeting her eyes. His hair was unkempt, as if he'd finger-combed it. She shook her head, her gaze skimming down his paint-covered jeans and ragged t-shirt. Ugh. What could Grandma possibly be thinking?
"Come on in." Grandma went toward the cupboard for another mug and poured coffee in it without asking if he wanted any. She put the carton of half-and-half and the sugar bowl on the table. "Come on now, don't be shy."
"I already had my coffee, and have a thermos full in the truck." The John the Baptist look-alike raked his fingers through his hair, messing it up further.
Sara Jane looked away and tried to control a grimace.
"Have some oatmeal. It'll stick to your ribs and fatten you up. You need to add some meat to your bones." Grandma spooned some into a bowl and set it next to the coffee. "Doesn't your mama take care of you?" She swung around and grabbed his left hand, making a point of peering at it. "Haven't you got a woman? No matter, Sara Jane here is looking too."
"Grandma, I am not!" Sara Jane sputtered. Thankfully, she hadn't spewed coffee across the table.
"Well, you should be." Grandma set her mouth in a narrow line. "Andrew, have a seat and eat up. I won't take no for an answer."
"Yes, ma'am." Drew nodded, his beard and long hair bouncing with the movement. "My friends call me Drew."
Grandma studied him. "I prefer Andrew."
Drew nodded and sat in the chair she indicated. "Looks good, ma'am."
"It is. My granddaughter made it. She's a good cook."
Drew turned his head in her direction and nodded again. Probably acknowledging Grandma's comment. He took a bite of his oatmeal.
Grandma finally rose from the table and turned to Sara Jane. "Go to the sewing room and see if you can find the quilt I started. I'll be there in a few minutes."
"Actually, I thought I'd go around with you and Mr ..." She glanced at the business card lying on the table. "Mr. Stevenson and see what all you have in mind for him to do. Maybe I could do some of the work and save you some money."
Grandma's spine stiffened like it did when she got aggravated. "Sara Jane." Her voice sounded stern. "You git back there and do what I told you. I'll show Andrew what I want him to do. Do you hear me?"
Sara Jane frowned, suddenly feeling as if she were twelve again. With Grandma's current mood swings, it was easier to go along with her than to try to reason. "Yes, ma'am. Sorry, Mr. Stevenson."
Could this get any more humiliating?
"And you will leave Andrew alone and let him work."
"Yes, ma'am." Grandma lowered her chin and set her jaw.
Sara Jane rolled her eyes. "Yes, ma'am." She carried her plate over to the dishwasher, loaded it, and headed to the sewing room.
Seriously, she could think of better things to do with her time than digging through boxes of fabric. How many years had Grandma collected this stuff? It wasn't a few boxes either. They were stacked to the ceiling all across one wall of the room. Sara Jane surveyed the scene and shook her head. How would she recognize the pieces if she did find them?
Nothing to do but dig in.
She sorted through three or four boxes of fabric and found all the white background quilt blocks Grandma mentioned, but she hadn't found any of the pieces she'd talked about appliquéing on. Maybe they hadn't been cut out yet.
Excerpted from Swept Away by Laura V. Hilton, Cindy Loven. Copyright © 2014 Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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
Swept Away is an amazing book that I found enjoyable to read. The authors did a superior job in bringing out many different emotions from the characters. This book is one of the Quilts of Love collection. I was intrigued with the quilt, plus the designing of homemade brooms and what Sara Jane finds out online about Drew. Of course, we cannot forget Sara Jane's grandmother's matchmaking. All of this is interwoven into a magnificent novel. Don't miss reading this wonderful book and Swept Away would make a great Christmas gift. I received a complimentary copy from the authors in exchange for my honest review. This review is one hundred percent my opinion.
I love this story. I have to admit, characters burdened by insecurities are easy for me to identify with, and Sara Jane and Drew Stevenson both carry feelings of self-doubt. The tentative relationship between these two as well as their individual relationships with Sara Jane’s grandmother, Sari, swept me into their world of disappointments and longings. The author’s skill at realistic dialogue and sweet romance shines in this story, and I didn’t want it to end. Her ability to weave the heartache of dementia, tragic losses, and troubled relationships into a tale full of sweetness and hope amazes me. Swept Away easily earns five stars.
A contemporary Christian romance set in West Virginia. Two very different people are brought together through an older woman--called Grandma by everyone--who needs a lot of help around her home, including finishing a quilting project, which reflects her life story. The relationship between the young people is a bumpy one, like the long hike described in Andrew's blog posts, but satisfying in the end. It was interesting learning more about ballad quilts, the folk art of broom making, and the Appalachian Trail. There's also a good portrayal of the difficulties associated with aging and memory loss. 3.5 stars [Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary copy of this book; in exchange, this is my honest, unsolicited review.]
Swept Away: Quilts of Love Series is well-written and fun to read. Feisty Grandma Sari has memory losses or is it selective memory? Andrew 'Drew' Stevenson is attracted to granddaughter, Sara Jane Morgan but what is holding him back from letting her know? He just knows it will never be. Sara Jane is attracted to Drew but sometimes she comes on just a little too strong! Drew, the handyman is also Drew, the broom maker and has a special message attached to each broom. Sara notices the thread colors on the brooms and learns their significance. Will that help to change her beliefs that God doesn't care about her? As she and Grandma Sari work on the ballad quilt, they are making memories as the quilt tells a story. Loveable characters and a clear message of Gods love make this a must-read. Great gift for anyone or for yourself!