Read an Excerpt
Take a Chance on Me
a Christiansen Family novel
By Susan May Warren, Sarah Mason
TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC.Copyright © 2013Susan May Warren
All rights reserved.
Ivy Madison would do just about anything to stay in the secluded, beautiful, innocent town of Deep Haven.
Even if she had to buy a man.
A bachelor, to be exact, although maybe not the one currently standing on the stage of the Deep Haven Emergency Services annual charity auction. He looked like a redneck from the woolly woods of northern Minnesota, with curly dark-blond hair, a skim of whiskers on his face, and a black T-shirt that read, Hug a logger—you'll never go back to trees. Sure, he filled out his shirt and looked the part in a pair of ripped jeans and boots, but he wore just a little too much "Come and get me, girls," in his smile.
The auctioneer on stage knew how to work his audience. He regularly called out names from the crowd to entice them to bid. And apparently the town of Deep Haven loved their firefighters, EMTs, and cops because the tiny VFW was packed, the waitresses running out orders of bacon cheeseburgers and hot wings to the bidding crowd.
After the show was over, a local band would take the stage. The auction was part of the summer solstice festival—the first of many summer celebrations Deep Haven hosted. Frankly it felt like the village dreamed up events to lure tourists, but Ivy counted it as her welcoming party.
Oh, how she loved this town. And she'd only lived here for roughly a day. Imagine how she'd love it by the end of the summer, after she'd spent three months learning the names of locals, investing herself in this lakeside hamlet.
Her days of hitching her measly worldly possessions—four hand-me-down suitcases; a loose cardboard box of pictures; a garbage bag containing The Elements of Legal Style, How to Argue and Win Every Time, and To Kill a Mockingbird; and most of all, her green vintage beach bike—onto the back of her red Nissan Pathfinder were over.
Time to put down roots. Make friends.
Okay, buying a friend didn't exactly qualify, but the fact that her money would go to help the local emergency services seemed like a good cause. And if Ivy had learned anything growing up in foster care, it was that a person had to work the system to get what she wanted.
She should be unpacking; she started work in the morning. But how long would it take, really, to settle into the tiny, furnished efficiency apartment over the garage behind the Footstep of Heaven Bookstore? And with her new job as assistant county attorney, she expected to have plenty of free time. So when the twilight hues of evening had lured her into the romance of a walk along the shoreline of the Deep Haven harbor, she couldn't stop herself.
She couldn't remember the last time she'd taken a lazy walk, stopping at storefronts, reading the real estate ads pasted to the window of a local office.
Cute, two-bedroom log cabin on Poplar Lake. She could imagine the evergreen smell nudging her awake every morning, the twitter of cardinals and sparrows as she took her cup of coffee on the front porch.
Except she loved the bustle of the Deep Haven hamlet. Nestled on the north shore of Minnesota, two hours from the nearest hint of civilization, the fishing village-turned-tourist hideaway had enough charm to sweet-talk Ivy out of her Minneapolis duplex and make her dream big.
Dream of home, really. A place. Friends. Maybe even a dog. And here, in a town where everyone belonged, she would too.
She had wandered past the fudge and gift shop, past the walkup window of World's Best Donuts, where the smell of cake donuts nearly made her follow her sweet tooth inside. At the corner, the music drew her near to the VFW. Ford F-150s, Jeeps, and a handful of SUVs jammed the postage-stamp-size dirt parking lot.
She'd stopped at the entrance, read the poster for today's activities, then peered in through the windows. Beyond a wood-paneled bar and a host of long rectangular tables, a man stood on the stage, holding up a fishing pole.
And that's when Deep Haven reached out and hooked her.
"Are you going in?"
She'd turned toward the voice and seen a tall, solidly built middle-aged man with dark hair, wearing a jean jacket. A blonde woman knit her hand into his.
"C'mon in," the woman said. "We promise not to bite. Well, except for Eli here. I make no promises with him." She had smiled, winked, and Ivy could feel her heart gulp it whole. Oh, why had she never learned to tamp down her expectations? Life had taught her better.
Eli shook his head, gave the woman a fake growl. Turned to Ivy. "Listen, it's for a good cause. Our fire department could use a new engine, and the EMS squad needs more training for their staff, what few there are. You don't have to buy anything, but you might help drive up the bids." He winked. "Don't tell anyone I told you that, though."
She laughed. "I'm Ivy Madison," she said, too much enthusiasm in her voice. "Assistant county attorney."
"Of course you are. I should have guessed. Eli and Noelle Hueston." Noelle stuck out her hand. "Eli's the former sheriff. Hence the fact that we've come with our checkbook. C'mon, I'll tell you who to bid on."
Who to bid on?
Ivy had followed them inside, taking a look around the crowded room. Pictures of soldiers hung in metal frames, along with listings of member names illuminated by neon bar signs. The smells of deep-fried buffalo wings, beer, and war camaraderie were embedded in the dark-paneled walls.
A line formed around the pool table near the back of the room—what looked like former glory-day athletes lined up with their beers or colas parked on the round tables. Two men threw darts into an electronic board.
Then her gaze hiccuped on a man sitting alone near the jukebox, sending a jolt of familiarity through her.
For a moment, she considered talking to him—not that he'd know her, but maybe she'd introduce herself, tell him, I'm the one who put together your amazing plea agreement. Yes, that had been a hot little bit of legalese. The kind that had eventually landed her right here, in her dream job, dream town.
But Noelle glanced back and nodded for Ivy to follow, so she trailed behind them to an open table.
"Every year, on the last night of the solstice festival, we have a charity auction. It's gotten to be quite an event," Noelle said, gesturing to a waitress. She came over and Eli ordered a basket of wings, a couple chocolate malts. Ivy asked for a Coke.
"What do they auction?"
"Oh, fishing gear. Boats. Snowblowers. Sometimes vacation time-shares in Cancún. Whatever people want to put up for charity. But this year, they have something special on the agenda." Noelle leaned close, her eyes twinkling. Ivy already liked her. And the way Eli had her hand wrapped in his. What might it be like to be in love like that? That kind of love ... well, Ivy had only so many wishes, and she'd flung them all at living here, in Deep Haven.
"What?" Ivy asked.
"They're auctioning off the local bachelors."
And as if on cue, that's when the lumberjack bachelor had taken the stage.
Ivy sipped her Coke, watching the frenzy.
"So are you going to bid?" Noelle asked.
Ivy raised a shoulder.
The lumberjack went for two hundred dollars—too rich for Ivy's blood—to a woman wearing a moose-antler headband. He flexed for her as he walked off stage, and the crowd erupted.
A clean-cut, handsome young man took the stage next, to the whoops of the younger crowd down front. "That's my son," Noelle said, clearly enjoying the spectacle. He seemed about nineteen or
Excerpted from Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren. Copyright © 2013 by Susan May Warren. Excerpted by permission of TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC..
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.