What’s a girl to do when her life sounds ripped from the lyrics of a country music song?
Charlotte Van Cleave’s hissy-fit reaction to her husband’s infidelity sours her world like a pot of boiled chitlins. She’s left with no husband, no job, and no home—well, besides the dilapidated farmhouse inherited from her nana.
But Charlie learned early that southern girls dig deep when things go sideways. She’d climbed out of the mire when her missionary parents were killed in Congo, endured two late-term miscarriages, and survived the death of her nana and papaw. Too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash, Charlie follows a new path with her interior design skills.
Derek Daniels spent his life serving his country until a helicopter accident ended his military career. Now back home on the family farm, he’s stuck between his philandering brother, Nicky, and the only girl he’s ever loved—sweet Charlie Van Cleave. Unwilling to cross a line, he vows to keep his feelings to himself. Easier said than done when Charlie discovers a mystery surrounding her parents’ death and asks him to help investigate.
What’ll Charlie and Derek have to do to turn those lyrics into a country hit?
My thoughts: I loved this story and the many layers that it had! Charlie picked the wrong brother when she married Nick and feels like she has been dealing with the consequences of that poor decision ever since. When she has the chance to take on the project of restoring her grandparents old home, she may just get a chance at restoring her life.
This story could have been pretty sticky with Nick and Derek both loving the same woman, and one not standing by her through thick and thin. I loved Derek and the honor that he shows Charlie with his relationship with her. This is a wonderful story of restoration and forgiveness.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review.
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About the Author
Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.
More from Jennifer
I love everything about the South. The seasons are more vibrant, the pace is slower, and the hospitality warmer than what I’ve previously experienced. I wasn’t born and raised here, but I’ve always felt an affinity for it. When my husband and I relocated from Northern California to middle Tennessee over three years ago, I was happier than ol’ Blue layin’ on the porch chewin’ on a big ol’ catfish head. Yes, there are times we need a translator, but we’re quick studies.
Setting is an important element of storytelling, whether it’s fictional or true. I will be the first person to tell you, I don’t have much imagination. I don’t read or write fantasy or sci-fi because I can’t picture myself in the story. I am in awe of writers who are able to create an alternate world in their minds and then share it in a story. Me? I need to see it to write it.
For that reason, I was very excited about how this move from the only place I’ve ever known to one I’d dreamt about most of my life would impact my novels and novellas. We landed here in the middle of July to magnolia trees with waxy leaves as big as my head and sweet-smelling white blossoms I couldn’t enclose in both hands. Mockingbirds chattering all hours of the day (and a lone guy at night), bright red cardinals flitting from tree to tree, and even an armadillo or two lumbering across our yard.
The character of Charlotte Van Cleave (Charlie) was born out of my imagination. Why I can create fake people but not fake settings is anyone’s guess. Her nana and pawpaw’s dilapidated farmhouse is a real home that had been abandoned outside the city limits of Shelbyville, Tennessee—in Bedford County, which is also the title of the series. I saw the house through a real estate website, and fortunately for me, it was empty. My husband and I snuck around the perimeter looking through broken widows to get a feel for the place. It didn’t hurt that there were several photos on the website, as well.
The rest of the story came in fits and starts. I first decided on Charlie’s personality, because if I know that, it’s easier to trip her up with all manner of chaos. If you’re familiar with the enneagram personality indicator, she’s a three—the Achiever. The other main character, Derek Daniels, is a six—the Loyalist. Throw in missionary parents, sibling rivalry, and southern culture and a story was born.
While I was working on Night Songs the mockingbirds were particularly active. They’re the Tennessee state bird, so they’re always around, but it’s only during the mating season they are vocal. I was lying awake in the middle of the night, and I heard one of them singing. I’d only ever heard them during the day, so I was surprised. Why would a lone mockingbird be singing at night? What I learned after a little research is that only those who are mate-less will do this. It made me sad to hear the little guy over the next several nights, pouring out his heart. Not unlike Charlie Van Cleave. Thus, a title was born.
lakesidelivingsite, May 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 17
Daysong Reflections, May 18
Genesis 5020, May 19
Texas Book-aholic, May 20
Inklings and notions, May 21
Susan K. Beatty, Author, May 22 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, May 22
deb’s Book Review, May 23
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 24
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 25
Miriam Jacob, May 26
Back Porch Reads, May 29
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.