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Countdown to True Love

January 2021

In exactly two weeks, My One True Love releases. I’m excited—and nauseous.

Publishing a new novel is, for me, like standing on the precipice of a cliff naked, and looking down, aware that I don’t have wings, or a parachute, and it’s literally a fly or die situation if I step off. Heaven knows I’m not stepping back.

I love writing. I love being an author. And I love, love, love! this story. I so want to see it succeed—to see it fly into the hands of readers eager to keep it flying into the hands of other readers through word-of-mouth, and gushing reviews.

Honestly, it’s a beautiful, sensual, and heart-tugging story, and I hope you think so, too.

The heroine, Margaret Sweeney, has suffered some tough knocks: orphaned, and left penniless twice—as well as widowed twice—her heart is about as scarred as a heart can be, and still beat. Yet she refuses to quit—though God knows, she’ll never marry again.

The youngest of four boys born to a Greek mother and Irish father, Joe Banner’s had his share of hard knocks—literally—and learned to keep his head down and eyes forward, focused only what needs to be done. His personal needs are secondary to those of his employer and his daughter. Margaret is the first woman in ten years to turn his head—and stir his male interest.

Maisie Banner is almost ten. And like many children who grow up motherless, she hungers for a woman’s guidance, love, and affection, something she finds in Mrs. Sweeney. But what Maisie really wants is a mother, home, and family of her own. Margaret and Joe want that too, though neither will admit it. Not to themselves—and especially not to each other…

Here’s a snippet …

Excerpt, My One True Love, copyright 2020-21, Deborah Small, All Rights Reserved.

Hefting the picnic basket higher on her arm, she let curiosity lead her the final few paces to where the path hooked. In moments, she was on the periphery of a clearing, at the centre of which was a pond larger than the one in the rear garden. This had to be the one Mr. Lyons had described. And, splashing in the silvery-green depths was Mr. Banner, fully clothed.

She hesitated, torn between her desire to stay and explore the place George had come to get away from his father and an equal urge to turn around and silently depart, giving Mr. Banner his deserved privacy. But it was rather difficult to look away from such a riveting scene.

After his initial plunge, he’d returned to the shore and now stood with his back to her in hip-deep water as he peeled off his sodden shirt.

She stared, transfixed by the ripple of muscle along his back and ribcage as he bent to swish the shirt in the water, rinsing and wringing the filthy garment until its near-charcoal colour faded to dingy grey, his moulded biceps flexing with each forceful twist of the material. Apparently satisfied he’d cleaned the shirt as best he could without aid of laundering soap, he turned around and waded towards shore.

She froze, attempting to blend in with the foliage and shadows as she mentally chided herself for not respecting Mr. Banner’s right to enjoy a swim in the midday heat by returning at once to the manor upon realising her planned destination was already occupied.

She held her breath, afraid to make a sound, terrified he’d look over and notice her staring at the breeches that clung to his muscular thighs and revealed every flex and contour, including the faintly darker bulge in his groin.

She closed her eyes, horrified less at having recognised the swelling and darkness for what it was and more at the scandalous rush of desire that had her imagining undoing the pewter buttons securing his breeches to guide him out—

Stop, Margaret!

She snapped her eyes open, cheeks burning with a fiery mix of desire and self-loathing. Certain he’d heard the frantic hammering of her heart, she looked over, only to find him turned the other way, preoccupied in draping his damp shirt over a spray of shrubbery near a stump.

Thank heaven.

She eased a foot backwards, desperate to remove herself from temptation and humiliation, then stilled as he lifted his hands to glide them over his face and then along his skull to shed water from his hair, arching his back as he did.

The action elevated every muscled rib along his torso and outlined the contoured concavity of his abdomen, thrusting his hipbone out as the long muscles along his spine hardened and those in his arms bunched and flexed. Water streamed over his sculpted shoulders and sides, glazing his golden skin so it glowed like oil-rubbed bronze.

Her throat constricted as another hot flush of need hit her, as strong and terrifying as a sandstorm. Her skin stung, and her mouth and lungs filled with dryness as she fought the urge to drop the basket and step out of the shadows—and into his arms.

Before she could melt into the jungle at her back, he turned towards the water and, to her increasing horror—and deepening delight—loosened his breeches and shoved them down.

Oh. Good. Lord.

She closed her eyes, but the image of his buttocks, firm and round and startlingly white in contrast to the honey-gold skin of his upper body, burned into her mind like a brand in flesh. Added to the image were the thick swaths of thigh muscle dusted with dark hairs that tapered from buttock to knee, and the calf muscles repeating the same strong definition in only slightly smaller form.

Hearing a splash, she eased an eye open. Relief flooded through her. He’d dived under the water. Now she could make good her escape.

Before she could turn around, however, he surfaced, facing her, raised an eyebrow, and smiled.

“Coming in?” he asked.

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