Yours, With Love by Delaney Cameron
A modern Beauty and the Beast...
An unexpected inheritance brings Ellen back to her hometown of St. Marys. After an absence of ten years, she never expects to run into Quinn, one of her sister’s old boyfriends and her teenage obsession. If it's true that it's a small world, it's also true that it can be a cruel one. The good-looking eighteen-year-old who touched her young heart is no more. In his place is a man whose life has been torn apart by tragedy and loss.
There was a time when Quinn believed love could conquer all; that there was nothing it couldn’t overcome. Losing Avery changed all that. Her rejection was a painful lesson in the limitations of human love. Ellen’s sudden reappearance in his life is a complication he didn't anticipate. She epitomizes everything he wants and everything he can’t have. Her touch awakens not a sleeping giant bent on destruction, but a tormented soul desperate for affection and acceptance.
Is love a shallow emotion that flees at the first sign of adversity or will it wait forever for the one whose heart it seeks?
As Quinn watched Ellen’s slim fingers remove more material from the spool, he knew it was going to be next to impossible to remain indifferent to her. Already she was consuming his thoughts and influencing his behavior. She epitomized everything he wanted and everything he couldn’t have. Like a piece of forbidden fruit dangling just out of his reach.
A small part of him wished she hadn’t reentered his life again, arousing unwanted desires and disturbing the calm surface of his existence like a pebble skipping across water. She was a complication he hadn’t anticipated and wasn’t prepared for. Like a patient dealing with the effects of anesthetic, the emotions he’d put to sleep all those months ago were slowly waking.
With an effort, he forced his thoughts in another direction. “What colors would you choose for your own wedding?”
“Probably blue, as long as my husband-to-be agrees, of course.”
“Why would he disagree? You’d look pretty in blue.”
“I wouldn’t be the one wearing it.”
“Well, then, you’d look pretty in white. How’s that?”
She glanced at him and smiled. “Very nice.”
Quinn felt that dizzy sensation sweep over him again. He frantically searched his mind for another topic of conversation. “What do you do when you’re not arranging flowers?”
“During the week, I usually come home and collapse on the couch. If I’m feeling energetic, I’ll do a few rounds on my treadmill. On the weekends when I don’t have a wedding, I like scouring antique stores for unique items to use in the shop. Other times I go to the park or to Cumberland Island.”
“I haven’t been to Cumberland Island since high school. It was a fieldtrip with my science class. I didn’t pay much attention to the scenery or the wildlife. I was too interested in trying to sneak away from the group so I could be alone with your sister.”
“That sounds normal for a teenage boy.”
Ellen reached in front of him for the floral wire, close enough that her hair brushed against his cheek. His pulse leapt to life as if she’d actually touched him. He swallowed quickly, feeling more like a teenage boy than a man old enough to have a teenager.
“I’m going to get the chance to redeem myself. I’m taking a photography class. One of our projects is to capture the essence of Georgia’s barrier islands. I was planning on going to Cumberland Island on Sunday.”
“In your preoccupation with Bethany, you might not have noticed that there are no amenities over there except water fountains and bathrooms.”
Quinn grinned. “I didn’t remember that, but my photography teacher mentioned it.”
“Would you like some company? I promise not to get in the way.”
He wasn’t sure what to think about this development. The more time he spent with Ellen, the more difficult it would be to keep his distance. Tonight was a perfect example. There had been no urgent reason for him to be here. He’d used the excuse of being close by, but that’s all it had been. An excuse to see her.
“I’ll probably be there all day,” he felt compelled to point out.
“I don’t mind. I’d much rather be outdoors than stuck inside cleaning. My mother would have a fit if she saw the cottage right now. She’s a meticulous, borderline obsessive, housekeeper. There’s never anything out of place in her house, and you can eat off the garage floor. It wasn’t until I was out on my own that I realized the earth wasn’t going to stop rotating on its axis if I left the dishes in the dishwasher overnight or didn’t make my bed every morning.”
Quinn stretched out his legs and crossed his arms. “I’m not overly concerned with those things myself. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Jase is something of a neat freak. I told him he could knock himself out on the rest of the house, but to leave my office and bedroom alone. The maid service that comes once a week hardly has anything left to do as it is. Jase even does the laundry. The one thing he won’t do is cook, but that’s okay. I don’t mind doing that if he’ll clean up the kitchen.”
“It’s obvious you two have a good relationship. Bethany and I were close when we were young, but as we grew older, we also grew apart. When I realized that she preferred her friends at school to spending time with me, I felt abandoned. I know now that she was just being a teenager.”
“The period between thirteen and eighteen is rough. You feel torn in so many directions. You’re not a child, and you’re not an adult.”
She sent him a mischievous glance. “And in the midst of all that confusion, my sister brought home a new boyfriend. Instead of treating me like a member of a subhuman race, he talked to me. After he discovered I liked gummy bears, he brought me a huge plastic container filled with them. He also didn’t laugh when I showed him the poems I wrote. And when he found me in tears because someone made fun of my freckles, he told me he liked them.”
“I don’t remember doing all that.”
“I’m sure you don’t. You were just being yourself, and from what I can see, you haven’t changed.”
“Not on the inside at least,” he added in a low voice.
Ellen put down the bow in her hand. “That’s the only place that matters.”
“It sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t always hold up in real life. We live in a society that judges by appearance. I can’t blame anyone for doing it; I used to do it myself.”
“That may be true at first, but as you get to know someone, you’re less concerned with what they look like and more influenced by what kind of person they are. If you come to really care for and love them, you will see them as being beautiful or handsome.”
“Until something changes. It’s easy to love when everything’s going well. The real test of love is what you do when everything goes wrong. In my case, she called off the wedding.”
“Then I have to question whether she really loved you. Love isn’t dependent on something as transitory as appearance.”
“It shouldn’t be, but appearance has a lot to do with getting the process started.” He glanced at his watch. “It’s almost seven. Don’t you think you’ve worked long enough for one day?”
She laughed as she started clearing away ribbon and floral wire. “I always feel like there’s more I can do, but you’re right. This can wait until tomorrow.”
Quinn walked with her to the small parking lot at the end of the street. His reluctance to leave her was yet another sign that he was in serious trouble. He needed a dose of reality, like a quick glance in a mirror, to remind him how impossible this was.
This book tugged at my heart-strings. Loved these characters! Physical scars are one thing, but emotional scars are even worse. Sweet story of redemption and healing. -- Amazon Reviewer
Love heals like nothing else--and Ellen and Quinn discover this beautiful fact after they learn to trust each other! Beautifully written with heart experiences along the way. Delaney Cameron's writing is delight to say the least. -- Amazon Reviewer
A very sweet story. I loved the fulfillment of Ellen's teenage crush. The relationship between Quinn and Ellen was sweet and well paced. I loved the way Quinn's family was getting involved. These are characters who you want to be friends with. I can't wait for more books in this series! Each book can be read independently. -- Amazon Reviewer
This was a very touching, sweet "second chance" romance. I loved how the heroine was determined to show the hero that he was worthy of being loved, despite his physical and emotional scars, and how he tried to fulfill all her teenage dreams and expectations in return. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series! -- Amazon Reviewer
Author Delaney Cameron
I'm a Georgia girl at heart if not by birth. I love to read, watch college football, and spend time with my husband. I'm a hopeless romantic so there will always be a happily ever after in my stories. I also like to write about second chances because love doesn't always work out the first time.
I write sweet romances set in both contemporary and regency settings. My stories are about the journey to love, from that first meeting to the point where two people know their hearts are no longer their own. My characters aren't perfect. They make mistakes and have faults like the rest of us. They learn the sometimes painful truth that the path to love isn't always smooth, but it's a road worth traveling.
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