Sometimes letting go is the best way to hang on.
Crime-beat reporter Cade Magnusen never imagined a tragic accident would leave four-year-old niece Gracie in his care. Bitter over the loss of loved ones and nursing his wounded heart, Cade can no longer stomach chasing the true crime stories that elevated him to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. He grabs the chance to relocate to the quiet community of Heart’s Haven to raise precocious Gracie and reassemble his life.
Emmy Lassiter loves ice cream and children. She spends her days managing Babycakes, an ice cream and sweet shop whose vibrant atmosphere delights all who enter. The only mystery in Emmy’s life—beside the uncertainty over her ability to have children of her own—is what brought new Heart’s Haven neighbor Cade Magnusen and curly-haired, blue-eyed cherub Gracie to Angel Falls.
When Cade drops by Babycakes in search of a feature story for the Angel Falls Trumpet, he and Emmy feel a quick and powerful connection. The two soon begin to realize they must trust God if they are ever to move from the past into a sweet and fulfilling future.
Cade Magnuson dumped a pair of duffel bags on the sofa and rounded the coffee table. Thank God the cottage here at Heart’s Haven had come furnished. The fact took a bit of the sting out of the whole cross-country move he and Gracie had just endured. It wasn’t as if he’d amassed a ton of furniture over the past few years of living alone in his bachelor loft in downtown Manhattan. The only pieces he’d had shipped from there were Gracie’s twin bed and matching dresser. He figured his niece would fare better if she had at least a handful of things that were familiar.
The bed and dresser must have been delivered to the cottage earlier in the day because a quick stroll through the rooms proved Gracie would have a soft and at least somewhat familiar place to sleep tonight. Vivian Hart had even taken the time to cover the pillow-top twin mattress set in the castle-themed bed frame in bubblegum-pink sheets and had added a matching comforter. The kindhearted matron of the Heart’s Haven complex was surely an angel; Gracie’s squeals of delight at her first glimpse of the bed as she and Cade explored that area of their new home together told the story. It may very well take Cade’s eardrums the better part of the next decade to recover.
The rest of Gracie’s stuff—picture books and toys and a few boxes of clothing—stood stacked along the wall of the living room along with several crates of Cade’s books and essentials. He’d tackle the task of unpacking and organizing it all tomorrow. This evening, he desired only to coax the ache from his back, compliments of hours plastered to the driver’s seat of his SUV while he battled interstate traffic, and drink it all in.
He was a dad now, if not by blood or in name then certainly by a matter of recent circumstances. Gracie had become his sole responsibility, like it or not. The fact that he’d adapted so well to the sudden, life-changing event of receiving full guardianship of his niece proved a blessing. The added fact that Gracie also seemed to have adjusted to the new living arrangement went far beyond that…to a true-and-true miracle.
Cade had no doubt that God was at work in their lives. What—or who—else could account for this crazy leap of faith as he dragged Gracie clear across the country from the concrete jungle of New York City to lush, open landscapes skirting the Angelina Forest of Texas? The unexpected yet welcomed call from his long-time friend, Dylan Jones, about a job opening here in Angel Falls had set things into motion and now, like a Concorde jet boosted through take-off, the rest quickly shifted into play.
Cade would officially step into his new position at the Angel Falls Trumpet in only a matter of days and Gracie was already pre-enrolled at a part-time Mother’s Day Out program at Angel Falls Community Church that Dylan’s wife, Traci, suggested with a huge stamp of approval.
“Gracie will love it there, Cade,” she’d gushed. “Kaci Calvert volunteers there during her summer vacation from teaching English at Angel Falls High School, which is only a month or so away, and she takes all three of her kids along with her. Gracie will have plenty of new playmates. It’s a winner.”
Cade sure hoped Traci was right. He felt a slight stab of guilt at the thought of leaving Gracie in the hands of virtual strangers after all the recent changes in her young life. He eased his conscience by reminding himself that they still had nearly a week of explore-time here in Angel Falls until she’d begin the program, and then she’d attend merely three days a week and for only a handful of hours each day while he scouted stories for the Community Events column of the Trumpet. The bulk of his work could be completed at home on his laptop and if all went as planned, Gracie would have at least a few new friends before she began kindergarten here in the fall.
The scent of lemon drifted as Cade turned his attention to the next room of the cozy yet spacious cottage. Someone—most likely Vivian Hart herself—had taken care to make the place shine. The polished wood floor whispered beneath Cade’s tennis shoes as he moved toward the kitchen. The space was light and inviting with its polished stainless steel appliances and warm-oak cabinets. He tugged on the door of a cabinet to the right of the sink and groaned as an empty, cavernous mouth gaped back at him. A peek into the fridge proved it to be much the same—empty save for a carton of stick butter, a package of American cheese slices, and half-a-gallon of milk. The items had most likely been left by the former occupant. Odd that Miss Vivian would have overlooked them. Cade snatched up the milk carton and checked the date. No, it was fresh—and unopened. So were the cheese and the butter. Someone had taken the time to stock a few groceries for him and Gracie, but who was the kind-hearted soul?
As he turned, his gaze shifted to an oblong, wooden dining table tucked to one side of the room, complete with four high-backed chairs. A jumbo-sized wicker basket adorned with a cheerful summer-green bow sat like a smile at its center. A small card dangled from the bow by a slight length of string. Cade snatched up the card and read the inscription, written in a series of flowery, blue-inked strokes.
Dearest Cade and Gracie,
Welcome to Heart’s Haven. Here, may you both find a measure of happiness along with a generous sprinkle of love. Enjoy these goodies until you make your way to the grocery store to properly stock the cabinets. I’ll be out-of-town for the next week or so, but if you need anything, Emmy Lassiter is one of your closest neighbors, at cabin four just across the way. You can see her front porch from yours. She put this basket together for you, since I have been called away unexpectedly, and I’m certain she’d be happy to answer any questions you or Gracie may have. So, don’t hesitate to call on her. I’ve left her number tacked to the bulletin board beside the phone…just in case.
Cade’s throat tightened with gratefulness as he scanned the heartwarming words a second time. What a sweet, thoughtful gesture to help make the cottage feel like home. Mrs. Hart’s kindness seemed to have no bounds, and who, exactly, was this Emmy Lassiter she spoke of? Cade crossed to the cordless wall phone mounted near the doorway and sure enough, the mysterious woman’s number stared back at him.
Don’t hesitate to call on her.
My Review: (also on goodreads)
The book is named after the shop run by the heroine and boy, do I wish it really existed. I'd move in there. What I really loved about this one, is the honest way both Emmy and Cade struggle with the day to day problems all of us face. Only complaint is it ended way too soon :) Which just shows how much I enjoyed it.
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She has two sons and a daughter, as well as three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher as well an intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades teaching math and English to students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago and as a student at the University of Illinois, Mary worked her way through a variety of jobs including paper girl, figure skating instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these experiences led to adventures that may be found between the pages of her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs—she’s completed three marathons—ocean sunsets and flavored coffee.