Sep 14 2014 10:00am

First Look: Alicia Hunter Pace’s Forgiving Jackson (September 15, 2014)

Forgiving Jackson by Alicia Hunter PaceAlicia Hunter Pace
Forgiving Jackson
Crimson Romance / September 15, 2014 / $4.99 digital

Coming home to Beauford Bend opens up old wounds for four sexy, successful brothers, but the love of a few good Southern women will heal their hearts and change their lives forever.

Country music heartthrob Jackson Beauford isn’t used to hearing “no” for an answer. When a tragic fire at one of his concerts stirs memories of the blaze that claimed his family years ago, all he wants is to go back to his childhood home in Tennessee and wallow in his grief. But he arrives home to chaos . . . and a Southern magnolia with her heels dug in.

After suffering a vicious attack in New York City, Emory Lowell returned to Beauford Bend, a place she’s loved since she was a teenager. Now in charge of Around the Bend Elegant Events, she’s not about to let a spoiled superstar take away her livelihood. The boutique artisan town of Beauford depends on this business, and so does she. With its high walls and around-the- clock security, Beauford Bend is the only place she’s ever truly felt safe.

Jackson insists she close down his late aunt's business and leave him in peace, but quiet Emory refuses to budge, knowing this is a battle worth fighting. As a passionate attraction flares between these two wounded souls, they discover there’s much more at stake here than business. Jackson may be just the person to help Emory face her past, and if she can help him learn to forgive himself, their love might be the key to turning Beauford Bend back into a real home.

Two wounded individuals intersecting at the same place with the overriding desire for shelter and solace shouldn’t be at cross purposes. But they are when it means two different things, as in Alicia Hunter Pace's Forgiving Jackson.

When Jackson was twelve, his family was hit by tragedy. He and his twin brothers Rafe and Gabe were camping out on the beach of their Beauford Bend home. Their father reminded Jackson to make sure the fire was safety out before going to bed. Jackson delegated this job to his younger brother Rafe, but then decided to have some fun. Rafe had got spooked after their ritual ghost story session. Something like that was too irresistible to ignore—of course Jackson and Gabe had to frighten him. Their moaning and scratching sent Rafe running into the tent. Jackson didn’t even think to double-check the fire, and later, even after he smelled smoke, he just turned over and went back to sleep. Much later the boys woke to screams and discovered their house in flames, with their mother trapped on the second floor balcony holding their two-year-old sister. Their mother tossed their sister over the rail toward Gabe, but he wasn’t able to catch her.

A similar type of tragedy has hit Jackson again: An unhinged man set off a firebomb at one of Jackson’s concerts, killing members of the audience and of Jackson’s band and crew. Jackson only wants to retreat out of public life and so he returns to Beauford Bend, expecting it to be a place of solitude.

And then there's Emory's history. Her stepmother always was creative in shipping her off for the summer. When Emory was fifteen, she sent her to “Amelia’s annual charm school: A Fortnight of Refinement and Training for Young Ladies.” Emory bonded with Jackson’s great-aunt, Amelia, finding in her a mother figure, a role her stepmother failed to fill, and she was soon volunteering at the school each summer. Their relationship stayed strong, weathering separations as Emory went off to college, and then started work in the financial district of New York City. When Emory suffered a horrific assault, she retreated to the one place and person that had always sheltered her. After Amelia’s death, Emory took over the business. It has taken two years, but she finally feels safe enough to leave Beauford Bend, to go into town, but Emory can’t imagine moving out into the world again.

Both Jackson and Emory are determined to prevail—Jackson in gaining his solitude and privacy, and Emory in retaining her livelihood, and place of safety, which sets up some vehement discussions between the two.

“There you are. I thought you might be at church repenting for all that lying you did last night.”

She leaned on the doorframe. “Normally, I do go. But I was so sure you’d be there repenting for your high-handedness that I stayed home today. . .“

”Emory, I said I wanted Around the Bend shut down and I meant it. I want to spend the summer at home—maybe longer. And I don’t want to run into a gaggle of debutantes or a crazy bride every time I want to go int0 my own yard—not to mention a bunch of drunks in my music room doing their best to destroy, priceless, historical instruments.“

“That wouldn’t happen again.”

“Probably not. But it’s for sure not because I’m not going to have it. I’ll stand by my severance offers for you and the staff. I’ll pay it out of my own account because I doubt if Around the Bend could cover it.”

But Emory does buy the business some time, mainly because she understand Jackson’s pain and his need to put some space between him and the world:

Look, you’ve been through a lot these last few weeks—” she said, and would have gone on.

“No.” Without intending to, he pressed a finger to her lips to silence her. Her mouth was soft and her skin was warm.

She kept talking anyway, her lips whispering against his fingers. “I get that you want to be alone. I understand more than you know—just wanting to get to a place where there isn’t anybody else.”

He drew his hand away and opened his mouth to tell her that she had no idea but there was something in her eyes that told him she did know. On another day he might have asked her what had happened but if she told him a secret, she might expect one in return.

Both Emory and Jackson have a lot of healing to do, and contemporary wisdom states that you should be in a good place before starting a new relationship, even if temporary. Soon Jackson’s writing new music:

Caught somewhere between a fairy tale and a dream
She drifted through my heart and put my soul at ease
She can help me face tomorrow
And let go of yesterday.
It’s in her sweet embrace
That I have found my place

If only it were that easy. Even if your heart knows it, sometimes your intellect doesn’t. But then again, if it were easy, you wouldn’t have this engaging story of healing and discovery.

Learn more or order a copy of Forgiving Jackson by Alicia Hunter Pace, out September 15, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble



Leigh Davis, blogger

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1 comment
Maggie Boyd
1. maggieboyd66
I'm starting to see a trend of musician heroes. This looks like an interesting one.
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