Burned by an unreliable source, Savannah Carmichael, returns to her hometown of Danvers, Virginia with her once-promising journalism career in ruins. Given the opportunity to get her skin back in the game by writing a patriotic human interest piece, Savannah turns her attention to the town hermit, Asher Lee, a wounded veteran who returned to Danvers eight years ago, and hasn’t been seen since.
After an IED explosion in Afghanistan took Asher’s hand and disfigured half of his face, he's lived a quiet life on the outskirts of Danvers where the locals respect his privacy…that is, until Savannah Carmichael comes calling in a borrowed sundress and a plate of homemade brownies. When Asher agrees to be interviewed by Savannah, he starts feelings things for the beautiful reporter that he hasn’t felt in years.
Misfits in small-town Danvers, Savannah and Asher create a bond right away, touching each other’s hearts in ways neither thought possible. When a terrible mistake threatens to drive them apart, they’ll have to decide if the love they found in one another’s arms is strong enough to fight for their hard-won happily ever after.
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“Carmichael? Maddox McNabb here. I read your piece.”
“Something’s missing. You’re holding something back.”
“How do you mean, sir?”
“Your general descriptions are just fine. But, the way you describe him; it’s half-asssed. It’s like you’re afraid to say too much. This was a date, wasn’t it? This dinner in the Grove?”
Savannah grimaced. She’d tried to write the piece as two friends having dinner together. Apparently it didn’t fly. “I guess so, sir.”
“Let me give you some advice, Carmichael. Give it heart, or give it up. You falling for this man? Asher?”
Savannah gritted her teeth. She’d promised a human interest story, not her personal business. It felt like whoring herself. Worse, it felt like whoring Asher.
“Your silence tells me all I need to know. That’s the story, Carmichael. Whether you like it or not, that’s the story. How you went after an interview and fell in love instead. Like it or lump it, that’s the story I want. That’s the story I need. That’s the story my readers will “ooh” and “ahh” about on the Fourth of July. The beautiful hard-nosed reporter who fell for the mysterious, disfigured war vet. It’s “Beauty and the Beast” with the “Star Spangled Banner” playing in the background. Don’t like it? Don’t write it. We go our separate ways. You decide, kid.”
Her hackles rose, bitter and indignant. “But, sir, I can do a fine piece on Asher Lee’s injuries, the way this town turned their backs on him, how he writes poetry and went to UVA and got into John’s Hopkins but decided to serve his country instead. His story is remarkable. He’s remarkable. I’m nobody. I’m nothing. No one wants to read a story about me.”
“Wrong!” bellowed Maddox McNabb. “I hate to tell you kid, but right here, right now? You’re the story. Name of the game is human interest. You’re human. I’m interested. Either re-write it by tomorrow, or don’t contact me again.” And he hung up.
Savannah clenched her jaw, lowering the phone from her ear to her lap, her head spinning. Damn it, but she was stuck. And damn it, but she hated being stuck. There had to be another way: another person she could interview, another war vet who had a story to tell…but no, Maddox McNabb wouldn’t be interested in that story. He already had a humdinger on the line.
She took a deep breath, lying back on her bed and staring despondently at the ceiling. Whatever was happening between her and Asher felt too good, too fine, to be used as fodder for a news story. It felt low and cheap even to consider it. And yet…she was a good writer wasn’t she? All of her professors at NYU had told her so, and she’d been the fastest rising reporter at the Sentinel before her inglorious fall. Couldn’t she pull it off in such a way that would appease Maddox but not expose the most private man she’d ever met? She bit her bottom lip, thinking.
There must be a way, she thought, and whatever that way is, I will figure it out before tomorrow.