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Sterling Lakes Series Book 2: Angels of the Heart by Regina Andrews (Contemporary Inspirational Romance)

Sterling Lakes Series Book 2: Angels of the Heart by Regina Andrews (Contemporary Inspirational Romance)
 
(2 reviews)  

The life of a television journalist has been good to Maryanne Lynch. That is, until she learns of developer Travis Collimore's plans to destroy the Townsend Barn, a cherished Sterling Lakes landmark, and build a strip mall in its place. Will Maryanne's efforts to stop him be successful? Or will Travis' plans for the future prevail over her attachment to the past?

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Sterling Lakes Series Book 2: Angels of the Heart by Regina Andrews (Contemporary Inspirational Romance)
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2 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite (https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/18838)
Feb 13, 2014
Angels of the Heart by Regina Andrews is the second book of the Sterling Lakes Series. Maryanne Lynch is a television journalist engaged to Elwood. Travis Collimore is a developer who is planning to pull down the Townsend Barn, a prominent landmark of Sterling Lakes, and build a strip mall there. Maryanne is not too happy with that and, Travis being an old friend, she goes to Sterling Lakes to talk to him. The Townsend Barn holds a lot of memories for Maryanne and her childhood is tied with that place. She feels sad to know that the place will go and Sterling Lakes will not be the same anymore without that landmark. Will Maryanne be able to save the old barn or will Travis succeed in pulling it down for their ambitious project?

The story is woven around the two characters, Travis and Maryanne. Both of them are strong characters who believe in working towards the empowerment of their society. The twist in the story is when Maryanne, despite being engaged to Elwood, finds herself drawn to Travis. Their stories and their individual ambitions run parallel to each other and the author brings it all together beautifully in a perfect ending.

The growth of Travis and Maryanne as people, and their spiritual growth, makes the story inspiring to the readers. The subtlety and gentleness in the narration is effective when it comes to conveying the author's thoughts. A nice, spiritually uplifting romance. It kind of leaves you with a warm feeling after reading.
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Brenda Talley for (http://reviews.theromancestudio.info/2013/09/17/angels-of-the-heart-by-regina-andrews/)
Sep 18, 2013
Maryanne Lynch seemingly had it all. She was a TV host for station WMAS in her hometown. She was engaged to Elwood, an older man with quite a few attitudes which Maryanne tired of. The main one was that neither of them was seriously interested in setting a wedding date. She just continued to wear a "rock" big enough to snag her clothes, her work equipment, and attention. She was actively involved in her neighborhood and wanted children. Elwood had "made" his goals in life and had no intention of starting another family. One fateful day, Travis Colimore (TJ) was a guest on her talk show.

Travis was shocked to realize his former classmate wasn't comfortable with the renovation to the city area he was hired to manage. He had no idea he had met his match when it came to tearing down Townsend Barn. His schedule was full with his work here and his volunteer work with Angel Flight-a group of pilots who are on call to get seriously ill children to hospitals for various emergency procedures.

Regina Andrews has penned a book that's captivating and easy to follow. Because it is #2 in a series, I went back and read the first one prior to this. It had a great correlation. However, it could definitely be read as a stand-alone novel. The characters, both main and secondary, were solid and well-developed. It was easy to get lost in the telling of this story. Besides the main storyline, there were several surprises in the book. There were no dull moments.

This action-packed book was something I could recommend to anyone. The chemistry between the main characters was electric, but not overpowering. The inspirational part was perfectly injected into the plot.

I recommend this book to all readers. The ending was surprising. Great job, Ms. Andrews!

Sensuality rating: Sweet
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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

"That's a wrap, everyone, thank you. Another great show."

Reviewing the studio audience, WMAS television host Maryanne Lynch started to remove her earpiece as usual and roll the wire into a neat coil. This time though, the stone on her diamond engagement ring snagged the strands of her sleek black bob, tangling up the wire and interrupting her thoughts. She freed herself only to have the ring hitch again, this time catching the jacket pocket of her cappuccino business suit as she tried to slip her earpiece safely inside it.

Kirk Blackstone, her producer, approached her. "Maryanne, there's a bunch of Girl Scouts here. Doing some badge about media careers. Can you meet with them?"

"Sure, in the conference room. Just give me one minute, okay?"

She moved through the studio, scanning the crowd while remaining intent on her purpose. "I had to wear a pencil skirt today," she mumbled. One of the guests today had looked familiar, but she couldn't put her finger on it. She hurried to catch up with him, while considering an even more pressing matter about the show's topic.

When she turned the final corner before the studio exit doors, she spotted him. With his tall frame and blond hair, he stood out in the crowded lobby area.

"Excuse me!"

"Yes?"

"Thank you for visiting the show today."

His brown eyes traveled up and down her frame. "No problem."

"Everyone is all worked up about the renovations to St. Luke's Church and the new face of Sterling Lakes. It's a hot topic."

"It's good the town folks are interested."

"They are more than interested, they are reborn. This is the new lease on life that Sterling Lakes has been praying for so very long. You can't imagine what it means to us."

"Heartwarming. Now, if you'll excuse me?"

Maryanne had done enough interviews to know his tone of voice probably meant he was not really interested. She took one step closer to him. "There's just another thing to clear up. If you develop St. Luke's the way you explained on my show, it means you'll have to raze the Townsend Barn." "Townsend Barn currently stands right in the middle of the land that we are developing into the strip mall. The barn has to go."

"That can't happen."

"The architect has designed for it to happen that way."

"The people of Sterling Lakes love the barn. It has an angel weather vane. That's very rare, you know."

"I don't know what to tell you. The plans have been drawn up and approved."

Maryanne arched one eyebrow. "Really? We all know plans are made to be broken."

"Some of us do. Especially you."

"Me? What does that mean?"

"You really don't remember?" The side of his mouth curled up slightly. "I lived in Sterling Lakes way back when, Maryanne. I'm the guy you stood up for the Senior Prom."

Studying his face, she exhaled slowly. "Oh...I remember that night. Travis Collimore. Back then you called yourself T.J. You just blindsided me."

He broke into a broad smile that took her breath away. "Good, then we're even. Just took me a few years to catch up to you, Maryanne, that's all. What do you say we talk about those good old days over dinner?"

Maryanne thought quickly. This could be a good lead. Pushing back dinner with her fiancé, Elwood, was no problem, he was used to a journalist's hectic schedule. With any luck, she'd by out by eight.

"Just give me five minutes, and we'll go, okay?"

"You got it."

Maryanne thought she saw a warm glint in his eye, but could not be certain. She hurried off to the conference room, dialing Elwood on her cell phone as she hastened down the corridor.

"T.J. Collimore, back in town. Unreal," she mumbled, waiting for Elwood to pick up. When her call went to his voice mail, she left him a message and moved into the conference room. A smiling sea of bright-faced Girl Scouts met her.

After ten minutes she emerged from the conference room and found Travis waiting for her in the lobby. "You made it."

"Of course! They are fabulous. I actually offered to intern three of them this summer. Now I just have to get my Executive Producer to go with it."

"Somehow, Maryanne, I think you'll be convincing."

She glanced at him and was not sure how to read the look in his eyes. "Are you making fun of me?" She couldn't help but smile.

"Never. Just stating the truth."

"My Executive Producer , Arnie, is quite stubborn. It takes a lot to talk him into anything."

"You manage."

Now Maryanne knew she saw a twinkle in his eye.

"More or less, you could say so."

"I read up on you and how you got the station to back you for the talk show."

"Well, good. Glad you know what you're dealing with then, Travis. This barn thing is not a joke."

They left the studio and met the early evening twilight.

"I can imagine how the folks feel, but you just told me they are reborn with this project. Surely they know you can't grow and keep things the same way they have always been. That can't happen."

"It's not that black and white."

"Actually, it is. That's all it comes right down to, period."

"What?"

"Money, of course."

Maryanne looked at his well-made suit and shiny, expensive shoes. Head to toe, he radiated wealth and polish. A far cry from most of the folks in Sterling Lakes.

"We'll have to talk about this later," she said. "Where are we headed?"

"I saw that Sterling Lakes Diner is still there. Can't resist that."

"Just as good as ever," she continued. "I'll meet you."

She hopped into her convertible and watched Travis' long legs and broad back disappear into a minivan. "Must be a rental," she mused.

She eased out of her parking spot and left the studio behind. The wind felt good against her skin after being cooped up all day. In front of her, Travis drove at a good clip, with seemingly a lot of purpose.

Her cell phone interrupted her thoughts. Glancing at the screen, she saw it was Elwood. "You got my message, honey?"

"I did. You're hung up at work again?"

Chuckling, she said, "Elwood, you're sounding like Alfred Hitchcock again, come on. I won't be long."

"You know this dinner is important. The Club only honors one member a year."

"I know. I will be there right after the cocktail hour, I promise."

"Okay, Maryanne, you do what you need to do, I understand."

"I can hear it in your voice that you do understand, Elwood, and I thank you for that. Really, I will be right along."

"Thank you, Maryanne. See you in a bit."

She hung up and rubbed her temple with her free hand. Elwood was a wonderful man. After being single for so long, she had not expected to enjoy anyone's company as much as she had his since they'd hosted the Charity Gold Classic together last spring. She had, and soon they were seeing more and more of each other, and the rest was history.

It wasn't his money or his status in the community that had gotten to her, she had plenty of both of those. In her heart of hearts, it was him being a widower. Before she knew it, they were doing things together on the weekends and during the week.

"My angel," he called her. "You're the angel of my heart."

Now she wore a four-carat diamond that snagged her pockets, her hair, and her purse virtually everywhere she turned. No surprise, they were still hesitating over setting a wedding date.

The steeple of St. Luke's Church rose across the pasture on her left. It had been so long since she had gone to church she could barely remember what the inside looked like.

No way I'm going in there anytime soon, she thought, zipping past it.

Pulling into the parking lot of the Sterling Diner, Maryanne hopped out of the car and stretched.

"Long day?"

Travis stood next to her, a curious expression in his eyes. She followed the arch of his brows and planes of his face, landing on his full lips which parted in a wry half-smile.

"You read my mind."

"One of my lesser-known, but equally outstanding talents." He tilted his head towards the diner, and she noticed the firm set of his jaw. "Shall we?"

"Sure. We have a lot of catching up to do."

He reached for the door, and she noticed his broad shoulders moving with the kind of slow strength that ought to come with a warning label.

"Thanks." She passed him and slid into an empty booth along the wall near the door.

"What, is all of Sterling Lakes here tonight?"

Maryanne laughed, raising her voice over the din. "Ya gotta love it, they say, right? It's home."

"Don't tell me you still live in Sterling Lakes. That's impossible."

"What? Why?"

"Come on, a woman like you? So accomplished and sophisticated? In this hick town?"

A waitress slid two menus across the tabletop toward them and called, "Hey, Maryanne. Drinks?"

"Diet, Sherry," Maryanne answered. Turning to Travis, she added, "It's that or a milkshake, and you don't strike me as the milkshake type."

"I might surprise you."

"You all right with fish and chips?"

"Sure, whatever."

Maryanne signaled to Sherry, who nodded back at her.

Travis continued. "I'm trying to figure out how old she is, thirteen or fourteen. What do you think?"

Maryanne laughed. "Come on, be good. She's sixteen, in high school. We don't do that here."

"Right, and why do you live in this progressive town?"

"Travis, you used to live here, too, remember? It's not that bad. You saw it yourself. We have an industrial parkway with the TV station, two insurance companies, and three manufacturing offices, where lots of the locals work. And the apple pie here totally rocks."

"I'll bet it does."

She caught his eye and thought something cold flickered then receded. "I remember now. You never liked it here in Sterling Lakes."

"It was more that Sterling Lakes did not like me or my family. Apparently there's something wrong with having a dad who's a used tire salesman."

"They weren't nice to you, but kids are cruel. Kids tease each other mercilessly, relentlessly. You know that."

"I know it now, but I didn't know it then."

Maryanne curled the corner of the menu, fingering it with quick, decisive movements. "Plus, you didn't grow up here. Your family moved in when you were already in high school, and you moved out right after graduation. You really didn't live here that long."

"Leaving Sterling Lakes was one of the happiest days of my life, but you still live here. I don't get it."

She crinkled her nose. "Well, actually, I live in Wellesley now, a section of Boston."

"I knew it," he said, with a hearty chuckle.

"Don't tease me, I still own property here in town."

Sobering, he looked puzzled. "Really? Why?"

"My parents decided to sail around the world ten years ago, and they wanted to sell the old family homestead. I couldn't bear to have that happen. So I bought it."

"Where are they now?"

"They settled in Southern California."

"Nice. So you just rent it out?"

She nodded. "Look, Travis, I really was sick the night of the prom, you know. I had a fever and a sore throat. I wanted to go with you. More than anything."

"You say."

"All these years later, I still say! Remember, my mother called you and invited you over. I cried for days because you wouldn't visit."

"Teenage drama. I went anyway and had a blast, you know that, Maryanne. Now today you didn't even know who I was. Forget it, really, no hard feelings. It's ancient history and good for a laugh about old times. I'm okay."

"I'd say you were doing more than okay. You look like you've done pretty well for yourself."

Just then another waitress approached them, carrying two steaming platters. "Fish and chips. Oh, it's you Maryanne. How are you doing?"

"Hi Nancy, doing just fine. This is Travis Collimore. He was at Sterling Lakes High with us. Travis, Nancy Romney."

Nancy jammed her plump fists into her apron and squinted at Travis. "The tire guy? My stars. You used to be really scrawny. Now look. Hmm-mm."

"Late bloomer, I guess," he said.

"Filled out good, didn't he, Maryanne?"

"We all look better now, in my book, Nancy," Maryanne answered, deliberately avoiding Travis's eyes. She couldn't let him make her laugh.

"Aw, sure, I'm totally ravishing," Nancy called. "Hey, Dickie, did you hear that? I'm a Diner Goddess! Gotta get busy. Great to see you again, Travis." Her laughter carried all across the room as she waddled away from their table.

"I don't remember her."

His voice was low, and Maryanne tried to ignore the shivery reaction up and down her spine when she heard him talking in that confidential tone.

"She was in typing, with me. I don't know if you ever had any classes with her. She's had a hard time of it."

"Looks like it."

Maryanne frowned. "You can't judge a book by its cover, you know. She's as nice as pie. Her daughter killed herself two years ago in Lake Epiphany. Guess she was pregnant and couldn't take it."

"That's...awful," Travis answered.

To Maryanne, he seemed truly shaken.

"Hard to believe kids let that happen in this day and age, but they do," she said. "Guess they're just looking for love, right? What about you, Travis? How'd you make out?"

"Guess it's not that bad. Went to school for business, you know, met a ton of people, the usual route. Landed in New York, that's about it."

"You must be a master-level Tweeter, jamming twenty years into that short blurb," she laughed, swirling a french fry in a blob of ketchup.

"I do all right," he answered.

When she looked up at him, the smile lighting up his face made her glad she was sitting down. His brown eyes were warm and rich, like dark coffee.

She shifted, feeling a lot warmer all of a sudden, as if she were a plant in a direct beam of sunshine. What was wrong with her?

"You can't forget the famous Sterling Diner apple pie," she reminded him. "Sherry?" She made another gesture in the air to the young girl.

Maryanne felt his eyes roaming over her face and hair like a spotlight honing in on a star on the stage. She reprimanded herself for liking it so much.

"Anyway, tell me about what's new with you. Are you still friends with anyone from around here? I remember one girl, but I forget her name."

"Cascade Preston," she jumped in, "my best friend then and now. She's doing the stained-glass windows for the church renovation. And my friend, Laura, if you remember."

"Interesting. Seems I've heard of Cascade, but I can't put my finger on it."

"You probably have read about her. She's very well-known."

"Where does she live?"

Sherry placed two heaping dishes of apple pie smothered in vanilla ice cream in front of them, saying, "All set?"

"Doing great, thanks," Travis answered. "Just look at the hot springs of life we have happening here with this apple pie."

"The ice cream is melting really, really fast," Maryanne laughed. "Dig in or live with your regrets."

"That's my life motto, completely. I have the poster with that phrase on it in my office."

"You do not," she countered.

"I do. The photo is a plastic orange sand pail on the beach. An intense close-up."

"Oh, just stop it, Travis, you're making my eyes tear up."

She tried to stop laughing as they picked up their spoons and started on their ice cream. After a moment, Travis said, "I see you have a nice ring there, Maryanne. Is that an estate piece you picked up, or was it handed down to you from your grandmother?"

"It's my engagement ring, and no, it is not an Estate piece or heirloom. It's my brand new ring from a very chic and chi chi store."

"That fancy, world-famous store that uses blue paper and white ribbons?"

"Naturally." Unable to look away, she surrendered to his luscious brown eyes, enjoying the weightless feeling of spinning into a sweet and swirling vortex.

"Maryanne? Your phone is ringing." Travis' words broke the spell, waking her out of her trance.

"I knew that."

She glanced at her phone, knowing ahead of time it was Elwood. It was nearly time for her to leave. He would be waiting for her.

"Excuse me please, Travis. Hello?"

Maryanne heard the agitation in Elwood's voice as he asked her when she would be arriving. "I'm coming right along. It shouldn't be more than thirty minutes, okay? Right. Bye, now."

"Duty calling?"

"Constantly. Overlaps day and night. When don't we all have someplace else to be? It gets crazy sometimes."

"So true. Tell me, when's the big day?"

She felt the color flood her cheeks. "We haven't nailed that one down yet."

"Guess there's no big rush. It's not something you want to force."

Maryann thought he looked at her carefully, but she could not be sure. "Exactly. We want to take our time and really do it up right. Ready?" She slid out of the booth and headed toward the counter, Travis following closely behind her.

"I'll take care of this." Travis handed the cashier a wad of bills. "Keep the change, and make sure Sherry and Nancy get their share."

The cashier beamed at him, as if she were dazed.

"You've got her star-struck, Travis. What an actor!" Marianne shook her head.

"I'm innocent, Maryanne. They taught me this stuff in business school." They got to their cars. "It's so nice out," he said.

"Beautiful. Sterling Lakes has some of the sweetest evenings I've ever seen. Cascade and I used to ride our bikes back and forth to our jobs here during high school." Her mind went back to the days when she was a teenager, working at the diner.

"I've been a lot of places since then, and no place is perfect, but you are right, Travis, it's a town with its fair share of troubles."

"That's for sure, but you raise a good point. No place is perfect."

"Look, I know you didn't live in Sterling Lakes for too long, but maybe you remember how much the barn's meant to all of us here, for generations? It's got a lot of sentimental value. That's why we don't want it torn down for a strip mall."

"I don't want to destroy the barn, I'm only the developer, not the architect. The plans are done. I didn't make the plans, and I didn't come back here to ruin the barn for revenge. We are on a tight schedule. The barn, unfortunately has to go."

"Unfortunately, Travis, I do not agree with you on that, and I cannot abide by it. You know I have to get going, but this isn't over."

"There's really nothing I can do about it, Maryanne." He shook her hand. "It was great to see you and catch up on old times. Good luck to you."

"You too, Travis."

Maryanne watched him drive away, and pulling out of the parking lot, turned in another direction. The setting sun painted a colorful vista before her, with sweeping, feathery cirrus clouds like angel wings tinged magenta, gold, and indigo. She suddenly felt more alive than she had for years. Glinting on her right was the cross high atop St. Luke's Church.

Someone from her past could impact the future of her town. What was she going to do?

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