A Montana Bound Christmas – by Linda Bradley

Introducing Linda:

I’m Linda Bradley, author of the Montana Bound Series.  After receiving reader requests for A Montana Bound Christmas, this merry band of misfits is together once again. Like warm cocoa and your favorite pair of slippers, I hope ho, ho, home for the holidays! warms your heart.

A little about myself…When I’m not writing or plotting my next Women’s Fiction book, you can find me teaching second grade, reading, dabbling with my art supplies, baking, walking my beautiful rescue dog, Maisey or traveling.

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Linda’s Books:


 

A Montana Bound Christmas:

 

Blurb: 

Chloe and John McIntyre await Maggie Abernathy’s arrival at the 617 Ranch, but snowfall has halted flights from Michigan to Montana. While Maggie and her mother prepare for a delayed departure, eight-year-old Chloe prepares for disappointment by inviting her Hollywood mother to the ranch in hopes of filling the void. Brook’s unexpected acceptance raises the stakes for John who longs for the perfect Christmas. This cast of misfits bands together in true Montana Bound style when unexpected guests arrive and a curious dog goes missing.

 

Buy Linkhttp://amzn.to/2bakz7T  

 

Excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

John

“DAD, WHEN’S MAGGIE going to get here?” Chloe’s breath fogged up the picture window. Her gaze scanned the snowy Montana mountains. “I hope she makes it in time for Christmas.”
Ruffling Chloe’s dishwater-blond mane, I prayed like hell Maggie and her mother, Glad, would get here soon. Traveling had come to a halt across the country thanks to the winter storm, but at least Maggie and Glad were safe at home and not sleeping on some airport floor like the many interviewed on the news.

Feeling anxious, I massaged my temples. Wrapping my arms around Maggie and kissing her lips were the only Christmas presents I needed.

“Not sure, Pumpkin. Depends on the flights.”

Crossing paths with Maggie the summer before last was like finding a rose bush on top of a mountain while searching for gold. As much as she resisted, her heart finally won. We all won. Acquiring Glad in the deal was a bonus. Without hesitation, she’d taken a special liking to Chloe. They’d bonded instantly through their love of mischief. Glad was like the grandmother Chloe never had, and her sense of humor cut to the quick. Glad wore her heart on her sleeve and was the only one capable of giving Maggie a run for her money when Maggie needed a challenge. Glad was Maggie’s mother first and foremost, but their relationship—built on sarcastic wit, middle-naming, and genuine love—was most unique.

“Maggie has to get here.” Chloe drew a heart in the moisture on the frosty glass pane. She wrote her initials above Maggie’s, then she added a plus sign. “The snow is so thick you can barely see through it.” Chloe hummed a holiday tune between thoughts. “Just think, Dad, next year at this time, I’ll be nine and Maggie will have been here a whole year.”

Nudging the hat back from my brow, I thought about the woman who’d stolen my heart. I never dreamed in a million years I’d fall head over heels for my Michigan neighbor lady, Maggie Abernathy. Living in Grosse Pointe hadn’t been on my agenda originally, but the picture was crystal clear why I’d established residency in the Great Lake State before coming back to Montana. If I didn’t believe in fate before, I did now, and I wanted Maggie to get here as much as Chloe. We had big plans of starting a life together and this was only the beginning.

“Why couldn’t Maggie and Glad come earlier?” When Chloe spoke, deep lines appeared along the bridge of her nose.

“I told you, Chloe, Maggie’s settling things with her house. Remember when we sold our house in Grosse Pointe? It takes time. Papers have to be signed, things need to be packed, and besides Maggie wanted to spend some extra time with her momma. You can understand that, right? When Christmas is over, Glad’ll fly home. I don’t think Maggie has ever really been apart from her momma.”

I lifted Chloe’s chin with my index finger. My daughter’s soul shimmered behind her green stare. Hope should’ve been Chloe’s middle name because my girl never gave up when the chips were down.
“Glad’s house is where Maggie grew up. Maggie’s saying her last goodbye.”

Chloe’s expression tugged at my heart like the snap of a lasso when wrangling a wild pony.

“I know what you mean. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten used to being apart from my momma, but maybe that’ll change someday. Hollywood sure is a far way away.”

Chloe’s momma was nothing like Maggie, and I wondered if I’d ever shed the guilt from our failed marriage that had left my daughter living with her old man. Chloe longed for a normal household, whatever that was in this day and age. Smiling at Chloe, I wished she’d see the well of hope I carried myself.

“I guess so, but I want Maggie to be here. It’s almost Christmas. We have so much to do.”

“I want Maggie here, too, Peanut, but it is what it is.” Resting my hands on Chloe’s thin shoulders, I prayed for the skies to clear so our Maggie’s arrival was sooner than later.

“Maggie promised she’d make cookies with me. Christmas will be here before you know it. This is our first Montana Christmas, and I want it to be perfect.” Chloe leaned her forehead against the window, closed her eyes then whispered in the sweetest of voices, “Please Lord, it’s me, Chloe. I know I can be kind of a pain, but can you please help Maggie and Glad get here, and fast?”

“Come here, Peanut.” Opening my arms, I scooped my little girl up. My cheek grazed hers. Nothing compared to her soft touch when pangs of disappointment bristled.

On the outside, my daughter was as tough as they come, but on the inside, she was soft and cuddly. Chloe rested her head against my shoulder, her warm breath like butterfly kisses upon my neck.
“Are you going to marry Maggie?”

“Without a doubt.” My heart pounded as I imagined sharing life with the woman I loved. “Don’t you worry.”

“Good,” Chloe whispered. “I can feel your heartbeat against mine. I think we both love her.”

“This is where Maggie needs to be, Peanut.” Holding my daughter tight, I breathed her in. She was a wee one, but something told me the years would pass in a blink of an eye if I wasn’t careful.

“I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you, too, Munchkin.”
Outside, heaping mounds of snow grew deeper
with each passing hour. If Maggie and Glad couldn’t get to the 617 Ranch before Christmas morning this was going to be some Montana-bound holiday.

 

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2bakz7T  

Blog Tour – Maggie’s Montana by Linda Bradley

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linda-bradleyAuthor Bio

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her women’s fiction highlights characters that peel away outer layers of life to discover the heart of their dreams with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Her writing integrates humor found in everyday situations, as well as touching moments, thus creating avenues for readers to connect with her characters.

 

Linda has an Associates Degree in Interior Design and a Master’s Degree in Reading and Language Arts with undergraduate work in Elementary Education and Fine Arts. She wrote and illustrated a children’s book titled, The Hunter for her Master’s Degree. Linda is a member of RWA, as well as the Greater Detroit Chapter of RWA.

Linda has two grown sons, lives with her husband, and rescue dog in Royal Oak, Michigan.

 


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Links:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/LBradleyAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LBradleyAuthor

Website: www.LindaBradleyAuthor.com

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bakz7T

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2dA3ZlW

Maggie’s Way at Schuler Books: http://bit.ly/2etN7iC

Maggie’s Fork in the Road at Schuler Books: http://bit.ly/2esL2Sq

 


EXCERPT

 

Maggie’s Montana

Excerpt from Chapter 20

 

I squeezed my eyes tight as chills ran down my spine. A gentle hand rested on the nape of my neck. The touch grounded me and for a split second, I thought maybe it was my father. Tears welled and I pressed the palms of my hands into my eyes, trying to stop the longing I felt for my dad who’d left me years ago. I saw Chloe perched on John’s hip with her arms around his neck in my mind. It seemed like eons since I was that little girl in my own father’s arms.

Through the tears, I stared at my dusty boots. John ran his fingers up my neck and into my hair. I squeezed my eyes tighter, hoping this wasn’t a dream.

John knelt beside me, his hand on my knee, and his finger under my chin. “Saw you leave. Wondered if you were all right?”

I shrugged. Cocoa ran past, and then nestled in the straw at my feet and stretched out, letting her kittens suckle. “No, guess not,” I said.

“Anything I can do to help?”

I scooted over on the bench and John sat beside me. “I don’t think so.” I tucked my hair behind my ears.

“Well I think there is, but I’m going to let you solve your own dilemma.”

I wiped the corners of my eyes and watched the kittens nuzzle up to their momma’s belly, safe from the world around them until she went out to hunt. “Probably best.” Locking my elbows, I rested my hands on my knees. I liked the feel of worn blue jeans, inside, and out.

“Dinner is almost ready,” John said.

Our gazes met. My stomach wasn’t the only thing growling. “I don’t know if I want dinner. I kind of like it out here.” The barn truly was a sanctuary.

“Well, you’ve got to eat, darlin’.” John wrapped his arm around my shoulder and drew me close, his green eyes trying to hide his own disappointments.

I couldn’t help but think I was one of them.

“A girl your age can’t live on s’mores and beer, ’cause that’s what we’re having later.”

“I beg to differ.”

John’s breath brushed up against my neck. His lips followed. Tension oozed from my shoulders like dripping wax, my guard giving way to the heat. He whispered in my ear, “Let me love you.”

I swallowed the temptation, but it stuck in my throat and lingered at the back of my tongue like bitter sweetness. “I don’t know how.”

Afraid, I prayed again. From under my lashes, I saw a man earnest and true, his eyes fixed on me yet not demanding, something I wasn’t used to. Flecks of passion danced in his irises.

“How the hell do you know what you want?” I asked.

“Because I know,” he said.
His strong hands held my face. His thumbs stroked my cheeks like he was settling a skittish filly. “Let me ask you this, neighbor lady . . .”

“Why do you keep calling that?”

“Does there have to be a reason?” he asked.

“Isn’t there a reason for everything?”

“No. Sometimes things just feel right.” John kissed me as I took in his words, his breath in sync with mine. My stomach rolled over and I let myself kiss him back as if it were the very first time.


 

Maggie’s Fork In The Road – by Linda Bradley – Release Day!

Maggie’s Fork in the Road is book two in Linda Bradley’s Montana Bound Series. Maggie Abernathy is back with the precocious eight-year-old neighbor, Chloe McIntyre. In this Women’s Fiction novel with threads of romance, the cast of misfits will captivate your heart as they continue their journey.

 

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Maggie Abernathy learns that pesky neighbors, John and Chloe McIntyre are moving to Montana. The only problem is…she can’t fathom living without them now that they’ve stolen her heart. While trying to digest the news and accept John’s decision to leave Michigan, Maggie ventures to Chicago with Chloe to see Chloe’s Hollywood mother in a photo shoot, where the three kindle a quirky bond making it even harder to say goodbye. With the support of Maggie’s meddling mother, best friend Judy, and a surprise visit from Montana rancher, Winston Ludlow McIntyre, Maggie begins to wonder which fork in the road leads home.


MAGGIE’S FORK IN THE ROAD

Chapter 1

John’s news knocked the wind out of me leaving me breathless, speechless . . . paralyzed.

Breathe, I told myself.

The dim room grew foggy as my eyes searched John’s face. “Really,” I said. “Why now? And why here?” What was it about delivering bad news in a restaurant? First, Beckett, now John. For the love of God, I wondered if breaking a woman’s heart in public got them into a secret men’s club.

Letting my guard down proved one thing. Hurt was inevitable. John and Chloe’s absence would leave a hole in my heart, a gorge of sharp edges. We were more than neighbors. We’d become friends that navigated life’s ups- and-downs together. And now they were moving. I’d have new neighbors and I didn’t want new neighbors. I wanted John and Chloe. I needed John and Chloe. We bonded last summer when I dealt with breast cancer. Their craziness made mine seem normal. John and Chloe weren’t any ordinary neighbors; they were family, eccentric misfits, like myself that conformed to the beat of life while traversing the bumps in the road.

Massaging my temples, I caught my breath. The throb pierced my skull. Since John and Chloe’s arrival, there’d never been a dull moment. Mom came around more often. And Chloe’s mother, Brook. Jesus, she flitted in and left like a summer storm leaving sky-high humidity and heat that scorched everything in its path.

Broken-hearted, Chloe had wept over false promises, her bags packed, her hopes magnanimous. And God, Beckett.

My ex-husband found his footing with a new lifestyle that didn’t include me, or any other woman. I’d heard through the grapevine that he was dating and wondered if his better half was as handsome as he was.

I searched John’s face for an answer.

“I didn’t know how to tell you. I’m sorry, Maggie. I don’t belong here,” he said, lowering his voice. “I can practice medicine in Montana and my dad could really use the help.”

Montana was one hell of a long ways away. I swallowed the sting of disappointment. John’s eyes searched mine. His news left a bitter taste at the back of my throat. “You can’t leave. I love you,” I whispered.

The pressure behind my eyes burned something fierce. How was it possible that I felt so much for someone I wasn’t romantically involved with? I certainly thought about it enough and the few recent kisses we shared established a deeper connection spurring buried promises that I’d made to myself. Moving forward in the wake of waiting for perfect timing proved difficult.

The corners of John’s mouth drooped. His jaw clenched.

“I can’t believe I said that.” I stared into my half-empty glass of Merlot, my cheeks smoldered from the realization that he didn’t return my sentiments. My chin quivered as he touched my hand from across the table.

“I want to put the house up for sale when Chloe’s school year ends.”

My forced smile hurt. It was the kind that everyone knows is fake and by John’s expression, my attempt to lighten the moment had failed. He squeezed my hand. I sipped my wine trying to avoid eye contact with the waitress. Her return with the dessert tray came at the most inopportune moment. After listening politely, John asked for the check. I wrapped my shawl around my shoulders trying to hold myself together. “I’ll meet you outside,” I said, fumbling with my purse.

“I won’t be long,” he said. “Maggie—”

The leg of my chair got stuck on the carpet. I shook it loose in disgust, studying the face of a man that I thought just might be a permanent fixture in my life. His eyes sadly apologetic.

“Damn, you’re beautiful.” With a heavy sigh, he paused. “I’ll be out in a minute.

The cool spring breeze sent shivers down my spine as I exited the restaurant. I caught my breath. How could I have told John I loved him? Why now? I wrapped my arms around myself. If I could survive cancer, I’d survive this. Hearts mended. Beckett taught me that lesson the hard way, but this was John and Chloe. Our attachment was the seam that mended that wound, made it invisible.

John opened the car door for me. I climbed in. His stare rustled my nerves. Pretending to rummage for something in my purse, I rooted around inside my bag and finally decided I was searching for my sanity. It wasn’t there. I even checked the hole in the satin lining. Nothing. How could I be so upset over something I didn’t ever really have? John reached over and buckled me in before shutting the door.

“I know you’re not okay.” He turned the key in the ignition. “This wasn’t an easy decision,” he added.

I studied his profile. “I know it wasn’t easy. I know you’re unhappy here in Michigan.” My heart skipped a beat. Saying the right thing tasted bitter. I wanted him. I wanted him before, but couldn’t admit it. I wanted him now, but he was leaving. “Thanks for dinner,” I said, trying my best to be grateful.

“I know this wasn’t the evening out you were expecting.” He checked the mirrors and backed out of the parking spot.

The jazz on the radio couldn’t fill the silence between us. The ten-minute car ride by the lake seemed like an eternity. The sliver of moon like a dagger in my heart as its white glow washed over the glassy lake. I loved the lake. The lazy cove in Grosse Pointe was the place where my only son, Bradley, grew up. It was a place of solace, a place for meeting new friends like Judy and her two boys, Harry and Walter. It was the place I first saw that horseshoe tattoo on John’s left shoulder as he strolled down the beach holding Chloe’s hand. It was the place where Bones peed on Brook’s leg, the place where Brook and I bantered over Chloe, and took photos in an effort to prosper from our differences. It was the place where I held the snarky seven-year-old when Brook broke her heart and went back to Hollywood, California, after promising her daughter a life together.

John coasted into his driveway. “I’ll walk you home.”

A thin grin passed over my lips, lips that he’d kissed just before telling me that he was moving to Montana. My empty stone house waited for me, along with a wrinkly- faced Bulldog. I’d still have Bones, thanks to Mom. Maybe that’s how it was meant to be.

John parked the car then gazed into my eyes. He longed for something, something I secretly hoped would keep him here, close to me. He got out and walked around to open my door. As I swung my legs out of the car, my skirt cascaded over my freckled shins. He linked his arm with mine and led me home. “All seems quiet. Chloe must have been good for the sitter.”

“We’ll see. Only time will tell,” he said. “She’s older and wiser now.”

“She’s eight, and being in third grade doesn’t make you necessarily wiser, it makes you taller with bigger teeth.”

We sauntered up the stairs to the porch. Digging in my purse for the key to the front door of my house, I stood like a pillar of salt waiting for John to say something, to tell me he’d changed his mind on the way home. “I’m not sure what to say,” I whispered. John caressed my cheek. I shut my eyes, memorizing his touch. I nuzzled into the palm of his warm hand. Please don’t leave, I secretly wished. I had no right to ask. He stepped closer, his breath in my ear.

“You’re not making this easy. You never do, Maggie Abernathy. Look at me,” he murmured.

Afraid to open my eyes, I swallowed away emotion. John was always doing stuff like that, telling me I was beautiful, telling me I had a hold on him, but not a strong enough hold to keep him here. I gazed into his Irish eyes. I heard my heart shatter as it broke all over again, leaving me with a pit in my stomach. John led me inside, his hand on the small of my back. His eyes gleamed with intent. He tugged at the fringe on my shawl making it drop to the ground as he kicked the door shut. John picked me up then carried me upstairs. As much as I knew I should have stopped him, I couldn’t. I didn’t want to.

Moonlight flooded my bedroom. John took off his shirt then unbuttoned my blouse exposing my lace bra. He ran his fingers along the edge of the cup, tickling my skin, leaving me with goose bumps, wanting more. His mouth covered mine. Laying me upon the bed, I closed my eyes, and let him in.

Moonlight washed over his skin. It caressed every muscle and curve of his brawny body. I snuggled in behind him, tracing his horseshoe tattoo with my finger. “Did this hurt when you got it?” My lips grazed his skin as I whispered into the darkness. “Maybe if I got one, I’d have better luck.” I closed my eyes then crawled beneath the covers. John’s square jaw and simmering eyes held my stare. He crawled back to where I’d settled in and peered down at me. Lowering his head, his lips met mine. I squeezed my eyes shut damming the deluge. My heart pounded against my rib cage, telling me it was time, time to let go. John was leaving and this would be our perfect goodbye. “Chloe’s probably wondering where you are,” I said, caressing his whiskery cheek. “So, you’ve decided to grow a beard?”

“No, just a little scruff. I hear women like that.”

He leaned over me and kissed my lips as he brushed strands of stray hair away from my face. His Adam’s apple twitched when he swallowed. I waited for the words, the words I wanted to hear, but they didn’t come. “You’re so damn beautiful,” he said, caressing my cheek. “We should have done this a long time ago, Maggie Abernathy.”

Nervous knots filled my belly as I listened to his deep coaxing voice. My eyelids fluttered. Fierce emotion mounted beneath my calm surface. Reaching up, I wrapped my arms around his neck. “Yeah,” I whispered. “We probably should have.” 


Buy Maggie’s Fork In The Road:

Maggie’s Fork in the Road on AmazonMaggies_fork_in_the_road_cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Bradley’s first book in the series:Maggies_Way_

 

 

 

 

 

Praise for Maggie’s Way, Montana Bound Series: Book 1:

-“Linda Bradley’sfresh voice will keep readers riveted from beginning to end. Bradley delivers aheart-warming story full of disarming honesty and beautiful drama…This onestands out!” -Jane Porter, New YorkTimes and USA Today Best Seller, Author of Flirting With Forty and It’s You

-“Maggie’s Way is aheart-warming tale of love and loss, fear and friendship. With charmingcharacters and a moving plot, Linda Bradley’s lovely debut gently remindsus that it’s never too late for second chances.” -Lori Nelson Spielman,International Best Seller, Author of The Love List and Sweet Forgiveness

 

-The Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards – Summer 2016

-Greater Detroit Booksellers Best Award Finalist 2016

Contact Linda Bradley:

Linda Bradley_Head Shots

Author Spotlight – Linda Bradley

Memorial Day weekend 006-3Welcome!

 

When did you start writing?

 

I’ve been writing all my life. As a youngster in elementary school, we had a yearly Calberry writing contest. The word “Calberry” was derived from Newberry and Caldecott. I still have the books I wrote and illustrated. In high school, I wrote short stories, poetry, and plays. I’m not going to lie, I was the girl who enjoyed research and term papers. When teachers and professors said the words, “blue book”, I did a secret happy dance. For my Master’s project, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book titled The Hunter.

 

 

What motivates you to write?

 

The voices in my head. And let me tell you, there are plenty on any given day.

 

 

What genre do you write and what made you chose this particular genre?

 

I write Women’s Fiction. My stories have a thread of romance. When my boys were younger, we lived by the lake and I would read in healthy doses during the summertime under the Michigan sun. One summer, I discovered Jane Porter’s, The Frog Prince and have read all her Women’s Fiction books since. She’s a huge inspiration.

 

 

What’s your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?

 

My goal is to inspire while sharing my stories with the world. Everyone has a story to tell and although I am a debut author, I can’t tell you how many readers have experienced what I’ve written on the pages. I think that’s pretty special. I’m not sure where my writing should take me, but I’d like to think that every fork in the road leads home.

 

 

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

 

There have been times that the ideas didn’t flow as heartily as others, but I would have to say I have not experienced writer’s block. Sometimes I wonder if the voices in my head and the stories waiting to be told will cease. I do go through periods of time when I think I should be writing more, but have come to understand that sometimes I need to take a hiatus to cultivate brewing ideas in the dark corners of my mind.

 

 

 

What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?

 

Keep writing. There’s no time table or formula to getting published. Be fierce. Follow your heart. Keep reading.

 

 

Please tell us about your work.

 

My Montana Bound Series consists of three titles:

Maggie’s Way: Book 1

Middle-aged, Maggie Abernathy just wants to recuperate from cancer during the solitude of summer vacation after a tiresome year of teaching second grade. Maggie’s plans are foiled when precocious seven-year-old Chloe McIntyre moves in next door with her dad, John. Maggie’s life changes in a way she could never imagine when the pesky new neighbors steal her heart. With Maggie’s grown son away, her ex-husband in the shadows, her meddling mother’s unannounced visits, and Chloe McIntyre on her heels, somehow Maggie’s empty house becomes home again.

 

• Maggie’s Fork in the Road: Book 2

(June 30, 2016)

 

Maggie Abernathy learns that pesky neighbors, John and Chloe McIntyre are moving to Montana. The only problem is…she can’t fathom living without them now that they’ve stolen her heart. While trying to digest the news and accept John’s decision to leave Michigan, Maggie ventures to Chicago with Chloe to see Chloe’s Hollywood mother in a photo shoot, where the three kindle a quirky bond. With the support of Maggie’s meddling mother, best friend Judy, and a surprise visit from Montana rancher, Winston Ludlow McIntyre, Maggie begins to fathom that all forks in the road just might lead home.

 

• Maggie’s Montana: Book 3

(September 28, 2016)

 

Maggie Abernathy, best friend Judy, and Judy’s two young sons travel cross country to visit Chloe and John McIntyre on their Montana ranch. Will Maggie have the heart to return home?

 

 

When I wrote Maggie’s Way, I thought it would be a stand alone, but by the time I finished it, I knew my main character, Maggie Abernathy wasn’t finished telling her story. Like Maggie, I am a cancer survivor. The summer after I went through cancer treatment I wrote Maggie’s Way. Within a year’s time, I had all three books in the Montana Bound Series written. At the time, I’d completed three other manuscripts, but it wasn’t until I met Maggie and Chloe that I found my voice.


Contact Linda:

 


LB_MaggiesWay_400x600 (1) (1)-3Maggie’s way: