Introducing Reunion Gap series

Greetings!

On June 13, 2017, I invite you to the small town of Reunion Gap, Pennsylvania for Strangers Like Us, Book One of my Reunion Gap series.

If you enjoyed my “A Family Affair” books, these have the same feel, set in a small town surrounded by secrets. Yes, there’s heartache, betrayal, forgiveness, redemption, and second chances. But…this small town doesn’t open its arms to strangers and wayward drifters. Why? Because years ago, many of the residents were swindled out of their life savings by the smooth-talking stranger they trusted.Strangers Like Us

So, what happens when a beautiful woman arrives in Reunion Gap, bent on helping the town and those in need? Well, a person can only fight the laws of attraction so long…and good deeds should not go unnoticed, should they?

When the son of the man who lost everything falls in love with the daughter of the man who stole it all, there can only be heartache ahead when she’s exposed. And she will be exposed. It’s only a matter of time, and no matter how good her intentions, heartache is coming.

Will forgiveness and redemption follow?

I love writing about hope and second chances in small towns where the residents have known their share of heartache. I grew up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania, so it feels very natural for me to write about a place where everybody knows everybody and a handshake is your word. But the best part is creating bonds that hold people together, friendships that endure, and of course, happily-ever-after—with a few bumps along the way!

I do hope you join me as I begin this journey to a new town with interesting people, and big secrets!

Here are a few snippets from Strangers Like Us:

“Sometimes I come out here at night and breathe in the fragrant air, gaze at the stars, and remember how life used to be when the children were little and Jonathan and I had such dreams. Those were the best times,” she said in a soft voice. “The very best. We didn’t realize it at the time, because we were so darn busy just trying to get through the day-to-day challenges of raising a family. We told ourselves that one day, life would settle down and we’d have everything we ever wanted; we’d take those trips we talked about, buy that camper, visit the kids wherever they ended up. Or maybe we’d just sit and do nothing. It didn’t matter, as long as we could do it together.” She clasped her hands to her chest, bowed her head. “We thought we had so much time…”

Rose Donovan


A man in a cowboy hat with a Texas twang doesn’t walk into a small town like Reunion Gap and ask for a cup of coffee without getting noticed. Same thing had happened when he’d moseyed into Magdalena, but back then he’d been pretending to be someone other than who he was—an investigator on the hunt for answers. This time around, he wasn’t hiding behind another persona, not that he was going to straight-out admit what he was doing in Reunion Gap, but at least the town would know who he was and what he did for a living. Investigators tended to make people edgy, and when a person got edgy, sometimes they revealed information they didn’t even know they were revealing.

Lester Conroy


“Don’t worry, I’m not looking for a wife, but I usually just play along.”

“Usually?” She stared at him. “How often does this happen?”

“The matchmaking part?” He shook his head, sighed. “Whenever the opportunity arises, and if it doesn’t, she creates the occasion. So, I’d like to apologize up front for the discomfort you’re bound to feel when my mother starts her full-court press.”

“Full-court press?”

“When she goes all out and really tries to match us up. Tonight was a warm-up.”

Rogan Donovan to Elizabeth Hastings


That’s all for now! See you in Reunion Gap.

Best,

Mary

It's all about the food

me_and_mom
Mary and Mom

In our house, it really is all about the food.

When I was growing up, we traveled to my grandmother’s most Sundays for homemade pasta and meatballs.

I’m not talking about the kind of pasta that comes from a machine-fed operation; I’m talking about the hand-cut stuff that got rolled into gigantic round sheets and cut with a knife—a dull knife. Grandma used to work that old knife through the dough, her gnarled fingers cutting with such patience. Such precision. No measuring, no fancy gadgets.

Grandma lived with my Aunt Marie and together they made cavatelli and something else we called “hats” and I still don’t know the real name for “hats”. When we visited, all four of us kids couldn’t wait to try making cavatelli. The trick was in the way you rolled the cut dough with your index and middle finger. By the twentieth one, I was ready to be done. Not Grandma. On and on she went, just like she’d done for a good part of her eighty-plus years.

But there was nothing like the smell of a good meatball frying in the kitchen. Have you ever tried brown meatballs? Aunt Marie fried them, no baking in those days, and she’d leave four out of the sauce, one for each of us kids.

Continue Reading…

My Mother’s $125 Apple Pie

Yes, you read that right. I wrote an article about my mother’s $125 apple pie. And because I’m a middle child, would it not be fitting to tell you she made it for my oldest brother? The pecking order at work! In order to give this story the most impact, I have to also admit that when my brother requested the pie, Mom had just returned from an extended visit to California, where my two brothers live. She had plenty of time and loads of kitchen space to make ten apple pies. Big brother had only to ask, but he didn’t because he’d sworn off sweets, flour, and all things white. Fine by me. My husband hadn’t made this same pledge and a few days after Mom arrived in Ohio, he asked for his semi-annual apple pie. Mom was more than happy to get back into baking mode and when the pie came out of the oven, I could hardly wait to dig in.

“Send your brother a picture of this lovely pie. Look at the golden crust. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“It’s perfect, Mom. Great job.” I snapped a picture and sent it to my oldest brother. Seconds later my phone rang. It was brother #1 with a request: he wanted Mom to make him a pie.

“You realize she was just at your house…?”

“I know.” Laugh. “See if she’ll do it.”

“Of course she will.”

“Ask her if she’ll put a few blueberries in it, too, like she did before.”

“You mean when you were eating pie? Sure. Anything else?” Sometimes I just don’t know about my brother…

Pause. “Oatmeal raisin cookies, too.”

Was he kidding? I sigh. “Can she use white flour and sugar?”

“Yes.” Not a second of hesitation. “Tell her to make it just like she does and can she send it so it gets here Saturday?”

Now I have to say something. “You know, you could go to a bakery…”

“It wouldn’t be the same. I want Mom’s apple pie and her cookies.” Pause. “So, can you get them here by Saturday?”

“Yeah, well, you mean because today is Wednesday? How am I going to do that?”

“Next day delivery.”

“Now I know you’re crazy.”

“Come on. Can you just make it happen?”

Sigh. Big sigh. Of course, I can’t say no. He’s my brother. “Okay. Let me see what I can do.”

At eighty-something, Mom might be the brains and the know-how of this operation, but I’m the legs. Off to the grocery store to get more apples, then home to set out the ingredients, print off the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, and prepare for tomorrow morning’s baking session. As my husband enjoyed warm apple pie and ice cream, I told him he was in charge of packaging the to-be-made pie and cookies. With his engineer-minded brain, he was the most qualified to get the job done.

Mom and I spent Thursday baking and I swear, my brother called fifteen times to see how we were progressing. Mom’s crust was even better than the one the other day and the cookies were golden and chewy. (Of course, I had to taste a few!) My husband wrapped the pie in rolls of bubble wrap, taped it closed, placed it in a Styrofoam container and then wedged it in a cardboard box. The cookies were easy. Oatmeal containers stacked to the top. We headed to the UPS store on Friday afternoon and Mom insisted on paying, saying this would be his early birthday gift.

“Mom, it’s going to be expensive.”

“I know, but I want to do this for him.”

“You gave him the gift by baking the pie and cookies. He doesn’t want you to pay.”

“I want to.”

Hmm. “How much do you think it will cost?”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.”

“Take a guess.”

“Thirty or forty dollars.”

“Probably a little more.”

A little more turned out to be a lot more, like $125 more! Mom still wanted to pay, but I knew my brother would have a fit, and she must have known it too because she didn’t argue. The pie and cookies traveled over 2,000 miles and arrived the next morning intact, with only one small piece of crust broken off. When my brother called to tell us they’d arrived, he’d already eaten two cookies and dug a fork into the pie.

He said it was one of the best birthday presents ever. Well done, Mom!

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