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Trailer Reveal: Vow of Sacrifice by Emma Renshaw

 

 

Title: Vow of Sacrifice
Series: Vow Series #5
Author: Emma Renshaw
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Hang Le
Release Date: June 11, 2019

 

Blurb
She fled from the depths of hell, her life barely in tact.
Iris is finally living a peaceful life away from all that
she fears. She’s ready to come out of hiding and start living again.
He walked away from a life no one is supposed to escape.
Callan’s been looking over his shoulder for the past two
years. There’s a reason they say the mafia is for life. Now, in a new city, and
as the guardian of his sister, he has the chance to create a life he can be
proud of.
Iris’s world is rocked off its axis when she meets her new
neighbor with turquoise eyes and a protective streak a mile wide. Soon the
chemistry between them sparks to life and it’s not long before passion consumes
them. But their pasts are never too far away…
When those he loves the most are threatened, will the cost
of his sacrifice be his own life?

 

 

Pre-order Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
TRAILER

Vow of Sacrifice by Emma Renshaw from Bibliophile Productions on Vimeo.

Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Author Bio
Emma loves
to write, just don’t ask her to write about herself. If she isn’t writing,
you can find her lost in a book or trying to get her doggo to take a selfie
with her. He usually refuses. At the end of the day, you can find Emma at the
closest Mexican restaurant eating queso and sipping on a margarita. She lives
in Texas with her husband and dog.
Author Links

Spotlight: Letting Love Go (Damaged Hearts #1) by Katharina LeBoeuf

Title: Letting Love Go
Series: Damaged Heart Series: Book One
Author: Katharina LeBoeuf
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: April 18, 2017
Cover Designer: Cover Me Darling
Seven years ago, high school sweethearts Emma and Ryan were torn apart in the most shocking and unexpected way.

Over the years, Emma Leroux has learned to survive by building walls around her damaged heart. Exploited and betrayed by those closest to her, grieving the loss of her father and never really letting go of her first love has Emma at a new low in her life.

Desperate for a fresh start, Emma decides to go on a week-long vacation with a friend. Along with a change in scenery, she finds a new strength in herself and may also have found the one person who can open a door she thought was forever closed.

Justin finds himself at a crossroads in his life and he’s intent on making a fresh start. When he sees Emma for the first time, he knows she’s the one he’s been waiting for to walk into his life. Tearing down Emma’s walls isn’t as easy as he hoped it would be, but he’s not going to let her slip away without a fight.

After serving his time in the military and finishing his MBA, Ryan returns home to New Orleans. He has never given up on the dream that he and Emma could resurrect what they’ve lost. He’s determined to find her and win her back.

Will Justin be the one to help mend her damaged heart? Can this new relationship survive the shadows of their pasts, or will Ryan change everything?

****This book ends in a cliff hanger. Conclusion will be in Letting Love In, Damaged Heart Series-Book 2

Katharina LeBoeuf grew up in New Orleans water skiing on the bayous and getting her fill of Cajun food. She graduated from LSU School of Nursing and currently works as a Registered Nurse. 


She loves sitting in her hammock and reading a good book. On the rare occasion there’s not a book in her hand, she’s watching her favorite shows like Friends, Seinfeld, The Walking Dead, and Criminal Minds on Netflix. She loves cheering on her boys during their baseball games and attending plays her daughter performs in. Oh yeah, and she loves writing!

Katharina lives in Orlando with her high school sweetheart, three children, a smelly cat named Chester (it’s not his fault) and a dog named Rhett.

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Trailer Reveal: Beautifully Broken Pieces by Catherine Cowles

Title: Beautifully Broken Pieces
Series: Sutter Lake #1
Author: Catherine Cowles
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
with elements of Suspense
Release Date: February 25, 2019
Blurb

A woman who’s lost everything.

Taylor is looking for peace and quiet away from the memories of all she’s lost.
A small mountain town where no one knows her seems like the perfect escape.

A man battling the ghosts of his past.

Walker loves his life just the way it is. His town, his family, his brothers in
blue. Everything simple and easy—until a chance encounter changes it all.

When Taylor’s solitude is interrupted by the rugged cop, they find that the
very thing they were avoiding might be just what they both need. As their iron
wills clash and passion flares…a killer lurks.

And you never know who might be caught in the crosshairs.

Pre-order Links
$2.99 for a limited time!
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Trailer
Author Bio
Writer of
words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially
her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and
finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing
she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true
crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.

Author Links

Trailer Reveal: Vow of Devotion by Emma Renshaw

 

Title: Vow of Devotion
Series: Vow Series #4
Author: Emma Renshaw
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 25, 2019

 

Blurb
One look.
Just like
that.
That’s all
it takes for me to know I wanted Ava for more than one night. She takes a
single look at me and only sees a player. 
The young,
single mom doesn’t give her trust easily. Convincing her I want more than a one
night stand is the best thing I’ve ever done until it all crashes down around
me.
As I’m
framed for crimes I didn’t commit, I fight to prove my innocence and battle to
convince Ava and her daughter to stay.
When the
stakes rise, will I be able to prove my vow of devotion? 

 

 

Pre-order Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Trailer
Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Author Bio
Emma loves
to write, just don’t ask her to write about herself. If she isn’t writing,
you can find her lost in a book or trying to get her doggo to take a selfie
with her. He usually refuses. At the end of the day, you can find Emma at the
closest Mexican restaurant eating queso and sipping on a margarita. She lives
in Texas with her husband and dog.
Author Links

Spotlight: RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis

 

Following the USA Today bestseller, Lost and Found Sisters, comes Rainy Day Friends, Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship.

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan. Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2so9RUr

IndieBound: https://bit.ly/2xoymGO

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2LJd5uu

Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2LDlAY5

iBooks: https://apple.co/2snCXmV

GooglePlay: https://bit.ly/2BaZQAr

 

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

 

Anxiety Girl, able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound!

 

 

Most of the time Karma was a bitch, but every once in awhile she could be surprisingly nice, even kind. Lanie Jacobs, way past overdue for both of those things, told herself this was her time. Seize the day and all that, and drawing a deep breath, she exited the highway at Wildstone.

The old wild-west California town was nestled in the rolling hills between the Pacific Coast and wine/ranching country. She’d actually grown up not too far from here, though it felt like a lifetime ago. The road was narrow and curvy, and since it’d rained earlier, she added tricky and slick to her growing list of issues. She was already white-knuckling a sharp turn when a kamikaze squirrel darted into her lane, causing her to nearly swerve into oncoming traffic before remembering the rules of country driving.

Never leave your lane; not for weather, animals, or even God himself.

Luckily the squirrel reversed direction, but before she could relax a trio of deer bounded across the road. “Run, Bambi,” she cried, hitting her brakes, and by the skin of their collective teeth, they all missed each other.

Sweating, nerves sizzling like live wires, she finally turned onto Capriotti Lane and parked as she’d been instructed.

It took a moment for her pulse to come down from stroke level. She’d been taught anti-anxiety techniques, but she’d never quite figured out how to make any of them work while in the actual throes of an anxiety attack.

It’s all good she told herself but because she wasn’t buying what she was selling, she had to force herself out of the car like she was a five year old starting kindergarten instead of being thirty and simply facing a brand new job. Given all she’d been through, this should be easy, even fun. But sometimes adulthood felt like the vet’s office and she was the dog excited for the car ride — only to find out the real destination.

Shaking her head, she strode across the parking lot. It was April, which meant the rolling hills to the east were green and lush and the Pacific Ocean to the west looked like a surfer’s dream, all of it so gorgeous it could’ve been a postcard. A beautiful smoke screen over her not-so-beautiful past. The air was scented like a really expensive sea-and-earth candle, though  all Lanie could smell was her forgotten hopes and dreams. With wood chips crunching under her shoes, she headed through the entrance beneath which was a huge wooden sign that read:

 

Capriotti Winery, from our fields to your table…

 

Her heart sped up. Nerves, of course, the bane of her existence. But after a very crappy few years, she was changing her path. For once in her godforsaken life, something was going to work out for her. This was going to work out for her.

She was grimly determined.

 

 

ABOUT JILL SHALVIS

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are

 

Connect with Jill

Website: http://jillshalvis.com/

Facebook: @JillShalvis

Twitter: @JillShalvis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jillshalvis/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jillshalvis/

Tumblr: http://jillshalvis.tumblr.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22370.Jill_Shalvis?from_search=true

Spotlight: THE GOOD LUCK SISTER by Jill Shalvis 

 

ABOUT THE GOOD LUCK SISTER

 

After a difficult few years, Tilly Adams is ready for life to start going right. Though she has a case of first-day nerves teaching art at the local community college, she knows it isn’t anything a few snuggles from her rescue puppy won’t cure. Until she sees Dylan Scott again, her one-time BFF and first love sitting in the front row. Dylan knows he should’ve left well enough alone, but when he sees Tilly living her dream, he can’t help but make contact. Ten years ago, he left Wildstone and everything in it behind, including Tilly. He had his reasons, but now he wants her back in his life, anyway he can get her. When Tilly agrees to design the logo for Dylan’s new helicopter touring company, it’s business only . . . until she finds herself falling into his arms once again. Can she possibly open her heart back up to the only man who’s ever broken it? But soon they’re both realizing the truth—love always deserves a second chance.

#TBR https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37758704-the-good-luck-sister

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2qOBwgM

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2vCGAdQ

Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2Hfc5Qt

iBooks: https://apple.co/2vwQkpN

GooglePlay: https://bit.ly/2kpDG2S

 

 

ABOUT JILL SHALVIS

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, http://www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

 

 

Connect with Jill

Website: http://jillshalvis.com/

Facebook: @JillShalvis

Twitter: @JillShalvis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jillshalvis/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jillshalvis/

Tumblr: http://jillshalvis.tumblr.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22370.Jill_Shalvis

 

Spotlight: MY OXFORD YEAR by Julia Whelan

Major Motion Picture Already in Development with Temple Hill Entertainment

Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.

When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.

Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35068830-my-oxford-year

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Hl6YtN

IndieBound: https://bit.ly/2z4ur2u

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2qPk5gL

Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2qPZ8l5

iBooks: https://apple.co/2HhOJty

GooglePlay: https://bit.ly/2K5jIqj

 

CHAPTER 1

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England – now!

 

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad – Robert Browning, 1845

 

“Next!”

The customs agent beckons the person in front of me and I approach the big red line, absently toeing the curling tape, resting my hand on the gleaming pipe railing. No adjustable ropes at Heathrow, apparently; these lines must always be long if they require permanent demarcation.

My phone rings. I glance down. I don’t know the number.

“Hello?” I answer.

“Is this Eleanor Durran?”

“Yes?”

“This is Gavin Brookdale.”

My first thought is that this is a prank call. Gavin Brookdale just stepped down as White House Chief of Staff. He’s run every major political campaign of the last 20 years. He’s a legend. He’s my idol. He’s calling me?

“Hello?”

“Sorry, I-I’m here,” I stammer. “I’m just –

“Have you heard of Janet Wilkes?”

Have I heard of – Janet Wilkes is the junior senator from Florida and a dark horse candidate for President. She’s 45, lost her husband twelve years ago in Afghanistan, raised three kids on a teacher’s salary while somehow putting herself through law school, and then ran the most impressive grassroots senatorial campaign I’ve ever seen. She also has the hottest human-rights-attorney boyfriend I’ve ever seen, but that’s beside the point. She’s a Gold Star wife who’s a progressive firebrand on social issues. We’ve never seen anyone like her on the national stage before. The first debate isn’t for another two weeks, on October 13, but voters seem to love her: she’s polling third in a field of twelve. Candidate Number Two is not long for the race; a Case of the Jilted Mistress(es). Number One, however, happens to be the current Vice-President, George Hillerson, who Gavin Brookdale (if the Washington gossip mill is accurate) loathes. Still, even the notoriously mercurial Brookdale wouldn’t back a losing horse like Wilkes just to spite the presumptive nominee. If nothing else, Gavin Brookdale likes to win. “Of course I’ve heard of her.”

“She read your piece in The Atlantic. We both did. ‘The Art of Education and the Death of the Thinking American Electorate.’ We were impressed.”

“Thank you,” I gush. “It was something I felt was missing from the discourse –”

“What you wrote was a philosophy. It wasn’t a policy.”

This brings me up short. “I understand why you’d think that, but I –”

“Don’t worry, I know you have the policy chops. I know you won Ohio for Janey Bennett. The 138th for Carl Moseley. You’re a talented young lady, Eleanor.”

“Mr. Brookdale –”

“Call me Gavin.”

“Then call me Ella. No one calls me Eleanor.”

“Alright, Ella, would you like to be the education consultant for Wilkes’ campaign?”

Silence.

“Hello?”

“Yes!” I bleat. “Yes, of course! She’s incredible –”

“Great. Come down to my office today and we’ll read you in.”

All the breath leaves my body. I can’t seem to get it back. “So… here’s the thing. I-I’m in England.”

“Fine, when you get back.”

“… I get back in June.”

Silence.

“Are you consulting over there?”

“No, I have a… I got a Rhodes and I’m doing a –”

Gavin chortles. “I was a Rhodie.”

“I know, Sir.”

“Gavin.”

“Gavin.”

“What are you studying?”

“English Language and Literature 1830 to 1914.”

Beat. “Why?”

“Because I want to?” Why does it come out as a question?

“You don’t need it. Getting the Rhodes is what matters. Doing it is meaningless, especially in Literature from 1830 to 19-whatever. The only reason you wanted it was to help you get that life-changing political job, right? Well, I’m giving that to you. So come home and let’s get down to business.”

“Next!”

A customs agent – stone-faced, turbaned, impressive beard – waves me forward. I take one step over the line, but hold a finger up to him. He’s not even looking at me. “Gavin, can I call –”

“She’s going to be the nominee, Ella. It’s going to be the fight of my life and I need all hands – including yours – on deck, but we’re going to do it.”

He’s delusional. But, my God, what if he’s right? A shiver of excitement snakes through me. “Gavin –”

“Listen, I’ve always backed the winning candidate, but I have never backed someone who I personally, deeply, wanted to win.”

“Miss?” Now the customs agent looks at me.

Gavin chuckles at my silence. “I don’t want to have to convince you, if you don’t feel –”

“I can work from here.” Before he can argue, I continue, “I will make myself available at all hours. I will make Wilkes my priority.” Behind me, a bloated, red-faced businessman reeking of gin, moves to squeeze around me. I head him off, grabbing the railing, saying into the phone, “I had two jobs in college while volunteering in field offices and coordinating multiple city council runs. I worked two winning congressional campaigns last year while helping to shape the education budget for Ohio. I can certainly consult for you while reading books and writing about them occasionally.”

“Miss!” the customs agent barks. “Hang up the phone or step aside.” I hold my finger up higher (as if visibility is the problem) and widen my stance over the line.

“What’s your date certain for coming home?” Gavin asks.

“June 11th. I already have a ticket. Seat 32A.”

“Miss!” The customs agent and the man bark at me.

I look down at the red line between my sprawled feet. “Gavin, I’m straddling the North Atlantic right now. I literally have one foot in England and one in America and if I don’t hang up they’ll –”

“I’ll call you back.”

He disconnects.

What does that mean? What do I do? Numbly, I hurry to the immigration window, coming face to face with the dour agent. I adopt my best beauty-pageant smile and speak in the chagrined, gee-whiz tone I know he expects. “I am so sorry, Sir, my sincerest apologies. My Mom’s –”

“Passport.” He’s back to not looking at me. I’m getting the passive-aggressive treatment now. I hand over my brand new passport with the crisp, un-stamped pages. “Purpose of visit?”

“Study.”

“For how long will you be in the country?”

I pause. I glance down at the dark, unhelpful screen of my phone. “I… I don’t know.”

Now he looks up at me.

“A year,” I say. Screw it. “An academic year.”

“Where?”

“Oxford.” Saying the word out loud cuts through everything else. My smile becomes genuine. He asks me more questions, and I suppose I answer, but all I can think is:

I’m here. This is actually happening. Everything has come together according to plan.

He stamps my passport, hands it back, lifts his hand to the line.

“Next!”

 

#

 

When I was thirteen I read an article in Seventeen Magazine called, “My Once in a Lifetime Experience,” and it was a personal account of an American girl’s year abroad at Oxford. The classes, the students, the parks, the pubs, even the chip shop (“pictured, bottom left”) seemed like another world. Like slipping through a wormhole into a universe where things were ordered and people were dignified and the buildings were older than my entire country. I suppose thirteen is an important age in every girl’s life, but for me, growing up in the middle of nowhere, with a family that had fallen apart? I needed something to hold onto. I needed inspiration. I needed hope. The girl who wrote the article had been transformed. Oxford had unlocked her life and I was convinced that it would be the key to mine.

So I made a plan: get to Oxford.

After going through more customs checkpoints, I follow signs for The Central Bus Terminal and find an automatic ticket kiosk. The “£” sign before the amount looks so much better, more civilized, more historical than the American dollar sign, which always seems overly suggestive to me. Like it should be flashing in sequential neon lights above a strip club. $ – $ – $. Girls! Girls! Girls!

The kiosk’s screen asks me if I want a discounted return ticket (I assume that means round trip), and I pause. My flight back to Washington is on June 11th, barely sixteen hours after the official end of Trinity term. I have no plans to return to the states before then, instead staying here over the two long vacations (in December and March) and traveling. In fact, I already have my December itinerary all planned. I purchase the return ticket, then cross to a bench to wait for the next bus.

My phone dings and I look down. An email from The Rhodes Foundation reminding me about the orientation tomorrow morning.

For whatever reason, out of all the academic scholarships in the world, most people seem to have heard of The Rhodes. It’s not the only prestigious scholarship to be had, but it’s the one that I wanted. Every year, America sends 32 of its most overachieving, uber-competitive, social-climbing, do-gooder nerds to Oxford. It’s mostly associated with geniuses, power-players, global leaders. Let me demystify this: to get a Rhodes, you have to be slightly unhinged. You have to have a stellar GPA, excel in multiple courses of study, be socially entrepreneurial, charity-minded, and athletically proficient (though the last time I did anything remotely athletic I knocked out Jimmy Brighton’s front tooth with a foul ball, so take that tenet with a grain of salt). I could have gone after other scholarships. There’s the Marshal, the Fulbright, the Watson, but the Rhodies are my people. They’re the planners.

The other finalist selected from my district (a Math/Econ/Classics triple-major and Olympic archer who had discovered that applying Game Theory to negotiations with known terrorists makes the intel 147% more reliable) told me, “I’ve been working toward getting a Rhodes since Freshman year.” To which I replied, “Me, too.” He clarified, “Of high school.” To which I replied, “Me, too.”

While, yes, the Rhodes is a golden ticket to Oxford, it’s also a built-in network and the means to my political future. It ensures that people who would have otherwise discounted me – this unconnected girl from the soybean fields of Ohio – will take a second, serious look. People like Gavin Brookdale.

Going after things the way I do, being who I am, has alienated my entire hometown and most of my extended family. My mom hadn’t gone to college and my dad had dropped out after two years because he’d thought it was more important to change the world than learn about it, and there I was, this achievement machine making everyone around it vaguely uncomfortable. She thinks she’s better than everyone else.

Honestly, I don’t. But I do think I’m better than what everyone, besides my dad, told me I was.

 

#

 

I wake up in a moment of panic when the bus I’d boarded back at Heathrow jerks to a stop, sending the book on my lap to the floor. Hastily retrieving it, I force my sleepy eyes to take in the view from the floor-to-ceiling window in front of me. I chose the seat on the upper level at the very front, wanting to devour every bit of English countryside on the way to Oxford. Then I slept through it.

Pushing through the fog in my head, I peer outside. A dingy bus stop in front of a generic cell phone store. I look for a street sign, trying to get my bearings. My info packet from the college said to get off at the Queens Lane stop on High Street. This can’t be it. I glance behind me and no one on the bus is moving to get off, so I settle back into my seat.

The bus starts up again, and I breathe deeply, trying to wake up. I jam the book into my backpack. I’d wanted to finish it before my first class tomorrow, but I can’t focus. I was too excited to eat or sleep on the plane. My empty stomach and all-nighter is catching up to me. The time difference is catching up to me. The last twelve years spent striving for this moment is catching up to me.

Inside my jacket pocket, my phone vibrates. I pull it out and see the same number from earlier. I take a deep breath and preemptively answer, “Gavin, listen, I was thinking, let’s do a trial period of, say, a month, and if you feel that I need to be there –”

“Not necessary.”

My throat tightens. “Please, just give me thirty days to prove that –”

“It’s fine. I made it work. Just remember who comes first.”

Elation breaks through the fog. My fist clenches in victory and my smile reaches all the way to my temples. “Absolutely,” I say in my most professional voice. “Thank you so much for this opportunity. You won’t be disappointed.”

“I know that. That’s why I hired you. What’s your fee? FYI: there’s no money.”

There’s never any money. I tell him my fee anyway and we settle on something that I can live with. The Rhodes is paying my tuition and lodging and I get a small stipend for living expenses on top of that. I decide right then that what Gavin’s going to pay me will go directly into my travel budget.

“Now, go,” he says, “Have fun. You’ve clearly earned it. There’s a pub you should visit in the center of town. The Turf. See where one of your fellow Rhodes Scholars – a young William Jefferson Clinton – ‘didn’t’ inhale.”

“Ha, got it. Will do.”

“Just take your phone with you. Your phone is an appendage, not an accessory. Okay?”

I nod even though he can’t see me. “Okay. It’s a plan.” Just as I say this, the bus rounds a bend and there she is:

Oxford.

Beyond a picturesque bridge, the narrow two-lane road continues into a bustling main street, lined on each side by buildings with a hodge-podge of architectural styles, no room to breathe between them. Like the crowd at the finish line of a marathon, these buildings cheer me on, welcoming me to their city. Some are topped with sloped, slate roofs, others with battlements. Some of the larger buildings have huge wooden gates that look as if they were carved in place, a fusion of timeless wood and stone that steals my breath. Maybe those doors lead to some of the 38 individual Oxford colleges? Imagining it, dreaming of it all these years, doesn’t do it justice.

I look skyward. Punctuating the horizon are the tips of other ancient buildings, high-points of stone bordering the city like beacons.

“The City of Dreaming Spires,” I murmur to myself.

“Indeed it is,” Gavin says in my ear. I’d forgotten he was still on the line.

That’s what they call Oxford. A title well deserved. Because that means, before it was my dream or Seventeen Magazine girl’s dream, it was someone else’s dream as well.

 

 

ABOUT JULIA WHELAN

Julia Whelan is a screenwriter, lifelong actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator. She graduated with a degree in English and creative writing from Middlebury College and Oxford University. While she was in England, her flirtation with tea blossomed into a full-blown love affair, culminating in her eventual certification as a tea master.

 

Connect with Julia

Website: http://www.jmwhelan.com

Facebook: @justjuliawhelan

Twitter: @justjuliawhelan

Instagram: @justjuliawhelan

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2939944.Julia_Whelan