We're always excited to learn about a new romance series—especially one from a New York Times bestselling author like Shelley Shepard Gray. The first book in her Rumors in Ross County series, Edgewater Road is full of small-town secrets, family mysteries, and of course, plenty of romance.
The story follows Jennifer Smiley, who has just inherited her grandmother Ginny's farmhouse after her passing. She's immediately treated to small-town hospitality when a group of men help her move in. Later, Jennifer realizes the men work for her gorgeous next door neighbor, Lincoln Bennett.
Lincoln has dark hair, lapis-blue eyes, and a past he's hesitant to talk about. He's been to prison, and while he enjoys helping other ex-cons get back on their feet, he knows most people aren't so open-minded. But he can't help wanting to get closer to Jennifer.
Little does he know, Jennifer is discovering her own family secrets—some of which involve him.
Featuring "a cast of memorable characters, Edgewater Road is a suspenseful, endearing romance full of heart, hope, and second chances" (Heather Webber, USA Today bestselling author of Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe). We're sure you'll fall in love with it too—read the excerpt below and prepare to be hooked!
Lincoln glanced at his phone’s screen again before he studied her closely. “I’m sorry. Did I miss your call?”
She met his gaze and noticed for about the fifteenth time that his eyes were really blue. Dark too. Like lapis.
The woman on the couch giggled.
Oh! Jennifer needed to get out of this room. Clearing her throat again, she attempted to find her voice. “John. I mean, Lincoln, I’m sorry I didn’t text or call. I guess I should have. Anyway, here.” She thrust her container toward him.
He took it easily enough, but he held the red Rubbermaid cake server like it had a bomb about to go off inside of it.
“What is this?”
“It’s a cake, Lincoln,” Bo announced. “She made you a freaki—” He looked over at her again. “A chocolate cake.”
Lincoln was still holding the container gingerly, like it might explode. He frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s a thank-you cake.” When he still only stared at her, she added, “You know, as a thank-you for helping me during the funeral and for calling all the guys to help me carry all my boxes and furniture into the house last week. It was really nice of you.”
“You don’t need to thank me for either of those. Not a big deal.”
“Well, it was to me. You and all the guys made my life a lot easier.” She smiled at Bo, so he’d see that she hadn’t forgotten that he carried her desk inside.
Lincoln ran a hand through his coal-black hair. “No need to thank me for helping you when I can. I promised Ginny we’d look out for you.”
Ah. He hadn’t gone out of his way for her on his own. It had been because of his friendship with her dead grandmother. And . . . that made the awkwardness of this whole errand complete.
Swallowing the lump of embarrassment, Jennifer nodded. “Well, I think I’ll be going now. Have a good night.” Turning around, she closed her eyes. Have a good night? She wasn’t at one of her mother’s friends’ houses.
Was she ever going to learn to be less self-conscious? A little more easy-going and relaxed? A little more like her grandmother? She increased her pace. Kept her head down as she walked by the couple on the couch. Ignored the stares as she strode to the front door, her heels once again clicking against the hardwood, each step echoing in the suddenly quiet room.
She paused, mentally debating whether she wanted to turn around and face Lincoln in front of all his friends or keep walking.
She decided to get the heck out of there.
She opened the door. Felt the cool breeze bite her cheeks. A large hand gripped the edge of the door as it swung open.
“Jennifer, wait,” Lincoln said. “Please.”
She could feel his breath on her neck. Goosebumps rose, not from the cold air but from his proximity. “Yes?”
“Jennifer, turn around, babe.”
Babe? She wasn’t a fan of that word, and especially wasn’t a fan of being on its receiving end.
So why had a little part of her insides melted when she heard it from his lips? Why did she pivot on her heels to face him again, as if she had no other option?
Now, they were barely standing eight inches apart. Close enough that she had to raise her chin to meet those blue eyes. Close enough to smell the faintest hint of soap on his skin. “Um, yes, Lincoln?”
Humor lit his gaze before he visibly put his game face back on. “I’m gonna walk you out.”
It was dark. She might have social issues, but she wasn’t a fool. She nodded. “Thank you.”
Taking her arm, he guided her out and pulled the door shut behind him. Almost immediately, she could hear the noise level rise inside the house.
The five men on the porch abruptly stopped talking and watched them.
Lincoln acted as if they weren’t even there. “Where’s your car, honey?” he asked in a soft voice.
“How come you parked so far away?”
She shrugged, not wanting to admit how close she’d come to turning around.
He sighed and started down the stairs, still holding her arm in his heavy hand, like he was afraid she’d dart off without him. They stayed silent as they walked. She was doing her best not to thank him a second time for walking her out in the dark.
And John? Well, who knew what was on his mind?
When they reached her vehicle, he held out his hand.
“Oh, there’s no need.” She patted her pocket. “It’s keyless entry.”
“You going to be okay getting home?”
She was a grown woman. It was a three-minute drive back to her grandmother’s farm. The farm that was barely a mile away. So, all in all, it seemed like a pretty silly question.
But it still made her feel cared for—mainly because she couldn’t remember the last time anyone had cared enough to ask if she was going to be okay doing anything. “I’ll be fine.” Looking up into his eyes, she smiled softly. “Now, you have a good night, John.”
“My name’s Lincoln.”
“I didn’t forget.” Unable to stop herself, she chuckled at his irritated expression before opening her door and slipping inside. Lincoln stepped away, but she knew he was watching as she turned around and slowly drove back onto the main road. She’d been the one who’d delivered a thank-you cake, but she had the strangest feeling that Lincoln Bennett had given her something too.
She just wasn’t sure what it was.