Title: Small Town Rumors
Author: Carolyn Brown
Release Date: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Everyone is talking about Jennie Sue Baker and the mess she made of her life in New York. The former high school queen bee—and wealthy darling of Bloom, Texas—has returned home after all these years, riding on a common bus and bearing two bounced alimony checks. In a town that thrives on gossip, Jennie’s fall from grace has shamed her mother, set the town buzzing, and caused old, jealous enemies to whisper in delight. They say she’s taken a job as a housekeeper, gotten a garage apartment, and might be crushing on Rick Lawson, a simple farmer with modest dreams.
As romance starts to bud, Jennie relishes what it means to follow her heart, find real new friends, and finally be herself—regardless of all the lying town chatter. But fate has another twist in store. Rumor has it that Jennie now stands to lose what matters most . . . unless she can convince Rick of one true thing—and that’s love.
About the Author
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books, which include women’s fiction and historical, contemporary, and cowboys-and-country-music romance. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma—where everyone knows everyone else and knows what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.
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Exclusive Excerpt: Small Town Rumors by Carolyn Brown
Bloom was a little less than ten miles north of Sweetwater. The drive usually took about ten minutes unless there was traffic, and that night there was none. The sisters talked about their menu for dinner the next night the whole way to the Walmart. “Where do we meet up when we get done?” Jennie Sue asked when she stopped at the door to drop the sisters off.
“We’ll wait for you by the shopping carts,” Lettie answered. “We don’t never get scattered out when we shop. Tried that once and spent hours trying to find each other.”
“You could use your cell phones,” Jennie Sue said.
“Honey, I ain’t about to use mine anywhere they have fluorescent lighting. I heard tell that the combination of the lights and whatever signals are on the phones mixin’ up in a place like this can cause cancer,” Nadine said as she got out of the van. “And I don’t take chances like that.”
“That’s hogwash,” Lettie declared. “That can’t cause cancer or half the people in Texas would be droppin’ dead like flies all around us.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “But if there’s aliens out there—and I’m not sayin’ that they exist or that they don’t—but just in case there are, I bet they can listen in on them things. Give me a phone with a cord on it or even one of the cordless like we got in our houses now and there ain’t no way them little fellers can hear what I’m sayin’. That’s why I don’t use my cell phone in public unless it’s an emergency of some kind.”
Jennie Sue wasn’t sure if they were serious or joking with her, so she simply said, “Okay. I’ll try to find us a good parking spot.”
“Wait a minute!” Nadine dug around in a black purse almost as big as Jennie Sue’s suitcase. “Use this so you can park closer to the door.” She handed her a handicapped tag.
“Yes, ma’am.” Jennie Sue hung it on the rearview mirror. “I’ve got to get stuff, too, so I’ll meet you at the front doors, right?”
“We’ll be right there, waitin’ on you.” Lettie got out of the vehicle and followed Nadine.
Jennie Sue circled the lot once and found an empty handicapped place very close to the grocery-store end of Walmart. When she got inside, Lettie and Nadine were waiting, each with a cart.
“It’s my turn to lead the pack,” Nadine said. “Then Lettie and you can bring up the rear. We go up and down all the grocery aisles, and then if we need something else, we go that direction. Next time Lettie gets to drive the lead cart.” She lowered her voice. “She drives a cart like she does that ancient truck of hers, like a bat out of hell, and I forget half a dozen things because she’s going too fast.”
“Oh, hush.” Lettie took her place behind Nadine. “Nadine drives her cart like she’s had six shots of moonshine. I was the good child. She and Flora were the wild ones.” Lettie bumped her in the butt with her cart.
Nadine sent a go-to-hell look over her shoulder. “You will pay for that when it’s my turn to drive behind you.” Then she led the caravan to the deli counter, where she ordered half a pound of shaved ham, two pounds of thick-sliced turkey breast, and a pound of American cheese.
“Hey, Lettie,” an older woman yelled and pushed her cart in that direction. “I heard you found a cleaning lady. Want to share her with me? I could use some help every other week on Wednesdays.”
“Nope.” Lettie shook her head. “Can’t do it. She’s got a job except on Thursdays and Fridays, and me and Nadine have her on those days.”
“Well, rats! And who is this with y’all?” she asked. “Why, bless my soul if it ain’t Jennie Sue Baker. You might not remember me—Linda Williams. I was your grandmother’s hairdresser for years.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t, but it’s still nice to see you,” Jennie Sue said.
“That’s all right, darlin’. You remind me of Vera Baker when she was your age. She was the sweetest customer that I had,” Linda said as she pushed her cart toward the checkout counter.
Jennie Sue barely remembered her grandmother on the Baker side, and now twice in one day, she’d been told that she either acted or looked like her.
Linda had barely gotten past the doughnut display when she whipped out her cell phone. Evidently she wasn’t afraid of cancer or aliens as much as not being the first one to deliver the news that she’d seen Jennie Sue with the Clifford sisters at Walmart.
“Your turn to order deli stuff,” Nadine told Lettie.
“Don’t need anything here. You go on and get what you want, and then we’ll start down the bread aisle.” Lettie moved her cart to let Jennie Sue move up in line.
She was so busy deciding whether to buy half a pound or a whole one of pastrami that she didn’t even turn around when she heard Lettie talking to someone else. She decided on half a pound and then ordered the same amount of white American cheese. She put her order into the cart and turned around. She recognized Cricket right away and nodded—and then looked into the most gorgeous green eyes she’d ever seen on a man. They were rimmed with thick black lashes that curled upward—entirely too pretty for God to have given to a man. Good Lord, was that Rick Lawson?