Tag Archive | The Balm of Love

The Balm of Love Among USA Today Must-read Romances

I’m a little late in sharing this… I’m so happy to say that I was featured among the USA Today Recommended Must-read Romances once again!

The Balm of Love Cover c

Michelle Monkou says:

“Why you should read it: The dramatic saga of these friends and family around the Serenity Inn series continues with The Balm of Love. This time, Eleanor and Terry are face-to-face in an expected situation that provides the perfect opportunity for reflection on the verge of their divorce.

Nikki Walker turns the spotlight on each couple as they continue to face trials that test their faith and commitment. And when the trials rain down, the storm seems never-ending. Faith and persistence carry them through the darkness, and vulnerabilities are laid bare for judgment but also for forgiveness. Walker ensures there are lessons to be learned and valued in The Balm of Love.”

I’m so appreciative to be mentioned among these other wonderful writers.



Pangs of the Heart

Terrance sat on the side of his bed and held his head in his hands. He didn’t know how he’d made it through the rest of the work day, but he had somehow. Leaning against his headboard of bed pillows, he closed his weary eyes. Maybe a drink would stop his heart from feeling like little hammers rapping on his ribs.

The downside was that it could be a drink that wouldn’t stop. For nearly three months after he’d split with Eleanor, he had hidden in a bottle.  It had gotten worse after his brother had moved to Virginia. The idea of building a wilderness lodge was borne of him taking a trip with his brother, sleeping out under the stars as they had once as children with their father.

That was when Chad had proposed that he do something similar. He’d initially balked at the idea. But after a few days of being in nature he felt reborn. It was as if his mind and heart began to focus again and he felt himself feel like he could breathe and possibly start a life again—without Eleanor.

He didn’t know what kind of set up he’d wanted as he and his brother bashed ideas around but he was sure it wouldn’t have the bed and breakfast feel that Lindsay and Chad were doing. No, it would be challenging like the week they’d spent, but with packages made according to camping skills. Some could have cabins and cottages while others could hike and use tents. Some packages could appeal to families while others would be made to appeal to companies who wanted to do group bonding.

With his brother and father as  backers he took steps to make it happen and two years later the park had exceeded his expectations. It turned out that the project had been just what he needed to distract him from the heartache that had begun tearing at him from the moment he’d walked in on Eleanor trying to seduce his brother.

Even though he’d known Chad had done nothing to encourage the attraction it had taken everything in him not to beat on his brother that night. Instead, he placed the blame where it belonged, squarely on his wife. That night he’d thrown her out of Chad’s house where they’d been living at the time.

It had been bad enough to go through something like that among family, but Lindsay, Chad’s then fiancé had visited along with the family friend Cook. All had become a witness to the most horrific moment in Terry’s life. Sad to say, he knew none of them were any more surprised at the outcome of the evening than he was.

Trying to figure out where he’d gone wrong in their marriage had nearly killed him. His mind would replay pivotal moments in time between him and Eleanor all leading up to when their marriage hit the wall.

After some therapy and self-reasoning he realized he had to simply let it go or he would self-destruct and destroy his relationship with his brother as well. Trust was a precious thing.

Despite his jealousy, he decided to take the gamble on his brother. He hadn’t regretted it. Chad wouldn’t let him because he could see in his brother’s eyes the regret he had being part of the most painful thing to happen to him. That pain that glanced from his eyes at first sight, each time they reunited made him want to hate Eleanor afresh.

She’d put something between them that he wondered would ever go away, and for what? So it was strange to discover earlier that of all the complicated feelings which whirled within him for her—that none of them were hate.

Still, now that she was here working for him, he would make her pay for all the pain she’d caused if it was the last thing that he did.


If  you haven’t, please pick up the latest in the Serenity Series which reads as a complete story stand-alone as well.  But if you’d like to get caught up, check out the following links:


Her Guy-Friday New Cover Her Guy-Friday~Serenity Inn Series ~ Book 1 (June 2014)

Lindsay Morgan, the B & B Innkeeper has many secrets–starting with the domestic abuse that she endured in her marriage, which ends when her husband Warren is killed. But how does he die? Is it the result of her gunshots in self-defense, in the line of duty or is it the incompetent surgeon?

When Dr. Chad Lewis ends up at the B&B seeking peace and forgiveness, will the Serenity Inn live up to its name and offer two wounded souls the serenity that they desperately desire?  What will the future hold for these two, when Lindsay and Chad realize that their past is intertwined?  1-Click to Check into the Serenity Inn~ Her Guy-Friday!

Love Embraced New Cover

Love Embraced~Serenity Inn Series ~Book 2  (Sept.2014)

 When Lindsay and Chad met at Serenity Inn, there was immediate chemistry, but the timing for love was all wrong in the face of what they’d both just gone through. They decide to go their separate ways, but they keep in touch. Now the two have agreed to meet, this time on Dr. Chad’s luxurious home turf, with the feisty Cook along for the ride. The couple find that they not only still have feelings for each other, but those feelings have grown as though they’d never spent time apart. Their elation is short-lived; however, as they realize that with their burgeoning love comes a new challenge: Chad’s sister-in-law, Eleanor, who makes it abundantly clear that Lindsay is beneath Chad’s station in life. Is Eleanor’s assessment valid or does she have an ulterior motive for tearing Lindsay down?

While Chad deals with Lindsay’s unstable feelings, Walter, who has stepped into Chad’s shoes back at Serenity Inn has had his eye on Elaine for a while. She’s distrustful and secretive, but he still feels drawn to her. She pulls on the protector in him. When she finally begins to open up to him, her past comes crashing into her present and is laid bare right at Walter’s feet.  Will Walter continue to pursue Elaine, even in the face of her ugly past, which could put them all in danger and disturb their serenity? 1-Click to Check In!        

Sunday Excerpt: The Balm of Love

eleanor 2 good serenity 3b promo 2The first thing that Eleanor wanted to do upon reaching her cottage was pack her bags and leave—no note, no good-byes—no nothing. Besides, what else could there possibly be to say?

The thing was there was a lot to say. She’d start with the words Mood Disorder.  She’d try her best to explain something that she herself didn’t truly understand.  She’d try to explain how something that crazy sounding could make you do crazy things and even have melt downs in the middle of a kitchen—especially when everything you identified as your reality crumbled before your eyes.

Yeah that’s where Eleanor knew she would start. Filling silences with words that she’d filled her head with over the past couple of years, except she just didn’t know if in the end it was really going to matter.

She wished she could tell him all the things that had been on her heart. Things she’d only whispered into the cold side of her pillow when she was alone.

Or maybe she could just forget all those other words and just say, “Let’s try again.”

Was it as simple as all of that? It worked in Love & Basketball.  Except she didn’t play that game and there was snow outside…maybe a snowball fight?

She jumped up and grabbed her coat.  She didn’t want to think, she just wanted to keep moving, but she turned and ran into the kitchen and pulled out her bottle of brandy.  Maybe a drink would help just a little.

Thirty minutes and two glasses of brandy later she called for a car, and was now in front of Terry’s door. It was close to nine at night. Only one light was shining from the lower level. Taking in a lungful of frigid air she rang the doorbell.  Now what was I going to say again?  As she drew a blank, she turned and tried to retrace her steps. This was foolish. She needed to think, had she taken her meds today?

“Elly? Eleanor is that you?” Terry called out to her.

She stopped and slowly turned around, and began to climb the steps to the door. “Hey.”

“Hey, come on in,” he waved at the driver, a signal that meant he would see to Eleanor getting home.

“It’s freezing out there. Let me take your coat,” he offered.

She slid her arms from the sleeves as she took in the beauty of the front room. An eclectic mix of traditional and modern that made her feel immediately at home. She was suddenly aware of his warmth, of his scent—a mix of spice, cedar and everything masculine. He’d been wearing the cologne for years and now it had only come to signify him—the epitome of him for her. How she’d missed it.

“Can I get you something to drink? Tea, right?”

“No. Nothing for me…”

They stood in the middle of the floor for a moment. He watched her closely and noticed her discomfort.

“Well why don’t we sit?” He gestured and he grabbed one of the leather recliners and sat.  She took the other.

He leaned back, his arms resting comfortably on the chair arms. For the first time she noticed he’d already changed his clothes to a tee-shirt and pair of sweats. His feet were shod in his slippers. Clearly she’d disturbed him from his bedtime routine.

“I’m just noticing that you were ready for bed. I wasn’t thinking. I came over here on impulse and now I think what I wanted to discuss can wait.”

“Are you sure, Elly?” He asked and he watched her intently. “I mean hasn’t enough time gone by?”


“I said hasn’t enough time gone by? It usually doesn’t take two years to tell someone something.”

She searched his face for anger or judgment, but what she saw was openness. His clear brown eyes searched hers and she knew he only wanted to hear truth from her.


1-CLICK 👆 my latest in the Serenity Inn Series and tap into the joy, heartbreak and healing love of Lindsay, Chad, Eleanor and Terrance!


Excerpt from New Release, The Balm of Love!

This story opens with a more humbled Eleanor. She has lost much since the last the last Serenity Inn installment and this loss has humbled her quite a bit. In fact, her humility brings her to the door step of Serenity Inn to see Lindsay who has since married Chad and is expecting their first child.

What happens next sets the stage for some twists and turns in the lives of not only Eleanor and Terrance but Lindsay& Chad as well.

Put your seat-belts on and get ready to check into more drama as it unfolds in The Balm of Love~ Serenity Inn 3.



“Tell me, do you think the hike was too strenuous?”  His whiskey colored eyes pinned hers and Eleanor found swallowing her food  difficult.

“I don’t think I’m the best person to ask.  I haven’t hiked in years, so for me it was challenging. Could it have caused Barrett’s heart attack, probably not. These things are usually by-products of a lifestyle. I’m sure it could have happened at any time.”

“Why didn’t you say something when you needed to stop?”

Eleanor continued quietly as she moved food around her plate. Why didn’t she say something? Is he kidding?  Sighing she lowered her shoulders. “ I didn’t want to show weakness. I couldn’t appear as if I wasn’t up to it. I mean wasn’t this a test for me?”  She shook her head from side to side. “No I had to prove to you that I could do it. If I had complained—well I might as well have been prepared to resign.”

“Are you serious?”

“I’m dead serious,” she said leveling her gaze back at him.  “You should just admit it. You clearly said as much just after the helicopter left that I needed to finish this. Remember?”

“Yeah but—“

“But what? You said I had to decide here and now what I wanted. I mean Barrett had just been taken away. I was devastated with worry. But you were dead set on finishing this hike.” She shrugged. “So that’s what we did.”

Terry looked away.  He had said that. Had he been so bent on seeing what Eleanor was made of that he missed early signals of distress in Barrett?

“Do you think I might have missed something? Maybe I could have helped him sooner.”  Terry continued his voice low and flat.

Eleanor took a moment to study him. It was evident he was suffering. His eyes were on his plate.  But it didn’t take long for her to respond.

“No. He seemed fine right up to the time you asked him to sit down. In fact they’d been laughing and talking just before.”

Terry seemed to mull her words over. “It’s just that I’d hate to think—“

“Look you have to stop second guessing yourself. You know you’re always careful in everything you do. You’ve been careful your whole life. It’s why this Wildlife Park is so perfect.” Her hand reached across the table impulsively grasping his.  “Trust me, you did everything right.”   eleanor 2 good serenity 3b promo 2

Their eyes fused.  He searched hers wanting to believe the truth that shined back at him. He could almost trust what he was seeing.  Slowly he pulled his hand away just as he dropped his eyes. “Thanks Eleanor.”

He slid his chair back and gathered the dishes.  “You can leave your dishes.  I’ll get them. We have to get an early start in the morning so you probably should go ahead and turn in.”

He turned away from her and headed into the kitchen.

“No, I can help,” she insisted picking up the remaining dishes from the table.

Terry took a deep breath and faced her.  “The truth is I really would just like to do this alone. I need to think things over.”

Eleanor frowned as she opened the dishwasher and began to load it. “Terry why did you hire me when you’re going to insist on pushing me away. I mean it’s not exactly something you can do with someone in the position you hired me in.”

Terry turned away from her eyes that were full of questions. Questions she had no right to ask him. Questions he didn’t feel the need to answer—wasn’t ready to answer. Yet he could feel her still staring into his back. Waiting. It wasn’t like he could say he hired her to punish her. Besides it was so much more complicated than that.

“Let’s just drop it, Eleanor. Go to bed.”  He took a dishcloth and began to wipe down the counters and the stove listening for her departure.

“Listen, I’ve waited to say this for a long time, and I can’t wait any longer. I’m sorry Terry. I’m so sorry for everythingthat happened.”

Terry gripped the counter and closed his eyes. Why didn’t she just leave?

“There probably won’t be another opportunity for us to get this out in the open, Terry.”

Eleanor rushed around to stand in front of him and grasped his arms. “Please Terry open your eyes and look at me. Can’t you see that I’ve changed? I’m striving everyday to be a better person.”

Terry clenched his jaw and moved away from her. As he walked toward the kitchen entry he slammed his hand into the wall. “Why couldn’t you just for once do as I asked? Why did you insist on pulling the scab off the wound I spent the last couple of two years trying to heal?  You should have just let it be Eleanor.”

Eleanor dropped her head as tears gathered in her eyes.  Her lashes tried to hold them at bay but failed.

“I guess I just needed you to hear my apology outloud. I…I needed to say it Terry because the idea of you not knowing how much I regret betraying you—“

“I don’t want to hear it! Can’t you get that through your head?” He turned and stared at her with eyes she could only describe as haunted.  Fear clutched at her heart as she watched the contorted face of grief and something else she couldn’t quite grasp.  What had she done?  She backed up for every stalking step that he took toward her until the sink hindered her retreat.

“I don’t care how sorry you feel,” he growled. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve changed. You broke everything in me and there are no words you can say that can change that. You took everything inside me that was good and trusting. You destroyed it on a childish whim— just to see if you could! I can barely stand to look at you. Do you understand that?”


Get caught up in the rest of this second chance drama, The Balm of Love, the 3rd installment of the Serenity Inn Series!

Sample Sunday. Excerpt from The Balm of Love; Serenity Inn 3

A Time for Goodbyes

Woman in Mourning at Cemetery in Fall, with Black Umbrella

Eleanor sat on the bench before the headstones that marked the graves of her parents. It had been an emotional past two years, where she’d watched as age and sickness robbed her parents of lucid memory and some of their dignity.  Now they were at peace—no longer suffering. Finally, she was no longer too busy to remember that along with them she’d lost a marriage and a man who had loved her since childhood, but no more.

She sighed before she moved closer to the graves, kneeling before them to clear the crisp leaves that had scattered over the graves.  Gently she placed the flower arrangements before her.  It made her feel better to know that she would be doing something to show she honored their memory before her long drive to Virginia where she hoped to make a brand new start.

Only weeks ago, she had responded to an ad that an independent recruiting company had placed for an applicant with strong decorator skills and hostess abilities needed to be the face of a new bed and breakfast wilderness lodge. The pay wasn’t what attracted her, living in forget-me-not, Virginia was a huge draw. She just wanted to disappear away from everyone that knew her, so that she could grieve.

She inhaled the floral scents as they floated on the wind as she straightened the roses against the white lilies in the stone in-ground vases. Her mind skipped back to joyful family memories as the breeze blew her tears across her cheeks. Once she became aware of the shadows lengthening, she slowly stood, pulling her curls from her face to behind her ear.  The shrill of the wind whistled between the trees across the valley of resting places as she turned and walked toward her nearby parked car where she spared one last glance.

“Bye mommy and daddy,” she whispered before she eased inside her sports utility vehicle.  She had only one stop to make before her final destination. Slipping on her shades she turned the ignition and pulled off into her future.