TLC Book Tours: Exclusive Excerpt from The Innkeeper's Sister by Linda Goodnight (Excerpt 7)

About The Innkeeper’s Sister
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (July 25, 2017)
WHERE TO PURCHASE: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes and Noble

Welcome to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, where Southern hospitality and sweet peach tea beckon, and where long-buried secrets lead to some startling realizations… 

Grayson Blake always has a purpose—and never a moment to lose. He’s come home to Honey Ridge to convert a historic gristmill into a restaurant, but his plans crumble like Tennessee clay when the excavation of a skeleton unearths a Civil War mystery…and leads him back to a beautiful and familiar stranger.

Once a ballet dancer, now co-owner of the Peach Orchard Inn, Valery Carter harbors pain as deep as the secrets buried beneath the mill. A bright facade can’t erase her regrets any more than a glass of bourbon can restore what she’s lost. But spending time with Grayson offers Valery a chance to let go of her past and imagine a happier future. And with the discovery of hidden messages in aged sheet music, both their hearts begin to open. Bound by attraction, and compelled to resolve an old crime that links the inn and the mill, Grayson and Valery encounter a song of hurt, truth…and hope.

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour to read more excerpts from The Innkeeper's Sister!

She was like a gypsy enchantress.
Irritated to be attracted and not wanting to be, he took the tissue from her. “I got it. Thanks.”
He was no longer an awkward adolescent with time on his hands. Time, he’d learned in the cruelest way, was of the es­sence. A smart man used it wisely.
“Valery!” a female voice called from somewhere to the left.
Valery’s warm smile became brittle. She stepped away from Grayson, slowly turning toward the sound, back straight and stiff.
A mature woman with short dark hair, and trim and tidy in pale slacks and blue sweater, breezed into the foyer.
“Hi, sweetie. I see your new guests have arrived.”
“Yes, they have, Mama. I’m getting them settled now.” With a pinched expression, Valery said, “Gentlemen, my mother, Connie Carter. Mother, Grayson and Devlin Blake.”
Grayson greeted the woman, but refrained from conversa­tion, aware of the tension emanating from Valery. Even Dev­lin was subdued, his quick eyes taking in the scene. Valery, clearly, was none too pleased to see her mother.
Interesting, but none of his business.
From the pocket of her skirt, the innkeeper withdrew a pair of keys, becoming all business as she handed them to Grayson.
“Guest rooms are upstairs. One of you is in the Mulberry Room and the other is across the hall in the Blueberry Room. Take your pick. They’re both open and ready. If you need any­thing, let me know. Breakfast is between seven and ten, and we serve light refreshments in the front parlor after two until around ten. Coffee and peach tea are available in the kitchen anytime you want them. Help yourself.”
Mrs. Carter interjected, “Once you’re settled, come back down, and I’ll have tea and coffee cake ready.” She pointed to the right. “The guest parlor is through those double doors.”
“Sounds good.” Devlin f lashed his winning smile. “We worked up an appetite exploring the mill. Thank you, ma’am.”
“You’re very welcome. Our guests’ comfort is important to us. Feel free to take any of the brochures from the display, walk the grounds and the orchard, sit on either of the verandas with coffee. If you need more towels or toiletries, let us know.”
During the recitation, Grayson cast an occasional glance at Valery. Her lips were flat and tight, her expression empty.
Curious, he tipped his head toward his brother, and they climbed the stairs to easily find the rooms marked with gold plates.
“A little tension down there.”
“I noticed.” Devlin pushed open the room marked Blue­berry, a sunny space in baby-blue that looked out over long rows of peach trees just beginning to turn green. “Wasn’t Valery the girl you had a thing for back in the day? The Dairy Queen crush?”
“I had a thing for a lot of girls. Hormonal teenagers do.”
“True.” Devlin fell back on the plush bed. “But she was flirting.”
“Not with me.” She was far more Devlin’s type. Fun and vivacious.
“I think so, brother. Flashing those big brown eyes at you. Dabbing at your cheek. And the way you held her hand waaay too long, you were definitely into her.”
Grayson gave his brother an evil look, spun around, strode across the hall to the Mulberry Room and shut the door. Five seconds later, Devlin shoved it open again. “Want to look at some design ideas?”
“You already have something in mind?”
Devlin shifted, suddenly finding the floor more interesting than his brother’s face. “Uh, well, yes. You see—” He cleared his throat, stretched his neck to one side. “I sort of bought the property back in January.”
“January! That’s months ago.”
Devlin spread his hands in a gesture of supplication. “Sav­ing more of your precious time, brother. Permits are done, contractors contacted, and designs in the works.”
“Unbelievable.” He shot a hand across the top of his head, annoyed and flabbergasted.

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