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The Flower Cottage

The Flower Cottage

The Cottages on Anchor Lane, BOOK 1

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1350 5-Star Reviews

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Synopsis

Paris Haynes has spent most of her life running from one bad relationship to the next. Three years ago, determined to put her past behind her, she moved to Sapphire Bay and began to rebuild her life.

Working with Kylie in the flower shop has given her a sense of purpose, a reason to live the kind of life she’s always dreamed about. When she hears about the cottages that are being remodeled on Anchor Lane, she can hardly contain her excitement. She proposes a plan so outrageous, so out of her comfort zone, that she’s sure it will fail before it begins.

Richard Dawkins lost his leg in Afghanistan and nearly lost his son. Moving to Sapphire Bay has given him more than a place to call home. He has new friends, a steady job, and a state-of-the-art prosthetic leg that’s transformed his life.

Helping to turn the cottages on Anchor Lane into small, thriving businesses is his way of giving back to the community. But when he discovers Paris has been given the keys to the first cottage, he knows he’s in trouble. With her over-the-top positivity, she's everything he doesn't need, and the only person who could change his life forever.

Chapter One Look Inside

Paris placed a bouquet of pale pink roses into the refrigerator at Blooming Lovely, the only flower shop in Sapphire Bay. Three years after she’d started working with Kylie and Jackie, she still had to pinch herself to remember this wasn’t a dream.

Before she’d arrived in Montana, her life was a complete mess. Now, with a little help from her friends, she finally felt as though she belonged in this small, amazing town.

Jackie came into the work room. “I’ve closed the store and put the cash into the safe. Is there anything else we need to do?” 

Paris opened the spreadsheet showing tomorrow’s orders. “Other than printing off a list of the flowers I need from the market, we’re finished for the day. Did Mrs. Smith tell you when she wants to collect her daughter’s bouquet?”

“She’ll be here as soon as we open.”

“That’s good. Have you heard from Kylie?”

“Not yet, but she should be here soon. I’ll make us a hot drink while we wait.”

Their boss, Kylie, was halfway through her first pregnancy and everyone was excited. This afternoon, she’d had an appointment at the medical clinic for a routine scan.

Paris checked her watch. Tomorrow morning, she was driving to Polson to re-stock their flowers. It was her favorite thing to do, even if she had to leave before sunrise to secure the best blooms.

“Sorry I’m late,” Kylie said as she hurried through the back door. “Ben wanted to show Charlotte the scan of her baby sister.”

“You’re having a girl!” Paris left the list on the work table and hugged Kylie. “That’s so exciting.”

“Just think of all the cute outfits you can dress her in,” Jackie said as she gave her boss another hug. “Was everything all right?”

“We’re growing a healthy little girl. The only thing I need to watch is my blood pressure. The doctor wants me to work fewer hours for the rest of my pregnancy.”

That didn’t surprise Paris. Kylie worked long hours and hardly ever took a day off. “Don’t worry. Jackie and I can spend more time here.”

Kylie sat at their workroom table. “I’m not sure that will help.” Gratefully, she took the cup Jackie handed to her. 

“It’s the special blend of berry tea you like.”

“Thanks. It smells delicious.” Taking a small sip, she sighed. “This is exactly what I need. While we were waiting for Charlotte, I looked at our bookings for the next six months. I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to provide the flowers for so many events.”

Paris sat beside her. “You have a successful business. Everyone wants Blooming Lovely to make floral arrangements for their special occasions.”

“And our prices are much better than any of the florists in Polson.” Jackie left a cup of coffee on the table for Paris before pulling out a stool for herself. “I looked at some websites the other day. I was shocked at what other florists are charging.”

Kylie wrapped her hands around her cup. “They might have higher costs they need to cover. If I didn’t own this store, I’d have to charge more, too.” 

“Well, I’m glad we can keep the prices of our flowers affordable. Without the extra business it’s created, you might not have asked Paris and me to help you.”

Paris frowned. “Are you thinking of canceling some of the events we’ve booked?”

“It’s one option,” Kylie said slowly. “Between Blooming Lovely and what you do for the Christmas Shop, neither of you have much free time. We’ll be okay for the next few months. But, after that, I might have to give up work completely. Unless I can find another florist, we’ll have to cancel some bookings or ask another company to provide the flowers.”

Paris understood why her boss felt that way, but asking another company to work with their clients seemed like a giant step backward. “What if our customers don’t come back? They could ask the new company to provide the flowers for other events they’re hosting.”

“That’s a risk I’ll have to take. I’m sorry I can’t work as many hours as we need.”

“Don’t be silly,” Jackie said. “Your health’s more important than anything else.”

Paris thought about the people whose events would be affected if Kylie wasn’t here to help. Even choosing which events to cancel would be difficult—especially in a small town where everyone knew each other.

Kylie left her cup on the table. “Would you like to see the ultrasound photos of our baby?”

With an excited nod, Jackie moved closer. “Can you tell who she looks like?”

“Ben said she has my nose and chin, but I have no idea why he thinks that.”

Paris stood beside her two best friends and studied the images. She smiled when she realized what the baby was doing. “Is she sucking her thumb?”

“She is,” Kylie placed her hand on her baby bump. “I can’t wait to meet her. She was jumping around like a jellybean during the scan.”

“She can’t sit still, just like her mom,” Jackie said with a grin. “You have a beautiful baby girl.”

“And two friends who are happy to babysit whenever you need a break,” Paris added. “Don’t worry about the events we’ve booked. We’ll find a way to get through the next few months.”

“I hope so.” Kylie looked sadly at Paris and Jackie. “I didn’t think I’d have to cut back my hours.”

“It’s only for a little while.” Paris gave Kylie another hug. “We’re a team. We’ll make it work.” 

As they admired the pictures of Kylie and Ben’s baby, Paris knew everything would be okay. Kylie had worked hard to build Blooming Lovely into a successful business. Their clients would understand if they had to find another florist to make their bouquets and flower arrangements—especially when a new baby was involved.

* * *

Richard parked his truck outside The Welcome Center and rubbed his right leg. After a long day at work, he was glad to almost be home.

Looking across the parking lot, he smiled at the ocean-themed mural he’d created with his son. Before they’d joined the painting project, a row of uninspiring concrete garages separated The Welcome Center from the tiny home village. Working with the village’s residents, they’d brought color and life to this side of the property. 

The sense of belonging the project had given him was a stark contrast to how he’d felt when he arrived in Sapphire Bay. Emotionally and physically broken after his time in the army, he’d traveled here with his son, four suitcases, and a life that was the complete opposite of everything he’d imagined.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Dawkins.”

Richard sighed. Only one person called him Mr. Dawkins, and he tried to stay away from her. Not that he’d had much luck. Sapphire Bay was so small that it was impossible to hide from anyone. 

His eyebrows rose when he saw what Paris was wearing. “Let me guess. You’re going for a 1950s rockabilly look.”

Placing her hands on her pink polka dot skirt, she twisted left and then right. The petticoats under the skirt swished back and forth. “You’re getting better. I thought about wearing my Marilyn Monroe dress, but Jackie thought it might be too much.”

After seeing some of the outfits she wore, he’d probably agree with Jackie. Paris was like a chameleon, wearing clothes that were as over-the-top as her personality. “Why did you want to dress like Marilyn Monroe?”

“I’m looking after Natalie’s art class. We’re studying pop culture.” 

He must have spent too much time around her because he knew exactly what she meant. “And Andy Warhol created a famous painting of Marilyn Monroe.”

“Exactly. Are you visiting The Welcome Center or going to the tiny home village?”

“The Welcome Center. Jack’s writing class has nearly finished.”

Paris lifted the strap of her pink handbag onto her shoulder. “I’m going there, too. I’ll walk with you.”

He wasn’t sure that was a good idea. Whenever he saw her, one of them usually said something that offended the other. They were better staying apart and saying as little to each other as possible.

“Is Jack enjoying the after-school writing class?”

Richard nodded. At least discussing his son was a safe, neutral topic. “He is. Katie’s a great tutor.”

“Have you read her latest children’s book? It’s amazing.”

“I’m reading it to Jack at the moment. Why are you tutoring the students in Natalie’s art class?”

“She had to fly to Washington, D.C. for the opening of her next exhibition.”

“Teaching her class is a lot different from working in the flower shop.”

Paris frowned. “You don’t think I can do it?”

He could have kicked himself. “I didn’t say that.”

“Of course, you didn’t. But you were thinking it.” In true Paris form, she lengthened her stride and stalked away from him.

Richard ran his hand around the back of his neck. He’d met Paris a year ago at a fundraiser for the tiny home village. When he’d spoken to her, warning bells had flashed inside his head. She’d asked too many questions, seen far too much of the man he didn’t want to remember. Each time he met her, he tried to figure out why they rubbed each other the wrong way. And, each time, he came away with nothing. 

But not being able to understand her wasn’t an excuse to make her feel bad.

He caught up to her as she was about to enter the center. “The students are lucky to have you helping them.”

Now you say something nice.” 

“I was surprised you’re tutoring the class, that’s all.”

Paris sighed. “You don’t know anything about me, so why should it surprise you?”

He crossed his arms in front of his chest. Most people were intimidated by his height and size, but not Paris. She stood her ground, making up for the difference in their builds by sheer personality. “I didn’t know you could paint.”

“I can’t, but I did some art history papers at UCLA. Natalie wants her students to combine the screen-printing technique she showed them with a pop culture design. I’m supervising the class and answering their questions.”

“That sounds interesting. I’m sure you’ll do a great job.”

“If that’s an apology, thank you.” She glanced at her watch. “I have to go. Otherwise, everyone will arrive before I do.”

“And I’d better find Jack. He’ll be wondering where I am.”

In silence, they walked into the center and went their separate ways. As he waited with the other parents, he wondered what was wrong with him. With her sparkling blue eyes and jet-black hair, Paris was one of the most attractive women he’d ever met. Whenever he met someone who knew her, they described her as friendly and helpful. So, what was his problem? 

“Dad!” Jack rushed out of a meeting room. “You’re not going to believe what happened. Chandler vomited all over Mrs. Campbell. The smell was so bad we had to go to a different room.”

“I hope Chandler’s feeling better.”

“He will be. Peggy-Anne said someone dared him to eat worms. Do you want to read my story when we get home?”

Richard took Jack’s backpack out of his hands. “Sounds great.” With his eight-year-old son chatting beside him, he followed the other parents into the foyer. The flash of a bright pink skirt farther down the corridor caught his eye. His heart sank. 

He was tired, hungry, and guilty of thinking the worst of a woman who’d never harmed anyone. He couldn’t have started the evening off worse if he’d tried.

Fans of Netflix’s Virgin River series and Steel Magnolias will love this small-town, feel-good romance!

Working in a flower shop in Sapphire Bay has given Paris a reason to live the kind of life she’s always dreamed about. When she hears about the cottages that are being remodeled on Anchor Lane, she can hardly contain her excitement.

She proposes a plan so outrageous, so out of her comfort zone, that she’s sure it'll fail before it begins. Especially if Richard Dawkins has anything to do with it!

     "All the books in this series had me holding my breath with each turn of a page. Five stars!”

     "This book is a gentle reminder of the simple joys of love and life."

    ★ "An endearing love story set in a town you'll wish you could visit. Pure magic!"

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