Publication date: June 20th 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Western
What’s a girl to do when her aim is true?
As a registered nurse at the Boise VA Hospital, Grace Marshall is devoted to her patients, but some wounds require more than medical care. A patient too stubborn and angry to accept the help he needs storms out of her exam room, ruffling her feathers. Yet, when the man returns to apologize, something about him tugs at her heart.
Levi Gibson left for war young and idealistic but returned from Vietnam with physical scars and a haunted soul. He tries to banish the darkness brewing inside him with hard work on his family’s potato farm, but it’s a young nurse’s kindness that brings unexpected light and joy into his life. If Levi can open up to Grace and let her see his pain, could she be the key that unlocks a future full of hope instead of mere survival?
After her father sends Grace a legendary pistol, target practice provides an excuse to spend time with Levi during the summer of 1972. As his shadows overwhelm him, it will take far more than a lucky shot for Grace to hit love’s mark.
She straightened in time to see Levi sprinting through the rain with a vase of flowers.
His cowboy hat had kept his head dry, but Grace was sure she could wring water out of his shirt when he stepped inside. A vision of him shirtless made warmth sear her cheeks as he walked over to her and held out the vase.
“Here,” he said, holding it out to her.
She stared at the vase brimming with fragrant lilacs, white tulips, and pink peonies. The arrangement was stunning, but she had no idea why he’d bring it to her.
Hesitantly, she reached out for the vase. “What’s this?”
“An apology,” he said, removing his hat as she took the vase from him.
She held the vase against her mid-section, longing to bury her nose in the divine lilacs. She’d always loved the scent of them when they bloomed in the spring. On their dairy farm, they had several old bushes that bloomed along the back fence. She’d missed them since she’d moved to Boise. The only chance she got to smell flowers now was while walking in the park, or when one of her fellow nurses received them as a gift.
“An apology?” she asked, giving the cute cowboy a curious glance.
“For Friday. I was rude, and I’m sorry. It wasn’t anything you did,” he admitted, appearing both nervous and repentant.
She ignored the way he’d shoved his left hand into the front pocket of his jeans to hide his injury. His right hand clenched his hat, as though he was anxious. Uncertain.
“Do you really think I’m too young, incompetent, and impertinent to be a nurse?” she asked, keeping her expression unreadable, but she shifted her posture, cocking one hip defiantly.
A slow grin spread across his face as he watched her, appearing to keenly observe her every move. His head shook from side to side. “No, ma’am. I think you are more than qualified to do your job, and you were not impertinent. I’m truly sorry for the way I behaved when I was here. The way I acted was unnecessary and unkind, and it bugged me all weekend that I’d been that way with you. Truly, I’m sorry.”
“You’re forgiven,” Grace said, grinning at him and surrendering to her need to sniff the blooms. She closed her eyes to better savor the fragrance, then opened them to find Levi watching her. “I love lilacs.”
His grin broadened. “We have a bunch of them at the farm just starting to bloom. The tulips were on the north side of the house, or they’d likely be gone for the season.”
“It’s a magnificent bouquet. Do you need the vase back?” she asked.
“No. Ma has dozens of them. She gets the credit for arranging the flowers, though. She said to tell you that she did a better job of raising me than you might have previously considered and to please not hold my behavior against her.”
“I did have a few thoughts about that this weekend.” Grace smiled and hugged the vase a little tighter. “I do thank you, Sergeant Gibson, for these lovely blooms, but I should get to work.”
“I didn’t mean to keep you. I just wanted to apologize and ask for your forgiveness.”
“You are forgiven.”
“Thank you,” he said, taking a step back toward the door.
Grace had never, not once in her life, considered asking a guy on a date, but a sense of panic welled in her at the thought of not seeing Levi again soon.
The words spilled out of her, leaving her unable to stuff them back into her mouth. “Are you busy next Saturday?” she heard herself ask.
Levi appeared as shocked by the question as Grace felt.
“No. Not really. Did you have something in mind?”
USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes sweet romances rich with relatable characters, small town settings that feel like home, humor, and hope.
Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
When this farm girl isn’t writing or indulging in rich, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller. She also experiments with recipes, snaps photos of her adorable nephew, and caters to the whims of a cranky cat named Drooley.
To learn more about Shanna or the books she writes, visit her website http://shannahatfield.com or find out more about her here: linktr.ee/ShannaHatfield
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