Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper ~ Book Excerpt ~ Blog Tour

Book Description: 

Clearing out the attic, Zoey opens the carved trunk and smiles as she picks up the small, leather-bound diary hiding inside. Curious, she leafs through the pages, and realises this will change everything…

All Zoey’s happiest childhood memories are of her great-aunt Ivy’s rickety cottage on Dune Island, snuggling up with hot chocolate and hearing Ivy’s stories about being married to a sea captain. Now, heartbroken from a breakup, Zoey escapes back to the island, but is shocked to find her elderly aunt’s spark fading. Worse, her cousin—next in line to inherit the house—is pushing Ivy to move into a nursing home.

With the family clashing over what’s best for Ivy, Zoey is surprised when Nick, a local carpenter and Ivy’s neighbor, takes her side. As Zoey finds comfort in his sea-blue eyes and warm laugh, the two grow close. Together, they make a discovery in the attic that links the family to the mysterious and reclusive local lighthouse keeper…

Now Zoey has a heartbreaking choice to make. Nick’s urging her to share the discovery, which could keep Ivy in the house she’s loved her whole life… but when Zoey learns that Nick and her cousin go way back, she questions if the man she‘s starting to have feelings for really has Ivy’s best interests at heart. Will dredging up this old secret destroy the peace and happiness of Ivy’s final years—and tear this family apart for good?

A stunning and emotional read about old secrets, new love and never forgetting the importance of family. Perfect for fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Robyn Carr and Mary Alice Monroe.

Purchase a copy on Amazon. 

About the author

Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin Harper liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.

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Excerpt from Aunt Ivy's Cottage


The daffodils that were meant to brighten the room were already going limp in their vase and Zoey Jansen felt as if she were wilting, too. It was a sunny afternoon in mid-April, but the thermostat was set at seventy-four. Zoey’s sweater stuck to the small of her back and she wiped perspiration from her upper lip. Yet her great-aunt Sylvia, who was covered to her chest with a quilt, kept saying she was cold.

Zoey lifted the blankets only enough to gently place a freshly filled hot-water bottle into her aunt’s hands. “This should help warm you up.”

“Mmm,” Sylvia murmured drowsily, her eyes closed. “You’ve always been so good to me, Ivy. More like a sister than my own sisters.”

She thinks I’m my great-aunt Ivy. Zoey didn’t correct her mistake. Sylvia had been so restless the past several days that she didn’t want to rouse her if she was finally sleepy. As she started to withdraw her hand from beneath the blankets, Sylvia feebly grasped her fingers.

“Don’t go. I need—” her voice crackled. Assuming what Sylvia needed was a cool drink, Zoey reached for the water glass on the nightstand but her aunt tugged her hand again, pulling her closer. “I need to tell you something important.” Zoey touched her shoulder to reassure her that she had her full attention. “What is it?”

“Mark doesn’t deserve this,” Sylvia uttered. “It’s not fair. I can’t let it happen.” Mark—whose given name was Marcus—was Sylvia’s grandson. Ivy’s great-nephew. And Zoey’s cousin. His second wife had recently divorced him and Zoey figured that was what Sylvia meant was unfair. The old woman had always doted on her only grandchild, so Zoey understood it must have been upsetting for her to realize not every woman thought the sun rose and set on Marcus Winslow III. Struggling to say something that was honest yet kind, Zoey resorted to one of the platitudes she’d often heard Sylvia use. “Sometimes, these things have a way of working out for the best for everyone.” Especially for his wife.

“No, no. That boy can only take so much.” Sylvia wiggled her head back and forth against the pillow, clearly agitated. “Enough is enough.”

Zoey gently pulled her hand free to smooth down her aunt’s flyaway hair, vaguely aware of how self-conscious Sylvia was about her appearance, even now, at eighty-four. “He can take it. He’s a lot stronger than you think.” Some might even say he’s a bully.

“What about Zoey? She’s such a dear girl. I’m concerned about her.”

“She’ll be fine. She’ll find another job soon.”

“What if she doesn’t? She’s lost all of her savings and she can’t pay her mortgage. Where will she live?”

Zoey’s breath caught. She had told her great-aunts she’d been laid off from her job as a librarian when the city closed the branch where she worked, but how had Sylvia found out that she’d lost her savings and was on the brink of losing her townhome? Zoey hadn’t wanted to burden her aunts by telling them that the guy she’d been seeing for the past year, a financial planner, had risked—and blown—all of her savings in a series of investments that turned out to be just shy of illegal. And she was too ashamed to admit she hadn’t even realized what he’d done until she tried to withdraw money from her depleted retirement funds to pay her mortgage.

Guessing that her aunt must have overheard her ranting about it on the phone to her friend, Lauren, she pleaded, “I know you’re worried about me, Aunt Sylvia, but Aunt Ivy can’t find out about that yet. She’ll get upset and stress is bad for her heart. When the time is right, I’ll talk to her about it. Meanwhile, please promise you won’t tell her.”

Upon hearing Zoey call her aunt, Sylvia opened her eyes and blinked in apparent surprise. Then she knitted her brows together, agreeing, “You’re right. It’ll be our secret.”

“Thank you.” As her aunt’s eyelids fell shut again, Zoey stood to leave.

But Sylvia added in a raspy voice, “For now, it’s best to let the past stay buried in the past… beneath the roses.” What does that mean? Although her aunt’s health had been improving, Zoey wondered if she was feverish again. She leaned down and kissed her forehead. No, no fever…Yesterday, right before dozing off, she’d rambled on and on about dancing in the stars. When she woke, she had no recollection of having said anything and they concluded she’d been dreaming. Maybe she was only semi-awake now, too.

Zoey waited. When Sylvia didn’t say anything else, she straightened her posture and tiptoed across the room toward the heavy old door, slightly ajar. Aware it would creak if she opened it any farther, Zoey turned sideways to ease across the threshold. Before she left, she impulsively stopped to glance back at the bed and whisper, “I love you, Auntie. Sleep well.” 

~*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own. *~


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