Excerpt from The Innkeeper’s Sister by Linda Goodnight

About The Innkeeper’s Sister

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: HQN Books (July 25, 2017)

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.


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“This place is a disaster.”

Grayson Blake cast a doubtful glance toward his brother and then toward the old gristmill, a relic of days gone by—many days gone by—on the outskirts of Honey Ridge, Tennessee.

Grass and weeds choked the entrance, the roof sagged, the water wheel was a tangled mess of moss and rust.

And good grief! Was that a snake sunning himself on the rocky walking path?

“I’ve wanted this place since I was a kid.” His brother, Dev­lin, leaned forward in the seat of the Jeep, every bit as eager as he’d been twenty years ago when they’d spent summers in Honey Ridge with Grandma and Pappy. “It’s perfect for a restaurant. It’s historic, quaint, magical—”

“Falling down,” Grayson muttered.

“A minor inconvenience. Just look at those bones and this incredible setting.” Devlin’s hands waved in exuberant dem­onstration. “Right across the road from Peach Orchard Inn, close to the river and to town. People have to eat as well as sleep, don’t they? And the feasibility studies looked promising. Envision the possibilities, my skeptical brother.”

When Devlin got like this, Grayson knew he should stop arguing and let his brother run until he ran out of gas, but Grayson was the oldest and the most rational. Devlin was a wild man.

“Requires more thought,” Grayson said. And his overriding thought was to hit the road, get out while he could, because if he didn’t, his brother would suck him into another money pit that gave him ulcers and kept him pushing a pen­cil all hours of the night.

“Remember the funeral parlor?” Devlin cocked an eyebrow, black as sin’s underbelly and every bit as devilish.

Grayson snorted. Devlin knew when to toss out successes like throwing free bubble gum from a parade float. A piece here and there to generate enthusiasm.

“I remember.”

“And the jail and the rusty railroad car and the bank with private dining in the former vault.”

Grayson held up both hands in a double stop sign. His plati­num watch glinted in the sun. Out of long habit, he glanced at the hands. Time was money, and they had already been in the small rural town of Honey Ridge for two hours without accomplishing much.

He sighed. “Must I admit it?”

“A little humility will do you good,” Devlin said, cross­ing his arms over the suit and tie he wore only when Gray­son warned him they might have to wrangle with locals who didn’t want an influx of strangers into their quiet countryside. Proper image, in Grayson’s view, was power.

Grayson released a huff, but his cheeks twitched. “You were right.”

All those unlikely, falling down, pathetic venues had been converted by the Blake brothers into successful restaurants. People f locked to the unusual.

“And I’m right about this one, too. You’ll see.”

Their brotherly business partnership had coalesced during their college days when they’d f lipped houses to pay tuition and buy the occasional beer and pizza. Creating restaurants had, quite simply, evolved. Grayson and Devlin Blake, the nerd and the adventurer. Like peanut butter and jelly, they were as different as could be, but together the brotherly combo worked.

“Want to take a look?” Devlin reached for the door handle.

“I am looking.”

“Up close. Inside. Come on, let’s check it out.”

Since Devlin was already out of the Jeep and picking his way through the dead vines and dagger-like weeds, Grayson exited, too. He might as well. Devlin was going in, heed­less of danger or the fact that they had no authority to do so.


About Linda Goodnight

NY Times and USA Bestseller, Linda Goodnight writes novels to touch the heart as well as to entertain. Her emotional stories of hope have won the RITA, the Carol, the Reviewer’s Choice, and numerous other industry awards. A small town girl, Linda remains close to her roots, making her home in rural Oklahoma. She and husband have a blended family of eight, including two teenagers recently adopted from Ukraine. Many of her books are about family and children and rightly so, as she draws her deeply emotional stories from her surroundings, her great love of family, and from personal experiences as a nurse and teacher.

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