Title: One Kind Heart
Series: One Kind Deed Series #1
Author: Christine DePetrillo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 24, 2019 Cover Design: Dar Albert of Wicked Smart Designs
Dakota Brenton spends his days leading thrill seekers on adventures through the woods of Maplehaven, Vermont. He’s traveled all over the world on expeditions, but he always comes back home to the cozy town his ancestors founded. Dakota loves his free-spirit lifestyle. He comes and goes as he pleases, however, he can’t help wanting more.
Leah Greenstead is the new fourth grade teacher at Maplehaven Elementary, a school built through a generous donation from Brenton Sawmill. Having abandoned New York City after a tragedy, Leah is doing her best to adjust to life in the quiet Vermont town. With any luck, she’ll be able to leave her past behind, stick to her rules about not getting close to anyone, and preserve what little is left of her heart. She wants to believe the world is safe again, and if that means being alone, then so be it.
When Dakota meets Leah at a ceremony honoring his family’s sawmill, he sees his next adventure. As Maplehaven’s golden boy, he’s surprised when Leah doesn’t immediately accept his advances. He’s never had to work this hard, but he has a feeling Leah Greenstead will be worth the effort.
Is one kind heart enough to change Leah’s mind about love?
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To bike or not to bike?
Without thinking too much, Leah slid the essays into her school bag, put together a thermos of green tea, slid on her comfy shoes with a black-eyed-Susan pattern, and left the cottage to walk the half mile to Brenton Lake Park. She claimed an empty bench under a big maple tree and spent a few minutes enjoying the view. The reds, oranges, and yellows around the lake’s edge were more vibrant and plentiful. They reminded Leah of the New York autumn colors in Central Park where she’d liked to do exactly this—sit on a bench, correct papers, and enjoy being outdoors.
Of course, the nature in Vermont was much better than what she’d experienced in New York City. Everywhere she turned a breathtaking view greeted her. A beautiful, serene lake. Mountains rising up from the shores. Birch, pine, and maple trees standing tall and proud. Fields of wildflowers, although many dying now, promised to be gorgeous next summer. Wide open fields, neatly mowed or covered in cows lazily munching.
Yeah, she’d done the right thing in answering that job posting for a fourth grade teacher in Maplehaven. Her New York colleagues and friends had thought she was joking when she announced she’d be moving to Vermont, but this might be a place to heal. And even if it wasn’t, at least the scenery was magnificent, and she’d always found comfort in the outdoors.
She settled in to correct the essays and enjoy the autumn evening. The assignment had been to write about your hero and the top paper was Luke Davidson’s. In bold, block lettering, the boy had written ADVENTURES WITH A HERO. The first paragraph read: I’m going to tell you about a hero. Not a superhero who wears a funky suit or has a special power or fights bad guys. A hero that takes people on adventures instead. A hero that I want to be just like when I grow up.
Leah’s throat grew tight and her eyes stung as she went on to read the rest of the essay. Luke provided example after example of things Dakota Brenton had done for him, his mom, Birch Peak Adventures customers, and the town in general. The entire piece read like a testimonial to how amazing Dakota was, and Leah had a feeling every word was true. She’d done her best not to think about Dakota over the past week, but if she were being honest, she hadn’t succeeded. The man had made an impression—much like he’d made on Luke apparently—and she couldn’t totally scrub him from her mind.
“I thought you stayed indoors.”
Leah’s head snapped up to find the subject of Luke’s essay astride a bicycle in front of her, Ginger panting by his side. Man, did he always look like a male model? His legs somehow appeared longer in a pair of gray swishy workout pants, and another long-sleeved T-shirt showcased a fabulous torso and chest. He leaned forward with his hands still on the handlebars and all the muscles in his arms screamed out how fit he was. He wore a baseball hat with his Birch Peak Adventures logo on it, and though everything about his attire said causal, an intensity swirled about him. As if raw energy was barely contained beneath his flesh.
That energy called out to Leah.
Ah, shit. She’d been staring, hadn’t she? All that perusing of him had kept her from giving him a response. “Yeah, I do stay indoors,” she said slowly, “except when I’m outdoors.”
His chuckle stirred up something inside her, something that definitely should not be stirring.
“Maybe Vermont is working her magic on you. Changing you,” he said.
“Do you always ride your bike over here?” she asked.
He chewed on his bottom lip for a moment and the movement mesmerized Leah. “If I say yes, does that mean I’ll never find you on this bench again?”
Ouch. So he understood she was actively trying to avoid running into him. Not good. She didn’t want to get involved with him, but she didn’t want to come off as some rude city girl either.
"Never is a strong word," she said.
Christine DePetrillo can often be found hugging trees, conversing with dragonflies, and walking barefoot through sun-warmed soil. She finds joy in listening to the wind, bathing in moonlight, and breathing in the fragrances of things that bloom. If she had her way, the sky would be the only roof over her head.
Her love of nature seeps into every story she tells. As does her obsession with bearded mountain men who build, often smell like sawdust, and know how to cherish the women they love. Today she writes tales meant to make you laugh, maybe make you sweat, and definitely make you believe in the power of love.
She lives in Rhode Island and occasionally Vermont with her pack—a husband, a cat, and a big, black German Shepherd who defends her fiercely from all evils.
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