Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association, the Mobile Writers Guild, and a regular contributor to Parents & Kids Magazine's Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Single mom Grace Mason doesn’t believe in miracles, magic, or love at first sight. She likes the quiet life, complete with her eight-year-old son, their tiny house, and her teaching job. For Grace, happiness means that nothing much ever changes in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Then, one thousand miles away, tragedy strikes. A massive heart attack leaves Grace’s estranged father comatose in an Upstate New York hospital. While a team of doctors fight to keep Henry Mason alive, Grace and Evan rush to his bedside to say their final goodbyes.
Henry’s passing brings little closure for Grace, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her new surroundings. What begins as a short trip results in an entire summer spent with Henry’s second wife, Kathleen, and her next-door neighbor, Ryan Gordon, the town doctor. When a series of unlikely events lead to Evan’s disappearance, Grace must face her worst fears to find her son and bring him back home.
Stardust Summer explores the complexities of forgiveness, what it means to be a family, and the fabulous possibility of falling in love—again.
Kathleen hadn’t counted on the Sailfish being this difficult to manage. She had been on it a thousand times with Henry and chided herself for worrying.
Her husband had patiently shown her how to trim the huge sail and make the boat go faster. She remembered that letting out the rope allowed the Sailfish to slow down. Kathleen knew how to move the rudder, and when to pull up the centerboard.
But she never had asked—or didn't remember hearing—exactly what steps to take when stuck in the middle of the lake. By herself.
Kathleen, in her hurry to enjoy the morning solitude, hadn't thought to bring her cell phone. She didn't leave Grace a note. And, of course, by now, Dr. Ryan Gordon was long gone, driving into work, his mind squarely focused on the dozens of patients waiting for him at the office.
If Henry could see her, Kathleen thought, he was probably having a chuckle. She looked up at the few white puffs floating by against the blue and leaned her head against the steel mast.
Kathleen scanned the horizon. It was daybreak. Lights were just starting to come on in houses dotting the shoreline. A few birds swooped down, nearby, in search of breakfast. They paid her no attention, darting and calling out to each other. Otherwise, the lake was empty. Even the Sheriff’s boat would have been a welcome sight at this point.
She considered her options. Kathleen could try to paddle back to her dock using the centerboard, which was awkward and unwieldy. She could try to swim back, as she had the life vest on, but she’d have to leave the boat. She could wait. Or, if it wasn't so early, she might try to yell or scream and attract some attention.
The latter, however, was out, she decided. She'd rather not completely lose her dignity. The talk in Penn Yan would be nothing but stories about the crazy woman who lost her husband, and a day later, tried to drown herself in the middle of Keuka Lake.
Paddle it was, Kathleen decided.
At least she was facing the right direction. Letting the rope go slack, she tugged at the slippery centerboard. It wouldn't budge. Kathleen set her jaw and tried again, readjusting her grip. With a small grunt, she yanked hard, finally freeing the centerboard.
The effort threw Kathleen off balance, and out of the corner of her eye, she watched the rope unfurl and slip into the water. A second too late, she grabbed for the thick, white strand, but felt the braided edges brush past her fingers.
Trying not to panic, Kathleen tucked the centerboard behind her, eased toward the edge of the Sailfish, and slid one leg into the water, trying to catch the rope with her toes.
No such luck. Kathleen slapped at the lake in disgust, causing droplets to spray her nose and mouth. With the back of one hand, she wiped at her face, trying not to cry.
How had she ever gotten herself in such a predicament?
Kathleen rubbed at the back of her neck and blinked away tears. She glanced around, hoping to see another sailboat or a swimmer. She saw no one, but noticed with increasing concern that the sky had grown dark. Thick clouds were rolling in from the South, covering what had been a perfectly blue horizon.
A few droplets of rain fell against her leg and spattered the boat.
Kathleen let out a tiny moan.
The splash, directly behind the boat, stopped her cold. With horror, Kathleen realized she had lost her only other means of saving herself. Holding her breath, she turned her head.
The centerboard was in the water, floating away. Damn!
Wind, causing the lake to whitecap, whipped at Kathleen's hair. The strands played on her cheeks and eyelashes, making it difficult to see. Before she could tuck them out of the way, a bigger gust took the sail and spun it.
There was an awful scraping sound, metal on metal.
All at once, the long, silver boom swung around, gathering speed, and hit the back of Kathleen’s neck. She winced in pain and grabbed at nothing, too late. The Sailfish tilted up, unsteadily, then back. Water washed over her legs and feet, pulling and dragging her away.
Kathleen plunged into the dark, cool lake. The last thing she remembered was watching the sail crash to the water next to her head.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR - AND WIN A PRIZE!
Lauren will be awarding winner's choice of either Dancing Naked in Dixie or Stay Tuned (in .mobi .pdf or .epub) to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop. Also, a $20 gift card to Amazon or BN.com (winner's choice) will be awarded to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour and a signed paperback copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie and Swag will be awarded to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour (USA ONLY).
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:
Stardust Summer for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BFZVW1K
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Stardust Summer for KOBO: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=stardust+summer
Stardust Summer for Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/285619
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