Almost ten years ago, Samantha Redding swore off her hometown of Brandywood, Maryland. Sure, she misses her family, but she’s over the gossip and drama that came with small-town living. Besides, she has the photography career she always dreamed of now.
Then her mom gets sick. Faced with a long stay at home, Sam is forced to relocate a holiday photoshoot to Brandywood to meet a tight work deadline. Only problem is, she needs help from the townspeople she’s spent years distancing herself from. Strangely, Sam finds an ally in someone who kept her at arm’s length all his life: brooding and sarcastic Garrett Doyle—the guy that dumped her best friend at the altar years before.
But Sam never knew Garrett tried to keep his distance because he was really in love with her. And he’s just come back to town after trying to get his life together. Garrett knows he ought to stay away—but the sight of her brings back all those old feelings. Anyway, she’s leaving Brandywood soon enough, and then he can go back to trying to forget her.
. . . except, Sam’s about to discover that everything she thought she knew about home—and Garrett—was wrong.
A contemporary romance with steamy, open door romance and tear-jerking moments about facing the past and finding forgiveness, All This Time is the first book in the Brandywood Small Town Romance Series.
CW: alcoholism, abuse, cancer, language
Title: All This Time (Brandywood, #1)
Author: Annabelle McCormack
Publication Date: October 25, 2022
Genres: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Driving Lessons (Garrett’s POV)
“All right . . . foot on the clutch, slowly lifting. When you feel the engine engage, you drop your weight on the gas and lift the clutch.” Garrett leaned back in his seat and popped open a can of energy drink.
Charlotte Redding’s old truck lurched forward, the transmission grinding, sending a spray of the newly opened soda across his lap.
Sam grimaced at Garrett. “Sorry.”
“I’m officially out of extra clothes in my truck so you better take it easy.” Garrett chuckled and took a sip. “Of course, it’s my fault for opening the can just then.”
“Can’t I learn an automatic?” Sam attempted to push the shifter into gear again and the engine screeched.
“If your mother drove automatic, yes. To be honest, she might be the last person left on earth that doesn’t drive automatic.” Garrett leaned back in his seat and crossed one foot over his knee.
“How’d you learn?”
Garrett threw her a cocky glance. “I know everything, Redding.”
A smile hinted at her eyes. He had called her that nickname his whole life, but they hadn’t really spent much time together since high school. She seemed to remember it with some level of fondness, if she was smiling. “You know”—Garrett set the drink in the holder and put his hand over hers before she tried to shift improperly again and ruined the truck—“I remembered earlier this morning that Eli once said he was going to teach you to drive.”
“It didn’t go so well. He wasn’t exactly patient.” Sam rolled her eyes. That was valid. Eli was not a patient man.
“I talked to him this morning. Apparently, you blocked him?” Eli’s words had piqued his interest. Eli had been talking about Sam as though they were done for good. Did she feel the same way?
“Yup.” She pulled her hand back from the shifter and set it on the wheel. “And Katie actually set me up a date this Saturday with some guy she knows. Mike Jarvis. I’m moving on.”
Mike? The firefighter? He didn’t know what surprised him more—Sam going on a date . . . or that she appeared to be planning to stay after Thanksgiving. “Are you staying in Brandywood?”
She grimaced. “For now.”
“That doesn’t sound like you’re entirely convinced it’s a good thing.”
“I’m not sure it is. I sort of volunteered to do a big social campaign here. My boss wants me to find home bakers from Brandywood for it to feature classic Americana cookie recipes. Twelve of them. The cooks are supposed to make their recipes on a live feed and we’ll feature pictures and recipes on our social channels.”
She covered her eyes with one hand, peeking through her open fingers. “I don’t know what the heck I was thinking,” Sam sighed. “So anyway, I’ll be here at least until mid-December. Then we’ll see how things go with my mom.”
He approached the other bit of news more cautiously. “And the date?”
She smiled, her eyes sparkling with humor. “Someone Katie claims is ‘perfect for me.’ A firefighter—I think. We’re going to Yardley’s on Friday night.” Then she added, “I mostly said yes to get Katie to stop pestering me.”
Why do I feel relieved about that? He kept his face blank.
She drew a deep breath and looked out the windshield. “Ready?”
Garrett gave her a teasing look. “You should probably start the engine. It stalled after last time.”
She turned the key sheepishly. “You know, I’m not the one who said I needed to drive. I was fine with rideshare.”
“You won’t be so fine with it if you’re staying in Brandywood for a while. Those bills add up.” Garrett stopped her again as she reached for the shifter. “Don’t rush it. Push the clutch down, then shift, then worry about the pedal switch.”
Sam stared at her feet. “Driving with two feet seems ridiculous. And then my hands are doing separate things too. How is anyone supposed to do four different things at the same time?”
“Ask a drummer. They’re the masters of it.” Garrett leaned back again, watching her. Something about her approach to the lessons put him in a good mood. It could be the furrow of concentration in her brow, or the way her lips drew tighter. When she’d been learning photography as a teenager, she’d often posed him and Katie for pictures. That same look of focus had been on her face.
The truck stalled again and he held back a laugh as she threw her hands up in the air and swore. “This is impossible.”
Annabelle McCormack spins you tales of epic historical adventure, heartfelt romance, and complex family dynamics with strong female protagonists to make things interesting. She graduated from the Johns Hopkins University’s M.A. in Writing Program. She’s a sucker for pizza (cheese, bread, and tomatoes are the perfect foods) and mangoes, loves baking and photography, and never wants to do laundry again. She lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband, where she serves as a snack bitch for her (lucky-they’re-cute) five children and three boxers.
She’s half-Costa Rican and speaks fluent Spanish, so you can always drop her a line in either English or Spanish. Pura vida!
Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
- Paperback copy of All This Time