The mesas and canyons of rural Utah are both beautiful and unforgiving—as unforgiving as the locals in Sharperville, who will never see Jamie Sundstrom as anything other than the no-good daughter of the town drunk. Now, two years after losing her own daughter in a nasty custody battle, Jamie is saving every penny from her job as a backhoe operator for a good lawyer. Her heart is as battered as her rundown car—until a soft-spoken, easy-on-the-eyes cowboy drifts into town…
Cal Cameron is trying to adjust to his new normal, working on his sister’s farm after recovering from the rodeo wreck that ended his championship career. At first sight, he can tell that Jamie is guarded. But as she slowly lets him into her world, he’ll do anything to help her get her daughter back—even if it means finally letting go of the man he was and becoming a different kind of hero…
“This sweet, modern cowboy tale is just the book you’re looking for!” –RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars Top Pick
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J.M. Bronston Sharing Sweet Memories Inspired ofTraveling the World
How lucky was I? Six years living abroad, with plenty of time to travel and explore Europe. Adventures and insights to fill the pages of many novels. Russian spies and Austrian aristocrats, parties in Baroque palaces and searches at gunpoint by hostile border guards, the death of the bulls in a Barcelona corrida and a beginner’s terror on the ski slopes of St. Anton in the Austrian Tyrol. Stories and memories – and friends to last a lifetime.
There are photos, of course, boxes of photos, albums packed with photos, photos framed and photos loose, each picture freezing a moment, meant to catch a memory. But there is a problem with freezing that moment: in that scene of the Adriatic Sea, with a puffy cloud just “there” and a sailboat on the horizon just “there,” the scene becomes static. The memory of that day is always of that cloud and that boat, just where the photo has preserved them, speaking only of that very instant. It doesn’t tell if the wind was strong that day, moving that cloud along briskly, or whether the boat came about just then, heading for shore, or whether a shark attacked it a moment later. What happened just before and what came after the shutter was snapped, that may be lost. It says only, “I was there.” Why I was there, who was with me, what made me take that picture – that picture and no other – these things may or may not have been retained. And even if they have been retained, I know that the memory is undoubtedly distorted.
There are journals, too, enough spiral notebooks filled with observations, sly asides, secrets, gossip, loss and tears and laughter, to pack into a couple of long bookshelves. And sometimes, when I pick one up, looking for some specific bit of information, I am hooked and cannot stop reading, and I go on, remembering……..
So, as I said, stories and friends to last a lifetime. And photos and journals to help me remember. But there is something else that helps me remember, something much more mundane, much more ordinary, more – if I may use the only word that seems to fit – more quotidian.
It became my habit, when I traveled, to pick up, as a souvenir, some small object that would be useful at home, a thing that I would have about me every day, some small thing that would belong to that certain place, that particular trip, something I would use as naturally and comfortably as I would use my toothbrush. And so, for example, there is on my kitchen counter, a wooden salt-and-pepper cellar, conjoined small cups with tiny wooden spoons and a little hollow handle between to hold toothpicks, a commonplace on any table in our neighborhood Gaststube or Heurige, where we might meet with our friends, hang out on a summer evening. The one on my counter is now darkened by decades of daily use, but I remember the little shop in Prague, just off the Wenzelsplatz. This was in the time when Czechoslovakia was under Soviet control (yes, that dates me), and my little salt-and-pepper cellar holds a personal record of a couple of weeks of culture shock, danger, sorrow, and fascination.
On my desk, in front of me, is an ornately carved wooden cigarette cup with inlaid gold filigree. (Ah, what a summer that was. Just south of Dubrovnik, in Yugoslavia. Also still in the days of Communist rule. Marshall Tito’s summer home on the Dalmatian coast was just across the road from where we were staying….) In those days everyone smoked, and every well-appointed home had cigarettes in boxes and cups set on end tables and coffee tables, along with sterling silver lighters. Mine now holds pencils.
There’s the Spanish paella pan that now hangs on my kitchen wall. It was too big to fit into my suitcase so I strapped it across my back and I remember how it clanked against my shoulder blades as we ran to catch the train to take us from Valencia to Venice. There’s the two-handed steel onion chopper in the form of a fox, with a long, dark wooden “tail” that fits nicely into the right hand while a notched place at the other end of the blade is designed perfectly for the fingertips of the left hand – he also hangs on my kitchen wall. He was given to me by Frau L. who cleaned for us and who grandmothered us through some of the trials that beset people who are trying to live properly in a foreign country; we often didn’t understand cultural expectations and we made countless mistakes. The onion chopper had been made by Frau L.’s husband, an iron worker and long dead by the time she came to us, and it is a treasure of beautiful workmanship and, even more, a memento of a very special woman. Her story would enrich any tale I might tell.
There is the small green plastic colander that I bought in Paris Monoprix. It, too, hangs on my kitchen wall, on the same nail that holds a patterned red pot holder from Marseilles. I don’t use the pot holder much because it’s too thin, but it’s pretty. The colander I use every day. I now see the same one, in various colors, sold in supermarkets around America. From a supermarket in Paris, too, I have among my spices and herbs three seemingly ordinary, everyday, unremarkable jars, one each of pepper, basil and minced garlic. I keep them at the front of the cabinet and refill them as I use up the contents because, like so many things Parisian, the design is unusually and simply lovely. They are like three pretty sisters set among their drab, everyday workmanlike American neighbors. They remind me daily of three wonderful months in Paris when I walked and walked and walked, with no agenda, no plan to learn the language or master the cuisine or visit every cathedral. I wanted only to know the streets and cafes and movie theaters, the rhythms, the way of saying “Bonjour” to the shopkeeper before asking for whatever it is you’re looking for. It was on the Boulevard de Grenelle, on my way home from the tennis matches at Roland Garros that I bought a frying pan from a street vendor – the very best frying pan I’ve ever owned – cooks eggs perfectly every time.
There is the blue and white striped apron I bought in Lausanne. Or was it Lucerne? Where I was chased down a mountain road by a cow, her cowbell clanking menacingly at me – and that I, city girl that I was, ran from in terror. I rarely wear an apron nowadays, but it’s still there, folded neatly in a drawer in the kitchen – a reminder of that bovine encounter in Lucerne (or was it Lausanne?). And in a restaurant in Athens, where I admired a water carafe that sat on our table, I asked the waiter where I could buy one like it, and he told me to take it. I was surprised, and asked if that really would be all right. “What do I care?” he said. “I’m not the owner.” The carafe was not large; it slipped easily into my handbag and today it sits on a table in my living room and holds some stalks of Chinese Lanterns. I try to feel guilty about my wayward act – but I’m not. If I hadn’t taken it, I’d have long ago forgotten that waiter’s insouciance. Good memories count for a lot.
And there’s the graceful basket, painted white, that I found in a shop in Lapad, and that we filled with rose petals to be strewn at my daughter’s wedding. And the small wooden bud vase that I picked up from the street at the Flower Market in Amsterdam. It was early morning and the market was closed but we were spending a couple of hours just walking around, killing some time between planes, on our way to Italy. My friend had lived in Holland for many years, and he looked disdainfully at me when I picked up the little item that must have rolled into the street, away from a flower stand. The Dutch are so correct and so clean, and one shouldn’t take things that don’t belong to you and certainly not out of the gutter. (Though I must say, it was the cleanest gutter I’d ever seen – very Dutch!) My friend died years ago, and I miss him. But the wooden bud vase, which is just big enough to hold a pencil, sits on the counter next to the refrigerator where I have a magnetized note pad for jotting down my grocery lists. And every time I take that pencil from the vase, I remember that cool morning in Amsterdam and the trip to Italy. And I remember my friend. And I’m a little bit embarrassed.
About The Author:
Joan Myra Bronston