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Released: January 2014
ISBN: 9781311152404
ASIN: B00HRGMZ8U
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THE HIDDEN JOURNAL
Author: Joyce Brennan
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Price: $3.99

When Chicago designer, Jenna Mitchell moves her business to Crestridge, Kentucky, the market collapses. Left without an income, she takes over a local antique shop. Angry words are exchanged when she meets handsome Drew Kelsey. A neighbor becomes matchmaker and brings the couple together. Despite their rocky start, they fall in love and look to the future.  Marriage plans crumble when Jenna discovers a journal that discredits the Kelsey name. Stella Ledbetter waits for the opportunity to take Jenna’s place in Drew’s life.

Excerpt
This can’t possibly be right.

A sickening wave of panic surged through Jenna as she parked in the driveway and stared at the old stone cottage. With trembling fingers, she opened the folder sent by the real estate agent. She rechecked the address and then studied the photo. No mistake. The snapshot, taken in the lush of summer with flowers in bloom and leafy trees promising peace and seclusion, displayed a quaint fieldstone cottage with a wraparound porch—not the drab, unkempt and almost forbidding structure that appeared before her.

Her heart pounded in her chest. Her throat closed around the cry that fought to escape.

My God, What have I done?

Her sister’s remarks haunted her. “I can’t believe you bought a house you’ve never seen, in a state you’ve never visited.”

Jenna had attempted to justify her actions. She had to get away. She needed to be on her own, take charge of her life. It sounded reasonable at the time but now she realized her mistake. She owned this neglected cottage, complete with overgrown shrubs, and a sagging porch, along with whatever other disaster waited inside.

She grabbed one of the boxes from the back seat and carried it to the porch. Before she could turn the key in the lock, the door squeaked open. She inhaled sharply and shoved the door open with the toe of her shoe.
“Hello? Anyone in there?”

Silence echoed through the empty house. She set the carton on the floor and flicked the light switch on and off—nothing. She had asked the real estate agent to have the power turned on. Obviously, they had a miscommunication.

She shivered as much from the damp chill penetrating the house, as from the overwhelming dread of her decision. Reality clamped over her as she stood in a dank cottage in a strange state, cold and alone. Jenna gasped as the air squeezed from her chest.

“Good or bad, I made my choice. No point wallowing in self-pity.” Her voice fell flat. As if talking aloud would rescue her from the disastrous decision. She focused on the fireplace in the living room. A fire should solve the heat problem and provide some light until morning.

She grabbed an armful of logs and kindling from the stack on the porch and dumped them in the fireplace. After adding wads of the packing paper from her carton, she looked around for matches. She found them in an ornate metal box attached to the wall next to the mantel. After more than a few attempts, she managed to ignite a blazing fire. The dreary room lit up almost instantly.

Jenna returned to the car for her suitcases. She pulled the three from the trunk holding her personal belongings and juggled them up to the porch. She nudged the cottage door open with her shoulder only to inhale a choking cloud of smoke. It reeked throughout the house. Bits of burned paper floated around the room. She let the luggage fall to the floor and dropped her arms in defeat. Black smudges appeared around her eyes as tears of frustration spiked down her face.

I must have been out of my mind to buy a place like this.

“Lordy, Ma’am, looks like you forgot to open the damper.” A wisp of a girl brushed past her. She dropped the basket she carried on the kitchen table and tended the fire. Jenna stood back, helpless as the child opened doors and windows before stopping to greet the new owner.

“You must be Ms. Mitchell. I’m Molly Keiffer.”

“Please, call me Jenna. You’re a life saver. How did you know…?”

“I’ve been watching. Mr. Grant told us you’d be here today or tomorrow. Gram sent me with something for you to eat until you had a chance to get to the grocery.” A smile broke out on Molly’s face as she added, “You’re gonna love Gram’s homemade soup.”

Tea bags, muffins and a small jar of honey also peeked out from under a blue and white napkin that partially covered the small wicker basket.

“This is a nice surprise. Will you join me?”

“No Ma’am. Gram told me not to be a bother and to come straight home.” Molly grabbed candles from a drawer in the kitchen. “You’ll probably need these and there’s an oil lamp in the bedroom.”

Jenna shook her head as the girl with the flame-red hair and freckles that scampered across her nose, darted around the cottage.

“I almost forgot. I’m supposed to tell you if you need anything, we live in the only other house on the lane.” Molly turned and ran out the door, her corkscrew curls bobbing in the March wind.

Jenna turned the tap in the kitchen.

At least the water works.

Feeling like a character from Little House on the Prairie, she filled a blackened teakettle and hung it on a swinging hook attached to the fireplace. While waiting for the water to boil she surveyed the mess and thought about the strange child. Thank goodness she came when she did.

The inside of the house gave the impression that the former owners had stepped out and planned to return any minute. An assortment of household items crowded every inch of the kitchen. A coffee mug sat on the table and a soiled dishtowel hung from the back of a chair. In the living room, personal belongings were scattered everywhere.

Aside from walking into the bedroom to get the oil lamp before it became too dark to locate it, Jenna didn’t venture through the rest of the house. She was cold, tired and thoroughly distressed.

The soup and a steaming mug of tea gave her a second wind. She unloaded the rest of her cartons from the car and attempted to organize her belongings. She pulled a few necessities from her luggage and stacked everything else against the living room wall.

It seemed to take forever to warm the cottage once the smoke cleared and she closed the doors. She gathered a worn afghan from the back of an old wooden rocking chair, wrapped it around her shoulders and sat on the couch. Mesmerizing flames flickered in the darkness. She melted into a fitful sleep, stirring with every unfamiliar noise the creaky old cottage had to offer.

What the reviewers are saying
Interesting plot twists
The reader instantly feels a part of this story as it unfolds. There is a strong sense of community as each character is introduced. The characters are believable and one feels empathetic towards each of them as their individual stories unfurl. No one really has the perfect life that they seem to have, each character has a fatal flaw over which they must prevail. ~ Belinda Wilson, Amazon

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A Must Read!!
I just love the story line and the characters in this book, very complex and exciting. Keep up the great work Joyce! We love you in Las Vegas!!! ~ Racegirl, Amazon

• • •

Another great story by Joyce Brennan. I have her previous works and was so happy to find out this one was finally out. The main character, Jenna Mitchell has a rough childhood and marriage, so she chooses to make a new life for herself, finds new friends and a new future. Hidden Journal is full of plots with memorable, emotional entanglements that keep you reading. I couldn’t put the book down. Thank you for another great read Joyce Brennan. Job well done! ~Allyson Tomlinson, Amazon

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Thank you, Joyce Brennan!
Thank you, Joyce, for another story with realistic characters who respond to realistic situations with realistic emotions! Always a pleasure to read something that parallels real life and helps us believe in ourselves. ~ Kathy B. Lovejoy, Amazon

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Fun read
Joyce Brennan has a knack for telling a romantic story with modern characters we can identify with. I agree with the other reviewer that this could be a movie, perhaps with Ana Paquin or Reese Witherspoon as Chicago designer Jenna Mitchell who moves to Crestridge, Kentucky to start a new life. If you are looking for a sweet story with interesting characters in an interesting environment facing everyday challenges and misunderstandings and then a happy ending, this is it. If you're looking for hot, lurid sex scenes, this is not it. Enjoy the read. ~ Carolyn V. Hamilton, Amazon

• • •

Hidden Journal is another great story of small town America by Joyce Brennan. There are many people out there who are afraid to let themselves love and enjoy life. Jenna Mitchell is someone who is afraid to open her heart. I love the characters and the way Jenna and Drew work through their conflicts realistically. The people of Crestridge, Kentucky are down-to-earth, enjoyable and heartfelt. Hidden Journal was a enjoyable read. ~ AL Boyer, Amazon

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Another good story by Ms. Brennan
I previously had read Broken Promises as well as Don't Dance on My Heart by Ms. Brennan and found her to be a very apt writer of Romance. She leaves no unfulfilled holes in her stories and the plots are believable and riveting. Therefore, my expectations for The Hidden Journal were high and I was not disappointed. I look forward to reading the books I have missed, in addition to the ones to come in the future. ~ Barbara Davis, Amazon

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Ready for a movie - 4-16-2014 Marlene George
This is a great story and should be a candidate for the movie makers. Another great story for Ms. Brennan. I can wait for her next offering. ~ Richard E. Brennan, Amazon

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Great Read
after reading Love Undecided I just couldn't wait to start Hidden Journal. I think that Joyce Brennan is an excellent writer. Her charactors are so real you feel like you have known them forever. ~ Carole Lhamon, Amazon

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True to Life Love Story
Ms. Brennan has written a true to life love story about new found love with its trials and tribulations. The plot twist and turns as does real life. There is a diary and a meddlesome woman, as well as the other characters to keep the reader's interest until the very end. Highly recommended. ~ Bruce D Alitt, Amazon

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Joyce's book the Hidden Journal keeps you intrigued. I want to keep reading as she keeps the suspense going !
I liked the way Drew Kelsay changed his chauvinistic ways when Jenna challenged him. I felt that I was in the hills of Kentucky when I read this book. Her characters are so believable. ~ Karen Harris, Amazon

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A Talented Writer
The Hidden Journal held my interest until the very end. I love the way the author develops a realistic small town atmosphere, with characters to match. All the names of the characters fit them perfectly. I liked Jenna from the beginning. Her antagonist Stella is always waiting in the wings to cause trouble. The ending surprised me. ~ Reader, Amazon

 

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