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A coming-of-age novel with a strong heroine, a sweet love story, and the eternal struggle between good and evil
Running from vile rumors and merciless ridicule, thirteen-year-old Nicole Beaumont flees her home in Parsons Valley, Georgia. She leaves Chris behind, the boy who had been her best-friend-for-life, her soul mate, the one with whom she was supposed to spend her life, and she takes refuge at a boarding school in rural Pennsylvania.
In the farming community in which she lived, almost any transgression could be tolerated, excused, or overlooked. Any transgression, save one that smacked of sex, and, according to rumor, that was exactly what she and Chris had done while lying on the bank of Parsons Pond. It was a lie, the worst part at any rate, but Chris̶ ̶ refused to deny the rumor. Never again, Nicole vows, will she trust another person as she had trusted Chris.
Such vows can be difficult to keep, but Nicole perseveres.
Then, she meets Richard. He seems different from the others. Accepting Nicole as she is. He keeps her secrets. When others doubt her, he stands in her defense. Nevertheless, even as they fall in love, the full story of what happened at Parsons Pond remains off-limits to him, and her memories of Chris, which tempt her, tugging her into the past, threaten to betray her,
Chris re-enters her life in a most unexpected way, and Nicole finds herself emmeshed in a deadly game that pits Chris, the boy she once loved, against Richard, the man who loves her, now, a game from which only one will emerge unscathed. Nicole faces an impossible decision. Which will she choose? Who will live?
House Beside the River is a romantic, true-to-life coming-of-age novel featuring a violent culture, a strong woman, and a sweet ending. Buy House Beside the River today!
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Excerpt from House Beside The River
The real estate agent stepped aside, holding open the door and allowing me to pass through ahead of him. “This way, Ms. Beaumont.”
I had twice suggested he call me Nicole, but he seemed reluctant to do that, so, rather than accrue a third strike, I simply smiled at him as I stepped from the screened porch onto an enormous deck overlooking the river. I walked to the rail and my eyes traced the river’s route as it wound through lush fields of golden hay and corn, fields that stretched far into the distance, ending only at a faraway tree line. The river looped around the house on three sides, reminding me of a snake slithering across the grass in Daddy’s back yard, one that had lost its head when I had attacked it with a shovel. That had been years ago now, the August of my thirteenth birthday.
A month before my world had tumbled in.
I frowned as I dismissed the memory, and I absently rubbed my thumb across the silver disk hanging from a chain around my neck. The medal bore the image of Saint Jude, both my patron saint and the patron of lost causes, a coincidence about which my older brother had often teased me as a child, insisting Jude was quite appropriately my patron because, as a little sister, I was definitely a lost cause.
I rolled my eyes. Brothers.
I glanced down, noticing for the first time the low wall that surrounded the deck in place of the simple set of open rails the contractors commonly installed. The agent seemed to notice, and he cleared his throat to capture my attention.
“The owner’s wife put in the wall. It hid her from boaters on the river when she sunbathed in the altogether.”
He smirked, but I shook my head, not understanding the reference.
“She would sunbathe in the buff…Sans clothes? Naked?” He seemed to want a reaction, and his eyes remained fixed on my face as he tried one term after another.
“The boaters could not see her behind the wall,” he explained as if speaking to a child, “and…”
“And a sniper would have no line of sight.” I nodded approvingly.
The agent hesitated, then he forced a chuckle, deciding to treat my comment as a joke.
“That, too…that, too, I suppose.”
Ed Woodman, the agent, pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and mopped his forehead. He was the owner’s agent, and showing me the house was not his responsibility, but his client had insisted he tag along. Marie Stevens, who represented me, was here, too.
Marie had told me Ed avoided showing houses in the middle of the day, especially during high summer. The temperature hovered just above ninety, and I felt certain he wanted me to hurry.
Then too, after scarfing two sandwiches at the Country Deli for lunch, Ed had looked at the display case longingly as we had left the restaurant. He had patted his ample belly.
“One more wouldn’t hurt,” he’d said as he paused by the door.
Marie had raised one eyebrow, and Ed had scowled.
“I wear the same size trousers I wore a decade ago.” That his stomach lapped over his belt seemed to faze him not at all.
I chuckled. As soon as he locked up after what he hoped would be a short tour of the house, Ed’s T-bird would be speeding along the highway, making a beeline for the deli.
Ed regarded me and shook his head, obviously thinking he was on a fool’s errand.
I had heard it before. I was single and not yet thirty years old. No way I could afford a house such as this one. One agent even had implied I must have a sugar daddy, a man who would pay my expenses in return for, well…sugar, as a Southerner might say.
Meet David Burnett
We live near Charleston, South Carolina, and six of my books are set in Charleston. I’ve always enjoyed the Carolina beaches. I now have the opportunity to walk on the beach almost every day and to photography the ocean, the sea birds, and the marshes that I love.
I love photography, and I have photographed subjects as varied as prehistoric ruins on the islands of Scotland, star trails, sea gulls, and a Native American powwow. My wife and I have traveled widely in the United States and the United Kingdom. During trips to Scotland, we visited Crathes Castle, the ancestral home of the Burnett family near Aberdeen, and Kismul Castle on Barra, the home of my McNeil ancestors.
I went to school for much longer than I want to admit, and I have degrees in psychology and education. In an “earlier life” I was director of research for our state’s education department.
Interview with David Burnett
Q: Hi, David. Tell us about your publishing journey. Did you always want to be an author?
DB: Although I flirted with a journalism major when I was in college, my route was not traditional. I actually came to writing rather late. I have a doctorate in educational research (statistics) and I was director of the Office of Research at out State Department of Education.
On several occasions I had begun to write, but I had no idea how to proceed. Two or three hundred pages seemed like so much material! Absolutely overwhelming!
Then, I came across a book claiming it would guide me toward completing a first draft in ninety days. The author’s system called for thirty days of preparation and two months of daily writing. Sixty thousand words in two months is only a thousand words a day, not an overwhelming number! That I could do, and I did.
Q: What is your book about?
DB: In the final chapter of House Beside the River, as she looks back over her life to that point, Nicole (our heroine) ponders how our decisions, even small decisions, those we may consider trivial, affect our lives:
Had the afternoon Chris and I spent playing in the woods and splashing in the pond set in motion the ruin of so many lives? That one decision of mine …to dive from the limb of the Great Oak? Does the course of one’s life truly hinge on a single decision made on the spur of a single moment? … We never truly know all the events that conspire to produce an outcome, nor can we know the ultimate effect of a different decision. Then, too, perhaps, as some believe, there is a divine plan for our lives. Perhaps our specific decisions matter very little, and our lives simply are what they are. It’s a mystery.
Q: How many books have you published, and which is your favorite?
DB: House Beside the River is my eleventh book. In one sense, my most recent book is always my favorite!
Other than that, I would point to three favorites: To Fall in Love Again, which traces the relationship between a middle-aged couple, both of whom have lost a spouse, Just Three Dates, a romcom in which two mothers play matchmaker, entrapping their children in promises to go out together three times, in exchange for the mothers’ promises to stay out of their lives in the future, and The Handfasting, which concerns a young couple who came together, again, after a decade apart.
Q: How many bookshelves are in your house?
DB: Our house is relatively small. Two bookshelves are located in my office and one in the guest bedroom. Then, there are the three shelves in a cabinet in the kitchen. And then, there is my Kindle. The bookshelves contain “reference books: travel, religious, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (Remember that cartoon strip about a little boy and his tiger?), images of Greek icons, and old textbooks. And then there is my Kindle…
Q: Your ideal writing space is?
DB: Originally, I wrote at Starbucks. On the Carolina coast, though, the weather can be warm eight months out of twelve, and my most favorite writing spot is the pier at Folly Beach, near our home. The crash of the surf, the soft ocean breeze, and the cries of the seagulls as they soar overhead provide the perfect setting for me sit with my Surface notebook and a latte and write away.
This Or That Questions:
Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the morning, tea at night
Coke or Pepsi? Coke. Always Coke. Only Coke. Nothing but Coke.
Book or Movie? When I enjoy a story, I want to extend the enjoyment, to draw out the pleasure rather than compress it into a single ninety-minute period. For the same reason, I’ve been known to stop reading the book that “cannot be put down” so I can re-live the story overnight, speculate concerning what might happen next, and continue the next day. For the same reason, I seldom binge-watch a series on television.
Print or Ebook? I read about Kindle in the New York Times when the readers first were available. My wife gave me one for Christmas and I’ve never looked back. Why lug two books, or three (maybe four), on vacation or to the coffee shop when I can take a library? My Kindle Fire is known as “David’s Fifth Kindle,” when I’m downloading from Amazon.
Summer or Winter? Without a doubt. I have confidence I can cool off when it gets hot. I’m not as certain I can get warm when it is cold. Besides, I live near the beach, and although I go walking even in December and January, it is pleasanter wading in the ocean with the summer sun shining down.
Haunted Mansion or Un-haunted Shack? In the low country of South Carolina, ghosts are real, and even the shack may surprise you. When in doubt, choose the mansion.
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