Author: Robin Bayne
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Purchase Link: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theartist039sgranddaughter-530280-149.html
Official Release Date: Mar 29, 2011
This story begins with Megan Roberts bidding on her grandfather’s painting. She made a promise to her dying father that she would do what she could to find it and keep it in the family. She never expected her first love to outbid her and take possession of the painting. Michael Kirk, back in town—she couldn’t believe it, especially how he left so many years ago and broke her heart. Megan wondered why he wanted the painting and she soon finds out his boss asked him to get it for his collection of art.
Ms. Bayne sets this story up perfectly and you are hooked right away. You wonder if Megan and Michael will patch up the past and move in to the present with a future together or continue living with broken hearts. This novella is short but sweet and so deliciously full of detail and complex character development. Without even realizing it you are swept into their sweet love story and root for them every step, willing these two delightful characters to find their way back to each other.
The attention to detail and the way the secondary characters are developed, leave you feeling satisfied with your experience in the small town setting. By the end of this novella, I found myself wanting to read more about Megan and Michael to see how their lives played out. I only met them for a short time, but they felt like good friends that I’ve known for ages. I’ve never read any of Ms. Bayne’s books before, but she is now definitely one of the authors on my favorites list.
Bolts of dislike struck the back of her head, but Megan faced forward, sat straight, felt the collar of her dress scratching the back of her neck. She studied the works of art at the front of the room, ignoring Debbie’s gaze boring into her as if today was just another day here at Carrolton High. Debbie had stopped speaking to her in the tenth grade, and now, thirteen years later, the first time Megan had been back in her old school, the woman was shadowing Megan’s every move.
From the front row of folding chairs, Megan could see every item being auctioned to benefit the school. Most of the framed works were serigraphs and lithographs, but a few were original oil paintings. Granddad’s last oil was framed in painted gold wood, museum-style, and the next to be put on the auction easel. She twisted the sapphire ring on her right hand without looking down.
After an elderly gentleman bought a Civil War sketch, two young boys lifted Granddad’s picture onto the tripod, and the auctioneer gave a brief description of the oils used to paint the rustic cottage on the canvas. The gardens of muted pastel flowers sparkled as if made from crushed opals and emeralds. Of course, the auctioneer didn’t know how warm the man had been who’d so lovingly crafted the piece and carefully signed Delano Roberts in the lower right corner. This was business tonight.
He opened the bidding at eight hundred dollars, which Megan had expected. Her checkbook sat securely in her purse, plumped with the funds she’d been saving for this event. Even though her parents hadn’t left her much in the way of money, she’d done all right for herself, preparing for the day, this day, when she could dramatically reclaim her heritage. Megan’s excitement dimmed a bit when she thought of Granddad, and how much she missed him.
“One thousand,” Megan said, after someone’s bid of nine hundred, and she emphasized the thousand. Her pulse quickened. This piece would be going home with her tonight, no matter how high the bidding went.
“One thousand from the pretty lady with the gold hair.” He paused and listened. “Eleven hundred, do I have twelve? Twelve? Twelve hundred?”
Megan nodded. The auctioneer had pointed to someone behind her again, and Megan turned to look, searching for another elderly person who liked the painting. She wanted to stare him down.
Instead, she gasped. The woman now bidding thirteen hundred dollars was none other than Debbie Grimes, who stood tottering on narrow heels, swinging long dark hair as she tried to outbid Megan.
“Fifteen hundred,” Megan said, loud and clear. Her blood pumped faster and her face warmed. People were whispering behind her back, probably wondering if she’d lost her mind. Debbie had some nerve! Had she somehow figured out why Megan wanted the piece so badly? Could she have that much spite left after all these years?
The portly, bearded auctioneer sweated profusely while he looked back and forth between his competing bidders, clearly unexpected in this small town charity benefit. Megan figured he would rub his greedy little hands together with glee if he didn’t have that wood gavel to play with.
Megan raised her program, showing her bidder number on the back cover, indicating she’d go the two thousand now needed to top Debbie’s last bid. The smell of gym socks pervaded her senses when she tried to take a calming breath, and she could taste the rusty water from the hall fountain as if she’d drank from it yesterday. Sitting even straighter, she glanced Debbie’s way again, and bit her lip when she saw the ice in her old friend’s eyes. Granddad always nagged at her to stop biting that lower lip, but he wasn’t around to do that anymore. So what if no boys—make that men—would notice her if she bit her lip? There were none to notice, anyhow. She could have a good old chomping session if she really got nervous!
Words echoed around the makeshift auditorium and before Megan knew what had hit her, Debbie had bid over four thousand dollars for the painting.
Megan had only five thousand dollars to her name.
She blinked, considering her checking account and the tiny savings account she held at the local bank. Swaying slightly, she wished she’d sat in the second row so she’d have a chair back to clutch for balance. Yes, she could go a little higher, but at serious risk to her security blanket. It didn’t matter. She had to have Granddad’s last piece—and she’d promised her father she’d find it and keep it in the family.
“Four thousand five hundred,” the auctioneer chanted, waving his gavel and pointing at Debbie, questioning the bidder who had fallen silent.
Megan smiled, her shoulders losing some of their tension. She clutched her program, ready to show her number to the auction recorder as the highest bidder, when another voice rang out. A male voice.
“Six thousand,” came the confident bid from the back of the room.
Megan froze again. She knew that voice. Hadn’t heard it in years, but knew it as though it had whispered in her ear every night. With moist palms, she turned and leaned to look over the crowd. A man stood just inside the bright blue doors, arms crossed in front of his wide, well-suited chest.
Her teeth sank into the softness of her lip.
Michael Kirk was back.