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The Romance Review

The Lives of Jon McCracken

 

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Blurb:

Reincarnation. A guardian angel on steroids. A woman who claims to be writing about his lives.

The minute he meets Gabi Peters, Jon McCracken seriously questions his decision to move to California. This isn't the change he was looking for; this is an E-ticket ride through Fantasyland. Gabi would be a hot catch if she wasn't crazy. But she spends her free time recapturing memories of a young woman who died decades before Gabi was born. She visits her past lives like most women read a favorite romance novel. How does a guy compete with the ghost of a small-town war hero who died for his country?

When his oversoul-the guardian angel on steroids-shows him the changes he has to make in his past lives in order to clear the karma affecting this one, he's forced to ask Gabi for help. Together they dig through a series of lives looking for answers, and for a chance at happily ever after.

 

Excerpt:

Two hours after crossing the California state line, Jon already questioned his decision to move there. He'd stopped for gas and ended up with indigestion after dealing with the cashier.

"Your name is Jon McCracken?" The cashier's eyes widened as she looked at his credit card. Her warm smile showed white, even teeth. "That's so cool. Do you believe in reincarnation?"

Reincarnation? Why did I want to move to California with all the nutcases? What the hell was I thinking?

"Not hardly." He turned away, carefully avoiding eye contact with the other customers in line.

The young woman laughed and shook her riot of wine-colored curls. "I didn't think so. I had to ask, though, because I've been writing a book about you for the last fifteen years." She tore off the invoice and slid it, along with her pen, across the counter.

He signed the paper. "About me." The large space was growing warm and stuffy and he could feel the eyes of the other customers on him.

"My main character has the same name, anyway."

Jon shoved his wallet in his pocket. He couldn't get out of the mini-mart fast enough. He didn't need to waste his morning talking with a flaky cashier who hadn't finished writing the Great American Novel after fifteen years. She probably tried the line on most of the male customers.

The cashier handed him his copy the invoice. "The book is about the lives you've led."

"Your character led, you mean. I'm only going around one time." He glanced at her nametag. Gabi. She probably signed her name with a heart over the "i". He picked up the receipt. "Thanks."

As he turned away, she called out, "Wait, your card."

She continued to give him the oddest look, as if he'd grown horns or something. He tugged his wallet out of his pocket again, shoved the card and folded receipt in, and walked back to his pickup. He'd been driving for two days, and he was ready to be home.

Even though he hadn't set foot in the Victorian house in the southern Sierra Mountains, he already thought of the place as home. When he'd seen the pictures on the Internet, he knew he had to have that house, that ranch, so he offered on it without making the trip from Nebraska.

His pickup truck was the only traffic once he left the highway at the turnoff on the crest of the mountain. The narrow, tree-lined road wove down into the valley. With his window rolled down, Jon enjoyed the quiet morning air, the fresh scent of wild grass and sage.

The dirt road leading to his new home appeared more quickly than he expected. The house looked farther back from the road than he expected. The thought made him laugh. He wasn't sure what he was comparing it to. The photos he'd seen were taken up close. Maybe that was the difference. He'd just pictured it closer to the road.

The old Victorian was stately, proud, without all the gingerbread and gaudy colors he hated. The previous owner had painted the clapboard siding a pale cream with dark chocolate trim dividing each of the three floors. While the place would probably never appear on the cover of an old house magazine, its simplicity suited rustic life in the southern Sierra.

The real estate agent's car sat next to the house, and she walked up to the door as Jon pulled his pickup to a stop. He followed the gravel path behind her. A chill washed over him when he reached the porch steps, making him shiver.

"Mr. McCracken? I'm Kelly Mallory."

He held out his hand. "Ms. Mallory."

"Susie, please. Here are your keys." She offered him a small keychain.

As he reached for the doorknob, a sense of déjà vu hit hard. He grunted. Must be from picturing himself living here for the last two months.

I'm home. The feeling was a unique experience.

Home.

He had to wrestle with the key, but finally the door swung free. He took a step and stopped, dropping the duffle bag in his hand. The front room was furnished. Kelly hadn't said anything about furniture coming with the place. The faded red upholstered sofa and chair looked as old as the house. An ornate glass lamp sat on the delicate table next to the sofa. He would have to empty the room before bringing in his own stuff.

Glancing back over his shoulder, he said, "I wasn't expecting furniture."

"Furniture?"

Bending to pick up his duffle bag, he moved inside and out of her way. When he waved an arm to point out the sofa and chair, the room was empty. The tiny hairs on the back of his neck rose. He rubbed his hand the skin there. He'd gotten up early to make the last leg of the drive, but that shouldn't make him see things that weren't there. "I, uh, said I'm not expecting the furniture to arrive for a bit."


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