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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guest Author: Toni Noel - "I Should Have Married a Plummer"

Why does the kitchen sink drain always back up on Thanksgiving Day?

 My daughter and her husband are caretakers of a private fish camp and are responsible for the upkeep of twenty rental units. That's twenty sink drains they have to keep clear. Renters don't care what they pour down drains. To clear sluggish drains he dumps in vinegar, and once the backup clears, pours in gallons of boiling water. No costly plumber's visits required he proudly reports.

In Restored Dreams, my recent eBook release from Desert Breeze Publishing, more than vinegar is needed to solve Treasure Montgomery's plumbing problems. Her great aunt left her the lovely old Victorian house both of them grew up in, but the ancient cast iron pipes are giving way, one room at a time. Her teacher's salary will only stretch so far. How can she keep a roof over her head and her deathbed promise to her aunt to take good care of their home, when the roof leaks and Treasure can't afford the repairs?

A mortgage to cover the cost of replacing the roof and plumbing is out of the question. Treasure's teaching job may be on the State's chopping block, so the bank won't give her a loan. The loan officer considers her a poor risk, and she doesn't blame him. If she couldn't make the payments and defaulted on the loan, she could lose her home. The thought terrifies her.

Treasure refuses to let her financial problems prevent her from helping children. She devotes Saturday mornings to teaching abused kids a love of horses through free, one-one-one equine therapy classes. She spends Saturday afternoons reading to children in a ward for leukemia patients at Children's Hospital, children she believes deserve a brighter future than they currently have. 

Her fondest dream is to open her home to abused and unwanted boys. Give them a colt of their own to raise, a good dose of self-esteem, and all the love she has to share.

Buck, the retired rodeo champion she hires to make Band-Aid repairs to her Victorian, has his own agenda. His father and grandfather earned their wealth by cheating friends. Strangers, too, and Buck wants no part of the millions he inherited from them. What better way to get even with his unscrupulous ancestors than by giving their money away to those in need, one new roof or floor at a time?

His plan works flawlessly until he meets Treasure. Fierce pride keeps her from accepting charity. She'd rather remain house poor than feel indebted to anyone, so Buck donates his labor and barters his skills to vendors in exchange for copper pipe and cabinets to remodel and repair her once elegant home. Falling in love with Treasure is not part of his original plan, but when he does, he decides to stay in Lakeview, and looks forward to building a future with the tenderhearted teacher, convinced it is past time he settled down. 

Buck mistakenly thinks the monetary award given Treasure for being named the State's Best Middle School Teacher is enough to pay for a new roof. She's devastated when she discovers Buck overspent and has wiped out her savings, and then some. If she is unable to repay his out-of-pocket costs for her shingles, Buck could take her home.

How could Buck do this to her? How could she have fallen in love with a man who doesn't respect her wishes, a man who had made her indebted to him? Was it his goal all along? Her savings will only cover half Buck's bill, so she sells the antique buffet that's been in her family for generations to a neighbor. With his thousand dollars, plus her savings, and the two thousand Buck offers to pay for her old tractor that doesn't even run,  and her savings, she has just enough to pay Buck's bill, then orders him out of her life.

How can Buck repair the damage he's inflicted to Treasure's pride? Will she ever learn to accept the help of loving friends?

To find out, download Restored Dreams here:

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Here is an excerpt from Restored Dreams. Enjoy. 

Teaching at Lakeview Middle School is a breeze. Holding this Victorian house together is what's sapping my energy, Treasure Montgomery thought as she approached her ranch east of San Diego .
She  stepped into her kitchen after a long day in the classroom, turned her back on the paint peeling off the hundred-year-old cabinets, and reached for The Thrifties.
First things first. I may as well get this over with.
The unread mail could wait. Finding another repairman to finish her upstairs bath repairs couldn't. Not when the man she'd hired to do the work had ripped up her floor, then quit.
She started making calls.
Nine calls later, she was no nearer finding a handyman she'd trust to do the work. Some of the men she talked to had even laughed at her.
"You'll pay what?"
"Try me again next fall."
"Get real, lady."
What am I going to do?
At the sound of a vehicle turning down her drive, Treasure glanced up. Who did she know who drove an antique truck?
Through the kitchen curtains -- those needed replacing, too -- she watched a tall man unfold and step out of the carefully maintained blue truck. His jean-clad legs, like parallel train tracks, were slim and straight. A wide-brimmed Stetson hat hid his face, but she had no trouble making out wide shoulders that narrowed to the belt slung low at his waist.
He was billboard handsome, and not anyone she knew, but he'd look great on her horse. Make that any horse.
Experiencing the usual uneasiness the sudden appearance of a stranger brought, Treasure froze, debating her options as she stared at the closed back door.
Lock it and pretend no one was home?
No. Aunt Bee did that. Not me.
The sound of footsteps crossing her porch caused Treasure's heartbeat to stutter, then drum in her ears.
The man's knock, as cocky as his walk, rattled the door.
"Wouldn't do to let the stranger know you'd cautiously watched his approach," Aunt Bee would have advised. Treasure patted her hair, making certain her hair tie still kept her long black hair neat, then waited a moment longer before answering the knock.
"Yes?" she said, opening the door a crack.
"Miss Montgomery?" the man said, and removed his hat.
Hmm. Tall. Bushy brown eyebrows overshadowed his eyes but overall, she liked his looks, although he could use a haircut. Chestnut curls hid his ears and the back collar of his denim work shirt.
She nodded.
"Evening, ma'am. My name's Buck. Angela Turner called to say you got yourself in some kind of bind and could use my help."
"Never trust a man with a Southern drawl," Aunt Bee always warned, an Aunt Bee-ism Treasure wanted to heed, but this man's mellow way of speaking touched something deep inside, warming her and almost making her smile.
Treasure sighed. "I'm sorry, there's been a misunderstanding. You see, I teach with Angela and happened to mention that the man I'd hired quit. She never should have called you. I told her I didn't like the idea of hiring a stranger to work on my house, no matter how highly you come recommended."
"Appreciate that," he said, grinning.
"You're the carpenter who did the Community Hall roof?"
"The church, too," he said with a grin guaranteed to make women swoon.
Not Treasure. Her first night out with a devastatingly handsome man, he'd destroyed her trust. Now she was immune to good-looking men, but apparently not immune to this man's softly-spoken drawl.
Watch yourself.
Buck cleared his throat. "Nice rural setting for a Victorian house. Now, if you'll just show me where--"
Unnerved, she tugged on her long hair. "No, I-I can't do that, but thank you. I've lived in Lakeview almost all my life."
Her stammered words rocked him back on his heels and he cocked his head. "It's gonna be kinda hard to estimate the work involved if you won't let me come in."
Now she felt foolish. She hesitated a moment longer, then stepped aside. "You're right. It's just that I don't have much money, and Hank, the man I'd hired, came--"
"Cheap?" he finished with another wide grin and ducked entering the house. "I understand he quit."
As he straightened, Treasure gulped. Beware men who --
No. No more -isms. This is my house now.
Aunt Bee hated men.
Even after what happened to me, I don't.
Right or wrong, a man deserved the chance to prove himself.
Even Buck?
His wide shoulders seemed to dwarf her kitchen, and her.
In need of reassurance, Treasure patted her hair again. "It's the master bath, upstairs. I guess it won't hurt to just let you see."
"No, ma'am."
The way he said ma'am made her feel like a queen watching her favorite knight paying homage on bended knee, a sensation she'd never experienced before.
"This way." Shoving the uninvited image to the far recesses of her mind, she led him to the stairs, then started up, suddenly self-conscious, feeling his eyes on...
Not my hair, my butt.
"I'm afraid the hall outside the bathroom is a mess," she murmured, turning sideways to direct his attention elsewhere as she reached the top step.
No, no. This is worse. Now his eyes are on my--
"That's understandable," he said with a knowing grin. "You'd have no use for me if everything was in perfect repair, now would you, ma'am?"
Treasure laughed as she reached the landing and turned right. "True."
"Hmm. Nice view."
She clenched her fists. How dare he?
She swung around, prepared to boot Buck down the stairs for his unwelcome remark and discovered him peering out the landing window at the barn and the rolling hills beyond.
Oh. That view.
"Is that all yours?"
"I own everything to the base of those hills."
"Nice," he repeated, striding toward her.
"Yes, it is," she agreed, scurrying ahead of him down the hall.
You're even taller than I thought.
He stumbled on a pile of ripped out boards. "I... uh see what you mean about this hall. Your repairman left quite a mess."
"Today was the day he'd promised to haul this all away."

*Leave a comment for a chance to win Restored Dreams!


  1. Hi Toni. First I have to say that I gasped when I saw your cover. It is so beautiful and really pulled me in to wanting to read your story. Your story sounds interesting. Your poor heroine sure has a lot of conflict to get through, but I bet she comes out on the winning end.

    Best of luck with lots of sales. :)

  2. Very nicely done. Sounds great. Sale on...

  3. Thank you, Paisley. I adore this cover. It tells the story with just one glance. And yes, Treasure is like many harried homeowners, everything she touches breaks or leaks.

    Thanks for stopping by,


  4. Thanks for stopping by, Tina. I know how busy you are, and appreciate your interest.


  5. I love that you incorporated her community service, especially therapeutic riding. I was a regular volunteer at Challenge Ranch in Cali and my daughters, at 13, 12 and 9, all volunteer from 8am-4pm every Saturday and Sunday at a therapeutic riding center. It really works wonders! Can't wait to read this book, Toni :)

  6. Hi Toni,
    Love that you named your heroine Treasure. How did you come to select that one? I'm also curious that you feature therapeutic riding. I've just noticed stables around here advertising time for kids who would benefit in this therapy. Is this something you've participated in?

    Also enjoyed the humor in your excerpt. Good luck with the book!

  7. I enjoyed the excerpt. This sounds like a very interesting book.


  8. Angela and Lyndee, thanks for your input and your inquiries about the therapeutic riding. I have a daughter who trained to do it, then took a job in Alaska as a drug and alcohol counselor and used those theraputic skills with her clients there and later at a residential facility in Idaho and in Southern California. In Haines, Alaska, in the winter, she had to go twice a day to the stable where her horse was kept and break the ice out of the trough so Princess would have water to drink.

    She firmly believes that if you give a troubled kid an animal to care for many of those problems no longer seem as bad.
    Good luck to you both.
    Oh and I met a lady named Treasure in a Tai Chi class and decided on the spot I would name the character in my new book Treasure. I love the name.


  9. bn100, hi.

    There is so much more to this story than what is in the excerpt. I hope you get a chance to read how Treasure and Buck's lives change.


  10. Alexis, Dawn, and Marie - thanks for bringing us Toni.

    Toni - congrats on your sale! And this sounds like a wonderful book. I fall hard for handyman stories, and Buck appears to be a good man to fall for. I like the double meaning in his name and the connection to Treasure's horses. ;)

    I enjoyed reading the responses about your daughter and her work, too.

    Best of luck to you!

  11. Toni!
    Wonderful excerpt. Exactly the kind of story that warms my heart. Can't wait to read the whole book!

  12. Hi Toni!

    The setting of your story sounds fabulous- perfect for busy people to unwind with.
    Also, Victorian houses are one of my favorite styles so it's great to read about someone living in one.
    What's your favorite between the horses, the home, or the handyman? They all sound great:)