On a cold night in 1877, Laurel Whitman’s father flies into a rage and throws her into the street. His behavior isn’t unusual; he has ridiculed her for years, and Laurel doesn’t understand why. All she knows is that his vitriol has something to do with her grandmother, a woman shrouded in mystery.
Laurel goes on a harrowing journey from her home in Philadelphia to Maryland only to discover that her grandmother is on death’s door. She is welcomed with open arms by her extended family but receives a chilly reception from her grandmother who seems suspicious of Laurel’s arrival.
Over the next few weeks, her grandmother recovers and her distrust begins to thaw as she tells Laurel stories of her abusive first husband, the young immigrant whom she came to love, and the birth of her two illegitimate children.
Laurel learns the secrets of her family’s fractured past, a story of resilience, deception, and forbidden passion that forces Laurel to confront the truths in her own heart. But will unearthing long-buried secrets heal the rift between Laurel and her father, or will the past haunt the present and the future forever?
Maggie Timbrook had a baby at sixteen. Too young and immature to be a wife and mother, her marriage quickly unraveled, and she spent the next fifteen years going from one man to another, searching for Mr. Right to fill the void left by the loss of her first love.
Travis Kane, the father of Maggie’s teenage daughter, works from sunup to sundown to make his auto repair business a success and to take his mind off his loneliness. He has no shortage of women to warm his bed, but none can take the place of his one and only love, a woman he continues to desire . . . and disappoint.
When Travis is hit by a car along a quiet country road, Maggie abandons her wedding day to be by his side. Travis infuriates Maggie. But seeing him injured and so vulnerable brings back old feelings she has tried to forget.
With nowhere else to go, Travis moves in with Maggie to recover after his accident. They do their best to put their differences aside and treat each other kindly for their daughter’s sake. Tender moments and shared apologies open the door to new possibilities. But when disturbing secrets surface about Maggie’s fiancé, she once again questions her choices.
Together, Maggie and Travis open their hearts to discover Whatever Love Means.
Secrets are best left buried in the past, something Darla Heartwood knows better than anyone. She’s hidden the truth for eighteen years until the night of her birthday when she receives a call asking if she gave birth to a baby girl. Suddenly, her perfectly ordered world, successful business, and public persona come unraveled.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to. Jason Byrne found that out the hard way. Left to raise his baby daughter on his own, he’s made a quiet life for them, teaching at the local college and dedicating his time to being a single dad. He had hoped to avoid the promise he’d made to Meghan—to find her biological mother when she turned eighteen—but when his healthy, athletic daughter collapses and doctors aren’t able to determine why, he can’t put it off any longer.
Meeting the daughter she gave up, and the handsome, distinguished man who raised her, Darla decides it’s time she faces her fears. Meghan deserves a strong, brave role model. To earn her respect, Darla must confront the powerful man who left her pregnant at fifteen. She has to do Whatever It Takes to forgive herself, stand up and be heard, and open her heart to love and family.
Liza Fisk is cursed. The holidays often mean disaster for her, including a car accident ten years ago that put her in a coma. She’s learned to forsake the holiday spirit due to continued calamity…but her luck is about to change. The Highland Springs city council is accepting secret bids on the abandoned “castle” her great-grandfather built and Liza is finally going to realize her dream of opening an art gallery. Until her arch nemesis rolls back into town with plans to ruin her Christmas. Again.
This time, Liza is taking preemptive measures and, in a moment of insanity, announces that she and her brother’s best friend, Tucker, are playing the town’s Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
Brewery-owner Tucker Callum knows he’s going to win the castle with his proposal for a proper English pub. He’s so sure, in fact, that he’s already sold his house and moved into a camper behind the brewery. But his buddy Liza is afraid he’ll freeze to death in the West Virginia winter and insists he move into her spare bedroom. She’s made it crystal clear in the past that they could never be more than friends, but now that Tucker’s living in her house and playing the role of her holiday husband, he’s secretly hoping their ruse will turn to reality.
Liza slowly opens her heart to Tucker and the holiday spirit…until she learns that he is bidding against her for the castle and deliberately keeping it a secret. Will Liza be able to trust Tucker in the end or will the Christmas curse strike again?
While fighting for a promotion to senior associate at her Washington, DC, law firm, Kate McNamara receives a call that her grandmother has fallen and broken her leg. She rushes to West Virginia to help Gram, but struggles to adjust to the slow pace and folksy ways of small town life. Despite daily trips to the rehabilitation center, volunteer hours, and even swallowing her pride to be auctioned off during a fundraiser, she’s determined to stay on top of her heavy caseload. But when a sexy mountain man shows up in Gram’s backyard, Kate’s focus on legal briefs becomes harder to maintain.
Brody Fisk, a successful country songwriter, has returned home to Highland Springs for reasons he’s not ready to share. After walking away from his music career, he prefers delivering firewood to little old ladies and serving on the community center board. Though Kate is headed back to her life in DC soon, enticing her to have some fun while she’s in town is a challenge he can’t resist.
As their flirtatious sparring transforms to something deeper, they both have impossible choices to make. Can Brody reveal his painful secrets if Kate is willing to abandon the career she’s always dreamed of?
Annie Cooper is fed up with Washington. More importantly, she’s done with being Senator George Cooper’s daughter and all the expectations that come with it. She changes her name and tries to start fresh after quitting her job, but the only position she can find is in the political world she despises.
Kip Porter is a two-term congressman from a blue collar district along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay whose ambition leads him astray from the core values he—and his constituents—hold dear. He needs Senator Cooper’s backing to get his bill through the Senate and plans to use Annie to do it.
What starts out as a simple game of hidden identity soon becomes complicated. Annie wants to prove her worth on her own terms, but the closer she grows to Kip, the more she needs to come clean. With unexpected romance blossoming between them, will Kip keep his own secrets, or reveal the truth in the name of love?
Riley Smith has something her abusive ex-boyfriend thinks belongs to him. Her. If she doesn’t keep moving, he’ll beat her all the way back to the life she ran away from two years ago. But the picturesque town of Highland Springs, West Virginia, has started to feel like home. She’s gotten a good job. Made a few friends. Ones who don’t know the Riley she once was.
FBI agent Derek Bronson is hunting the man who killed his father in a bank robbery spree, although his week of passion with Riley Smith is sure as hell making it hard to concentrate. Until a convenience store surveillance photo identifies her as an accomplice.
Riley’s only option is to help flush out the men behind the crime, exposing a past she had hoped would Stay Hidden. But the situation is far worse than she ever dreamed. Now she and Derek must fight to stay alive.
Recently fired from a Dallas TV station, reporter Vanessa Barczak’s career languishes in a small West Virginia town until she witnesses an abduction—a child is snatched directly in front of her. She desperately wants to get back to the big time, and this story might be the one to do it. But the crime stirs up past memories she’d hoped were long buried.
Up for a promotion in Chicago, FBI Special Agent Bo Azar needs to solve this case. Vanessa Barczak gets in his way, insinuating herself into the investigation and into his head. After she witnesses a second abduction, he realizes she knows more than she’s letting on. Now he’s forced to depend on her to help catch the kidnapper, but she’s not talking.
Determined to get justice for the young victims, Vanessa and Bo grow closer as they unravel the truth behind the crimes. Through the mountainous terrain and surrounding forests, they stumble onto a scenario neither could’ve imagined, forcing them to open up to emotions they’ve Kept Hidden.
When private investigator, Olivia Trammel, arrives at Mountcrest University, her simple two-day case turns into a bigger investigation. The shiny new buildings, smiling students, and top-notch surveillance system can’t cover up the fact that several female students have gone missing. Something dark and sinister is happening in plain sight.
Special Agent Alex Ritchie is fed up with the bureau and his difficult new boss. When a dead body is found and a fourth female student goes missing, he worries about his little sister, who is a freshman on campus. Focusing on the investigation, he promises himself he’ll keep his sister safe.
Olivia and Alex join forces to delve into the bizarre happenings, digging into a crime that spans from the pristine campus out into the mountainous community. Someone is either abducting these coeds, or coercing them into a life of crime. Alex and Olivia are determined to learn the truth. Throughout the investigation, their attraction grows stronger, though each keeps their emotions Openly Hidden until the sick plot comes unraveled.
Leigh Fleming is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and has published contemporary romance. The Truth of the Matter is her first work of historical women’s fiction.
Leigh lives in West Virginia with her husband and her deaf French bulldog. When not writing, she enjoys reading, travelling, scrapbooking, and spending time with friends.
Contact Leigh at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Martinsburg, West Virginia 25403, United States