Love has existed since the beginning of time. For Ashlin Thomas, love was an illusion that she desperately wanted to make a reality.
Returning home to Savannah, after her aunt’s death, Ashlin must deal with the harsh realities life has dealt her.
As Ashlin begins sorting through her aunt’s personal effects, she stumbles upon a journal. Not just any journal, but the words of her great great great grandmother, Sophia.
Two love stories intertwine with each other as Ashlin reads the beautiful words, written over a hundred years ago.
The intense connection Ashlin feels with Sophia begins to allow her to find herself. Never thinking love was possible for her, Ashlin now sees it is within her grasp.
But, life is never perfect. Life is never fair.
When faced with the decision that could change Ashlin’s future … will she sacrifice one love for another, or will her predestined heart lead her home?
I SAT ON the bench in Oglethorpe Square and sighed as I listened to mother and Mrs. Warner going on about something. I had learned to clear my mother’s words from my head long ago. If I smiled and nodded my head when prompted, that is all she needed. That, and money.
The Civil War had hit Daddy pretty hard and my mother still wasn’t over our plantation house being burnt to the ground. We now spent all of our time in our Savannah house until Daddy could rebuild a new country home. We normally didn’t come to our house in Savannah unless it was during the social season, which was upon us now.
I had made my debut a year ago at the Christmas Cotillion, aged sixteen. What a grand evening it had been, although it seemed Mother couldn’t marry me off fast enough.
My ears perked up when I heard my mother mentioning me. “If I could ever get Sophia betrothed, we might be able to move on from the horridness of the war.”
I rolled my eyes and began fussing with my black-and-white cotton stripped shirt. The matching jacket and hat were one of my favorite walking outfits, and my younger sister, Annie, said it made me look fancy. Her words, not mine.
“Was it not said that Devlin Covington fancied Sophia?” Mrs. Warner asked as I peeked over at her.
Mother’s smile made me feel ill. “Yes. He fancies Sophia, and the combination of families would be immensely popular.”
I let out a disgusted sigh. Why my family’s fortune and future rested on my shoulders—I had no knowledge. It wasn’t that I didn’t fancy Devlin Covington, I did. He was handsome, rich, and made me laugh. I had a massive infatuation with him a few years back, but I had grown out of it. Especially after sneaking up and seeing him kissing Betsy Manor in the back of the library, where they thought no one would see them. I had to admit though, watching Devlin place his hands on Betsy’s breasts had my lower abdomen pulling with desire and longing for that to be me.
Mrs. Warner let out a titter. “Yes, Emma, it would indeed make a fine match. Your Sophia and Mr. Covington.”
I wanted to run. Run away from all of this.
“Why don’t we go downstairs, get our wine, and I’ll make a fire. Did you bring the journal?”
I followed Gael out of the room as he grabbed my hand. “Yes, but there’s still no way I’m reading to you.”
My face would be ten shades of red if I were to speak the thoughts Sophia had as Daniel made love to her.
Gael’s deep voice resonated deep within me as he spoke. “Grab the journal. I’ll get the wine and food. I’ll meet you in the living room and build a fire.”
“I’m not reading it. There’s no amount of wine, delicious food or tempting kisses that will change my mind.”
He gave me a quick kiss on the lips. “I like that you think my kisses are tempting. I want to read it to you.”
“Really?” Imagining Gael’s deep voice reading to me had the feelings from earlier in his office returning. The attraction was undeniable.
That one word spoken had my heart racing with excitement. I grabbed the journal from my purse on the chair and made my way to the couch in the living room. My thoughts returned to what had happened with Gael upstairs. The fact that he hadn’t slept with me made Gael more endearing. It wasn’t lost on me that Gael had said when we make love to each other. I bit my lip and gave a little giggle.
Within me, happiness bubbled to the surface. We hadn’t defined what we were doing and I was okay with that. I liked that I wasn’t being confined to a box and left to be free while I became my own person again.
After a few minutes, Gael came in with the wine and food on a tray. He handed me my glass.
“Thank you. A girl could get used to this type of treatment.”
He gave me a wink. “Good, it’s only the beginning. Let me start the fire.”
The open-ended innuendos were sexy and left me wanting Gael more. I watched him move with ease as he put the logs in and used newspaper as a starter. Striking a match, he lit the paper before placing it strategically between the logs. There was something about a man who could start a fire versus hitting a button and having instant flames that had me wanting to tackle him on the floor. Down girl. Down.
He looked at me over his shoulder. “You like what you see?”
“I do. The logs are amazing looking. It looks like they were cut at just the right angle.”
His mouth dropped in shock. I had to set my wineglass down as I became tickled at his lost, self-assured expression. The fire caught as he made his way back to me with a predatory gate. “I hoped maybe there was something you liked in the man who was building the fire.”
I shrugged. “He’s all right.”
He sat beside me and drew his finger across my lips, leaving a wake of fire in its path. “He better be more than all right to you.”
“He is.” My voice was barely above a whisper.
Gael kissed me, but kept it sweet. “Good. That’s what I like to hear.” I could feel his breath on my lips.
“I’m ready for my story.”
Gael’s answering grin made my heart skip a beat as he settled in to the couch. He took the journal off my lap.
Grabbing my wineglass, I snuggled into him. My body fit perfectly against his. Peace and contentment settled over me. I glanced into my wineglass and remembered looking into one at Amelia’s wedding. My feelings were the opposite now. There was hope.
“Let’s see if Sophia and Daniel desecrated my upstairs office.”
I shook my head. “Oh geez, I hope she quickly summarizes the deed. I wonder if Sophia ever considered who would read her personal thoughts one day. I’d be mortified.”
Gael laughed as he opened to the journal and removed my metal bookmark. His deep, soothing voice filled the space as he read the thoughts of Sophia.
Kelly Elliott and Kristin Mayer joined forces and created a masterpiece by merging historical with contemporary romance. This story took place in the 1800’s when everything was so eloquent and beautiful. The attire, the way that women and men communicated, and held such respect, its what I love about that time period. The idea, and the execution of said idea, was done with fantastic writing, characters with depth, and elegance. Kristin and Kelly teaming up for this novel was a fantastic idea!! Predestined Hearts is a story you won’t want to miss.