Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark Giveaway $25!!!

Stardust Summer
by Lauren Clark



Single mom Grace Mason doesn’t believe in miracles, magic, or love at first sight. She likes the quiet life, complete with her eight-year-old son, their tiny house, and her teaching job. For Grace, happiness means that nothing much ever changes in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Then, one thousand miles away, tragedy strikes. A massive heart attack leaves Grace’s estranged father comatose in an Upstate New York hospital. While a team of doctors fight to keep Henry Mason alive, Grace and Evan rush to his bedside to say their final goodbyes.

Henry’s passing brings little closure for Grace, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her new surroundings. What begins as a short trip results in an entire summer spent with Henry’s second wife, Kathleen, and her next-door neighbor, Ryan Gordon, the town doctor. When a series of unlikely events lead to Evan’s disappearance, Grace must face her worst fears to find her son and bring him back home.

Stardust Summer explores the complexities of forgiveness, what it means to be a family, and the fabulous possibility of falling in love—again.

Excerpt:  CHAPTER 2
 The scream of an ambulance siren pierced the air. Grabbing his white coat and keys, Dr. Ryan Gordon bolted out the door, past his office manager, and waved at his first few patients of the day. "Be right back," he promised.

Ryan cranked his pickup, turned the wheel, and called the ER. The nurse on duty had sketchy details:  Henry Mason had collapsed in the kitchen after his regular morning run. A neighbor, looking to borrow garden tools, found him sprawled on the floor, and called 9-1-1.

Kathleen, Henry's wife, was attending a ladies' breakfast at church. She'd been notified, and was already at the hospital.

At the next intersection, Ryan gripped the wheel, tapping it with his fingers, waiting for the light to change. He needed to be there. Henry was his patient. More than that, Henry was his friend.

Inside the ICU, the attending cardiologist couldn't offer much reasurrence. Despite valiant efforts from the local rescue squad, chest compressions, and two rounds of defibrillation, Henry had suffered a stroke. Moments ago, he'd slipped into a coma.

Through the glass, Ryan saw Kathleen. She rushed to meet two doctors, friends of his, at the door of Henry's room. They took turns, talking in low tones as Kathleen raked her eyes across her husband's motionless body. One physician patted her on the back stiffly. The other squeezed her hand. Ryan watched as they paused, nodded, and exited the small space.

Kathleen, now alone, sank into the seat next to Henry, clasping his arm. Monitors flashed and broke the silence with an occasional beep. The ventilator sighed and hissed.

Ryan waited for Kathleen to turn, look up, and see him, but she sat perfectly still, as if carved from stone.

The sight of Henry's wife, almost trance-like, unnerved Ryan. He'd rather a spouse cried or got angry, even yelled for answers or demanded endless explanations. Then again, no rules defined this sort of situation.

Perhaps Kathleen was praying. Or deep in thought.

There was no reason to interrupt, Ryan told himself. He wasn't family. And, at least for now, Henry's condition seemed stable.

That same afternoon, back in his office, Ryan pressed a button on his cell phone to silence the noise. He scanned the message, his fifth in the last hour.

The answering service connected him with a distressed and tearful mother, at home with her sick infant. She described the baby's symptoms; he had a history of nasty ear infections. Ryan listened closely, took a few notes on a pad on the counter, and asked if she could bring the boy to his office in the next fifteen minutes.
He glanced at the clock. Sure, it was Monday evening and he was leaving soon, but he had time, Ryan explained. He always had another few minutes. Everyone in the community knew that.

Long hours were part of being a doctor. Ryan still had a practice to build, a reputation to maintain, and patients who needed him. Every day, he left the house at dawn for hospital rounds and walked back in the door after dark. He didn’t hesitate to answer questions in the grocery store, at the bait and tackle shop, or on the sidewalk downtown.

 Ryan's dedication wasn't in question, but he'd forgotten one important lesson in the time since medical school graduation. A promise he'd sworn to abide by every day of his life.

Primum non nocere. First, do no harm.

One tenet of the Hippocratic Oath.

True, Ryan did serve, heal, and save lives, but he'd neglected to nurture his own marriage.

Almost two years after his wife left him, Ryan never quite accepted that Lori wasn’t coming back. Additional responsibilities at the hospital, weekend office hours, and taking call for other physicians all allowed Ryan to bury himself deeper in his cocoon of work.

During any downtime, usually on Sundays, he sailed in the mornings with Henry Gordon. Later, he'd swim or bike until it was too dark or too cold. Just keep moving, he told himself. Don’t give yourself time to think.

But today was different.

He thought about Lori. And Henry. Especially his good friend.

His phone rang again. The display showed a familiar number and Ryan answered. A colleague of his, a neurosurgeon, confirmed that Henry had suffered another stroke. His friend had only a few days left. Seventy-two hours, maybe less. A pinprick of time.

In the privacy of his office, Ryan let down his guard to grieve. He detested this part of his job. End of life was never easy, but the senseless, untimely deaths were hardest to take. During his residency, everyone warned against getting attached to patients. They also said he’d get used to the loss of life, but he never did. They were failures. His failures.

It haunted him those first years, especially the children who died in his arms fighting cancer or incurable disease. They were the hardest to take. Now, years later, the feeling was down to a dull ache, but nothing he could fully ignore.

Ryan pulled open his laptop and clicked through several pages, stopping when he reached Henry's information. There, his friend's life was displayed in dizzying quantities of numbers and letters. He scrolled through, looking for the smallest hint of an answer.

Henry's chart revealed years of check-ups recorded, medicines added as he got older, remarks about a winter cold or an occasional bout with the flu. He showed up for appointments on time, took his medicine, exercised, and ate right. He was only fifty-seven. They'd joked about Viagra, but he’d never needed it. Everything was under control. 
What had he missed?

Thirty minutes later, he shut the laptop and closed his eyes. They felt grainy and dry from lack of sleep and stress. He had been working too hard, his nurses told him. Go home. Every day, around seven o’clock, it was the same mantra.

Take a break, schedule a vacation, do something other than come to work. His staff chorused like a hundred-person choir, singing from the same sheet music at the top of their lungs.

Ryan rubbed his head and grabbed his stethoscope, slinging it around his neck. Maybe they were right, but there was no time for rest today. The little boy with the ear infection was coming soon.

And he'd promised himself another stop by the hospital. He had to see Henry one last time.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.

Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association, the Mobile Writers Guild, and a regular contributor to Parents & Kids Magazine's Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition. Check out her website at

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Lauren will be awarding winner's choice of either Dancing Naked in Dixie or Stay Tuned (in .mobi .pdf or .epub) to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop. Also, a $20 gift card to Amazon or (winner's choice) will be awarded to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour and a signed paperback copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie and Swag will be awarded to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour (USA ONLY).
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

My review:
I live in Connecticut and I was happy to read about New York. I also pretty much knew the distance the characters had to travel. I was also intrigued by the mysterious box. I felt like it was Pandora's box. I had no idea what else was going to happen because of its contents. I felt bad for Grace and wanted to help her forgive her father and to move forward rather than living in the past. How much is one person supposed to forgive though? 
Grace left so much behind when she moved. She found herself drawn to her home town. Her son is also learning about his mom's childhood. Grace realizes that she left more then her dad behind in New York. I enjoyed the secondary characters (neighbor and step mom), because they each played a role in Grace forgiving the past. Will she ever forgive herself for missing her father's last days? They never had a chance to reconcile, and that is something that Grace will always know in her heart. I enjoyed the way the author described the northeast, especially the lake. 
This story was definitely a story that made me think about my regrets and how I should never go to bed mad, because you never know what will happen when you wake up. Grace did not expect to heal her heart, however once she started to forgive and open up her heart, she knew it was time to move forward.
I am giving this book a 4/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own. 


  1. I have a great love of book stores myself. Thank you for the excerpt.


    1. Thank you so much Mary! I adore book stores myself! If I had unlimited funds, I'd love to open up my own bookstore and coffee shop :) I'd probably never leave!!!! xx, Lauren

  2. I really enjoyed the excerpt. This sounds like a very sensitive and sweet story with a little mystery thrown in.

    1. Thanks so much, Mom Jane! Grace certainly discovers that she has a sensitive and sweet side after life throws her quite a few curve balls! It takes this journey to New York to break down the walls that she's built up after her mother's death.

      Appreciate you stopping at Deal Sharing Mom's blog! xx, Lauren

  3. Thank you so much for the lovely review of Stardust Summer!

    I enjoyed writing the novel and exploring Grace's family dynamics and watching her grow and open up as a result of the loss of her father. I had fun writing Kathleen's parts, as she continued to surprise me with her own changes as a widow and a stepmother.

    As a fellow North Easterner, I am so glad you enjoyed the description of Keuka Lake .... it's my childhood vacation place, and I love it dearly! We're going back in July!

    xx, Lauren

  4. Another great review. I agree with you about opening those boxes. I've never been faced with something like that but I believe I would hesitate a while...never know what secrets you might expose. This sounds like a deeply touching story. My father died in 1974 at the age of 70 and while I was close to him, I wasn't as close as a daughter should be. I know I didn't tell him I loved him as often as I should have. I assumed, like most young people (I was 30 at the time), that he knew my feelings. He did, but it's always nice to say it too.

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  5. Thanks for sharing! Is there any chance that this will be a series or have spin offs?

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

  6. I'd hide out in a bookstore/coffee shop hybrid myself!


  7. It is sad that she didn't get a chance to say things before he died. I understand how difficult that can be. I look forward to their journey

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

  8. The excerpt with the wife sitting by her comatose husband's bedside...I might find that very tough to read. How awful that is to even think about.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com