FOREVER YOURS FEATURING AUTHOR JESS HEILEMAN













It was several minutes into the first course that Uncle Stanton leaned toward me. “By whom do I have the privilege of sitting this evening?”

“Miss Blakeslee, sir.” I offered, perplexed how he had forgotten our introduction already. “We met just now in the drawing room.”

“Of course. Miss Blakeslee. Such a pretty sounding girl. And I have heard you are quite exquisite though I wish I could see you for myself.”

It was only then I noticed the cloudiness of his eyes. “Forgive me, sir. I did not realize you—” the words to finish seemed too harsh to speak.

“That I am blind?” He chuckled. “I’m flattered you took so long to realize. Was it my handsome face that made you overlook the defect or the confident way I hold myself?”

I was convinced it was the darkness of the drawing room, but I had no intention of saying so. “I believe it was both, sir.”

He chuckled again and reached a hand toward me. Placing my hand atop his, I gave it a gentle squeeze which he affectionately returned.

After some general small talk around the table, a few failed attempts to entreat Miss Hawkins into conversation, and seeing the focused regard Sir Wycliffe paid to Hannah, I gladly directed my attention to Uncle Stanton. There was something about his openness that endeared him to me immediately.

“And, if you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Stanton—”

“My friends and relations call me Uncle, and, if you find no offense in being placed amongst that group, I must insist you do also.”

“I would be honored, Uncle.”

“And I’m guessing by how you began to phrase your question, you were curious how I lost my eyesight?”

Now that he said it aloud it sounded alarmingly impolite, and I felt relieved he couldn’t witness the color that filled my cheeks. I still needed to learn to not let my curiosity take precedence to propriety. “I—well, I—” I stumbled over my words, endeavoring to think of another question to propose.

“Truly, I don’t mind,” he said, sensing my hesitation. “But I fear there is little to tell. A few years ago, I began having problems with my vision. Things grew dark at the edges and gradually expanded toward the center until all I now have is a general sense of light and dark. I sought the best physician in London, who assured me there was nothing to be done. So, I have resigned myself to enjoying the world through my other senses.”

I smiled. “That is a commendable outlook on such a hardship.”

“As I see it, I only had two choices—to be bitter or to not. I simply chose the more enjoyable of the two. Though I will admit, I often wish I could create a more romantic story surrounding it all. You see, I have a very dull imagination—” he hesitated, “not that I care to mislead anyone, but the truth is hardly worthy of attention.”

“I don’t credit myself with much creativity, but perhaps both our minds together might come to a tale worth sharing—or, in the least, to entertain ourselves?”

“Miss Blakeslee, that is a capital idea!”

“Well then, let us think. The grandest stories are always believable,” I paused, trying to determine an appropriate setting. “You were just telling me of your time in the British Fleet.” He nodded. “It would be fitting, and perfectly romantic, if your tale occurred at sea. Perhaps a heroic rescue?”

One side of his mouth lifted. “I daresay I prefer to play the hero.”

“And nothing is as heroic as rescuing a damsel in distress, do you not agree?”

“I most certainly do.”

I couldn’t resist grinning as a story surfaced in my mind. “I believe it must occur at night, for the mystery of things is always greater at night. You are walking the deck as Captains do, on watch for pirates or smugglers, when you hear the cry of a woman. You follow the sound to the starboard side of the ship and search the water, wondering who could be in such a state of anguish. The water is dark, with only an occasional reflection of light from the moon dancing off the waves. It would be impossible for someone to be out there, but then—” I nearly giggled at the intensity of Uncle Stanton’s concentration.

“Well, what was it I saw?” he asked eagerly.

“A woman, of course.”

“In the sea?”

“In the sea! And the most beautiful woman you have ever laid eyes on. But what was most peculiar was how her cry transformed to a song—an entrancing melody that wrapped around you, pulling you toward her.”

“But she is in the water? How is she rescued?”

“You are a hero, Uncle. You must jump in to save her!” He lifted his eyebrows in surprise, and I covered my mouth stifling a laugh. “Don’t look so startled at the notion, I daresay if it were a real occurrence you wouldn’t hesitate a moment. And our story must be accurate—that is why I came to this conclusion.”

His face beamed with pride. “I’ve always had a propensity for acting brashly around beautiful women.”

“And so, this is no different. And after you jump into the freezing water, as extremes make the account more exciting, you swim to where you expect her to be but find nothing. You search frantically, diving under the water and yelling for her—for now that you have seen her you will save her or die in the attempt. But you grow tired and, just as your strength is exhausted and you begin to sink, you are pulled from the sea.”

“And how should I be saved?”

“A shipmate would be a reasonable rescuer. Possibly a fellow watchman or someone who heard your distress as you searched?” I received a reassuring nod. “When they got you on deck, although you had taken in much water, your only concern was for the woman. ‘Woman?’ they’d say, ‘There was no woman in the water.’ Had they not heard the cry or the mesmerizing song? Were they not lucky enough to behold the enchanting face? They’d surely blame it on your longing imagination—though we know how dull it is—or likely a bad meal. And I fear she would forever be a mystery to you, plaguing your very existence— the image of this siren etched in your mind and her song on your heart. And your eyes would ultimately grow dim because nothing in this world could compare with the splendor you once beheld.”

A satisfied smile lit his face and my own expression soon mirrored his.

“You have given me quite a story, Miss Blakeslee; yet I am certain I shall never tell it as well. I’d ask you to transcribe it, so I might memorize it,” he chuckled, “but that would do little good as I’m no longer able to read.”

His laugh was contagious, and I easily joined him. Glancing around to make sure no one had observed my casual behavior, my eyes locked with Mr. Edwin Stanton. His stern look took the smile from my lips and drove my gaze to my plate.

“What is it, Miss Blakeslee?” Uncle Stanton asked gently.

I marveled at his discernment, most people with perfect eyesight would fail to perceive what he did. “I believe I have offended your great nephew with my behavior.”

“And how did you come to that conclusion?”

“The intensity of his stare—as though he is condemning me from across the table.”

“Many emotions can cause intensity, Miss Blakeslee. But, if he is displeased, let me ease your mind—you can hardly be the cause. These last few years he has had no difficulty finding things to aggravate him. Perhaps it is his way of being hospitable—ensuring he treats us all equally.”

“Perhaps,” I said, taking comfort in the idea his ill temper hadn’t began with my arrival. Looking back toward the other side of the table our eyes met again, but this time he redirected his attention to the smiling face of Helena.







Ooh, I really enjoyed this story! It definitely had a Pride and Prejudice sort of feel for me with the brooding hero, the passionate and intelligent heroine and plenty of misunderstand and judgments on both sides. Abigail is so easy to love. Honestly, she is kind, compassionate and freely herself even when it goes against what is “proper”. She is a defender of people and exceptionally loyal. See? What’s not to love? ~Aimee brown

I bought this book last night and then ended up staying up way to late to finish it! But I was enjoying it so much I couldn’t put it down! It reminded me of Edenbrooke in style and that I loved the heroine, Abigail, and her desire to stand up for good causes despite society pressures- she had so much goodness! I loved her story and how it all connected. ~ Crystal

This is Jess Heileman’s first novel, and I am excited for her to write more! Edwin and Abigail were easy to love and cheer for, and there was a host of secondary characters who were also fun to get to know! ~ Alisa

Abigail sucked me in from the first page and I had a hard time putting it down. A sweet Regency romance with all the back and forth love vs duty inherent in this type of book- which helps make them one of my favorite! The characters are well developed and believable. ~ Cheryl-Lynn







Author Jess Heileman

In kindergarten, Jess won a first prize ribbon for her original creation Pigs in Wigs. It was a solid storyline: there was this pig that wore a wig–and it rhymed. Not impressed? Neither were her children when shown the very masterpiece that influenced her to become an author. “You won a ribbon for that?” Yes. Yes, she did.

Thankfully, life has since exposed her to a thorough education with its share of awards and accolades–and, more importantly, to the trials and human experiences that form the heart of a storyteller and the substance of great stories.

Besides her love of writing, Jess is an avid reader, shameless people observer, international café loiterer, and partially retired photographer. She loves being a mother to five amazing humans and a wife to the greatest man she knows.









Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in PayPal Cash

Ends 2/27/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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ABIGAIL by JESS HEILEMAN RELEASE DAY $50 GIVEAWAY



Abigail by Jess Heileman

“A beautiful coming-of-age story with just enough romantic tension to keep you reading late into the night.”

Since the death of her mother, Abigail Blakeslee has lost all desire to become a debutante and enter Society. But now, foregoing her first Season has brought an unwanted invitation to join her aunt and cousins for a summer at Timpton House, the large estate of the Stanton family.

Reluctantly accepting, Abigail is thrust into the vexing world of social propriety and matchmaking she had hoped to avoid. More vexing still is her cousin’s suitor, the young Timpton heir—Edwin Stanton. Moody and distant at times, remarkably endearing at others, Edwin seems a puzzle she can never solve, but can never quite put away. Bet then, Abigail has her own secret to hide—her own mystery to conceal. Perhaps such puzzles are better left unsolved, or perhaps love can find a solution.



Excerpt:

The library was filled with books, and it reminded me of the one at Easton Manor with overstuffed shelves, large windows, and numerous seats for reading. I grabbed a thin book off a nearby shelf and held it in my hand. I traced my finger over the title, The Tempest. It had been sometime since I’d picked up a book. Mother taught me to read and had given me the joy of new worlds and unforgettable stories. I’d spent countless afternoons tucked in a chair in our library, unable to stop reading; but when Mother died, I found little delight in anything, including the things she’d taught me to love.

“Have you read it?” Edwin asked peering over my shoulder.

“Of course!” I answered placing it back on the shelf.

“And I presume you enjoyed it?”

“Very much. I admit I am easily satisfied by a happy ending.” I kept my eyes searching the books, having little desire to receive the look of censure awaiting me. “The Shakespeare writings I enjoy most are those that end well—Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew—the ones where love is victorious.”

“A common ideal among ladies, I believe, and the reason his comedies are so popular.”

I turned towards him, “Life has enough of tragedy and grief, is there something wrong with finding satisfaction in love and happy endings?”

“There is,” he said. “The harm is believing in something that isn’t real, Miss Blakeslee.” He stepped closer, and my feet faltered. “Love only brings misery. To think otherwise is foolish. You just declared life is full of tragedy—”

“And that is why love is needed!”

“And that is what love causes!”

Neither of us moved and I could feel his warm breath on me. It was only then I realized how close we stood, my neck craning to look up at him, but I had no desire to move away.

“You do not understand love then,” I whispered.

The resentment in his gaze caught me by surprise. “And you do?”

“Yes! Love has saved me.” His eyes searched mine, “The love I know has the power to lift and to heal, to see past weakness and turn it to strength.”

“Love is fickle and will fail you.”

“Never.” I said shaking my head as tears stung my vision. “I do not know what counterfeit you describe but the love I have found is faithful and unconditional.”

He said nothing and after a moment his eyes drifted from mine in contemplation. After taking a deep breath he looked down at me again. He wore the stern expression I knew so well and took a step backward. “I hope you are correct in your judgment,” he said with a brisk nod. “Thank you for telling me.”

As he turned from me I wanted to call out to him, but I was too confused to contrive a response. I followed him to the study in a daze. Edwin positioned himself near the desk with his eyes cast to the floor as Diana glanced between us bewildered.

“How is it you’ve found something to quarrel about already? You were in there less than five minutes! Perhaps I should take on the role of mediator instead of chaperon for the two of you.”

Neither Edwin nor I smiled.

“This will not do! What was the disagreement this time?”

“There was not a disagreement,” Edwin said. “Well, at least that is not what caused the discontent.”

Curious what the cause had been I glanced in his direction, anxious for him to finish. A knock interrupted his revelation.

Diana shot to her feet and reached out her arm towards me, “We will go out the library.”

Edwin blocked our retreat, “You are fine to leave out the study door.” He shifted his gaze at the repeated knock, “Come in!”

The butler opened the door, his eyes gliding over Diana and me, “The Slytons are here to see you, Mr. Stanton.”

“Show them in.”

The Slytons? I was familiar with the name, but surely they were not the same as I had known. My heart picked up pace regardless of what I told myself. The door opened again and a tall, wiry lady and a shorter, burly man stepped through the door. They were older and somehow uglier, but it was them. My knees nearly gave out, and I tightened my hold on Diana’s arm for support.

“Mr. and Mrs. Slyton, I am pleased you finally agreed to make the trip to Timpton. This is my sister, Mrs. Ellis, and our friend, Miss Abigail Blakeslee.”

Mrs. Slyton nodded in our direction but abruptly turned her attention back to Edwin. “With such a gracious offer, how could we resist?” Her scratchy voice brought a slew of memories that made my body tremble.

I cautiously turned to find Mr. Slyton inspecting me through squinted eyes. Did he recognize me? I hadn’t seen him since I was a little girl, and I hoped the years had done their job adequately enough to disguise me. I lifted my chin, attempting to appear unaffected by his presence and was relieved when Mr. Slyton turned towards Diana, appraising her with the same disgusting grimace he’d given me. I looked to Edwin and found him returning my gaze, a peculiar expression on his features.

Edwin moved to my side and placed a firm hand around my waist, guiding me to the door. My ears were ringing, and I was confident he said something to me, but I couldn’t be sure. As we walked from the study, his touch retracted, and Diana took his place directing me back down the corridor.

I was uncertain where I was being led and soon found myself seated in a distantly familiar room. “Bring refreshment at once!” Diana’s voice echoed through my mind. My head was spinning, and I rested it against the chair as my vision faded into blackness.





Praise for Abigail:

This outstanding novel was intelligent, fun, and romantic. I read it twice and had as much fun reading it the second time as I did the first time, if not more. The author is not only creative in developing a believable story line, but the character development kept me engaged and entertained. This was probably one of my favorite romance novels of all time; it lacked nothing. The romantic tensions kept me wondering how conflicts would resolve—creative and unpredictable twists abound. It plays out like a great movie in my mind. More from this author would be a super gift to us all; keep it coming!! – Emily, ID

I loved reading Abigail! The writing was witty and descriptive, providing a beautiful, vivid, and deep world to visit in my mind as I read. The characters were real and relatable, causing me to suffer or swoon as occasion permitted. A perfectly clean, charming yet profound, wonderful novel! – Kim, AZ

Abigail is one of those stories that sweeps you into another world and won’t let you put it down. It’s a beautiful unlikely love story that you’ve never heard before. The storyline is enchanting, and you will easily see part of yourself in Abigail’s character as she explores the world beyond the walls of her precious Easton Manor. – Wendy, NV

Most definitely a book that keeps you reading, even past your bedtime. Helps you forget about all your responsibilities in life until the last word, on the last page. – Larissa, UT

This book took me by surprise. It hooked me at the prologue. Abigail had me laughing out loud, tearing up and blushing. It was my “show” that I couldn’t wait to get back to. It was a clever, easy read that had me guessing: what could possibly happen next? A perfect escape! Time for a sequel! – Julie, CA

I enjoyed Abigail so much. The characters were developed in such a way that you felt like you were there with them, like you knew them. Surprising plot twists, charming characters and a well thought out storyline made this book one that I didn’t want to put down. I highly recommend Abigail! – Jamie, AZ

I loved Abigail! I couldn’t put it down and read into the night. Great plot and character development. I hope there’s more books to come! – Carrie, AZ

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and the relationships built throughout the book. It was full of surprises that will make you laugh and cry all at once. I never saw the end coming. It is a book that I will read over and over again. – Monika, IA

Abigail is an enchanting look into a historical time period full of tradition and social propriety. As Abigail struggles to fit into that society, she stands out for her willingness to be herself. I was quickly drawn into the story and a desire to follow Abigail through her adventure built quickly. The story does not disappoint. The visual images of places and events created in my mind were amazing. It was so engaging I couldn’t stop reading. – Kim, ID



Author Jess Heileman

In kindergarten, Jess won a first prize ribbon for her original creation Pigs in Wigs. It was a solid storyline: there was this pig that wore a wig–and it rhymed. Not impressed? Neither were her children when shown the very masterpiece that influenced her to become an author. “You won a ribbon for that?” Yes. Yes, she did.

Thankfully, life has since exposed her to a thorough education with its share of awards and accolades–and, more importantly, to the trials and human experiences that form the heart of a storyteller and the substance of great stories.

Besides her love of writing, Jess is an avid reader, shameless people observer, international café loiterer, and partially retired photographer. She loves being a mother to five amazing humans and a wife to the greatest man she knows.

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Giveaway Details
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 2/15/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway