The Sweetness of Honey

Welcome to Hope Springs, Texas, where redemption grows…and where love blooms.

Dark-haired beauty Indiana Keller buys a property in Hope Springs, Texas, for three reasons: to expand her vegetable business, to harvest and sell delicious honey from the property’s established bee colony, and to reunite with her estranged siblings. But her older brother Tennessee keeps his distance, even after Indiana hires his construction crew to fix up her cottage. It’s almost as if he shares her guilt over the disappearance of Dakota, their missing brother…

While Indiana tries to reconnect with Ten and find Dakota, two local men begin vying for her heart. Handsome, laid-back Will Bowman has a checkered past, but now he’s determined to get what he wants out of life…and he wants Indiana. Meanwhile, refined Oliver Gatlin can’t fight his own attraction to Indiana, especially since his brother also fell victim to tragic circumstances. Amid the raw natural beauty of Hope Springs, can Indiana’s heart finally heal enough to love?

“I never would have thought I could enjoy a story of such intensity! I am feeling both tired and deeply satisfied. Everything is finally coming together to a complete happy ending. Thanks for another good story.” — Sally D., Amazon reviewer

“Love all the Hope Springs novels; always hate when they end and can’t wait to get started on the next Alison Kent book! She makes me fall in love with her characters every time. Never disappointed!” — CC., Amazon reviewer

The bees were what had sold her. The bees and Hiram Glass. The lovely octogenarian had tended the hives for years, selling the honey at the same farmers markets where she sold root vegetables, and vine vegetables, and leafy greens—and, the years the weather cooperated, strawberries the size of her fist, but that didn’t happen often.

She would leave untouched the section of the acreage where the busy hives thrived; these days, honeybees faced so many obstacles. Moving them would add unnecessary stress, and there was no need. Their location allowed more than enough room for the expansion of IJK Gardens—though the Hope Springs, Texas, property would be more of an annex; the farm in Buda that served as her bread and butter was forty miles away.

It was a nice bit of separation. The business of earning a living from the pleasure of getting her hands dirty for fun.

The annex would be her baby, her indulgence, the heirloom vegetables she’d grow here her specialty. They would cost more to cultivate, requiring higher prices, but the demand was equally high. Consumers determined to avoid genetically modified foods would pay for quality produce. And pay for the honey from her bees.

Her bees. The words made Indiana Keller smile. Even now, standing across Three Wishes Road from her property, in the driveway of the Caffey-Gatlin Academy, she could hear them. She had to close her eyes, and be very still, and hold her breath, and bow the muscles of her imagination, but the hum was there, a soft busy vibration of work being done.

Work had been her life for years now. Work kept her sane. Work left her no time for a personal life. Work was her savior and most of the time her friend. An easy one to keep. Demanding yet constantly loyal, and in the end, she was the boss. That was the part she liked best. Calling the shots. Taking charge.

Doing so had gotten her through some very dark days. The darkest were gone now, and, vestigial family issues aside, she’d come through relatively unscathed; but she would never forget them, what going through them had cost her, what she’d made of herself, by herself, for herself, because of that cost. And now, with this new venture beckoning her . . .

She hugged herself tightly, shivering in awe that the gorgeously overgrown and scruffy fifteen acres across the street was hers, all hers, and there was absolutely no rush to get done the things she wanted to do. As long as her impatience didn’t get in the way, she could take her time clearing the space for the greenhouses, and making over the cottage to live in, because first on her list was learning everything she needed to about taking care of the bees.

Just as the thought entertained her, a new sort of buzzing set up along her spine. Not one she heard, but felt. An awareness. A sense of impending change. A clear breach of her private communion. What she heard were footsteps crunching the driveway’s gravel, and she flexed her fingers, then rubbed at her palms where her nails had dug deep.

The steps drew closer, and they were firm, heavy, most likely belonging to a man. Possibly Angelo Caffey, whose woodshop sat behind the Caffey-Gatlin Academy. Or a member of her brother Tennessee’s construction crew, who were converting the academy property’s original barn into living quarters for Angelo and Luna, his wife.

But neither was who came to a stop beside her.

“Can I help you with something?” the man asked, smelling earthy, spicy. Privileged.

“No. I’m fine,” she said without looking over. She knew who he was, but doubted he remembered their paths crossing last week.

“Are you a friend of Hiram’s?”

“I am, yes. Why?”

“Because friends of Hiram know he’s not one for trespassing.” He nodded across the street toward Camaro where it hugged the rough ground. “He says it’s bad for the bees. Strangers disturb them.”

No doubt he knew as well as she that Hiram had moved before the property sold. And that the bees deterred most strangers who ventured near. Yet she’d parked in what had been Hiram’s driveway. As bold as she pleased. “And you are?”

“Not a stranger,” he said, that silver-spoon privilege again.

“Then that makes two of us.”

He waited a moment, his weight shifting from one hip to the other. “Does he know you’re here?”

Ah, this one was clever. “Hard for him to know when he moved to Boerne to be near his son.”

He smiled. She felt it in the way he relaxed his stance, in the pull drawing her to face him. It was hard to resist, that pull, because she knew what she would see. But it was so, so easy for the same reason. Looking up at his face gave her a very great and particular sort of enjoyment. He was an incredibly handsome man.

“Have we met?” she asked, as conscious as he that, formally, they hadn’t.

He was shaking his head when he said, “I was about to ask you the same.”