She’s fifty-five years-old, and now she’s starting over.
Madeline Harper has been one of the most popular romance authors in the world for decades, but when her marriage falls apart and her agent says her publisher doesn’t want her newest book, everything in her life suddenly shifts in the opposite direction.
Her agent says the only option is to change what she’s writing. In an effort to refill her creative well, Madeline agrees to stay at her agent’s Airbnb in the tiny mountain town of Jubilee, Georgia, until she can find her creativity again.
The question is, what else will Madeline find in this serene town in the Blue Ridge Mountains?
The Jubilee series will warm your heart, make you smile, and give you hope for second chances!
Release date: July 31, 2023
Print pages: 159
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Welcome To Jubilee
She stared down at her half-eaten chicken salad sandwich. “I don’t understand.”
“They don’t want it, Madeline. I’m so sorry.”
Madeline Harper had been one of the world’s most successful and famous romance novelists for the last twenty years. Now, sitting across from her agent and friend of almost as many years, she couldn’t believe her ears.
“They don’t want any of it?”
“No, I’m afraid not. The publisher said small town romance is the big thing these days. Your high society, big city romances just aren’t selling.”
She snorted. “Well, then we’ll find another publisher!”
Laura Kearney had been her agent for over fifteen years, and she knew her facial expressions. This wasn’t a good one. In fact, she’d never seen a look on her face like this.
“I’ve already tried, Madeline. Nobody’s interested.”
It wasn’t like she needed the money desperately. She’d done very well for herself all these years. At only fifty-five years old, she could easily retire and live a nice life off her royalties and savings, but she didn’t want to do that. She didn’t want to sit somewhere and wither away. She had stories to tell, even if nobody wanted to read them.
“How can this be? I’m a household name in the book world.” Maybe her ego was a bit bigger than it needed to be, but it was true. She was known around the world, and now nobody wanted her. They wanted all the younger authors. She’d never felt so washed up in her life.
“You know your last two books didn’t do great. I’m afraid the time has come to just go enjoy your life, Madeline. Most writers would kill for the career you’ve had.”
She stared at Laura like she had two heads. “Excuse me? Had?”
“I don’t want to hurt you, especially after what’s happened in your life recently…”
“You think I’m so weak that I can’t talk about my husband leaving me for my best friend? That was over a year ago. I’ve moved on.”
She hadn’t, honestly. She would never forget that morning. As usual, she had a book signing in another city, so she got up, ate breakfast with her husband of twenty-five years, Jacob, and headed out to her Uber. She only got three miles away before realizing she’d left an entire box of books on the dining room table. The Uber driver - she thought his name was Nate - drove her back to the house. As she ran inside, she didn’t even notice her best friend Angela’s car parked down the street.
She did notice her husband kissing her in their living room.
She’d thought they had a pretty good, although slightly stale, marriage. They had a beautiful home with a pool and a gardener. They’d had nice cars and vacations. Although they’d never had children, she thought they would be together forever.
Until that morning.
She didn’t like thinking back on it, but being an author made everything play out in her head over and over again like a movie. It was just how her brain worked.
She remembered feeling like her feet were stuck to the floor with industrial strength glue as she watched her husband kiss another woman. Her best friend since middle school. The person she trusted the most in the world, aside from her husband.
There was a lot of screaming and yelling and crying, and then it was over. Her marriage. Her friendship. Her ability to trust people.
Her now ex-husband, Jacob, had also been her manager. He’d read her books and put a second set of eyes on them. He’d organized her book signings. He’d answered emails and letters from readers. Her best friend had always cheered her on, reading every book and handling her social media.
And then one day, she was alone. She had Laura, of course, but everything else had fallen to her. Hiring an assistant had turned out to be a fiasco, so she just did it all herself. Trusting another human wasn’t something she was planning to do soon.
“What am I supposed to do now?” she finally asked once she pulled herself out of the memory.
“I don’t know, Madeline. If you don’t want to retire, maybe try writing something else?”
Laura contorted her face into a tight ball. “Small town?”
Madeline let out a loud laugh. “Small town? Are you even serious?”
“So, what, I’m supposed to write about Farmer Bob and his romance with the town librarian?”
“That’s not what a small town is about, Madeline. Maybe you should read a few popular books and see what you think.”
“My books used to be popular books.”
Laura reached across the table and touched her hand. “I know this has to be hard, but sometimes the market changes, and you have to change with it to survive."
“I know nothing about small towns. I grew up right here in Atlanta. The only time I’ve visited small towns is on book tours, and I got out of there as quickly as I could. I like night life and traffic and restaurants on every corner. How can I write about the boring goings-on in a small town?”
“Well, I do have an idea,” she said, barely making eye contact.
Madeline was skeptical. “What kind of idea?”
“My aunt has a rental home in north Georgia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
“Her tenant moved out, and she’s looking to fill it for at least a six-month lease.”
“Again, what does this have to do with me?”
“Why don’t you rent it?”
“Why would I want to do a thing like that? I’d rather bang my head against that brick wall over there.”
“You can research, Madeline. Learn about small town life. Write a brand new series, and pitch it to publishers.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I am serious. It’s the only way I can think of for you to get a new start. You can’t write small town romance without knowing about small towns.”
Madeline pondered the thought for a moment. Was she desperate enough to leave her fancy city life behind for a small mountain town?
“Is it some dilapidated cabin in the backwoods near a moonshine still?”
Laura chuckled. “No. My aunt has a lot of money. This place is beautiful. Look.” She pulled out her phone and clicked on a picture. The log cabin looked quite large and sat on a beautiful lot with a long-range mountain view. It actually didn’t look too bad.
“Would I have neighbors?"
“Just a few. It’s a private road.”
She liked the sound of that. Although she loved her readers, she didn’t want to be approached for autographs all the time. However, the thought of living way back on a private road also gave her the heebie jeebies.
“And cameras. My aunt likes to watch the wildlife while she’s away.”
Laura laughed. “It’s in the mountains, Madeline. There are animals there.”
“Like what?” Now, she was getting a little nervous. She loved dogs and even the occasional cat. Aside from that, she preferred animals kept their distance.
“Deer mostly. Some wild turkeys.”
“Oh, dear Lord. Wild turkeys? Do they bite?”
“Rarely,” Laura said, obviously messing with her.
“What about bears?”
“Occasionally,” she said quickly as Madeline’s eyes widened. “But they don’t like people, and they won’t come around as long as you don’t put bird feeders in your yard. I heard if you get a larger dog, bears won’t come around because of the dog urine in the yard.”
Madeline put her face in her hands. “How has my life come to this?”
Laura rubbed her arm. “This is going to be good for you. I truly believe that. You’ll come out of this as a better version of yourself.”
“Okay, fine. I’ll go, but only because I want to prove to those idiot publishers that Madeline Harper can still write great books and compete with the best of them.”
“Yay! I’m so excited! I’ll text my aunt right now.”
“Wait. What’s the name of my new hometown?”
Laura smiled. “Jubilee."
After a two-hour drive, Madeline finally arrived on the edge of Jubilee. After driving over a terrifying, winding mountain road for a good twenty minutes, she felt like she needed to stand on stable ground. She stopped at what appeared to be the town’s only red light and looked at her GPS. She still had another fifteen minutes before she’d arrive at the house.
The long drive alone had given her way too much time to think. She wasn’t a good relaxer. Other people could sit and meditate. They could be with their thoughts. She wasn’t that kind of person. When she wasn’t writing, she liked to be busy doing something. Listening to the thoughts rolling through her own brain had never led to anything good, in her opinion.
Instead, she liked to listen to her characters’ voices. They were much more entertaining, and she could control them better than her own.
As she drove through the square in the middle of the tiny town of Jubilee, she got her first taste of what life was going to be like there. No skyscrapers. No fancy boutiques. No high end nail salons. Instead, she saw a bookstore, a coffee shop, and the first of many churches.
“This is going to be torture,” she said aloud to no one in particular. After all, she was alone in her car. Heck, she was alone in life, too.
There was a part of her that wanted to turn around immediately and head back to the closest big city. She had even lived in suburbs, but they were large, bustling suburbs with all kinds of big box stores. ...
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...