Blackberry Summer (Hope's Crossing Series #1)

Blackberry Summer (Hope's Crossing Series #1)

by RaeAnne Thayne

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Claire Bradford needed a wake-up call.

What she didn't need was a tragic car accident. As a single mom and the owner of a successful bead shop, Claire leads a predictable life in Hope's Crossing, Colorado. So what if she has no time for romance? At least, that's what she tells herself, especially when her best friend's sexy younger brother comes back to town as the new chief of police.

But when the accident forces Claire to slow down and lean on others—especially Riley McKnight—she realizes, for the first time, that things need to change. And not just in her own life. The accident—and the string of robberies committed by teenagers that led up to it—is a wake-up call to the people of Hope's Crossing. The sense of community and togetherness had been lost during those tough years. But with a mysterious "Angel of Hope" working to inspire the town, Riley and Claire will find themselves opening up to love and other possibilities by the end of an extraordinary summer….

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459205338
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 06/01/2011
Series: Hope's Crossing Series , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 3,232
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

Read an Excerpt

"We are each of us angels with one wing. And we can only fly embracing each other."

—Luciano de Crescenzo

Lousy, stupid horoscope.

Claire Bradford stood with one hand on the doorway and the other clutching her coffee go-cup as she stared at the chaotic mess inside her store.

According to the stars—at least according to the horoscope in the Hope Gazette she'd scanned while standing in line at her friend Maura's coffee shop for her morning buzz after dropping the kids off at school—she was supposed to prepare herself for something fun and exciting headed her way today. She had been thinking more along the lines of a few dozen new customers at her bead store or maybe a big commission on one of her more intricate custom pieces.

Discovering that String Fever had been burglarized during the night didn't exactly fit her personal definition of either fun or exciting.

Beads covered the beige berber in a glittery, jumbled disaster as apparently someone had yanked out an entire vast display of tiny clear drawers and dumped their contents all over the floor. Her cash register drawer was open and the small amount of cash she kept on hand to make change was missing. Her office door had been left ajar, too, something she never did, and even from here, she could see a big, dusty, empty spot on her desk where her computer should be.

She could handle the material loss and her computer was automatically backed up off-site several times a day. The mess, on the other hand, would be a nightmare to clean up. Claire gave a tiny whimper and closed her eyes, dreading the hours and days of work ahead of her, re-sorting all those scattered beads into their hundreds of proper compartments. String Fever was hanging by a thread anyway in the uncertain economy. How could she afford the time and energy involved in setting things to rights again?

Chester whined beside her, his basset hound features even more morose than usual. He was uncanny at picking up her emotions. She scratched behind his acres-long ears. "I know, buddy. Sucks, doesn't it?"

She dug in her coat pockets to find where she'd stowed her cell phone so that she could dial 9-1-1. She had only punched in one number before the phone vibrated in her hand and suddenly the nuclear meltdown alert ringtone she had programmed for her mother sounded its death knell through the empty store.

Yeah, not much fun or excitement there, either. Rotten horoscope.

Chester whined again. He hated that ringtone as much as she did. Claire swallowed her groan and despite thirty-six years of better instincts, she hit the talk button to accept the call. Ruth Tatum had trained her daughter well. "Mom, I can't talk right now. Sorry. The store has been robbed. I'll call you back as soon as I can, okay?"

"Robbed? You've got to be kidding!"

"Really, Mom? You think I'd joke about something like this?"

"How would I know?" Ruth went on the defensive, as she did so well. "You've always had a weird sense of humor."

Yeah. That was her. Making up stories about her store being robbed just to go for the cheap laugh. "I'm not joking. The store really has been robbed."

"That's terrible! What did they take?"

"I don't know yet. I just walked in the door and barely had a chance to even react before you called. I need to go so I can call the police, Mom."

"Well, call me as soon as you can and tell me what's going on. Do you need me to come down there?"

Sure, like she needed to stick a couple dozen earring hooks in her eyeballs. "Not right now. Thanks for the offer, though. I'll call you later."

She hung up and quickly dialed the police.

"Hope's Crossing Emergency Dispatch. What is the nature of your emergency?"

She recognized the dispatcher as a neighbor and one of her frequent customers, Donna Mazell, though her voice seemed pitched a little higher than normal.

"Hey, Donna. This is Claire at String Fever. I need to report a crime. I just came in to open my store and discovered an apparent burglary."

"Oh, lordy be. Not another one!"

"Another one?"

"You're the fourth store in town to report a break-in today. We've got ourselves a genuine crime spree! The guys are going crazy trying to stay on top of everything."

Hope's Crossing, Colorado, had a population of only five thousand year-round residents, although those numbers swelled in the wintertime to ten times that with skiers and those who owned vacation homes or condos in the canyon near the vast Silver Strike Ski Resort. Still, Claire knew the town's police force consisted of only eight officers, supplemented by deputies from the county sheriff's department when the need arose.

"Can you spare somebody to send here?"

"Oh, sure. No problem. The new chief is just down the street at Pinecone Property Management, but I think he's wrapping things up there. I'll give him a holler and tell him to head over to the store first chance he has."

"Thanks, Donna."

"Tell me they didn't take those gorgeous Czech crystals you bought for Genevieve Beaumont's wedding gown."

Her stomach took another dive. "Oh, I hope not. It took me two months to import those through Customs. I don't know if I'll have time to get more and finish the design before the wedding."

"Keeping my fingers crossed here. I'll call Riley right now and tell him to head over there when he's done over at the real estate office."

"Thanks, Donna."

"You bet. Give me another call if somebody doesn't show up in the next ten, fifteen minutes or so. And don't touch anything."

"Yeah, I watch television. I know that much. I'll wait outside with Chester until Riley can get here."

"It's freezing, darlin'. You can't wait outside in this weather and neither can that dog. He's not as young as he used to be. The chief won't care if you grab a chair inside and sit down until he can make it, just as long as you keep Chester close so he doesn't go mucking around the crime scene."

Too much restless energy zinged through her for her to sit calmly and wait for the police, so she remained standing in the doorway, horrified all over again that someone would be so malicious. Stealing from her was one thing. They could have the money and her computer, she didn't care about that. But why make such a mess? This blatant vandalism was intended to gouge and wound—causing trouble for trouble's sake, something she had never understood.

Why would someone want to be so hurtful? And why her? She tried hard to be kind to most people she came in contact with. Sure, she had a few disgruntled customers at the store who seemed to think it a crime that she expected to make at least some profit for all the resources of time and energy she poured into String Fever. But she couldn't imagine any of them being so vindictive as to trash her store just for the fun of it.

She forced herself to do a little of the circle breathing her best friend, Alex, was always trying to convince her to practice and shifted her gaze out the wide store windows at Hope's Crossing's Main Street. The morning seemed gray and cheerless, a dreary sort of day.

Even though it was mid-April, spring took its dear sweet time arriving in the Colorado high country.

The weather forecasters were predicting a late snowstorm would be moving in later that evening. The ski resort would appreciate a few more inches for the diehard skiers who opted to spend their spring break hanging on to the last struggling days of winter instead of heading to the beach. By this time of year, she was heartily sick of more snow, but at least a little fresh powder would cover the tired, gray piles out there.

Despite the cold and the promise of a storm, she could see a pretty good Monday morning crowd at the Center of Hope Café across the way. She'd noticed the same story at Dog-Eared Books & Brew.

Of course, none of those shoppers would be heading her direction anytime soon, not with the Closed sign still firmly turned in the doorway.

The thought had barely formed in her mind when the door behind her opened with a musical chime. Claire opened her mouth to explain the store was still closed and then shut it again, her spirits sinking even more.

Her fun and exciting morning only needed this, she thought as she watched her ex-husband's new wife burst through, looking pert and cute and glowing with pregnancy hormones.

"Hi, Claire!" Holly Vestry Bradford chirped, beaming the smile her orthodontist father had worked tirelessly to perfect as she unbuttoned her red wool peacoat and stamped snow off her black UGGs.

Chester grunted and plopped onto his belly, never a big fan of Holly's.

"Um, this really isn't a good time," Claire began.

She wasn't at all in the mood to be sociable right now, especially not to Holly, who seemed to bring out the worst in her, despite her best efforts.

"Oh, my word!" Holly exclaimed. "What happened in here?"

Claire had made a firm policy for the last two years—since Jeff moved out and put an official end to their marriage that had been broken for much longer than that—to be as gracious as she could stand to Holly. "I think we were robbed," she said, without a hint of the sarcastic retort she wanted to make.

"Oh, no! Have you called the police?"

"I just did. They're on the way."

"Oh, Claire. I'm so sorry."

She didn't know which she disliked more: the sense of invasion from the robbery, contemplating the endless work putting the store back in order, or being on the receiving end of Holly Bradford's pity.

"I'm sure everything will be okay. My insurance should cover any losses. But I have to ask you not to touch anything, okay? We can't mess up the crime scene."

"Crime scene. That sounds so scary! Right out of CSI: Miami! Where's Horatio?"

Was she ever this young when she was twenty-five? Claire wondered, then answered her own rhetorical question. No. By then, she'd already been married for over a year, had given birth to Macy and had been working two jobs to put Jeff through medical school.

"I'm sorry things are in such disarray." She tried on a smile and found she still had one or two in reserve.

"Maybe you can come back later today after I've had a chance to start cleaning things up."

"Don't you worry about that. I didn't need anything urgent. I guess Macy probably told you about our crazy shopping trip to Vail, didn't she?"

"She might have mentioned it." Twenty or thirty times. Her twelve-year-old daughter adored her stepmother. Why wouldn't she? Holly was the big sister Macy had always wanted. She was fun and young and hip. Holly had read all the Twilight books and had MySpace, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Claire tried hard not to resent their bond. Macy loved her mother, too, although sometimes she didn't act very much like she did as she tested her wings on her way to adolescence.

"That girl is a shopping maniac!" Holly gushed. "Jeff just cut us loose with his credit cards while he and Owen went snowboarding and Macy helped me buy a whole new maternity wardrobe. When we got back home and I started opening all those bags, I realized what I really need now are some killer accessories to distract people from my big fat belly."

Right. Although she was five months along in her pregnancy, Holly could still probably fit into a size 4 pair of jeans, at least if they were low cut.

"You know you look beautiful, no matter what you're wearing. But new jewelry is always nice." Particularly when it was handcrafted out of the pricey Venetian glass beads Holly liked, the ones that netted String Fever a healthy profit. "I'll be glad to help you with some ideas after the store opens later today, if you don't mind coming back."

"No problem. I've got nothing else on my schedule today."

Oh, that she could say the same. Claire summoned another smile. "I'll try to call you after the police clear the store for me to reopen."

"You're so sweet to me. Thank you so much, Claire."

Before she quite knew what she intended, Holly grabbed her in a hug and Claire had no real choice but to endure it and even hug her back a little before she quickly eased out of the embrace.

She didn't really dislike Holly. The situation was just so awkward, living in the same town with her and Jeff, bumping into each other all the time, sharing concentric circles of friends.

No matter how much Jeff claimed Holly had nothing to do with his unilateral decision to leave the marriage and no matter how much Claire knew she bore equal responsibility for the problems and the distance that had grown between them those last few years, Jeff had started living his little cliche—dating the young, beautiful receptionist in his orthopedic surgery practice— just a few weeks after their divorce was final. He'd married her six months after that and now they were starting their own family.

Whether Claire liked the situation or not, they were all three coparenting the children. When Owen and Macy were with their father, Holly was a major influence in their lives and for the sake of her children, Claire couldn't afford to be bitter or spiteful. Nor could she move away from Hope's Crossing, not when she had a business here and not when Macy and Owen needed their father in their lives more than just on weekends.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Holly asked. "Maybe I should stay with you while the police come. You know, for moral support."

"That's really not necessary," she started to say, but the last word was barely out when the bells on the door chimed out again. She and Holly both turned at the sound and despite everything—especially whatever shred of good sense she had left—the day suddenly seemed far less bleak.

The town's brand-new chief of police stood in the doorway, dark-haired and gorgeous and almost ridiculously male looming over the glittery beads strewn across the floor. He wore jeans and a light blue dress shirt and tie and beneath his unzipped official Hope's Crossing Police Department parka, she saw a badge flash on one hip and a handgun at the other.

The chief took a long look around at the carnage and shook his head slowly. "What am I going to do with you, Claire? I turn my back for fifteen years or so and just look at the trouble you get yourself into."

In spite of everything, she had to laugh. Apparently Riley hadn't lost his uncanny ability to tweak that weird sense of humor her mother had been talking about. He stepped toward her, his arms wide, and without even thinking, she walked into them.

Customer Reviews

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Blackberry Summer 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
songbirdsue More than 1 year ago
It kept me reading. I wanted to find out what would happen in the end and how it would end. I found the struggles each individual character was dealing with thought provoking. The romance took a little long to get going but I did like the way it ended. I would not recommend it for teens because of a steamy scene that goes a bit too far. Most of it however is about surviving under difficult circumstances and learning to gain confidence in who you are. I really like the idea that through service, you are able to heal and come together as a community. It is so true.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed reading books written by RaeAnne Thayne. I feel as if I know the characters and what they are experiencing by her descriptive passages and I am feeling their joys and sorrows along with them. So far, I have read 5 books in this series, no idea if it is only five books or more to follow. The first book, Blackberry Summer is about Claire Bradford, the mother of two, divorced (her ex-husband remarried, expecting another child with his new wife who was his young receptionist in his orthopedic practice still living in town?, her friendships with the women at String Fever (her bead store) and the McKnight family. Growing up, Claire's best friend was Alex McKnight, and through her life Riley McKnight, the little brother tortured and tormented them. Both families had similar childhood issues due to their fathers. Now Riley is back in town as the new sheriff (leaving behind his job as an undercover detective in Oakland. A tragic set of circumstances begin on a snowy night, touching everyone's lives. Claire, her children, and another young friend barely survive a car crash into the reservoir and only due to Riley following the suspects from a burglary, is he in the right place at the right time to save them but what happened to the truck that he was following and who was in the truck? As the questions are answered, Riley's feelings for Claire have grown since his youth and Claire begins to see Riley through "new eyes" but Riley was always a "love 'em and leave 'em" guy. He knows Claire deserves better and tries to reconcile his feelings with his past. As we turn the pages, other members of the McKnight family and the women of "String Fever" take more of a role which leads us to the following books. I wish I had read the books in sequence. The character development and the storyline would have flowed better for me. Unfortunately, I read the fifth book first and read the others as I was able to buy them. I loved the fifth book which fed my desire to find the earlier books. A thoroughly enjoyable read...
TheElizabethP More than 1 year ago
Good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great story of love, family values. 263 pages of goodnrss!
Chelsey Dickerson More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put it good!
Anonymous 15 days ago
i woud recommend readind this book.
l_manning on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm sort of torn over this book. There were parts I loved, and parts I didn't really like much. In fairness, I'm not really a romance fan. I guess I should say I'm not an UST/angst fan. There seemed to be a lot of that in this book. The constant pining made me want to tear my hair out. I just want them to make up their minds and get on with it. That being said, there were some really fantastic parts of this book. I loved the sense of community in this small town. The author did a really great job of making me feel like I was a part of a small-knit group. The women had really great interactions with each other. I also loved the concept of the benefit at the end of the book. It was truly uplifting. The ending seemed a bit abrupt, but I didn't feel that took away from the book overall.If you are looking for angsty romance, you will probably love this book. I could have done without that, but I did enjoy the rest of the book. It will be a great beach read I think. It's pretty light and predictable, but it is still a fun read.Galley provided by publisher for review.
shelleyraec on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a sweet, happy ever after romance is the perfect antidote to a bad day. Blackberry Summer introduces the small town of Hope's Crossing in Colorado. While it's residents are not immune to the pitfalls of contemporary society - the global financial crisis, political machinations, divorce and crime - it is essentially a community, where familiarity with friends and neighbours has a special type of charm. For Claire Bradford, raising her two children while her ex husband starts a new family with his new, much younger wife, Hope's Crossing is home. When her bead store, String Fever, is vandalised, the new chief of police, Riley McKnight arrives to investigate and Claire is horrified by her immediate attraction to her best friend's little brother. Riley has been away for fifteen years and the hellion he once was has grown into a fine man, who realises that his adolescent crush on Claire has never really gone away.Of course there is no smooth road to love for this pair. Claire's self esteem is low as a result of her divorce and she is concerned about the appropriateness of her attraction to a younger man. Riley is struggling to live down his teenage bad boy reputation and the shadow of his father's desertion. A tragedy that directly involves the two brings them closer together but both stagger under the weight of their respective baggage. It's a predictable, though enjoyable, pattern of the expected I don't/ I can't/ I couldn't /I do.Thayne is clearly establishing opportunities within the supporting characters to create future pairings for a series I would compare to Debbie Macombers Cedar Cove series. Blackberry Summer is a contemporary, cozy romance that provided me with a few hours of much needed relaxation. Romance fans are sure to enjoy this introduction to the Hope's Crossing community.
JacobsBeloved on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The community of Hope's Crossing is quaint in its friendliness and familiarity of the different individuals with one another. Though the town operates as the hub of a large resort, it does not lose its charm as a small town. So when the type of crime that is more prone to big cities happens here, it causes its citizens to be less welcoming to its newest inhabitant and chief of police, Riley McKnight. Riley faces an uphill battle both socially and romantically, as he is drawn all over again to the stubbornly independent Claire that was attracted to growing up. The big difference this time is that Claire likes him back! They play the typical game of I can't believe he/she likes me, and do I really like him/ her that is so common in romance novels. In the mean time, Claire dreams up a way to put the town in better spirits, while defending Riley's place there.Claire is easy to like, with her bead store that attracts such colorful characters, and the patience she exhibits in all of her relationships, from the one with her mother to the ones with her ex-husband and his new, pregnant wife. I even like how her injuries drive Riley to constantly offer to help her in any way possible.Riley's honesty is at times comedic, shocking, and even alluring. He has charm to spare, but keeps most of it bottled up because of a difficult past.The book was more entertaining than I have come to expect from the typical Harlequin, but in many ways not very unique from the standard plot line. While I did enjoy reading it, I doubt that I will remember much about the book.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book through the Harlequin We Hear You survey program. Nice. Excellent characters - both the protagonists and the secondary characters feel real. Nice situation, with interesting twists - bad boy makes good, real and reasonable commitment-phobia, on both parts, and external events affecting their relationship in interesting ways. The Angel of Hope and the Giving Hope Day are neat - real good neighbor ideas. The other book by this author that I've read suffered from cardboard characters and unreasonable timing; looks like she figured it out since then. I'll be looking for more by her - especially if there are more set in Hope's Crossing, I like this place and these people.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A story about small town life, and old friends who rediscover each other and a new spark in their relationship. A quiet, gentle romance - but waaaaay too tame for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very sweet story! I loved every minute of it and was sad to see it end! A must read!
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
That ending. Just..that ending. Yeah book you won me over. This took me a while to finish. Maybe because I was liking the book to take my time reading and not wanting to just breeze through it. Or wanted to take a break from it for a bit since I was reading another book at the same time. Or both. Yeah let's go with both. Anyway, been reading a lot more cozies and contemporary romances lately. I think it has to do with the book covers and how it sets the tone of the setting the story takes place in and well, the story sounds good too. And this was quite the first book in a new series I can add to my ever growing series must catch up on list. I liked the setting, the cover and the very flawed two lead characters. Oh and it does have its share of cute and adorable moments and moments where you're just like, will you two just get together already! Anyway, a cute if a little bit of a emotional roller coaster kind of read. Looking forward to the other books in the series. Did I mention I love the cover?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookerGL More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much and just bought book 3.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out fast and continued at a good pace. Enjoyed reading a story where not everyone is perfect and rich.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
"We needed this. A reminder that no matter how difficult our own journey, sometimes the only thing that can ease our path is to stop for a while and gather strength by lifting someone else's burden" (page 342)   BLACKBERRY SUMMER is the first book in the Hope's Crossing series by RaeAnne Thayne.  This light romance fosters a sense of community, friendships, and helping others that raises it above the average romance novel.  This town has a curiously secretive "Angle of Hope" who steps up to meet people's needs just when they feel down.  Anything from paying heating bills, providing a good second hand car, to a get well gift basket appear to show people that someone else does care about them.  Claire is a divorced single mom who runs a beading shop in town.  When she and her kids are injured in a car accident because the police chief is chasing a ring of thieves, she finds that her fierce independence is threatened because she needs help after her injuries.  Riley is the new police chief who has just returned to his hometown.  Riley and Claire grew up together as friends  but now that friendship is growing into something else, but each of their pasts seem to be hindering their new found feelings.  How will the accident and the town's gossip mill affect their blooming romance? I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The characters evoked many emotions and drew me immediately into this story of romance and community. I enjoyed the bead crafting and the atmosphere of small town relationships.  Looking forward to continuing this series to find out about more people's lives in Hope's Crossing, Colorado. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great book. I loved the small town, the homey feel and the great story. This was my first by RaeAnne Thayne, but it won't be my last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My sister and I have both read this series this summer and we love it! It's well written, interesting and the characters really get to you - you care what happens to them and can't wait to start the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good mystery. Enjoyed. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago