Hi everyone. My name is Bren Haddock, and I’m blogging here today for my author, Valerie Comer. I have mixed feelings about my author, truth be told. I guess she felt a bit sorry for me after introducing me as a secondary character in More Than a Tiara, a Christmas story about my friend Marisa Hiller. If, you know, I can call a woman who’s been both a professional model and a pageant winner my friend. Still kinda amazes me.
You see, a few years ago, Marisa quit her modeling job and came back to her mom’s farm near Helena, Montana. They joined a CSA — that’s community supported agriculture, where folks can get a box of organic food delivered to their house every week — as growers. But Marisa has always cared about people less fortunate. Like me.
Marisa invited half a dozen single moms to garden with her. Me an’ my kids, Davy and Lila, were among the lucky ones. Not only did she teach us how to grow food, but how to prepare it. How to freeze and can it. I hafta say, she changed my life.
And then she introduced me to Jesus. For the first time in my life, I knew what real love was. It was so amazing, I can’t even begin to tell you. Through some unforeseen circumstances, which you can read about in More Than a Tiara, I was invited to manage Hiller Farm for the CSA. I tell ya, I’ve been studyin’ and workin’ my brain and fingers to the bone, learning all this new stuff. We moved out to the farm, which was great for my kids, since they didn’t have to share a bedroom anymore like they did in the dinky apartment.
I didn’t think life could get any better for a gal with a tarnished halo. My author (and God, I s’pose) thought differently. But it didn’t start out so great. Not when Marisa and her bulldozy sister-in-law, Kristen, decided I should enter Lila in a pageant for kids.
Hello!!! That is not my world. Want to know how the whole thing started? Here you go.
Don’t you think it would be great fun for both girls?”
Bren Haddock stared at the mother of her daughter’s best friend. “Um, no. I pretty much think you’re crazy.”
“What’s crazy about it?” Kristen O’Brien’s brown eyes lit up with excitement. “It’s not competitive like the Miss Snowflake is for adult women. It’s just for fun.”
Bren spun her pottery mug on the table in Helena’s Fire Tower Coffee Shop and raised her eyebrows. “Have you never heard of Crowns for Kids?”
“Of course I have.” Kristen giggled. “Wasn’t that reality—” she air-quoted the word “—show nuts? There was nothing real about it. And this won’t be anything like it.”
Bren had watched several episodes, aghast at what some people would do for fortune and fame. She shook her head. “I can’t believe you want to put Lila and Charlotte through that. No way.”
“Todd and I will gladly pay Lila’s entrance fee and buy her dress—”
“No. I’m not a charity case.”
Kristen’s eyes softened. “I know that, Bren. I know how hard you’ve worked to get on your feet and make a solid home for your kids all on your own. How hard you work every single day. This is something Todd and I want to do. Call it our Christmas gift to Lila. She’ll have a couple of adorable outfits and some happy memories of a perfect Christmas week spent with her bestest friend in the whole world.” Kristen’s voice mimicked Lila’s.
“I don’t see how it can lead to anything good.” Bren met her friend’s eyes across the wooden table. Around them, the lunch crowd drifted out. “I really don’t. I appreciate that you guys have money and run in different circles than we do, but I don’t want to get dragged into this. I don’t want Lila thinking she can have whatever Charlotte has. She needs to learn to be satisfied with what I can provide, not want what other people have.”
“Being a single mom is hard, Kristen. I didn’t even graduate from high school, thanks to being pregnant with Davy.”
If you think Kristen listened to me, you’d be wrong. Not only that, but then she tried to set me up with her husband’s new hire at his advertising agency. Rob Santoro. Some of you may have heard of the Santoro family from the Urban Farm Fresh Romance series. The Santoros live in the Spokane neighborhood of Bridgeview. Let’s just say Rob is way out of my league and leave it at that, shall we?
Except nothing can stop my author when she gets together with Kristen O’Brien. (You can read the entire first chapter here.)
If you want to read all about it, pick up Other Than a Halo on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks. Here’s what my author says about this story — still seems weird to be referred to in third person, you know?
Even though she’s a new woman in Christ, single mom Bren Haddock was no angel as a teen. Now managing the Hiller Farm for a CSA, life is good until a friend offers to enter her daughter into the Little Miss Snowflake Pageant. Old insecurities flare when she meets the intriguing head of marketing the pageant.
Rob Santoro isn’t so sure about handling the pageant portfolio until he meets Bren. Soon he’s fallen for her and her two kids. When a Thanksgiving adventure goes awry, he’s left wondering how to love a woman who refuses to be loved.
What will it take for Bren to retire her tarnished halo and move into the future God has for her?
Want a chance to win an e-book copy of Other Than a Halo? Comment below before Saturday, November 12, and we’ll pick two winners and let you know Sunday, November 13.