The Crossroads Cafe — an excerpt

  • Library Journal’s “Best Five Romances of 2006”
  • Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award Winner
  • Independent Publisher Award Winner
  • Finalist for numerous regional awards
  • Reader’s Guide

A beautiful woman, scarred for life.

A tortured man, seeking redemption.

Brought together by fate in a small town high in the majestic Appalachian mountains

Live. Love. Believe.

Beauty is in the lie of the beholder.

Heartbroken and cynical, famed actress Catherine Deen hides from the world after a horrific accident scars her for life.

Secluded in her grandmother’s North Carolina mountain home, Cathryn at first resists the friendship of the local community and the famous biscuits served up by her loyal cousin, Delta, at The Crossroads Café, until a neighbor, former New York architect Thomas Mitternich, reaches out to her.

Thomas lost his wife and son in the World Trade Center. In the years since he’s struggled with alcohol and despair. He thinks nothing and no can make his life worth living again.

Until he meets Cathryn.

Reviews

Source: RomanceJunkies.com
Reviewer: Roberta Austin

This masterful, heartfelt tale is another masterpiece for Ms. Smith to add to her growing body of work. I’ve been a huge fan for a long time and highly recommend this and all the author’s previous novels.

Source: The Romance Readers Connection
Reviewer: Debora Hosey

Brava, Deborah Smith! THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ is magnificent! It’s stunning in its insight into the human heart and soul. You’ll find yourself laughing and weeping, then laughing and weeping again and again. Ms. Smith’s writing and voice are simply superb and make reading THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ a sheer pleasure.

Source: DearReader.com

Somehow I’ve missed reading [Deborah Smith’s] previous novels. Oh, not because I’ve not heard of them or how good they are. In fact, several of them are long time favorite reads of people whose literary opinion I trust. I guess I’ve just been stupid. Or as we say in the South, an idjit. THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ truly shows me what I’ve been missing.

Source: NovelTalk
Reviewer: Lucele Coutts

A must read.

Source: The Best Reviews
Reviewer: Kathy Boswell

Deborah Smith not only touches your heart, she and her stories touch your very soul. She writes of the best Southern Fiction I’ve ever read. I laughed and I cried and then laughed and cried some more. [THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ] is one book that I believe is a must read.

Source: “Fridays with Jackie,” Georgia Public Radio
Reviewer: Jackie K. Cooper

Deborah Smith creates stories that touch your hearts. She has done this with each and every one of the books she has fashioned in her career as an author. Her latest, THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ, is her most touching yet.

Source: The Romance Reader
Reviewer: Susan Scribner

THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ [is] the best romance of 2006. The novel grabs your attention from the opening chapter to the last satisfying sentence. Once you’ve finished, you’ll want to start reading it all over again.” FIVE STARS!!

Source: RT BookClub
Reviewer: Jill M. Smith

TOP PICK!!! There is a haunting and beautiful rhythm to Smith’s storytelling that paints beautiful pictures and characters. Her evocative stories wrap themselves around you emotionally, delivering joy and sorrow. Told from the perspective of both hero and heroine, this novel charts their damaged emotional states and rings amazingly true. Truly a great treasure, Smith’s wisdom and emotional resonance are astounding.

Source: FreshFiction.com
Reviewer: Betty Cox

THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ is a wonderful love story that deserves to be read again and again.

Excerpt

Prologue

Cathryn

Crossroads, North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Mountains

Before the accident, I never had to seduce a man in the dark. I dazzled millions in the brutal glare of kliegs on the red carpets of Hollywood, the flash of cameras at the Oscars,the sunlight on the piazzas of Cannes. Beautiful women don’t fear the glint of lust and judgment in men’s eyes, or the bitter gleam of envy in women’s. Beautiful women welcome even the brightest light. Once upon a time, I had been the most beautiful woman in the world.

Now I needed the night, the darkness, the shadows.

“Put the gun down,” I ordered, as I let my bra and white t-shirt fall to the ground. Behind me, a full, white moon hung in a sky of stars above the summer mountains, silhouetting Thomas and me. Frogs trilled in the forest. Beneath my bare feet, the pasture grass was soft and wet with summer dew, glistening in the moonlight. There were no bright lights in our world, not the pinpoint of a lamp in some distant window, not the wink of a jet high overhead. There might be no other souls in these ancient North Carolina ridges that night. Only Thomas, and me, and the darkness inside us both.

“I’m warning you for the last time, Cathryn,” he said, his voice thick but firm. He wasn’t a man who slurred his words, no matter how drunk he was. “Leave.”

I unzipped my jeans. My hands trembled. I couldn’t stop staring at the World War II pistolhe held so casually, his right arm bent, the gun pointed skyward. Thomas had been a preservation architect; he respected fine craftsmanship, evenwhen choosing a gun with which to kill himself.

Slowly I pushed my jeans down, along with my panties. The scarred skin along my right thigh prickled at the scrape of denim. I angled my right side away from the moon, trying to illuminate only the left half of my body, my face. Half of me was still perfect. But the other half . . .

I stepped out of my crumpled clothes and stood there naked, the moonlight safely behind me. The night breeze was a tongue of embarrassment, licking my scarred flesh. My hand twitched with the urge to cover my face. How badly I wanted to hide the awful parts. Thomas watched me without moving, without speaking, without breathing.

He doesn’t want me, I thought. I said quietly, “Thomas, I know I’m no prize, but would you really rather kill yourself than touch me?”

Not a word, still, not a flicker of reaction. I could barely see his expression in the shadows, and wasn’t sure I wanted to. Theuglies came over me like a cold tide. A festering wave of withdrawal – shyness and anger multiplied times a thousand. Me, who had once preened for the world without a shred of self-doubt.

I turned my back to him, trying not to shiver with defeat. “Just put the gun down. Then I’ll get dressed, and we’ll forget this ever happened.”

I heard quick steps behind me, and before I could turn, his arms went around me from behind. His hands slid over my bare skin. I twisted my head to the pretty side but he bent his lips to the other and roughly kissed the rivulets of ruined flesh

No matter what might happen to us later, I saved his life that night. And, for that one night, at least, he saved mine. Hope is in the mirror we keep inside us,love sees only what it wants to see, and beauty is in the lie of the beholder.

Sometimes, that lie is all you need to survive.

About Deborah Smith

Author, publisher, partner and V.P. of BelleBooks and Bell Bridge Books NYT bestseller A PLACE TO CALL HOME, Wall Street Journal and Kindle bestseller THE CROSSROADS CAFE, also When Venus Fell, Silk and Stone, Charming Grace, and many others.
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