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Jun 18, 2015 MET Books

The View from Prince Street

The View from Prince Street

The author of The Union Street Bakery and At the Corner of King Street returns to Alexandria,Virginia with a heartfelt tale of reconnection.

Now on Sale!

Rae McDonald was fifteen when a car accident took her sister’s life and threw her own into reckless turmoil. When she got pregnant a year later, she found a loving couple to adopt the child. Since then, she’s buried her grief and guilt under a heart of stone.

Lisa Smyth survived the fateful crash, but never told the truth about what happened. And when a family obligation draws her back to Alexandria, the weight of Lisa’s guilt grows heavier by the day.

As both women confront a past refusing to be forgotten, long-buried artifacts are discovered by the Shire Architectural Salvage Company that point to a shared history between families. Now, Rae and Lisa must finally ask themselves if denying the past is worth sacrificing the future.

 

 

Excerpt

An Excerpt from Mary Ellen Taylor’s THE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET

Jennifer’s resting place was at the back of the McDonald section, tucked next to her parents’ graves. Bright yellow sunflowers rose out from a brass urn, their blossoms reaching toward the heavens like outstretched arms. Not a leaf or twig marred the neat grass of the three graves. I knelt. As Charlie stood beside me, I traced her name with my fingertips. Jennifer Patience McDonald. Patience. I was always puzzled by her middle name. Such an odd name for a girl who had so very little of it. My gaze fixated on the day of Jennifer’s birth—August seventeenth. And then to the day of her death—June fifteen. Just shy of eighteen years old. It should be me lying here. A life of laughter and potential was forever reduced to two sets of dates that spanned way too little time. The pale gray granite stone designed to memorialize her life forever seemed lacking. It didn’t mention she had auburn hair, her contagious laugh or her mastery of the guitar. No mention of her singing; her love of her cat, Sparky; her crush on Jerry Trice. None of that was memorialized. It pained me to know that whoever visited her would never know those details. The stone ignored all that. I rose and sat on a small gray bench set up in front of her marker and tried to tamp down my guilt. Charlie settled at my feet. “It’s been a while, Jennifer. I’m sorry for that. But I’ve kind of been on the run. Not from the law or anything. That might actually be a little romantic and fun. I’ve been running from you and this moment.” AA had honed my ability to be honest. “I could sit here and tell you that I meant to visit. I could say life kept getting in the way, but that would be crap and you’d know it. You deserve better.” A wind whispered through the trees and reminded me of her faint laughter. “Frankly, Jennifer, you and Rae are the last on my list of atonements. I’ve made peace with all the people I hurt in the early years of my drinking. I wasn’t able to talk to Mom before she passed, but I’m sure she was glad to miss it. Even if she’d been alive, the conversation would have been one way. It was always lopsided with Mom.” “I’d like to have seen that. You talking and your mother trying to change the subject to anything but the ugly truth.” Jennifer’s laughter rattled in my head as it did when she would toss me a sideways glare and raise a bottle of diet soda to her mouth. “Truth is Mommy Smyth’s kryptonite.” The corner of my mouth ticked up. “Yeah, I know she was glad she checked out of this world before my honesty atonement tour.” An unexpected chuckle bubbled in my throat. A cold breeze blew between the stones, and as I looked up, I imagined Jennifer. Her thick hair pulled into a ponytail, hands hitched on hips. I rose slowly. Rational thought dictated that I should be scared. Sane people don’t see dead people. Amelia said she saw Jennifer, but she was in a nursing home with dementia. But the sight of Jennifer was oddly welcoming. Charlie barked at nothing as he wagged his tail. “So, you said sorry to her and everyone else. Why did it take you so long to get to me? I’m your very best friend.” Jennifer lowered her hands from her hips, and she held my gaze. She did that when she was pissed. “Because they were easy.” I leaned forward. “You were always the tough one. Always the one I failed most.” I tugged off my sunglasses and caught my stricken expression in the lenses. “There was a time you could tell me anything. Why are you having so much trouble talking to me now? We were as close as sisters.” I lifted my eyes to the grave marker and dropped my voice to a faint whisper. “Because . . . I killed you.” Closing my eyes, I listened for her voice but found only a heavy silence. The rustle of feet on grass snapped my attention back. Charlie wagged his tail as I turned to see Rae McDonald standing, her arms loaded with a fresh display of yellow sunflowers. She wore a simple white blouse, a black pencil skirt, and very sensible black heels. Her auburn hair was secured back in a round bun at the base of her neck and showcased round pearl earrings dotting her earlobes and the strand of June Cleaver pearls encircling her neck. I was aware that I’d come here not only empty handed but dressed far too casually for such an emotional meeting. Couldn’t I have dug out a damn skirt? “Rae?” Rae stood as still as a statue, her chest barely rising and falling with each breath. “Lisa. It’s been a long time.” Her expression softened a little as she studied the dog. “Charlie. I heard you had him. He looks good.” Her cool voice transported me back to the days Jennifer and I would sit in the McDonalds’ kitchen and her mother talked to us about college and the future. “Wow,” I said. “You look so much like your mother. For a second I thought I was staring at her.” Rae didn’t smile, nor did she reach out to welcome me with a hug. Time and life had changed her. Two years younger, Rae was an impetuous kid sister who had always wanted to tag along. That last time Jennifer and I went out, Rae begged to tag along, but Jennifer said no. We left a crying Rae, yelling that she would tell her mom where we’d gone. She never told, but I now wished to hell she had. “I didn’t realize you were still in Alexandria,” Rae said. “I thought you’d be gone by now. You don’t stay anywhere long.” Her honest directness sounded harsh. “No. I’ve not been good about establishing roots.” “Has your aunt Amelia taken a bad turn?” “She’s in and out of it,” I said. “Some days better than others. She did say Diane McDonald came to see her last week. I thought she must have been out of it, but that was you, wasn’t it?” “I check in on her from time to time. She often confuses me with Mother.” “That’s nice of you to visit.” “She and Mother were friends.” “Still, that’s nice of you.” Rae cleared her throat and, shifting the sunflowers in her arms, moved toward the urn. Carefully, she removed the old flowers, holding the stems over the ground until the old water dripped free before gently laying them on the grass. With tender care, she unwrapped the new flowers and meticulously arranged each in the vase. My emotions burned hot in my chest, like a boiler in an old steam engine. When would I reach critical mass and blow up? I shifted from foot to foot, suddenly cold and restless. However, Rae was steady, taking an extra moment to adjust a blossom before she slowly rose. She looked as cool as a mountain lake in the morning. Annoyed by her composure, I said, “The old flowers don’t look that old,” I said. “Seems a waste to get rid of them.” “I’m not fond of wilted flowers.” “They aren’t wilted.” “They will be soon.” She gathered up the old blossoms. She touched the browned tips of a petal. So perfect . . . like her mother. “I read about you in the paper.” “And?” “And nothing. I keep forgetting that you’re Dr. McDonald now. PhD is a big deal.” She tugged a plastic bag from her purse and prepared to dump in the old flowers. “Are you throwing them away?” I asked. “Yes.” “They have a day or two left.” I stepped toward her. “If you don’t mind, I’ll take them. They’re pretty.” Already, I knew I would carry them back to the Prince Street kitchen, arrange them in one of Amelia’s pots, and photograph them. Fresh-cut flowers were a symbol of life. And like us, their life spans were so fleeting. A photograph would extend their life for decades, if not forever. Rae handed the flowers to me in a neat bundle. “They’re all yours.” The stems were slick and damp. “Thanks.” She brushed her palms against each other, knocking free what little dirt clung to her pale skin. “I never expected to see you here today.” “I owed Jennifer a visit.” “Have you been here since the first anniversary?”

 

We both showed up at the grave that day, too surprised and hurting to really speak to each other. “No. I’ve been traveling.” A neatly plucked arched brow said more than words. “Ah, traveling. How nice.” Polite and controlled words didn’t hide the underlying accusation. She was calling me a coward. Which, of course, I was, each time I avoided Jennifer’s death or thought about escaping to the land of drunk and numb. But it was far easier to hold tight to long-festering guilt than to actually deal with the pain we shared. Suddenly annoyed, I wanted to shatter the ice and jab at her heart to see if it really had turned to stone. “Are all the McDonalds buried in this plot?” “All?” She understood immediately what I was deflecting. “I’m not sure all are here, but there are twenty-three McDonalds in this plot.” “I saw a stone for Jeffrey McDonald. Your grandmother’s first husband?” Genuine curiosity darkened Rae’s blue eyes. “Yes. Why do you ask about him?” I turned back toward the stones. “He was married.”

“That’s right. He died young. In World War II.” “Whatever happened to his wife?” “I have no idea. Why are we having this conversation?” “I saw Amelia yesterday and she was having a good day. Her mind was clear and sharp.” Rae moistened her lips. “Glad to hear it.” The lack of inflection telegraphed indifference, but I knew where to jab and make her hurt.“She told me a very interesting story about herself. Did you know she was adopted?” Her eyes widened a fraction. “I did not. But I’m not very familiar with your family.” “Don’t do this. She really doesn’t need this today.” Ignoring the warnings, I pressed. “She gave me a baby book that her birth mother and father created for her. Her birth mother and father were married and they raised her for the first year of her life.” Rae remained silent while watching me closely. Spurred on by the sense I’d struck a nerve, I kept pushing. “According to Amelia, her birth father died in World War II and then her birth mother struggled to care for her. After about a year of trying, she signed over full custody to the Smyths.” A shade of pink faded from her cheeks. “Amelia gets very confused. She always calls me by my mother’s name.” “She has moments of pure clarity. Yesterday was one of them.” “I can’t help you with this.” “No one in your family ever mentioned that Jeffrey had a child?” “No. Never. Why are you bringing it up?” “It bothers Amelia that her birth mother remarried, had another child, and never sent for her first daughter. I’ve never seen Amelia look so hurt.” Rae’s chin raised a small fraction. “I’m sure her birth mother had her reasons.” “Are there any reasons that justify a mother turning her own child away? I mean, I get giving up a child to protect it, but never to acknowledge it in the future? Seems cruel.” Rae fingered the pearls. Swallowed. “I can’t help you, Lisa. I came to pay my respects to Jennifer and now I must go. I have a client meeting me at my office in thirty minutes.” She turned to leave. Sadness and guilt collided, sending shards cutting into every corner of my body.“How can you turn off all those emotions?” I asked. “What do you do that makes you so impervious to pain and suffering?” Rae stopped walking. Tears welled in my eyes and spilled. “Pain slides off you, Rae.” She did not face me. I shook my head. “How do you do it? How do you not feel anything?” She turned, cocking her head slightly as if she considered a complicated problem. “What would that accomplish? It won’t bring Jennifer back. It won’t undo what Amelia’s birth mother or I did.” I didn’t need a translator. She referred to the baby she’d given up a little over a year after Jennifer’s death. Smart Rae with the bright future rebelled after Jennifer died. She drank, snuck out of her mother’s house, and found a boy more than happy to oblige her. Few knew about the baby. She’d kept her secret well. I found out right here in this very spot, because we had both returned to the grave on the first anniversary of the accident. She was sitting on the little stone bench, her very full belly pear-shaped, crying, confessing to her older sister about the baby she feared no one would want. When I approached, she fell into my arms and sobbed. She told me she’d snuck back into town to visit Jennifer. I asked her about her plans and she told me her mother chose adoptive parents to raise her baby. She didn’t want to give up the child but her mother refused to help. She left me that day, still sobbing. I never heard another word from her until this very moment. Tears welled in my throat as I remembered that teenage girl, who must still be inside this cold and aloof woman. “You’re such a bitch, Lisa. Why’d you dig into Rae about the baby?” I wiped a tear away from my cheek. “Rae, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have churned all this up.” A cool, wet breeze blew between us. “It was a fair line of questioning and I would do anything for Amelia, but I can’t tell you about her mother. Amelia never uttered a word to me about this.” “You sound so calm.” “I am calm.” Shaking my head, I raked my fingers through my hair. “I wish I could be more like you. I wish I could shut off the emotion and not feel.” Rae was silent for a long moment. “Be careful what you wish for, Lisa. Be very careful. Because you might discover being like me is a harder road to travel.” Rae turned and slowly walked away, her heels clicking on the concrete, leaving me to watch her move to a sleek, black BMW. “Lisa Smyth . . . super bitch.” “No argument from me.”

 

 

 

© 2015 Mary Burton

Reviews

“Taylor’s complex tale spans three families over two centuries and includes a dose of ancient magic, but the story remains grounded in fascinating history and emotional turmoil that is intense yet subtle. An intelligent, heartwarming exploration of the powers of forgiveness, compassion, and new beginnings.” Kirkus Reviews

“Southern historical fiction at its finest . . . each page is so detailed that I feel like I am back, walking the streets and visiting my favorite landmarks of this wonderful historic city by the Potomac River . . . Ms. Taylor amazed me in the accuracy of her settings and historical knowledge . . . she delivers a bold life lesson, which has the emotional blanket of forgiveness, moving on, with second chances, love and hope. If you like southern historical fiction, you should definitely check this out.”

The Free Lance-Star

“The second book in Taylor’s Alexandria series completes the story started in the first novel, and everything wraps up beautifully. Continuing characters from The Union Street Bakery series provide richer depth to the narrative. Themes of family, letting go of the past and owning up to mistakes breathe life and emotion into the tale.”

RT Book Reviews

“A great story about family and how it is important to deal with those hard things that may be holding you back!”

A Bookish Affair

“Thrilling . . . A very different, mysterious new story from this talented writer . . . a great read!” Crystal Book Reviews and The Best Reviews

“A complex multi-generational mystery . . . rich in history and charmwith three families crossing two centuries . . . Ultimately, an emotional heartwarming novel . . . As always you can count on Mary Ellen Taylor to deliver a bold life lesson, a strong takeaway message, and some savory recipes . . . An excellent choice for book clubs.”

JDC Must Read Books

“There is a wonderful mystery that is linked with the past which absolutely delighted me, and I loved the history that was shared along the way. It was a true treat.”

Chick Lit Plus

“Mary Ellen Taylor successfully incorporates that history and nostalgia into these books . . . very genuine characters with flaws and quirks that make them very believable . . . There’s a lot of substance to these stories . . . [Taylor] writes about these sensitive subjects with the perfect amount of finesse . . . I look forward to finding out what direction she will go in with the next book and I will definitely keep reading.”

Southern Girl Reads

“Maybe the best so far! . . . This series just keeps getting better and better. I love how it stays in the Old Town Alexandria neighborhood . . .I also love that the characters from the past books don’t disappear, but are still nicely embedded in the story . . . absolutely loved it and want a sequel.” Kritter’s Rambling

 

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Apr 13, 2015 MET Books

At The Corner of King Street

At The Corner of King Street

Mary Ellen Taylor presents a new novel about a woman searching for a fresh start—while unable to forget the past…

Adele “Addie” Morgan grew up in a house filled with pain and loss. Determined to live life on her own terms, Addie moves to the country and finds a job at a vineyard where she discovers stability, happiness, and—best of all—love with the kind owner, Scott.

But an unexpected call abruptly pulls Addie out of her new and improved life. Her sister has just given birth and Addie’s Aunt Grace wants her to return home to help the family—even if it means confronting things she’s tried so hard to forget.

When Addie arrives, she quickly realizes that she hasn’t truly let go of her former life, at least not completely. After making a surprising connection with her sister’s baby—and her sister’s ex-husband, Zeb—Addie must choose between her picture-perfect future with Scott and the family roots she thought she’d left behind for good…

 

 

Excerpt

Minutes after two, the sun had reached the hottest part of the day, its harsh light heating the rolling green hills of the Shenandoah River Valley. I closed the doors to the tasting room, cutting off the morning’s cool and pleasant breeze. The air conditioner now hummed, the vents gently fluttering the muslin curtains. A wine bottle wind chime, hanging near a window, clinked.

All morning, I’d been prepping for the launch party by setting up tables and chairs. The table linens were inspected and placed on each table. Table decorations—small wine casks with a bundle of white roses and grapevines in the center—would arrive Friday morning. Candles would be placed tomorrow, and the wine-cork name card holders would go out just before the event.

With one table to dress, I stood back, savoring the order and organization. I invested energy and care into each place setting, hoping that by creating order on every eight foot round, I would somehow restored balance to the Universe tipped out of balance since Janet’s four calls. The phone had remained quiet since the initial burst of calls and, as much as I wanted to believe all was well, silence often came before disaster. I was in the eye of the storm.

As I smoothed my palm over the last white table linen, an old truck rumbled up the main drive, its engine grinding and humming, as its tires crunched gravel. Gears shifted and groaned as the truck slowed. The old truck radio blared a country western song about wishes and moonshine. The song coaxed a smile. It must be Scott in one of the farm vehicles. Scott liked country western music. Though raised in an upper-middle-class home, he somehow fancied himself a good old country boy. Gentleman farmer described him best.

I expected the sound of his booted feet thudding up the few steps to the porch, no doubt sprinkling clumps of dirt in their wake. Scott never had been good about the boots or cleaning up messes. Never.

Scott worked harder than anyone else on the vineyard, so I couldn’t criticize. But he expected hard work and productivity ended with the desired result. Two plus two equaled four in his world. He’d never toiled toward a goal only to see it ripped out of his hands and destroyed.

Since this morning and Janet’s call, I imagined Fate flipping a coin now flying high in the air, turning end over end. Soon, the coin would fall toward the ground losing side up.

When I didn’t hear footsteps, I rose from the table. Suddenly, I pictured Janet standing outside the tasting room staring at the building, ready to charge inside.

Heat rushed me as I opened the door and, shadowing my eyes from the high sun, I didn’t see a vineyard vehicle, but a red, rusted truck.

The door opened and an old woman got out. Her thick graying hair was pinned back in a tight bun; deeply tanned, well-lined skin surrounded her eyes and her mouth. She wore an old sweatshirt, faded jeans and scuffed brown work boots. Crystal blue eyes snapped and bit as her gaze roamed.

Not Janet. My Aunt Grace. My mother’s sister. The last time I’d seen her, I’d been packing up my car, my body still battered and bruised from the car accident. She’d asked me to stay. I’d refused.

My walkie-talkie buzzed with Scott’s voice. “Addie, I’m headed up to the tasting room. Sorry, I’m late.”

I plucked the walkie-talkie from my hip and pushed the red button, my gaze squarely on Grace. “Scott head up to our house. Grab a hot shower. I’m minutes behind you. There’s nothing else for you to do here.”

“You sure? Thought you wanted me to check the layout.”

“It can wait. I have a vendor onsite, and we’re gonna have to talk for a few minutes.”

“Ten-four.”

Shifting focus, I clipped the walkie-talkie to my hip and moved across the open veranda and down the steps. I approached Grace much like I would a stray dog.

Grace had always been the strong one in our family. The summer I turned twelve and Janet turned fifteen, my mother needed to be hospitalized. Social services had contacted Grace and she’d agreed to take us. Aunt Grace was never a chatty woman or very maternal, but those three months were delightfully predictable. I hoped to stay forever but then Mom returned. Janet was thrilled as we sailed away from Grace’s safe harbor toward the choppy waters with Mom.

“Grace.”

Grace eyed me for long tense seconds. “You don’t answer your phone.”

“Lots of work today. I turned it off.”

She rested bent hands on narrow hips. She was fifteen or twenty pounds leaner since I’d seen her last. “You turned it off when Janet started calling.”

“Yes.” Steel, I kept in close reserve, molded around my heart. “I suppose she’s in trouble again.”

“You could say that.”

I folded my arms over my chest, knowing I might not be cursed with madness, but I was indeed cursed with a sister who refused to release her grip on me. “What has she done this time?”

“She’s in the Alexandria hospital.”

No insurance likely. No money. What was the issue? Overdosed? Fallen? Another car accident? “Did she toss out her meds again? Is she psychotic?” Seven years separated Janet and me, but in a blink, all the old fears and anger rushed me.

“She’s out of it pretty bad.” Grace approached, but neither of us made an effort to close the remaining feet between us and hug the other. “She also gave birth this morning. This time it’s a girl.”

I sensed a shift in the earth under my feet and a wave of nausea pass over me. Another female in the clan. More madness. “A girl.”

*****

. . . This morning, mere phone calls from Janet had stoked my imagination with a thousand disaster scenarios. Now that I had the actual news, the burden nearly made my knees buckle. I shifted, hoping maybe I could shake it off. But like a perching hawk, it clung with strong, sure talons.

“Who’s the baby’s father?”

The lines around Grace’s mouth, which some might have mistaken for laugh lines, deepened as she frowned. “I asked, but she’s too far out of it to know.”

“What are the chances that she’ll ever know?”

Grace held up her palms in surrender. “I’m not here to defend your sister or what she’s done.”

“Why are you here?”

“To ask you to come home.”

“I am home.” Her frown deepened. “Home to Alexandria.” ©2015

Reviews

“Readers will be totally mesmerized by this beautifully written book, AT THE CORNER OF KING STREET by brilliant writer Mary Ellen Taylor.”
Single Titles

“I love Mary Ellen Taylor’s books . . .At the Corner of King Street is another winner . . . many levels: the frustration and destruction mental illness puts on a family, the needs of an infant that can’t be raised by her mother, a woman’s desire to have a “normal” life, and . . . the fascinating history of a city that has many secrets to keep . . . Mary Ellen Taylor has the potential to create a series of novels that bring to mind the world building of Debbie Macomber and her Rose Harbor and Blossom Street series of novels. Definitely for fans of Karen White!.”
Bookalicious Babe Book Reviews

“All the things I love in a book . . . family secrets, mystery, complicated relationships and a ton of history. Alexandria is a wonderful city for this story to take place . . . Mary Ellen Taylor’s writing is lovely. It has a lyrical quality to it that I loved . . . will definitely pull at your heartstrings . . . If you enjoy Southern Fiction and a good story with deep family history with an air of mystery and even some black magic thrown in, you should definitely read AT THE CORNER OF KING STREET.”
Southern Girl Reads

“Taylor has a very lyrical style of writing . . . allow[s] you to . . . be swept up in each of the character’s lives . . . I loved the setting and the cozy places where I was easily able to picture the characters and actually hear the well-written dialogue take place . . . fabulous.” as this one.”
Charming Chelsey

“From the outset, At the Corner of King Street has a lot going for it: vivid, intriguing settings. A mix of past and present. A main character with a really big problem and a life-altering choice. A blending of drama, history, and ordinary life.”
Beth’s Book Reviews

“I really enjoyed this novel . . . the mystery was done very well . . . extremely enjoyable. The final conclusion . . . was powerful and led to a perfect ending . . . I look forward to reading past and future novels of Mary Ellen Taylor and her tales of Alexandria.”
Chick Lit Plus

“Will keep any reader riveted to the page . . . outstanding story! Fine contemporary fiction, indeed!”
Crystal Book Reviews (also at The Best Reviews)

“A contemporary, poignant story of a woman struggling with her past and the future . . . layers of emotion, history, and human dynamics . . . captures the emotions of the heart from family tragedy to joy . . . beautiful writing . . . intriguing history and mystery . . . Cannot wait for the next book . . . One of my favorite authors . . .She has a real talent.”
JDC Must Read Books

“An accomplished writer . . . her books will thrill you.”
j. jane project

“At the Corner of King Street has a lot going for it: vivid, intriguing settings. A mix of past and present. A main character with a really big problem and a life-altering choice. A blending of drama, history, and ordinary life.”
Story Matters

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Apr 12, 2015 MET Books

The Union Street Bakery

The Union Street Bakery

Life can turn on a dime.

It’s a common cliché, and I’d heard it often enough. People die or move away. Investments go south. Affairs end. Loved ones betray us…
Stuff happens.

Daisy McCrae’s life is in tatters. She’s lost her job, broken up with her boyfriend, and has been reduced to living in the attic above her family’s store, the Union Street Bakery, while learning the business. Unfortunately, the bakery is in serious hardship. Making things worse is the constant feeling of not being a “real” McCrae since she was adopted as a child and has a less-than-perfect relationship with her two sisters.

Then a long-standing elderly customer passes away, and for some reason bequeaths Daisy a journal dating back to the 1850s, written by a slave girl named Susie. As she reads, Daisy learns more about her family—and her own heritage—than she ever dreamed. Haunted by dreams of the young Susie, who beckons Daisy to “find her,” she is compelled to look further into the past of the town and her family.

What she finds are the answers she has longed for her entire life, and a chance to begin again with the courage and desire she thought she lost for good.

Excerpt

Life can turn on a dime. It’s a common cliché, and I’d heard it often enough. People die or move away. Investments go south. Affairs end. Loved ones betray us. Stuff happens.

In the light of day, I’ve always been able to acknowledge that life’s really bad curveballs are out of our control. I mean come on, who really wants cancer? Who expects lightning to strike a plane and send it plummeting into the ocean? And ladies, how could we really have known that Mr. Say-All-the-Right-Things was such a schmuck?

Bad things happen to good people. When I’m at the office carving into my to-do list, sharing a joke with friends, or running at a breakneck pace on the treadmill, I understand this concept. I really do.

Ask me those same questions during the darkest time of night when there is nothing to distract me, however, and my answer won’t be as philosophical. Without life’s distracting whirl and buzz, my rational logic quickly surrenders to shadowy emotions that lurk and wait to strike. When alone, the promise of control whispers that happiness is mine for the having only if I work very, very hard. Hold on tight. Run fast. Work hard. Dress right. If I can do everything right then maybe, just maybe, the herd, the clan, friends, coworkers, or whomever, will keep me close.

When I was a kid, this gut feeling translated into socks and lunch boxes. In grade school I believed that if my socks matched my dress, if I carried the right Barbie lunch box, and if I made all A’s, I’d have friends, charm teachers, be a success. I just knew if I could be perfect I’d somehow be more deserving of…love.

This obsession with belonging followed me from grade school through high school, college, and into the professional world. No detail was small enough to be managed. No problems were too insignificant to obsess over. My therapist once said, “Life listens to no master.” Good, sound advice that I really wanted to embrace but never quite managed to.

And so I did what I did best and focused more attention on all the details, no matter how tiny, believing that somehow I would remain a step ahead.

I’d earned a master’s degree in business administration and a Chartered Financial Analyst certificate and quickly established myself as a rising star in a Washington, D.C., money management firm. I also spent wisely and invested in my company stocks. Donated to the SPCA and the United Way. I had friends, a sub-lease on an apartment with sweeping views of Rock Creek Park, and jam-packed purposeful days that left little time for worry or second-guessing. Having done everything right, I fully expected that circumstances would never turn on any damn dime, and my life would not only be filled with love, but that the flock would always embrace me.

And then the chief financial officer of our firm swaggered up to the stock market’s metaphorical poker table holding two of a kind and bet most of the chips. The house, however, held a full house and with its better hand swiped the company winnings off the table. I, along with a few others, suggested that the CFO retrench. Back off. Don’t expose us so much. Unmoved by logic and seemingly imbued with confidence, the CFO raised the bet on the mortgage market. This time he held a straight—better, but not enough to beat the house’s royal flush.

The staggering loss knifed into the firm’s investment accounts, which quickly started hemorrhaging. No matter how hard the investment team and I tried to stop the bleeding, we could not. Soon, clients bailed. The CFO resigned. And finally, in a New Year’s Day panic, the firm’s big boss sold our investment shop to a larger bank, which quickly declared all the members of the investment team obsolete.

One second I was at my desk talking to a client, assuring him that my investments, though battered, remained tied up with the company like his. And in the next, the new CFO had me in his office and was spouting phrases like: This is no reflection of you, Daisy. We respect what you did.… Before I had time to shake off the shock, I had to stumble through a maze of gray cubicles toward the elevators, the buzzing fluorescents mingling with the whispers of coworkers. Tucked under my arm was a single box holding a plant, a framed picture of my parents standing in front of their bakery, a black mug, and my two diplomas. Someone had called out their best wishes to me but I was too stunned and too humiliated to turn. The elevator doors opened and I woodenly stepped into the car. In a blink, the doors closed on the last decade of my life.

Now, as I sat on the edge of the pullout sofa in my parents’ attic room and watched the shadows dance and sway over roughly hewn ceiling beams, I wondered for the hundredth time what I could have done differently to stop the explosion that rocked my life. I had seen the CFO’s moodiness deepen daily and had felt the weight of his stress. I had known something was wrong but had assumed his plight was personal, not professional. I should have pushed through my own worries and spoken to him privately. I should have muzzled my insecurities and demanded to see his trades. I should have stood up on my desk and screamed, Houston, we have a problem!

But I didn’t do any of those things. I kept my head down, basically obsessed over trimming the trees while the forest burned.

“Shit.” I swung my legs over the side of the sofa to the cold wooden floor. My toes curled and my heart drummed faster against my ribs as I stared at the fortress of crates, boxes, and suitcases crammed into the attic room. Beyond the barrier, my road bike leaned against one wall, stacks of books piled high on the floor, and my laptop rested on an old sewing table. All my worldly goods had been wedged into boxes and trash bags and stowed in every available corner.

I dug long fingers through my black hair and then pressed the heels of my hands to my forehead.

Though I might not have always loved my job, I had done it well and it had rewarded me with success and pride. Never had I once thought that the job was me or I was the job. We were two separate entities.

But as I raised my gaze to the moonlight streaming into the room’s single window, I had to concede that the job had wormed into my identity like sprawling ivy vines, which over time, slowly and carefully had burrowed into the mortar, brick, and foundation of my life.

With the job gone, I was left damaged and marked like bricks stripped clean of ivy. I was lost. Adrift. Who the hell was I if I wasn’t Daisy-S-McCrae-vice-president-Suburban Enterprises?

Panic scraped at the back of my head and made my skin crawl. It would be so easy to just scream and cry at the utter futility of this mess. But I’d learned at a very young age that crying never solved anything, nor did it calm the chaos.

“Shit.” I stared at my toes and the chipped red polish from a weeks-old pedicure.

Finance jobs in the area were few and far between in recent months and with each new no, not now, overqualified, under qualified, my sense of helplessness grew. Never in my life had I worked so hard and received so many rejections.

Soon, showers and a clean change of clothes had stopped being an everyday thing. My appetite vanished. I avoided friends and family. I couldn’t seem to untangle the net that had me trapped.

My cell phone, sitting on a makeshift moving box-turned-nightstand, shrilled an alarm that cut through the silence and startled me. I quickly shut off the glaring noise and checked the time. Three twenty-one.

I could barely think or function, and yet it was time to get up. Tears welled up in my throat, and as much as I wanted to pull my sleeping bag over my head and hide, I didn’t. I swallowed. No tears. Daisy McCrae did not cry. How did I get here?

Here was Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. My new—but I have been quick to say, temporary home—was the top floor apartment in my parents’ 120-year-old brick town house. It was the room I’d shared with my sisters as a kid, where I’d played dress up, dreamed of my birth mother, Renee, and traded secrets with imaginary friends. It was ground zero, square one of my life, and I was back.

Oh God.

Dropping back against the lumpy mattress, I did pull the sleeping bag over my head.

Reviews

“This book has mystery, history, a little romance, the paranormal, and a strong family saga. Nothing is over the top. Even the ghosts are just a thread in the pattern. Readers will love Daisy and the McCrae family and be engrossed in both the historical and the present puzzles Daisy and her family must solve. Taylor never takes the simple plot path or gives in to melodrama. The story feels real . . . highly recommended for anyone who loves family stories with intelligence and heart.”
Blogcritics

“Taylor serves up a great mix of vivid setting, history, drama and everyday life in THE UNION STREET BAKERY. Here’s hoping she writes more like it.”
Herald-Sun, Durham, NC

“A superbly written book with emotional issues handled in a sensitive and delicate manner, and a finish with a feel-good ending.”
The Courier, Montgomery County, Texas

“A wonderful story about sisters, family, and the things that matter most. I loved this beautifully written journey of self-discovery.”
Wendy Wax, USA Today bestselling author

“Lots of good character development as Daisy comes to terms with herself and her family, deals with a couple of ghosts, and there are even a few recipes at the end. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.”
Mary Jo Putney, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“I found myself so caught up in this family’s lives and turning the pages late into the night. You will not be able to put this book down until you turn the very last page. As a bonus, Mary Ellen has included some of the recipes from the bakery. I can’t wait to read more by Ms. Taylor.”
Fresh Fiction

“Intrigued me from the very first page! . . . you will not put this book down until you’ve read every last word.”
Night Owl Reviews

“An excellent job of showing how important a family can be and who your real family is. Ms. Taylor . . . makes you care not only about Daisy but about all the family and friends involved . . . I enjoyed reading this book and walking along with Daisy as she grows . . . get a copy and settle in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea or coffee . . . You might also want a pastry. “
Long and Short Reviews

“Interesting and intriguing . . . [a] fast paced story of sisters, family, what really matters, betrayal, faith, healing, and life in general. If you enjoy historical facts, heritage, adoption, family and love you will enjoy “Union Street Bakery”. Modern day story mixed with historical facts, a ghost, mystery and romance brings this story and characters to life. Oh at the back of the book are some Union Street Bakery recipes. Wonderful story!”
My Book Addiction Reviews

“I thought The Union Street Bakery was a marvelous read! If you like ghost stories and history, don’t pass this one up . . . I loved the ending . . . this is a book I highly recommend!”
Chick Lit Plus

“I loved the way [Burton] wove history and modern times together . . . a really fun read, one that’ll have you pulling out your mixing bowl and baking supplies from the pantry.”
The Novel World

“An endearing story that focuses on the essence of family . . . a superb job of painting credible dynamics of sisterly love . . . she has done Old Town Alexandria and the allure of the mighty Potomac River justice . . . Ms. Taylor has managed to create more than an escape or entertaining account for the reader. Rather, she beckons the reader to walk alongside her and listen to the beautiful tale she shares with her strong voice. I look forward to hearing her next story.”
Feathered Quill Book Reviews

“Daisy is dealing her past, her future, and just trying to get through one day at a time. You’ll want to go through this journey with her. This first women’s fiction novel by Richmond area author Mary Ellen Taylor will speak to you with the beauty of the writing, as well as, the story.”
Examiner(Richmond)

“Heartwarming . . . The Union Street Bakery has a unique mystery that is center stage throughout . . . a wonderful story that will pique your interest from the first page and not let go until the last . . . witty dialogue, realistic characters…this is definitely a book that I will recommend to friends and family!” I loved watching Daisy grow and discover just who she is as a person . . . if you are looking for a tender and fantastically written novel Taylor’s book is for you!”
Endless Days of Books

“The title and the cover grabbed me on this one! But the story kept me turning the pages . . . I couldn’t put this one down . . . I loved the cooking/baking in this novel, the family ties, and the mysterious journal . . . The bakery was a lovely character in itself.”
Bookalicious Babe

“It was a quick read, complete with amazing recipes that I cannot wait to try, and characters that were easy to like.”
A Patchwork of Books

“What a great book. I was sneaking in every moment possible to read through this book. Let’s just say a lot of housework was left undone. It was worth it. This is a book to read and recommend to others.”
BookReviewsRUs.com

“I really enjoyed this book from the very first page . . . This story is full of intrigue but really it’s a story about family and what makes a true family. It’s about how some people are just meant to be a part of our lives and they make it so much better. . . If you like a great story about family with a hint of mystery then you will love this book.”
Dive Under the Cover

“I loved the mystery behind the story and I loved how the journal of this slave girl brings Daisy and her sisters closer together . . . the mystery unveiled itself chapter by chapter . . . I was impressed by the culture, history, and historical feel that Taylor was able to bring to these pages.”
Charming Chelsey

“Ideal for the fans of the Karen White , THE UNION STREET BAKERY by the freshest new voice in fiction, Mary Ellen Taylor, is the perfect blend of family drama, historical mystery, romance and the paranormal . . . THE UNION STREET BAKERY is surely not to be missed.”
Dad of Divas Reviews

“This book has elements of intrigue, the supernatural, history and romance . . . Mary Ellen Taylor weaved a wonderful story.”
Collar City Brownstone

“What a magical little gem Taylor has written . . . evoking memories of WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, THE NIGHT KITCHEN and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, Taylor brings us a story that is Southern Gothic Light. Well written and timely . . . the moments between Daisy and her birth mother are heart wrenching . . . a perfect book club read.”
Paperback Dolls

“This was a well-written and extremely interesting story that kept me turning page after page and provided me with both chills and thrills. I never expected what Daisy was soon to find out.”
Book Bag Lady

“Union Street Bakery is a delicious treat to read. I was hooked after the first chapter. The characters are fun, and the mystery and paranormal elements are very believable . . . the author is brilliant in her ability to keep it up beat and easy to understand. I love the way the mystery is opened up little by little . . . I would recommend this to anyone who loves paranormal and mystery.”
Bitten by Paranormal Romance

“The title and the cover grabbed me on this one! But the story kept me turning the pages . . . I couldn’t put this one down . . . I loved the cooking/baking in this novel, the family ties, and the mysterious journal . . . The bakery was a lovely character in itself.”
Bookalicious Babe

“I really enjoyed this book from the very first page . . . the story is full of intrigue . . . If you like a great story about family with a hint of mystery then you will love this book.”
House of A La Mode

“What a magical little gem Taylor has written . . . evoking memories of WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, THE NIGHT KITCHEN and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, Taylor brings us a story that is Southern Gothic Light. Well written and timely . . . the moments between Daisy and her birth mother are heart wrenching . . . a perfect book club read.”
Paperback Dolls

“I loved the mystery behind the story and I loved how the journal of this slave girl brings Daisy and her sisters closer together . . . the mystery unveiled itself chapter by chapter . . . I was impressed by the culture, history, and historical feel that Taylor was able to bring to these pages.”
Charming Chelsey

“Ideal for the fans of the Karen White , THE UNION STREET BAKERY by the freshest new voice in fiction, Mary Ellen Taylor, is the perfect blend of family drama, historical mystery, romance and the paranormal . . . THE UNION STREET BAKERY is surely not to be missed.”
Dad of Divas Reviews

“I loved the way [Burton] wove history and modern times together . . . a really fun read, one that’ll have you pulling out your mixing bowl and baking supplies from the pantry.”
The Novel World

“This book has elements of intrigue, the supernatural, history and romance . . . Mary Ellen Taylor weaved a wonderful story.”
Collar City Brownstone

“Union Street Bakery is a delicious treat to read. I was hooked after the first chapter. The characters are fun, and the mystery and paranormal elements are very believable . . . the author is brilliant in her ability to keep it up beat and easy to understand. I love the way the mystery is opened up little by little . . . I would recommend this to anyone who loves paranormal and mystery.”
Bitten by Paranormal Romance

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Apr 11, 2015 MET Books

Sweet Expectations

Sweet Expectations

Daisy McCrae knows that change can be sudden—and devastating. And while it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, change has the power to turn your whole world upside down…

Running the family bakery and living in the store’s attic might not be Daisy’s dream life, but she’s beginning to understand what being content feels like. And then she gets some unexpected news. In one moment, Daisy’s calm existence turns into chaos. Now she’s struggling to keep it together, especially with renovations at the bakery spiraling out of control.

But when a box of recipes and mementos is found hidden behind a wall in the bakery, Daisy suddenly has something to cling to—a mystery that echoes her own troubles and gives her the opportunity to figure out what she really wants out of life…

 

 

 

 

Excerpt

SWEET EXPECTATIONS Excerpt

Chapter One

Saturday, 4:00 a.m.

14 days 4 hours until grand reopening

Income Lost: $0

Some disasters meander or stroll into our lives at an easy pace. A leaky dam, a slow-moving storm, or a crack in a foundation all creep up nice and easy. If we’re paying attention, we see the trouble coming and can dodge, bob and weave, or duck to avoid calamity.

I’ve never known that kind of catastrophe. No sir, my kind of trouble never ambles or strolls. Nor does it saunter, promenade, simmer, or fester. My trouble steams into my life like a runaway freight train, a Cat 5 summer twister, or a sweeping avalanche. It strikes like a snake, hits hard, and takes no prisoners.

Boom. Fast. Just like that. Disaster hits.

Consequently, I’m now good at rolling with the punches, picking myself up, and moving forward. I don’t dwell on the past too much anymore. Eyes forward is my new motto.

But as I clutched the little white pregnancy stick and stared at the test strip, willing a minus sign, I wasn’t sure how I’d handle this jam. A baby wasn’t like an expensive pair of shoes that needed returning, a bounced check, or a really bad hair perm. A baby was forever.

And ever.

Threading fingers through my dark hair, I fought back the nausea and allowed a groan to rumble in my chest as I thought about my boyfriend, Gordon. We’d broken up last year. It had been a bitter, sad breakup leaving me far more wounded than I could have imagined. I’d tried to move on with life, but regrets over Gordon always lingered. In the last month, we’d both landed back in Alexandria, trying to rebuild broken careers, and somehow we’d found our way back to each other. There were days when our rekindled love touched on miraculous.

However, in a bid to be mature and thoughtful about our newfound love, we’d not reestablished relations, if you know what I mean. No nookie. No sex. We were going slow. Didn’t want to upset the apple cart. Friends-before-lovers kind of situation, because the first time we’d been together, the sexual attraction had been hot and furious. Couldn’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other kind of sex. We were intimate by the second date and had moved in together after a month. Gordon had asked me to marry him by week six, and by week nine, I’d freaked out over the looming commitment and pushed the self-destruct button on us.

So this time the theme was slow and easy.

Don’t get me wrong, since our reunion, sex had been on both our minds, big, big time. Old sparks still flickered bright and hot.

However, Gordon was the one staying strong, suggesting we nurture a friendship before we jumped into bed. I didn’t like it, but I understood. Gordon wanted me to be sure about him enough as a friend as well as a lover.

A simple concept except for the fact I’d just peed on a pregnancy stick.

Gordon and I had officially broken up last year and officially gotten back together four weeks ago. A muddled middle filled the months we’d been apart, and halfway through our separation—exactly four months ago—I’d made a less-than-wise choice I thought was forgotten forever.

I stared at the still white window of the stick. If it went nuclear pink, it meant I was four months pregnant. I didn’t need a calendar or any fancy guesswork to know the day. March 21. It was my last night in my Washington, D.C., apartment. The financial management company I’d worked for had gone under overnight, a casualty of the mortgage market. The job prospects were slim, so I’d yielded to pressure from my mother and agreed to come home for a few months and manage the family bakery. My newly widowed sister struggled with the job and in Mom’s mind it could be a win-win for everyone. I was not thrilled about the move. I loved my family, but the bakery held bitter memories of a birth mother who had abandoned me at the shop when I was three years old.

Needless to say my last night in Washington wasn’t happy. Self-pity brimmed as I pined for the past and dreaded the future.

So, to cheer myself up, I’d invited friends over for a final good-bye. The six of us had gathered to mourn the demise of our beloved company and to toast my bright, albeit underemployed future. Bonded by grief and loss, we clung to ties doomed to fray even as we swore we’d lunch, text, and talk all the time. We were more than friends, we’d said after I’d opened the sixth bottle of wine. We were family.

Yada, yada, yada.

One key friend, now to my great regret, lingered longer than the rest. Roger Traymore. We’d both been tipsy as we’d argued the roots of our company’s demise. We’d both fought hard to save the company. Worked crushing hours. Endured difficult meetings with clients and watched others buy us out and cut us loose.

In those hazy, drunken moments, we both understood each other. We were kindred spirits. And our momentary bond had translated into sex. Not super-great sex, but in the big picture the sex didn’t matter. What mattered was the condom had broken. I’d been too drunk to worry, but when the sun rose, we’d sobered enough to realize the gravity of it all. Instead of acknowledging what had happened, I’d been as anxious for him to leave as he was to go. And on the heels of more empty promises of friendship, we’d scattered like two rats from a sinking ship.

He took a job teaching in China, and I moved home across the Potomac River to Alexandria, Virginia, to my parents’ bakery, which also teetered on financial oblivion.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Long story short, if the white stick turned pink, I was not only starting my fourth month as the Union Street Bakery manager, but I was entering my second trimester.

Pregnancy. Knocked up. Bun in the oven.

Damn it.

Clutching the stick, I walked across my attic apartment located atop the bakery and set it on my nightstand. Sitting on my squeaky bed, I buried my face in my hands. Don’t borrow trouble. Don’t borrow trouble.

Glancing up, I surveyed my tiny attic apartment. My parents had converted the third-floor space into a room when I was a kid. They’d cleared out the junk, finished the walls and added a bathroom. Not hugely spacious but okay for me now. Since my return I’d whitewashed the walls, added a desk for papers and a chest of drawers to stow clothes. There wasn’t a lot of storage space, but I didn’t need much now. I’d saved one all-purpose black dress but had sold my other D.C. clothes weeks ago for quick cash to pay the bakery’s electric bill.

There was a small television in the corner. It wasn’t attached to cable, but I’d bought a digital converter and on a good day it broadcast four channels. My red bike hung above my desk on twin hooks, a rag rug warmed the floor, and blue thrift store curtains covered the two dormer windows. In the corner, I’d also squeezed in another twin bed that doubled as a couch. No kitchen, but the bakery in the basement had all the cooking power I needed. My attic was not huge, but it worked for me.

For me.

Not me and a baby!

I sat on my sofa bed, unmindful of the squeaky spring poking my backside, and switched on my nightstand light so I could stare at the strip under the bulb’s glare. The white had turned a very faint pink tint, but it wasn’t exactly dark pink. And I was pretty certain it was supposed to be a dark pink. The back of the box said a pink plus sign indicated positive results. It didn’t say faint pink or a little bit pink. No such circumstance as a little bit pregnant.

“How pink is pink enough?”

Damn. With a groan I curled up on the side of the bed and stared at the stick, willing it to fade to white.

It hadn’t occurred to me until yesterday to buy a pregnancy test. I’d been walking by the Potomac River on the trail, trying to settle my stomach and doing my best to figure out when I’d had my last menstrual cycle. I’d missed last month and the month before, but with the job loss and the transition, I chalked the delay up to stress. Unlike my sisters, my cycles weren’t totally regular, so I didn’t get too worked up. I’d considered talking to Mom, but she was like my sisters. Like clockwork. Her biology wasn’t mine.

The fact was, no matter how much we loved each other, I was the daughter she’d adopted and not birthed.

When I was three, my birth mother had abandoned me in the bakery’s outdoor patio. It had been Easter time, and the place had been a crush of tourists and regulars enjoying our very decadent hot cross buns. Sheila McCrae, the hippie bakery shop owner, had spotted me sitting alone. She’d stopped her frenetic collection of dishes and trash and stopped to make sure my mom was close. After several minutes, she’d realized my mother wasn’t hovering close or standing nearby with a watchful eye on me. I was alone. My birth mother had vanished, leaving no traces or clues. There’d been a police investigation but my birth mother had gone. So Sheila had folded me into her family as effortlessly as she folded whipped egg whites into a batter, and life had gone on for both of us as mother and daughter.

Though Mom loved me like her biological daughters, we did not share genetics. The only person to ask would have been my birth mother, whom I’d met for the first time months ago. Our recent reunion wasn’t exactly storybook. She’d been clear she didn’t want a relationship. She’d rebuilt her life with a husband and two young sons, and there was no room in it for me. She’d given me some biological information and had said she’d answer questions.

But her sudden arrival into my life had left me stunned and had silenced the millions of questions I’d had as a kid. Now as I stared at the light-but-not-dark-pink stick, the questions flickered to life. What was it like when she was pregnant with my two half brothers and me? Did she have morning sickness? Did her feet swell? How much weight did she gain? How was the delivery? Genetic time bombs in the family tree, maybe?

Damn.

Stupid stick. It had stirred up more questions for my birth mother, Terry, and more of my own unresolved emotions. Even if the stick stayed a light, light pink, today’s stirring had disturbed the cauldron.

So why exactly did she leave me? I’d never really gotten the question answered, other than she’d been young and troubled. Why do you love your sons but don’t want to see me again? I imagined them to be special young boys who gave her no trouble at all.

I shook the stick, held it upside down, and then studied it again. No change.

Me. Daisy Sheila McCrae. With a kid.

The image simply did not compute. I’d never pictured myself with children. My sister Rachel had two of the cutest girls in the world, and I’d give my life for them. My older sister, Margaret, always talked about marriage and having a family one day, and I could picture her sitting cross-legged on the floor, finger-painting with a half-dozen redheaded children. Both my sisters grew up assuming motherhood would be a part of their lives. But for me babies hadn’t been in the master plan.

Logically, I understood my abandonment was a big part of the no-kid policy. What if I made a baby and couldn’t raise it? My mom always assured me I’d be a great parent, but the fear I’d hurt my child never left.

Some people say young children forget trauma, but they’re wrong. We might not have words or vivid minute-by-minute memories, but we remember on a cellular level.

And with no genetic background to review, making a baby was akin to Russian roulette. I know, I know, we all play a form of the game when making a baby, but my genetics had been such an unknown for so long, a baby hadn’t made sense.

Since my reunion with Terry, I’ve gained a good bit of medical history and could trace back her family—my family—for several generations. I had more answers now than I ever did. But the extra knowledge wasn’t enough to prepare me for motherhood.

I glared at the stick. Was it a little more pink? Was it pink enough? “One simple direct answer is all I want. Yes or no?”

Footsteps sounded on the stairs leading to my room, and I glanced at the stick as if I feared it would somehow shout, Daisy might be pregnant!

I hustled into the bathroom, took one last look at the sorta pinkish center and tossed it in the trash. Smoothing hands through my hair I glanced at myself in the mirror and smiled.

“If you were pregnant,” I whispered, “then it would be bright pink. The box promised it would be pink within a minute and it’s been five minutes. Don’t borrow trouble.  There’s no baby and Gordon and I will be fine.”

Reviews

“When Daisy McCrae’s already semi-scrambled life abruptly turns even more upside down, it leads to deeper soul-searching , exploration of family ties, and a quest for the ultimate meaning of her purpose and direction . . . with Daisy’s narration alternating with her sister Rachel’s, the story unfurls at a slow yet steady pace, nicely layering characters, subplots, and backstory. “
Booklist

“Sweet and totally satisfying . . . absorbing characters, a hint of mystery and touching self-discovery elevate this novel above many others in the genre.”
RT Book Reviews

“[A] charming and very engaging story about the nature of family and the meaning of love, all set in the most delightful bakery one could ever imagine. The story is full of sugar and spice and is highly recommended for anyone looking for a pleasant and well-written novel.”
Blogcritics

“Quite a twist right at the beginning . . . a mystery that is hidden in the walls of the bakery . . . loved the sub-plot . . . [a]really good book!”
Chick List Plus

“Enjoy this wonderful story that makes the reader want to read faster to find out what happens but slower to relish the evolution of inner and outer dreams and reality! Oh, by the way, some recipes are included that one will want to try because they are described oh so deliciously in the story! Phenomenal story and fiction, Ms. Taylor! Best seller material!”
Crystal Book Reviews

“I really enjoyed Sweet Expectations . . . I finished this tasty little read very quickly, as I was soon drawn into Daisy’s life and the need to know what would become of her. . . I enjoyed how different the three sisters were . . . the book flows effortlessly . . . I was hooked from start to finish. I would recommend this read to anyone who enjoys a romantic story – with a twist.”
Chapter One, Page One

“Enjoyed it . . . I really do hope this is not the last we’ve seen of Daisy and the Union Street Bakery . . . would love to visit with these characters some more!”
Always with a Book

“Union Street Bakery was my first book by Mary Ellen Taylor and it was divine! . . . If you enjoy historical fiction, drama, ghosts, little mystery, family, and romance – this read is for you! An intriguing and interesting fast-paced story of sisters, family, careers, betrayal, and hidden family secrets . . . You will fall in love with the McCrae family and a book you cannot easily put down – a wonderful family story with some great recipes as well! I look forward to reading more from this author!!”
Judith D Collins Reviews

“With plenty of obstacles and upheaval, and a lovely mystery . . . the story manages to provide life lessons, a new and redefined love and even some scrumptious and delectable descriptions of the bakery’s offerings.”
I am, Indeed

“My favorite part of this book was Jenna’s story. I loved traveling back in time to see her life play out . . .Mary Ellen Taylor does a great job of telling the story of both Jenna and Daisy. The way she weaves you in and out of the two stories was effortless.”
Miss Booklover

“[Mary Ellen Taylor] has such a unique way of making things feel cozy and making readers feel right at home. I love the setting of the family owned bakery.”
Charming Chelsea

“I thought this book couldn’t be as good as the first one . . . but it was everything the first one was and then some. I love how Daisy is really coming into her own . . . If you enjoy good books about families . . . with a little mystery thrown in, I highly recommend Sweet Expectations.”
The Little Reading Cabin

“I loved the surprises and the relationships . . . Mary Ellen Taylor manages to switch from Daisy’s first person POV to her sister Rachel’s third person POV so effortlessly! I enjoyed reading Rachel’s thoughts and loved following her story too . . . interesting secondary characters . . . exciting, funny, romantic and hopeful.”
Peaces of Me

“There’s a lot going on here but all of it is marvelous. Not one dull moment . . .very satisfying . . . a charming tale overall.”
Marion Marchetto

 

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