Love and Hope - Stanford Creek #2

This book was previously published with All Romance Publishing. There are no additions to the original story, just a change of cover art but due to the demise of All Romance, if you have already purchased this title and require a copy, please email RJ with proof of purchase and she will send you a replacement.

The Book

Falling in love can be easy if you want it badly enough.

Danny Hudson has finally found a place to stop. With his daughter Hope in his arms, and his place in the music group Hudson Hart gone, he has a future to plan and a family to raise. Staying at his friend Cody’s house is hard enough, but finding a home of his own is impossible. A place to stay over the coffee shop in town is a godsend, but it comes with one proviso—he must work the cost of the room off in redecorating and rebuilding.

Rachel has secrets that she doesn’t even want to admit to herself, let alone her close-knit family. Dating the wrong guys is one way to protect her heart, but meeting Danny could change all that.

Can Danny and Hope show Rachel that love is the only thing that actually matters??

  • Cover art by Meredith Russell
  • Original edited by All Romance Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-78564-061-2
  • Published by Love Lane Books Ltd

The Stanford Creek Series

Stanford Creek is a series of individual stories set around the fictional town of Stanford Creek. Although linked, each book can be read as a standalone.

Book 1 - Notes and Roses
Book 2 - Love and Hope
Book 3 - Snow and Secrets

Buy Links - eBook

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

Buy Links - Paperback

Amazon (US)  |  Amazon (UK)


Archaeolibrarian - 4/5 - "....Rozenn Scott's Stanford Creek books are certainly more wholesome than some of her R.J. Scott books that I have read. However, the one thing that stands out clearly is the depth of emotions that she shows in her writing, with subjects that may make some feel uncomfortable. After all, you don't usually get rape, miscarriage, and baby heart defects in just one book. You DO get it in here though, and it is sensitively yet powerfully written.

With no editing or grammatical errors that I could see, plus a fast-paced yet smooth flow to the story, I have no hesitation in recommending this...."

Romantic Fanatic Blog - 5/5 - "....I can HIGHLY RECOMMEND Love & Hope. This was a beautiful story of second chances when hope is lost and of love when you need it most. What an uplifting and gut wrenching story all in one. Scott has a great group of characters and they live in what looks like a picture perfect little town. One I would love to come across. Danny and Rachel are the kind of characters that get under your skin and become part of your very soul...."

Dog Eared Daydreams - 4/5 - "....Love & Hope was a really good love story that had a fair amount of angst balanced out with lighthearted moments. It gets four stars. I have a thing for single dads in romance novels (okay, even in movies and television shows), especially ones as devoted as Danny is to little Hope. There's no doubting he's a good guy and not just because of how he is with his daughter. He's careful with Rachel but pushes her enough out of her comfort zone to get something other than indifference from her. I also like how he does his best to make amends to Cody for what happened between them over a year ago...."
Click cover to enlarge

Romantic Reads And Such - "....We saw the first book, Notes & Roses, earlier this year and I knew I wanted to get my hands on Danny’s story. And I’m pleased to say that he didn’t disappoint. Scott is a new author for me, but based on these two stories she’s going to be one that I’m keeping my eye on. Complex characters, fun interactions interspersed with heart touching moments, and an interesting storyline had me turning the pages … and just like with the first book I was done before I knew it, looking for more :)...."

Helenas Heat - "....Bring on book 3; I’m ready. Over all Love & Hope was a great and hard to put down story. I can’t wait to spend more time with these characters and am very much looking forward to others finding their own happily ever afters. ... I recently read Notes & Roses, the first book in the Stanford Creek series and as soon as I finished it I knew I needed to read the subsequent titles too. Love & Hope proved how I right I was. This book is at least as entertaining and gripping as the first title was. Both books are extremely well written, have a fabulous cast of characters and story-lines that hook the reader from the start. And yet, I wouldn’t call these similar stories. Where Notes & Roses had a suspenseful undercurrent, in Love & Hope it is the emotional tension that captured me...."


Chapter One 

Megan Campbell stepped away from the cash register of Notes & Roses and leaned against the back counter. She put her right hand in her jeans pocket and, as carefully and unobtrusively as possible, removed her cell phone and scrolled to Justin’s name. What should she text her brother? Help sounded like a good start. Or possibly, there’s a man in my shop and I think he’s drunk or stoned.

Yep, text something like that to Justin, and he would come in guns blazing. Then he’d pin the weird guy to the floor and read him his rights. And the man currently staring at a wall didn’t look dangerous, just lost. Homeless, maybe?

Something more specific then, like, there is a vagrant in here, and he needs help, what should I do? The man moved a little. Away from her side of the store, the “roses” part of the setup, and over to the “notes” side. He was peering at the shelves, a collection of stationery and household bits and pieces like cushions and local crafts. He stumbled a little, turned to the side, and looked up at the posters displayed on the far wall. Landscapes of Vermont: rivers, small towns and red high-sided barns with gently rolling hills of emerald green.

“That’s wrong,” he said.

“Sorry?” Megan asked—but he didn’t reply.

He’s talking to the wall now. Should she add that to the text as well? This was going to end up being a hell of a lot of typing to explain what he was doing. Despite how odd it all looked, the visitor wasn’t threatening her. Also, Rachel would be back soon. Maybe between them they could sort this out?

He hadn’t even spoken to her, but something wasn’t right. Maybe it was the way he’d been standing, his hands fisted at his sides, staring now at the new Valentine’s wall display of flowers and hearts. Maybe it was the way he was dressed; dark jeans caked in mud, heavy boots that had tracked in the same mud. Not to mention the black hoodie with the hood partially hiding his face from her view.

Or maybe it was the despair in his hunched shoulders, the utter defeat in the way he had to support himself to stand.

Whatever it was, Megan was faced with two options. Talk to the strange man in her shop while she was alone in here, or call in reinforcements in case things went south.

Her visitor moved, not his feet but his fists, unclenching and bringing his hands up to knuckle his eyes and then cover them. Megan’s cop brother liked to explain these things to her, but she didn’t need his help to recognize when despair in someone turned to anger.

She sent the standard 911 text, startled when she looked up and saw the stranger had stepped closer to her while she’d been distracted.

“Where am I?” he asked, his voice very soft.

“You’re in my shop.”

He shook his head. “I need the music. Someone took it, and I need it.”

Okay, this was so not going the way she wanted it to go. He was incoherent. Maybe he was homeless and needed a place to get out of the persistent snow that had plagued Stanford Creek the last few days. He’d evidently been somewhere slushy and muddy, if his clothes were anything to go by.

“I don’t understand, sir; what music do you need?” she asked, and waited for him to acknowledge her question. Instead, he took another, shaky, step forward, and covered his eyes again. “Hello? Can I help you?” she repeated when he didn’t look at her.

That finally got his attention. His hands came down, and she got her first clear look at his eyes and face. What she saw had her reaching to send another text. He had blood on him, smeared down from his temple into his wild beard, and his blue eyes were bright with something. Drugs maybe? Long, dark hair hid some of his features, and he looked like he was about to keel over.

“Where’s the music?” he mumbled, his voice low and urgent. He gripped his temples hard and stumbled back, knocking a display of greeting cards to the floor. The sound was a loud clatter in the otherwise quiet room. “Shit… I didn’t…”

“Sir?” This time she was within reaching distance as he rounded on her, his lips pulled back in a snarl—or a grimace of pain, she couldn’t be entirely sure. Whatever, it wasn’t the look of someone who wanted to be spoken to. Time to leave. She glanced at the front door, imagining the steps between here and there and whether or not he would lurch her way. When she focused back on him, all she saw was a situation that could get out of hand. He was a good six inches taller than her five-nine, broad and built, with tattoos curling around his wrist, disappearing up under the sleeve of the hoodie.

Everything about him looked wrong. He didn’t move again, or even acknowledge her; all he did was stare with bright sapphire eyes, focused on a point behind her, scary and intense and so damned fixated with his expression in that scowl.

“What happened?” He groaned and covered his eyes again. “Call… Zee…”

She texted without looking, only glancing at the screen briefly to make sure she was sending another text to her brother and not some random person on her list. 911. Again. The standard sibling instruction for help me right the hell now, reserved for having one of her brothers rescue her from one of her many dreadful first dates. Garrett wasn’t even in town, so there was little point texting him, and Justin may not even be in the sheriff’s office. She hoped to hell he was, though, and had read her message. She’d know soon enough because the small sheriff’s office was close.

And still the stranger stood there, staring at her. At least he hadn’t moved any closer.

He closed his eyes and wiped the blood that was trickling down his face, looking down at his hand and staring at the red that streaked his skin. Megan thought she heard a sob, but couldn’t be sure. Compassion welled inside her. Vagrant or not, dressed in soiled clothes and with the hood up, he didn’t have to be a criminal.

“Sir? Do you need help?” She held out her hand, but he stepped closer to her and damn it, she may have had self-defense training but she wasn’t stupid. If the man was hopped up on drugs, she had to stay out of reach. The door opened and Justin stepped in, all uniform and pissed-off attitude.

“Two 911s? This had better be good, Megs.”

Megan inclined her head to the man Justin evidently hadn’t seen in his dramatic entrance. Justin could handle himself, and he had a gun; he’d know what to do.

“What the hell?” Justin said as he assessed the situation, his hand automatically resting on his holstered weapon.

“I think it’s drugs,” she said loud enough for Justin to hear. The man looked at Justin and then to her, before shaking his head a little.

“No.” The voice was raspy, little more than a growl. “Not those.” He appeared to be struggling to talk, and he pressed his hands to each side of his head. “Just the music; Zee will know,” he added, but his voice slurred, and he coughed and doubled over.

Justin pulled his weapon and held it to one side, his other hand held in front of him as he stepped closer. “Sir? Are you hurt?”

Megan saw her brother’s hand on the sidearm, the other placating and suggesting and warning at the same time. She’d seen him stand like this when he broke up the fight at the drugstore. Not that he’d drawn his weapon then; he’d dealt with it by intimidation alone, because everyone involved lived in the town and no one messed with the sheriff. Megan looked at her brother, who teased her, who’d hidden her dolls and pulled her pigtails as a kid, but who was now in a situation that was serious. He was all business.

“What’s your name, sir?” Justin asked.

The stranger stepped back from him, straight into a pile of notebooks this time. The shelf shuddered and some of the display tilted. The movement translated into Justin grabbing the man’s hoodie to stop him falling as he flailed and attempted to stay upright.

He took a swing at Justin, who ducked and swerved. The attempted hit missed Justin by a mile, and the man followed the momentum he had begun, smacked his fist against a shelf edge, and collapsed in a heap on the floor. Then he didn’t move, was absolutely still. Justin holstered his weapon and crouched next to the prone form of the hooded man, checking for a pulse and then talking into his radio.

“Dispatch, 390D, medical assistance required at Notes & Roses.”

Megan didn’t hear the response; she came out from behind the counter, ending up next to her brother. The adrenaline that had flooded her to deal with this was beginning to ebb, and she went down in the same crouch. The hood had fallen back and exposed his hair. The stranger was young; maybe the same age as her, and a long cut on his temple oozed fresh blood. Thinking on her feet, she located a clean tea towel from the small kitchen in the back and as an afterthought grabbed the first aid box. There was nothing more than Band-Aids and small bandages in it, but there may be something in there to press against the wound, something sterile.

Justin took the box and the towel and pressed the cloth against the man’s temple.

“Who is he?” Justin asked.

Megan frowned at the unconscious man. “I have no idea.”

“What was he doing in the shop?”

Megan glanced at her brother and resisted the urge to give him a sarcastic sister-type comeback. She needed to be professional.

“He came in and stood in the ‘notes’ side, staring at the wall.”

“And he didn’t say anything?”

“Something about wanting music and the letter Z. And when I asked him if he needed help, he turned and stared at me like he didn’t know where he was.”

“What the hell, Megan? You talked to him?”

“Well, what was I supposed to do? He was a customer, and looked like he needed help.”

“What did I tell you about drug addicts?” Justin snapped.

“The same as attackers, drunks, and anyone else who got anywhere near me, call you. I did that.”

The man on the floor moved, his eyes flickering open and staring up at Justin and Megan. “I don’t feel…” He never finished the sentence, his eyes closing again.

All Megan could think was, whoever he was, he had pretty eyes, the kind of blue that jumped out at you and screamed gorgeous. She couldn’t see much of his face, covered as it was with a bushy beard and blood.

“Should we find his ID or something?”

“SOP is not to go searching in drug addicts’ pockets,” Justin said with exaggerated patience.

“You think he’s a drug addict?”

The door chimed again, but it wasn’t the paramedics yet. Instead her business partner and cousin, Rachel, stood in the door with her jaw dropping and the cold of the rain blustering in behind her.

“Shut the door,” Justin and Megan said at the same time. Rachel closed the door with care, and her expression didn’t change.

“Why is there a man lying on the floor of our shop?” she managed. Then she stepped closer, staring down at John Doe, and her eyebrows climbed before she paled and grabbed hold of the nearest display. “Shit, there’s so much blood. Is he dead?” Like he’d heard her speak, the man coughed and curled in on himself on one side, muttering something, and she stumbled backward with a yelp.

“He’s clearly not dead,” Justin said. “Drugs, head wound, we don’t know yet.” Then he spoke into his radio. “Dispatch, do we have an ETA on the paramedics?”

“Three minutes out.”

“Ten-four, dispatch.”

“Is he bleeding out?” Rachel asked, her hand on her chest and her skin pale. Megan frowned; they really should get Rachel out of here. She’d never liked blood, not since the incident where she’d broken her arm in kindergarten and the bone had pierced the skin.

“Not enough blood for that,” Justin said.

“Do we know who he is?” Rachel asked. “Should we check his wallet or something? He could be here with someone…” She glanced out the shop window as if expecting the man’s friends or family to be searching for him.

“I can’t look for his wallet yet,” Justin explained. “SOP with suspected addicts.”

“SOP?” Rachel half whispered as an aside.

“Standard operating procedure,” Megan whispered back. “The guy could have needles on him.”

“What about the recovery position?” Rachel pointed out. “Should we at least move him?”

Justin indicated the unconscious man with a wave of his hand. “Think he already did it himself.”

Then, in silence, they stood and waited for the paramedics to arrive and, all that time, Megan stared down at the stranger, memorizing every bump and scratch on his face. What a waste. He could be so handsome, almost pretty, with those stunning sky eyes and the plump lips. He’d be a killer if he smiled, she thought.

“He doesn’t smell,” Rachel commented, even though she wrinkled her nose. She gestured at him. “And those jeans? They’re an expensive brand, you know. So he’s probably not homeless.”

Megan didn’t feel much like discussing the unconscious man. She wanted the help to get here soon.

The paramedics arrived and, in a flurry of motion, they asked rapid questions of Megan, which she couldn’t answer in full. “Did he have a fit? Did he choke?” She answered as best she could and hoped that was enough for them to have some idea what had happened. They checked John Doe’s vitals, hefted him onto a gurney and left, all without the man regaining consciousness. Justin followed soon after, giving Megan a quick hug and extracting a promise from her to stay safe, and then it was Rachel and Megan alone in the shop.

Rachel looked anywhere except at the blood and Megan knew she had to get her out of the shop. “You go up to Carter’s and get some fresh coffee.”

“You need help,” Rachel began. She looked torn as she gestured at the floor.

“I’ll clear this up. Go.”

“What if someone else comes in?”

“Another vagrant covered in blood?” Megan smiled as she said it. She hoped she’d had her full quota of vagrants for this year.

“You never know,” Rachel said, frowning.


Rachel looked at the door and back at Megan, as if she were expecting another strange man to come in while she was out and was worried about leaving her. Megan went back to the small storage room at the back of the store. She pulled out the mop and bucket and the cleaning supplies and, by the time she came back out, Rachel had gone. She wasn’t surprised. Evidently, alongside her phobia about blood, Rachel had analyzed the situation with her rational, logical approach and had decided Megan could manage another strange man collapsing on their floor if she had to. Megan cleaned up the smears of scarlet and the tracked-in mud, and realigned all the notebooks and stationery on the knocked shelf. While she worked, all she could think was, despite the shock and drama of what had happened, the man with the beautiful sapphire eyes hadn’t seemed dangerous to her.

Confused, high or drunk, desperate, traumatized, wet and muddy, maybe. But certainly not dangerous.

No comments