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One Perfect Spring

One Perfect Spring
Booksellers’ Best finalist
Revell, 2014, ISBN 978-0800722678

Claire Summers is a determined, independent single mother who is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Keith Watson is a results-oriented workaholic with no time for a social life. As the executive assistant to a local philanthropic businessman, he's used to fielding requests for donations. But when a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk, everything changes. The girl isn't asking for money, but for help finding the long-lost son of an older neighbor. As Keith digs reluctantly into this complicated assignment, he has no idea how intertwined his life and Claire's will become--nor how one little girl's kindhearted request will touch so many lives and reap so many blessings.

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reviews

Hannon’s multithread plot is woven beautifully together to create a tapestry that will enchant romantics of all ages.
                                                                        Publishers Weekly

A story of the hopeful aspect of love, in which Hannon introduces readers to characters just as real and broken as each of us and shows how, through a bit of faith, grace, and trust, people can blossom too.
                                                                        Booklist

A tender story that addresses how one action stemming from compassion can affect the lives of several people…lyrical, beautiful language, with sympathetic characters who will endear themselves to readers.
                                                                        RT Book Reviews

This sentimental and hopeful tale will capture the hearts of those who love a touching story with a happy ending. 
                                                                        Library Journal

A writing style that’s as comfortable as slipping into your favorite easy chair. The author does a splendid job of blending characters together, making them fit perfectly to the story.

                                                                        New York Journal of Books

Tender-hearted, compelling, and emotionally rich.

                                                                        Fresh Fiction

 

 

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excerpt

Prologue
Dear Mr. McMillan,
My name is Haley Summers. I’m 11 years old.

I saw your pixture in the paper from when you gave money to the childrens hospital. My mom said you do a lot of nice things for people. So I wanted to ask if you could do something nice for our friend next door.

A long time ago, she had a baby. But he got adopted and she never saw him again. Now she’s sad and wishes she could find him. Her name is Docter Chandler and her birthday is in May. She’s going to be sixty and she’s been real sick and this would cheer her up a lot.

She’s a very nice lady. She teaches at a college and makes awesome cookies and gave me a present on my birthday last year. This year, I want to give her a present.

I hope you can help me. Thank you very much.

 

Chapter 1

It was going to be another late night at the office.

Keith Watson rotated the kinks out of his neck, leaned back in his chair, and grimaced at the intimidating stack of solicitations on the corner of his desk.

Donations from the McMillan Charitable Foundation might produce positive PR for the company, but press coverage for events like that check presentation at the children’s hospital always stirred up a plethora of do-gooders—and good-for-nothing handout seekers. If past experience was any indication, there’d only be one or two appeals here worth passing on to David McMillan for consideration.

Keith tipped his coffee mug toward him. Nothing but dregs—and it was too late in the day to brew a new pot.

Too bad.

He could use a caffeine infusion.

Resigned, he set the mug aside. Why couldn’t his boss have given this ongoing task to someone else eight months ago instead of dumping it on his desk? Sorting through pleas for money wasn’t the most productive use of an MBA/CPA’s time—nor did it contribute to the construction company’s bottom line. And David McMillan was all about the bottom line.

Or at least he used to be, back in the days when he took a hands-off approach to the foundation and delegated duties like this to the PR company they kept on retainer instead of to his executive assistant.

Who knew why he’d brought this job in-house?

Just one more thing that had changed in the past year.

Heaving a sigh, Keith tugged the stack toward him across the polished mahogany. If he wasn’t heading out of town tomorrow, he could push the review off until the morning—but since he didn’t have any big Friday night plans anyway, might as well wrap this up and be done with it.

Stomach growling, he checked his Rolex. Six o’clock. If he sped through the stack, he might be able to make it to his favorite Chinese takeout place before . . .

 “I’m out of here.” The administrative assistant he shared with David shrugged on her trench coat in the doorway to his office. “Do you need anything else?”

“I’m set—but why are you still hanging around? I thought Fridays were always date night with your husband?”

Robin made a face. “Not when you have two children who both decided to get the flu on the same day. John picked them up at school right after lunch. My evening will consist of forcing fluids and watching kids upchuck.”

He winced. “That’s almost worse than going through these solicitations. Almost.”

“Trust me, it’s worse. Besides, I spotted a couple of interesting requests in the stack that might keep you entertained.”

“I’ll bet.” A bolt of lightning sliced through the dark clouds massed in the April sky outside his window, followed by a boom of thunder that rattled the glass. “But I doubt we’ll ever top the guy who claimed he’d inherited a map from the Middle Ages that would lead to a trove of never-discovered paintings by Michelangelo.”

Robin grinned. “Yeah. As I recall, he wanted the foundation to fund his trip to Europe so he could scavenge around. What an angle. But he did offer to split the proceeds with us.”

“Right.”

She finished buttoning her coat. “So once you dig out from that pile of letters, any exciting plans for the weekend?”

“Other than going to the regional builders association dinner in Des Moines tomorrow night and visiting our office building project in Cedar Rapids on Sunday?”

“Whoops. Forgot about that. Maybe you could take a comp day next week.”

“There’s too much to do here.”

She shook her head. “You need to get a life.”

“I have a life. One I happen to like very much.”

“More’s the pity. Remember, all work . . .”

“Tell that to David.”

“He’s been a lot better about that since his wife died. Too bad it took a tragedy to make him see the light.” She sent him a pointed look.

He waved her out the door. “Go home and take care of your sick kids. Once I get through this pile, I’m out of here.”

“Until some new, urgent email comes in. But hey . . . it’s your life.” Another crash of thunder boomed through the building, and she cringed, surveying the pelting rain. “Looks like I’ll be taking my evening shower en route to my car.”

“No umbrella?”

“Plenty of them. All in the coat closet in my foyer.”

Keith pulled out the bottom drawer of his desk and retrieved a collapsible version. “Take mine. The rain may let up before I’m ready to leave.”

Hesitating, she squinted out the window again. “I doubt this storm will end any time soon. You may need it.”

“I’m parked near the door—and I can run fast.”

“Sold.” She took the umbrella. Tapped it against her hand. “Are you ever caught unprepared?”

“Not if I can help it.”

“I wish some of your planning ability would rub off on me. Thanks for this”—she waved the umbrella at him—“and have a good trip to Iowa.”

As she disappeared out the door, the office fell silent. The rest of the staff had probably headed out closer to five, anxious to prepare for family events or primp for dates or gather with friends at a happy hour after a long week of work.

For one tiny second, Keith felt a touch of jealousy—but he quashed it before it could take hold. He’d chosen to focus on his career instead of a social life, and he had no regrets.

Jobs were a lot more predictable than people.

Psyching himself up for the task at hand, he picked up the first solicitation and dug in.

Forty minutes later, surrendering to a yawn, he set a plea from a funds-strapped sailing club on top of the large reject pile and turned his attention to the last appeal. Handwritten by an eleven-year-old girl, it had a certain childish charm. But help a woman find a son she’d tossed aside years ago? That didn’t even come close to meeting the parameters of the McMillan Charitable Foundation. While some of the requests had required a bit of thought, this was a no-brainer.

He added it to the reject pile, straightened the stack, then stood and stretched. A heaping plate of chicken broccoli with a side of egg rolls was sounding better by the minute.

Another crash of thunder shook the building, and he swiveled toward the window. Day had given way to night, and torrents of rain were slamming against the glass. So much for any hope the storm would let up. Par for the course this time of year in St. Louis, though.

His stomach growled again, spurring him into action. He picked up the large stack of rejects in one hand. With the other, he snagged the only two requests worthy of further evaluation. After depositing them on Robin’s desk with a note to send the usual form letter to the rejects and pass the two possibilities on to David, he grabbed his computer and briefcase and headed for the exit.

At the main door, he paused to survey the sheets of rain pummeling the asphalt. Who would have guessed this morning’s blue skies would turn gray? Strange how unsettled weather could sneak up on you. Might as well plunge in—and hope for the best.

What else could you do when you found yourself in the middle of a storm?

 

questions

Discussion Questions

(Warning: Contains Spoilers!)

 

  1. One of the themes in this book is adoption. Given Keith’s background, did you feel his issues were legitimate, especially his need to prove his worth? Why or why not? What are some other challenges adoptees might face?

 

  1. Do you know anyone like David who is—or was—a workaholic? What do you think drives that person? Why does it often take a dramatic event to make people reevaluate their choices?

 

  1. When Claire meets Keith, she is immediately turned off because of his similarity to her ex-husband. Have you ever judged someone based on that sort of criteria? How did that affect your relationship going forward?

 

  1. Claire’s bad experience with marriage has left her wary. How does Keith win her trust? Give some concrete examples.

 

  1. David’s daughter, Debbie, resents her father. Do you think her feelings are appropriate, given their history? What does David do to try and repair the damage? Have you ever felt resentment toward a family member? Why? How have you tried to overcome that?

 

  1. Debbie also resents Maureen at first. How does the older woman win her over? Cite some specific examples.

 

  1. Both Claire and her father have financial challenges, which they handle on their own. But what are some of the ways money issues can cause problems in a relationship? What are some strategies for dealing with them?

 

  1. Identify two qualities each for Claire, Keith, David and Maureen that make them admirable.

 

  1. At one point, David says it’s important to focus less on the past and future and more on making certain today counts. Do you agree? Why or why not?

 

  1. Claire and Keith have both let their relationship with God lapse. Claire tells Maureen that she finds it hard to hear his voice and discern his direction. Do you ever have this problem? How do you deal with it?

 

  1. Keith’s mother suggests he try to locate his birth mother, that speaking with her might help him deal with some of his issues and questions. Do you think adoptees should do this? Why or why not?

 

  1. The night Keith finds Claire injured is a turning point in their relationship. Why? What happens internally as well as externally in that scene to make them both revise their opinions about the other?

 

  1. Meeting Claire—and hearing Maureen’s story—gives Keith the impetus to initiate a search for his birth mother. Do you think it was important for him to do this? Why or why not?

 

  1. What do you think about Maureen’s indiscretion many years ago? Can you empathize with how it might have happened? What are some of the reasons she might have fallen under Hal Wright’s spell?

 

  1. Maureen wonders if she did the right thing giving up her child for adoption. Do you think she did? Why or why not?

 

  1. Keith’s search for Maureen’s son is ultimately successful—but it doesn’t end the way anyone expects. Were you surprised by the outcome? Do you think it was still good that Maureen undertook the search? Why or why not?

 

  1. After fretting about Keith’s distraction during a phone exchange, Claire calls him to discuss it. Her concerns are cleared up almost at once. What does this say about the importance of open, honest communication? What are some hallmarks of good communication?

 

  1. At one point, Maureen says that while she may not understand why the situation unfolded the way it did, God does. Do you sometimes have difficulty putting your trust in God? Is there a particular bible verse that helps you with this challenge?

 

  1.  Did you think the later-in-life romance between David and Maureen was depicted realistically? Why or why not? Offer some examples from the book to back up your opinion.

 

  1. Keith is completely stunned by his birth mother. What did you think of her? How did meeting her affect Keith?

 

  1. Everything that happens in this book is triggered by Haley’s letter. Have you ever witnessed the ripple effect (good or bad) from a simple action? Describe the experience.

 

  1. Who was the most interesting character for you? Why?

 

  1. What was the most touching scene? Why?

 

  1. Did you think the plot of One Perfect Spring was well constructed and credible, and the characters believable? Why or why not? Talk about your impressions of the book from a literary standpoint—its strengths and weaknesses. If you were the author, would you have done anything differently?

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