27 January 2020

Rocks and Flowers in a Box | Excerpt + Giveaway

JustRead Publicity Tours


The wedding bells for Lorna and Tristan Blake toll doom right as the honeymoon begins with an unexpected turn in Tristan’s health. While World War II winds down, Lorna receives a letter from the War Department informing her that the brother she thought killed in action is still alive. She is overjoyed, but his return will dredge up a devastating secret about their parents’ tragic death –a secret that could destroy her new marriage and threaten her husband’s physical and mental well-being. What unfolds is balancing act of keeping the faith and shattering the pieces of the life she’s worked so hard to put back together.

Release Date: December 21, 2019



I stared at my mother’s wedding band nestled on my ring finger. A week and two days ago, it had moved from my index finger to its current residence, the significance of that simple act still pulsing through me.


I, Lorna Ashford, was now Lorna Blake. I, the woman who at the ripe old age of twenty-seven, had resigned herself to the fate of old maid, was married. The tiny wedding had been officiated by my childhood minister, Pastor Wilson, in the Methodist church in my old neighborhood in Cleveland. It was nothing short of a miracle.

A year ago, I didn’t believe in miracles. My faith was broken, as shattered as the bottles of booze my husband left on the beach when he tried to kill himself last fall. He wasn’t even my husband then, but he was the man I loved, the person I opened my heart to after knowing only loss for so many years.

My husband led me back to God. My husband taught me what it was to forgive the seemingly impossible. My husband healed my heart, renewed my faith, even though his own faith still hung with the light shining on half of it, the other half shrouded in darkness. Like a lot of things, he kept his faith as a closed book.

But I had my husband, my new family. My old family was dead.

Two and a half weeks before my wedding, the United States and the other Allies had invaded Normandy in France. Both my life and the world were moving in a positive direction, yet a pang rang through my heart was I remembered Chucky, my brother, who had died last year in this awful war. Getting married three days after the seventh anniversary of my parents’ deaths was also a mixed bag. I hoped to create some new, happy memories.

Stop it, Lorna. Be happy.

As I packed boxes of books, I sneezed from buildup of dust.

“You okay there?”

I looked up from my task and smiled, the warmth overtaking the sadness in my heart. Walking into his tired old living room was the man I loved. Even after all this time, to see him as he really was—blue eyes shining with happiness instead of pent-up heartache—it was like a fairytale dream. I hoped he would open his book and tell me more of his story.

“Just some dust. You really want to keep all of these?” I asked.

He came to me and stilled my hand, removing the tattered book from my grasp, and kissed me. My eyes slid shut for the next several moments, and I let the book fall to the floor, bringing my hands to his face. The usual stubble of not shaving for a week greeted my fingers as I skimmed them over his jawline and cheeks, working into his sandy-colored hair.

“Lorna,” Tristan breathed, “the things you do to me.”

I giggled. “There’s time enough for that later. Let’s get these boxes to my place— that is, our place. That still feels odd to say.”

Tristan picked up one of the larger boxes with a grunt and chuckled. “Our place, yes.”


Cynthia Hilston is a stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married, and lives in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Visit her website for more information.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Supernatural and Outlander, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, drinks wine or coffee with good friends, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.


(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card!

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 24, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on January 31, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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  1. Wonderful theme, enjoyed the excerpt. Nice blog.

  2. I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  3. Anonymous27/1/20 13:29

    Thank you so much! - JustRead Tours

  4. thank you for sharing an excerpt, I enjoyed it

  5. My family loves reading so hearing about another great book I appreciate. Thanks for sharing and also for the giveaway.

  6. Following the tour, sounds good!

  7. I like learning about a new author! Thanks for sharing.

  8. I enjoyed learning about this author and her book.

  9. Not a fan of the cover but the excerpt is interesting!

  10. I enjoyed the excerpt, it sounds like a great book.