Welcome to Magnolia Bay
The Welcome to Magnolia Bay series is the love child of my two passions: animal communication and romance writing. As an animal communicator, I know that our animal companions speak to us in ways we understand on a subliminal level but don’t always recognize intellectually, and I have witnessed first-hand how they work their wiles to nudge us in the right direction.
I hope that the Magnolia Bay love stories will lift people’s hearts the way any romance novel should. But my sinister master plan is that any animal lovers who read these books will recognize the ways in which they are already communicating telepathically with their own animal companions, and maybe decide to study and learn and practice to increase their natural abilities. How might we change the world if enough people take the time to embrace their ability to communicate with the animals they love?
Book #2 - Magnolia Bay Memories
A Tender Love Story About Hope, Healing, and Second Chances for Humans and Animals Alike to Find Forever Love.
Heather Gabriel already had the love of a lifetime. Now a widowed mother struggling with grief, the stay-at-home mom’s biggest priority is keeping her children’s lives as stable as possible. So, when her new job at the Magnolia Bay Animal Shelter brings Heather and business consultant Adrian Crawford together, she resists the attraction building between them.
Adrian feels the attraction too, but ever since he lost everything to Hurricane Katrina, he learned not to form too many attachments. Even so, seeing the love Heather has for her kids and the animals makes Adrian wonder if the bachelor lifestyle is really what he wants.
With the animals on the farm to guide them, Heather and Adrian soon realize they can only have a future together if they are willing to heal from the past.
Praise for Magnolia Bay Memories
Thoroughly enjoyed this heat warming small town romance centered around an animal shelter.
I love the feeling of real people and pets with real emotions of love and angst. Can’t wait for the next book.
If possible, Babette de Jongh has blossomed even more as a writer and animal-lover in her second in a series, Magnolia Bay Memories. Her knowledge and compassion for furry characters would thrill British veterinary author James Harriot, and her reach for the “big, indelible story” would delight the late Nobel Prize author Toni Morrison.
Love all she writes. Each book generates lots of emotions as one reads. Just fabulous!
This book was so good! It has wonderful characters and a great story line. I loved how the animals and humans interacted with each other. It hooks you on the first page and doesn’t let go. I loved it!
Meet the residents of Magnolia Bay
Heather Gabriel has no choice but to put on a happy face and go to work full-time, even though her kids need her as a stay-at-home mom more than ever. More than a year after her husband’s unexpected death, the moment he died is a sharp-edged memory that appears every time she closes her eyes. But life goes on and bills have to be paid, so she takes a job at the local animal shelter that is just about to open its doors to the public.
A lot needs to be done. Buildings are still under construction, and as the new director of daily operations, Heather gets to choose shelving and appliances and kennels and hose outlets. She meets weekly with her friend Abby (the shelter director) and Abby’s husband Quinn (the contractor in charge of construction and renovation).
And then there’s Adrian. Adrian Crawford, whose good looks and smoldering sex appeal could make Henry Cavill look like his homely older brother. If they were brothers. Which they very well might be for all Heather knew. But that’s none of her business, and she intends to keep it that way.
It doesn’t matter that Adrian is knee-deep in the shelter’s planning phase, or that they all have to meet every week, sometimes more often. She does her best not to look at him, because every time she does, he does that thing he does with his eyes, and her fair skin goes up in flames and gives her away. Every time. Every darn time.
Adrian Crawford has to admit that he enjoys teasing Heather. All he has to do is give her a sleepy-eyed look and let his mouth turn up at the edges, just enough to let her know what he’s thinking. (Because Lord God, those rosebud lips, those hourglass curves, that Marilyn Monroe voice… he’s not made of concrete, you know?)
Sure, he’s got no business thinking anything at all about Heather Gabriel. (Also, Abby has threatened to kill him if he does anything to hurt Heather’s feelings, which are so near the surface that you can almost see them pulsing just under her porcelain-pale skin.)
But it’s a breath of fresh air to have a beautiful woman not-just ignore but actively avoid him. He’s more used to being stared at, flirted with, giggled at, hit on, stalked, you name it.
Besides, he knows Heather’s story. Her husband was the love of her life, yada yada. Their three kids are… well, three kids. ‘Nuff said about that. But Adrian likes to flirt, and he can flirt with Heather, no consequences. She may be the one woman on earth who won’t take him up on his unspoken offer.
But then sometimes, he sort of wishes she would, and damn the consequences.
It’s hard being a teenager and graduating to Junior High—which means a new school, new friends, a whole new deal—but Erin hopes all those new beginnings will give her a chance to move on and start over. Last year, she was “the kid whose dad just died.” Old friends shunned her because they didn’t know what to say. New friends… well, there weren’t any new friends. Some new people tried to befriend her, but it was just… weird. Like they were all, “What happened exactly?” or, “What did he look like?” or, “Was he still alive when you found him?” Oh, and it went downhill from there.
To sum it up: Erin is tired of being a freak.
So when her mom gets a new job—a full-time job—Erin is all on-board and eager to help out with the twins, who are still in elementary school. Erin’s eager to help out, but sometimes she gets tired, you know? She’s tired of being different because she has to do more than most kids her age. She has to do more babysitting than most kids, help out around the house more than most kids, and do farm chores, which nobody she knows has to do.
Erin feels sorry for her dad’s horse Charlie, who seems just as sad as everyone else in the family. And Erin knows it’s her job to take care of Charlie. But Jeez-O-Pete, she’s just thirteen! Does she have to do everything? Like, she has friends who are drinking and smoking and screwing around already. She’s a good girl who’s doing the best she can—mostly. So sometimes she slacks and reads magazines instead of cleaning Charlie’s stall. But really, she’s doing the best she can—well, mostly.
Charlie will be okay. After all, he’s just a horse, right? He’s got enough to eat. What else could he want?
Caroline and Josh Gabriel
Caroline knows how scary life can be, and how quickly everything you think is real can be taken away. Her daddy was there one moment and gone the next. She hadn’t even kissed him goodbye when he walked out of the house to go for his afternoon ride on Charlie. He’d kissed her on the head, and she hadn’t even looked up. She’d been too busy coloring the best page in the Cinderella coloring book she’d been given for her birthday.
She doesn’t color anything anymore. She put that special coloring book in the trash, shoved it down past the stinky-mashy-icky junk on top of the garbage can and tried to forget all about it.
Caroline is going to be very small and very quiet and try not to become attached to anything or anyone. It’s all she can do just to be here.
Josh can’t help getting into trouble at school. He’s not even sure what he’s supposed to do or who he’s supposed to be. He’s a smart kid, sure. But what is he supposed to do when he’s done with his work? Just sit there and stare out the window? (Which, by the way, looks onto a brick wall that surrounds the dumpsters.) There’s literally (as Erin would say) nothing to look at. So he draws on his desk, chews his shoelaces, throws spitballs at the cute girl on the front row, and fights back when some doofus brags about how great his dad is.
Josh doesn’t have a dad to brag about anymore, even though his dad was the best dad ever. So Josh has to admit that he gets a little touchy when other kids talk about their dads.
He doesn’t know what to do about that.
He really wishes he knew what to do, but he doesn’t.
Sometimes he feels like he’s too little to deal with this stuff. But he makes up for that by making himself seem bigger and funnier and crazier than he really is. Maybe if everyone’s busy looking at what he seems to be, they won’t see how small and scared he really feels inside.
Charlie was Dale Gabriel’s horse. There wasn’t a day that went by when Dale didn’t cuddle him or brush him or take him for a ride in the woods that surrounded their riverside home. Charlie and Dale were a pair, closer than most people. But then they went on that ride through the woods when everything went wrong. It all happened at once, and Charlie was halfway back to the barn when he realized that Dale wasn’t on his back anymore.
Charlie was hurting too, but he would never leave Dale. Never. So he doubled back and found Dale. He stood steady while Dale climbed back into the saddle, and then Charlie carried Dale back home, moving carefully to help Dale stay in the saddle. If Dale swayed right, Charlie leaned left. Together, Charlie and Dale made it back home.
Nothing made sense after that. Dale’s family were all screaming and yelling and shooing Charlie away. They locked him in the barn, as if he’d done something wrong.
And maybe he had.
But he didn’t know what that might be. He was prepared to suffer for whatever it was. Because Dale was gone now, and somehow Charlie had made that happen, and nothing made sense after that. He deserved to be punished.
Winky got seduced into allowing himself to become a human’s cat. He’d been doing fine on his own, surviving as a feral cat, until Adrian hoodwinked him into thinking that life with humans was something worth considering.
So what if Old Gray whooped his ass ever-other day? So what if the lizards and crawly things Winky managed to catch and eat made his insides feel oozy and his fur feel—and taste—oily and nasty? So what if his stomach growled half the time? Winky didn’t mind any of that! He prided himself on being a tough tomcat. With a head the size of a double cheeseburger (he’d heard a human say that once) and balls big enough to convince him to take on the world, Winky didn’t need help from humans.
But Adrian’s voice was deep and soothing, and something about him made Winky want to at least try to see what life with humans might be like.
He just hoped he wouldn’t regret it.
Hey! Hey! I’m Jasper! I used to be a different dog in a different lifetime, but I can’t quite remember that dog’s name anymore. But okay, whatever, whatever. Who cares? Not me! I’m Jasper now, and I love my life! I love my people, and I love my animal friends, and if they don’t love me, that’s okay, I’ll just chase them until they stop running, then I’ll tell them that they should love me! Because I love them! I love everybody! I’m a loveable dog! I can run fast and run far and jump high and sleep on the bed all night long without moving too much. I might chew on the covers sometimes, but that doesn’t matter because I’m a really great dog, and I know it because everybody tells me so! My best friend is Charlie the Horse but I love everybody else too, and I can be their best friend too if they need one! I can be your best friend! I’m a good friend and a good dog, and I can do whatever you want me to do! I’m a really great dog!
Read an excerpt
Sexy First Aid
Heather pointed to the chair Josh had just vacated. “Sit.” She made sure that her voice sounded strong, capable, no-nonsense. “Take off your shirt.”
She turned on the faucet, and while the water warmed, she located the first aid bin. She took a washcloth from the drawer next to the sink, filled a big bowl with steaming water, then dropped the cloth in. Before she turned around with the bowl in one hand and the first aid supplies in the other, she steeled herself for what she already knew would be a compelling glimpse of gorgeous man.
Oooh, mama. Her imagination didn’t do him justice.
Perched on the chair across from him, she poked through the contents of the first aid box, setting out a bottle of Betadine, a tube of Neosporin, a roll of gauze, and a dispenser of first aid adhesive tape. She wrung out the cloth, then dispensed some Betadine into its folds.
Finally, she met his eyes. Closer than she’d ever been to him before, she noticed that one of his dark-blue eyes had a chocolate-brown occlusion across the top third of the iris. Sitting this close, she could see the shadow of his beard beneath the clean-shaved skin of his square jaw and strong chin with a slight cleft in the center. He smiled at her, a gentle, soft smile that brought out the dimples in his lean, tanned cheeks. Then he closed his eyes and leaned forward. “Do your worst,” he said. “I can take it.”
Dinner for two
Abby dressed for dinner in a soft jersey sundress with a flowery print and a flirty skirt that swirled around her thighs when she moved. Her damp hair would probably frizz, and her cheeks would be too shiny, so hopefully the cute dress would provide a distraction from the total picture.
Because when faced with the realization that she had time to either clean the house or dry her hair and put on makeup, she’d opted for the house. While she zipped around barefoot with the vacuum, while she cleaned the kitchen and dusted the furniture and wiped down the butcher-block countertops, she told herself she’d made the right choice.
Quinn had seen her without makeup, so that cat was out of the bag. The cat still inside its bag was the one that could’ve spilled the secret that Abby wasn’t exactly a neat freak. After three days of not picking up after herself, she had to admit that Reva’s house was beginning to look a little grim.
She’d just put away the vacuum and lit a few good-smelling candles on the table when Quinn tapped on the glass door.
Dressed in oh-Mama-fitting jeans and a Lord-help-me-fitting T-shirt, Quinn also had a charming grin on his face and a bottle of red wine in his hand.
She might have fallen just a little bit in love before she even opened the door.
Wolf in trouble
A low growl filtered through the leaves, seeming to come from all sides at once. It sounded like a dog’s growl, but Wolf knew it wasn’t. This deep, bellowing growl came from the throat of something much bigger than any dog Wolf had ever seen.
And whatever it was, it was growling at him. His hackles rose at the unseen threat.
The growl moved closer, and Wolf could tell now that it was coming from behind him, accompanied by the silky, swishing sound of something big slithering through the mud, somehow staying on top of it instead of being swallowed by it.
Panting, floundering in the ever-deepening mud that sucked at his feet with every swimming step, Wolf struggled toward the smell of the clear water beyond the marsh. His front paws struck something hard and slick, something hidden deep under the muddy surface that the reeds seemed to grow on top of rather than sending roots down. Wolf scrabbled to get all four paws on the shifting platform, then pushed off and leaped forward…only to land in an even deeper pool of mud.
No bottom. No bottom. He went down, down, down. The mud closed over his head.