Shelby’s Secrets

(6 customer reviews)

Tormented by the secret she keeps…

Shelby has come back to Boone, a tiny town in southern Indiana, to stay. She is a first-grade teacher and settles into life in Boone easily, loving the small-town atmosphere after the hectic pace of life in the big city. She lives with her grandmother and becomes fast friends with her brother’s wife, Maggie. She is also dating her brother’s business partner, Sam, and living happily with her family and friends.

But Shelby has a secret from her past, a secret she had hoped to leave behind her. When Griff Tanner shows up determined to get her back, Shelby’s peaceful, happy life is shattered. She is tormented by the secret she is keeping but refuses to share it with anyone. Desperate to get rid of Griff, she takes advantage of Sam’s feelings for her in an effort to make Griff give up on her. But she is shocked to discover that Sam is quite capable of taking her in hand when her behavior flies out of control. Still, she is determined to handle her problems on her own ­– without the help of her family.

When Griff’s pressure on her reaches boiling point, Shelby has to face the fact that she needs help. Will she confide in her loved ones and let them help her resolve her situation once and for all? Or will she be too ashamed to tell them the truth and make the decision to run away from her past again?

Publisher’s Note: Shelby’s Secrets is the second book in the series A Strong Man’s Hand, but can be enjoyed as a standalone. It contains elements of power exchange.

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Sample Chapter

Chapter 1

 

 

Children chattered as they made their way to their seats. Shelby Beauchamp turned away from the blackboard and smiled at the noisy group, waiting patiently until the bell rang for class to begin.

“Good morning, kids.”

“Good morning, Miss Shelby,” came the answering chorus.

“Did you all have a good weekend?”

There was a chatter of answers from the first graders.

Shelby said, “The first thing we’re going to do this morning is our spelling words, so take out a piece of paper and we’ll start.”

The day flew by and when school was out, Shelby packed up her things and started out of the building, calling goodbyes as she went. She was tall and beautiful, with shining dark hair, deep blue eyes, and a brilliant smile that betrayed how much she loved what she did for a living. She had a few errands to run on her way home, stopping first at the pharmacy for shampoo, then the small grocery store in town, finally stopping at her sister-in-law’s bakery, The Artful Oven. She knew Maggie was working late, preparing for a lunchtime catering the next day. The little bell jingled as she went through the door, and she called a hello to Maggie.

Maggie was bustling around the kitchen as usual, putting slits in the top crusts of a couple of peach pies she was about to slip into the oven while a big pot of soup simmered on the stove and cookies cooled on a rack. She peeked in at the bread baking in the second oven before turning to give Shelby a hug.

“Hi, Shelby, how was school?”

“It was a good day, even for a Monday,” Shelby said with a smile. “The kids were good, even Jacob.”

“Is he still giving you trouble?”

“A little. I think things are just not too happy at home. That’s hard on kids.”

Maggie said, “I don’t know his parents. I hope things get better for them.”

Shelby replied, “They keep pretty much to themselves; they don’t come into Boone much.”

“Are you and Sam still on for Saturday night?”

“Yes, we’re looking forward to it, burgers and beer, a little pool, and music.”

“Good,” Maggie said with satisfaction. “We need a night out.”

Maggie’s dog, Beck, wandered over and nudged Shelby’s hand with his nose, asking for his ears to be scratched. She was happy to oblige and absently stroked him while she chatted with Maggie.

“Do you have any of today’s soup left, Maggie?”

Maggie said, “I have one quart; I just put it in a container. It’s beef barley with mushrooms. Would you like some?”

“Yes, a quart would be perfect. I have a salad at home, and that’ll make a great Monday night supper for Gran and me.”

“Sure, and I have half a loaf of sourdough to go with it,” Maggie said as she got the soup out of the refrigerator. “How about a dessert?”

“No, we’ll pass on that. We both indulge in your treats a little more than we should,” Shelby said with a laugh.

“Well, it sure doesn’t show. You both look great!”

“It’s that time in the gym that saves me,” Shelby said. “With Gran, I think it’s just good genes and great metabolism.”

Maggie sighed. “We should all be so lucky.”

“Well, I’ll get out of your hair so you can get finished.” With a final pat for Beck, Shelby left the bakery.

Shelby Beauchamp had been raised in the city but had spent lots of time with her grandmother in the quaint little town of Boone, Indiana. The town bordered a state park that offered campgrounds and trails for horseback riding and was full of artsy-craftsy shops. It resembled an old west town, with wooden storefronts and sidewalks, and hitching posts along the main street for the trail riders.

After college, Shelby began her career as a first grade teacher and seemed to be thriving in the city. She met a man and they began a relationship that gradually became serious. There even was some talk of marriage until the relationship suddenly ended. Shelby refused to talk about it, and her family only knew that the romance had ended. A few months later, Shelby returned to Boone and took a job at the Boone Community School. She told her grandmother and brother, Carter, that she had grown tired of the city, with its traffic and chaos.

GG was delighted to have her granddaughter back in town, and Shelby quickly became fast friends with Maggie. She loved her new job at the school and soon realized how much she had always loved the little town of Boone. She even began dating Sam Davis, Carter’s business partner, although she was careful to keep their relationship on the casual side.

“Hi, Gran,” Shelby called as she went in the front door of her grandmother’s house.

“Hi, Shelby. I’m in the kitchen.”

Shelby gave her grandmother a hug and kiss as she walked into the kitchen.

“I brought soup and bread from Maggie’s to go with our salad for dinner.”

GG smiled. “That sounds great, especially for a Monday evening. How was your day?”

“Really good, how about you?”

“It was a little slow in the shop, but that’s not unusual on Monday. I got started on some paperwork I’d been putting off, and I just brought it home and finished it. So I’m feeling productive and ready for a glass of wine.”

Shelby laughed and said, “That sounds good to me, too.”

Shelby opened a bottle of wine and the two sipped while they chatted.

GG said, “I got an email from Savannah today. She’s going to France for a couple of weeks.”

“Really! She sure loves her traveling, doesn’t she?”

Savannah was Shelby’s identical twin sister. She had married young, divorced not long after, and had gotten an enormous settlement in the divorce. She did what she wanted, when she wanted, and had always considered Boone to be beneath her.

“She’s restless. She’s looking for something and never seems to find it.”

Shelby said, “I haven’t heard from her in quite a while. The last time I texted her, she didn’t answer. I wish she’d come and visit for a while.”

GG replied, “So do I. If she’d just let her guard down and give Boone a chance, I think she’d find out that she has a place here, too.”

Shelby answered with a sigh, “Well, she’ll have to do it on her own if she ever does. Nobody can influence Savannah to do anything.”

“True enough. By the way, I’m going out with some old friends on Saturday night.”

“Perfect,” Shelby said. “Sam and I are going to Outriggers with Carter and Maggie.”

“Well, good. We’ll both sleep in on Sunday.”

The week slipped by, and Sam picked Shelby up on Saturday for their burger date.

“Hi, gorgeous,” Sam greeted Shelby as she opened the door.

Shelby laughed at him and said, “Hi, Sam, you’re good for a girl’s ego.”

He kissed her on the cheek and shook his head. “Just telling the truth.”

“Come on in; I just need to grab my bag and jacket.”

Sam followed her into GG’s house. With an admiring whistle, he said, “Somebody sure did some good work renovating this place.”

With a laugh, Shelby replied, “They sure did. I’d recommend them highly.”

Sam and Carter had renovated most of GG’s big, old house. Sam helped Shelby shrug into her jacket and they went out the door, chatting easily.

Maggie and Carter had already gotten a table at Outriggers and waved them over as they walked through the door. The bar had picked up a loyal clientele since new owners had taken over the year before. Friday and Saturday nights, especially, were busy times for the place, known for its friendly atmosphere and excellent bar food. There were a couple of pool tables and games and multiple TVs for sports events, and the crowd was generally well behaved.

The four ordered beer and waited a little while to order food, munching on a basket of popcorn in the meantime. Sam and Carter talked about their latest job for Elizabeth Chandler, who despised men but trusted no one else to work around her house. Maggie and Shelby laughed helplessly at their exaggerations about Mrs. Chandler and her beloved little dog.

“I’m not kidding,” Sam said. “There was Carter with that dog hanging off his leg by the teeth and Miz Chandler yelling at him and telling him to put her dog down.”

“Yeah,” Carter said with a scowl. “And Sam was doubled over laughing, and I swear that dog was grinning at me!”

Maggie patted him comfortingly on the arm. “It’s okay, honey. Sam wouldn’t let the mean old dog really hurt you.”

Carter looked insulted. “Little you know. The little bastard drew blood.”

Sam was laughing harder. “Yep, almost a whole drop.”

Carter said, “I’m telling you, I’m not going back there unless she puts the dog up where it can’t get near us.”

Shelby asked, “Did you tell Miz Chandler that?”

Carter was disgusted. “No, she was too busy fussing over the mutt and asking it if her poor baby was hurt.”

Shelby said seriously, “Maybe you and Miz Chandler should bring in a dog whisperer.”

Sam and Maggie burst out laughing at the look on Carter’s face.

Kelli, one of the bar owners, came over to talk to them for a couple of minutes, and soon after, they ordered their food. They had a good night, eating, drinking, playing a little pool and darts, and enjoying their evening out. They had switched to Cokes soon after dinner and left shortly before midnight, calling their final goodbyes in the parking lot.

Sam walked Shelby to the front door, his hand linked with hers. At the door, she turned and asked him if he wanted to come in. Sam placed his hand on the door above her head and leaned over her, looking at her quizzically. When he stroked her cheek with a finger, she turned her head away a little.

“Shelby,” he drawled. “When are you going to let me get inside that head of yours? You only let me get so close, then you back away. Don’t you like me?”

Shelby shifted uncomfortably. “Of course, I like you. I wouldn’t go out with you if I didn’t.”

“But you still just don’t let me in. What’s up with that?”

“Sam…you know I told you I wasn’t up for a serious relationship from the start.”

“Yeah, but I’m really not convinced that you wouldn’t like to. And don’t you think it’s fair to tell me why?”

Shelby lifted her chin. “Yes, it probably is, but I’m just not ready to go there. I understand if you don’t want to see me on that basis, but I just don’t have any more to offer right now.”

Sam sighed and said, “Well, I’m not giving up that easily. I have a lot of patience when I’m after something I really want, so you’re not getting rid of me just yet.”

“I’m sorry, Sam. I know it’s not fair. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Oh, now, it doesn’t hurt that bad. We just had a good time, didn’t we?”

She nodded miserably.

“Well, then, I’m good with that. Don’t you worry about me. I’m not some kind of masochist. I’m having a fine time chasing you, and I just might catch you yet.”

Shelby laughed a little. “I can almost picture you doing it.”

“See? One day you’ll look back and wonder what the hell you were holding out for.”

He gave her a light kiss and said, “See you soon.”

Shelby slipped inside and watched him walk to his truck. He whistled and gave a little wave back at her. She closed the door as he backed out and shook her head in frustration.

“Sometimes I don’t know what’s wrong with you, Shelby,” she muttered out loud.

GG was already in bed, so she locked up and turned out the lights on her way to her room. She plugged her cell phone in and went to wash her face and brush her teeth. When she returned after changing into her pajamas, she saw her phone blinking. She thought it must be Sam or Maggie, so she opened the text message. As she read, the color drained from her face. With a stab of her finger, she deleted the message.

“Bastard,” she muttered as she got into bed. When her phone flashed again, she ignored it. After a good twenty minutes of tossing and turning, she gave in and read the message.

Hi, Shelby. Since you deleted my first message, here it is again. See how well I know you? It took a little work, but I did track down where you disappeared to. Boone, Indiana, huh? Sounds like a real hot town. I figure you’ve had time to cool down by now, so I’m going to look you up. No reason we can’t start fresh, right? I’ll be seeing you soon. Griff

Shelby threw a pillow across the room, nearly shaking with outrage. “That bastard thinks he can just walk in and start all over again? He actually thinks I’d fall for him again? It’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever speak to him again! Unbelievable!”

She didn’t realize her voice had risen until GG tapped at her door.

“Shelby? Are you all right?”

“Yes. Yes, Gran, I’m fine.” Shelby walked over and opened her door, tossing her hair back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“I was just reading a little bit; I didn’t get to bed long ago, myself. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” At the look on GG’s face, she amended, “Well, nothing important. I just got an arrogant, self-centered text from someone I thought I’d put behind me for good.”

Her voice had risen again, and GG cocked her head and said, “Maybe we should have a cup of tea and a talk. Come on; come with me.”

GG snagged her hand and gave her no choice but to follow. She started to fill the teakettle, but Shelby said, “I think I’d rather have a drink.”

“All right,” GG answered and got out the whiskey and two glasses. After pouring generous amounts for them both, she led Shelby to the library, where they sank into the couch in front of the fireplace.

“Now, what’s got you all fired up? Was it the man you were involved with in the city?”

Shelby took a sip and gave a big sigh. “Yes, and I really don’t have any desire to talk about him.”

“Okay,” GG said comfortably, sipping from her own glass.

Shelby tapped her fingers on the arm of the couch then burst out, “He’s just such an arrogant asshole! I don’t know who he thinks he is!”

“You mean the man you don’t want to talk about?”

Shelby nodded mutinously.

“Maybe it would help if you told me his name. Or we can stick with the man from the city.”

“Griff,” Shelby spit the name out. “His name is Griff Tanner.”

“Griff,” GG said as if tasting the name. “Yes, definitely sounds like an arrogant asshole.”

She surprised Shelby into a laugh. “Oh, Gran, you’re the best!”

“Well, he doesn’t have enough sense or taste to appreciate you, apparently, so I’m afraid it would be all too easy to believe he’s an arrogant asshole.”

Shelby leaned over to give her gran a hug. “He really is.”

“I believe you, love. Don’t you think it might do you good to tell the whole story of what happened with him? Don’t you think it’s a little odd that you just now told me his name? Weren’t you contemplating marrying him?”

Shelby heaved a huge sigh. “Honestly, I guess it probably would. But I just don’t think I can, at least not yet. It’s such a sore spot; I just want to get him out of my mind and keep him out.”

“Okay, then the subject is closed. Oh, except, what on earth did he tell you that set you off like this?”

“He said it took some effort, but he tracked down to where I “disappeared” to, and he figures I’ve cooled down by now and we can start fresh. So he’s coming to see me.”

“Really. Then, I have to agree with you, he is an arrogant asshole. I’m afraid he won’t find much of a welcome here.”

Shelby said glumly, “He won’t care. He has no regard for other people’s feelings, and he doesn’t care a bit what people think of him. I used to think it was confidence, but he honestly doesn’t care about anyone else’s opinion.”

GG blinked and said, “He sounds enormously unpleasant.”

“He hides it very well. He can be charming and engaging, but there’s not a bit of sincerity in him. He’s all about himself and what he wants. It was a true shock for me to finally see him as he really was.”

“When is he planning to make this visit?”

“I don’t know. He just said he’d be seeing me soon.”

“Well,” GG said thoughtfully, “I’d say that gives us a chance to prepare a real welcome for him.”

“Oh, Gran, I don’t want you to get involved in my mess. I’m probably overreacting. It was just a shock to get a message from him. I thought I had put him behind me for good. I think I just need to tell him that I don’t want anything to do with him, I’m not interested in anything he has to say, and I want him to go away and stay away. Forever.”

“That sounds plain enough. Do you think it’ll work?”

“If it doesn’t, I’ll repeat it. He won’t get any reward for his efforts, so surely, he’ll get tired of it.”

GG patted her hand and said, “You know, your friends and family are with you, and if you need our help, we’ll never hesitate to give it. We won’t let Griff Tanner disrupt your life, I promise.”

Shelby gave her another hug and said, “Thanks, Gran, I love you to the moon.”

“I love you, too, baby. What do you say we get some sleep now?”

Shelby finished her whiskey and stifled a yawn. “Sounds good to me. I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

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6 reviews for Shelby’s Secrets

  1. Redrabbitt

    I enjoyed the second book by a new author, Ms. Kat Carrington that had that friendly hometown feel that you get in a small town. The story has a delightful cast of characters, plenty of friendly comraderies, a touch of mystery and suspense, and a sweet new relationship forming. While this is a series, the book is well-written and will read well as a stand-alone. It will have some of the charming characters that were in Maggie’s Match. The story is about Shelby Beauchamp and a new relationship with Sam Davis, partner to Shelby’s brother, Carter.

    Shelby Beauchamp returns to Boone, Indiana and her grandmother’s house. She has decided to leave her job and life in the city and become a schoolteacher in Boone. The story will have lots of charming scenes with her first-grade students. The other thing is that she is reserved about getting involved with anyone but always has a good time when she is with Sam Davis. Shelby has a dark cloud hanging over her, one that haunts her and keeps her in check. When trouble comes to Boone, she panics and even threatens to move away but GG, her grandmother, tells her that she needs to share her burdens and stop running because that is what friends and family do.

    “That’s because you’re trying to do it alone. It’s too much for one person to bear. You have to let it go, let us all share it. It’s that simple.”

    The plot has the good, the bad, and the ugly and how Shelby is innocently caught up in a dangerous and possibly life-altering situation. She has left the city, the life she lived there, and especially to get away from Griff Tanner. He is a smooth talking, charismatic individual that has conned Shelby and now he has attempted to force his way back in her life, finding her in Boone, and making threats against her. Will she listen to her family and trust them and the law to help her?

    The story has several scenes from the past that Shelby will share, tense moments in the present as Griff enters back into Shelby’s life, and the steadfast support of family and friends. How far will things go before Griff makes his move and causes more problems for Shelby? Will Sam be understanding or walk away? Their relationship has been escalating, especially after he spanked her for her unruly behavior—but is that enough? Sam tells her that he was patient when there is something he really wants—and that is her—but first, Shelby has to trust him completely.

    “I didn’t know, either. I was so messed up. And I was so shocked when you spanked me. And even more shocked when I wanted you afterward, so badly that I couldn’t think straight. But it was like it broke everything free. Even though I was scared to death after, I think it was the beginning of letting it all go.”

    The relationship between Sam and Shelby is sweet, with sizzling chemistry that smolders before it burst into flames. Sam never pushes but lets her know he cares for her, wants her, and will be patient until she is ready. But one spanking and she sets off like dynamite—yet it will take time for them to work everything out—but he is a patient man. While there are several spanking scenes, there are also several intimacy scenes that are not overly explicit. It is a story full of emotions with lots of angst, ups, and downs and a great addition to this series.

  2. Marybeth

    This is book two of the Strong Man’s Hand series. You do not have to read book one to enjoy this story, but I do recommend it. Shelby has moved to Boone, Indiana. She wants to spend more time with her brother and sister-in-law. She moves in with GG, her grandma, and starts teaching at the local elementary school. What she doesn’t tell anyone is the reason why she has moved home. Griff Tanner was her boyfriend and they dated for over a year. But then she finds out what kind of man he is and she runs. While back in Boone, she starts to date Sam, who is her brother Carter’s partner. There is a little domestic discipline, but mostly just a great story. There is a HEA and I’m hoping that Shelby’s twin, Savannah is the basis of the next book.

    I read this through KU.

  3. Rjr

    I really enjoyed Shelby’s Secrets which is book two in the series A Stong Man’s Hand. While this book is definitely a great standalone, I can’t help but recommend the first book in the series, as it was also a terrific read. This book takes place not long after the end of book one and it continues the story of Shelby and her budding romance with Sam. Now that Shelby has moved to Boone on a permanent basis, has a great teaching job, and a new man in her life, she should be quite happy. However, her family and friends sense a growing unease and even dread in Shelby. As time goes by it seems like she’s about to burst over something. It turns out a bad situation from her past has followed her to Boone. While Shelby wants nothing more than to confide in her love ones about her problem, she is too ashamed and too scared to do so. One night when her problems overwhelm her, she explodes on Sam and soon learns that this dominant man is not going to accept such unwarranted and bad behavior. Finally Shelby feels that she can conquer her problem with the support of those she loves. The romance between Sam and Shelby is terrific. They start as friends and it moves into more in a normal, adult manner. But there’s definitely heat there! There’s a terrific mystery, a nasty villain, and lots of side plots to enjoy. Once again the writer does a terrific job of bringing small-town life to the reader. The settings and characters are such a joy. These people aren’t perfect but they’re good people who care for their friends, their families, and their community. I couldn’t wait to read book two in the series and I absolutely love it. I so hope the series is going to continue because I’m not quite ready to leave Boone and I bet you won’t be either.

  4. Julie

    Until I finished the book, I could not put it just like with the first book in the series Maggie’s Match.

    Shelby came to Boone, Indiana closer to the end of book 1 and started off there in book 2. Shelby has settled in, started teaching school, and is quite happy. Plus she is seeing and very interested in the hardware store owner’s son Sam Davis who is also her brothers business partner.

    Shelby has not told anyone why she suddenly appeared in Boone and put down roots so quickly.

    She dated a boy for over a year and did some things she is extremely ashamed of. She has tried to push it out of her mind. Not only that she fled when she found out what kind of man he really was.

    Now Griff has come to Boone to get her back any way he can and blackmails her.

    Her friends and family keep telling her they are there for her. But she is just too ashamed.

    Now she has no choice she needs help. Will they keep their word and help her instead of turning their back on her?

    Will Sam be able to move on when he finds out about her past and the fact she was too ashamed to tell him? Or did she not trust him enough?

    I received a free copy of this book. This honest review was posted voluntarily.

  5. Toni

    This is book 2 in the A Strong Man’s Hand series & if you haven’t read book 1, don’t worry. This can be read & enjoyed as a completely standalone book. Shelby moves back to the town of her Grandmother & starts a new life after a previous relationship goes wrong in unexpected ways. As part of this new life she begins a new relationship with Sam. I really enjoyed this read but it felt for a lot of the book that Shelby was using Sam’s feelings for her own reasons. Ultimately, this was resolved & a HEA completes the story.

  6. Lori

    When Shelby moves to the small town of Boone and in with her grandmother, it’s great to be close to Gigi and her brother Carter. It’s also fun dating his friend Sam until the past comes back into her life. She thought she could escape, but Griff will never let her leave. Can she trust her family with her secrets? Can they help her? This is sweet romance with trust issues, intrigue and 2 spanking couples. Hand.

    I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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