Heart to Heart by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner

This episode of Book Clips features a reading from the audiobook for Heart to Heart by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner – narrated by Layce Gardner. 

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Who says you can’t go home again?

Amy’s fast paced New York City life is interrupted by her mother’s illness. She returns home to Fenton, Missouri after many years to find her childhood home on fire and her aging mother in need of long-term care. It’s more than she can handle, but with the help of her new found friends, she finds a life—and love— she wasn’t expecting.

Parker is a self-made woman and owns her own carpentry business. She has had plenty of girlfriends in her life. The only problem is none of them seem to stick around for the long haul. Parker is tired of rejection and has reconciled her fate to being alone. Until the new girl in town hires her to renovate her burned house. Parker is torn between falling for Amy or guarding her heart and playing it safe.

Heart to Heart is an emotionally charged novel that explores loss, friendship, and a love that is discovered where you least expect it. (end of synopsis)

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Layce Gardner Website

Saxon Bennet Website


please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

you are listening to book clips a mini podcast in which authors and erasers do readings from novels check out the show notes for the synopsis and buy links for this book

heart to heart book one of the true heart series written by Saxon Bennett and Lacey Gardner narrated by Lacey Gardner published by square pegs Inc chapter one Amy Warner slowed the car and turned off the radio she couldn’t believe what she was seeing a column of smoke was rising above the skyline of Fenton Missouri it seemed to be coming from the vicinity of her mother’s neighborhood the sound of sirens rang in her ears she was in her rental car telling herself the whole time that it wasn’t her childhood home that was burning it couldn’t be what were the odds she thought that she would be coming home to take care of her aging mother and arrive only to find her mother’s house burning to the ground about the same odds her mind responded sarcastically as Trump winning the presidency Amy turned the car around the corner in what she saw made her slam on the brakes it was her childhood home that was burning she parked the car half on the street half over the curb she jumped out leaving the door open with the alarm pinging and ran toward the house a wall of heat stopped her from getting too close a kaleidoscope of colors danced over Amy’s childhood home two fire trucks an ambulance and three police cars were crowded onto the small street and had their lights flashing Amy felt like she was trapped in a nightmare surely she would wake up any minute now her alarm would go off and she would wake to yet another day in New York city but there was no alarm this was real amy watched unbelievingly as black smoke boiled out of the house and orange flames hungrily licked the roof the pale yellow paint blistered and peeled off the wood siding a window bulged then burst outwards shattering leaving the house with an empty eye socket staring blindly firemen swarmed the yard two hoses poured water onto the roof and through the empty window while police held back curious onlookers mom where’s my mother Amy asked a fireman as he ran by he didn’t answer at that moment a woman screamed the front door of the burning house burst open and thick smoke belched into the front yard two firemen emerged from the cloud of smoke they carried a screaming woman out of the burning house the woman flailed her thin arms and kicked her bare feet fighting the firemen every inch of the way her long stringy gray hair flew about her face as she whipped her head from side to side stop somebody help me the woman screamed her frail body convulsed with sobs and she continued in a voice raw with emotion I didn’t do it I swear somebody please help me Amy watched in shock as her hysterical mother was handed over to two EMTs and strapped onto a gurney she ran across the yard to the gurney and forced her way in between the EMTs she tried to take her mother’s hand but her mother was still struggling and thrashing despite the restraints she placed both hands on the side of her mother’s face and said mom it’s me Amy I’m here now I’m home at the sound of Amy’s voice her mother quieted she whispered hoarsely make them go away make them leave me alone I didn’t kill him I swear I didn’t tell them Jean tell them I didn’t kill him Amy flinched her mother had called her Jean Jean was her mother’s sister who had died over 20 years ago Amy leaned in closer and said mom I’m not Jean I’m Amy your daughter remember you know her as two firemen with black suits smeared across his cheek she’s my mother what happened here let me go her mother sobbed she ain’t make them stop please please make them stop her mother sobs turned to wails the fireman said from what we can tell she left the gas range on and something in the kitchen caught on fire when we got here she was wandering around in the front yard she said she was trimming the roses he said and he looked over at the rose bushes that lined the side of the house they had been hacked and sawed down to the roots it looked like something straight out of the movie Mommy Dearest when we tried to remove her from the yard she ran back inside the house she was headed straight for the burning kitchen I caught her just in time the fireman said leave me alone why can’t you just leave me alone Amy’s mother screamed a female EMT said mrs. Warner Mary honey we’re not trying to hurt you Amy realized the EMT knew her mother’s name Mary calm down we’re trying to help you the female EMT soothed Amy’s mother locked eyes with Amy make them stop she whispered please Jean make them stop Amy took a good look at the mother she hadn’t seen in years she wore a dirty tattered nightgown that was streaked and stained with food and blood her hands and forearms were covered in bloody scratches her bony feet were chapped and dirt streaked is she going to be alright Amy asked she’ll be okay the female EMT answered Amy backed away as the EMTs rolled the gurney to the waiting ambulance her mother wailed in protest the female EMT stroked her arm and tried to comfort her but Mary Warner spat in the woman’s face it didn’t seem to affect the EMT she wiped her face on her uniform sleeve and helped her partner load the gurney into the ambulance Amy checked her watch it was 2:15 p.m. the firemen had managed to put out the fire water flooded the front lawn it looked as if they had saved most of the house the kitchen was a goner but the rest of the house was still standing the female EMT came over to talk to Amy we’re taking Mrs Warner to the ER and then you’ll need to make arrangements she said arrangements what do you mean Amy asked ma’am are you aware of your mother’s mental condition not really Amy said I mean I was told she had Alzheimers but nobody told me it was this bad this isn’t the first episode the EMT said she’s done this before Amy asked shocked well she’s never burned down her house but she has wandered off and required medical attention the EMT said I didn’t know Amy muttered I didn’t but the truth was Amy had known she had denied it as long as she could if it hadn’t been for mrs. Fitzsimmons the next-door neighbor Amy wouldn’t even be here now mrs. Fitzsimmons had called and told her she needed to come home that it was time to make some decisions about her mother’s care if it weren’t for that phone call Amy would be in her tiny New York apartment banging away at her computer writing an article about the of being a housewife the amusing part was that amy was anything but a housewife still these kinds of magazine assignments paid the bills so she turned them out such was the life of a freelance writer in the big city hey there barb who we got here a police officer came up behind them she had an olive complexion and raven black hair that gleamed in the sunlight hi Rosa this is mrs. Warner’s daughter barb the EMT said you need to talk to her about her mother’s condition I got to get back she turned to Amy your mother will be at the ER barb walked to the ambulance and climbed in the back the firemen were rolling up the hoses and making ready to leave the policewoman smiled kindly at Amy and said why don’t we go sit in my cruiser and I’ll bring you up to date I’ll turn up the air she led a me to a police car I’m officer Garcia but you can call me Rosa she held out her hand in greeting Amy Warner she shook Rosa’s hand Rosa opened the passenger door for Amy and she climbed inside she had never been in a police cruiser before she sat stiffly Rosa walked around the car and climbed in behind the wheel Ms Warner Rosa started call me Amy please okay Amy I’m not going to mince words with you you deserve to know what’s been happening your mother has taken to wandering a lot lately she gets lost we find her we take her back to the hospital she comes back home a social worker was brought in but without a signed consent from a family member about the only thing we can do is keep an eye out for her and as you can see it’s not good when she’s left to her own devices she gestured to the suburban Holocaust Amy’s mother had created I’m sorry I should have come sooner I knew she was getting forgetful but I just thought she was doing what all old people did ami knew she sounded lame Rosa nodded sympathetically ami continued you see my mother and I we don’t exactly we’re not close we’ve never been very close she needs full-time care Rosa said what am I supposed to do Amy asked tears welled in her eyes she blinked them away I don’t live in town where do you live New York City there’s a facility here it’s fairly new Brookside it’s just for Alzheimer patients static came over the radio Rosa turned it low but Amy could still hear the call for officers in a domestic over on 3rd Street at that moment there was a wrap on the cruisers window Rosa powered it down it was one of the firefighters who had carried Amy’s mother from the house hey babe the firefighter said taking off her helmet Amy was surprised to see that it was a woman she had short dark hair black suit smudged her handsome features hey babe yourself you about done here Rosa asked yeah we’re heading out now the firefighter leaned in and looked at Amy you the daughter yes I’m Amy I’m Stef she cocked her thumb at Rosa saying I’m her better half her eyes were full of teasing says you Rosa said Stef look back to Amy you got a minute so we can talk sure Amy said Stef stepped away from the car and motioned for Amy to join her go ahead and talk to her Amy I’ll Drive you to the hospital when you’re done Rosa said but that’s ok you don’t have to do that I rented a car Amy said humor me Rosa said Amy figured she had some big emotional moments coming up and Rosa was concerned she was a nice woman all right Amy said and got out of the squad car Stef led amy toward the house they stood in the soaked front yard once pristine it was now a mess of torn up grass overgrown flowerbeds and the massacred roses ami stared wide-eyed things sure had gotten out of control she could only imagine what the inside looked like it’s a mess but it can be repaired Steph said she had evidently registered Amy’s dismay what am I going to do I don’t want my mother to see this this will kill her she won’t be coming back Amy Steph said gently she could have burnt down the neighborhood we can’t have that sort of safety risk to herself or others what if I get a caregiver for her Amy knew she was grasping at straws not a good plan she staged four which means Amy asked if I were you I’d spend what time you have left with her but that’s just my opinion as people are difficult they can become violent and they wander it’s the disorientation that gets them it’s terrifying for them they go to the store and all of a sudden they have no idea where they are you think they’re all set and then you’ll go shower and unless you remove all the doorknobs which people have done she might think that she needs to go to the store she can’t drive but that doesn’t mean she won’t find the car keys believe me I’ve seen it all you’d be doing her a favor by getting her the care she needs Amy nodded part of her was relieved it was all right to put her mother somewhere safe I don’t know what to do she waved her hand around about any of this despite her resolve she started to cry Steph put a big arm around her shoulder Amy felt the fire jackets rough canvas on her skin a one step at a time okay your mom’s safe for now then you’ve got to make some decisions about this house it’s not as bad as it looks your neighbors saw the fire and called before it got too far most of the damage is in the kitchen area it’s very unstable back there you have to stay out of it the rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage and is by no means habitable and it won’t be anytime soon so don’t even think about it Amy closed her eyes and rubbed her temples this is all too much for me I can’t handle it you can you’d be surprised I’ve seen people come back from a lot worse can you get time off from work I’m self-employed I’m a freelance writer which means you can work from anywhere right more or less well you’re golden then the La Quinta over on Willis Street is decent and they’ve got a pool Steph said she’s not staying at some scummy motel she’s staying with me a voice behind them said Amy turned it was mrs. Fitzsimmons the next door neighbor the red lights of the emergency vehicles fluttered across her aged face making her look like dr. Faustus after a conference with the devil she was not of course in fact she was the nicest person Amy had ever known she was more like a mother to her than her own mother had been relieved beyond words Amy grabbed the older woman in a hug you don’t have to do that I can stay nonsense I won’t hear of it mrs. Fitzsimmons pulled out a hand kerchief and handed it to Amy dry your eyes girl crying won’t help things right now there will be plenty of time for tears later Amy depth at her eyes mrs. Fitzsimmons patted her arm and said after you return from the hospital I’ll make you a nice cup of tea and we’ll get you settled in can I go now Amy asked Steph sure I’ll come by tomorrow morning and take a look at what we’ve got Steph said remember stay away from the house we’ll deal with everything in the morning I have no desire to go inside that house Amy said what she didn’t say was that she had never wanted to be inside that house amy was shaking as they pulled into the ER parking area Rosa must have noticed want me to go in with you Rosa asked you don’t have to Amy said staring at the front of the Ray s Fenton Hospital I know I don’t have to Rosa reached over and touched Amy’s arm I want to listen I know this is really hard you need someone with you right now do you have a friend here in town to call I don’t have any friends here I haven’t been back other than my father’s funeral in a long time then let me help Amy nodded thank you Rosa parked the cruiser and led a me to the hospital entrance they entered through the emergency room doors someone was yelling people in light blue scrubs rushed toward one of the cubicles Amy knew that scream it was her mother’s Rosa went to the desk and had a quick conversation with the admitting clerk whom she seemed to know Amy stood paralyzed in the middle of the waiting room listening to her mother scream she had an overwhelming urge to cover her ears thankfully the screamed suddenly stopped Rosa took Amy by the elbow come with me Amy didn’t move Rosa quietly said it’s alright I’ll be with you okay Amy nodded she allowed Rosa to lead her down a short hallway and to a curtain’d cubicle where a doctor and two nurses stood over her mother her mother’s eyes were closed and her jaw was slack her chest rose and fell in long shaky breaths the doctor a pretty woman with dark shoulder-length hair and blue eyes look today me are you a relative she asked I’m her daughter is your name Amy the doctor asked yes your mother’s been calling out for you she still remembers you Amy didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing did she pass out the doctor said we gave her a sedative she’ll sleep peacefully for a while what happens now Amy asked she’d always thought of herself as being a capable person but taking care of herself seemed easy compared to this now she had herself and her mother’s life to organize she didn’t feel capable at all all she felt was frightened now that she’s resting you can start the paperwork the doctor said admitting is waiting for you we’ll get her a room for the night she’ll be better when she wakes up she held out her hand I’m dr. Susan Everett I’ll be your mother’s treating physician Amy limply shook doctor Everett’s hand can I stay here with her for a minute sure I’ll wait outside dr. Everett said I’ll be in the waiting room whenever you’re ready to leave Rosa said the nurses left and Rosa and dr. Everett walked out of the room together chatting amiably they must know each other Amy thought of course in a town as small as Fenton it seemed everyone knew everyone else Amy sat on the small stool near her mother’s bed reaching out she placed her hand over her mother’s aged spotted wrinkled one she studied her mother’s face when had she gotten so old there were lines and creases that Amy hadn’t seen before her mother had been a vain woman and never went without makeup her physical appearance was the first clue that things were falling apart her stay night gown her greasy uncombed hair her jagged bitten nails that were once perfectly manicured every Saturday when she got her hair set this old withered woman lying in the hospital bed was not her self centered gorgeous mother this woman was lost in a funhouse maze and the carnival was never leaving town Amy put her head in her hands and the tears began to fall freely truthfully she didn’t know if she was crying for her mother or crying for herself maybe both after a few minutes dr. Everett stuck her head in between the curtains she saw Amy crying and walked up next to her she gently placed a caring hand on Amy’s back I don’t recognize her Amy whispered this woman isn’t the mother I know I won’t tell you it’s not bad dr. Everett said because it is we don’t get a lot of warning with Alzheimer’s and there’s very little we can do to stop its progression the memory loss is hard enough but what hurts the family most is watching the loss of their parents personhood a grown woman reverts to being a toddler she is unlearning all she has ever known and soon she won’t know how to do anything Amy sniffled she looked up at the doctor and said was that supposed to make me feel better no it’s supposed to make you realize the gravity of the situation right now you feel sorry for yourself I’m preparing you for what comes next which is the hardest time of your life dr. Everett said heart-to-heart book one of the true heart series written by Saxon Bennett and Lacey Gardner narrated by Lacey Gardner you have been listening to book clips check out the show notes for the synopsis and by links for this book if you are interested in showcasing your then check out the show notes for more information [Music]