Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can’t even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She’s confident that her destiny is finally within reach.
When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.
Julie is a forty-something, dangerously close to becoming a fifty-something, graduate from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama, which has only made her better able to recognize the unhealthy, codependent relationship she has with writing. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a marriage and family counselor. She is the author of four women’s fiction novels, including Count Down to Love, a 2011 Whitney Award finalist. When she’s not writing, she entertains delusions of being a master gardener, that is, when she’s not killing the unsuspecting plants in her yard with her good intentions. She lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, two daughters, a Betta named Bob, and a Scottish fold kitten, Ardweal.
What a truly touching and inspirational story of figuring out what matters the most in this life! I was easily swept away into this quietly unassuming yet profoundly enlightening journey of two very different people who just happen to be looking for the same thing. This is a story that will have you laughing, crying, and begging for more. I loved every minute of it!
Olivia is a very bright and talented woman who is desperate to become part of the high profile world of glamor and glitz. She has spent her entire life working toward the goal of being on a huge network show like Home Matter, and she is determined to now let anything get in her way. Fate finally smiles on her and allows her some luck in landing such a job. She wastes no time in acclimating herself to the lifestyle and wants more than anything to make a good impression. However, what starts out as a dream quickly becomes mired in lies, half-truths, and more lies. While her mind is grasping for the stars, it seems that her heart is searching for something a little less elusive but much more real and fulfilling.
Watching Olivia as her dreams blossomed, thrived for a few brief seconds, and then shriveled up was heartbreaking and yet immeasurably encouraging. Pete gave her the opportunity to examine her life, see where it was headed, and then decide if this was what she really wanted. Finally letting her heart have a say in her life helped her to see that there are things worth more than your name in lights, piles of money, or looking like a perfect plastic doll. The things that mean the most in life are simple, real, and lasting.
I had so much fun reading this delightful novella! It has such a powerful message that was relayed in a tender yet insistent manner that is sure to make people sit up and take notice. Julie N. Ford has really poured her creativity and her heart into this beautiful declaration of remembering what is truly real and worth all of our time and energy.
Pete scratched the scruff on his chin. “Olivia Pembroke,” he repeated, as if giving her name some serious thought. “Sounds like a character from a Jane Austen movie.”
Olivia responded with a dour look. “You a fan of turn- of-the-century romance films?”
Pete shrugged off her comment. “I have three older sisters,” he said, his eyes studying her from head to foot. “Except, the more I’m getting to know you, with that fiery disposition and those Bambi eyes, you’re reminding me more of a feisty little Disney fairy than a demure lady of class.” He lifted his thick eyebrows, curious. “Is that your real name, or some sort of made-up stage name?”
Just because a girl had a heart-shaped face, turned-up nose, and bow mouth, didn’t make it okay for people to tease her about resembling any sort of cute little pixy. She hated when people made the connection. He was really starting to annoy her, which was obviously what he intended, so she refused to allow him the satisfaction of knowing just how much.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but both.” She idly examined her manicure. “My momma named me Olivia because she thought Olivia Pembroke would look good all lit up on a marquee. She knew I was going to be a big star when I grew up.”
He huffed out a laugh. “You, and about a few thousand other pretty faces in this town.”
Olivia shot him a withering look. “What’s your point?”
Pete shrugged. “Why waste your life chasing what will likely amount to no more than two minutes of fame when there are nobler causes out there worth pursuing?” He almost sounded genuine. “After all, love and fame can’t live in the same place.”
Olivia’s hands curled into tight, angry balls. Who did this man think he was to lecture her on the nobility of her ambitions? The most infuriating man she’d ever met, that’s who. “Says the man who was obviously born to clean toilets.” Taking a step closer, she faced him straight on and planted her fists on her hips. “And just a tip, Socrates. The next time you go all philosophical on a girl, and you expect her to take you seriously, try not using movie quotes to prove your point.” She slid him a superior glance. “Like I wouldn’t recognize a line from Country Strong.”
Pete moved closer as well. Their noses were barely inches from touching. She could actually feel his breath on her face, and for some unconscionable reason, she found the sensation oddly tantalizing. Then he opened his mouth to say something else. But before he could get a word out, a voice from the near distance interrupted.
“And, that’s a wrap!”
Olivia jerked toward the casting director. “What?” she questioned, though she knew fully well what “that’s-a-wrap” meant. “I’m sorry, but unless I’m mistaken, we haven’t begun shooting yet.”
The director rolled his hand through the air. “Yes well, we’ve seen all we need to,” he said, his attention already diverted to the phone his assistant was handing him. “Thank you for coming down today, Olivia. We’ll be in touch.”
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