Designing Hearts, by Robin Strachan: An Interior Designer Turns her Husband’s Betrayal into a Fresh Start

Designing_HeartsHis affair broke her heart and divided their family. But when you believe in feng shui, everything is by design.

Designing Hearts ($15.95, 332 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-260-3) is a contemporary romance by Robin Strachan. A successful professional woman is thrown off balance by her celebrity husband’s very public affair, but she finds her footing, thanks to her faith in feng shui.

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Four Stars: “Strachan’s novel is raw and real, and it has the undeniable potential to tug on readers’ heartstrings. This novel would make a great book club choice because the topics tackled are emotional and need to be discussed out loud with a friend. For some, this story about betrayal and new beginnings may hit home fairly hard, but for others they may turn a blind eye to it due to uncomfortable situations dealing with distrust and marital troubles. Nonetheless, it’s beautifully written and worth holding on till the end.”

—Jaime A. Geraldi, RT Magazine

5 Stars: “This glitzy yet surprisingly down-to-earth novel about a high-profile marriage on the rocks explores all the typical cliffs and crevices then plunges into the blue waters of a new relationship.”  Read more….

—ForeWord Magazine

“This novel is a great representation that change can be sudden and unexpected. However, with the ability to stay true to yourself, anything can be overcome.”

—Katie Lipko, Johnstown Magazine, August 2015

“This book is a must for Nora Roberts fans looking for a stylish midlife romance. Run—don’t walk—to the book store or online site to purchase this hopeful, gorgeously written novel. You’ll be reminded that life’s difficult journeys and unexpected turns can yield extraordinary abundance and unforeseen happiness.” — Richard J. Levy, author of Thoughts Make You Wealthy

“A very entertaining and upbeat story about surviving divorce, helping others through the use of feng shui and finding true love. Jill is good company, and we’re rooting for her to get her second chance at love, especially when that chance seems to be someone as dishy as Denny. I found Jill’s relationship with the students in her class and her guidance on the road to health, wealth, and happiness to be particularly charming.” —Lyn Farquhar, co-author of the Mae December mystery series as Lia Farrell

Jill Hennessy is the envy of women everywhere. She has a flourishing interior design business, a handsome celebrity talk show host husband, and two successful adult sons. Then, suddenly, the entire world knows her “perfect” marriage is a lie. Jill learns the truth via a televised news flash exposing David’s affair with his young assistant. Her illusion of being in control of her life is shattered, and she can finally see the cracks in her husband’s shiny persona: his increasing distance from their family life, his self-absorption, his flagrant disapproval of their gay son.

As Jill struggles to come to terms with her new reality, David pours on the charm that drew her in to begin with. Can she forgive him and rededicate herself to his happiness and their family life, even if that means losing Denny, a respected artist who has the potential to be her true soul mate?

Jill is an expert in feng shui, a system of organization and color in the home meant to optimize life’s possibilities. She has a rare talent for putting her clients on the road to health, wealth, and happiness. Can she work these same miracles for herself?

Says Strachan, “About twelve years ago I was in the process of selling a home in the Kansas City area during a down real estate market. It wasn’t selling, and I was frustrated. I had a feng shui consultation, and the house sold within two weeks. I had been interested in feng shui for many years, so the idea wasn’t foreign that thoughts and intentions coupled with positive emotion and optimism can bring fast results. I use this concept in everyday life. The individual characters in this novel are fictional, but I believe their desires and needs are universal.”

Robin Strachan’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in local, regional, and national publications for over thirty years. Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, she began her writing career as a reporter doing features. Designing Hearts is her second novel. Her first, Manifesting Dreams, was released in November 2011. A third is in progress. Since 1981, Ms. Strachan has served in executive and development roles in higher education, health care, and medical research. She holds a bachelor of arts degree with dual majors in English and philosophy. She is also a published poet and a professional artist. She makes her home in the Chicago area. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“I must be crazy starting this project today,” she muttered, “but at least the cushions will dry fast in this heat.”

Twenty minutes passed before she took a break. Sliding open the glass patio doors, she stepped inside the air-conditioned kitchen and basked in the coolness that enveloped her. She poured another glass of iced tea and gratefully sank into a kitchen chair. Soon she would need to take a shower and get ready for class. Feeling a bit more refreshed, she pulled on the blue rubber gloves and was about to go outside again when the doorbell rang. Must be a neighbor, she thought as she went to investigate. But when she opened the front door, she saw a man wearing a striped blue-and-white golf shirt and pressed khakis.

“I hope I have the right place. Are ye Jill Hennessy?” the man asked with a noticeable Scottish lilt to his voice. He was very good-looking in a wholesome boy-next-door kind of way, dark hair highlighted by strands of silver, and a smile that, no doubt, melted female hearts. Even hers wasn’t immune today.

“I am.” Her voice sounded weak, even to her own ears. Yanking off the hideous blue rubber gloves, she wished desperately that she were dressed in something a little less Daisy Duke. She crossed her arms across her breasts and noticed the bra slung over the table in the foyer. She grabbed it and threw it into the hall closet, her face flaming.

The man was clearly amused, but too well-mannered to react. “I’m Denny MacBride,” he said with a slight roll of the ‘r’ in his name. “I’m your new painter. Monica said you have the drawings and design plans for the Colver house, and that I should pick them up on my way over there. She said she’d let you know I was on my way.”

Jill glanced at her cellphone and noticed there were two text messages. Monica had texted to warn her of Denny’s arrival while she was out scrubbing the patio furniture. “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry!” She was mortified at her appearance. “Monica did try to let me know. It’s so nice to meet you,” she said, forgetting her discomfort for a moment as she pumped his hand. “I took a look at your résumé and some photos from your portfolio. I’m very impressed with your work.” She glanced down at her outfit. “Sorry for my appearance. I …I’ve been cleaning patio furniture. I look awful.”

“I think you look just fine, Jill.” His engaging grin told her he was entirely serious. “Sorry to show up without prior warning. If those drawings are available, I’ll not trouble you any longer.”

“Please come in. It’s too hot to stand outside, and it’ll take me a few minutes to find those drawings and plans.” She began darting around looking for her briefcase, which inexplicably had disappeared from its usual place beside the back door. She left Denny in the living room as she searched through all the downstairs rooms.

“Oh, no,” she said, catching sight of her bedraggled appearance in the downstairs bathroom mirror, hair sticking up in weird cowlicks from the humidity. Why, oh why, did she have to meet this handsome Scotsman for the first time looking like a molting chicken? After several minutes, she located her briefcase on a kitchen chair, removed the designs, and returned to Denny, who was studying a painting on a wall above the Queen Anne chair.

“It’s a nice paintin’,” he said, rubbing his chin with his fingers. “I don’t recognize this artist’s name, but I like the simplicity of the subject. The green of those three pears, with one rolled on its side beside that blue-and-white china tea cup …. The composition is fine.”

Jill handed him the design drawings rolled up inside a cardboard tube. “I’m not normally into still life paintings, but this one had so much life in it, I couldn’t resist. Do you like art?”

“I do.” His expression didn’t change.

“Denny MacBride,” Jill said slowly as it dawned on her why his name seemed so familiar. “You’re an artist! I’ve seen your paintings; they’re wonderful. In fact, I recently recommended two of them for a client’s home.” She was struck speechless for a moment.

“Thanks.” He looked embarrassed. “I’ve been fortunate that my work has been well received.” He smiled and cleared his throat. “Before I go, I wanted to mention that I agree wholeheartedly with the color palette ye’ve selected for the Colvers’ house. But I’m concerned that the color in the library is a wee bit on the light side. I’d like ye to consider going two shades darker to this more velvet shade, and really make the color pop with those golden oak floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Here, look at this shade and see what ye think.”

He handed her a sample palette featuring a range of rich, nature-inspired greens. In all of her years of professional experience as a designer, Jill had never had a contract painter second-guess her color choices. In this case, she thought he was right.

“I think it’s a wonderful suggestion. We’ll need to clear the color change with the homeowners, but I’m sure they’ll like it as much as I do. Why don’t we meet at the house a few minutes early, before you start painting?”

“That’d be ideal. I’ll brush a little color on the wall, and you can make sure it’s okay.” His eyes met hers and lingered for a few seconds, causing Jill to blush. “I plan to be there by eight thirty tomorrow.”

“I’ll see you then.”

After Denny left, Jill slapped herself lightly on both cheeks. She was shocked to find herself thinking of Denny, his twinkling eyes and handsome smile. She cringed, remembering how she looked when he met her.

“Nice going, Jill,” she mumbled, wishing she could rewind the entire day and start over. She would make sure the woman he saw the next morning looked her professional best.

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