“You’re off-limits, so why can’t I stop thinking about you?”
Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.
But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.
Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed.
“I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything.”
“Can you promise me tomorrow?”
“I can do that, yes.”
“So every day we’ll promise each other tomorrow, and that’s how we’ll get to forever.”
I dragged a lounge chair into a patch of shade in the middle of the back yard. The shade was a great deal cooler than the sun, but still hot enough to make me wish I’d gone with Celia. I settled back into the chair and looked at the book I’d grabbed. The cover had a picture of a bosomy woman and a man whose pecs were nearly as big as the woman’s boobs. I was fascinated. I looked around. Hardly anyone had a privacy fence in Juniper. I could look right and see the back yards of four houses before a strategically placed garden shed blocked the view. To the left was just woods. I didn’t see anyone, so I dove into the naughty book.
An hour later I was lost in the 1700s, with a man named Claudio and his barbaric and sexy ways. I was so engrossed, in fact, that I barely registered the sound of a lawn mower starting up next door. Claudio was about to kiss Jasmina for the first time, when someone spoke from my right. “Good book you have there?”
I jumped and slammed the cover closed. “Holy dang! Do not sneak up on me like that!” I looked up into the grinning face of Malcolm Dearing.
“Holy dang?” His impossibly wide grin grew even wider.
I looked nervously toward the kitchen window, hoping Aunt Donna had finished the dishes and moved on to the laundry, which was in the basement. “What are you doing here?”
“Just thought I’d say hi. We’re mowing next door.”
“Oh. Hi. But I don’t think you should come over here, Malcolm.”
He shifted the Weed Eater he was holding to the other arm. My weed whacker fantasy from yesterday had come to life. Lying there like that made me feel vulnerable, so I swung my legs over the side of the lounge chair and stood facing him. He had grass clippings in his hair and stuck to his forearms. He made no move to leave.
“Really, though. You can’t be in this yard.”
“This is the Young house.”
“Todd Young. He works for your father?”
Malcolm furrowed his brow. He had very nice, thick eyebrows. “I know who the Youngs are. Everybody knows everybody, here. But why am I not welcome in their yard?”
I stared at the ground, puzzling over the fact that he didn’t seem to know. “I think it’s a personal thing between your dad and my uncle.” I whispered, even though no one else was around to hear. “You didn’t know this?”
“My dad keeps business and family separate.”
I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, thinking that over. I didn’t want to reveal anything Celia would want me to keep quiet. “Okay, but this family is different. If you stay in this yard, and my aunt sees you, she’ll come flying out that back door screaming at you.”
His eyes widened in surprise for a moment, then he smiled slyly. “So you’re protecting me?”
I squinted at him. “I’m just trying to keep the peace.” I heard my heartbeat in my ears, and I kept glancing at the kitchen window, searching for any sign of Aunt Donna. Keeping other people’s secrets wasn’t good for my cortisol levels.
He didn’t move. The sun glinted off his hair, revealing red highlights hidden within the messy, nut-brown mass. “Is this why Celia’s always giving me death glares?”
I nearly laughed, but stopped myself. “Malcolm, I really shouldn’t talk to you about this.” I hated how pleading my voice sounded.
Malcolm studied my face, his features easing from confusion to compassion. He clearly didn’t understand what was going on, but he understood I was uncomfortable. I watched as he walked backwards until he was ten feet away from me, effectively past the property line and in the neighbor’s yard. “How’s this? Am I safe?”
My aim was to be serious, but a traitorous smile found my lips. “That’ll do.”
“So can I get your name today?”
“No. I can’t encourage this consorting.” Apparently part of my brain was still stuck in the 1700s with Claudio and Jasmina.
He shook his head and laughed. “Alright then. Enjoy that book.” He hitched up the Weed Eater and turned away from me.
I lay back down and tried to get reabsorbed into Jasmina’s world. I found myself sneaking peeks at the yard next door. I watched Malcolm trim the grass around a swing set. I read a whole page before I allowed myself another glance. He had moved on to the propane tank. When my eyes reached his face, he turned his head and noticed me. Caught! I turned my face back to my book, grinning.
A bit later the lawn mower stopped, and the sudden silence numbed my ears. I peered over the top of the book, and saw another guy walking my way. It was the same one who’d come into the restaurant with Malcolm yesterday.
“Hi,” he said. He had ash blond hair and was tall and lanky, stretching in every direction. He even walked loose, like he was made of springs.
“I’m Paul. I’m a Martin, not a Dearing, so it’s safe for you to introduce yourself.”
I smiled. “Okay, Paul. Did Malcolm send you over?”
“Nope. In fact, he told me not to bother you because you were reading. He may have mentioned that you don’t talk to Dearings, which is good news for me because he’s always the one to get the girl’s name first.”
“Is that so?”
“It is so.”
“Well, Paul, in that case, I’d be glad to give you my name. I’m Fay, and it’s nice to meet you.”
“Fay. You’re new here.” Juniper was a very small town.
“I’m just here for the summer, staying with my cousins.”
“Cool. Have your cousins been showing you a good time?”
I thought about the skinny dipping voyeurism and laughed. “Sort of.”
“Well, you’d be welcome to hang out with me any time. I’m always up to something fun.”
“Sure, Paul. Count me in.”
“You know, you’re going to have a tough time avoiding all the Dearings in this town. The place is crawling with them. There’s one on every street, practically.”
I smiled at him, knowing the whole thing sounded pretty silly. But it was kind of exciting, in a weird way. And anyway, it wasn’t my feud. “Thanks for the warning.”
“I better get back to work. We have one more yard to do before lunch, and I’m starving. But tomorrow night a bunch of us will be at the ball field if you want to come.”
“Is there a game?”
“No. We just like to hang out on the bleachers. You might have noticed there aren’t a lot of places to go around here.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Paul walked back to the other yard, where I saw Malcolm waiting, holding a rake. They talked a minute and then Malcolm grinned and looked over at me. “Bye, Fay. Hope that book has a happy ending!”
They grabbed up the rest of their equipment and rushed toward their truck, laughing. I couldn’t help but laugh, too. “You have a big mouth, Paul!” I shouted after them. “I hope you mow over a hornet’s nest!”
Reviews"The Edge of Juniper is a contemporary romance that analyzes family dynamics, friendships, and romantic relationships. I absolutely loved Lora Richardson's writing. She was thought provoking and honest. This is now in my top ten YA contemporary reads!"
-Elizabeth from talkingbookworm
"Let me say straight up that I loved Fay. It's not often that a YA protagonist rings as true as this girl did. As for Malcolm...oh my. Every girl should be so lucky to have a Malcolm in her life. I so hope this wonderful, heartfelt novel gets the attention it deserves."
-Tanya from girlplusbooks
"If you're looking for a good YA romance/contemporary, I can't recommend this one enough. It'll have you smiling, crying, and wishing for a relationship like Fay and Malcolm's."
-Kourtni from kourtnireads
Lora Richardson always dreamed of being a writer. As a child, she wrote stories on her mom’s typewriter, and bound them with cardboard and tape. She put away the stories for a time, but now that her own children are old enough to give her bits of quiet time here and there, she decided to return to her love of writing.
She lives in Indiana with her husband, two children, and two guinea pigs. She spends her time reading, writing, homeschooling her kids, and hanging out with her people.