"A famous young woman receives the life she dared only dream of."
Reviewed by Kay Quintin
Posted June 12, 2013
Mel Ravenswood's father, Hamilton Ravenswood, was a
famous rock star who died in a plane crash when she was 10
years old. At her mother's insistence she has been protected
and hidden from the paparazzi and news reporters and has now
come into her inheritance at 25 again drawing attention.
Moving to the small quiet community of Willowbrook, Texas,
Mel anonymously takes a job with the Willowbrook Gazette as
Mel Harper. Her assignment to cover Henry Travis and his
generous donation to the local school brings her a whole new
problem when meeting his famous rock star son,
Hank....indicative of the very world she hides from!
Mel soon finds herself doing a story on Hank's rock
group, Black Wing. Falling in love with a famous musician is
the very warning she has had from her mother since
childhood. Hank and his band plan on recording their next
album call Melody, written by Mel's father just prior to his
death and dedicated to Mel portraying his love for his
little daughter. Afraid to love a musician always in the
spotlight, Mel refuses to commit to the man she has
desperately fallen in love with. She wants a normal life of
anonymity and a loving husband with whom she can fill her
life with, and a regular family. Mel is thrown into a
maelstrom of searching for the truth surrounding the events
of her father's death and uncovers information that can
change her life forever in bringing her closure and future
Dolores Maroney has created a heartwarming tale of a soul
searching child turned adult coming to terms with what
happiness really is and what it takes to achieve it. I was
completely caught up in this story and loved every turn of
the page. I was NOT disappointed in this beautiful novel
which was very artistically written. My only regret was that
LOST MELODY was over too soon!
2014 HOLT Medallion Award of Merit
Finalist - 2014 Booksellers Best Award
Out of sight, out of mind. That's what Melody
Ravenswood was counting on when she invented a new life for
herself as Mel Harper in the small farming community of
Willowbrook, Texas. She could be herself, whoever that was.
Having long since lost her identity to being the only child
and sole beneficiary of a legendary rock and roller, she
was finally going to live the normal life she craved â€“ a
job, a house, friends and no paparazzi.
Hank Travis is the last thing Mel needs in her new
life. The local boy turned rock and roll star's sexy, won't
take no for an answer pursuit makes her long for a life she
has only dreamed of. Before Mel can have the future she
wants with Hank, she must confront her past and find the
Melody she lost along the way.
Mel pumped a nickel into the antique parking meter in
front of The Donut Hole and went inside. She paused to savor
the intoxicating medley of aromas that never failed to
jump–start her system—even after a
near–sleepless night. Fatigue rolled off her
shoulders. She smiled and greeted a few familiar faces with
a wave over the crowded shop.
She took her place in line and thanked goodness for the
owner's hot chocolate making skills. In the few months she
had been in Willowbrook, a cup of Cathy's concoction had
become her morning addiction. It was rich and decadent
enough to inspire her to give her new life another chance.
At last, her turn at the counter arrived. Cathy smiled
warmly at her. Gratitude for her friendship filled Mel with
"Morning, sunshine," Cathy said, taking in Mel's
appearance and coming to the correct conclusion. Nothing got
by her. "Another bad night?"
"So so. I think I'm getting better," she lied. She'd
hoped moving to a new place, one far away in both distance
and demeanor, would be the magic cure for her sleepless
nights, but it hadn't proven to be the case. It seemed her
problems were destined to follow her wherever she went.
"I don't get it, girlfriend. There's nothing in
Willowbrook to keep a person awake in daylight, much less at
"I know. It's not the town. It's me. I just don't sleep
well. Maybe I'm part vampire," she joked, knowing it wasn't
the undead keeping her awake.
"I read something about an herbal remedy...Melatonin, I
think it was called. The name reminded me of you.
Mel...Melatonin. Get it?"
She smiled at the well–meant help. At least her new
friend cared enough to offer whatever she could. "Yeah, I
get it. Thanks, but I've tried it. Didn't work."
"Oh well." Cathy shrugged. "What will it be today, the
"I've got an interview, so two hot chocolates, and pick
out half a dozen doughnuts for me. Anything will do, but
make sure at least one has chocolate on it."
Cathy filled the order and passed it over the counter.
"I'll put it on your tab."
"Thanks. Remind me to settle up at the end of the week."
"Oh, don't you worry! Go on, I've got customers waiting."
Mel held the door open for the group of
silver–haired ladies who met at The Donut Hole every
morning to gossip over pastries and coffee. She'd love to
write an article about them one day. They probably had a
million stories to tell about the town, and every one of
them would be good. The last one through the door thanked
her, and Mel headed to her Jeep. She tossed the doughnut bag
onto the passenger seat, stowed the two steaming cups in the
built–in cup holders, and went in search of her
She pulled to the curb in front of 755 Pecan Street and
cut the engine. The house looked like all its neighbors,
except for the rioting scarlet azaleas in bloom along the
base of the raised porch. She peered through the open front
door behind the rusty screen. Seeing no one inside, she
rapped her knuckles against the screen door sending it
clattering against the jamb.
"Mr. Travis? Anyone home?"
She stepped back, taking a moment to admire the neat yard
and well kept flowerbeds. The next–door neighbor
tended her rose bushes, wearing a broad brimmed straw hat
and rubber gardening clogs. The woman turned, revealing a
sleeping infant in one of those backpack things hanging from
her shoulders. Mel squashed the ping of envy that inevitably
came when she saw a mother with her kids. Maybe one day....
No. It was a dream she'd let go of a long time ago, along
with the one about finding a guy who didn't mind her being a
fugitive from her own life.
A bee buzzed around her head and zeroed in on the bright
spring buds surrounding the porch. She closed her eyes and
breathed in the morning air tinged with the intoxicating
sweetness of roses and the fresh clean scent of wet earth.
Aromatherapy at its best. If peace had a scent, this she
thought, was it. As tempting as it was, she couldn't stand
on the porch all day. She had a job to do.
She knocked again, and getting no answer she turned to
"Just go on in," the woman next door spoke, halting Mel
halfway down the steps. "Henry is in there somewhere. He
"Thanks. I'll do that. He is expecting me."
She wiggled her fingers at the neighbor—the best
she could do with her hands full—and backtracked up
the steps. Life in Willowbrook, and in rural north Texas,
was different than anything she had ever experienced. Few
people locked their doors, and everyone knew everyone else's
business. In a few short months, she had grown to love the
lifestyle. At first, the similarities between her busybody
neighbors and the paparazzi had shaken her, but it hadn't
taken long to figure out the difference. Folks in
Willowbrook took care of each other—like a family.
She juggled her offering of doughnuts and hot chocolate
and tried the screen door. It was unlocked. No surprise.
She stepped cautiously into the living room. The
furniture was dated but not worn out. Morning light through
the front window illuminated a faded floral rug over a
hardwood floor. Other than a novel resting on a small table
next to an overstuffed recliner, the room appeared little used.
"Hello! Anyone home?"
She moved with caution, announcing her presence as she
went. She could just see tomorrow's headline—Reporter
Frightens Elderly Resident to Death. Or another
possibility—Elderly Resident Mistakes Reporter for
Burglar and Opens Fire. Neither one held any appeal.
She passed the tiny dining room and kitchen. They were
both empty, which left only the short hallway and the
bedrooms to explore. She entered the passage on trembling
legs. Her imagination conjured every terrifyingly possible
scenario. Poor Mr. Travis might be incapacitated on the
bathroom floor...or worse.
Only three doors opened off the hall. Two bedrooms and
one bath, she surmised—much like her own house a few
streets over. She peeked around the first door and breathed
a sigh of relief. The tiny bathroom was empty.
She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. Her
heart beat a wild rhythm in her throat and a pent–up
breath rushed past her lips. She took a moment to gather her
courage and checked the next room. A bedroom. It, too, was
scrupulously clean and empty.
"Thank heavens," she muttered.
A faint rustling of papers drew her attention to the
final door. Adrenaline flowed and her heart raced even
faster. Fearing the worst, she sucked in a steadying breath
and stepped into the open doorway.
The man seated at the antique secretary didn't fit the
house. Literally. He overwhelmed the small
bedroom–turned–office. Long, denim clad legs
stretched across the room. His feet, encased in canvas
sneakers, tapped a silent rhythm. An overweight black
Labrador Retriever slept on the floor next to his chair. The
useless watchdog rolled her brown eyes at Mel but didn't
move from her position.
"Hello," she called. Neither one stirred. The dog was
either very well trained or the laziest canine on the
planet. She couldn't imagine what the man's excuse was. Then
she noticed the thin wire snaking across his chest from his
shirt pocket to the tiny earbud headphones he wore. She
shrugged and leaned against the doorframe. No wonder he
hadn't heard her. He probably had the volume so high he
wouldn't hear a freight train bearing down on him.
If this was Mr. Travis, he was younger than she
expected—perhaps thirty. Certainly no more than
thirty–five. His sandy hair was cut in a familiar
style. Willowbrook had one barbershop and one barber, Judd
Spencer. Her first week on the job she had been asked to
write an article on the aging barber who had been doling out
the same haircut to any and all comers for the last forty
She noted the man's strong, cleanly shaved jaw. He wore
surprisingly stylish reading glasses, Ralph Lauren if she
knew her logos, and she did. The sleeves of his starched
dress shirt were rolled to reveal the corded muscles of his
forearms. He held a sheaf of papers in long fingers.
He looked like he should be in a magazine ad
for...something. Men's cologne, a sexy watch perhaps.
Whatever. He was too sexy to be in this house—or in
Willowbrook for that matter.
He ran a finger down the page, his focus complete. Her
skin tingled. Lucky piece of paper. What it would feel like
to have him study her with the same intensity, and oh Lord,
to have those hands explore every inch of her body?
She licked her lips and swallowed hard past the lump in
her throat. She had never seen a sexier man. Just watching
him made things itch and ache that shouldn't be itching and
aching—not for someone she was supposed to interview.
It wasn't professional.
She mentally kicked herself. She had a job to do.
She took another step into the room and waved a quickly
cooling cup of hot chocolate into his line of vision. "Hello."
Mr. Travis jumped to his feet, pulling the headphones and
glasses off in the same motion. Summer green eyes framed by
long lashes took stock of her in a brisk head to toe sweep.
He dropped the papers and reading glasses to the desk. The
earbuds swung on thin wires from his pocket, and the
distinct chords of "Melody" by RavensBlood filled the air.
The lump in her throat threatened to cut off her air supply,
and those earlier tingles turned to icy shivers of dread.
Memories battered at her defenses and threatened her hold on
reality. She took a step back—as if distance could
lessen the impact.
She forced the memories into the neat little box she had
assigned them and mentally shoved it into the cellar where
You can do this.
The job. Willowbrook. It was a new beginning, a chance to
put the painful memories behind her. She would not blow it
because the man had that song on his player. Hell, everyone
on the planet had that song. It was something she had to
learn to live with.
She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders.
"I–I'm looking for Henry Travis." She nodded down the
hallway in the direction of the front door. "I knocked
several times. Y– your neighbor said I should come on
in." Another more welcome idea blossomed in her chest.
Perhaps he wasn't the man she'd come to interview. Please,
God. Let it be someone else, anyone else. Just not a man
with the ability to make her tingle, and long to run away at
the same time. "Is Henry home?"
"Which Henry Travis are you looking for?"
His voice, like hot chocolate with an edge, coated the
icy points of her nerve endings and brought back that tingly
feeling. Insanity. It was the only explanation. "Um, I don't
know exactly. Is there more than one?"
"Yes. I'm Henry Travis, Jr., but everyone calls me Hank.
Henry is my dad." The dog roused from her stupor and stood
next to him. He rubbed her head, earning the dog's
adoration. "This is Betty Boop. She's harmless."
"Obviously." She spared a glance at the dog and returned
her gaze to the man who most decidedly was not
harmless—at least not to her, not with that infernal
song still playing from the earbuds dangling from his
pocket. She entertained the idea of asking him to turn it
off but doing so would only invite questions she didn't want
to answer. "Do you live here?"
He flashed a quirky half–smile that weakened her
knees. "This is my dad's house. I have a farm outside of
town. The Chilcote place. Maybe you know it."
She shook her head. "No, I don't think I do. I'm sort of
new around here." Her legs wobbled under his scrutiny. Damn.
She needed to get a grip, and fast. The way his eyes raked
her from head to toe made her conscious of the way her silk
blouse draped over her breasts, and judging by the way his
gaze lingered there, he had noticed, too. So much for the
professional appearance she'd been going for when she'd
selected her wardrobe this morning.
"What have you got there?" He nodded toward her hands.
"Oh. I brought doughnuts and hot chocolate." She raised
the bag as evidence.
His eyebrows shot up. "Okaaay. Why don't we go to the
kitchen, and you can tell me why you're here."
She heard his low whistle when she turned and led the
way. With each step, she silently cursed her other wardrobe
choice, a sleek cotton and spandex blend pencil skirt that
molded to her curves but allowed her hips to move when she
walked. Heavy footsteps lagged behind—far enough to
get the full effect. She placed her burden on the vintage
oak kitchen table and turned. He stopped just inside the
doorway, his face unreadable as he lounged against the
doorframe with his arms crossed over his chest and his hips
cocked to one side in a casual yet wary stance. The
interview was not going well. Not at all. If she didn't get
this back on track, she would walk out of here with
nothing—and that just wouldn't do.
She pasted a smile on her face. "Maybe I should start
over." She extended her right hand. "I'm Mel Harper from the
Betty Boop ambled past her master and sniffed the
doughnut bag. She plunked her rear end down and turned
pleading eyes on the man in the doorway. Hank ignored the
dog and Mel's outstretched hand.
"Well, Ms. Harper. I don't do interviews, doughnuts or no
His tone cut her bravado off at the knees. She dropped
her hand to her side. "But I have an appointment at
nine–thirty to interview you about your donation to
the Willowbrook High School Band program."
He straightened, dwarfing the kitchen as he had the small
office. Gulliver in Lilliput, and she was definitely a
Lilliputian. She gripped a chair back to steady herself. The
earbuds swung from his shirt pocket, but thankfully, he had
turned the music off. He was close enough she could smell
his aftershave—something woodsy with expensive
He cocked his hips to one side and buried his left hand
in the front pocket of his jeans while he studied the
pattern in the old linoleum. His right hand rubbed along the
back of his neck. She gripped the chair tighter to steady
herself and to keep from touching him.
With a long sigh, he dropped his hand. He raised his eyes
to hers and her heart did a somersault. In a matter of
minutes, his appraisal had gone from hot to arctic to a
gentle spring breeze—cool with a promise of genuine
warmth. Wow! His mood changed faster than the Texas weather.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Harper. You must be looking for Dad. I
wasn't aware he made a donation to the band. But I'm not
surprised. It sounds like something he would do." He held
his hand out, palm up. "He must have lost track of the time.
He eats breakfast every day down at the fire station. I'm
sure he got wrapped up in a domino game and forgot."
As if on cue, the screen door slammed and a smaller,
older version of Hank Travis stormed the kitchen. "I'm
sorry. I forgot the time."
She liked the newcomer instantly. Beneath heavy eyebrows,
his blue eyes twinkled with merriment and spunk. Smile lines
bracketed his mouth identical to his son's. Yes, this was
the solid block from which the younger man had been carved.
Time had smoothed the rough edges on one but had a ways to
go with the other.
She glanced at Hank. He flashed another smile and raised
an eyebrow as if to say, "I told you so." Clearly, he loved
his father, quirks and all. Her heart softened toward him
just a little.
"Chester tried to pull a fast one and got caught," the
older man continued, "so we started the game over." He
extended a hand lined with age.
She shook his hand. "Mel Harper. I just met Hank." A look
passed between father and son.
"I hope he wasn't rude," Henry said, absently petting the
dog who had wandered over, tail wagging, for some attention.
"He doesn't care too much for reporters."
If that wasn't the understatement of the century, she
didn't know what was, but she was a professional. Kill them
with kindness was her motto. "No, sir. He's been quite the
gentleman." She dared Hank to deny it. There it was again, a
quick, shared glance between them filled with unspoken
communication. "I brought doughnuts and hot chocolate. Would
you like some?"
"Why, thanks! That was mighty thoughtful of you." Henry
took a plate from the cupboard and emptied the bag onto it,
exclaiming over the pastries as if she'd brought French
"Son, why don't you heat her hot chocolate in the
microwave? You can have my cup. I'm a coffee man myself," he
said apologetically, "and I'm already over my limit for the
morning." He took a paper napkin from the holder and
selected a glazed doughnut from the plate. "But I never turn
down a doughnut." He took a generous bite and tore off a
smaller piece. He tossed it up. Betty Boop made an athletic
leap and caught the treat in mid–air. Encouraged by
her success, she plopped at his feet.
The older man pulled out a chair for Mel and settled
himself across from her. Hank placed a warmed cup at her
elbow and excused himself. She watched him go. Mood swings
and lack of social skills aside, the man had it going on.
Threadbare denim had never looked as good as it did hugging
his slim hips, firm ass, and long legs. She forced her mind
back to the reason she was here.
"I'm afraid I got off to a bad start with your son. I
hope I didn't overstep by coming here."
"No, no, don't mind him. He's always short with
reporters. He'll come around," he said. "Now...about the
"Why? I mean, what does he have against reporters?"
"Oh, nothing. He had a bad experience a few years ago.
Don't think anything of it."
"Well, okay." She was more than a little curious, but she
had a deadline to meet. Though she couldn't blame him for
that particular dislike, she had her own reasons to dislike
certain members of her profession, Hank Travis and his
problems were none of her business. She pulled a
mini–recorder from her purse and set it on the table
between them. "Do you mind if I record our interview?"
"That's fine as long as I don't have to listen to myself
on it. Does anyone like the way they sound on a recording?"
Her gut clenched. She forced a smile to her face. "I
suppose some do. But you're right, most people don't
recognize their own voices on a recording."
He rubbed his chin. "I sure don't. Nope, I'm always
surprised at the way I sound." He waved his hand at the
recorder. "Go ahead. Turn it on."
She pressed the record button. "I understand you're
making a large donation to the Willowbrook High School Band.
Can you tell me what motivated you?"
"Sure. They need new instruments and uniforms." He
laughed, deep and rich. "I can see what you're thinking,
young lady. Don't be worrying I'm giving my life savings
away to a bunch of ungrateful teenagers. I'm doing all
right, and they need the money more than I do. They've been
doing car washes and selling candy bars all year and they've
hardly made a dent in the bill, so I thought I would help
them out. They're a good bunch of kids, and I have a soft
spot where the band is concerned."
He paused, his eyes focused on something only he could
see. He drew himself up. "Anyway, every time there's a
budget cut, it hits the music program first. I don't think
its right, so I help them out every now and then."
"But Mr. Travis, twenty–five thousand dollars is a
lot of money."
He looked her square in the eye. "I can afford it."
She backed off. "Well, then. Okay. You say you have a
soft spot for the band. Why?"
His face softened, and a gentle smile curved his lips.
"The band and the music program were good to my boy, Hank,
and his mother, Gloria. My late wife taught music at the
high school for twenty years before she passed on."
She instantly regretted her earlier skepticism.
Familiar footsteps sounded behind her. "Dad? Sorry to
interrupt," Hank said. Shivers ran along her spine when she
heard the smooth voice. "I made some notes for you on those
papers. I'm going out to the farm. Are you coming for dinner
"Yeah. How's six o'clock?"
"Perfect. I'll see you at six." Hank snapped his fingers,
and Betty Boop stretched and followed her master as he left
without so much as a goodbye.
Rude. She asked a few more questions, thanked Henry for
his generous donation and his time, and rose to leave. He
followed her to the front door. "You should ask Hank a few
She didn't want to bring up how inhospitable his son had
been, but she couldn't forget the sudden bolt of desire
she'd felt when she first saw him. Personally, she wanted to
do a lot more than ask him questions, but professionally
he'd made it clear he didn't want to see her again.
"I don't think it would be such a good idea. I'm a
reporter, remember? Besides, I only have until this
afternoon to finish the article for tomorrow's edition."
His face fell like a kicked puppy. She scrambled to think
of something she could do or say to put a smile back on his
face. Then, like his son, his mood abruptly shifted. He
snapped his fingers. "Hey! Why don't you come out to the
farm with me this evening for dinner? You might get a second
article if you play your cards right."
She couldn't imagine what kind of article she could write
about a farmer, but she genuinely liked Henry and didn't
want to disappoint him. "I don't know," she hedged.
"Trust me, Ms. Harper. Meet me there around six. It's the
place out on Route 544. The one with the black bird wings
painted on the barn."
She knew the place. She'd wondered about the giant black
wings but decided it was just coincidence and better left
He waited for her answer, expectation written all over
his expressive face. She really didn't want to go, but she
didn't want to hurt his feelings either.
"Well, if you think it will be all right." Her body
warmed at the memory of the sexy denim–clad Hank
Travis. She could make a dinner out of him, but as tasty as
he appeared on the outside, she had no doubt he was pure
vinegar on the inside.
"Oh, he won't mind. I bring friends out all the time," he
Agreeing to dinner at Hank's house was so not a good
idea, but she couldn't bring herself to say no to his
father—not with him standing there with a hopeful
expression on his face.
"Well, okay, but I have to turn in the article before I
can go, so I'd better get a move on."
"Run along, then." He held the screen door for her. "Six
o'clock. Don't be late."
She climbed into her Jeep and pulled away from the curb.
She had often wondered about her sanity but there was no
doubt. She was insane. Completely bonkers to let Henry talk
her into dinner at his son's house.
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