Shelby Foxworth is only 24 when her husband dies in a boating accident, leaving her a widow with a three-year-old daughter. Shortly after her husband’s death, she discovers that the man who swept her off her feet and who she believed was rich and successful, was in fact a swindler and a con man, leaving her with mountains of debt. Going through his papers, she finds evidence not only that he cheated on her, but that he had ID for multiple identities. In a safe deposit box, she finds 250 000 dollars in cash, a gun and proof that the man she knew as Richard Foxworth was someone completely fictional.
Forcing herself to stay strong, she sells off all of her late husband’s clothes, shoes, watches and jewelry, as well as all the fancy clothes he wanted her to wear. She discovers that most of the jewelry she’d been given consisted of fakes, but once she gets organised enough to put their massive house on the market, selling all the furniture, wine, art and collectibles that Richard filled the house with, the debt goes from crippling to merely formidable. Before she returns home to her family, she is approached by a private investigator who claims that her husband took part in a robbery of jewels and stamps valued at nearly 30 million dollars. The PI refuses to believe that Shelby could have been married to a man for nearly five years and naively never clued into his true nature. Shelby assures him that she knows nothing about her husband’s shady dealings and asks to be left alone.
She goes home to Rendezvous Ridge, Tennessee, where her family embraces her with open arms. While she was married to Richard, he rarely let her return for more than a few days at a time, and they’ve missed both her and Callie, her little girl. Initially, Shelby is reluctant to tell her extensive family the full truth about how naive she was and how badly Richard treated her, but being back in the safe haven of her home town, she can’t go long without coming clean. She refuses to let her parents or grandparents help pay off the remaining debt, instead knuckling down to find a job and making a new life for herself and her daughter. She meets carpenter and contractor Griffin Lott, pretty much the polar opposite of the flashy, manipulative bastard she was married to, and he makes both her and Callie feel like a million bucks. But there are still shadows from her old life ready to come back to haunt her.
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