In Annabelle McCormack’s ‘All This Time,’ Sometimes You Can Go Home Again [EXCERPT]

Winter romance
Big surprises lay in store for a woman who must return to her hometown in All This Time. (Photo courtesy Canva)

We know a thing or two about living in small towns. Like everything else, they have their perks. But as one friend says, “It’s like living in a fishbowl.” Everybody knows your business. This is exactly what has kept Samantha Redding away from her own hometown of Brandywood, Maryland. Then family matters force her hand, and she must return whether she wants to or not. But this time around, someone unexpected is making small town life much more appealing. We hope you enjoy this sneak peek at Annabelle McCormack’s new novel, All This Time. —J&H


Driving Lessons (Garrett’s POV)

“All right . . . foot on the clutch, slowly lifting. When you feel the engine engage, you drop your weight on the gas and lift the clutch.” Garrett leaned back in his seat and popped open a can of energy drink.

Charlotte Redding’s old truck lurched forward, the transmission grinding, sending a spray of the newly opened soda across his lap.

Sam grimaced at Garrett. “Sorry.”

“I’m officially out of extra clothes in my truck so you better take it easy.” Garrett chuckled and took a sip. “Of course, it’s my fault for opening the can just then.”

“Can’t I learn an automatic?” Sam attempted to push the shifter into gear again and the engine screeched.

“If your mother drove automatic, yes. To be honest, she might be the last person left on earth that doesn’t drive automatic.” Garrett leaned back in his seat and crossed one foot over his knee.

“How’d you learn?”

Garrett threw her a cocky glance. “I know everything, Redding.”

A smile hinted at her eyes. He had called her that nickname his whole life, but they hadn’t really spent much time together since high school. She seemed to remember it with some level of fondness, if she was smiling. “You know”—Garrett set the drink in the holder and put his hand over hers before she tried to shift improperly again and ruined the truck—“I remembered earlier this morning that Eli once said he was going to teach you to drive.”

“It didn’t go so well. He wasn’t exactly patient.” Sam rolled her eyes. That was valid. Eli was not a patient man.

“I talked to him this morning. Apparently, you blocked him?” Eli’s words had piqued his interest. Eli had been talking about Sam as though they were done for good. Did she feel the same way?

“Yup.” She pulled her hand back from the shifter and set it on the wheel. “And Katie actually set me up a date this Saturday with some guy she knows. Mike Jarvis. I’m moving on.”

Mike? The firefighter? He didn’t know what surprised him more—Sam going on a date . . . or that she appeared to be planning to stay after Thanksgiving. “Are you staying in Brandywood?”

She grimaced. “For now.”

“That doesn’t sound like you’re entirely convinced it’s a good thing.”

“I’m not sure it is. I sort of volunteered to do a big social campaign here. My boss wants me to find home bakers from Brandywood for it to feature classic Americana cookie recipes. Twelve of them. The cooks are supposed to make their recipes on a live feed and we’ll feature pictures and recipes on our social channels.”

“Sounds intense.”

She covered her eyes with one hand, peeking through her open fingers. “I don’t know what the heck I was thinking,” Sam sighed. “So anyway, I’ll be here at least until mid-December. Then we’ll see how things go with my mom.”

He approached the other bit of news more cautiously. “And the date?”

She smiled, her eyes sparkling with humor. “Someone Katie claims is ‘perfect for me.’ A firefighter—I think. We’re going to Yardley’s on Friday night.” Then she added, “I mostly said yes to get Katie to stop pestering me.”

Why do I feel relieved about that? He kept his face blank.

She drew a deep breath and looked out the windshield. “Ready?”

Garrett gave her a teasing look. “You should probably start the engine. It stalled after last time.”

She turned the key sheepishly. “You know, I’m not the one who said I needed to drive. I was fine with rideshare.”

“You won’t be so fine with it if you’re staying in Brandywood for a while. Those bills add up.” Garrett stopped her again as she reached for the shifter. “Don’t rush it. Push the clutch down, then shift, then worry about the pedal switch.”

Sam stared at her feet. “Driving with two feet seems ridiculous. And then my hands are doing separate things too. How is anyone supposed to do four different things at the same time?”

“Ask a drummer. They’re the masters of it.” Garrett leaned back again, watching her. Something about her approach to the lessons put him in a good mood. It could be the furrow of concentration in her brow, or the way her lips drew tighter. When she’d been learning photography as a teenager, she’d often posed him and Katie for pictures. That same look of focus had been on her face.

The truck stalled again and he held back a laugh as she threw her hands up in the air and swore. “This is impossible.”

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Annabelle McCormack's ALL THIS TIME
Annabelle McCormack

Samantha Redding swore off her hometown of Brandywood, Maryland when she left after high school. Sure, she misses her family, but growing up the victim of vicious gossip cured her of small-town living. Besides, the photography career she dreamed of couldn’t be found in the Appalachians.

But when Sam’s mom gets sick and needs her help, Sam’s faced with a long-term stay back home. As a tight deadline for her fast-paced job forces her to relocate a holiday photoshoot to Brandywood, Sam finds her old life converging with her new one. What’s more, she needs help from the townspeople she’s spent years disregarding. Overwhelmed, Sam finds an ally in a man who kept her at arm’s length all his life: brooding and sarcastic Garrett Doyle—her on-and-off again boyfriend’s best friend.

There’s a reason Garrett’s tried to keep his distance from Sam, though: being in love with your best friend’s girl sucks. But Sam needs help and he’s too much of a sucker to say no. Anyway, she’s leaving Brandywood soon enough, and then he can go back to trying to forget her.

. . . except, Sam’s about to discover that everything she thought she knew about home—and Garrett—was wrong. 

About the author

Annabelle McCormack writes historical women’s fiction with epic settings, adventure, and romance. Her debut book Windswept, a novel about a British WWI nurse in the Middle East caught in a dangerous web of intrigue and romance, was published September 2021.

She was born in San Jose, Costa Rica to a Costa Rican mother and American father. She moved to the US at the age of 4, but remains fully bilingual in English and Spanish.

She studied at the Johns Hopkins University, where she obtained a Master of Arts in Fiction in 2010. Afterward, she dedicated herself to her photography business, while continuing to work on her writing as a long-term goal. In 2018, she received the award for Best Novel at the 2018 Red Sneaker’s Writer Conference (now Writer-Con).

She lives in Maryland with her husband and five children and writes as a staff blogger for Inkitt Writer’s Blog.

To learn more, visit and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, BookBub, and Goodreads.

By Annabelle McCormack
376 pp. Annabelle McCormack. $16.99

Annabelle McCormack
Annabelle McCormack
(Photo by Katie Merkle, Merkle Photography)
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Purchase All This Time direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Google Play | Half Price Books | Hudson Booksellers | iBooks | IndieBound | Kobo | Powell’s.

All This Time is brought to you in association with Xpresso Book Tours.


Enter to win a paperback copy of All This Time from Annabelle McCormack! But hurry, the giveaway is open to the US only and ends November 3rd.

This promotion is powered by the Rafflecopter platform and is not sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Jathan & Heather, Jadeworks Entertainment, or any of its subsidiaries.

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About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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