Sunday Kind of Love


By Dorothy Garlock

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Buckton, Indiana, 1956. As post-war America brims with new opportunities, a young woman discovers the courage to follow her dreams-and her heart . . .

Gwendolyn Foster’s life seems like a dream come true. A bright future in front of her, the successful, traditional man her parents wanted at her side. What more could a girl ask for? But Gwen has a different dream altogether-to be a writer-and she won’t rest until it comes true. Strong arms to support her, not own her . . . that’s what she needs. And she finds them in the most unexpected of places.

Hank Ellis has long been haunted by his little brother’s death. He knows the entire town blames him for the accident, but it’s only fitting. He blames himself too. So he’s shocked when Gwen ignores the vicious gossip and befriends him. And before long, everything changes for them. Folks warn Gwen about Hank, but she knows in her heart that they’re wrong. Drawn to this man of bravery and kindness who encourages her to pursue her passions, Gwen can finally envision the life she’s always wanted. And with Gwen, Hank finds the strength to let go of his guilt, as he dares to hope for a future with her.

But braving the town that turns against them isn’t the only challenge they face. For Hank still harbors a dark secret, a shocking truth that may force him to lose Gwen forever . . .



THE FIRST THING Gwen Foster noticed was the man’s angry scowl. From where she sat in the back of her family’s car, thumbing through the book she’d just checked out from the library, with warm spring sunshine falling across her dress and faint music coming from the radio, his expression was so out of place, so ugly on an otherwise beautiful day, that it grabbed her attention. At ten years old, Gwen knew it wasn’t polite to stare, but she just couldn’t stop looking.

Running a hand through his unruly hair, the man looked impatient as he paced back and forth like an animal in a cage. He kept glancing toward the mercantile, at the door he’d just exited. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes, shook one loose, lit it from a book of matches, and began to puff furiously.

The woman who followed him out of the store couldn’t have looked more different. She smiled brightly, one hand holding a stylish purse, the other waving good-bye to someone inside. But her good humor vanished the instant the man grabbed her arm, squeezing so tightly that her skin went white as bone; he moved so quickly, so violently, that Gwen flinched in surprise.

“What in the hell’d you say that for?” he hissed, pulling her close, his face inches from hers. “You know I hate that!”

The woman’s eyes were wide with shock and pain. She shook her head slowly, cowering in the glare of the man’s anger. “I was just making conversation, Billy,” she told him, her tone pleading. “I didn’t mean to—”

“That’s ’cause you don’t think!” he snapped, yanking her arm hard enough to cause her purse to fall to the sidewalk; some of what was inside spilled out, clattering around at her feet. Abruptly, he let go of her, returning his attention to his cigarette as she began to hurriedly pick up her things.

“A man like that is nothing but trouble.”

Gwen turned at the sound of her mother’s voice. Meredith Foster sat behind the wheel of the car. Normally her expression was friendly and inviting; now her eyes were cold and narrow as she watched the couple.

“When the time comes for you to find a husband, don’t end up with someone like him,” her mother said. “Do you understand?”

Gwen nodded.

“You want someone who will stand by your side, not tower over you.”

On the sidewalk, the woman had finished picking up her things. When she stood up, Gwen noticed that she had tears in her eyes; one broke free, leaving a trail of mascara down her cheek before the woman wiped at it, smudging it across her skin. Nervously, she looked up and down the street, clearly hoping that no one was watching. She was so out of sorts that she didn’t notice Gwen or her mother sitting in their car only twenty feet away.

With a practiced flip of his finger, Billy sent the smoldering butt of his cigarette flying, then turned back to the woman.

“I swear, Sally, if you ever pull that crap again…” he snarled, the threat unfinished but nevertheless clear.

“I won’t, Billy,” she said, trying to placate him. “I promise.”

“Stupid bitch,” he grumbled, then once again grabbed her arm, giving it another squeeze as if to show her he meant business.

Gwen felt sick to her stomach. She’d seen couples arguing on the big screen at the Crown Theater, but that was Hollywood make-believe. This was real. Her own father, recently returned from the war, was always smiling and laughing, kissing his wife on the cheek when he came home from the bakery, and doting on his only child. Warren Foster was nothing like this man. Truth be told, Gwen was worried about what might happen next.

Her mother must have felt the same.

Meredith opened her car door, as if she meant to intervene. Gwen wanted to stop her, afraid her mother might suffer the same mistreatment as the other woman, but before she could do anything, she noticed the couple looking right at them; they must’ve heard the squeak of the door’s hinges. The woman wore an expression of embarrassment, while the man seethed with anger.

“Come on,” he spat, yanking the woman roughly down the sidewalk. “Let’s get somethin’ to eat. I’m starvin’.”

As they walked away, the man moved with a noticeable limp; Gwen wondered if he had been wounded during the war, like dozens of other men from Buckton, or if he’d always had it, if it was something he had been born with.

Either way, Gwen was glad to see him go.

Once beneath the awning of the hardware store, the woman looked back at them. Her eyes were still wet, but she offered a weak smile, as if she was apologizing for something, though it vanished when the man started in on her again. Moments later, they rounded the corner and were lost to sight.

When Meredith shut the car door, she and Gwen were both quiet, the only sound coming from the radio, where Perry Como sang “Prisoner of Love.”

Listening to the song’s lyrics, Gwen thought about the troubled couple. Were they in love? How did they meet? Was he ever sweet to her? Did he buy her flowers, write love letters, or take her to the movies? Would she spend the rest of her life with him, or would there come a day when she would leave?

“That wasn’t love,” Meredith suddenly said. Gwen thought that her mother must have been listening to the song, too.

She nodded. “I know what real love is.”

“You do?” her mother asked with a curious expression.

“It’s what you have with Daddy.”

Meredith smiled. “You’re right. What your father and I have is love, but every relationship is different. No two people are the same, whether they’re together or separate,” she explained.

Gwen’s brow furrowed. It was all so confusing. “Then how will I know who’s the right person for me?”

“Be true to yourself. Set your own path. Don’t let someone drag you down theirs if you don’t want to go,” her mother said, then she paused to look at the now-empty sidewalk. “If you do, you’ll never know true happiness.”

Before Gwen could reply, the door to the mercantile opened again and her aunt Samantha, her father’s younger sister, stepped outside, her arms full of bundles of fabric. Somehow she managed to drop into the passenger seat, spilling her new purchases across her lap.

“You didn’t tell me you were making clothes for an army,” Meredith teased with a playful laugh.

“I couldn’t make up my mind,” Samantha answered. “There I was, convinced that I’m going to use satin, and the next thing I know, I’m intrigued by plain old cotton. Then there’s the choice between a flowered pattern or plaid, to say nothing of sequins! In the end, I figured it was just easier to get them all.”

“You’ll spend so much time making these clothes that you won’t have a chance to actually wear them!”

Ignoring her sister-in-law’s sassy comment, Samantha turned around in her seat and held up two pieces of fabric, one green and the other a shiny red. “What do you think, kiddo?” she asked her niece. “Which one catches your fancy?”

“I like the red better,” Gwen replied.

“You’re probably right,” her aunt agreed. “It’s flashier. More likely to grab a good-looking fella’s attention.”

“Men,” Meredith commented, turning the key in the ignition. “You have a one-track mind. Don’t you think about anything else?”

Samantha laughed. “What else is there to think about?”

But by then, as her mother pulled away from the curb and headed for home, Gwen was no longer listening. When they passed the corner where the couple had turned, she craned her neck for one last glimpse, but they were already gone.

Leaning back in her seat, Gwen couldn’t stop thinking about love and relationships. It was all so much more complicated than she’d thought. On the one hand there was the man and woman on the sidewalk, arguing, crying, and even becoming physically violent. On the other was her parents: partners in building a business, raising a family, and loving each other as best they could. But Gwen now understood that there was an awful lot of ground in between; this included her aunt, flamboyant and a bit eccentric, still searching for just the right man to share her life.

So what about me? Will I make the right choice?

Right then and there, Gwen vowed that she would never let herself be treated like the woman on the sidewalk. She’d find someone who would encourage her, a man to stand beside her, who’d let her chase her dreams rather than yank her where he wanted to go. They would be partners, like her mother and father.

They would be in love, forever and ever.

When the right man finally came along, Gwen would be ready.

Chapter One

I’VE NEVER BEEN so insulted in all my life! How dare you treat me this way! Don’t you know who I am?!”

“But, sir, I’m afraid that we don’t have—”

“I don’t want to hear any more of your pathetic excuses! I want this fixed immediately or heads are going to roll!”

Gwen Foster put down her book, unable to ignore the ugly scene unfolding in front of her. The train station was crowded with travelers, but from where she sat, opposite the ticket booth so that she could keep an eye on the departure board, she’d heard every word. Other nearby passengers turned away, as uncomfortable with what was happening as the train station employee. But not Gwen. Her eyes never left the irate businessman.

“I demand to speak to whoever’s in charge!” he shouted.

“Sir, like I was telling you, I’m afraid that it’s too late for us to—”


A few minutes earlier, the man and his wife had approached the ticket counter. Even from her first quick glance, Gwen could tell the man considered himself to be important. He was dressed expensively, his pin-striped suit cut in the latest fashion, a gold watch chain hanging from his pocket, his shoes impeccably shined. In the beginning, he’d been friendly enough, if a little curt, but the moment he discovered that something was wrong with his reservation, it was as if a curtain had been pulled back, revealing the man’s true, uglier personality.

“What are you still standing here for?” he barked at the clearly distressed employee. “I demand satisfaction!”

The ticket agent hurried away in search of help.

Through it all, the businessman’s wife didn’t look put out or embarrassed. She stood off to the side, absently inspecting her nails, acting as if this wasn’t the first time she’d seen her husband give someone a piece of his mind. On second thought, Gwen wasn’t sure the couple was married. The woman was young, far closer to Gwen’s age than that of her traveling companion. She was pretty; curvy in all the right places, with hair dyed a blond so platinum that it was almost white. As Gwen watched, the woman yawned, looking more than a little bored.

By now, another man had appeared behind the counter; the previous employee, the one who’d already gotten an earful, stood a ways back, more than happy to let someone else take the brunt of the businessman’s ire.

“What seems to be the trouble, sir?” the new arrival asked.

“The trouble is that your incompetent company lost our reservations!” the man shouted. He then proceeded to recite the same list of grievances as before, peppered with plenty of his own bona fides, as if he was giving an encore performance.

Gwen was enthralled. She absorbed every detail: the flecks of spittle that flew from the man’s mouth as he yelled; the crimson hue of his cheeks; the sweat beading on the employee’s forehead as well as how he nervously shifted his weight from one foot to the other, then back; the whispers drifting through the crowd. Gwen considered getting out her notebook to write it all down, but she didn’t want to look away, not even for a moment.

“I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience, sir,” the employee apologized. “I’ll make certain that you have your compartment.”

“See that you do!” the businessman snapped. He folded his arms across his chest and smiled smugly, clearly pleased that his outburst had been successful. Glancing over his shoulder, he nodded to his traveling companion, but she was busy admiring her reflection in her compact.

Now that the show was over, the attention of the couple’s fellow travelers drifted away. Gwen went back to worrying.

For what felt like the tenth time, she looked at the enormous clock ticking away high above the concourse. Her train left in half an hour.

Kent was late.

Rising from her seat, Gwen looked in every direction for some sign of him in the crowd: a hand raised in greeting, a glimpse of his blond hair, anything that would mean she wasn’t going home to see her parents by herself.

But he was nowhere to be seen.

So when her train’s track was called over the loudspeaker, Gwen sighed, picked up her suitcase, and trudged off to board it, alone.


As the train readied to leave the station, the platform was abuzz with activity. From her seat at the window, Gwen watched all the commotion. Porters pushed carts weighed down by dozens of bags; one had tipped, spilling its load, and several men were hurriedly restacking it. The conductor smiled broadly as he ushered passengers to their cars, periodically checking his watch to make sure they were on time for their scheduled departure. People said their good-byes: some shared a laugh and a wave; young couples held each other in tender embraces, wanting their final moment together to last as long as it could; and some partings were sad, tearful farewells for a loved one’s leaving.

And I know just what that’s like…

Four years ago, when Gwen had left Indiana to become a student at the Worthington Academy for Girls, a private school in Evanston, just outside Chicago, she’d been heartbroken. Saying good-bye to her mother and father at the train depot had been the hardest thing she’d ever done. Wrapped tightly in her blankets as if they were a cocoon, she had cried herself to sleep every night for a week. It didn’t matter that her parents had scrimped and saved to give her this opportunity, sending her away in the belief that it would lead to a better life for their only child; Gwen was convinced that her life was ruined.

But then things slowly began to change.

Gwen thrived. She made friends, many of whom had been sent to the big city for the same reason, other girls just as lost and lonely as she was. In the classroom, she received high marks, studying literature, history, Latin, and mathematics. On the weekends, she took the train into the city to walk among the sky-scraping buildings, marvel at all the people, gawk at the goods in the store windows, eat at nice restaurants, and occasionally go to a play or the movies. Gwen understood that a door had been opened for her, and even though she’d had to be forced through, once over the threshold, she didn’t want to go back.

Still looking out the window, Gwen caught sight of her reflection. When she was a child, she’d thought she looked plain, but now, at nineteen years old, she could recognize some of the reasons men’s heads turned when she walked down the sidewalk: almond-shaped eyes a piercing blue as deep in color as a sapphire stone, curly dark hair long enough to drape across her shoulders, skin as smooth and unblemished as a spring apple, and a friendly smile that held within its curve just a hint of mischievousness.

Gwen knew she was pretty, but it was a knowledge with which she wasn’t entirely comfortable. Some of the other girls at school wore their beauty as if it was a badge of honor, flaunting it for all it was worth. Doing so meant they attracted plenty of attention, most of it from the opposite sex. Gwen had had her share of suitors, boys from nearby academies as well as young men she’d met on her trips into the city. She had gone to a few movies, shared a milkshake or two, and even stolen a kiss here and there, but nothing had ever blossomed into something more.

Until the day she met Kent Brookings.

Speaking of whom…

Where was he? Gwen took another look up and down the platform, growing more convinced by the second that he wasn’t going to make it.

I swear, if I have to go by myself, there will be—

“Excuse me, miss, but is this seat taken?”

Gwen spun around to find Kent standing in the aisle. His smile was impeccable, like something you’d expect to see on a billboard over Michigan Avenue. His blue eyes practically sparkled. But the fact that his blond hair was slightly mussed, his cheeks were flushed, and his chest rose and fell beneath his tailor-made suit and expensive tie meant that he’d had to run to catch the train.

“I was starting to think I’d be leaving without you,” she admitted.

Kent sat down beside her, leaned over, and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. “I can’t believe you doubted me.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Gwen said with a smirk.

“Only once or twice, surely.”

“More like six or seven times,” she answered. “There was the night I had tickets to see Oklahoma! at the Biltmore Theater and ended up missing the whole first act waiting in the lobby. Then last year at Christmas, when I made reservations at—”

“Okay, okay,” Kent surrendered with a laugh. “You’ve made your point. So maybe I’m not as punctual as you’d like me to be, but for this special occasion, I would’ve made it even if I’d had to run down the tracks after you.”

“Now, that I would’ve liked to see.”

Once again, Kent laughed good-naturedly, then he lifted his briefcase into his lap and undid the clasps. Seeing it made Gwen frown.

“You said you weren’t going to bring work with you,” she told him, trying to hold back the worry teasing at the edges of her thoughts.

Kent paused, the lid only half-open. He turned to her.

“I know I did,” he said. “But Caruthers came into my office just as I was getting ready to leave last night and dropped the Atwood case in my lap. He said that Burns wasn’t making any headway with it and that now it was my turn. They’re such important clients for the firm that I couldn’t turn it down. This is my big chance to grab the partners’ attention, sweetheart! If I win this one, it might not be long before my name is on the masthead. I was up half the night working on it and overslept. That’s why I had to run to catch the train.”

Just then, the engine gave a short, loud toot of its whistle. With a jolt, they began to leave the station. Gwen glanced out the window, watching the crowds slowly fall from view; a man ran alongside the platform, fervently waving his hand, his good-bye lasting until he could no longer keep up.

She looked back at Kent, trying to smile, but from his expression, she knew that she’d done a poor job of hiding her disappointment.

He reached over and took her hand. “How about if I agree to work only while we’re on the train?” he asked. “When we get to Buckton, I’ll put everything away and won’t touch it again until we leave.” He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Would that make you happy?”

Gwen nodded, but her heart wasn’t in it. She’d heard these promises before. They were a lot like his vows to arrive on time.

He rarely kept them.


From the moment Gwen met Kent Brookings, she’d been captivated by him. While it didn’t hurt that she found him devastatingly handsome, she was surprised to also find him to be polite, well-mannered, and easy to talk to. He seemed to know something about everything, whether it be politics, music, books, the popular fashions, or even subjects she knew next to nothing about, like sports cars or wine. That he’d shown an interest in her was, to Gwen, the biggest surprise of all.

So when he asked her to dinner, she didn’t hesitate to accept.

It didn’t take long for Gwen to see that for all Kent’s many attributes, he was fiercely driven to succeed. He was the son of Thomas Brookings, a wealthy industrialist, but rather than coast along on his father’s coattails, Kent desperately wanted to make his own way. After earning his law degree and passing the bar exam, he’d joined the firm of Woodrell, Hamilton, Carr & Wilkinson, one of the most successful, prestigious outfits in all of Chicago. Soon Kent was working impossible hours, burning the candle at both ends, doing whatever was asked of him in order to make a strong impression.

Through it all, Gwen had tried to remain supportive. Every time she got stood up for dinner, was left standing alone outside a movie theater, or felt a bit lonely because of his absence, she tried to put it all in perspective. Besides, it wasn’t as if they did nothing together: they attended the lavish parties thrown by Kent’s firm, where Gwen wore pretty dresses and strings of pearls; they boated on Lake Michigan with his friends; and they drove through the city in his Oldsmobile 98 Starfire, fresh off the assembly line.

Kent was aware of her hurt feelings. Often, when he was forced to work late, he would apologize by sending a bouquet of flowers or by writing the sweetest letters. Gwen knew that he truly cared for her, that he loved her; Kent Brookings was the first and only man who had spoken those three magical words to her. But Gwen still couldn’t help but wonder what came first in his life, her or his career. Sometimes she suspected that she didn’t really want to know the answer.

But his wasn’t the only career causing problems between them.


When Gwen had started taking classes at Worthington, she’d liked most of her subjects, math and piano lessons notwithstanding. But writing had been her absolute favorite from her very first attempt at telling a story. Gwen had marveled at how easily she could make her characters fall in love, lie through their teeth, fight for what they believed in, even live or die. She agonized over getting each word just right; sometimes she couldn’t sleep until everything was exactly how she wanted it.

From the beginning, Gwen had had encouragement. Her English teacher, Dwight Wirtz, was a balding man with a bright red beard and a habit of quoting Shakespeare in a deep, theatrical voice. He pushed Gwen to get better with a word of praise here, a criticism there. During her second year in his class, Mr. Wirtz suggested that she submit a short story to a magazine.

“I…I can’t…” she’d replied with a shake of her head. “What if I’m rejected?”

Mr. Wirtz had taken off his glasses and given her a patient smile. “Then you try again, my dear. Success in life rarely comes without a measure of failure.”

Incredibly, Gwen’s work had been accepted; seeing her story in print had been one of the greatest moments of her life. When she’d told her parents about her accomplishment, they had gushed with pride, even if, as their daughter suspected, they couldn’t quite understand her love of the written word.

As the years passed, writing had become her passion. Everywhere Gwen went, she saw a story just waiting to be told. It was in the sights, sounds, and even smells of a busy city street. It was in the clink of glasses and silverware in a restaurant. It could be found in the conversations she overheard; that was one of the reasons she’d been so interested in the businessman back in the train station. Writing about events as they actually happened, the type of investigative journalism found in a newspaper, appealed to her every bit as much as spinning tales of make-believe. Words were all around her all the time, ready to be put down on paper. Gwen could no more deny her urge to write than she could ignore the sun in the sky.

The problem was Kent.

When Gwen had first told him of her interest in becoming a writer, she’d hoped he would be supportive, that he might even have some suggestions about how she might make a living doing the thing she loved. At the least, Gwen wished for a reaction not unlike her parents’.

Instead, he had left her speechless.

“Why would you ever want to do that?” he’d asked, putting down his fork and staring at her across their table at the restaurant.


  • "Garlock's terrific story, set in mid-20th-century Missouri, pairs a lonely single mother with a flashy auto racer...Garlock keeps readers so wrapped up in Drake and Clara's romance that it's impossible to put the book down. There's just enough tension, from a few different fronts, to keep things interesting. Thoroughly credible characters and the aw-shucks charm of their small town make this a winner."—Publishers Weekly starred review on Twice in a Lifetime
  • "Every Dorothy Garlock book is synonymous with a great read."
    --- Janet Dailey, New York Times bestselling author
  • "There is nothing better than Dorothy Garlock at her best."
    --- Sandra Brown, New York Times bestselling author
  • "One of America's most endearing historical fiction authors."
    --RT Book Reviews
  • "A gifted writer."
    --Chicago Sun Times
  • "A gentle tale of love lost and found...The charm is in the telling, with historical details and light touches to make the town of Sunset, Missouri, seem real, not idealized. A feel-good love story that comforts...Garlock excels at creating an experience her readers want, one that's still heartwarming..."
    --Kirkus Reviews on Twice in a Lifetime
  • "Garlock's terrific story, set in mid-20th-century Missouri, pairs a lonely single mother with a flashy auto racer...Garlock keeps readers so wrapped up in Drake and Clara's romance that it's impossible to put the book down. There's just enough tension, from a few different fronts, to keep things interesting. Thoroughly credible characters and the aw-shucks charm of their small town make this a winner."—Publishers Weekly starred review on Twice in a Lifetime
  • "Garlock's lovely, sweet novel is a testament to the last great generation."
    -RT Book Reviews on Take Me Home

    "Take Me Home has a unique perspective for a historical novel set during World War II." on Take Me Home
  • "The latest from romance doyenne Garlock mixes light suspense with traditional romance for an entertaining effect."
    --Booklist on Under a Texas Sky

On Sale
Aug 2, 2016
Page Count
384 pages

Dorothy Garlock

About the Author

Dorothy Garlock is the author of more than 50 novels that have sold 15 million+ combined copies and are published in 15 languages. She lives in Iowa.

Learn more about this author