Promise Me Always [Book]

Promise Me Always is a 2006 Christian romance novel written by Arkansas writer Christine Lynxwiler and set in the fictional town of Shady Grove, Arkansas. It is the first book in the “Pinky Promise Sisterhood Series” and was followed in 2008 with Along Came a Cowboy.

The book opens on the thirty-fifth birthday of Allie Richards, recently unemployed due to the sale of the local plant nursery to a large conglomerate. Widowed and with two pre-teen girls, she applies for a loan to start her own landscaping business but is turned down by the bank. At one of her daughter’s preseason soccer meetings, Allie encounters Daniel Montgomery, with whom she used to attend school. He owns Coffee Central Bookstore and works part time as a cameraman for the local television station. While having a post-birthday celebration at Coffee Central with her “Pinky Promise” friends—Lark, Victoria, and Rachel—Allie learns that the town will be hosting a landscaping contest in advance of its centennial celebration, with the grand prize being $7,500, a new truck, and the city maintenance contract for a year. However, the competition includes all finalists being filmed for use by Channel Six, the local station, with each competitor being assigned a specific plot to landscape, which will later be judged.

Allie’s friends convince her to submit a landscaping proposal and promise to contribute labor, and she becomes a finalist in the competition. Allie’s brother, Adam, also out of work, gets roped into helping out, and her daughters, Miranda and Katie, also help. Daniel and Allie go out on a dinner date, but she is determined to keep him at a distance since he will be the one filming them for the television station; despite having had a high school crush on him, she remembers him largely as a violent teen, the son of an alcoholic. In addition to this association, Allie also seethes at how Blair Winchester, the correspondent for the local station, edits footage in order to make Allie’s crew seem less than competent.

As the book progresses, Allie and Daniel increasingly have feelings for each other, but she is wary of getting involved with someone who might not be the best provider for the family—especially after Daniel has a minor accident on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. However, her friends and family keep trying to guide her to balancing her life; as her brother says, “You’ve changed since this contest started. I guess what I’m saying is you’re so determined to use your head that your heart isn’t getting equal time.” Other things go wrong. Allie’s friend Lark separates from her husband Craig and stays at Allie’s place for a while, Allie misses one of her daughters’ soccer games, and the crew encounters difficulties trying to repair an old fountain in their assigned plot. Recognizing how obsessed she has become, Allie surrenders her ambitions for the contest but still aims to do the best job she can, and she and her “Pinky Promise” friends stage an intervention with Lark.

The crew wraps up work on the plot with a fully restored fountain, but a thunderstorm hits Shady Grove. Allie goes out to try to cover her landscaping, and Daniel shows up to help, and the two admit their love of one another. In the last chapter, Allie is announced the winner of the landscaping competition.

For additional information:
Lynxwiler, Christine. Promise Me Always. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, 2006.

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas


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