An August Harvest

Ben Marney

Book Cover

GENRE

ROMANCE SUSPENSE/THRILLER

    Core Theme

    REBIRTH AFTER A TRAGEDY, LEARNING TO TRUST WHEN FINDING NEW LOVE.

    TIME PERIOD

    2000s,Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    DIRTY JOHN, ENOUGH, SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY.

    CHARACTER LIST

    GRANT, MID 30S, ATTRACTIVE, TALENTED ARCHITECT.

    MELISSA, EARLY 30S, BEAUTIFUL. DIVORCEE WHO FALLS FOR GRANT.

    ANNABELLE, EARLY 20S, BEAUTIFUL, GRANT'S ASSISTANT WHO GETS A CRUSH ON HIM.

    MARSHALL AND BRENDA, MID 30S. GRANT'S BEST FRIEND, A DOCTOR, AND HIS GIRLFRIEND, A PSYCHOLOGIST.

    JERRY, MID 30S. MELISSA'S EX-HUSBAND WHO HAS SPENT YEARS SCHEMING HOW TO KILL HER AND GET HER MILLIONS.

    Logline

    At 32 years old, acclaimed architect, Grant Nash had it all. He was living the American. And then, in 2.8 seconds, his entire life shattered into small pieces. All that was left, was his fading faith, fractured heart, his dog, Charley, and the painful, lingering question of what now?

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Female Leaning

    Setting

    Huntsville, Texas, Saint Augustine, Florida

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Ben Marney Books

    Year Published: 2019

    Starting Description

    On the anniversary of his wife and daughter’s death, Grant takes his boat to the ocean and jumps in the freezing water. Waiting to die, his wife, Rita, appears to him, telling him, “You have much more to do in your life.” He’s miraculously rescued and begins a journey to discover what Rita meant.

    Ending Description

    When he touched Melissa, electricity raced through his body, and he fell hard. When her body rejected her transplant, Grant discovered the liver had been harvested from Rita. When Melissa died in his arms, he lost his heart again. But Molly, Melissa’s daughter, was his true fate and reason to go on.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    1092859497

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist,Meaningful Message

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth,Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Grant Nash

    Age: 38

    Gender: Male

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Masculine,Aspiring,Charming,Empathetic,Faithful,Engaging,Educated,Heartthrob,Honorable,Leader,Modest,Sexy,Religious,Selfless,Skillful,Funny,Romantic,Sophisticated

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Charley (a beautiful Irish Setter who is psychic and understands English.

    Age: 3 year dog

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Empathetic,Faithful,Obedient,Manipulative,Funny,Heroic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Dr. Jeremiah Ashford Hollingsworth

    Age: 38

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Complex,Greedy,Insecure,Educated,Villainous,Narcisstic,Power Hungry,Sarcastic,Secretive,Manipulative,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Melissa Hollingsworth

    Age: 36

    Gender: Female

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Charming,Complex,Confident,Engaging,Empathetic,Gracious,Faithful,Educated,Modest,Sexy,Religious,Funny,Romantic,Seductive,Selfless

    Development Pitch

    Genre

    DRAMA, ROMANCE, SUSPENSE

    Brief

    After his wife and daughter are killed in a private plane crash, an architect moves states and winds up falling for a woman who, unbeknownst to either of them, is the recipient of his late wife's liver. Things are complicated by her jealous ex-husband's stalking of her.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Pretty accurate. The summary should include a paragraph about Melissa being stalked by her ex-husband, since this is the main part of the story.

    Draw of Story

    Fantasy beach house, idyllic romance, lurking danger.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Quite a few chapters contain overly long, over-expository paragraphs or monologues where a character spouts too many facts about a subject that slow the pace of the narrative. They need editing down.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    Will nefarious ex-husband Jerry ruin Melissa's new love? Will Melissa live or die?

    Fanbase Potential

    August Harvest has a solid Middle America appeal and could do well as a series or mini-series. Themes of tragedy, illness, a stalking ex-husband and God-fearing protagonists strike a universal note.

    Awards Potential

    No. Themes are relatively 'ordinary' and seen in many other 'fem jep' (woman in jeopardy) movies. The narrative is pretty soap-opera and there are no elements in the story that stand out as unique or original in this genre.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    DIRTY JOHN; ENOUGH; SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

    What’s New About the Story

    Lead Grant talking to his dog, Charley, who appears to understand him, is a sweet and touching theme throughout the story that makes this genre piece stand out from the pack.

    Lead Characters

    Grant and Melissa are photogenic leads who have suffered tragedies in their lives. They and supporting roles are all pretty well-rounded, making them believable.

    Uniqueness of Story

    No. Editing down some overly-expository conversations could help, and the suspense-filled ending could be drawn out.

    Possible Formats

    TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Network, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    The woman in jeopardy genre has been done a million times but it never gets old for audiences. It contains familiar elements, sure, but for what it is, it's fairly well done. Photogenic leads and a scenic beach backdrop give it the same appeal as many Nicholas Sparks' stories.

    Brief

    When his wife and daughter die in a private plane crash for which he blames himself, a Texas architect moves to Florida to start over. He falls for a beautiful girl-next-door, not realizing she is the recipient of his late wife's liver. Unfortunately, this new romance comes with a jealous ex-husband who has long been trying to get rid of his wife so he claim her millions.

    What We Liked

    "August Harvest" is a familiar woman-in-jeopardy drama/suspense with tried-and-tested elements that immediately hook one in: the guilt-stricken architect mourning the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter in a private plane crash for which he blames himself; starting over in a scenic beach house and falling for the beautiful woman next door who has both an eerie connection to his late wife and a vengeful stalking ex-husband. It's been done a million times before but both characters and suspense elements are all solid enough for an effective and commercial mini-series about resilience in the face of tragedy and the way the Universe seems to give us what we need, not what we think we want.

    Film: The story would have to be greatly edited down to work as a stand-alone movie. There's nothing truly original to make it stand out from the pack in this movie genre. It has better commercial potential as a mini-series.

    TV: With its beach house setting and handful of characters, August Harvest can be made for a price and should see solid returns as a TV mini-series. Attractive leads and plenty of twists will keep an audience hooked.

    Key points: Relatable lead who has suffered a great loss. Cute bond with his intelligent dog. Scenic Florida beach setting with idyllic house. Two wounded souls taking a risk to find love again. Suspense with a stalking ex-husband who gets his just desserts.

    Synopsis

    Huntsville, Texas, present day. GRANT NASH (late 30s, attractive) is an architect who tragically lost his wife, Rita, and young daughter, Audrey, in a small plane crash a couple of years before. It was Valentine’s day and he’d planned a lovely day out for his girls when an emergency came up at work and he had to fly to a nearby site. Rita and Audrey asked to come along and make a day of it – but one of the plane’s engines failed on take-off and the craft smashed into the ground. Audrey was killed instantly and Rita was left on life support. Grant walked away without a scratch. His good friend MARSHALL (40s, a doctor), eventually persuaded Grant to let brain-dead Rita go. Now it’s the anniversary of their deaths and Grant, having sunk into a depression and hit the bottle, losing his business, decides to end it. He takes his beloved dog, red setter Charley, and drives to Galveston where he takes his boat out, despite it having been repossessed. It’s night and he tie Charley up and leaves a note, before calling the Coast Guard for a ‘man overboard’, so they can find and rescue the dog. Then Grant jumps into the freezing water. Hypothermia quickly sets in as he fades out and starts sinking, but he has a vision of Rita angrily telling him to save himself: ‘You aren’t done yet!’ Grant feels shapes moving under him and is terrified of sharks but it turns out to be a pod of dolphins who push him to the surface as Charley, who’s bitten through his leash, dives in to pull him towards the boat. The Coast Guard turn up in time to save them.

    Marshall is so upset that he gives Grant a stern talking-to but later apologizes, realizing he’s been too harsh. The house is filled with too many memories and Grant decides to pack up and sell almost everything except his father’s 1954 truck. He just takes some clothes, personal photos, a couple of sleeping bags and Charley as he sets off on the road. Oddly, he ends up following directions from his dog as Charley barks whenever he wants to get off the highway and take the scenic route, or stop at a dog-friendly restaurant. It’s just part of the unique psychic bond Grant has with his best furry friend.

    After a year crisscrossing the country, Charley’s barks lead him to St. Augustine, Florida and a gated community of sleek, low-key, environmentally friendly beach houses on Anastasia Island. The property costs three million, quite a lot more than Grant planned on spending, but he has millions in the bank and buys it on the spot, making friends with local realtor WILSON and his wife CONNIE (both late 30s).They invite him to dinner and give him the backstory on the development. It was bought by a local architect, Jacob, in the 1960s who wanted to build condos but was blocked by beautiful environmentalist ALICE. They ended up dating and marrying and she persuade him to ditch the condo plans for prettier beach houses that blended into the landscape. However, they could not agree on the design and so nothing was built. Tragically, Alice died giving birth to their only daughter, MELISSA (late 30s). Jacob was deeply depressed but raised his daughter alone. He passed away when Melissa was 22. She had met her husband, JERRY (late 30s) at college and they married and had one daughter – but have since divorced. Melissa was the one who finally got the beautiful beach enclave built. Gorgeous, rich and single, she is Grant’s next-door-neighbor and Connie thinks they will be the perfect match for each other! She even has a Golden Retriever, Donna. Grant gently explains it’s far too soon after his own loss to even think about dating. However, when Grant meets Melissa in person and shakes her hand, they are both jolted by a bolt of electricity! Grant is so freaked out by the recurring symptoms every time he sees Melissa that he consults Marshall’s new girlfriend, BRENDA (30s), a clinical psychologist. She urges him to see a doctor. DR. HOLLINGSWORTH (late 30s) has a nice practice but he’s a bit pompous. Grant meets his young daughter, MOLLY (7), with whom he shares custody with his ex. Even though he’s supposed to be looking after he, he just plunks Molly in the waiting room all day. When Grant explains how he’s had an instant attraction to his neighbor, Melissa, the doc inexplicably turns cold and tells Grant to get away from her as fast as he can. In fact, he should sell the house and move! Grant is left baffled.

    Marshall and Brenda come out for a visit and on a beach walk, they run into Melissa and Molly: she is her daughter, and Jerry Hollingsworth is her obnoxious ex! When Melissa learns the reasons why Grant has been seeing a doctor, she admits she’s been getting the same symptoms: hot flushes, cold chills, inability to eat or sleep. ‘Duh, guys!’ says Brenda. ‘It’s called love at first sight!’ The bashful couple finally go on their first date, unaware that Jerry is tailing them. He has targeted her since med school and they were set up on a blind date. Melissa was raised by a very conservative and over-protective father and so she’s shyer and plainly dressed than other coeds. But she happens to be very wealthy and that, coupled with her insecurities, makes her a perfect target for gold-digging Jerry. Melissa also has a very rare blood type, AB negative, and so Jerry plots for a way to make her sick. Melissa reveals some of this backstory to Grant, admitting that she had a liver transplant after giving birth to her daughter. Because of her blood type, finding a donor was going to be extremely hard, if not impossible but after praying hard, Melissa got her miracle. Grant and Melissa hit if off so well that he’s deeply hurt when she’s cold towards him a few days later, saying Jerry had told her he deliberately crashed his plane and killed his wife and daughter for the insurance pay out. Grant is so upset that he starts drinking again and calls Marshall and Brenda for sympathy. Next morning, Brenda shows up on his doorstep, not wanting to see Grant go down another rabbit hole. It’s vital that he deal with his false guilt about the plane crash and she tells him that FAA tests proved that he only had less than three seconds to react and try and save them. It was physically impossible and the incident is not his fault.

    Brenda brings Grant and Melissa together and they both apologize, kiss and make up. Brenda also questions Melissa about Jerry, asking why she lets him exert such a dominant psychological control over her life when she is the one who is paying for everything! She owns his office building, condo and Jaguar, and he rarely, if ever, pays rent. Brenda’s done some digging and the truth is, Jerry doesn’t come from a rich family, he barely scraped through college and he doesn’t have any money of his own. Brenda advises calling in his debts, changing the locks on his office and residence and demanding sole custody of Molly. Melissa should offer him a one-time large settlement to stay out of her life. If Jerry takes the deal, it proves he was only after money all along. Melissa thinks it’s harsh but knows she’s long been in denial about Jerry. Brenda complains to the psychiatric boards and gets Jerry’s license revoked; he’s locked out of his office and condo and his car are repossessed. Jerry is livid and angrily confronts Melissa, even crashing through the security gates of the enclave. When Jerry tries to start a fight with Grant, the latter punches him to the ground in self-defense. Melissa offers him nearly two million – and is resigned when he accepts it, moving out of Florida and leaving her with sole custody of her daughter.

    Grant is hurt and annoyed when Melissa ‘blames’ him for driving her daughter’s father out of town – but later apologizes for her harsh words, admitting that he was right about Jerry all along. Still, they take a little break with Melissa visiting her aunt, her only surviving blood relative, to make her executor of her trust instead of Jerry. Grant will look after her dog, who has become best friends with Charley. In town, Grant runs into LESTER PATTERSON (60s), a prominent architect. He’s so impressed by Grant’s work that he offers him a job, quickly setting up his own office in town complete with dog bowls for Charley. He has a plot of prime beach front he wants to develop into condos – but Grant tells him he’s adamant he won’t build anything that destroys the environment – and he always runs things by his dog! Lester agrees to commit to Grant’s plans. Melissa returns from her trip and she and Grant are back on again, enjoying a stable romantic relationship. Then Marshall calls: he’s got some serious news to tell them both. He and Brenda fly out for the weekend. Marshall asks to see all of Melissa’s prescriptions she’s on to keep her body from rejecting her liver transplant. There is one, ‘Isoniazid’, that Jerry prescribed for her after she tested positive for Hepatitis C while pregnant. Even though the test was a false positive, Jerry insisted that Melissa keep taking the drug. She wasn’t supposed to drink at all on the prescription, something Jerry never told her. Her liver started to fail and after giving birth, she received a transplant. A doctor’s report even blames Melissa for ‘continuing’ to drink, even though she was never told by anyone she couldn’t. The thing is, Melissa obviously didn’t drink during her pregnancy so why would her liver have failed?

    Marshall posits that Jerry slipped alcohol into her IV bag of ‘liquid vitamins’ he gave her at home to keep her healthy. On average, transplant patients’ lives are usually cut short by twenty years. Melissa might live until her 60s, if she’s lucky. She is furious! Jerry made her get a liver transplant when she never needed one! Clearly, she can have Jerry arrested for attempted murder but would a prison sentence affect her daughter’s self-esteem to see her father behind bars?

    Brenda’s private investigator has traced Jerry to North Carolina where he’s set up another practice and bought a luxury house and car. But he’s almost out of money. Brenda predicts he will come to Melissa for more and she should loan it to him on the condition that he make regular re-payments. One missed payment and she will take everything back. Marshall has saved the most shocking news for last. The donor liver that Mel received two years before, shortly after Valentine’s Day was Rita’s, who shared the same rare blood type! Melissa and Grant are astonished! Is this why they feel extra electricity when they touch? Is this why Charley the dog led Grant to live next door to Melissa? It’s truly an ‘august harvest’ – one that is very special, magnificent and fated. Mel tells Grant she needs time to absorb all of the momentous new facts, that Jerry has long been trying to kill her and that she has Rita’s liver. After a few weeks, she tells Grant she loves him but that she is torn: is their connection because a part of Rita is inside her? How can Grant not think about his late wife every time he sees Melissa or makes love with her? Grant persuades her that what they have is too good to let go and they continue dating.

    At work, Charley ‘leads’ him to ANNABELLE (22, very pretty), a recent graduate with a degree in construction management. Grant hires her to help run his office while he’s working on the beach home project. Melissa is a little jealous but Grant reassures her that Annabelle is much too young for him – not realizing that his new assistant is increasingly smitten. As predicted, Jerry runs out of money. Melissa offers him a million-dollar loan with a hefty repayment plan. Jerry lasts longer than expected, seven months before he defaults. Melissa calls in the loan and forecloses on his house, office and car, leaving Jerry with nothing. Mel’s lawyer also confronts him about his attempt to murder her, resulting in a liver transplant she didn’t need. Melissa won’t be pressing charges: she’d rather see him on the street than in prison. North Carolina has now revoked his medical license and Jerry learns that he’s no longer the executor of Melissa’s estate. Once again, he’s run out of town. Annabelle comes clean and admits that she’s falling for Grant. He warns her that he loves Melissa, and to stop wearing sexy outfits at the office – however, it’s hard not to be attracted to the smart and pretty young woman with whom he shares a love for building.

    At the grand opening gala for the Beverly Beach Project, Annabelle wears a beautiful gown and looks incredible. Even Marshall and Brenda notice that Grant’s head has been turned and gently suggest that she might be a better fit than Melissa, who may not live that long. They won’t want to see Grant go through another traumatic loss. But Grant is adamant that he loves Melissa, not Annabelle. The two women have become close friends and Grant soon realizes that he loves them both. But, after he gives in and kisses Annabelle at the office one night, he doesn’t get any sparks. He loves her as a friend, that’s all. Annabelle admits that she and Melissa have been talking about him. Melissa’s has a premonition that her liver will fail and that she thinks Annabelle will be perfect for Grant should she die. Unable to get hold of Melissa by phone, Annabelle accompanies worried Grant to her house: Melissa and Molly are gone! The silent alarm was activated and the police are there. Making a snap judgment about his relationship with Annabelle, Grant is arrested. Also suspicious is that Melissa recently changed her will making Grant her sole beneficiary.

    CCTV footage soon shows a man believed to be Jerry bundling Melissa and Molly into a car and taking off and Grant is released. Det. ANASTASIA REYNOLDS (late 20s, red hair) stakes out Grant’s place just in case. Jerry makes Melissa go to her bank, withdraw thousands in cash and wire millions into an offshore account. At a gas station, frightened Molly asks a man for help – but Jerry cuts his throat! When Grant recognizes that Jerry is driving a car stolen from Melissa’s aunt, they send cops to her house to find her murdered and stuffed in a freezer. Jerry has been holed up in her house for a few weeks. Learning Jerry is on his way back to their area, Grant tells Annabelle to take their dogs and go to her parents’ house for safety. But she stops by her condo first, and Charley jumps out of the car and runs back home. When Grant sees his dog, he knows something is wrong and drives off to Annabelle’s condo. Anastasia tails him as Grant is taken hostage inside the condo by an armed Jerry, who has tied up Annabelle and a very weak Melissa, whose liver is failing. He holds Molly at knifepoint to make Grant drop his gun. Anastasia has called the cops and a SWAT team and the FBI surround the condo. A hostage negotiator tries to persuade Jerry to let sick Melissa go, or even his daughter but he refuses. When Annabelle’s dog attacks Jerry, he drops Molly and an FBI agent grabs her to safety. Jerry opens fire in the apartment, hitting Annabelle and Charley the dog. An FBI sniper takes him out with a shot to the head and he falls over the balcony to his death. Charley is rushed to the vet while the two women are rushed to the hospital. Annabelle needs a blood transfusion but has a very rare type – the same as Melissa’s. Even though she’s desperately sick, Melissa agrees to give some of her blood to Annabelle. However, because hers is contaminated, it will eventually kill Annabelle too unless they get a fresh batch. It’s touch and go for both women.

    Annabelle’s parents arrive as well as a Marine named DRAKE (mid 20s), Annabelle’s high school boyfriend who still loves her. Annabelle pulls through but Melissa is in a coma. She needs a new transplant but because of her rare blood type it’s going to be next to impossible to find a new liver. However, Annabelle volunteers a piece of her own – livers grow back. It’s a nerve-wracking dual operation and both women flatline on the table before being shocked back. However, Melissa remains in a coma on a respirator. Her lawyer gently tells Grant that her will has a Do Not Resuscitate clause.

    Grant comes to the difficult decision to take Melissa off life support – but she starts breathing on her own. Although Marshall tells him it’s very unlikely Melissa will ever regain consciousness, Grant moves her back to his place with a feeding tube and daily physical therapy. He’s also spent thousands on spine surgery to remove bullets from his dog who is now recovering. Melissa’s dog ends up having Charley’s puppies and one looks just like him. Anastasia and other locals end up adopting the others.

    A year later, Annabelle and Drake are married and expecting a baby. Brenda is also pregnant and wants to name her girl Audrey after Grant’s late daughter. Melissa still hasn’t woken up and Grant finally admits defeat. He returns her to hospital where she is taken off life support and passes away. Even though their story had a sad ending, Grant believes they were fated to meet so he could end up looking after Molly. After the funeral, he holds a reception at his house. Melissa’s house is sold and Grant is surprised to learn that Marshall and Brenda have bought it! Anastasia regularly brings her dog, Charley’s son, out to the beach house to play. Her crush, Jake the vet, turned out to be gay so she has to go on searching for love. But Grant knows they are already falling for each other and they seal it with a kiss – giving them both a jolt of electricity!

    About The Author

    Author Ben Marney has self-published over a half dozen novels, many of which have been noted for their strong romances and potential ease of adaptability for film and television. His other career is as a professional musician, performing all over the world and with many star players. Two seemingly unrelated fields point to a clear and strong passion for writing. Energy, imagination and enthusiasm will go a long way to establishing him as a commercial writer for the large or small screen.