They ended their marriage but they never fell out of love.
Law student Anita Virani hasn’t seen her ex-husband since the ink dried on their divorce papers. Now she’s agreed to pretend she’s still married to Nikhil until his sister’s wedding celebrations are over—because her former mother-in-law neglected to tell her family of their split! The closeness they share during the marriage act gives Anita new insight into the man she once loved so deeply. And reignites Nikhil’s feelings for her…
She was struggling with pinning pleats behind her left shoulder when Nikhil groaned. She watched him through the mirror as he slowly attempted to sit up in bed. He ended up lying back down, holding his head.
“Electrolytes next to you,” she said, finally securing the pin. The sari sagged a bit, but whatever. She’d managed it in the end.
She tried not to look at him. He was ridiculously handsome first thing in the morning. Tousled dark hair and scruff on his chin. The soft, bewildered look in his dark eyes, matched with a slight pout of full lips.
She had always loved waking up next to him. He was sexy and handsome—some mornings, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. That she was the one who got to wake up next to him every day. That she was the one he loved above all else.
Or so she had thought.
“Electrolytes.” She raised her voice a bit. “On the nightstand.”
He started at her voice, which only made him moan again. “Neets?”
He really needed to stop calling her that. “Anita,” she corrected him as she donned large dangly earrings and a necklace and reached for her matching bangles, desperately trying to ignore how sensual her name sounded in even his dry-throat voice.
“What the hell are you doing in my room?” he croaked at her.
“Right now, it’s our room. We’re supposed to be married, remember?” Her bangles jingled as she slid them on, the sound reminding her of wedded bliss.
“I’m trying to forget.”
Did he remember kissing her? Didn’t matter. “You certainly tried to forget last night.” She looked at her phone. “You have forty-five minutes to get up and be presentable. The grah shanti starts at eight thirty.”
He grunted. She walked over and shook him. He reeked of alcohol.
“What are you doing?” he grumbled, clutching his head in obvious pain.
“Tina’s first puja is in forty-five minutes, downstairs, and you need to be there.” She handed him the glass of electrolytes. “Though I get paid regardless of whether or not you show. I told your mother I would not be responsible for your attendance.”
He sat up and took the glass, looking at it like it might bite him. “I’m sure she drew up the appropriate documents.”
“No. I did.” She smirked at him.
He scowled at her as he sipped the electrolytes.
Mona is obsessed with everything romantic, including chocolate, coffee and wine. PW calls her “a writer to watch” and Sonali Dev called her first novel, Then, Now, Always a “sweet, angsty romance.” She’s blessed with an amazing daughter and loving son who have both gone to college. Mona lives in Maryland with her romance-loving husband.
It’s never too late to put your best foot forward.
From the outside, Reagan “Rae” Doucet has it all: a coveted career in Washington, DC, a tight circle of friends and a shoe closet to die for. When one of her crew falls ill, however, Rae is done playing it safe. The talented but unfulfilled writer makes a “risk list” to revamp her life. But forgiving her ex, Jake Saunders, might be one risk too many.
He was inches away from me when I fell into his arms and began crying. All the anger I’d felt toward him, the hurt he caused me, the stupid ways he’d played me…they all meant nothing in this moment. He was here when I needed him the most. And I could no longer hold my tears back as he stood without a word and let me soak his shirt with sobs for minutes, only occasionally rubbing my hair to bring me comfort.
“Maybe we should go for a walk,” he finally said.
“A walk sounds good.”
“Wait, what are you doing here?” I asked once I had a moment to calm down. We’d walked to Jake’s car to get some privacy while I tried drying up my tears, but the peace and quiet away from the hospital walls also brought me back to reality. It certainly didn’t help that Jake had the kind of car a man gets when he has no intention of having obligations any time soon: a two-seater, silver Jaguar F-TYPE. It was gorgeous on the outside, intimate inside and was also a stark reminder of the reason we broke up in the first place.
“Christine’s mom called me. I assume she was just going through the numbers she had of her friends, and I was still on the list.”
I guess I’d forgotten that Mama Vasquez had Jake’s number from when we were in college. And that we hadn’t exactly updated her to let her know he shouldn’t still be on the call list of people to inform if something went wrong.
“And so you came all the way from New York?”
“Actually, no. I was in town already for work. It’s why I called you the other night as well. Was hoping we could talk after all these years. But then when Chrissy’s mom called, I just figured it was fate I was here, and so I should come.”
“You definitely came around that corner just as I needed you to,” I admitted with a sigh. “I’m sorry about that, by the way. I just… I couldn’t cry in there and then I saw you and—”
“Hey, you don’t have to apologize for that. I’m—I don’t want to say glad but—grateful I was there when you needed someone.”
“Thank you. I don’t want to make this about me, though. She’s the one in there fighting for her life. I was simply trying to encourage her to keep doing so because… I’m… I’m just not ready to lose my friend.” I held back more tears that were aching to flow down my cheeks.
“And it’s okay to feel that,” he said, lifting my head so we were eye to eye. “It’s okay to not be everyone’s strength all the time. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Yeah, I hear you.”
“I don’t think you do, but that’s okay, too. Just know you don’t have to be strong with me. I can take your tears and your questions.”
Darby Baham is a debut author with Harlequin Books Special Edition, where she signed a three-book deal in August 2020. She is also a senior managing editor with The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.
In Donna Alward’s latest addition to the Heirs to an Empire miniseries, a life-altering secret is revealed.
It all started with an escape from scandal…only to be rescued by the tycoon! PR assistant Anemone Jones loves working in Paris for the glamorous Pemberton family…until she discovers she is in fact their half sibling! When the scandal hits the tabloids, it’s her gorgeous boss, Phillippe Leroux, who sweeps her off to his idyllic home in Grasse. Phillippe’s proposal in Provence gives Annie breathing space to process her new life—and even find a place in his.
She was still working through a mental list when Phillipe turned up a hillside street, slowing as he drove through a residential neighborhood. The homes here were nice—stone houses with tile roofs, olive and palm trees, little gardens. Annie had never seen a palm tree in person in her life. And here she was, in the south of France, so close to the Mediterranean. Sitting in a car with the handsomest man she’d ever known.
Was it wrong that a day that was so very horrible also kind of felt like a dream come true?
“Nous sommes ici,” Phillipe said, and Annie nodded as he turned up a short drive to a welcoming-looking two-story house with wood shutters the color of whiskey barrels.
He turned off the car and let out a big breath.
“Phillipe? Before we go in, I just want to say…thank you. Thank you for caring enough to want to help me. You could have just sent me a warning, but you’re a true friend.”
He took off his seat belt and turned in his seat to face her better. “If I overstep, please tell me. I can be…bossy. Single-minded.”
That didn’t sound like the man she knew, today’s activities excepted. “I will, though I won’t have to. I just want you to know that I appreciate you so much. You have always—” Her throat tightened and she took a moment to swallow, ease the knot that had formed. “You have always treated me with caring and respect.” She gave a small, secretive smile. “Maybe more than I wanted. You’re a good man, Phillipe.”
His gaze held hers and the air in the car filled with the same delicious tension that had shimmered between them last night. But then they both sat back, knowing it would only complicate matters further if they gave in to the attraction they’d done so well ignoring all day.
“Come,” he said softly, giving her the smile she found so devastating. “Meet my parents. Be at home.”
He retrieved their bags from the back seat and then they walked up the stone path together. Phillipe lifted his hand to knock but before he could, the door swung open and a woman stood there, her smile wide, the joy in her eyes unmistakable.
“Vous êtes ici!”
He laughed, put down the bags, and pulled her into his arms.
Donna lives on Canada’s east coast. When she’s not writing she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking, and is a Masterpiece Theater addict. While her heartwarming stories have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her favorite thing is to hear from readers! Visit her on the web at http://www.donnaalward.com and join her mailing list at http://www.DonnaAlward.com/newsletter.
Vet Francesca has started a new life in the Baldasseri’s kingdom. But she’s hiding a sensational secret—she’s really a Visconti princess! And the Viscontis have been feuding with the Baldasseris for generations… When handsome Prince Vincenzo Baldasseri brings his dog in for treatment, there is a powerful connection between them from the get-go! Dare Francesca reveal the truth? And is their love strong enough to overcome all their obstacles?
Much as he’d wanted to take her to a restaurant, he didn’t want to create publicity until the news of his broken engagement had circulated and died down. For now, this kind of excursion would have to do. Despite saying goodbye to Karl, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this relaxed and happy. She’d made all the difference.
Once he’d driven her to the apartment complex, he shut off the engine and turned to her. “I want to thank you for helping me get through this day.”
“To be honest, it helped me too,” came her unexpected response without looking at him. “I find I’m attached to all my patients, especially ones that look like my last dog. Karl headed the list. Daniel says I need to toughen up, but I have a feeling there’s no cure for it.”
Every word out of her mouth enchanted him. He had to see her again. “Since you told me Daniel asked you to watch some videos on the Biosphere Reserve, I thought you might be interested in meeting the biologist who used to work with Dr. Zenger. The conservation board is meeting Tuesday evening at the information center here in Zernez. The chief ranger of the park will be speaking.”
“I would absolutely love it!” she exclaimed without hesitation. “I was envious when Daniel told me Dr. Zenger helped take care of some of the animals up there. What time does this meeting start and I’ll drive over.”
“Seven o’clock. The information center consists of three buildings. The meeting will take place in the Planta-Wildenberg castle. I’ll look for you there.”
“Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity, and for the dinner.” She started to get out of the car.
“It was my pleasure. See you there.”
He waited until he could see she was safely inside her apartment, then he left for home with a new excitement. Only three more days before he saw her again.
Rebecca Winters lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. With canyons and high alpine meadows full of wildflowers, she never runs out of places to explore. They, plus her favourite vacation spots in Europe, often end up as backgrounds for her romance novels because writing is her passion, along with her family and church. Rebecca loves to hear from readers. If you wish to e-mail her, please visit her website at: http://www.cleanromances.net.
Will amnesia turn these enemies into lovers? It’s a hero in distress, with a more than capable damsel on hand to save to him. Find out more about the book in this book #1 miniseries, Carsons of Lone Rock, by New York Times bestselling author Maisey Yates.
Welcome to Lone Rock, Oregon’s Wild West. Chance Carson is the one man in Lone Rock who gets Juniper all riled up. His family is ranching royalty. He’s arrogant, insufferable and obnoxiously charming—she’ll keep her distance, thanks. But when Juniper finds Chance Carson on her property, injured and without his memory, she saves his life…and sort of lets him believe he’s her ranch hand. Making the entitled rancher work a little is one thing…but actually liking the man is another. Falling for him? No way. And yet the passion between them is as undeniable as it is unexpected. Will it survive the truth?
“You know, I take people to the hospital every day,” she said. “They don’t just go there to die. They go there to be healed. I understand that there can be bad traumatic memories connected to that. But… But the hospital can be a good thing.”
“Logically I know that. But…”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry that the first memory you’re having is so sad.”
“I think it’s probably the strongest one I have. Because I think I felt that sadness inside of me before I ever saw her face. What a hell of a thing. That I almost died. Out there in the field. When…”
“When what?” she whispered.
“My parents have been through enough,” he said. “She must’ve been my sister.”
“Oh.” The word left her body in a gust.
He knew what it was like to lose someone. He was…human.
Just the same as she was.
Just the same as they all were.
The Carsons and Sohappys weren’t so different.
She was hoping he might see that during this time, but she hadn’t expected it would be her own lesson.
She…she had never heard anything about that and she didn’t know why he thought it. Or if it was true. And it still settled hard in her chest.
He was getting way too close to remembering things, and it was getting… Dicey. It was one thing to think that she wanted to endear herself to him this way, but him sharing something personal like this, something he never would’ve shared otherwise, it felt like a violation. And she had never thought that she would feel like she violated Chance Carson. But this was different. The situation with his sister.
No. He had a sister. And she was alive and well.
Callie Carson was much younger than him, and she had gone off and married a rodeo cowboy who lived in Gold Valley.
But the way he was talking about it, it sounded like he was younger.
She felt hungry for more, but at the same time she didn’t want to press him. For so many reasons, but maybe the biggest one was her heart felt so tender right now. For him.
That wasn’t supposed to happen.
“All right,” he said.
He stood up, and she stood at the same time, ready to take his bowl from him.
“I can take the dishes.”
“Oh no, that’s okay,” he said, and she put her hand on the bowl, and her fingertips brushed his, and their eyes locked.
And she felt a frisson of something magical go through her. Something hot and delicious and sticky like cayenne honey, flowing all the way through her veins.
And she could hardly breathe around it. She could hardly think. All she could do was stare. And feel the thundering rhythm of her heart, like a herd of wild mustangs, the kind that you could find out here in Eastern Oregon, and she was sure that he could hear it too.
Maisey Yates is a New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romance novels. Whether she’s writing strong, hard working cowboys, dissolute princes or multigenerational family stories, she loves getting lost in fictional worlds. An avid knitter with a dangerous yarn addiction and an aversion to housework, Maisey lives with her husband and three kids in rural Oregon. Check out her website, maiseyyates.com or find her on Facebook.
A by-the-book Fed goes rogue for justice. To stop the drug epidemic ravaging Midnight Pass, FBI agent Ryder Durant reluctantly takes matters into his own hands. Poised to set a trap at Reynolds Station, he has to contend with Arden Reynolds—who prefers Ryder’s K-9 to the Fed protecting her family. As Ryder and Arden spar, embers spring into flame. And those flames are as dangerous as the crime ring lurking too close to home…
Although she didn’t say anything, anticipation lit her blue eyes. It surprised him how that struck somewhere low in his gut. Like he was enjoying getting a reaction—any reaction—from her.
“You don’t like me very much, and I’d like to know why.”
That small light winked out, fading away as if it had never been. “I have nothing against you.”
“I’d say you do. You have since the first time we met.” Ryder tilted his head toward the wide-open window beside them. “Right out there on Main Street.”
He remembered the moment well. It had been a pretty fall day and he’d tied Murphy up outside the coffee shop to bask in the sun for a few minutes while he ran in to snag a quick cup. The night before, he’d run his first op since coming to Midnight Pass and was pretty much subsisting on fumes. He’d come back out to find Arden, expectantly waiting for him, full of barely veiled insult and clear irritation that he’d left his dog outside.
“I wasn’t aware that Murphy was a working dog that day. I may have been a bit terse.”
“And the other night? At your place?”
“I—” She stopped, clearly considering her words. He was surprised to find that he had the patience to wait for whatever it was she had to say. “I don’t appreciate cocky arrogance.”
“You live on a ranch full of testosterone-fueled cowboys. And in a town full of the same. Surely you come up against a bit of cocky banter now and again?”
“That’s an excuse for it?”
“It’s a fact. I’d have thought you’d be used to it by now.”
“It doesn’t mean I have to like it.” Her tone was prim and her already strong, fit posture stiffened a few more degrees north.
Ryder was good at his job because he knew how to read people. It was also what made him a good K-9 handler. He paid attention and he read situations before reacting. And every instinct he possessed read this one as arising from something that had specifically happened to her.
With someone who had hurt her.
Someone, Ryder suspected, who had been cocky and arrogant and likely unkind to her.
Addison Fox is a lifelong romance reader, addicted to happy-ever-afters. She loves writing about romance as much as reading it. Addison lives in New York with an apartment full of books, a laptop that’s rarely out of sight and a wily beagle who keeps her running. You can find her at http://www.addisonfox.com, facebook.com/addisonfoxauthor or on Twitter (@addisonfox).
A kill squad is closing in…now this team leader must risk everything for answers. Barely escaping CIA mercenaries, ex-agent Hunter Wright is after the person he thinks targeted his ops team, Topaz, for treason. Deputy director Kelly Russell is still the one woman he can’t resist, but she believes Hunter went rogue. Now she’s his only shot at getting the answers they need. Can they trust each other enough to save Topaz—and each other?
She looked up at him and smiled, her eyes a deep cobalt blue, dark fire-red hair, her skin pale and creamy, those angular features, her full pink mouth, the effortless sensuality. It all hit him like a gut punch. God, she was breathtaking.
“A drink? No.” Amusement rang in her voice, and something inside him sank.
“All right,” he said nonchalantly. He forced a smile, swallowing his disappointment, and stepped across the hall. Of course. Some things weren’t meant to be. This was for the best anyway. Everything came at a price. To be with Kelly Russell might cost him his soul. “I’ll let you get some sleep. It’s been a long week, and we’ve got an early flight.”
“Hunter,” she said, and he glanced back at her. “Who said anything about sleeping? I am interested in the euphemism behind your offer of a nightcap.” Another smile, this time flirty, sexy. Full of promise. “And to answer the second part to your question, my room.”
Every muscle in his body tightened with need, making it difficult for him to think of anything else, least of all playing it cool.
“We need to establish the rules of engagement first,” she said.
All business. Always in control. Even now. For some inexplicable reason, it only added to her allure.
He strolled back across the hall. “I’m listening.”
“This has to be a one-night-only situation. It can never happen again.”
He reached out and tucked a fiery strand that had escaped her twist behind her ear. Her skin was warm and soft, with a perfect porcelain texture. “My mother always told me, never say never.”
“I’m serious, Hunter.” She slipped her key card in the slot, unlocked the door and opened it. “One night to assuage our mutual curiosity.”
Curiosity. Chemistry. Semantics. “If we enjoy ourselves, why only one night?”
Juno Rushdan draws from real-life inspiration as a former U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer to craft sizzling romantic thrillers. However, you won’t find any classified leaks here. Her stories are pure fiction about kick-ass heroes and strong heroines fighting for their lives as well as their happily-ever-after.
Beloved New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis begins a new series–Sunrise Cove–set near beautiful Lake Tahoe, with a heartwarming story of found family and love.
During the snowstorm of the century Levi Cutler is stranded on a ski lift with a beautiful stranger named Jane. After strong winds hurl the gondola in front of them into the ground, Levi calls his parents to prepare them for the worst…but can’t bring himself to say goodbye. Instead, wanting to fulfill his mother’s lifelong wish, he impulsively tells her he’s happily settled and Jane is his girlfriend–right before his phone dies.
But Levi and Jane do not.
Now Levi’s family is desperate to meet “The One.” Though Jane agrees to be his pretend girlfriend for just one dinner, she’s nervous. After a traumatic childhood, Jane isn’t sure she knows how to be around a tight-knit family that cherishes one another. She’s terrified, and a little jealous. But an unexpected series of events and a host of new friends soon show Jane that perhaps this is the life she was always meant to have.
As Jane and Levi spend more time together, pretend feelings quickly turn into real ones. Now all Jane has to do is admit to herself she can’t live without the man she’s fallen in love with and the family she has always dreamed of.
I always look forward to a Shalvis book because I know that the characters are going to be enjoyable and I’m going to find myself engaged in their journey to a HEA. Buuuuut, I have to add a warning because her newest is not for those who don’t like a little drama in their love stories 🙂 Jane and her friend, Charlotte, have some commitment issues due to things that happened in their pasts, so there is quite a bit of back-and-forth, will-they-won’t-they going on and it may not be for everyone. Luckily they both have amazingly understanding men in their lives and the love & support of each other to help them face their fears.
He’s always strong, always faithful…but will he be always hers?
Pregnant, alone and temporarily staying at her family’s cabin in northern Minnesota, Clara Olafson is determined to overcome the hurt of her recent past and build a good life for herself and her child. The last thing she expects to find on her morning walk through the state forest nearby is an unconscious and injured former Marine.
Colin ‘Fitz’ Fitzhugh might have initially joined the Corps to prove that he was more than just a wealthy playboy, but he grew to love the brotherhood and purpose he found there—until his last mission in Afghanistan cost the life of one of his men and left him badly scarred in body and mind. Hoping to shed some of his pain and guilt alone in the wilderness, instead he finds a feisty, pregnant angel.
Sparks fly as sassy Clara nurses the gruff and mysterious Fitz back to health, but the happiness and peace they both begin to find in the little cabin is shattered when Clara faces a health emergency. When Fitz reluctantly chooses to return to the wealth and privilege of his family in order to save her and the baby, he plunges them all into a glittering society that Clara doesn’t know if she likes. But Fitz might just prove to her that, whether he’s being a billionaire philanthropist or a sudden stand-in dad, he’s always hers.
Reader advisory: This book contains a mention of attempted murder.
Clara Olafson hummed a little to herself as she walked heavily down the overgrown trail. This far out into the forest, the trails weren’t maintained as regularly as the ones closer to the visitor center. The morning air was crisp—northern Minnesota in late August could feel like October or November in the rest of the country—but she liked it that way. The cool air buffeting her felt like a familiar, albeit chilly, blanket. Like home. Plus, it quickened her steps, which was good for her and the baby. A couple of times lately, she’d had the oddest sensation, almost like a trickle of ice-water down her spine, that she was being watched or followed, but she blamed the crazy pregnancy hormonal imbalance. This morning, though, she felt nothing but the fresh breeze behind her.
She’d started the habit of an early-morning walk when she’d moved out to the cabin two months earlier, and she intended to keep it up until the day she went into labor—which actually could be pretty soon. The OB she’d been seeing in St. Paul—before—had said to stay active, and she wanted to do everything she could to make sure that the little life she carried had the best possible start. She’d read several books, along with what felt like a couple of thousand websites, and she was avoiding lunchmeat, green tea, fake sweeteners, caffeine—even chocolate. Goodness, chocolate had been the hardest to give up, with coffee a close second. She now had a recurring dream where she walked into a dimly lit coffee house and ordered a massive frozen-mocha-latte-smoothie with curls of dark chocolate and mounds of whipped cream on top, but she always woke up before she could take a sip. Her mouth watered just thinking about it.
“No,” she chided, half speaking to herself and also to the baby. “No chocolate for the baby, no matter how much Mama wants it.” She reached down to rub her swollen belly, as she did so often these days, and smiled at the firm kick she got in response, right under her palm. A rush of affection and protectiveness so intense that it almost frightened her swept through, taking her by surprise. It was amazing to hold a tiny, growing human inside her, but also terrifying to be so totally and solely responsible for someone else.
Even in the midst of her awe, the craving persisted, so intense that she could almost taste the chocolate melting on her tongue. Maybe I’m just longing for something sweet? She wasn’t supposed to have too much sugar, but fruit was definitely still okay. The berries on the blackberry and raspberry bushes a little farther down the path were just starting to ripen again. They would be tart and juicy. She licked her lips at the thought and smiled at her own eagerness. Anyone who gets between a pregnant woman and her desired food deserves whatever happens to him. She quickened her pace, thankful she’d worn long pants and sleeves to avoid the prickly bushes. If there were enough berries, maybe she’d even come back later with a pail and pick enough for a pie. Oh, good Lord, the idea of a piece of pie, even just a tiny sliver, warm from the oven with a flaky crust, was so wonderful that she almost groaned aloud.
Practically trotting and out of breath by the time she reached the bushes, she was thrilled to see a few ripe berries straight away, which she snapped off their thin branches and popped into her mouth. Cold juice exploded on her tongue, and she sighed with pleasure. The ripe berries were few and far between, though. Most of them were still hard and green. Even so, there were enough on each bush to take her deep into the thicket as she sought out every last berry that was ready to eat, crunching them with gusto. It could have been some crazy sensory thing, but she didn’t know if she’d ever tasted anything more delicious.
At first, she thought the moaning might be coming from her stomach. Heaven knew it made all sorts of noises these days—gurgles, churns and growls so loud they woke her up at night. But this sound was too loud and too deep. She froze and tilted her head, listening. When the low moan came again, her heart seemed to jump right up into her throat. What the heck? Taking a slow, calming breath and narrowing her eyes, she scanned the thicket. Probably a deer in distress, she reassured herself. At least she hoped it was a deer, because if it were a moose or a bear, she could be in real trouble. She couldn’t make out much of anything through the thick leaf-cover at first, but finally a slight shaking in the bushes ahead and to her right signaled the location of whatever injured creature was there.
She hesitated. A prudent woman would go back to the cabin and call for help. She knew this. She should be careful and not her usual impulsive self. But then the noise came again, so sad and filled with pain that it made her throat tighten and her eyes fill with tears. Pure, uncontrollable sympathy made her step one foot forward, and her distinctly un-prudent decision was made. If the animal can make a noise like that, she reasoned, it’s unlikely to be able to move enough to hurt me if I stay back. And I won’t get too close.
The stand of bushes was situated in a small valley with steep inclines that were blanketed with pine trees rising high on either side. As she got nearer to the wounded creature, she could see a faint trail of crushed and broken foliage leading to it from the opposite direction, and she guessed that the poor animal had probably fallen from the higher ground. Her heart squeezed with compassion. It must be in so much pain. She slowed her steps, carefully placing her weight on the balls of her feet instead of the heels and trying to breathe silently to avoid startling the mystery animal.
She braced herself for a very ugly scene, but what she found instead made her suck in a surprised breath. Two huge, black boots stood out dark against the green undergrowth, and her eyes followed their forms to two blue-jeans-clad legs, one of which looked somewhat twisted. Her gaze trailed up farther, to where the form was more obscured by leaves, but she could still make out an enormous hand and the weave of a thick green sweater, shifting slightly with the man’s breathing. She hurried forward.
“Oh, my goodness, you poor man! Where’s the worst pain?” she asked, trying to keep her voice quiet so as not to startle him. There was no answer, apart from another piteous groan, and when his face finally came into full view, she saw why. His eyes were closed, and an ugly lump had formed at his temple, already dark with a hint of the bad bruising to come. The blow must have also knocked him unconscious.
She lowered herself to the ground awkwardly, her movements hampered by the clumsiness of late-pregnancy and the ever-present swelling that made her fingers and toes feel like little sausages stuffed into casings that were too small. She wanted to assess where his injuries might be, though, and to do that, she needed to get closer. She’d taken several first-aid classes as a young teenager, practically a requirement as a doctor’s daughter in a rural area, so she felt reasonably optimistic she could stabilize the worst of whatever his injuries were before she ran back to the cabin to call 9-1-1. Why in the world did I choose today of all days not to bring my cell phone? She cursed under her breath, immediately murmuring an apology to her baby.
As her movements brought her closer to him, she couldn’t help but notice that, apart from his injuries, the man appeared to be in extremely good shape. His leg muscles bulged, even through the thick denim of his jeans, and his broad shoulders and chest looked solid and strong. She glanced at his face, noticing that his hair was cropped close to his skull—the length a lot of military and ex-military men keep it, she thought absently. Even if she couldn’t see his eyes, he was undeniably handsome with high cheekbones, dark brows and eyelashes, a strong chin and nose, and soft-looking lips. He was younger than she’d initially thought, too. Maybe in his early thirties.
Running carefully light hands over his legs, she felt the spot where one of his knees was twisted and swollen, but she was relieved that she didn’t feel anything else that seemed out of place on his lower extremities. There were a few areas that were uneven, but she guessed it could be fabric bunching or debris from the fall. She skimmed her fingers over his hips to his chest, which were just as hard and muscular as she’d guessed, to his bulky arms. To her dismay, one of his wrists also felt slightly enlarged. Finally, she moved a tentative hand to his head. She rose onto her knees, leaning over for a better view to see how large and swollen the area was, which should be pretty visible through his ultra-short hair. Head wounds could be tricky, bleeding internally as well as externally. The swelling there was almost certainly what was causing his unconsciousness.
Just as the tips of her fingers made contact with the most swollen spot, without a breath of warning one of the man’s mammoth hands clamped around her wrist, stopping her from moving. She squeaked and tried to take her arm away, but his grip held her firm. When her gaze flashed to his face, he was staring back at her with bright blue eyes that were filled with a mix of suspicion and confusion.
Clara is a kind person who fell for the wrong man and is now spending some time on her own, regrouping and waiting for her baby to arrive. A few days spent with Fitz while he recovers finds her growing attached to the strong, troubled, caring former marine.
Fitz is struggling with his guilt, pain, and feelings of unworthiness. Being rescued by Clara, with all her spunk and goodness, makes him dream of something more. But he’s not sure that he can be the man she deserves.
While there was a bit of insta-love, I really enjoyed watching the two of them fall in love. It’s well-paced, with enjoyable characters, and smoothly leads from their first meeting, thru their potential issues, and straight to a satisfying HEA. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Russell has in store for the rest of the Fitzhugh family.
(I’m giving this one 4+ stars because I really enjoyed the characters and their journey but I wasn’t all that happy with the intrigue side of things. I didn’t feel like it was needed and it left me with more questions than answers. Just a warning in case that kind of thing might be a deal breaker.)
Aurora is originally from the frozen tundra of the upper-Midwest (ok, not frozen all the time!) but now loves living in New England with her real-life hero/husband, two wonderfully silly sons, and one of the most extraordinary cats she has ever had the pleasure to meet. But she still goes back to the Midwest to visit, just never in January.
She doesn’t remember a time that she didn’t love to read, and has been writing stories since she learned how to hold a pencil. She has always liked the romantic scenes best in every book, story, and movie, so one day she decided to try her hand at writing her own romantic fiction, which changed her life in all the best ways.You can find out more about Aurora at her website here – https://aurorarussellauthor.wordpress.com/
Michelle Smart unravels the mysteries of a Greek marriage in this emotional reunion romance.
Keren fled the island of Agon heartbroken, convinced her marriage was over. Now she must return to face her gloriously handsome estranged husband, Yannis, and end things for good. Instead, she finds herself marooned on Agon, and Yannis insists she spends three final days with him first! With nowhere to run from the fierce longing he reawakens, Keren must open her eyes to the whole truth. Not just the tragedy that broke them, but the joy and passion she’s tried—and failed—to forget…
She couldn’t stop her stare darting to him. ‘I’m staying for three days not three weeks, Yannis.’
To her surprise, a grin spread over his face. It was a heartbreaker of a smile, all lopsided and…sexy.
She quickly looked away.
Keren didn’t want to see his smile and remember how it had once been part of the Yannis Filipidis package that had seduced and charmed her from the moment she set eyes on him.
Their first meeting had been at the opening of a new contemporary art gallery at Agon’s palace that Yannis and his brother had helped curate as a favour to the King. The palace had artwork and antiquities dating back millennia, but the modern King wanted to bring it more fully into the twenty-first century. Knowing their King wanted to attract a younger, hipper clientele, the PR people behind the launch reached out to Keren and invited her to attend and review. That she was no art critic and had only visited and reviewed two art galleries in all her travels—reviewing offbeat bars and restaurants and activities like elephant trekking were more her thing—didn’t matter to them. It was her audience they wanted to connect with. They’d offered to pay for her flights and accommodation and promised no interference with what she published on her blog. As Agon had been on her wish list of countries to visit, she’d been thrilled to accept.
She remembered the funky feel of the gallery. The creative and delicious cocktails and canapés she’d been plied with by the eager PR team. The buzz that had permeated the air.
But mostly she remembered the incredibly tall, incredibly gorgeous man dressed in a dapper pinstriped suit propped against the wall with a bottle of lager in his hand, oblivious to the lusty stares being thrown his way because his entire focus had been on her.Keren had come to Agon intending to stay for a long weekend. It had ended up being her home for two years.
The man whose attention she’d caught that night and married six months later was still grinning. ‘But you are staying,’ he pointed out smugly.
‘Under duress. And only for three days.’
‘Three days is long enough to convince you to stay.’ Then the smile fell. He tilted his head. ‘Would you believe any apology?’
‘Then I shall save my breath for when you do believe it.’
‘Save it but don’t hold it,’ she advised.
The smile returned. ‘You would give me the kiss of life, surely?’
Before she could respond, he swept past her, his arm brushing hers, and engulfed her in a cloud of the cologne she hadn’t even realised she’d been avoiding inhaling until it was too late.
Grinding her toes into her sandals, Keren closed her eyes and tried her hardest to ride out the wave of longing ripping through her.
They were just echoes of the past. Memories.
Memories she’d locked away on her flight out of Agon.
Michelle Smart is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author with a slight-to-severe coffee addiction. A book worm since birth, Michelle can usually be found hiding behind a paperback, or if it’s an author she really loves, a hardback. Michelle lives in rural Northamptonshire in England with her husband and two young Smarties. When not reading or pretending to do the housework she loves nothing more than creating worlds of her own. Preferably with lots of coffee on tap. www.michelle-smart.com.