My new boss is my best friend’s older brother and the golden boy of Paradise Shores.
Me? I’m the misfit single mom who never wanted to fit in…
Being forced to move back to my hometown after a decade away is embarrassing, but I’ll do anything to protect my little girl.
I’ll even wait tables at the elite Yacht Club… now owned by the boy I once had a huge crush on. He’s grown up and claimed his rightful place as King of Paradise Shores.
Parker Marchand was a star athlete and professional sailor who never looked at me twice. He’s strong and steady, everything my abusive ex wasn’t, but I’m a struggling single mom and professional screw-up. What could we possibly have in common?
But Parker doesn’t believe in no win situations. He wants to be my knight in shining armor.
His plan: Charm my daughter. Take me sailing. Out to dinner…and into his bed.
Make me forget everyone but him.
The man I’ve always wanted is within reach, but I’ve been burned too many times to trust again. Parker has a brilliant future and I’m running from my past.
Everyone knows knights in shining armor aren’t real, and I’m too old to believe in fairy tales. Even if Parker is making it hard not to…
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He smiles, slow and wide, and lowers his head. “No,” he says, and then he kisses me. It’s salty and warm and water drips from his hair onto my temple, cold against my flushed skin.
My eyes are still closed when he pulls away. “There,” he murmurs. “Not too little, not too much. We did it right this time.”
“Don’t Goldilocks this, Marchand.”
He chuckles hoarsely and then doesn’t make another sound, not as I reach up on my tiptoes and kiss him again. It’s intoxicating being this close to him.
And just like last time, he becomes a stranger under my lips. Familiar and yet novel, an entirely new landscape to explore. Parker and yet not Parker.
“Jamie,” he murmurs, his hands finding my waist beneath the towel.
My hands settle against his chest. His bare chest. He’s warm and hard under my hands, skin deceptively soft over the strong muscle beneath.
“Jamie,” he murmurs again, moving his lips to my ear. He laughs softly. “We’re in the middle of the boardwalk.”
“Oh,” I whisper against his chest.
“I don’t mind, but I have a feeling you might. You know how this town talks.”
“Yes.” I turn my head and peek past his shoulder. An SUV drives by us on Ocean Drive. “What do we do?”
He rubs a large hand up and down my arms, as if to warm me. It sends a shiver down my back. “We’ll go home,” he says, “and start our days, and do this again. When we’re alone.”
“I like that plan,” I say. My voice doesn’t sound like my own.
He smiles, small and crooked. “Come on, James. You’re getting cold, and I’m in danger of overheating.”
Parker really is the golden boy – patient, kind, and understanding right from the start. If you are looking for any growth from him, you aren’t going to get it, but there’s plenty on Jamie’s side to go around 🙂 And I find it interesting that there are a number of reviews that didn’t like the book because of Jamie’s recovery from the abuse she’d received at the hands of her ex. I don’t know if they only want strong heroines … or those that quickly get over their troubles … or … I’m not sure. It’s not easy for her to get her confidence back. She feels like a failure for letting it go so long and still bears some of the emotional scars from his words. It’s hard for her to come home and face people she knows, people that seem to have everything together. With Parker’s help she starts to let go of some of her past, to realize she’s tougher than she thinks she is, and that she can start over with her daughter. It’s not easy for her and it does take some time, but she gets there.
Small Town Hero is a slow build but satisfying read about second chances and finding yourself again.
Olivia is a twenty-something hopeless romantic who loves billionaires heroes despite never having met one. Taking matters into her own hands, she creates them on the page instead. Stern, charming, cold or brooding, so far she’s never met a (fictional) billionaire she didn’t like.
A voracious reader of romance, Olivia picked up the pen a few years back and what followed was a love affair of her own. Now she spends her days grinning at the steamy banter she’s writing or swooning at happily-ever-afters. Or, to be frank, struggling with writing about herself in third person for the purposes of marketing.
She’s been writing contemporary romance novels since 2018.
They’re all exclusively available on Amazon and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.
(Phew. Now I can go back to first-person love stories!)
A wedding planner, who has resigned herself to spinsterhood, organizes other people’s happy endings in this romantic new women’s fiction from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster.
A light, romantic family saga centered around Yardley Belanger’s country wedding planning business and her eccentric family, and set in a quirky small town with the unusual name of Cemetery, Indiana. (Sure, people have tried, but Betty Cemetery, who is descended from the town founders, will let the name be changed…over her dead body.)
At 31, Yardley Belanger is really good at her job as a wedding planner—organizing other people’s happy ever afters. Yardley doesn’t care that she has zero love life…all the eligible guys in Cemetery are men she grew up with, and none of them interest her anyway. She’s put her heart and soul into her business and has built a reputation specializing in country weddings—complete with a cottage by the lake for honeymooners—attracting happy couples and their families from all around.
Travis Long had to take on too much responsibility too soon. When their parents died, he took care of his younger sister, Sheena. For years, it was just them against the world. But now his baby sister is getting married, and Travis is struggling to accept this change. He thinks Todd isn’t good enough for Sheena, and without meaning to, Travis is noticebly judgmental of his sister’s intended.
Travis and Sheena are in town to plan her country wedding. Travis wanted something classier for his sister, but then he meets Yardley. He notices she puts her heart and soul into everything, and that she really listens to what the bride wants. Yardley has this no-nonsense way of interpreting what his sister says and doesn’t say.
How the hell is he falling in love during wedding prep for his little sister? Easy. He never expected to meet someone like Yardley Belanger.
“Mother, didn’t you plan to go out?” It was nearing noon, and Aurora Belanger had yet to leave. Lilith, her mother’s sister, also lingered in the foyer right outside her office. It was as if they knew she had an appointment and they wanted to oversee the process. It was a fact that no matter how she succeeded, they expected her to fail, or sometimes they just disapproved of how she succeeded.
“Why the rush?” Aurora asked as she adjusted the V-neck of her sleeveless blouse to show more cleavage.
Granted, for an almost-fifty-year-old woman, her mother still had it. The problem was that she knew it, and she focused on looking sexy more than she did on making the business work. Yardley forced her mouth into a smile. “I thought you had some local honeymoon locations to scope out today.”
“I don’t scope out locations. And stop slouching.”
Automatically, Yardley straightened, but damn it, she hadn’t been slouching anyway. “So, what would you call it?”
“I visit, investigate, and collect valuable information that will enhance our clients’ experiences.” She shot Yardley a superior look. “It’s a key part of the business, you know. Certainly, the locations I suggest are more appropriate than that rustic Honeymoon Cottage you always recommend.”
“The cottage is amazing and you know it.”
Aurora sniffed. “Most people are more interested in their honeymoon than the actual wedding.”
Meaning her mother’s contributions were more valuable than Yardley’s efforts? Baloney. She knew one thing though: Aurora’s choices were certainly more expensive. Folding her arms, Yardley said, “Huh. I guess a lot of happy clients didn’t realize that, because more than half choose the cottage, so—”
“Because it’s so disgustingly cheap,” Aurora insisted.
“Affordable,” Yardley countered, but why she bothered, she didn’t know. They’d disagreed on the point too many times to count.
“I need to leave soon for the café,” Aunt Lilith interrupted. She was four years Aurora’s senior, and though they shared similar features, she was more concerned with flaunting her intellect than her sex appeal. At least the niche, tea-parlor-type café Lilith owned turned a small profit, even though they’d transitioned from meeting prospective clients there to having them at the home office instead.
Lilith focused on Yardley with nerve-rattling acuity. “Whatever are you up to, Yardley? Do you have an appointment, hmm?”
“Yes, I do, and I need to prep for it. So… I’ll see you both later.” She took a step back. Then another. Neither of them budged. Damn.
Lilith gave her a longer look. “Don’t you have something more appropriate to wear?”
Looking down at her summer dress, Yardley frowned in consternation. It was one of her favorites. She adored the way the soft, flowing material gently draped her body. The skirt ended mid-calf, and it had just enough adornment to make it professional while still being comfortable. Plus Mimi had told her that the pretty blue floral pattern matched her eyes. “I love this dress.”
“It doesn’t scream professionalism,” said her aunt.
“I’m not sure I want my clothes to scream.”
Ignoring that, her aunt said, “Yellow would be better for you, to offset your dark hair. Perhaps a business suit.”
A yellow business suit? She’d look like a block of butter.
“Nonsense,” said her mother. “Just the opposite is true. It wouldn’t kill you to wear something a little less matronly.”
“My dress isn’t matronly.” Was it? No, no, it was comfortable, damn it.
“You have breasts. Even though they’re small, you should showcase them.”
Yardley started to sweat. “Look, both of you—”
Aunt Lilith cut in. “Only you, Aurora, would think she needed to be sexy to sell a wedding. If you’d furthered your education, as I did, instead of getting pregnant so young—”
“That wasn’t my fault,” Aurora gasped in affront—as she always did when this debate got started.
“Well, it certainly wasn’t mine.” Lilith scoffed. “I didn’t have unprotected sex.”
“Likely because you, dear sister, have never experienced real passion.”
Lilith’s face went red. “No one said passion must equal an unwanted baby—no offense, Yardley.”
Yardley obligingly replied, “None taken.” This whole argument was so old, she knew the lines by heart. There was always some variant of the same thing. Over and over again.
It infuriated Mimi. If her friend was here now, she’d be blasting them both.
“I did the responsible thing,” Aurora specified with flair. “I raised my daughter. You’d probably have given her up.”
“How dare you?” Lilith pointed one manicured finger Yardley’s way. “I love Yardley.”
“Now you do. But while I was carrying her?”
“I was attempting to be the reasonable one.”
“You didn’t want her around, but now you try to claim her as your own.”
“At least I don’t advise her to show off her breasts!”
Yardley lifted her phone to look at the time…and then she heard two things. A man clearing his throat, and a young woman giggling.
OMG. Awash with humiliation, she turned to face her clients…and holy crapola. Pretty sure her ovaries just danced.
Travis Long was a feast for the peepers. She knew because her eyes were gobbling him up from head to toe.
He wasn’t the intended, thank God, just the brother. Is he married?
Good Lord, why did she care? But she answered herself real quick as she took him in feature by feature. Sandy-blond hair, steaked by the sun.
Dark brown eyes, fringed by ridiculous—like, really ridiculous—long, thick lashes.
Broad muscled shoulders.
Long, strong legs.
Of course he had to be married. He’d probably had a dozen proposals by now. Some lucky woman would have snatched him up already.
Unless… Remembering her initial phone conversation, she thought maybe he was too aloof. Too unfriendly. A discerning woman wouldn’t be reeled in by mere good looks. Somehow she didn’t feel all that discerning right now.
Whatever this man does for a living, it works in his favor.
The young woman laughed aloud this time. “Don’t worry, Ms. Belanger. He has that effect on everyone.” She nodded at Aurora and Lilith, and Yardley realized they were both gawking, too.
Appalled, Yardley loudly cleared her throat—and accomplished nothing. Her mother and aunt continued to stare.
“I’ve told him he could have made more money as a model,” the young woman said, “but no, my brother went into construction instead.”
Attempting to ignore the heat in her face, Yardley stepped forward, hand extended—toward the woman. Who would be her client. She was the one who mattered. “Hello. You must be Ms. Long.”
“Soon to be Mrs. Borden, with your help.”
“Oh, I do hope so. That I get to help, I mean. Not that you become Mrs. Borden. I’m sure that’s a foregone conclusion or you wouldn’t be here.” Shut up, Yardley. “Please, just call me Yardley.”
“If you’ll call me Sheena.”
Beside her, Travis shifted but said nothing. Compared to him, his sister looked extra petite. Her hair, lighter blond than Travis’s, hung just past her shoulders. They shared the same striking dark eyes and sinful lashes.
Sheena appeared to be just out of her teens. Maybe twenty or twenty-one. Young, excited, and brimming with optimism. Total opposite of her silent, possibly brooding, brother.
What could she say with her aunt and mother still eyeballing him as if they’d never seen such a fine specimen before? Honestly, in Cemetery, they probably hadn’t. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to help plan your wedding.” Reluctantly, because she wasn’t yet prepared to gaze on him again, Yardley turned to Travis. It took her a second to get her lungs to work, and then she gasped, “I take it you’re Travis Long, the Victorian home enthusiast?”
“I am.” He briefly clasped her hand.
Very perfunctory. Not at all personal. Purely business.
But he had magic hands or something because she felt that touch radiate everywhere. With her tingling palm, she lamely gestured to the gawking duo. “My mother, Aurora Belanger, and my aunt, Lilith Belanger.”
Sheena greeted them with a little less warmth than she’d shown Yardley.
Travis merely gave them a nod, then said to Yardley, “I’m relieved to see you’ve kept the house true to the period.”
Oh goody, a safe subject, and one she was comfortable with. She could talk about the house and stare at him. “I’ve tried. Remodeling it has been a pleasure, but a slow process.” She wrinkled her nose. “Matching all that trim, finding the right valance windows, the iron railings—”
“And the slate roof. That impressed me.”
Oh, hey. She’d impressed him. Score one for her. “Most recently the kitchen got a facelift. I hope I did it justice.”
Sheena glanced around. “It’s beautiful. Can we do a tour of it later? I know it’d make this whole trip worthwhile for Travis.”
She shot a warning look at her mother and aunt. “Absolutely. I’ll show you everything.” What? “I mean, every part of the house. All the rooms. And stuff.” If only her mouth had a spigot she could turn off. “Even the upstairs rooms have been remodeled.” Had her mother and aunt left when they were supposed to, she’d have tidied their rooms for them. Now she couldn’t, meaning they were probably messy disasters.
Oh, how sweet it was to have a little payback against them. They were fanatics when it came to designing their rooms, but not so big on keeping them decluttered. Yardley knew exactly how they’d react—and they didn’t disappoint her.
“Excuse me,” Lilith said, exiting in a dignified, unhurried stride…until she was out of sight. Then they all heard the rushed clomping of her short heels on wood treads as she raced up the stairs.
Aurora managed a wan smile. “Yes, I should go as well. Good luck, dear. Oh, not that my daughter needs luck, of course. She’s quite the talented wedding planner. Very popular here and in the neighboring towns. Why, her vintage weddings are heavily trending, or so she tells me. Personally, I prefer something a little more chic, which of course she offers.”
“Mother,” Yardley said, feeling her cheeks burn. “You don’t want to be late.”
“Oh, no. No, I don’t.” Aurora barely lowered her voice when she said in an aside, “Don’t slouch.” Then she turned and sashayed away, making a little less noise on the stairs than Lilith had. Unfortunately, they could hear them rushing around in their rooms, probably tucking away bras and shoes, clearing clutter from their desks, and hopefully tidying their beds.
It was the one thing she had in common with them: they each loved to show off the house. Since Aurora and Lilith had personally helped with the decor choices for their rooms, they were especially proud of them and loved to show them off.
Yardley pinned on her most professional smile. “We finished the upstairs as a divided living area, so both my aunt and my mother have their own private suites with bedrooms, bathrooms, and seating areas. My mother chose the side with the balcony, and Aunt Lilith has that romantic turret.”
“You live here, too?” Sheena asked.
“Yes, my bedroom is off to the right of the foyer, and the kitchen is to the left.” She gestured down the hall. “Only the dining room is used as my office. If you’d like to come this way, we can all get comfortable while you share your wedding ideas. Once I have a grasp of what you’re thinking, I can show you my portfolio and we can go over the budget.”
Lori Foster is a New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author with over 10 million books sold. She received the Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews and her books have been chosen as editors picks by Amazon multiple times. Foster is actively involved in charity work, and all of the author proceeds from her anthologies have gone to various organizations, such as the Animal Adoption Foundation, the Conductive Learning Center, and One Way Farm. She lives in Ohio with her high school sweetheart.
Enemies to friends to almost lovers … then back to kind-of enemies … to lovers. For a guy who wanted to keep things simple this is anything but.
Fiona knew Knox would be mad when she moved in next door.
And not because she brought a collection of wild animals with her.
And she was right.
So she intended to leave him alone. Mostly.
But he’s not ignoring her. He’s actively working to send her and her “ridiculous menagerie” (rude) right back out of town.
Still, as hard as she tries, it’s impossible to stop thinking about the small town grump’s long hair and tattoos and that mouth.
Not the one that’s almost always set in a grim line and says things like, “you got a permit for that?”
Nope, the one that kisses her like she’s everything he’s ever wanted and says very dirty things in her ear. And sweet, protective, supportive things. Sometimes. Accidentally. When she catches him off-guard.
The one that also says he only wants a long-distance fling with her. Nothing serious. And that he never dates women he sees every day. Like his neighbor.
Well, fine. If he doesn’t want her—and her unbelievable past and that-can’t-be-real future—then she doesn’t want him either. He can just kiss her…giraffe. (Yeah, she actually has a couple of those.)
Now she just needs to convince her heart to give him up.
“Remember that thing we talked about at Christmas?”
Knox felt his gut clench. They’d talked about sleeping together. And him becoming the temporary foster dad to three baby otters.
And they’d kissed for the first time. A kiss that had been causing annoying, unwelcome, frustrating dirty dreams for three fucking months.
“About having a salacious affair where we sneak around behind our friends’ backs and sleep together whenever I’m in town?” she pressed when he didn’t answer.
“Yes. I remember.”
Too well. He was incredibly pissed about how often he’d replayed that conversation and how restless he’d been waiting for her to call or come back to Autre.
He didn’t pine for women. Ever. He did the opposite of that.
But now she was here. And Knox wasn’t sure what he was feeling. Her showing up unannounced wasn’t unusual. Fiona Grady rolled into Autre without warning more often than not in her grape-soda-purple truck that sent his heart hammering and cock hardening.
But it had been three months since he’d seen her. Since they’d talked. Since he’d had any clue what she was doing, where she was, how she was.
Suddenly, she was on his doorstep asking about their plan to bang whenever she was in town for a couple of days?
“Okay, well, there’s something I need to tell you that will make you not want to do that anymore,” she said. “So I was wondering if maybe you wanted to get naked together once before I told you and ruined everything?”
He opened his mouth to reply. Then shut it without a word. What the hell?
He glanced over his shoulder. Three minutes ago, he’d been sitting at his kitchen table doing paperwork with a cup of coffee and listening to a podcast about new creative urban development ideas.
Now the woman he was low-level obsessed with was on his porch asking if he wanted to have sex before she told him something that would make him not want to have sex with her anymore.
He ran a hand through his hair. This was why Fiona Grady was no good for him. She came into his carefully controlled and organized life and made things chaotic and messy.
“Are you sick?” he asked.
“Is anyone dying?”
“Are you married?” He braced himself. He knew very little about this woman, actually, and if she belonged to someone else, he’d… leave her alone. And hate that man. And never forgive her for stirring him up like this.
Okay, that was all…way too much of a relief. He should not be this happy to hear that.
“Did you kill someone?” he asked.
She tipped her head, her mouth curling. “Is that a definite deal-breaker?”
No, probably not. Knox narrowed his eyes.
“No, I haven’t killed anyone.”
“Are the Feds looking for you? Or will I be implicated in some kind of crime if I let you in?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“That’s not a no.”
“I’m just being honest.”
Fair enough. Fiona was a wild animal advocate. The type of person to show up at roadside petting zoos and ‘circuses’ to monitor how the animals were treated and hand out literature to people attending the events, raising awareness about the poor conditions and treatment of those animals. She showed up to help rescue and care for animals, wild and domestic, after natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. She regularly lobbied local, state, and even the national government for animal protections.
The chance that she could have done something in the “gray area” for one of her causes was pretty good.
The problem with that was he knew that wouldn’t keep him from wanting her.
She was precisely the kind of woman he should be avoiding.
He studied her face for another long moment, then gave in to the inevitable. He pushed his door open.
“Yeah?” she asked.
She wasn’t dying, wasn’t married, and hadn’t killed anyone. And he wanted her more than he’d ever wanted another woman in his life. So how was he possibly going to shut the door on her? After three months of missing her? He wasn’t that strong. Or stupid.
So I’ve been enjoying Knox and Fiona dancing around each other for quite a few books now, and I was really looking forward to their story, but I’ll admit that I was really convinced early on that Knox was beyond a … jerk. Then he shares his reasons for wanting a long distance relationship (which was a big of a surprise) and my heart just went out to him. I didn’t think that I could like him any more than I did coming in but then he showed us his ooey-gooey center and he’s now my favorite book boyfriend – nerdy, sexy, intense, and sweet.
Fiona is still sassy, strong, and committed to her animals, to her loved ones, and to ruffling Knox’s well put together feathers. Her secrets are just as audacious as she is and nothing less than we should have expected from her. I loved getting to know her (and those close to her) better as the story unfolds. She understands Knox as no one else does and truly appreciates him. If she can only convince him that they can make a relationship work.
Small town charm, boisterous characters, and enough heat to keep things interesting all mix together to give readers a satisfying conclusion to the Boys of the Bayou Gone Wild series (although, never fear – there are more books coming from this world).
*Part of a series but can be enjoyed as a stand alone, although the prequal Otterly Into You is a must read and currently free on Amazon.*
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.
Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).
Enemies become lovers in this hot and hilarious marriage of convenience.
The Alphahole’s Guide to Marrying The Enemy
by Piper Marlowe
The Brooklyn warehouse is filled with graffiti and pigeon poo. It’s practically begging to be converted into luxury loft apartments.
And yet, will my mother sell it to me, her only son, the investment wunderkind?
“Darling, buildings have souls,” she says, between sips of green juice.
“Show me that you’re on the path to spiritual wellness, and I’ll give it to you.”
Enter Sydney Taylor, my best friend’s little sister, spiritually well enough for even my mother’s past selves to approve of, and my least favorite person on earth…in this life or any of the others I’ve supposedly lived. I wouldn’t date her if she was the last woman on earth. I’ve repeatedly fantasized about shipping her to Mars.
Instead, I marry her.
I know, I know, my crew has quite the history with phony relationships, but this one’s different.
No matter what my mother sees in our auras.
Or how much I want to hate-boink her maddeningly sweet little…
Yep, once my mother signs over that building, I’m definitely going to walk away from this hot-fakery totally unscathed.
And if you buy that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
Love just means you haven’t scored yet. Keep playing. Keep hitting that ball until you make a winner out of yourself. In tennis, a winner can’t have love.
And I’m a winner. I’m the one who wins, and wins, and then sleeps with the prom queen. Normal people wish they could walk in my shoes for a few hours, then they feel jealous when they meet me.
I’m a stone-cold winner. Twenty-eight, TriBeCa penthouse, over a billion in the bank, a dick that could choke a giraffe. Women love me, then hate me later on. That’s fine, as long as they love me first. I’ve won every single game I’ve ever played. Well… except this one.
“That’s the match!” my mother says, beaming at me from across the court.
Fuck, I let that last volley of hers sail right past my head. I glare at the stupid yellow ball as it bounces off the court.
Yep. That’s the set. Four games to two. At least I didn’t get love though. That’d make me a real fucking loser.
“Good job, Maryann,” I mutter. Mom doesn’t mind that I call her by her first name. She didn’t think it was weird even when I started doing it at six.
“Chin up, sweetheart.” My mother walks off the court at my side, beaming as she slides her sunglasses on top of her ageless blond head.
“You know, you only lost because you never commit to your backhand.”
“I lost,” I say, “because Sydney Taylor kept distracting me.”
Honestly, the Kensington Tennis Club is the exact last place I ever thought Sydney fucking Taylor would show her face. It’s the summer meet-and-greet locale for all of New York’s high society. While Sydney got a membership to that club by being born into one of the richest families on the planet, she’s never wanted to hang around with any of us “trust-fund assholes.” Her term, not mine. Like I said, WASP-y tennis club isn’t her idea of a good time. I’d have expected her to be building outhouses down in Guatemala or getting into a fist fight with Richard Spencer.
Not that I’d blame her.
But here she is, seated at a table on the patio, shooting me one smug grimace after another. When she catches me staring, she cheerfully flips me off. Then, in case anyone becomes shocked by her unladylike display, she uses her middle finger to scratch her forehead.
Classy save, Syd.
I fucking hate her, and the feeling’s mutual.
Piper Marlowe is an absolute legend, if you know where to look. And trust us, you don’t.
For national security reasons, her identity is a secret. As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance that at this very moment, she’s undercover, speaking with a bad Lithuanian accent to a bunch of shady characters. She can neither confirm nor deny that she’s writing ultra-fun, uber-witty, hot-darn-sexy romance to distract from the stress of her current clandestine operation.
Or maybe romance writing is the cover for a cover?
She could tell you, but then she’d have to . . . you know. That.
Hi readers! I’m Hana Sheik, and it’s release day for my second Harlequin Romance/Mills & Boon True Love, Temptation in Istanbul. Yippee!!! I’m here to share an excerpt from the book with you today. It’s a first kiss scene, and I’ll never tire of writing any firsts between lovers.
If you love first kisses too, I hope this one hits your sweet spot.💕
Temptation in Istanbul
by Hana Sheik
A single dad’s greatest temptation? The nanny on his doorstep!
Billionaire Faisal is anxiously awaiting custody of his little girl, who’s been living miles away with her mother. First he must win the approval of her nanny, Maryan, who has traveled with her to Istanbul. While he shows Maryan the delights of his city, the instant attraction between them is hard to ignore. But Maryan leaves in two weeks, so Faisal must decide how much of his bruised heart he is prepared to risk…
Maryan hesitated a second, and then she grasped his hand, his long, strong fingers holding hers in an even-pressured grip.
Their hands remained clasped longer than necessary.
Longer than she’d have normally liked.
But Faisal had made her feel like she wasn’t alone. Like her troubles were his in a way, and she’d come out of this baking and talking feeling lighter, calmer.
“Maryan.” He spoke her name in a breathy whisper; a reverence pulsed from those two syllables. So much so that it sounded less like her name and more like a prayer. She shivered visibly, unable to help the reaction. Her body temperature rose when he closed the short gap between them and his hand brushed up her arm before moving to cup her too-warm cheek. It was a simple touch that set off a firework of desire in her.
“Thank you for listening. For asking. For pushing to know.”
He spoke her mind. Those were the exact words she wished to utter to him. And she would have, had she had a voice to do it with.
His next breath was drawn out, the heat of it brushing her cheek when he planted a quick kiss there.
She stood frightfully still, the pressure of his soft mouth, the emotion behind the gesture, forcing open an ocean’s worth of yearning for him. When he slowly drew his head up, almost reluctantly, Maryan made her choice.
Or maybe he’d made it first, and she went along for the ride.
Because when his eyes regarded her, and his face pushed in closer again, their noses brushing, she pulled up onto her toes and connected their lips in an intimate play of his chaste kiss on her cheek. A hunger accentuated their lip-lock. It colored the moan rumbling through his chest and the heated press of their bodies as he backed her into the opposite counter.
Resurfacing for air was expected but unwanted.
Maryan would’ve gladly allowed Faisal to steal another kiss and rob her of breath again. A clanging alertness took hold of her when he growled, “Maryan,” and splayed his heavy, warm hands on her hips.
This time she knew who made the decision for them.
She pushed him away first. Gently, pleadingly. She didn’t have the strength to do it twice.
“We can’t.” And they really couldn’t. They had to think of Zara. What would she wonder if she caught them kissing?
And I’m leaving in a week.
A week wasn’t a good enough reason to jump into bed with the first good-looking billionaire who swept her off her feet. Chemistry or no chemistry, sleeping with Faisal would be a stupid and dangerous move. Stupid because there was no chance it would become a meaningful relationship, and dangerous for the very same reason.
She backed away, her shaking hands giving up on untying her apron.
Abandoning the kitchen, she hightailed it to her room and didn’t look back until she closed her door.
She counted the seconds that lapsed from the time she left him.
When no knock came from the other side and no footsteps down the hall, she pressed a hand to her thumping heart and analyzed what happened downstairs with Faisal.
He’d kissed her.
Correction: they had kissed.
She’d been an active participant in it. That, and she couldn’t kid herself that she hadn’t thought of kissing him before then.
As Maryan stood there, her body more alive in that second than it ever was, two things were clearer now about her and Faisal. Their hearts were both closed off to love, and their attraction was a potent force of nature that went against everything she thought she could feel with another human being before.
Hana Sheikfalls in love every day reading her favourite romances and writing her ownhappy-ever-afters. She’s worked as a data entry operator, customer service rep, telemarketer, andghostwriter—but being a romance author is without a doubt the best job ever! Born in Somalia, shemoved to the beautiful capital of Canada as a toddler, and still lives there happily with her family.
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How do you start over when the biggest mistake of your life has more than one million views?
Forget diamonds; the internet is forever. Social media consultant Isla Thompson learned that lesson the hard way when she went viral for all the wrong reasons. A month later, Isla is still having nightmares about the moment she ruined a young starlet’s career and made herself the most unemployable influencer in Manhattan. But she doesn’t have the luxury of hiding away until she’s no longer “Instagram Poison.” Not when her fourteen-year-old sister, Dani, needs Isla to keep a roof over their heads. So she takes the first job she can get: caring for Camilla, a glossy-maned, foul-tempered hellhound.
After a week of ferrying Camilla from playdates to pet psychics, Isla starts to suspect that the dachshund’s bark is worse than her bite—just like her owner, Theo Garrison. Isla has spent her career working to make people likeable and here’s Theo—happy to hide behind his reputation as a brutish recluse. But Theo isn’t a brute—he’s sweet and funny, and Isla should not see him as anything but the man who signs her pay cheques. Because loving Theo would mean retreating to his world of secluded luxury, and Isla needs to show Dani that no matter the risk, dreams are always worth chasing.
Isla trudged along the hallway toward her apartment, high heels swinging from her finger. Usually she wouldn’t dare go barefoot on public carpet—especially not in a building of questionable standards, like this one. But after walking six blocks to get home in the pretty, stiletto-heeled death traps, her feet had officially given up the ghost.
Besides, foot hygiene was the least of her problems. With another rejected job application—this one coming through before she’d even made it home from the interview—she had bigger things to worry about.
Isla unlocked her front door and stepped inside, her lips quirking at the familiar sight. Her little sister, Dani, was standing next to the wall, one hand resting on a makeshift barre crafted from a shower curtain rod and some wall brackets they’d found at the dollar store. She was dressed in a plain black leotard and a pair of pink ballet tights with a hole in the knee. Her battered pointe shoes were frayed around the toes, though the ribbons were glossy and new, stitched on with the utmost care.
Classical music blared from the stereo and Isla hit the pause button. “What have I said about disturbing the neighbors?”
Dani paused mid-plié. “If you’re going to do it, do it properly.”
“That’s not what I said.” She shot her sister a look, trying to ignore how her leotard was digging into her shoulders. It was clearly a size too small because the damn girl was growing like a weed. At fourteen, she’d already surpassed Isla in height.
“Oh, that’s right.” Dani grinned. “You said that about schoolwork. But, to be fair, ballet is even more important than schoolwork, so…”
“We’ll agree on that when you can pay the bills with pliés.” Isla hung her keys on the hook by the door and dumped her purse onto the kitchen counter.
“Working on it.” Dani continued warming up, her pointe shoes knocking against the floorboards. “How was your day?”
Ugh. You mean, how were the three dozen rejection letters and this last interview, which was clearly only for curiosity’s sake because the recruiter straight up laughed the second I left the interview room?
“It was…fine,” she said, without much commitment.
In reality, it was anything but fine. What had her old boss called her? Oh, that’s right: Instagram poison.
“You told me once that saying something is ‘fine’ is no better than saying it’s ‘purple pineapples.’” Dani dropped down from her relevé and frowned. “What happened?”
What hadn’t happened?
Isla pulled a bottle of wine out of the fridge and poured her-self a glass. She’d been rationing it, since the only stuff that was left after this was a box wine of unknown origin. “Amanda lost her contract with that makeup company and her movie is flopping. She sent me an angry email today.”
“Whatever happened to all publicity is good publicity?”
“It’s a myth. Turns out some things are career killers.” Isla took a gulp of the wine. “And now I’m that woman who filmed a Disney princess vomiting all over herself.”
After the live video had been splashed across the internet and featured on network television, Isla had swiftly been fired from her job as a senior social media consultant with the Gate-way Agency. All her freelance clients had dropped her like a hot potato, too. Now, anyone who searched Isla’s name got page after page of the same thing: vomit girl and the person who was too dumb to stop recording.
Hence the growing pile of rejected job applications.
“I take it the interview didn’t go well?”
Isla cringed at the concern in her sister’s voice. Most fourteen-year-olds were worrying about frivolous things, like which shade of lip gloss was the most on trend or how to craft the perfect TikTok dance routine. Hell, she would argue that’s the stuff they should be worrying about. Not whether they were going to have a roof over their heads.
“No, it didn’t,” Isla admitted. “But honestly, I’m not sure I would have wanted to work there anyway.”
It was a total lie.
Isla was ready to take anything at this point. It was humiliating to be begging for jobs she could have done ten years ago with her eyes closed, only to be rejected because the recruiters had found someone “with more experience.” Umm, what? In other words, she’d been officially blacklisted from the social media industry.
“How come?” Dani walked over to the kitchen, her arms swinging gracefully by her sides. Her dark hair was in a neat bun on top of her head, tied with a piece of leftover ribbon from her pointe shoes. “Were they not very nice?”
Dani came up to Isla and put an arm around her, stooping so she could lean her head against her big sister’s shoulder. Some days it felt like it was them against the world. Given they didn’t actually know where their mother was these days—and they hadn’t seen either one of their dads in God only knew how long—they really did have to stick together.
Isla remembered the day it all happened—the eve of her twentieth birthday. Their mother had announced she was eloping overseas with a boyfriend she’d known less than a month, and they hadn’t seen her since. Apparently motherhood was a temporary commitment, in her eyes. That left Isla responsible for the well-being of another human, and more terrified of the future than she’d ever been.
Six years later, Isla had built a life for them both. She’d fostered and financed her half sister’s dreams, built up her own dream career and done it all while hiding how often the numbers weren’t in their favor. But the older Dani got, the more keenly she observed what was going on.
“Maybe you can ask the ballet school for our money back,” Dani suggested quietly.
Her spot had been secured for the summer intensive ballet camp months ago, before Isla’s job situation had fallen apart.
“I know it was really expensive,” she added.
Isla felt tears prick the backs of her eyes, but she refused to let her sister see even a sliver of her emotion. It was her job to be a pillar. To be the strong one. To be the positive mother figure neither of them ever had.
“Dani, I would sell my right kidney if it meant you could go to ballet camp.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.”
Isla snorted and wrapped her sister into a big hug. Like al-ways, she smelled of oversweet vanilla perfume and mango-scented shampoo. She would do anything for this kid. Anything to make sure Dani grew up knowing that dreams were worth chasing, and that family came first no matter what.
“And how do you know so much about black market organ sales?” Isla raised a brow and Dani laughed.
“Ah, of course.” She laughed. But when Dani pulled back, Isla noticed her sister’s characteristically carefree attitude was hidden under the worry swimming in her blue eyes. Isla hated seeing that. “Why don’t we go to Central Park, huh? We’ll take your phone and I can get a few shots of you for your Instagram account.”
“Really?” Dani’s eyes lit up.
“Sure. Just let me get changed.”
“I promise not to make you take a hundred photos this time.” Dani grinned and did a little pirouette in the kitchen. “Not even half that!”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Isla shot over her shoulder as she headed into her bedroom. “Trust me, I know where you get those perfectionistic tendencies.”
The second Isla closed her bedroom door behind her, she slumped against it and deflated like a balloon the day after a birthday party. Outside, the city roared with life. Sirens and horns, music blaring from the open window of another apartment, the shrieking laughter of people enjoying the early evening. She gazed out of the window, her eyes catching on the usual things that faced their cozy (read: cramped) place. There was a glimmer of light as the sun reflected off glass panes, and the zigzag of a fire escape from the building opposite them. The same three apartments always had their blinds wide open—either inviting voyeurism or not caring enough to prevent it.
Sometimes she wondered about their lives. Had they been stuck and struggling at some point like her? Had they lost faith in themselves and the world?
After she got fired, Isla had assumed it would all blow over if she kept a low profile and didn’t make matters worse. But then Amanda’s movie tanked and all her sponsorships fell through, and people stopped taking Isla’s calls. Even when she’d tried to laugh the whole thing off as a “Miley Cyrus exercise” her contacts had frozen harder than an Upper East Sider’s Botoxed face.
New York could be like that—when you were successful it felt as though the sun was made of gold. And when you fell from grace, you hit the concrete so hard you shattered every bone in your body.
How much longer was she going to be able to keep faking that everything would be fine? Rent was due next week and the final payment for Dani’s elite ballet camp had come out of her account a few days ago. Isla’s eyes had watered at the amount. But Dani had worked so hard, practicing every day and pushing herself to the limit to beat out the rich kids with their prestigious coaches and private lessons and their lifetimes of opportunity.
How could Isla pull the rug out from under Dani like that? What kind of lesson would that be teaching her?
“You’ll figure this out,” she said to herself. “Someone will hire you.”
After all, she had to make it work. Because letting her sister down was not an option.
While it’s entirely predictable, London’s newest is charming and cute. In the beginning Theo is gruff and standoffish, very Beast to Isla’s Beauty but as we get to know him we see the lonely man underneath and the reasons he’s kept himself separated. Time spent around Isla’s bright and understanding spirit has him coming out of his shell more and more. But it leaves him vulnerable and that’s not something Theo likes to be.
Isla is struggling to find work to be able to support her sister and a chance encounter with Theo in the park gives her the help she needs. While working on winning the trust of his temperamental dachshund, Isla also gets a glimpse into the heart of Camilla’s equally troubled owner. And the more she sees, the more she likes.
As good as the romance is, the secondary relationships are important as well. There’s something wholesome about Isla’s relationship with her sister. The way she shows her support and patience, the sacrifices she’s made for her, and the way Dani is willing to help her sister in return. And I really hope we get to see more of Isla’s friend, Scout, as her support is very important to the Thompsons and I’m curious about her story. Theo doesn’t have very many people in his life, by choice, but you can see the caring that’s there for those that have known him the longest. And the stories of his grandmother show just how awesome she was.
There’s so much about this book that I liked. It’s fun, steamy, & emotional and even though I could see their problems coming a mile away, the path to them and then to a HEA made for a very enjoyable read.
Stefanie London is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her books have been called “genuinely entertaining and memorable” by Booklist, and her writing praised as “elegant, descriptive and delectable” by RT Magazine. Originally from Australia, she now lives in Toronto with her very own hero and is doing her best to travel the world. She frequently indulges her passions for lipstick, good coffee, books and anything zombie related.
Threatened by the unexpected, a devoted rancher refuses to compromise her ambition or her legacy.
Chloe McIntyre is determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather’s Montana ranch, but her father isn’t ready to become partners—yet.
Jaded memories of her parents’ shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she’s pregnant—with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn’t in her genes, and she doesn’t expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands.
After her father announces his first choice for co-CEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love?
“Linda Bradley’s magical manipulation of words creates a symphony in the reader’s mind, building lasting impressions to savor. If you love young women with grit and determination, then this is the story for you.” – Roni Hall, author of Montana Wild and Third Man on the Left
I wasn’t sure which stirred the queasy flutter in my belly, the fact I could be pregnant or the fact I’d have to own the responsibility. Matt and I weren’t ready for an addition. We’d been friends since college. We never talked about marriage, and I liked it that way.
My toe-tapping didn’t speed up the process. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. The stopwatch on my phone ticked like the stride of a sloth. I wrapped the pregnancy test in tissue, tucked it beneath the washcloths in the vanity drawer, peeked into the hallway, then decided to go downstairs to the kitchen. I stuck my head in the refrigerator. The blast of air cooled my brow. My stomach rolled over.
My relationship with Matt wouldn’t ever be the same.
I grabbed a bottle of water, shut the door, and twisted the top off. The plastic container crackled. With an eye on the clock, I drummed my fingertips on the counter. The granite was cold, unforgiving.
I peered out the picture window. Maggie and Dad were nowhere in sight. The midday sun lit the majestic Montana landscape. Dad had brought me here to live on his parents’ 617 Ranch when I was eight—6/17, my grandparents’ wedding date.
“I miss you, Grandpa,” I whispered to his spirit and pictured him, the way he looked when I came here eighteen years ago. I wiped away brimming tears, turned on a heel, hurried back to the bathroom, and locked the world out.
I never knew my grandma, Ida May, and I wished I had. I’d seen her in old photographs and always wondered what part of me was like her. If any. And did she watch over me with my granddad?
My hands shook as I read the results on the white plastic stick. My vision blurred. There was no mistake about the outcome. I leaned against the counter and glanced in the mirror. I didn’t feel twenty-six and pregnant.
The knock at the door jarred me. I took a deep breath, wrapped the evidence in toilet paper, then buried it beneath the existing trash.
“Chloe, are you in there?”
I turned on the water, washed my hands, and took a seat on the toilet to search the far crevices of my mind for an answer. Every problem had a solution. All I had to do was find it. Maggie called my name, again. My heart raced.
“Just a second.” I pounded my fists into my thighs. The hangnail on my pointer finger caught in the fray of my blue jeans, and I bit my lip.
“Chloe? I could use your help.” She paused. “Chloe,” Maggie’s voice was muffled through the heavy door. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” I dried my damp cheeks, stood, shook out my legs, and inspected myself in the mirror. My wavy, dishwater blond hair framed my flushed cheeks. The silver necklace I wore flickered in the light.
“I’m coming.” I steadied my hand and reached for the doorknob.
Maggie stood in the hallway, leaning against the railing. Her lips pinched when our gazes met. I hoped I could hide my secret behind a smile. “What’s going on?”
She stepped closer, the corners of her eyes her lined with concern. She was beautiful as ever, perhaps even more beautiful than when I first met her. Her slender fingers pushed strands of hair from my face.
Maggie tucked her long, strawberry blond hair behind her ears. I didn’t think she’d ever go gray. I desperately wanted to ask her how it felt to carry a child.
“What’s wrong, Chloe?”
My shoulders fell forward. What was I going to do with a baby? Maggie stroked my hair.
“Chloe, what’s wrong?”
I had no words. Maggie held my hands in hers. The flecks of gold in her green irises shimmered like an Irish field as the light streamed through the window at the end of the hallway.
“You’re obviously upset. You’re shaking.”
“Matt and I had an argument.” I lowered my gaze at this lie.
Maggie examined me through narrow slits. Hopefully, she wouldn’t go all Maggie on me. That’s what Dad called it when she sensed something was off. As amusing as I thought it was when she turned the tides on him, I didn’t want to be in the undertow should she suspect a fissure in my world. She had the nose of a hound when it came to pretense. I suspected she acquired this inherent sense before retiring from her elementary teaching career.
“I should talk to Matt first,” I answered.
I swallowed away the knot at the back of my throat and leaned against the wall. My shoulders fell forward. I tucked my fingers in my pockets and hooked my thumbs through the belt loops of my faded jeans.
My flat stomach wouldn’t be so flat much longer.
“I can’t imagine anything being so bad. You and Matt get along so well.”
I leaned back; my shoulder blades skimmed the wall. “Yeah, I’m sure we can work it out.” How do you work out a baby?
“I could use your help in the barn. Butch and Sundance have gotten into the burrs. I tried combing their tails, but they aren’t having it. Thought maybe you could win them over with your charm and sugar.”
I scuffed my boot lightly against the floor. “Butch and Sundance always find the burrs.” So did I.
“Yes, they do”—Maggie smiled—“but they make up for their horseplay with hard work and loyalty.”
“Nice one,” I said, following her downstairs and into the main part of the house filled with rustic furnishings, love, and everything Montana. Pretty soon it would be filled with the pitter-patter of little feet.
“I’m sure whatever it is, it isn’t as bad as you think. It’s easy to make a mountain out of a molehill.” Maggie stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned to face me. “When you want to talk, I’m here.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Do you feel like helping me?” She picked up Dad’s corduroy barn jacket from the floor and hung it on the antler hall tree.
“Yeah, I can’t let Butch and Sundance stay gnarled and knotted like your momma’s knitting yarn.”
“Speaking of my mom, I’d love to see her, up close and in person. I sure miss her.” Maggie straightened the plaid throw on the back of the leather sofa. “Your dad’s in the pasture rounding up cattle with the guys. Butch and Sundance have also been rolling in the mud. I can’t wait ’til someone fills in the hole they’ve made. You’d swear they were a couple of wallowing hogs.”
She stopped short in front of me, and I bumped into her. “Sorry,” I said.
“No need to be sorry. I’m used to it. You’ve been on my heels since the day I met you. Remember the time we bumped heads and I needed stitches?”
“How could I forget?”
Maggie pushed the hair away from her left temple. “The scar is completely gone, but the memory lives on, dear girl.”
There was a message in her words. She wasn’t one to hold a grudge. She was making a point.
“I figured if I brought it up again, it would take your mind off whatever is troubling you. Michigan seems like a lifetime ago.”
“Sure does,” I said. “Some days I’d give anything to be a little girl again.”
Maggie’s gait across the dark planked floors was slow and easy. Over the years, she had absorbed our Gallatin Valley tempo of living and tamed her Midwestern suburban ways, but she hadn’t forgotten her roots. When she wasn’t riding or doing chores, she photographed ranching life in Montana with hopes of publishing her images in a coffee table book.
I turned off the kitchen lights and put on my cowboy hat. Maggie reached for me and squeezed my hands. Her soft touch melted my insides.
“I miss those days, too. I think I got the better end of the deal though,” she said.
“Because I inherited you after the diapers, colic, and ear infections. I might’ve missed the baby and toddler years, but you were still young enough to cuddle with when I married your dad.”
“Actually, I think I got the better end of the deal. You’ve made life easier. Having you made up for my mom’s absence.” I hugged her. “Mom’s Hollywood modeling career has taken a toll on both of us. Me and her. Maybe someday she and I can make up for lost time, mend some of the rifts. She’s always busy though.” I opened the mudroom door. Samson, our scrappy bulldog, waited for us outside. He was seven but had the heart of a pup. “Come on, boy, let’s get to the barn and see what’s going on. If it weren’t for me, this place would go under.” Samson woofed and lollygagged down the path beside me. “I swear this dog is Bones reincarnated,” I said to Maggie. “He has the same swagger and muddy brown eyes.”
“Hey, what do you want for dinner tonight? I picked up some thick cowboy steaks at the butcher’s today. How’s that sound?”
She tripped on a rock and grabbed my arm to balance herself.
“Maybe.” I shrugged.
“Geez, you must really be down in the dumps. Steak is your favorite.”
“Steak sounds delicious. Wish Grandpa were here to cook. I wish he were here to do lots of things.” What I wanted most was to curl up in his lap and bury my head in his shoulder. At the end of the day, whether I’d screwed up or not, I was his girl. And with him gone, I didn’t quite fit in anymore. Somehow, Grandpa always made me feel like one of the guys. Dad, Grandpa, and I had been the three amigos. The banter came easily, and our intentions flowed freely in his presence. “I can’t believe it’s been almost two years,” I said.
“Seems like yesterday, most days.” Maggie blew a kiss toward his memorial marker up on the ridge, then whistled for Samson to get out of her garden. “His method of harvesting beets and carrots makes for a slim crop. He’s got to stop digging holes.”
Samson wasn’t the only one digging holes. I looked toward the ridge where we’d scattered Grandpa’s ashes. The shimmy down my spine forced my shoulders back, and I lifted my chin to the breeze. In my mind, my grandmother appeared to be nudging Grandpa out of the way. “You know what, Maggie? I’ll cook.”
“You sure? Your last attempt resulted in a near four-alarm fire.”
“I’m positive—and thanks for the reminder. I put the last fire out, and I’ll extinguish the ones to come.” I tucked my fingers in my back pockets. A baby might fill Grandpa’s void, but the sole way to make sure his legacy lived on was to take today’s bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. I’d dreamed of running the ranch, not raising a child. I was being given a chance to follow in my grandmother Ida May’s footsteps, which meant it was time to quit bellyaching about what I couldn’t change and do something about the things I could. The McIntyre ranch had an heir on the way, and I was speaking for both of us now.
Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her character-driven stories integrate humor found in everyday situations, family drama, and forever love. Her distinct voice creates memorable journeys and emotion.
Linda’s been a finalist in the Booksellers Best Contest and Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards. Linda lives in Michigan with her artist husband, sons, and rescue dog. Linda loves art, animals, and stories with hope and heart.
“Maggie’s Way is a heart-warming tale of love and loss, fear and friendship. With charming characters and a moving plot, Linda Bradley’s debut gently reminds us that it’s never too late for second chances.” —Lori Nelson Spielman, International Best Seller, Author of The Love List and Sweet Forgiveness
“Linda Bradley’s fresh voice will keep readers riveted from beginning to end. Bradley delivers a heart-warming story full of disarming honesty and beautiful drama…This one stands out!” —Jane Porter New York Times and USA Today best selling author
Taking a work call for my best friend in my undies? Check.
Filling in for her after an emergency and getting mistaken for her? Check.
Royally messing it all up until the hot duke-in-waiting I hate but can’t keep my hands off steps in to save me? Uh, check…
Yes, yes, that all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Until you consider I now have to plan and execute an 80th birthday party for the Dowager Duchess of Devon, and I can’t organize my hairbrushes. The current duchess is the ultimate type A personality, determined to micromanage the entire thing.
I’m a type… XYZ . . . LMNOP . . . Maybe not even that.
When all my attempts go to hell in half a handbasket—I can’t even mess up properly—the only hope I have to pull this thing off is duke-in-waiting Hugo Edwards.
The dreamy, handsome, makes-my-heart-pitter-patter, arrogant tosspot Hugo Edwards.
He and his brother are the only people who know who I really am. The success of their grandmother’s party relies on us getting along long enough to make it happen—and me and Hugo keeping our hands off one another behind closed doors.
None of which is easy to achieve.
When my best friend shows up to take over from me, the fact that I’ve fallen for Hugo is the least of my worries…
He turned to me. “I don’t see a car outside. Did you drive here?”
I paused. “No. I cycled.”
Evelyn snorted, getting up. “People do use things other than cars to get around, you know. Back in my day, cars were for the rich.”
Hugo slid her a look. “You were the rich. You are the rich.”
“Good point. Never mind, then.” She winked at me, adding a cheeky grin to it, and walked towards the door. “I trust you’ll be taking Camilla back to her cottage.”
“Oh, it’s fine,” I said, right as Hugo said, “I won’t be passing there.”
Evelyn stopped dead in front of him and craned her neck to look up at him. “It wasn’t a request, Hugo.”
He rolled his shoulders. “Understood.”
“That’s what I thought.” She tapped his leg with her stick, and he stepped aside to let her pass.
It was abundantly clear who ran the roost around here.
Hugo sighed the second she’d disappeared. “Are you ready?”
“You don’t have to take me,” I said, picking up the rucksack and slinging it over my shoulders. “It’s really not far by bike.”
“I don’t want to take you, but the idea of Grandma finding out I didn’t is something I like a whole lot less, so let’s go.”
“I have Nora’s bike with me. I can’t just leave it here.”
“I’ll throw it in the back. Come on.” He motioned for me to follow him again, and I begrudgingly did so.
I could not think of anything I wanted less than to spend time in an enclosed space with Hugo. Or any space, really. We’d not exactly hit it off at the pub, and that was clearly a theme we were going for given that we’d sniped at one another every time we’d spoken.
So sitting in a car?
No, thank you.
“I’ll ride the bike back,” I said when he opened the front door.
“Just let me take you. I’m trying to be nice,” he huffed.
“You’re only being nice because she told you to be. You’re not doing it out of the goodness of your heart. There’s a difference.” I stepped outside.
He followed me, pulling the door closed behind him. “Either way, think of it as an olive branch.”
“I’m not a fan of olives.”
“Of course you’re not.”
I gave him a withering look, then sighed. “How are you going to get the bike back? Do you have a bike rack on your car?”
“I have a pick-up truck.”
I blinked at him. “What is this? Little Texas?”
Hugo scratched his cheek. “Look at where I live.”
Pointedly, I turned around and stared at the huge manor house. “Downton Abbey?”
He licked his lips and looked up.
If he did that counting thing he did with his Grandma…
“Don’t start counting,” I warned him.
His gaze snapped down. “You caught that?”
“You have the discretion of a pick-up truck parked outside Downton Abbey.”
“Maybe I should count to ten instead of three with you,” he muttered, walking over to where I’d left Nora’s bike. “It might make me be able to be nice to you for real.”
“I’m not a child.”
“You’re acting like one.”
“So are you.”
“Fair point,” he agreed, wheeling the bike over. “Come on. I’ll toss this in the back and take you there.”
All right. Fine. I clearly wasn’t winning this argument, and even if he was only doing it because Evelyn had made him, I’d accept the olive branch.
At the end of the day, he knew I wasn’t Camilla.
I was loathe to admit it, but I needed his help.
It meant I’d have to try to get along with him.
“Thank you,” I said, watching as he carefully put the bike in the bed of a muddy black pick-up truck. “So why do you have this miniature lorry?”
He chuckled. “Exmoor.”
“You’re going to have to elaborate.”
He opened the passenger side car door for me. “I’ll explain on the way.”
“Thank you.” I put both my bags in the footwell looked at the truck.
I was five-foot-three.
These wheels were almost bigger than I was.
How on Earth was I supposed to get in there? I supposed I was going to have to haul myself up and hope for the best.
I braced my hands on the seat and the door, took a deep breath, and yanked myself up. My hand gave way on the soft fabric of the seat, and my foot slipped on the metal step. My life flashed behind my eyes, and I was about to scream when Hugo grabbed me from behind.
He wrapped one arm around my waist and held me against his body. My heart pounded uncontrollably, and I didn’t know if it was from the fear of my near fall or because I was nestled tightly against him.
He had a very firm body.
It wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever been pressed up again, for what it’s worth.
“Need a leg up?” His lips were far too close to my ear, and his words were said on an exhale that skittered warmly against my cheek.
The heart pounding was definitely from his closeness.
This was an unwelcome development.
Emma Hart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty novels and has been translated into several different languages.
She is a mother, wife, lover of wine, Pink Goddess, and valiant rescuer of wild baby hedgehogs. She lives in North Wales with her family, three cats, one very large dog, and an undetermined number of chickens and ducks.
She’s known for her hilarious, sarcastic romantic comedies with wildly inappropriate grandparents, and has been dubbed “The RomCom Queen” by her readers.
I used to believe in what we do at Mayberry Matchmakers, but now? Love is just another four-letter word.
Too bad my grandmother hasn’t gotten the memo. When tech billionaire Rory Byrne approaches us, wanting to develop the matchmaking app my sister and I dreamed up (and Nana shot down), she jumps at the chance. My grandmother is nothing if not opportunistic.
Of course, there’s a catch. She’ll only do it if Rory lets us matchmake him the old-fashioned way.
He’s going to say no.
Please God, let him say no.
The last thing I want to do is matchmake an entitled rich jerk…especially one who looks like sin and talks a good game.
I’ve screwed up in love a few times, but I never screw up in business. Mayberry Matchmakers has the idea for something amazing, and I have the money and the experience to make it come to life.
I should deny Nana Mayberry’s condition. If I let them matchmake me, it’ll be all over the news, and making headlines has never interested me…especially not after the personal betrayal that nearly broke me. But I’m having trouble caring about what I should do, because Bryn Mayberry is smart, snarky, and not the slightest bit impressed with me.
Actually, this may be Mayberry Matchmakers’ easiest job yet.
“People are always watching you, aren’t they?” I ask.
Rory takes a step toward me, and I think again about all those watching eyes. Everyone in town will be watching us now, and they’ll sense . . .
Well, they’ll sense that we’re obviously in lust with each other.
“Are you watching me, Bryn?” he says softly.
Well, throw a bucket of water on me and call me the Wicked Witch of the West.
“Sometimes it’s hard to look away,” I admit, my mouth forming the words before I have time to give it a talking-to.
His eyes sparkle, as if I just confirmed something he’s wondered about, desperately. “Do you ask so many questions of all of your clients?”
“Yes,” I fib. While he might be averse to white lies, I’m not. But before that sparkle can dim all the way, I admit, “But I don’t usually offer any information in return.”
His smile burrows under my skin. Then he glances up, taking in our observers, and says, “Let me walk you to your car.”
“It’s in the back of the parking lot,” I say.
He nods. “Lead the way.”
He walks beside me, a little too close, and even though it’s a warm night, I can feel his heat leaping toward me, like flames to paper.
Once we’re away from the front of the brewery, his hand slips to the small of my back and lingers there, and if there’s ever been anything so sexy, I don’t know what it is. We’re about to pass a copse of trees on the side of the lot when he glances around, grabs my hand, and pulls me into it. We’re in near darkness, evergreens dancing around us, and we’re standing close enough that I can feel his breath feathering my face.
His eyes are so warm they nearly immolate me.
“I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job,” he says, “but I think you succeeded before you started. I want to be set up with you.”
“Micromanaging me already, are you?” I ask, a little breathless.
“Yes.” He reaches up to touch my jaw, tracing the shape of it. “I’d like to kiss you.”
I should tell him no. Setting aside the whole four dates thing, we’re going to be working together. Giving into this . . . madness . . . is the last thing we should be doing, but I’ve been so lonely, and he’s more of a man than I’ve encountered in . . .
He’s the kind of man I didn’t think existed in real life, to be honest.
So maybe I can temporarily forget I’m setting myself up for disaster. Because just about a year ago, my fiancé of twenty-four hours and I broke up, and within a week he was with another woman. Within three months, he’d married her. If I let myself fall for Rory, if I let myself give in to these feelings tugging at me, insisting I acknowledge them, then I won’t just be giving myself a front-row seat to him moving on . . . I might have the displeasure of being the person who helps him do it.
Still, I find myself leaning into him. “Then quit talking and do it already.”
The newest collab between these two bestselling authors is full of disastrous dates, steamy moments, and two people who shouldn’t finding themselves falling in love.
Rory is pretty much perfect – he’s generous with his money and power, he’s kind and understanding, and he’s commanding in the bedroom. Which makes him pretty darn irresistible to Bryn.
Bryn is struggling with her self-worth. Her last relationship ended badly and left her with a lot of doubts, about herself and her job as a matchmaker. Quickly realizing her early assumptions about Rory and his motives, she finds herself with another issue – resisting her latest client.
Angela Denise brings readers a humorous rom com with a near-perfect hero and a heroine who needs to learn to trust herself again. A delightful combination of comedy, heat, and emotion, with enjoyable characters and a satisfying HEA, Matchmaking a Billionaire gives readers a reason to want to return to Highland Hills again and again.
ANGELA DENISE is the pen name for the writing duo Angela Casella and Denise Grover Swank.
ANGELA CASELLA loves writing romcoms, particularly with the lovely Denise Grover Swank. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, daughter, and two geriatric dogs. Her hobbies include herding her daughter toward less dangerous activities, stress baking, and marathon watching TV shows.
DENISE GROVER SWANK is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author and has sold over three million books. She indie published her first book, a romance mystery, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, in 2011. She has since published over fifty novels, multiple novellas and short stories as an indie and with five publishers. She is published in seven languages. She is a single mother to six children and four dogs and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten ho uses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.
ANGELA CASELLA loves writing romcoms, particularly with the lovely Denise Grover Swank. They write together as Angela Denise. Angela also writes the Fairy Godmother Agency series. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, daughter, and two geriatric dogs. Her hobbies include herding her daughter toward less dangerous activities, stress baking, and marathon watching TV shows.
Melissa Foster is celebrating the release of her new contemporary romance, Maybe We Won’t. Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!
Maybe We Won’t
Silver Harbor #3
by Melissa Foster
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A sexy and soul-stirring novel about love, family, and rediscovering what matters most by Melissa Foster, the New York Times bestselling author of Maybe We Will.
When workaholic Boston attorney Deirdra de Messiéres is passed over for a well-deserved promotion, she takes a two-month hiatus to show her boss just how much he needs her and heads home to Silver Island. But beyond seeing her sisters happy, home is not where Deirdra’s heart is. She has no interest in their family restaurant, the Bistro, or reliving hurtful childhood memories, and absolutely no interest in spending a single second with Josiah “Jagger” Jones, the Bistro’s too-laid-back musician and chef. Sure, the hippie is hot, but he drives her nuts. The guy lives in a van with his dog, and he can’t even commit to a solid work schedule. To make matters worse, he’s always around. She needs to get off the island, stat.
Jagger has overcome his own personal trials to place stock in life’s pleasures: family, friends, peace…and if he has his way, one positively beautiful, absolutely uptight attorney. Jagger knows he’s the perfect person to help Deirdra deal with her hurtful past and find her way back to being happy.
A chance encounter leads to deep conversation, and night after liberating night, Deirdra lets down her guard. But neither has plans to stay on Silver Island. Free-spirited Jagger has wanderlust, and Deirdra has a career to return to. They’re on different paths, and plans for a future together don’t stand a chance. But when has anything gone according to plan?
The Silver Harbor series is published by Montlake Romance and will be available in paperback and audio formats at all book retailers, and exclusively in digital format for Kindle and Kindle apps. Download a free Kindle reading app here: http://bit.ly/FreeKindle_App1
Deirdra de Messiéres lay in her childhood bedroom on Silver Island thinking about her upended life. She’d worked her ass off for the last several years as a corporate attorney for a tech firm in Boston, and after her promotion to assistant general counsel last year, she’d thought she was on the fast track to becoming general counsel when the slot opened up—until the GC had a heart attack and her slave-driver boss, Malcolm, had hired a referral from outside the company through his good-old-boy network.
He’d sprung that little nugget on her three days ago, after which Deirdra had announced her two-month hiatus, effective immediately. Everyone had been shocked, including Deirdra. She’d never taken time off and had made herself available in the evenings and on weekends since she’d first started with the company. She’d had to. It was a dog-eat-dog industry, and with six other attorneys on board—four of whom were men—she’d wanted to stand out. Yes, she was well aware that she was putting the company she’d given her all to in a pickle, especially since the new general counsel couldn’t start for another two months. But that was the point. Let them suffer without her impeccable mind handling everything under the sun. She was confident in her game plan and certain Malcolm would quickly see the error of his ways.
The truth was, she’d thought he wouldn’t let her walk out the door after her announcement. But her stern sixty-year-old boss had simply wished her a relaxing time and said she needed it. She’d already received dozens of calls and emails from colleagues who were shocked that she’d taken so much time off, but she struggled with disappointment over the ones that hadn’t come from her boss.
She still couldn’t believe Malcolm had said she freaking needed the break. As if she’d ever produced subpar work? That was a laugh. He’d had nothing but accolades for her jobs well done, and last year’s promotion had been proof of that.
Her frustration simmered to the boiling point. Ugh. She needed to stop overthinking the situation. Fat chance of that happening for a self-professed control freak. Deirdra not overthinking would be as weird as her younger sister, Abby, not seeing the bright side of things or their older half sister, Cait, trusting everyone at face value. Deirdra had a better chance of trying to transform into a bird and fly away.
If only . . .
She and her sisters were quite the trio, and they’d had a whirlwind few months. She and Abby had only discovered Cait existed in the spring, when they’d come back to the island to go over their mother’s will with one of their mother’s best friends, Shelley Steele. While Abby had embraced and trusted Cait unconditionally from the moment she’d met her, Deirdra had been cautious, given that their family house, restaurant, and meager inheritances were on the line. It had taken Cait some time to open up and trust them as well. But they’d gotten through those trials and tribulations and had become close. Cait was a wonderful addition to their family, and like Abby, she’d found solace and love on Silver Island.
Deirdra would not be following suit.
Beyond seeing her sisters happy, Deirdra had no interest in their family restaurant, the Bistro, or in the island on which she’d spent too many years trying to hold together the pieces of her alcoholic mother’s disheveled life, helping to run the Bistro and keep a roof over their heads. Deirdra had fled immediately after high school to attend Boyer University in Upstate New York with her bestie, Sutton Steele, and had finally started living her own life. But self-preservation had consequences, and Abby had been stuck caring for their mother in Deirdra’s absence. That sucked, but what choice had Deirdra had at the time? Stay on the rinky-dink island running a restaurant she resented and putting her drunk mother to bed while her dreams went to pot? Besides, Abby had encouraged her to go, and Deirdra had clung to that support like a lifeboat in her sea of guilt as she’d set out to prove herself to Abby and maybe even to stick it to her mother and show that she couldn’t hold her back.
Deirdra stared at the ceiling, discomfort simmering inside her. She’d thought her resentment toward the island and all that it represented might ease now that her mother was gone, but painful reminders lingered like ghosts in the wind, and the house and her bedroom were filled with them. Abby and Aiden had done a great job of sprucing it up. It was absolutely gorgeous. To anyone else it would seem warm and inviting, but there wasn’t enough paint on the planet to obliterate Deirdra’s painful memories. How many nights had she snuck out the window just to sit on the hill and look out at the water to keep from drowning in her mother’s wake?
Maybe she shouldn’t have come back, but she couldn’t do that to Cait. The start of her impromptu hiatus had lined up with the day Cait and all their friends were fixing up her new tattoo shop. Deirdra wasn’t big on manual labor, but she loved her sisters, and she’d needed to get out of Boston. She was glad she’d come, even if being on the island was uncomfortable. She’d gotten to witness Cait’s boyfriend, Deirdra’s childhood friend Brant Remington, get down on one knee in front of all their friends and propose. Deirdra couldn’t be happier for them, but come hell or high water, she was getting off this island tomorrow and going on a well-deserved vacation, the destination of which was yet to be determined.
The sound of the front door jarred her from her thoughts, and Abby’s giggles floated upstairs. She and her fiancé, Aiden Aldridge, couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Deirdra glanced at her phone. It was almost one o’clock in the morning. In the spring, Abby had moved back home from New York, where she’d worked sixty-plus hours a week as a chef. She’d met and fallen head over heels for Aiden in a whirlwind love affair. Together they’d revived the Bistro, and they were getting married in November.
Deirdra tried to focus on the distant sounds of Silver Harbor sneaking in through the open window instead of the cacophony of laughter, low conversations, and prolonged silences, followed by loud lustful sounds coming from downstairs. If only she were back in Boston. She preferred her noisy neighbor’s stereo blasting classic rock and oldies at all hours over this. At least that she could dance to.
Needless to say, she was a little jealous of her sisters’ love lives. Not that she’d had time for a man, or anything else besides work, these last few years. More noises floated upstairs. She closed her eyes, willing them not to have sex in the living room or, worse, in the kitchen. She had to eat at that table. Oh God, that’s probably what Aiden is doing. She squeezed her eyes shut. Deletedeletedelete!
What was she thinking, staying in her old bedroom? She should have stayed in the apartment over the garage. Why hadn’t she thought of that from the get-go?
A loud thud rattled the walls, followed by more laughter.
Deirdra flew out of bed. She was not going to listen to a play-by-play of Abby and Aiden having sex. She put on her silk kimono and headed downstairs, praying she wouldn’t catch them in a compromising position. She stopped on the bottom step, eyeing the trail of clothing that led past the steps and down the hall to their bedroom. Thank God. Hurrying into the kitchen, she snagged the key to the apartment off the hook by the side door and quietly slipped outside. She crossed her arms against the brisk September air as she climbed the steps to the apartment above the garage.
A streak of moonlight lit a path down the hallway to the bedroom. She took off her kimono and slipped under the warm covers, closing her eyes as she sank into the mattress. Something moved beside her, and her eyes flew open just as that something licked her face. She screamed and jumped out of the bed, flailing for the light switch. A bark rang out, and a cold nose hit her crotch. She swatted at it as she flicked on the lights, illuminating an amused Josiah “Jagger” Jones pushing languidly from the bed as his dalmatian, Dolly, nosed Deirdra’s privates. The twentysomething hippie worked at the Bistro as a part-time musician and part-time chef.
“What are you doing here?” She twisted away from Dolly, her eyes catching on Jagger’s naked body. Holy mother of hotness. Broad shoulders and a few wordy tattoos on his ribs vied for her attention, but her eyes locked on the dusting of dark chest hair trailing down lickable abs, and her thoughts skidded to a halt at the impressive cock dangling between his legs. She couldn’t look away. Her loneliest parts clenched with desire, while her boggled mind tried to make sense of the perfect manscaping, which didn’t fit the image she held of the hemp-clothing- and sandal-wearing, too-damn-laid-back guy for whom she had no patience. Not that she’d ever imagined him naked. Well, not too often anyway. He may not be her type—give her a man in a suit any day—but she couldn’t deny that Jagger was hot, and he had a great voice, the kind that fantasies were made of. His hair wasn’t bad, either: dark, thick, and wavy. The kind of hair she’d love to hold on to while his face was between her legs.
Dolly licked her, snapping her back to the moment.
Holy crap. She was losing it. She was thirty years old, and he couldn’t be more than twenty-four or -five. She needed to get off the island and scratch that particular itch with a man who was more her speed . . . age . . . Holy cow, his body . . .
Dolly licked her again, jerking her mind back into submission.
“Dolly!” She turned away, glowering at Jagger, who was watching her with a big-ass grin.
“Like what you see?” he said far too casually. He lazily raked a hand through his hair, his leather and beaded bracelets slipping down his wrist.
Jagger is easy-going, happy-go-lucky, and a friend to many. Quite the contrast to the stand-offish lawyer of the de Messiéres family. Deirdra might be a tad bit uptight, maybe even a touch snobbish, but it doesn’t take too long being around Jagger to start her taking a long, hard look at the person she’d become. She’s let her resentment and the bad memories of her childhood on the island color her view of it, the people who live their, and even her own sisters. Once she’s gotten a good look at her life, she’s not really sure she likes it all that much after all.
As Jagger helps Deirdra face her past and the two become closer, she starts to uncover a part of herself she’s buried deep. But can she let go of her trauma enough to really embrace the person she could be? Even though the story pretty much goes exactly as you’d expect it to, Maybe We Won’t is still a thoroughly enjoyable read. Foster can always be counted on to bring readers stories of heat mixed with humor and a more than generous amount of emotion and her latest shows exactly how well she does it.
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented.
Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.
Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.
Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website.
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