Tuesday, 27 September 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: MEANT TO BE by JENNA HARTE


Enter to Win a $ 25 Amazon eGift Card and additionally,
3 winners will receive an eBook copy of DRAWN TO HER
 

Meant to Be
Southern Heat #2
By: Jenna Harte
Releasing September 27, 2016 
Penner Publishing
In Meant to Be (Southern Heat #2) by Jenna Harte, after an incident that landed her in the hospital, Sydney Preston couldn't stand being in New York any longer. So, once she was released, she decided there would nothing stopping her from reuniting with her ex-fiancĂ©, Mitch McKenna. However, there is just one problem -- he's not happy to see her.
 
It's taken Mitch McKenna a long time to get over Sydney. The only way he coped with the fact that she chose what her parents wanted for her life over marrying him is by having casual affairs and making certain no woman ever again captured his attention like Sydney did. However, the woman he once loved is hard to ignore now that she's living in the same town he does. Can he get over his resentment of the past to convince her that they deserve a second chance at happy ever after?
1
What a wonderful second chance romance Ms. Harte has penned with this second book of her Southern Heat series. The way this book started sets the fast-pace of this story, as Mitch is completely blindsided by Sydney's re-appearance in his life. How is he supposed to act when he's still so resentful about their break-up? Should he acknowledge that he knew her very well in front of his friends, which were trying to set him up with Sydney? 

As for the dialogue, it was intense due this couple's past history, what happened to Sydney to land her in the hospital and what the heroine goes through in this book, as the person that once hurt her seems to still be after her. Then there's the fact that Mitch and Sydney still haven't gotten over each other, and the hero needing to find a way to forgive the heroine, if they're to ever be together. Can Sydney convince Mitch to let go of his bitterness towards her? However, I liked that there were some light-hearted moments as well when they were reminiscing about the past. It went to show that neither could forget how good it was between them.

I really enjoyed the main characters as well as the secondary ones. Mitch has a really tight bond with his cop partner and the man's wife. They want him to find the sort of happiness that they have, and I found it a little funny that his partner's wife was trying to set Mitch up with Sydney. Moreover, what his partner's wife says when she first introduced Sydney and Mitch to each other, not knowing their history made me laugh. Clearly, it was a moment of foot in mouth syndrome.

Sydney is hard-working, strong, brave and I liked how determined she was to get Mitch to -- at least -- give their relationship a second chance because it was palpable how much these two loved each other. It was an uphill battle whether Mitch could find it in his heart to forgive her. Yet, since her life changed dramatically after she was targeted by a knife-wielding maniac, there's one thing it made her realize. Which was that life is too short and that reuniting with Mitch is the best plan she's ever had. No way would she allow someone to come between them this time around. Not her parents or her friends. While Mitch, he's hard-working, confident, and I loved how protective he was of Sydney once he learned of the incident that sent her packing from New York and landed her in the town where he lives. Also, the way he handles the case in finding Sydney's attacker proved how much he cared. No way was he going to quit until he had answers.

Overall, this was a really good book encompassing a strong romance that had me cheering for this couple's happy ever after. It wasn't easy when Mitch blamed Sydney for their break-up in the past and they have some big obstacles to overcome, but conquering them was worth it as Mitch and Sydney were a couple meant to be. The way this story ended came as a little bit of shock, especially with what happens to one of the main characters. Yet, I wasn't surprised by the person that was out to hurt the heroine. I would recommend Meant to be by Jenna Harte, if you enjoy second chance romances.

OVERALL RATING:


 
 
BLURB:
Charming and sexy, detective Mitch McKenna lets women into his bed—not into his heart. When his first love left him in a lurch, crushing his soul, Mitch swore off relationships and love. After all, any woman who chooses what her parents want over what she wants is not worth fighting for.
Or is she?
Successful New York doctor, Sydney Preston left the only man she ever loved to follow the path that her parents paved for her. When a tragic incident at the hospital threatens her life, Sydney moves to Virginia to rekindle the spark with her ex-fiancé.
But Mitch isn’t interested in reigniting the flame that fizzled out long ago. Will they both allow resentments and misunderstanding spoil their chance of discovering what was meant to be?
 
Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | Google | iTunes | Kobo

 
            “You need to get laid.”

Mitch McKenna cast a suspicious glance at his partner and best friend, Kevin Taggard. “You get laid too much.”
Kevin grinned. “I’m married. It goes with the territory. Besides, is that even possible?”
Mitch laughed. “God, I hope not.” He pulled the unmarked police car into a parking space outside Charlotte Tavern General Hospital. “But it’s a little sappy that every day we have to stop by and see the missus.”
“I know it and I don’t care. Someday you’ll be in love, and you’ll see.”
God, I hope not. Mitch shuddered.
“Besides, there are plenty of hot nurses who would love to find out if the Mitch McKenna reputation for stamina and prowess is true.”
Mitch stepped out of the car, grinning at his friend. “Oh, it’s true.”  His smile faded, as he realized Kevin might be right—maybe he did need to get laid. It had been a while. If he’d cared at all about his playboy reputation, he would have remedied the situation. Except he didn’t care. In fact, it bothered him. It suggested that he engaged in one-night stands with women he didn’t know or was cavalier with their feelings. Granted, he kept his relationships with women short, but he was always upfront with them about his position and most accepted it. A couple cried when they hadn’t been able to change his mind. One had keyed “Bastard” into the side of truck.
“Hey Mitch.”
Mitch’s gaze swung to the feminine coo of Becky Lancer. She might be willing to help him with his sexual dry-spell. He smiled and waved but kept moving. He’d once gone out with her sister, and he knew better than to date siblings. 
He and Kevin walked into the hospital and took the elevator to the maternity department on the fourth floor.
“I guess it won’t be long until Jenny is a client here instead of a nurse.” Mitch patted Kevin on the back. He enjoyed razzing his friend about his wife, but deep down he was happy for him.
“A year maybe. Right now we’re just practicing.” Kevin waggled his brows.
Mitch rolled his eyes as the doors opened, and they stepped out into the hall.
“There’s my gal now.” Kevin snuck up behind a dark-haired woman in pink scrubs with rainbows on the shirt and wrapped his arms around her, lifting her off the floor. She let out a squeal. When he set her on her feet, she laughed.
“Great day, baby cakes. You scared the life out of me.”
He gave her a kiss. All in all, it was sappy. It was the same type of stuff he had to endure when he visited his sister, Lexie. Even after nearly two years of marriage, she and her husband, Drake, were sappier than Kevin and Jenny, which was saying something. It was a wonder they didn’t already have a whole brood of kids.
“I’m nearly ready for my break.” She turned her smile toward Mitch. “If you’re tired of feeling like a third wheel, I can snag you a date. There’s a new doctor I’ve been meaning to introduce you to. You can see if the McKenna charm will work on her.”
“I like being a third wheel.”
“No, you don’t, but you’re nice to put up with Kevin and me. She’s really, really nice. She’s been giving me articles and tips and encouraging me to get my midwife certification.”
“You’d be good at that.” Mitch meant it too. She was one of the sweetest, most generous hearts he’d ever met. There’d been only one other person he’d known who he’d thought was as good. He shook his head to rid his thoughts of another sweet, generous woman, who, in the end, turned out to be neither.
“Thank you. I wonder how much longer before Lexie and Drake will need a midwife.” She raised her eyebrows, hoping for gossip.
“I imagine once they start, they’ll need one fairly often.” His sister wanted a whole passel of kids, and Drake would give her whatever she wanted. Mitch thought he’d be a good father, but since having a family was out, he’d settle for being the coolest uncle ever.
All of a sudden, the air around Mitch changed, causing the hair on his arms to stand. It wasn’t the type of sensation that triggered danger, but it was definitely a warning.
“Oh, look, there’s Doctor Preston. She’s the one I want you to meet, Mitch.”
“I don’t need you to set me up—”
“I know that. The whole county knows how easy it is for Mitch to get a lady.” Jenny laughed. “But I still want you to meet her. Doctor Preston?” Jenny looked behind him and waved.
The warning grew more intense until Mitch couldn’t help but turn around and stare right into the beautiful hazel eyes of Sydney Preston.
His heart stuttered in his chest as a wave of conflicting emotions; anger, love, bitterness, joy crashed through him. His first instinct was to leave, which only pissed him off. He’d stared down insurgents in the Middle East. He could survive seeing Sydney Preston. Another, equally strong, part of him wanted to touch her, to hold her close and see if she felt as soft, smelled just as sweet as he remembered. But he wouldn’t succumb to her charm again. Like a steel gate, everything inside Mitch closed.
 
 
 

Jenna Harte is a die-hard romantic writing about characters who are passionate about and committed to each other, and frequently getting into trouble. She is the author of the Valentine Mysteries, the first of which, “Deadly Valentine,” reached the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. She is also the author of the contemporary romance series, Southern Heat, with includes Drawn to Her, and upcoming September 2016 release of Meant to Be. She has a bundle of stories filled with romance, mystery and even time travel rattling around in her head and is eager for the day when a device is invented allowing her to download what’s in her brain onto her computer. When she’s not telling stories, she works by day as a freelance writer, author, blogger and online entrepreneur. She lives in central Virginia with her husband, two college-bound children and a two fat cats.
 
Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads



5 Things You Didn’t Know About Jenna


1) Writing always terrified me, so I’m baffled to how I got here.


2) My favorite fiction involves mystery and romance, but I prefer a mystery with romance as opposed to a romance with mystery, if that makes any sense. In either case, there should be at least one hot love scene!

3) My favorite authors are J.D. Robb, Janet Evanovich, Sandra Brown and Carl Hiaasen. I also love Jane Austen, but tend to stay away from literature unless I know it will end well.

4) Like my character Tess, I love good chocolate and old R&B tunes. I’m still working on getting Carine Gilson lingerie to see if I’d love them as much as Tess does. A set can cost several hundred dollars, so I have to wait until more books sell.

5) I long for the day when Apple or Microsoft invents a doodad that I can plug into my head, preferably when I’m sleeping, that will download my stories to my computer. My stories come to me when I sleep (and when I drive), but I can’t remember the details when I sit down to write.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: NOT QUITE PERFECT by CATHERINE BYBEE


Enter to Win a Paperwhite Kindle or eGift Cards
 

Not Quite Perfect
Not Quite #5
By: Catherine Bybee
Released September 20th, 2016
Montlake Romance
 
 
In Not Quite Perfect (Not Quite #5) by Catherine Bybee, being in a serious relationship has never been in Mary Kildare's plans, but with her friends finding happy ever after, it's hard not to want what they have. The only thing is - the one man she wants lives three thousand miles away, is a total playboy and has absolutely no clue what the word commitment means. Will Glen Fairchild ever be ready to give the chemistry between them a chance?
 
Ever since Glen Fairchild met Mary Kildare a year ago, he's thought about her constantly. Now he finally has the opportunity to convince Mary to give a relationship with him a chance, and he's not going to let it slip by. A bi-coastal romance is perfect -- at least at first -- until an unknown threat starts targeting Mary. Can he keep her safe, so they can finally get the happy ever after they both deserve?
 
Having absolutely loved the first four books of this series, and being introduced to Mary and Glen because of their connections to Monica and Trent (the hero and heroine from book three - Not Quite Enough), I couldn't wait to dive into this story and I've got to say that it does not disappoint. Right from the beginning, this book was captivating, fast-paced had me laughing due to it's opening paragraph. Dealing with plumbers can be a real pain, especially when they're exposing a little bit of a certain body part.
 
As for the dialogue, it was intense due to Mary's stalker and the main characters back stories, especially that of the heroine. She's never had the close bonds of family like Glen has with his brothers, but she does have someone that did their very best to look out for her. Indeed, I loved the mother-daughter like bond she had with the woman that found her when she was abandoned. Yet, most of all, I loved the teasing banter between Mary and Glen. She can't help but throw the fact that he's a player in his face with some of her comments. Moreover, her friendship with Dakota (the heroine from book four - Not Quite Forever) had me laughing. They tell each other everything, and the moment where Mary is asking for help when it comes to shopping for bikinis was priceless. Certainly, Glen needed Mary's texting mistake to stop him from missing her so much.
 
Both the main and secondary characters are riveting, and I couldn't help but be immediately drawn in by Mary and Glen's strong chemistry. Certainly, their teasing banter ups the sexual tension until I kept asking myself, 'which one would make the first move?' So, I was glad and pleasantly surprised to read that it wasn't who I thought it was going to be. Mary isn't the sort of woman to make the first move.
 
The heroine is strong, brave, very independent and I liked that she was willing to take a chance on Glen, even though a relationship between them wasn't going to be easy because they don't live close to each other. However, in saying that, their relationship worked because she's not used to relying on anyone but herself and needed time to realize that she could depend on Glen as well as figure out that he wouldn't abandon her. While Glen, he's hard-working, confident, and I liked how protective he was of Mary when her life is threatened. He proved to Mary how different she is to the other women he's been with. That he'll do anything to help her while she's being threatened and find a way for her to accept that help. Also, I enjoyed how he showed her a good time. That being a pilot comes in handy when they go out on one of their dates.
 
Overall, this fifth book of Ms. Bybee's Not Quite series was contemporary romance at its best, especially with the dash of suspense included. The way this story ended with the epilogue had me so glad that not only did Mary and Glen achieve their happy ever after, but so did someone that the heroine loves. Moreover, I liked whose feet the bouquet landed at. That will make things interesting for the next book of this series, which I hope features Jason Fairchild as the hero. I would recommend Not Quite Perfect, if you enjoy contemporary romance with a dash of suspense or the friends to lovers trope. I would also recommend the other books of this series, as they're definitely worth reading.     
 
OVERALL RATING: 
 
 
 
    
 
BLURB:

Mary Kildare knows how to read people. It’s both why she makes a great therapist and why she refuses to trust the average bachelor. Staying fiercely independent has been her primary relationship strategy—until wealthy playboy pilot (and commitmentphobe) Glen Fairchild reappears in her life. After a yearlong teasing tug-of-war, Mary and Glen test the waters of attraction, only to find that their physical chemistry runs deeper than flirtation.

At first, a bicoastal romance suits them both—especially since Glen can swoop in and whisk Mary away on one of his company’s planes. But no matter how close they get, they’re still three thousand miles apart. And when Mary’s life is threatened, Glen realizes the one luxury he doesn’t have is time. Can he close the distance between them before it’s too late?
 
BUY LINKS: Amazon / B & N / BAM / Book Depository
 

 
 

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her two teenage sons in Southern California.  
 
Author Links:
 


Praise for the Not Quite Series

“Bybee’s magnetic fourth Not Quite contemporary proves that romance can happen in the most unlikely places...The love scenes are sizzling and the multidimensional characters make this a page-turner. Readers will look for earlier installments and eagerly anticipate new ones.”

Publishers Weekly on Not Quite Forever

 

" Not Quite Dating offers a sweet and satisfying Cinderella fantasy that will keep you smiling long after you've finished reading..."

USA Today, Happy Ever After

 

"Bybee's gift for creating unforgettable romances cannot be ignored. [Not Quite Enough] will sweep readers away to a paradise, and they will be intrigued by the thrilling story that accompanies their literary vacation."

     RT Book Reviews, Top Pick

 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: MIXING TEMPTATION by SARA JANE STONE


Enter to Win a $25 Egift Card to Bookseller of Choice
 
 
Mixing Temptation
Second Shot #3
By: Sara Jane Stone
Releasing September 13, 2016
Avon Impulse
In Mixing Temptation (Second Shot #3) by Sara Jane Stone, ever since the trauma she suffered at the hands of a fellow officer in her career as a marine, Caroline Andrews has been looking over her shoulder waiting for the day she'll be taking into custody for being MIA from her military duty. Even worse, it's hard to trust another man besides the one man that stood up for her. Still, it doesn't stop the handsome Josh Summers from pursuing her. Can she put her past behind her and find comfort in Josh's arms?   
 
Josh Summers hasn't had it easy after the accident that landed him in a coma for a short time, and robbed him of his short-term memory for a little bit. Still, he isn't going to let anything stop him from convincing Caroline Andrews to give him a chance, especially not his siblings concerns and the overprotectiveness of one of Caroline's fellow marines. Will Josh finally convince the woman of his dreams that she can trust him, or will he have to give up on being with Caroline?  
 
Finally, I got to read Josh and Caroline's story, and I've got to say this is the best book of this series so far. The prologue opens the story brilliantly, and I loved how it gave me -- as a reader -- knowledge of the first time this couple met. Over the previous books of this series, I have enjoyed how Caroline has grown and in this story she really blossoms with the way she's ready to move on from the trauma she suffered at the hands of a man she thought she could trust.

As for the dialogue, it was the perfect combination of intense and playful. The light-hearted moments when they're jokingly bantering about superheroes and costumes had me laughing as to did the moments where either the main characters are talking about their growing relationship with the secondary characters. I could understand why Noah was so protective of Caroline after everything she's been through, but at the same time, Josh is a good guy that  proves over and over again he would do anything for her. However, it was the intense dialogue due to both the main characters back stories that I absolutely loved. Josh and Caroline have both suffered traumatic events, so it's good that they've found each other. Josh helps Caroline realize that there are still good men in the world, and that she shouldn't allow her past to keep affecting her future.          

Both the main characters were highly entertaining, because of their playful banter and their back stories. Josh is lucky to be alive, and Caroline makes him feel more so. He's confident, charming and I loved how he didn't push Caroline for more than she was willing to give. She needed time to come to terms with her past; become comfortable enough with the hero to realize she can  trust him. The way he joked with her about dating and baked for her made me like this hero a lot, because she needed a man that would take care of her. That would appreciate her for the woman she was instead of trying to take advantage of her vulnerable state. 

While Caroline, she really grows throughout this story, and I couldn't wait to see how she would move forward from her past. What would she do about her military situation, considering she was awol from duty? How far was she willing to go to pursue her relationship with Josh? Would she be capable of confronting her past? Really, I found Caroline quite strong and brave with how she deals with her past, even going so far as to help someone in need. Help a woman that she barely knows because she's been in a similar if not the same situation as the woman she aids.

Overall, Ms. Stone has penned another incredible novel for her Second Shot series, which was compelling and kept me entertained from start to finish with its wonderful characters, fast-paced plot and such strong chemistry between the hero and heroine that could not be denied. So much so that eventually their intense chemistry spilled over onto the pages in red hot sex scenes.

The way this story ended left me on hanging on every word, wanting to know how Caroline and Josh would find their way back to each other after what she does to make things right when it came to her military duty. But what I liked most of all was how far Josh was willing to go to help Caroline. What a way to prove how much he loves her, and show her that she can put her faith in him to do things right by her. I would recommend Mixing Temptation by Sara Jane Stone, if you enjoy the friends to lovers trope or stories that contain a vulnerable heroine and a hero willing to do whatever it takes to prove that she can trust him. 

OVERALL RATING:

            
BLURB:
In the third installment in Sara Jane Stone's dazzling Second Shot series, a beautiful but broken woman must decide if true love is worth risking everything...including her freedom
After a year spent living in hiding—with no end in sight—Caroline Andrews wants to reclaim her life. But the lingering trauma from her days serving with the marines leaves her afraid to trust the tempting logger who delivers friendship and the promise of something more.
 
Following an accident that nearly robbed him of his hopes for the future, Josh Summers believes life has given him a second chance. He wants to settle down with the woman who stole his attention and his heart. And he’s willing to wait until she’s ready to be more than “just friends.” When fear of discovery leaves Caroline pretending to be his date, Josh tempts her to try the real thing—a relationship built on trust, not lies.
 
But then the past threatens and Caroline must risk everything—including her freedom—to bury her demons before she can take a chance on happy-ever-after.
 

Buy Links:      Amazon | B & N | Google | iTunes | Kobo

 
 
“May I lick the whipped cream off your face?”
 
Josh lowered his fork to the pie dish and waited for the Big Buck’s dishwasher to catch up with the conversation. Pie—not flowers—had offered him the perfect way to transition from the guy who found her in the woods to her friend. And he couldn’t resist the temptation to switch from small talk to damn near close to begging for a kiss.
And a date, he thought. I’m going to ask her out today.
Caroline raised one perfect, dark eyebrow. One hand clasped a spoon and the other rested on the stainless steel work surface that on busy nights held stacks of dirty pint glasses waiting for her attention. Right now, it was just the two of them and the pie. The bar wouldn’t open to Forever’s local logging population and the university students who outnumbered the men and woman born and bred in this section of the Willamette Valley for another hour.
“No,” she said. Her tongue darted out from between her pink lips that always looked as if she was wearing a kiss-me-now lipstick. Or course, he knew the woman whose ideas of accessorizing involved a concealed weapon tucked into the waistband of her pants did not bother with makeup. She licked the whipped cream teasing the edge of her mouth. “I’ve got it under control.”
He nodded, refilled his fork and lifted another bite of key lime pie to his mouth. He always asked—for a touch, a taste, a kiss—but he never pushed. Caroline would shift the parameters of their dessert-based friendship in her own time. Or she wouldn’t and he’d be forced to come to terms with the fact that the future he daydreamed about—settling down with Caroline, buying his own home, maybe a dog—would replace sleeping with Megan Fox on the top of his Never Going to Happen list.
“You’re going to Noah’s wedding on Saturday night?” he asked, sliding back into friendly chitchat. He’d waited a year to kiss Caroline the first time. And he’d sit tight for another if it meant more sugarcoated kisses. To hell with his siblings’ opinions.
“Just because I can take the dishwasher apart and fix it every time it tries to quit on us”—she nodded to the restaurant-grade appliance behind her—“doesn’t mean Noah wouldn’t fire me for missing his wedding. Plus, he’s closing the bar for the night. Everyone else is going.”
“Everyone else is in the wedding,” Josh pointed out. Big Buck’s owner and manager was marrying Forever’s former bad girl, who’d burst into his life over a year ago, demanded a job, and quickly worked her way up to assistant manager. And the only other bartender on the payroll right now was the groom’s best friend and the bride’s big brother.
“True. But I owe Noah. I can’t miss his wedding.”
Fair enough, he thought.
“A couple of months ago, you asked me out on a date,” Josh pointed out.
“I was feeling brave at the time.”
“Are you canceling?” he challenged. If she said yes, he’d kiss her again. Maybe not today, but one day soon. And he’d reminder her why she’d summoned the courage to ask in the first place. He’d caught her looking, her eyes roaming over his biceps with a flicker of something more than friendship in their green depths. And if given the chance, he would let her run her fingers over his T-shirt, mapping the muscles beneath . . .
“No, I’m not canceling,” she said thoughtfully. “I’m still working out the details.”
“Be my date to the wedding.”
Her eyes widened, staring back at him as if he’d dropped to one knee and suggested they follow her boss down the aisle.
“No,” she said firmly. “Josh, I . . . Just no.”
Caroline refused to look away. She’d spent months learning to read Josh’s facial expressions, forcing herself to look past the red-gold stubble that screamed ‘I’m too sexy for this bar.’
Or his shirt.
Or her . . .
Right now, the corners of his mouth threatened to fall into a frown. Disappointment. But he never let his smile falter for long. He always took a moment. Looked away and then returned his gaze to her as if she hadn’t turned him down twice in ten minutes.
But he knows I’m a long way from whipped cream kisses in the bar’s back room.
And dates.
Yes, she’d asked him out once. But then reality had come crashing down on her. Her life consisted of washing pint glasses and staying out of sight. She couldn’t hope for more—not even a single night out at one of the restaurants near the university—with a federal warrant hanging over her head.
Of course, the police weren’t actively looking for her. As far as she knew. But if the local cops, or even a state trooper passing through town, found out who she was . . . If they learned why she kept to the shadows, she would be under arrest and turned over to the military. She would have to pay the price for her unauthorized absence. For refusing to deploy alongside the men who’d turned a blind eye when their commanding officer ordered her into his bed. The men who’d laughed with Dustin when he’d said he would force open her mouth and make her take him between her lips . . .
And then there was the elephant in the bar’s back room that would also tag along on their date. She hadn’t had sex—oral or otherwise—because she wanted to since before she joined the marines. Josh had never treated her like a victim, but there was a first time for everything.
“I’m sorry,” she added. “But I can’t go to the wedding as your date. There will be too many people. And everyone knows you. If they see me with you . . . they’ll ask questions. And I can’t give them answers. I need to stay in the background, hiding behind a plant or something. And then leave as soon as they cut the cake.”
“A wedding probably isn’t the best place for a first date.” He pointed his fork at her. “Maybe once I get my own place, you can help me christen the kitchen.”
She raised an eyebrow. “That assumes a lot for a first date.”
He laughed. And the familiar sound threatened to lead her into his version of the future. One where they would kiss in the kitchen and then—
“I was talking about baking a pie together,” he said. “I’d invite you over to the farmhouse, but I didn’t think you’d take kindly to receiving the third degree from my siblings and their significant others.”
“Probably not a good idea,” she murmured. She’d spent the past year trying to avoid his two older brothers and his sister. It wasn’t hard seeing as his family lived in Independence Falls, a solid hour’s drive from Big Buck’s Bar. Chad Summers, the middle brother, had tried to befriend her, stopping by the bar’s back room with his girlfriend, a drop-dead gorgeous woman who’d served in the army. But Caroline had shut down their attempts.
Josh Summers remained the one and only person she’d let in since she’d showed up on Noah’s doorstep. There was something about the way he accepted the word ‘no’ that broke down her defenses. He never tossed the word aside, questioning whether it was a knee-jerk response. He never pushed—not once—under the pretense that he knew what was best for her. Not since that first night when he’d found her in the woods. Even Noah, who’d had her back when they were deployed together, pushed. Her fellow soldier turned boss tried over and over to talk her into visiting the local gun club with him. She said no and he asked again and again.
But Josh always listened.
“Have you started looking for a new apartment?” she asked, steering the conversation away from dates that might lead to compromising situations.
“I’m looking, but not for an apartment. I’m still sitting on my split from when we sold the family trucking company. I want to use the cash to buy a piece of land. Someplace with a nice view of the mountains, maybe space to put those viticulture classes I’ve been taking to use and grow some grapes. Not a lot. I’ve learned enough to know that is one tough business. I’d rather keep my day job with Moore Timber and put my blood, sweat, and tears into building my own home.”
“You can do that?” The question slipped out before she could mask the surprise in her voice.
“I’ll need help, but I know what I want. Four bedrooms. Maybe five. Plenty of space to spread out. Timber frame. A second story that is open to a great room below. And one helluva kitchen with all the modern appliances. I’ll hire an architect, and a builder. But I can swing a hammer with the best of them.”
Four bedrooms. Plenty of space . . .
 
 
After several years on the other side of the publishing industry, Sara Jane Stone bid goodbye to her sales career to pursue her dream-writing romance novels. Sara Jane currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her very supportive real-life hero, two lively young children and a lazy Burmese cat. Join Sara Jane’s newsletter to receive new release information, news about contests, giveaways, and more! Visit www.sarajanestone.com and look for her newsletter entry form.
Author Links:   Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads