Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sweet & Sassy Summertime - 99¢ - #MFRWHooks

SEVEN SWEET AND SASSY STORIES of SUMMER - Volume 2 - from International USA Today Bestselling and Award-Winning Authors.

On pre-order now for only 99 cents on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited! Get your copy today!

Days filled with lemon yellow sunshine, nights of velvety warmth… summertime is the season of love. Romantic tales filled with memorable characters, these nine binge-worthy books will sweep you away like a summer breeze.

Alyssa Bailey, USA Today Bestselling Author: When city ideals meet country tradition, the summer heat is the least of their worries.

Susanne Matthews, International Bestselling Author: The wedding may be canceled, but the honeymoon's on!

Josie Riviera, USA Today Bestselling Author: He’s all business. She loves to laugh. When business conflicts with pleasure, what could possibly go wrong?

Denise Devine, USA Today Bestselling Author: When Lisa’s life crashes, she returns to Enchanted Island. Is true love waiting in this idyllic place from her childhood?

Aileen Fish, USA Today Bestselling Author: Will Always Hopeful find her Sir Galahad?

Taylor Lee, USA Today Bestselling Author: An arrogant, go-it-alone homicide detective and a quirky intelligence analyst team up to solve a murder during the Summer Solstice Celebration.

Katy Walters, USA Today Bestselling Author: Could he protect her, would she continue refusing him? Little does he realize the height of passion, or the depth of terror that lay before them.


Excerpt from LISA by Denise Devine

“Do you have time to take a short walk after lunch?” he asked changing the subject again. “I’d like to view the site and discuss the architectural plans with you.”

Their lunch arrived while he was still speaking. The server set a long white platter in front of her containing a small, crab-stuffed lobster tail, two jumbo Cruzan garlic shrimp and grilled vegetables.

She laughed. “I’ll definitely need to get some exercise after eating this much food!”

After that, their discussion veered toward lighter subjects while they enjoyed their meal. Lisa passed on dessert, ordering a rich cup of freshly ground coffee instead.

The Regis property line ran parallel to the Amaryllis Hotel’s boundary. Lisa and Shawn left the restaurant and walked through the hotel lobby to the front plaza then crossed the gravel service road that separated the Amaryllis from the vacant property.

“Gosh, it looks so different now,” Lisa said, feeling sad as she scanned the empty acreage. “This entire area used to be dense forest. It’s a shame to destroy such natural beauty for a strip mall.” She pointed toward a narrow dirt trail that led to a rocky slope. “My cousins and I used to take this path down to the sea. We weren’t supposed to be on this side of the island, much less near the water without adult supervision, but that never stopped us.” She grinned mischievously. “We were looking for pirate treasure.”

Shawn grinned back. “Did you find any?”

“Ha-ha! We’d all be rich now if we had!”

They walked the length of the property, discussing the layout of the mall. Shawn showed her the plans for an L-shaped design housing eight units. He also pointed out the area where a stairway would lead to a long dock and a new stop for the water taxi.

“You do know what’s on the other side of this land, don’t you?”

He shrugged. “A privately-owned forest, I guess.”

“It’s ten square miles of forest, beaches and natural caves that, until recently, was owned by Anna LaBore,” Lisa said as they walked along. “She died about a year ago—at ninety-seven—and left her entire estate in a trust to the Island Preservation Commission. The land had been handed down from generation to generation in her family since the 1860s.”

Shawn stared at her in surprise. “What is the commission planning to do with it?”

“Oh, Anna left specific instructions on what she wanted the commission to do with her plantation,” she said as she stepped over a couple of flat rocks, “and she also left them her fortune to carry it out. Her home is currently undergoing restoration as a museum. It still has much of the original furnishings.”

“Really?” He stopped and gazed across the Regis land to the dense tropical forest on the LaBore property. “I’d like to see that.”

“Are you interested in history?” At his nod, she added, “The interior is in good shape, but the restoration team is still in the process of painting, upgrading the utilities and cataloging everything. It won’t be open for a couple of months.”

The excitement in his eyes dimmed. “I’ll probably be back in the states by then.”

They turned and began walking back to the hotel. “I’ve got an idea,” Lisa said, hoping her offer didn’t come across as a hair-brained scheme. “The house is fenced off to discourage gawkers from driving onto the property, and it sits on top of a hill so it’s visible for miles, but I know where there is a secret entrance. If you want to see the restoration in progress, I can get you in after hours and show you around.”

“Aren’t you worried about getting caught?” He frowned. “What if we trip an alarm? I’d hate to get arrested for trespassing.”

“This is Enchanted Island,” she replied with a wry chuckle. “There aren’t any alarms and we won’t get arrested. But we do have to be discreet and that’s why I suggested we use a specific entrance. Aunt Elsie is on the commission and she’d be upset if word got around that someone saw me snooping about the place without permission.”

Her sandal suddenly slipped on loose sand covering a flat rock. She screamed, dreading the embarrassment of falling flat on her butt like a klutz. Before she hit the ground, however, Shawn’s strong arms caught her and held her tight. In her panic, she threw her arms around his neck. Her soft cheek brushed the rough edge of his jaw, the bold scent of his cologne filled her nostrils.

He went still, holding her close.

“Thank you...for...catching me,” she said as she gazed into his eyes, barely aware that she’d spoken. She pulled her arms away and placed her palms against his broad, muscular chest.

“I didn’t want you to get hurt.” His throaty voice trailed off on a flat note, making him sound distracted.

She couldn’t look away, mesmerized by the tiny dimple in his chin, the softness in his hazel eyes. “We—we’d better get going. I need to be home by check-in time.”

He gently let go of her and glanced at his sport watch. “It’s almost three now.” He grabbed her hand and began to walk her back to the hotel. “I’ll give you a ride.”

She didn’t object. Eating a large lunch had made her tired and the thought of riding in a nice comfortable car rather than a windy, bumpy, taxi ride sounded heavenly.

Shawn didn’t say much on the short ride to the B&B and she wondered if he had second thoughts about going to the LaBore plantation or asking her to lunch today. She never meant to end up in his arms and hoped he didn’t think she’d deliberately slipped to force their close encounter. Some women did such things to attract men, but not her.

He pulled off the narrow road into the driveway of her house. Shifting the car into Park, he stared straight ahead as though deep in thought.

“Thank you for the ride. I appreciate it.” She grabbed her purse and placed her hand on the door latch, anxious to jump out and disappear into the house.

“So, did you mean that about getting inside the LaBore plantation? Do you really know of a secret entrance, or is it just a hole in the fence?”

“Yeah, I meant every word I said,” she countered, letting the snappy tone of her voice inform him that she hadn’t told him about it to brag or lie. “The secret entrance isn’t anywhere near a fence. It’s the opening of a cave.”

He turned toward her, his eyes widening with amazement. “Really? That sounds exactly like my kind of fun.” Flashing a wide grin, he leaned over and held up his palm for a high-five. “Lisa, you’re on. What time do you want me to pick you up?”

His sudden reaction wasn’t at all what she had expected, but it didn’t disappoint. She smacked palms with him and opened the door then slid out of the car. “Be back here at noon tomorrow,” she said, leaning inside to give him brief instructions. “We’ll have the plantation to ourselves because the restoration crew doesn’t work on Saturday. Since it gets dark early now, we’re going to need time to view the house and make it back through the woods before the sun goes down. Bring a good flashlight and make sure your phone is fully charged.”

She started to shut the door, thought better of it and leaned in again. “Oh, and wear jeans and heavy-duty tennis shoes, preferably dark-colored.”

“It’s starting to sound more like a secret mission than a field trip.”

She raised one brow. “You’ll see.”

She shut the door for good this time and walked slowly into the house, watching him back out and drive away.

It’s only a trip to explore the LaBore plantation—not a date, she thought to herself. I want to see what progress they’ve made anyway and it’ll be fun showing it to Shawn.

Still, she couldn’t deny how her heart fluttered at the thought of climbing through a dark cave with Shawn Wells.


Want to read the entire first chapter of this story? Just scroll up to the title bar and you'll see a page for LISA. All of the above pages contain the first chapters of my books!


Janet Lane Walters said...

Interesting excerpt and the beginning of a romance

J.Q. Rose said...

Hmmm...secret cave? That caught my attention!
JQ Rose

Kim McMahill said...

Sounds like some fun summer reads at a great price. Thanks for sharing.

Ed Hoornaert said...

Exploring a cave is definitely not a date!