Tristin May has a bad habit of leaving men at the altar,
but Brent Daniels isn’t just any man, he’s her first love.
When traveling nurse Tristin May heard the song dedication on the radio, there was only one thing to do: return to Lilac Ridge to see if summer love once again sparked with her long ago flame. The spark explodes, and Tristin spends the summer making new memories, but she is spooked when things go further than she dared dream. She high-tails it to her next nursing assignment, desperate not to leave a man at the altar for a third time.
Dedicating a song to Tristin on a national radio show was a shot in the dark for Brent Daniels, so when she shows up in Lilac Ridge, he’s determined he won’t let her go a second time. Tristin is as wild and carefree as Brent remembers despite the tragedy she endured after graduating college, and she brings out his own, long dormant wild side. Since he’s not looking for just a summer fling, Brent sets out to prove to Tristin he’s a man not only worth taking a chance on, but worth spending the rest of her life with.
But when Brent’s proposal sends his would-be bride running in the wrong direction, it takes the affection of his rescue raccoon Rascal to remind him she’s worth fighting for and to convince her that the third time is a charm.
“I thought maybe you’d be married with a couple kids and a big house with a white picket fence out front,” Brent said.
She laughed because if she’d gone through with her first wedding, she might be stuck in that kind of life, the kind she wasn’t at all interested in. “No husband. No kids. No fence.”
He smiled again, the relief relaxing the tight grip he had on her hands.
A noisy group of women entered the pub. Brent turned, groaning as he turned back to Tristin. “I’m so sorry for what’s about to happen.”
One of the women spotted them and came marching to the table, anger seething from every pore.
“Oh, honey, you must be new in town,” her voice terribly sweet.
“Something like that,” Tristin said.
“Well, I feel compelled to warn you about Bear here,” she said, her voice now rumbling with a growl as if she was channeling her own inner bear.
“Warn me?” Tristin asked, leaning back in the booth.
“He’s nice to look at, there’s no denying that, but he’s emotionally unavailable. It may not seem that way at first, but trust me, trust all of us,” she said waving her hand at the group of women who gawked from the middle of the pub. “He’s pining after this woman who most of us believe doesn’t even exist.”
“Really?” Tristin asked, intrigued. She smiled and winked at Brent before giving her attention back to the woman.
“Yes, really. All of us, who have been stretched through the wringer, we actually started a pool.
“What kind of pool?” Tristin asked through Brent’s groan.
“We call it the Woman Who Doesn’t Exist Pool. It’s a twenty-five dollar buy in and you have to pick a date when you think Bear will finally admit this woman isn’t real.”
“That’s interesting,” Tristin said. “But I’m confused, what makes you think he’s pining after a woman who doesn’t exist?”
“You don’t know about the radio dedication?” the woman gasped.
Tristin smirked at Brent for a second. “Tell me about it.”
“Well, he dedicated this song on national radio, pouring his heart out about how she showed him the best summer of his life and that he’s never found that kind of happiness since.”
“Sounds romantic,” Tristin cooed.
“Oh, honey, don’t let him fool you. It’s pathetic.”
“What’s the pot on the pool?”
“We’re up to $500.”
“And what if I believe the woman does exist?”
“You can buy in on that too, but that’s a fool’s bet. You have to produce proof to win the pot.”
“Sounds fair,” Tristin said and dug into her pocket. Slapping thirty dollars on the table she asked, “Can you make change?”
“Of course.” The women dug into her purse and pulled out an envelope, sliding a five dollar bill from it. She grabbed Tristin’s money and slid it into the envelope. Then she tapped on her phone. “I keep the list here. What’s your name, honey?”
“TM,” Tristin offered.
“TM?” the woman questioned.
“Yeah, that’s what some of my friends call me. It’s the whole Harley thing.”
“I don’t follow,” the woman said.
“It’s not important. What kind of proof are you looking for?”
“It has to be a picture, of one Tristin May here in Lilac Ridge or one with her and Bear.” Tristin had pictures of her and Bear stashed away in her Pandora’s box, but she didn’t want to share those with this bitter woman.
“You know what she looks like?” Tristin asked.
“No, but a few claim to know her. They put in their wagers and said they’d dig up proof, but so far, they’ve come up empty.”
“Really, who thinks she exists?”
“Maddie Carson and Clarissa Dean, for starters. Those two are thick as thieves, watch out for them. They claim to have met her but I think they’re just sticking up for Bear.”
Tristin smiled. She remembered Maddie and Clarissa and was happy they were still here. She couldn’t wait to reconnect with them. “What about Matt Carson? Did he place a wager?” she asked.
“Oh, no, he’s away in the army. Wait, how do you know Matt?”
Tristin shrugged and reached into her purse. “I assume legal ID is valid proof?”
Brent chuckled now and shook his head.
“What? Legal ID? What did you say your name is?”
“TM. Those are my initials,” Tristin said, handing her driver’s license to the queen of bitter.
The queen gasped. “You’re Tristin May?” she said before the shock morphed into anger. “You played me.”
“You were willing to take my twenty-five dollar buy-in. Maybe you need to find some other way to work out your issues with Brent. I’ll take my winnings,” she said, holding out her hand.
She thought she landed the perfect job, but what her sexy new boss offers is the perfect pairing.
Courtney Daniels thought she landed the perfect job, but instead of being the marketing specialist at a local winery, she’s hired by the cocky and cute owner as the front desk receptionist. Courtney’s determined to make an impression on Aiden Black and slide into the marketing role, but her attraction to her new boss sends her down a slippery slope. When Aiden kisses her, and kisses her again, and insists he take Courtney on a date, she breaks all the rules she’s lived by since her teenage years, knowing it is going to burn her in the end. With Aiden’s promise that he won’t fire her when their relationship goes south, Courtney finds the attraction growing into something she isn’t ready for but can’t live without, just like the foster dog who keeps humping Aiden’s leg.
After his father’s death, Aiden returns home to rescue his family’s winery from financial disaster. He needs to run things his way, and on his own to prove to his mother he is capable of keeping the winery afloat. His attraction to Courtney complicates matters, especially when her ideas and marketing savvy set the winery on a path to success. Aiden finds putting his ego aside to do what’s best for his business, and his heart, is a bigger challenge than getting the winery in the black, but he’ll do anything to prove to Courtney they are the perfect pairing.
Currently only available within the ROMANCING THE WINE box set
“Hold it,” he commanded with more authority than any of the commanding officers she’d served under during four years in the air force. “What are you doing here? We’re closed.”
Courtney stood at attention as if commanded, her shoulders back and her chin up, doing an about face and breathing through her nose so she could speak like a professional instead of the idiot who’d stammered her way through the previous response. “I’m here for a job interview. I’m Courtney Daniels.”
“Job interview? With who?” he asked.
“With Mr. Black, sir, at eleven.”
He shook his head. “With me?”
Great. Way to make a first impression, Court. Kiss this job good-bye.
His brow creased even further. “Son of a bitch. Who called you?”
“Amber,” Courtney said, mentally checking her posture and forcing herself to breathe. “She interviewed me a couple weeks ago. She called Monday and said you requested a second interview.”
“I’m gonna kill her,” he muttered.
Courtney remained at attention, her bare feet rooted to the granite floor. The cold had started to seep into her body, sending a chill across her skin and up her spine.
Or, maybe that was the man. He was fierce, but she still fought the urge to touch him, to soothe the tension and…
No, no awry thoughts about the man who could be her boss. That kind of thinking led to bad decisions that would ultimately get her into trouble.
“Looks like you’ve been rolling in the dirt,” he said, his gaze going down and back up, raising every hair on Courtney’s body. “Is that how you always dress for an interview?”
“No, sir,” she responded, her temper flaring as she remembered the incident in the parking lot. “I was almost rundown in the parking lot by some jack-ass in an old Ford. I got the license plate if you want to speak with whatever employee was driving like a maniac.”
The bark of laughter echoed but Courtney didn’t see the humor. Maybe she shouldn’t have said jack-ass, but sometimes her tongue had a mind of its own. It had gotten her into trouble more than once and not just while in the air force. The back of her father’s hand liked to smack the smart ass right out of her when he’d had too much to drink, which was always.
“I was just on my way to the restroom to clean up before the interview.”
“Interview, right,” he drawled, his posture loosening. “You can forget about the interview.”
“No, wait,” she pleaded. “Just give me a chance. I have a copy of my resume right here.” Courtney reached inside the case holding her iPad, dust flying when she pulled a paper out. “I don’t have extensive experience, but the experience I do have has prepared for me a job like this. I have a lot of energy and ideas. You won’t be disappointed.”
“You misunderstood. You can forget the interview because you’re hired. You start right now.”
Big dreamer and certifiable overachiever Susan Ann Wall embraces life at full speed and volume. She’s a beer and tea snob, can be bribed with dark chocolate, and the #1 thing on her bucket list is to be the center of a Bon Jovi flash mob.
Susan is a national bestselling, multi-genre author of racy, rule-breaking romance and women’s fiction. Her bragging rights include the Fighting Back for Love series, Puget Sound ~ Alive With Love series, Superstitious Brides Romance series, Sunset Valley Women’s Fiction series (coming soon), and Devon Taggart Suspense series. She also likes to boast about her three perfect children, two amazing rescue dogs, and a happily ever after that started while serving in the U.S. Army and has spanned over two decades (which is crazy since she’s not a day over 29).
In her next life, Susan plans to be a 5 foot 10, size 8 rock star married to a chiropractor and will not be terrified of large bridges, spiders, or quiet people (shiver).
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Susan is giving away a copy of Tall, Dark, & Loaded, the Billionaire Boyfriends box set in which Marrying for Love was originally published with five other novellas. To enter the drawing, complete the form linked here. If you are in the U.S., she’ll also send a signed copy of Marrying for Love.