Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Fabric Hearts by KC Burn


Tartan Candy #1
Summary:
Finlay McIntyre (aka Raven) is a successful adult film star with a penchant for kilts, until an accident cuts short his stardom and leaves him with zero sexual desire, lowered self-esteem, and no job. He knew his porn career wouldn’t last forever, but he wasn’t prepared for retirement at twenty-eight. While trying to figure out the rest of his life, Raven agrees to attend a high school reunion. That’s when a malfunctioning AC unit in his hotel room changes everything.

Caleb Sanderson, an entrepreneur with his own HVAC business, has no idea what to expect when he steps into Raven’s hotel room to fix his AC unit. They’re attracted to each other, but Caleb, closeted, can’t afford a gay relationship, not with his mom pressuring him to produce grandchildren. If he wants to keep Raven—who no closet could hold—he’ll need to tell his family the truth. But Raven has a few secrets of his own. He refuses to reveal his porn past to Caleb, a past that might be the final obstacle to Caleb and Raven having any kind of relationship.

Plaid versus Paisley #2
Summary:
Two years after his life fell apart, Will Dawson moved to Florida to start over. His job in the tech department of Idyll Fling, a gay porn studio, is ideal for him. When his boss forces him to take on a new hire, the last person he expects is Dallas Greene—the man who cost him his job and his boyfriend back in Connecticut. He doesn’t know what’s on Dallas’s agenda, but he won’t be blindsided by a wolf masquerading as a runway model. Not again.

Dallas might have thrown himself on his brother’s mercy, but his skills are needed at Idyll Fling. Working with Will is a bonus, since Dallas has never forgotten the man. A good working relationship is only the beginning of what Dallas wants with Will.

But Dallas doesn’t realize how deep Will’s distrust runs, and Will doesn’t know that the man he’s torn between loving and hating is the boss’s brother. When all truths are revealed, how can a relationship built on lies still stand?

Tartan Candy #1
Original Review April 2016:
This is a great tale of coming to terms with the unexpected and triumphing over the hurdles that life gives us.  Raven and Caleb are nearly perfect together.  When I think of "perfect" in terms of relationships, I don't think of Utopia kind of perfect that most of us have in mind.  I think of the good and the bad for both parties that just fit together, they fight, they kiss, they understand, they misunderstand, but at the end of the day they faced it together even if it does not always run smoothly.  This is another great read by KC Burn.  I never thought I had much of a kilt fetish but after Tartan Candy, it is certainly among the possibilities.

Plaid Versus Paisley #2
KC Burn has done it again.  Plaid Versus Paisley is a great follow-up to Tartan Candy in the Fabric Hearts series.  Now, as so often with series' that focus on different couples with each entry, Plaid can be read as a standalone but personally, I recommend reading Tartan first.  You won't be lost if you don't, Raven, Caleb, and Jaime from Tartan are only in a few scenes but I just feel that knowing their character history helps everything flows smoother.

Will and Dallas really dug in close to my heart.  I can empathize with Dallas' health issues and Will's paranoia, though extreme and stemming from misunderstandings, is definitely believable.  Together they make an intriguing pair of past acquaintances and co-workers that find themselves in a current and new employer/employee scenario.  All of this set in and around the gay porn website, Idyll Fling, balances the drama and romance perfectly with humor and friendship, put them all together and Plaid Versus Paisley will leave your heart smiling.

And a little side note: I am hoping that Beck and Jaime get their own Fabric Hearts entries.  Perhaps even paired together. *hint, hint* Ms. Burn.

RATING: 


Tartan Candy #1
“OOH, I just love a man in a kilt.”

Raven smiled at the newcomer, pretending he hadn’t heard the phrase a million times since he’d walked into the ballroom. Normally he didn’t mind being the center of attention, but tonight the overwhelming interest in him crawled over his skin like a swarm of fire ants.

No denying, he looked hot. His bright red plaid kilt matched the thick red streaks in his black hair perfectly. It was one of the reasons he’d bought the kilt in the first place, a few years ago. He had about a dozen kilts that matched various hair dyes, but he liked the classic red Royal Stewart. Unfortunately, all the sexy outer trappings weren’t enough to make him forget he wasn’t getting naked with anyone ever again.

Jeremy, Raven’s purported date, stepped closer to him. Close enough to almost slay Raven with his nearly lethal cloud of body spray.

“Jeremy, is that you?” The newcomer was not the first person who’d been surprised by the change in Jeremy since high school. Like every high school reunion Raven had seen on TV and in the movies, a giant poster board at the entrance to the ballroom displayed everyone’s yearbook photo. While Jeremy signed them in, Raven had taken the opportunity to inspect Jeremy’s image. Dude had had a shitload of good plastic surgery done. It was almost clichΓ©: the geeky underdog who’d made it big coming back to his old stomping ground to revel in his new wealth and surgically enhanced appearance. Unfortunately, Jeremy hadn’t let the past go, and his personality bordered on rancid.

“Rebecca? It’s so lovely to see you again.”

Oddly, Rebecca appeared genuinely pleased to see Jeremy, and she coaxed the first happy smile Raven had seen on Jeremy’s face. If he didn’t know Jeremy was gay through and through, he’d have suspected Rebecca to be an old girlfriend or crush.

Rebecca gave Jeremy a hug. “I hear you’ve done well for yourself. You look fantastic.”

When Jeremy slipped an arm around Raven’s waist, he had to work at not flinching.

“This is Raven.”

“Nice to meet you, Raven.” Rebecca seemed nice, around the age his mother would have been, and was fond—perhaps overfond—of pink glitter. Maybe that was only natural, since Rebecca’s name tag proclaimed her head cheerleader. How she was even aware of Jeremy’s existence, Raven didn’t know.

“Raven’s my date. Gorgeous, isn’t he?”

Almost buckling under the strain, Raven managed to keep a pleasant smile on his face while Rebecca chatted, even though Jeremy was treating him like a slab of meat. It wasn’t the first time a guy had done that, and it wouldn’t be the last, but Raven badly wanted to correct the “date” misnomer. For a hefty sum, Jeremy had purchased Raven’s companionship—minus any sex—for the duration of his high school reunion weekend retreat. Raven wasn’t in the business of offering the “boyfriend experience.” Even if he had ever been planning to have sex again, there wasn’t enough money in the world to get him to sleep with Jeremy.

Jeremy’s grand plan had backfired in an unexpected way: he’d thought people would be impressed he showed up with an attractive younger man. He hadn’t anticipated Raven would garner more favorable attention than the changes in Jeremy’s appearance. Hence, his treatment of Raven as if he were an expensive possession.

Raven extricated himself from Jeremy’s clinging embrace and tipped the last of the beer in his bottle into his mouth.

Rebecca smiled brightly—or perhaps drunkenly, it was too early to tell—at them both. “He certainly is. I’m glad you found someone great, Jeremy.”

Sputtering, Raven managed to swallow his mouthful without choking to death or embarrassing anyone.

“Are you okay, honey?” Rebecca’s smile faded into concern.

“I’m good, thanks. Just swallowed wrong.”

Jeremy snorted, and Raven barely refrained from slugging him. Jeremy’s mind was in the gutter—again.

Rebecca patted him on the back and turned her attention back to Jeremy. “We’re seated at the same table for dinner.”

“Lead the way, Rebecca. I’m starving, although if this place is like most conference hotels, we’ll still be starving after our plate of rubbery chicken.”

Raven cringed, but Rebecca just giggled.

“Hey, baby.” Rebecca kissed the temple of an imposing man who was already seated at one of the round tables set for ten.

“I got you a glass of Chardonnay.” Big and beefy was pretty hot, even with the severely receding hairline. Raven peered at his name tag. Yet another clichΓ© come to life. Bret was the quarterback of the team. Would Raven’s own high school reunion be so predictable? Not that he’d ever consider attending, outside of his nightmares.

“Bret, honey, you remember Jeremy, right?”

“Nope,” Bret grunted, and Jeremy looked like he’d swallowed a bug. Dealing with Jeremy’s ruffled ego for the whole weekend, and trying to calm him without encouraging any advances, was going to make this “date” last for-fucking-ever. Raven wasn’t quite at the point of counting down the hours, but he wasn’t far off.

“One too many hits to the head, eh, Bret? I guess what they say about multiple concussions is true.” Jeremy’s tone was jovial, but Bret’s face flushed a dark red.

Rebecca patted her husband’s arm. “He’s the one who tutored me in calculus.”

Oh. Now the Rebecca-Jeremy relationship made sense.

“Right. Him.” With those two words, Bret instantly dismissed Jeremy as a threat, and as a person. If this was how everyone had treated Jeremy in school, then maybe Raven had a smidgeon of sympathy. A nanosized morsel of sympathy. High school could be sucky.

They were saved from too much discussion as the rest of the guests at their table seated themselves and made introductions. Another football player and his wife, a drama club member and her husband, and a couple who were now teachers at the same school from which they’d graduated made up the ten at their table. Most of them, like Jeremy, had moved away from Orlando after graduation and hadn’t seen each other since. Dinner began, and throughout the meal there were a number of awards, announcements, and commemorative videos, so it wasn’t until the meal had been cleared away in preparation for dessert that any real conversation sprang up.

Rebecca’s cheeks had pinkened from the effects of three glasses of wine, and she smiled blearily at him. “Raven, what do you do for a living?”

“He’s in school right now,” Jeremy jumped in before Raven could answer. There were worse things he could have said, but he made it sound like Raven was still in high school.

“Uh, yes. I’m almost finished my business degree.” One last semester in the fall, and he’d be done.

“And how did you two meet?”

With a leer, Jeremy slung an arm over Raven’s shoulders. “Raven here likes to be taken care of. And I was just the man for the job.”

Horrified, Raven felt his jaw drop as heat flashed into his cheeks and an awkward silence fell over the table. With that one statement, everyone at this table either thought Raven was a gold digger or guilty of atrocious taste in men. Or both. He shouldn’t care what these people thought, and he rarely told people how he made a living, but he was proud of what he’d accomplished all on his own.

Raven smiled weakly at the other diners and extricated himself from his seat. “I’m going to go have a smoke.”

Amanda, the drama club member, spoke up. “I love your kilt. Is your family Scottish?”

“Nope. But it sure is easy access,” Jeremy answered for him and slid his hand under Raven’s kilt to grab his ass.

Raven barely held in a yelp of surprise and glared down at Jeremy.

“What?” Jeremy’s eyes widened in overly theatrical surprise. “I had to check to see if you were wearing your kilt properly.”

Raven glanced around the table. Forget awkward silence; Jeremy had just made almost everyone uncomfortable. Amanda looked as mortified as Raven felt.

“Don’t be long, you’ll miss dessert.” Rebecca giggled drunkenly, too soused to notice the undercurrents of tension.

“Eh, skipping dessert will help him keep his weight down.”

Amanda gasped at Jeremy’s cruel words, and Raven’s nostrils flared as he considered if decking Jeremy was worth it. Jeremy seemed completely oblivious to the censure.

When he was able to unclench his jaw, he spoke again. “Feel free to eat my dessert. I’ll be back soon.”

He detoured by the bar to grab a beer before leaving the ballroom. He wasn’t the only one ready for a refill, and there was a line, dammit.

Raven should never have agreed to this stupid job, but it had been good money. Despite the large number of women wanting to touch his chest or just plain ogle him, it would have been bearable if it weren’t for pompous, self-important, and passive-aggressive Jeremy.

The touching was a bit much. Overwhelming in a way it wouldn’t have been a year ago.

There had been a lot of touching—by everyone, not just Jeremy. For an ex–porn star, casual touching shouldn’t be such a problem, but it had been over a year since Raven starred in his last movie. Over a year since he’d had sex. Aside from doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists after his accident, he’d not been touched by anyone in all that time.

He had no family, no boyfriend, just his friends from the studio, but Raven had pulled away from everyone after the accident, and he saw them only rarely. Raven’s colorful appearance had invited a lot of casual touching from people he’d been introduced to at the reunion, which hadn’t much thrilled Jeremy either. Perhaps that was why he slapped a virtual brand on Raven’s ear the moment anyone demonstrated the least bit of interest.

Jeremy had also done about half a dozen underwear checks so far this evening. Bastard. Raven clenched his hands into fists, struggling to keep a neutral look on his face. Happy was too much to ask of him, but Jeremy was footing the bill for more than a couple months’ mortgage, and Raven couldn’t tell him to fuck off. He couldn’t ditch him, either.

Finally, finally, he got his beer and headed out of the ballroom.

His smile came easier and felt less like a mask the farther he got from Jeremy, and he moved with enough purpose that no one stopped him.

Motion-sensitive doors to the back garden whooshed open. Muggy, humid air slapped Raven in the face as he stepped out into the hot Florida evening. Almost immediately, sweat sprang up on his skin. At least his tight-fitted dress shirt was black; no sweat stains would show.

His haven was close. He took a tiny path, ducking the overhanging greenery. The resort treated smokers like lepers, hiding them well out of sight. Not that Raven was a big fan of smoking—it stank up his hair, and he’d seen what it could do to someone’s stamina—but it was a fantastic escape, especially from a handsy client with asthma.

He’d learned a long time ago that pretending to be a smoker gave him an out, a viable, believable reason to hide out that he’d used on more than one occasion. Leaning against a lamppost, he pulled out a battered pack of smokes and a lighter from his sporran and lit a cigarette without inhaling.

Raven held the cigarette down by his hip, tilted his head away from the smoke curling upward, and enjoyed the silence.

Plaid Versus Paisley #2
DALLAS GREENE turned off the car and slumped over the steering wheel. This wasn’t how life was supposed to be. He’d been on the road for twenty-four hours, including a couple of naps at rest stops. Please don’t let this be a mistake. All he’d done recently was make mistakes like they were his greatest skill, compounding each error with another bad decision. But sitting in the car would only delay the inevitable.

With trembling fingers, he pulled the keys from the ignition and got out. A couple of joints popped, and his muscles protested. Surely other twenty-four-year-old guys didn’t feel like they’d been run over by an eighteen-wheeler, but then, he hadn’t been at his best for two years now.

He stared at the house. It wasn’t what he expected. Bigger. Nicer. Then again, he knew for a fact his parents had been lying when they’d told him his half brother, Stefan, was destitute, diseased, depraved, and at death’s door. It had been a surprisingly lyrical rant, what with all the alliteration, but this house wasn’t any different than any of the others he’d passed on his journey from the interstate. No pickets or protestors. No slanderous graffiti. No junkies or thugs. Just a house like any other in an affluent suburb, although not nearly as affluent as his parents’ community.

After locking the car—it and its contents comprised the entirety of his possessions—he trudged up the drive. Each step made his stomach twist and roil. If he’d eaten anything in the past… oh… day or so, he’d be worried about puking.

The bright midafternoon sun beat down on him, the humidity almost brutally oppressive after the chill of the A/C in the car. It had been months since he’d felt warm all the way to his toes, though, so he wasn’t going to complain. Maybe he should have rethought wearing a suit for his impromptu drive to Florida in September. Who would have thought it would be this hot, when part of his drive down had been through fall foliage?

Most of his wardrobe consisted of business professional, and he wanted to make a good impression. And also because he’d left Connecticut yesterday wearing one, not having realized when he woke up that he’d be making an eighteen-hour drive plus stops because his life had taken yet another turn toward the shitter.

He rang the doorbell. There was a wide window to the left of the door, with decorative and functional bars curling throughout the glass. Opaque white fabric sheathed the window from the inside, and Dallas suspected that under no circumstances would anyone be able to even spot shadows of people moving within.

Antsy and anxious, he smoothed his hands down the sleeves of his gray suit jacket before he glanced down at himself. His suit was as wrinkly as a bulldog’s face.

If he had the energy, he’d sprint for his car and drive away, change into less wrinkled clothing, but odds were against him getting to the car before someone answered the door. Hell, he might just faint first.

After a minute or two, he rang the doorbell again. Then he frowned.

Shit. It was Thursday. Stefan had a job, unlike Dallas himself. Not that Dallas had a lot of details about Stefan’s business, but it stood to reason he wouldn’t be at home right now.

Fuck. Dallas leaned against the window with its protective iron curlicues and slid to the concrete. What was he supposed to do now? Go to a coffee shop and haunt it like a ghoul until evening? And what if Stefan was out of town or on vacation or something? He was so fucking stupid.

Dallas stared out at the bright afternoon. Florida was too fucking cheerful for his state of mind. His eyes started stinging, and he scrubbed at them with the back of his hands. He looked rough enough without adding red eyes to the mix; if he was going to haunt a cafΓ©, he didn’t think a drugged-out meth head look would encourage anyone to let him loiter for the price of a cup of coffee.

Beside him, the door swung open, and a dark-haired man stuck his head out.

Dallas froze. Double shit. How had he fucked up enough to end up at the wrong house? Perhaps if he didn’t move, the guy would close the door and Dallas could escape this fresh humiliation with no one the wiser.

Someone from inside the house called out, “Who is it?”

“Don’t know, darling, but they left a fully packed piece-of-shit car in the driveway.”

Although his cheeks flamed in embarrassment, Dallas couldn’t bring himself to say anything. But he must have made a sound or something, because the guy glanced down and raised his eyebrows.

“Hello there.”

“Uh, hi.” Not the most stellar response Dallas could have given, but how exactly did one extricate oneself gracefully from a situation like this? If his mother had ever mentioned the appropriate etiquette, he hadn’t been paying attention.

“If you’re here for a job interview, this isn’t a good time. You really need to go to the office.” The man paused, giving him a more intense perusal. “And I’m not sure you’ll have enough stamina for this job, honey.”

Dallas’s cheeks got hotter; he knew he looked like hell. As for the other part of the man’s statement, well, it hardly mattered. The judgment in the guy’s tone gave him enough energy to get to his feet.

“Who is it?” The voice inside was closer, but muffled. “What job interview?”

Another man, wrestling a T-shirt over his head, stumbled across the threshold.

Dallas cleared his throat. “Sorry. I’m going.”

The second man’s head cleared the neck of the shirt, and despite the sandy hair swirled into bedhead and freckled skin sporting serious beard burn, he was clearly recognizable.

“Stefan?” Dallas asked.

Stefan blinked. “Dallas? What are you doing here?”

Dallas opened his mouth, but there were no words to be found. One small hiccup broke the dam. Between the relief at having found the right place and the sheer hopelessness of his life, he lost control over the tears he’d been suppressing for hours.

“Oh, jeez.” Stefan just grabbed him and wrapped him in a tight hug, letting him cry soundlessly.

The other man retreated into the house, leaving them to whatever privacy could be had on the front porch of Stefan’s house in the middle of the day.


WHEN DALLAS had finally cried himself out, Stefan pulled back. “Come inside.”

Dallas glanced back at his car, an eyesore in the upscale neighborhood.

“Your stuff will be fine. Don’t worry about it.” Stefan guided him inside, like he was infirm. The assumption wasn’t far off the mark, and Dallas was content to let someone help him. He’d been balancing on a tightrope over a moat filled with alligators for far too long.

In a modern, airy kitchen, Stefan guided him to a chair at the table. “Sit down. It’ll be okay.”

The dark-haired man was nowhere to be seen, for which Dallas was unendingly grateful. He had to look even worse now, and he wasn’t up to making small talk with a stranger. Bad enough that he barely knew Stefan.

Dazed and exhausted, Dallas obeyed, too tired to argue that it couldn’t possibly be okay. Once he mustered enough nerve to explain, Stefan would agree.

Stefan sat in the chair next to him, placed a bottle of water on the table, and handed him a cool, damp cloth.

Blinking heavy, swollen eyelids, Dallas couldn’t quite decide which one he wanted to use first. At the moment, he didn’t have the coordination to do both. Stefan took pity on him and took the cloth back.

“Drink half that bottle.”

As soon as he did, Stefan slapped the cloth back into his hand. Dallas didn’t need any instruction for that and covered his aching eyes. If he had enough moisture left in his body, he might have started crying again. Instead, he let the chill ease the swelling, and like a kid, pretended that if he couldn’t see anyone, then no one could see him either.

Unfortunately, his reprieve lasted only until the cloth became room temperature. With a sigh, he dropped it onto the table and dared a look at his brother. He drank some more water, because even in what had to be the humidity capital of the world, the pressure in his head indicated impending dehydration.

“You look like shit.”

Dallas half laughed, half winced at the blunt assessment. “I know.” His voice didn’t sound like his own, scratchy with disuse. He cleared his throat before he tried again. “I didn’t know where else to go.”

It had been close to three years since he’d seen his brother in person, and at least six months since he’d even spoken to him on the phone. He’d been so stupid, afraid of letting anyone know how badly his life had devolved into a shitstorm. Now he didn’t have a choice about explaining, unless he wanted to sleep in his car tonight.

“I… I….” Dallas didn’t even know where to begin, but Stefan shook his head.

“Don’t, Dallas. I can guess at some of it, but when I said you looked like shit, I meant it. You look like you’re ill, and although I wish you’d let me know before things got this bad, I’m glad you’re here.”

Dallas frowned. Glad? He had to have misheard. “But I… don’t have a job.”

Stefan smiled gently. “I figured. No apartment, either, judging from what I saw in the back of your car.”

“Uh. No.”

“Boyfriend?”

“No.” Not anymore, and he wasn’t about to explain his failed relationship with Hugh on top of everything else.

“Sorry about that. What about Mom?”

Dallas shook his head. “I was supposed to move back home. Then Dad found out I was gay too.”

Stefan’s expression darkened. He had to be biting back sour words about the stepfather who’d kicked him out for the same reason when he was sixteen and Dallas was nine. At the time, no one had explained to Dallas why his older brother was no longer around. Dallas had been too young and too scared by the whole thing to ask questions. When he’d later found out the truth—right around the time he started wondering about his own sexuality—he’d prudently decided to stay in the closet, but deep in his heart he’d assumed that his dad would give him a pass that Stefan never earned, since Stefan was the child of their mom’s previous marriage. But the genetic connection hadn’t been enough, and Dallas hadn’t seen the catastrophe coming.

He should have, though. Everything else in his life had gone down the shitter; getting kicked out was the metaphorical last straw.

Instead of losing his temper, though, Stefan squeezed his arm. “We’ll unpack your car tomorrow, but for now, go grab whatever’s got your toiletries in it, and a change of clothes, while I set up the spare room.”

Crying must have fucked up his ears, because no way was this going to be that simple. A few questions and Stefan was giving him access to his house?

“Unpack? Are you sure?”

Stefan adopted a stern expression and stared into his eyes. “You know I’m still running Idyll Fling, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Starting up a porn studio had been the breaking point for the Greenes. Stefan had been disowned as officially as it was possible to get. Five years later, and starting to question why boys were more appealing than girls, Dallas had cowered even farther back in the closet; his father had been in a black temper for months as he tried to prevent Stefan from using his grandmother’s inheritance to start up Idyll Fling. Dallas hadn’t even had the courage to check out any of the videos Idyll Fling produced, partly because he didn’t know if his brother performed in any of them, and that would have been cause for substantial mental scarring.

“I’d like to pretend porn is a profession just like any other,” Stefan said. “But I can’t deny I’ve seen more than my fair share of guys who turn to it because they’ve simply run out of other options if they want to keep themselves fed and sheltered. With some of them, it’s easy to tell all they need is a hand to get back on their feet, and I’ve let those guys stay in our spare room. If I’d do that for employees, why wouldn’t I do that for my little brother?”

“Half brother.”

Stefan rolled his eyes. “You know I’ve never cared about that.”

“Me neither,” Dallas whispered. “Are you sure?” Relief made his eyelids droop, and he wondered if he was going to fall asleep right here at the table.

“Of course I’m sure. I’d like you to tell me the whole story sometime, but right now you need sleep more than anything else. C’mon.”

Author Bio:
KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds). After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own--getting published. After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she's had in a long time, and she hopes you'll enjoy them as much as she does.


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Tartan Candy #1
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Plaid Versus Paisley #2
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Crossing Hearts by Kimberly Kincaid

Title: Crossing Hearts
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Series: Cross Creek #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Summary:
Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.

Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.

But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?


(The setup is that heroine Emerson has just come back to her hometown of Millhaven after twelve years and is working as a physical therapist)


"I’ve got a patient for you, so I thought I’d pop over to see if you have an opening today," Doc Sanders said.

Emerson thought of her schedule, complete with the tumbleweeds blowing through its wide- open spaces, and bit back the urge to laugh with both excitement and irony. “I’m sure I can fit someone in. What’s the injury?”

“Rotator cuff. X-rays and MRI are complete, and Dr. Norris, the orthopedist in Camden Valley, ordered PT. But the patient is local, so I figured if you could take him, it’d be a win-win.”

“Of course.” An odd sensation plucked up Emerson’s spine at the long-buried memory of a blue-eyed high school boy with his arm in a sling and a smile that could melt her like butter in a cast-iron skillet. “Um, my schedule is pretty flexible. What time did he want to come in?”

“Actually, he’s a little anxious to get started, so he came directly here from the ortho’s office . . .”

Doc Sanders turned toward the hallway leading to her waiting room, where a figure had appeared in the doorframe. Emerson blinked, trying to get her brain to reconcile the free-flowing confusion between the boy in her memory and the man standing in front of her. The gray-blue eyes were the same, although a tiny bit more weathered around the edges, and weirdly, the sling was also a match. But the person staring back at her was a man, with rough edges and sex appeal for days, full of hard angles and harder muscles under his jeans and T-shirt . . .

Hunter Cross.

Emerson stood with her feet anchored to the linoleum, unable to move or speak or even breathe. For the smallest scrap of a second, she tumbled back in time, her heart pounding so hard beneath her crisp white button-down that surely the traitorous thing would jump right out of her chest.

A blanket of stars littering the August sky . . . the warm weight of Hunter’s varsity jacket wrapped around her shoulders . . . the warmer fit of his mouth on hers as the breeze carried his whispers, full of hope . . . “Don’t go to New York. Stay with me, Em. Marry me and stay here in Millhaven where we’ll always have this, just you and me . . .”

“Emerson? What . . . what the hell are you doing here?”

The deeper, definitely more rugged-around-the-edges version of his voice tipped the scales of her realization all the way into the present. She needed to say something, she knew, she knew, but her mouth had gone so dry that she’d have better luck rocketing to the moon in a paper airplane right now.

“I work here,” Emerson finally managed, the truth of the words—of what they meant—delivering her back to reality with a hard snap. She hadn’t returned to Millhaven for a jaunt down memory lane. Hell, she’d only come back when her process of elimination had dead-ended in total despair. She was here for one thing, and one thing only. To bury herself in as much work as her body would allow.

Even if her first client probably hated her guts.

Author Bio:
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as "The Pleather Bomber", she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to Γ©clairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2015 RWA RITA© finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Her digital Line series is all about the hot cops and sexy chefs of Brentsville, New York. She is also the author of the Pine Mountain series, which follows small town singles as they find big-time love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.


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