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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

An Amish Family Christmas: Heart of Christmas\A Plain Holiday by Marta Perry, Patricia Davids






Celebrate the holidays in Amish Country

Heart of Christmas by Marta Perry

Amish teacher Susannah Miller suddenly has two new students: the children of her former love. Widowed father Toby Unger broke Susannah's heart ten years ago, but now the handsome Amish man desperately needs help with his troubled little ones. Can the joy of the season reunite two lonely hearts in time for Christmas?

A Plain Holiday by Patricia Davids

Outspoken nanny Sally Yoder left her Amish community for her rumspringa. Though her heart is back home, the Amish man she loves, Ben Lapp, will never love a bold woman like her. But when a snowstorm strands her, her young charges and Ben on a remote farm at Christmastime, they both might discover that love is the true holiday spirit.

Amish teacher Susannah Miller suddenly has two new students: the children of her former love. Widowed father Toby Unger broke Susannah's heart ten years ago, but now the handsome Amish man desperately needs help with his troubled little ones. Can the joy of the season reunite two lonely hearts in time for Christmas?

Outspoken nanny Sally Yoder left her Amish community for her rumspringa. Though her heart is back home, the Amish man she loves, Ben Lapp, will never love a bold woman like her. But when a snowstorm strands her, her young charges and Ben on a remote farm at Christmastime, they both might discover that love is the true holiday spirit.



About The Authors


Marta Perry realized she wanted to be a writer at age eight, when she read her first Nancy Drew novel. Most girls reached the end of that book wanting to be Nancy. Marta wanted to be the person who created the story.

Marta PerryThe dream lay hidden for years while she pursued other career goals, but eventually it re-surfaced, and she began to write, beginning with short children’s stories for Sunday school take-home papers. After seeing hundreds of her short stories published in a variety of magazines, Marta finally started work on the novel she’d always wanted to write. Fifty-some published novels later, she still feels the same excitement when she begins a new book.

A lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania and her own Pennsylvania Dutch roots led Marta to the books she writes now about the Amish. The Pleasant Valley Amish series from Berkley Books are longer, more complex emotional stories with Amish main characters, while the Amish Suspense series from HQN Books are more adventure-filled books set in Pennsylvania Amish country. She also continues to write for Love Inspired Books.

Marta lives with her husband in a century-old farmhouse in the Pennsylvania countryside, but spends winters at their vacation home in South Carolina. When she’s not writing, she’s active in the life of her church and enjoys traveling and spending time with her three children and six beautiful grandchildren.


Patricia Davids is an award winning author of more than 20 Inspirational and Amish romance novels. Her book, A Home for Hannah, won the Romantic Times Review's Choice Award for Best Love Inspired Novel of 2012. She was a finalist in the Review's Choice Awards and the National Reader's Choice Awards in 2011. She has sold nearly 2,000,000 books world-wide since her debut novel in 2006. Born and raised in central Kansas, Patricia has found a way to combine her Midwest values and sense of humor into emotionally rich novels that deal with contemporary subjects. Her Amish novels have become increasingly popular with readers who are looking for stories with a bit of nostalgia, a sweet romance, and a measure of faith in our turbulent world. Patricia currently resides with her family and her dog in Wichita, Kansas.
Patricia is a popular speaker for many kinds of groups. Drop her an email if you would like to find out more about having her speak to your group.  





My Review: 





Two novellas’ by two different authors but blended by taking place in an Amish community and at the Christmas time.
Loved how the emphasis in both was on the true meaning of the Savior’s birth, and not presents. In the first book we have an excellent caring teacher that seems to be being targeted by a new member of their community. This man seems to want Susannah to leave her job; he feels she is to liberal and not adhering to their conservative beliefs. Add to this an old love, actually more than just an old love, she had been ready to marry him, when he upped and left. He has recently returned, and don’t quite know how I would feel about him. Can you imagine the hurt he caused her?
The second story really made me feel that God was so in charge here, all they had to do was follow Him and not their own will. See how the doors open, and when the truth came out, I was chuckling. She loves me, no she doesn’t she is using you.
I recommend this sweet read, and a good lesson on what our values should be.

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Love Inspired, and was not required to give a positive review.

Pump Up Your Book Presents To the Breaking Pointe Virtual Book Publicity Tour

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Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Cindy McDonald’s To the Breaking Pointe virtual book tour October 6 – 31!

PUYB Inside the Book


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Title: To the Breaking Pointe
Author: Cindy McDonald
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Pages: 250
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle


Pushed to the breaking pointe!
Five years ago First Force operative, Grant Ketchum, let the ballerina of his dreams dance right of his life. Silja Ramsay returned to her birthplace, Russia, to take the position of principal dancer for the Novikov Ballet Company.
The owner and director of the ballet company, Natalia Novikov, has a dark secret: her beloved ballet company is almost broke. Natalia forces her dancers to prostitute themselves to financial contributors at exclusive after-show parties. Silja has been exempt and kept in the dark about the parties—until an American financier offers to bail the failing ballet company out. His prerequisite: Silja must become his personal companion, live in his home, and fulfill his every desire. Against her will, Silja is taken to the American’s mansion, but before she goes she manages to send a text to the only man who can save her, Grant: HELP!
Now Grant is on a mission to find his lost ballerina and rescue her from this powerful man’s subjugation. He will do anything to get her out alive. If they survive, will he let her chasse out of his life again?

 

For More Information

  • To the Breaking Pointe is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

PUYB Meet the Author







Cindy McDonaldFor twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance: she was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered!) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack. Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born—there are four books to that series so far.
Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series, and although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write one, Into the Crossfire is the first book for her new series, First Force.
People are always asking Cindy: do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you.

Her latest book is the romantic suspense, To the Breaking Pointe.


For More Information

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Simple Charity (Lancaster Crossroads, #3) by Rosalind Lauer






For fans of Beverly Lewis and Cindy Woodsmall, Rosalind Lauer's moving Lancaster Crossroads novel "A Simple Charity" reminds us that the greatest gifts come from the heart--and that everyday miracles make love possible.
OF ALL THE GIFTS THAT LAST,
THE GREATEST IS CHARITY.
Although she is still in her twenties, Fanny Lapp has known a lifetime of love and heartache. Twice widowed, she has a home to maintain, a renovation in the works, and a family to raise--all without a husband. Fortunately, in the Amish community, help is never far away. To ease Fanny's burdens, the bishop sends Zed Miller to the Lapp house. Fanny is drawn to kind, handsome Zed, who suffers from sins of the past. But to everything there is a season, and Fanny cannot act on her feelings while mourning her husband.
Newly returned to his Amish roots after many years in the outside world, Zed knows he must prove himself to earn acceptance from his community. Without a second thought, he picks up a hammer and sets to work helping Fanny fulfill her dream of turning an old carriage house into a women's childbirth center. Soon Zed finds himself a part of Fanny's daily chores, sharing her laughter and sorrow. Knowing that time flows like a river, running slow and steady, Zed plans to wait on his love. But when their secret is discovered, how deep will the disapproval of their community run?
A reminder that the greatest gifts come from the heart, "A Simple Charity" shines like the sun with the blessings of everyday miracles.



About The Author
Rosalind Lauer is the author of A Simple Winter, A Simple Spring, A Simple Autumn, A Simple Faith, A Simple Hope, and the novella A Simple Crossroads. She grew up in a large family in Maryland and began visiting Lancaster County’s Amish community as a child. Lauer attended Wagner College in New York City and worked as an editor for Simon & Schuster and Harlequin Books. She now lives with her family in Oregon, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees.  


My Review:
I so enjoyed this Amish and English story, different but rather the same, with both cultures using Midwives. On the Amish side we have Fanny Lapp, a recent widow, actually twice, still in her twenties, with young children, and some grown stepchildren all in her care. On the English side we have a young twenty some woman, Meg Harper, whom with a kind heart, finds herself in trouble.
Come visit with these young women, as they go about the joyful job of bringing new babies into this world. We travel also with these women as they go about their everyday life, and trials. We find them thrown together, and hope that they can be there for one another, with one living near Philadelphia PA and the other on the other side of the state near Pittsburgh.
With God’s help and the help of their families and community, we see how things work out, of course not always as we want. There are a few romances thrown in here, and some past jealous relationship to deal with. There is also the community’s reaction to how these people live and are kept under scrutiny. You have to wonder how some people proclaim to be of faith, and act totally different.
I enjoyed being here as they went about their lives, having dinner with them, and spending time with their loved ones.

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Ballantine Books, and was not required to give a positive review.


Pump Up Your Book Presents Escape Through The Wilderness Virtual Book Publicity Tour

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Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Gary Rodriguez’s ESCAPE THROUGH THE WILDERNESS virtual book tour October 6 – 31.
PUYB Inside the Book
Escape Through the Wilderness 3D Cover




Title:  Escape Through the Wilderness
Author: Gary Rodrgiuez
Genre: Tween/Young Adult Christian Adventure
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing (June 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1-63268-201-7
Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.
When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the director will not reassign her.
A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.
Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “Last Chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.
When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.
Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.
Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.

 

For More Information

  • Escape Through The Wilderness is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Tate Publishing.
  • Watch the book trailer at Youtube!
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
PUYB Meet the Author



Gary Rodriguez 

Gary Rodriguez is president of LeaderMetrix Inc., a consulting company that specializes in senior-level executive coaching, organizational development and conflict resolution. He is the author of the new adventure novel Escape through the Wilderness scheduled for release in June 2014.
His first book Purpose-Centered Public Speaking was an instant hit and recently republished by Tate Publishing.
His extensive resume includes eighteen years as an executive in the radio business where he spent several years as one of the original managers of Infinity Broadcasting. He was twice nominated as medium market manager of the year by the Bobby Poe report, a national media publication.
For over thirty-five years, Gary has spoken in public both nationally and internationally. Gary’s resume includes a season in the U.S. Army where he was highly decorated as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Army’s history at age 18 years. He was also awarded the Silver Star (the nation’s third highest award for valor) while serving in Viet Nam.

Visit the book’s website at http://ettw.tateauthor.com/ You can also find Gary at http://leadermetrix.com/ and http://www.leadermetrix.com/authorspeaker.
View the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIafxxeApHo

Monday, October 27, 2014

Guess Who Noah's Boat by Matt Mitter, Ela Jarzabek


Children will love this interactive new telling of the Noah's ark story. With fun, rhyming text, each spread asks kids to guess which animal is heading toward the ark. The answer is revealed under the cleverly designed flap. With eye-catching illustrations and easy-to-understand text, Guess Who Noah's Boat is sure to become a favorite.



About the Author

Matt Mitter was born long, long ago in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He has written dozens of children’s books, mostly in verse. Currently, he works and plays in the Bay Area.

Ela Jarzabek lives in Katowice, Poland. She graduated from Cracow Academy of Fine Arts with a Master's Academy degree in Graphic Design and a Second degree in Painting. Since then she has worked as a freelance illustrator. She loves working on watercolor paper with gouache, acrylic paints, and colored pencils and creating illustrations with funny characters that are bright and colorful.


My Review: 

From the very front cover with the lion’s head and paws covering it, my little one couldn’t wait touch. What a tempting book for any toddler, with bright colors, to draw their eyes.
As I started reading this sweet little book to my son, he loved getting to each page with the pull-tabs. We talked about each of the animals that were pictured and how Noah had built his ark. He couldn’t wait to read and see who was under the Guess who Noah!
I would recommend this to any toddler, what a great way to teach about a part of our faith. Mine loved this book.

I received this book through Kregel Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope, #0.5) by Jody Hedlund









Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope, #0.5)
Having grown up in a lighthouse, loneliness is all Isabelle Thornton has ever known--and all, she assumes, she ever will know. But when her lightkeeper father rescues a young man from the lake, her sheltered world is turned upside down.

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund's Out of the Storm is her first ever novella and introduces readers to Beacons of Hope, a new series set in the 1800s amid the romance, history, and danger surrounding the Great Lakes lighthouses of Michigan.


About The Author 






Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of seven novels, including Captured by Love, A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and The Preacher's Bride, winner of the 2011 Award of Excellence. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. 

She can be found online at www.jodyhedlund.com.


Twitter
JodyHedlund
Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJodyHedlun




My Review: 
When a ship is wrecked off the coast of Presque Isle, Michigan, pieces of the ship and bodies start to wash up in front of the lighthouse. A barely alive man, clinging to his friend also comes ashore, and changes the lives of the people who live there forever.
Isabelle lives here with her father, the lighthouse caretaker, and spends her days do laundry, meals, and among other things drawing. Now she has the added duty of helping Henry survive, and not become drawn in by him.
Henry acts like a rather spoiled individual, and has had a rather easy life, up until now. He is so different from Isabelle, and he comes from money. Is there any hope for him that he will survive to live another day, and for his soul? He is a rather reckless individual.
Isabella has a rather serious problem, and knows that she can never leave where she is, nor is she able to marry. Will these two unlikely people be able to forge a relationship?
I loved the description the author paints of this area, rather desolate, but with specular beauty. Weather is harsh, and once the ice freezes, they are stuck without seeing anyone for about half a year.
I cannot wait to read Love Unexpected due out by this author shortly; I loved reading this short story.

I received this book from the Publisher Bethany House, and was not required to give a positive review.













 

Pump Up Your Book Presents Married One Night Virtual Book Publicity Tour Plus First Chapter Reveal

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Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Amber Leigh William’s MARRIED ONE NIGHT virtual book tour October 6-31!

PUYB Inside the Book


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Title: Married One Night
Author: Amber Leigh Williams
Publisher: Harlequin Superromance
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle
What happened in Vegas…followed her home! 
Olivia Lewis is not the marrying type. So when a wild weekend in Vegas leaves her with a surprise husband, she’s happy to sign anything to erase her mistake—even if that mistake is handsome, charming and comes with an English accent. Fortunately, her groom has other plans.
Bestselling author Gerald Leighton knows he can make his new bride fall in love with him—he just needs time. In exchange for a quickie divorce, Olivia grudgingly gives him a few weeks to attempt to woo her. And whether Olivia likes it or not, Gerald plans on using every second to win her heart!

For More Information


PUYB Meet the Author


Amber Leigh Williams



Amber Leigh Williams lives on the Gulf Coast. A southern girl at heart, she loves beach days, the smell of real books, relaxing at her family’s lakehouse, and spending time with her husband, Jacob, and their sweet, blue-eyed boy. When she’s not running after her young son and three, large dogs, she can usually be found reading a good romance or cooking up a new dish in her kitchen. She is represented by Joyce Holland of the D4EO Literary Agency.
Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Married One Night.

For More Information
  • Visit Amber Leigh Williams’ website.
  • Connect with Amber on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Visit Amber’s blog.
  • More books by Amber Williams.
  • Contact Amber


    First Chapter:

    Olivia Lewis woke up in a Sin City penthouse amidst petal-strewn, silk sheets. She bolted upright in bed…and groaned, wavering as the world turned. And turned again.
    Okay, make that silk sheets, rose petals…and the most vicious hangover of her life.
    Hissing, she pressed a hand over her eyes, the other on her head to stop the contents from sloshing around. Her mouth felt like sandpaper, and her stomach writhed. Obviously the obscene amount of liquor she’d consumed the night before was turning on her in sickly rebellion.
    “Oh, holy moly,” she wheezed. “What the hell happened last night?” Peering around, she squinted against the desert sunlight streaming through the undraped floor-to-ceiling window that spanned the entire left wall of the bedroom. At the sight of several curiously unmentionable items scattered across the bed and floor, she became more than a little curious about the events of the previous evening. Especially when she saw the tattered remains of her red dress hooked on the wall sconce at the other end of the room.
    Frowning, she lifted the covers and looked underneath. She was naked as sin. And she’d spent enough nights with men to know how she should feel the next day. With a groan, she laid back into the pillows and pulled the covers over her head.
    So sometime during the night, she had snuck away from the bachelorette party for her friend Roxie Honeycutt and gotten frisky—very frisky—with an unknown man.
    It wasn’t her first one-night stand. Nor did she think it would be her last. But considering she’d been the hostess of Roxie’s bachelorette party and it had been her idea to bring the bash to Vegas, Olivia felt shame rushing up to meet her.
    She sighed, flopping her arms over her head. “Well done, Liv,” she muttered at the ceiling. It was painted with a mural complete with puffy white clouds and baby-faced cherubs.
    How many inappropriate things had those cherubs seen last night?
    Olivia pursed her lips, thinking back hard to what she could remember of the past twenty-four hours. She and her friends had flown into Vegas, then checked into their casino hotel room. They’d gone to a bar…no, a club. The venue had been packed elbow to elbow. Olivia’s other friend and invitee, Adrian Carlton, had kept ordering drinks for the three of them. Tequila shots. That would explain the gargantuan headache pounding away at the inside of Olivia’s head and the base of her neck.
    Then…there’d been dancing on the parquet dance floor. And a man. Olivia braved the thumping, eyes watering as she thought hard to bring him into sharper focus. She got only an impression—tall. Tailored suit. A black necktie, which she’d had fun unknotting later here in the penthouse…with her teeth?

    She grimaced and focused again on the man’s features. Blond hair, a bit tousled as the night wore on. There was a limo, one exclusively for Olivia and her mystery man. Some frisky business in the backseat as Vegas lights blurred together outside the tinted windows. Yes, she’d run her fingers through that gilded crown of his, raking her nails lightly over his scalp. He’d liked that. Big, skillful hands on her hips. Roaming over her back…getting lost in her hair. He’d spoken to her, sweet endearments. She wasn’t usually one for sweet endearments—just the answer of skin on skin and the satisfaction that came with it.
    But he’d been different. Why, Olivia couldn’t say…. The accent. His sweet words had been accentuated with a devastating—British?—accent that had, quite literally, charmed the pants off her.
    Olivia raised a hand to her hair as her scalp tingled in remembrance. She smiled a bit at the memory, then closed her eyes on another wave of fierce pounding. If she could summon enough energy to rise from the rumpled bed, she might be able to find her purse amidst the chaos of the room. There was aspirin in that little red handbag. She needed aspirin. ASAP.

    Carefully, she sat up again and braced her hands in the thick bedding. She waited for the world to stop revolving and settle back on axis before taking a deep, bracing breath and pulling the covers back. Instant chills racked her skin, made worse by the fine sheen of sweat courtesy of the savage aftermath of tequila drinking.
    She slung her legs over the side of the bed. Her toes sank into a thick, black rug. Shivering, she wrapped the white, silk top sheet around her, knotting it at her collarbone so that it stayed as she stood.
    It took more effort than she would have liked to stay upright. She reached forward to catch the wall as she staggered in the general direction of what she hoped was a bathroom. The floor quaked beneath her and she could feel dregs of nausea rising up from the pit of her stomach. Yes, yes, that’d better be a bathroom.
    Before Olivia could shoulder her way through the door, it opened quickly. She felt herself pitch over, tripping over the edge of the bedsheet. Cursing, she fell against the lean, chiseled chest of the man on the other side of the bathroom doorjamb.
    She heard his surprised whoosh just before his arms snagged her under the shoulders and curled around her to keep her from falling at his feet. Her cheek pressed tight against his sternum. He was so warm. The deep timbre of a chuckle trebled beneath the ear pressed to his chest and words, rough around the edges, came floating from his mouth. “Ah, she wakes.”
    When she tried to pull herself back, he held her fast to him for a moment longer to make sure she had her footing. With a murmured, “Easy there, love,” he released her and she stepped away, seeking his face.
    He was smiling. The soft expression was tense around the edges, probably from what she could guess was a good deal of pounding happening on the inside of his head, too. She drew in a breath. His eyes were a brilliant shade of green. Dimples, or laugh lines, dug in around his mouth and the corners of his eyes. A man who smiled often and laughed well, Olivia surmised. His hair was blond and wet from a shower she assumed, judging by the steam behind him. He’d combed the hair back from his forehead, leaving his high brow bare.
    A towel hung loosely around his waist. She blinked. She was staring. But the longer she stared, the more she could remember from last night, and the giddy spontaneity and blistering heat of all that had transpired made her forget for a moment how miserable she felt.
    And, bless him, he didn’t seem to mind the staring. He was doing a good bit of his own. The smile on his lips deepened into a full-fledged grin, eyes softening further as he took her in. “Well. Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.”
    She found a smile curving at the corner of her mouth. He was British. His words were enunciated with the high-class sounds of English breeding and good humor. His voice was like fine-aged wine. Or whiskey.
    Whiskey, she decided. It had a good, old-fashioned burn to it.
    Keep it together. Lifting her hands to the sheet knotted just under her collarbone, she made sure it was in place before dragging a hand back through her long, curly, bedraggled tresses. “Erm…good morning?” Olivia said, unsure of herself. Usually, she knew how to navigate the awkward, morning-after interlude. But this stranger’s clean-cut, unexpected appeal threw her for a loop.
    He beamed and held out a hand, skimming far and above the awkwardness of the situation with good-natured ease. “Gerald Leighton. It’s lovely to meet you…again.”
    She stared at the hand. Ignoring the wariness inside her, she reached out and took it. Again, she felt warmth. She wanted him to fold his hand close around hers until the chills deserted her. It was much larger than her own. Built for creating, shaping. A sculptor’s hand. The fingers were long and narrow. Aside from the absence of well-worn calluses and wrinkles, they actually reminded her a bit of her grandfather’s, a life-long carpenter.
    When she found nothing to say in return, he firmed his lips together. Scanning her face a bit more carefully this time, a frown touched his features. “Headache?”
    “Uh, yeah,” she said, wrinkling her nose and squinting once more at the light. “I think tequila was the culprit.”
    “I felt the same when I first woke,” he explained, voice lowered gently. “Not to worry. A glass of water, a couple painkillers and a hot shower set me halfway back to rights.” He stepped aside and lifted a hand to the marble counter of the bathroom. “Aspirin’s there with a bottle of water. There’s a robe, too, if you need it.”
    She licked her lips as they both glanced back at the torn dress. “I think it’s my only option at this point.”
    Gerald ran a hand through his hair and she thought she saw a wink of sheepishness flash in those kind, green eyes. For some reason, her heart stumbled over itself.
    She blinked. Was the tequila still in her system?
    “I apologize…for the dress,” Gerald added quickly. “I’ll be happy to reimburse you for it. Or I can have the concierge send out for another one.”
    Olivia lifted a hand to stop him. “It’s all right. I brought other clothes with me. It shouldn’t be too much trouble. That is if we’re in the same casino my friends and I are staying at. Please tell me this is the Bellagio.”
    “Yes,” he replied. “That’s what the hand towels say, at any rate.”
    “Good,” she said with a sigh of relief. She gazed longingly at the shower. It was crooking its finger at her. Her feet were starting to feel like ice cubes and the chills were coming back with a vengeance.
    “Take your time,” Gerald told her. “I’ll have something sent up to eat. It should be here when you’re done.”
    “Thanks, Gerald.” Olivia ducked into the bathroom. The steam from his shower hugged her as he closed the door behind her. She locked the door, crossed her arms over her chest and faced the long, fogged mirror above the marble counter. Fearing what she might look like, Olivia went to the glass-walled shower stall instead and turned the knob all the way to Hot.
    *
    Olivia meant to hurry, but she soon discovered that the shower had two jet showerheads. And the towels. Oh, the towels were so big and fluffy and, fresh off the heated rack, blessedly warm. She indulged a bit, sitting at the vanity as she took some aspirin and dried her hair with the available hair dryer. Her reflection still looked gray around the edges, but there was nothing she could do about that. She hadn’t yet found her purse and she didn’t carry much more than lipstick and concealer in it anyway.
    Clearly, she hadn’t been prepared to meet some tall, ridiculously good-looking and charming Englishman who made her tummy flutter even after a night drinking round after round of Jose Cuervo.
    While showering and then attempting to make herself somewhat presentable, more memories from the night before came flashing back to her. More drinks in the casino. More kissing Gerald in the elevator. God, she hoped the hotel didn’t have cameras in there. Then there was the penthouse. The penthouse sofa. The big, plush bed. Gerald. Clashing mouths, tangled limbs, and staggering streams of need and pleasure.
    Suddenly she was no longer cold, but instead felt nothing but the heat from last night. Looking up at the mirror, she saw that her cheeks were flushed and she scrubbed her palms over them to chase it. The Brit packed a wallop. That was for damn sure. She took several careful breaths to beat back the memories and high color and wrapped the white, hotel robe around her.
    Fastening it with the rope around the waist, Olivia exited the bathroom, regrettably leaving the enveloping steam behind for the bawdy, orange gleam of midmorning Vegas spilling into the bedroom through that long line of crystal-clear glass.
    She, Roxie and Adrian had a flight to catch in a few hours. Bearing that in mind, Olivia grabbed the shredded remains of her strapless dress off the wall sconce, then bent to pick up her platform heels off the floor. She had to get down on her hands and knees to locate her purse under the bed…where she also found the pathetic remains of her underwear, deciding to leave them where they had fallen. Rest in peace, Victoria’s Secret.
    Instead of wrestling her bra back on, she shoved it into her purse. A quick look at her cell phone told her it, too, had died sometime in the night. She hooked the sky-high heels over her fingers and wandered into the main room of the penthouse.
    The smell of coffee, toast and sausage greeted her. Gerald hadn’t lied; room service was waiting for her on a covered rolling tray. A silver teapot sat next to a pot of coffee that smelled hot, fresh and strong. She desperately wanted a mug of that to push away the lingering fog of the hangover. After a few sips, she’d definitely feel closer to human.
    There were covered trivets from which the breakfast smells were coming. Next to them there was a glass of orange juice and a tall Bloody Mary to top it all off. She practically whimpered at the sight.
    Who was Gerald Leighton and where had he been hiding all her life?
    Olivia was reaching for the coffee when the sliding glass door leading onto what appeared to be a balcony slid open and Gerald walked in. Her hand pulled back from the tray quickly as if he’d caught her stealing. While she was in the shower, he had dressed in pressed, black, tailored suit pants and a crisp, white, oxford shirt he had left unbuttoned at the collar, so the hollow of his collarbone peeked through and the tendons of his neck caught her eye. His feet were bare.
    She fought the urge to lick her lips and gathered the guilty hand that had been reaching for the coffeepot back into the flaps of the robe. “Hello,” she greeted as his eyes found hers. Determined to get the upper hand on the conversation this time—and make up for her earlier bumbling—she pasted on a smile.
    “Feeling better?” he asked, his smile answering hers.
    “Loads better,” she admitted. “Thank you—for letting me use the shower. I don’t want to take up too much of your time—”
    “No, please,” Gerald said, walking toward her in a handful of long, smooth strides. “Have a seat. Have something to eat. I didn’t know what you’d like so I ordered a bit of everything.”
    “I can see that,” Olivia said, scanning the tray admiringly. “And thanks for that, too. But I really should be going.”
    He stopped just shy of her and the tray, a disappointed frown touching his lips. “Are you sure?”
    “Yeah. My friends and I have a plane to catch in a couple of hours. I need to get back to our room and make sure they’re okay. Pack up.” Out of excuses, she made herself look away from those eyes. In addition to kind, they were wise. It was a disconcerting mix, at least for her. She gestured to the room at large. “Your penthouse is beautiful, by the way.”
    Gerald looked around, reaching up to scratch his chin with his knuckles. “It is rather, isn’t it? I’m afraid it’s new to me, too. I was staying in one of the business suites.”
    “Oh,” Olivia said. “So you’re in town on business.”
    “Well, for the most part.” His gaze crawled back to her, that shade of timidity flashing across his face again before he hid it with a wry grin that creased the corners of his mouth and eyes and simultaneously disarmed her. “Until I met you, of course.”
    She lowered her eyes, pressing her lips together to hide a sly smile. “I hope I was a good distraction at least.”
    One of his brows arced knowingly. “Oh, quite. A worthy distraction.”
    She did smile a bit to herself, then sighed, realizing she was lingering here with him. Something about him. A pull, a tug. A compelling stir that toggled her in all the right places, particularly the area of her heart. Her smile quickly turned into a frown and she tugged the lapels of the robe together, gathering them tight against her throat. “Well, Gerald Leighton.” She made herself meet his eyes again. “It was nice meeting you.”
    His grin turned kind again. “I couldn’t be happier that we did, love.”
    Love. Yes, she liked the sound of that a shade too much. Olivia gripped the handle of the door and had opened it only slightly when he said, “Wait a moment.”
    She looked around, and her breath snagged. He was closer now. Jesus, what was this hold he had over her? She didn’t know how to handle it.
    His eyes narrowed on her face. The lines of his mouth were tense now, his jaw squared as he searched her expression. He reached out and took the door but didn’t shut it. She was free to go if she wanted, but his gaze and the urgency she saw there hooked her and made her knees buckle. “I’m ashamed to have to ask you,” he said, “but can I have your name? It seems I’ve forgotten it after last night’s tequila-fueled debauchery.”
    She pursed her lips. “Why would you want to know? I mean, let’s be honest. We’re clearly never going to see each other again….”
    Gerald lifted his shoulders and shook his head. “Not likely.” He stilled and the urgency blinked into his eyes again, heightened. “But you never know, do you? Maybe…one day I’d like to find you. Or you’d perhaps like to get in touch with me. I don’t know….”
    As Olivia searched his eyes and the moment between them stretched, the link between them humming, she weighed his request. Weighed him. Reaching out, she touched the arm he was using to hold the door open. His muscle tightened at her touch. She slid her fingers up to the back of his and squeezed them warmly as she memorized his face. She would be glad of it later, when she returned to her hometown in Alabama. She would remember him and her night with him in the Bellagio penthouse fondly. “Olivia,” she said finally. “My name is Olivia.”
    “Olivia,” he said, smiling softly.
    She nodded, then stepped back, pulled away and broke his spell. “I think we should leave it at that.”
    His lids came down halfway over his eyes, hiding resignation, or disappointment perhaps. “Right. It’s enough. For now.”
    As if there could be a later. She cleared her throat and backed away from him, through the door into the hallway. “So long, Gerald.”
    “Goodbye. Olivia.”