Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

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Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (212 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks comes a tender story of hope and joy; of sacrifice and forgiveness — a moving reminder that love is possible at any age, at any time, and often comes when we least expect it. At forty-five, Adrienne Willis must rethink her entire life when her husband abandons her for a younger woman. Reeling with heartache and in search of a respite, she flees to the small coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina to tend to a friend’s inn for the weekend. But when a major storm starts moving in, it appears that Adrienne’s perfect getaway will be ruined — until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives. At fifty-four, Paul has just sold his medical practice and come to Rodanthe to escape his own shattered past. Now, with the storm closing in, two wounded people will turn to each other for comfort — and in one weekend set in motion feelings that will resonate throughout the rest of their lives.

I don’t think I’ve read a Nicholas Sparks novel that’s not packed with emotion and this one was no exception.

This story focuses on two middle aged people whose once perfect lives have seemed to unravel. They’re both divorced and meet by chance at an inn in the seaside town of Rodanthe in North Carolina. There’s a storm brewing and Paul who is a surgeon is there to meet with the husband of a patient who died and who’s holding Paul responsible. Adrienne is just looking after the inn while her friend’s away and soon Paul checks in. What starts out as a casual get to you know you encounter turns into a passionate relationship. But then, Paul’s off to Ecuador to be with his estranged son and Adrienne goes home to her three children and ailing father.

I always say be prepared with a box of tissues when you read one of the author’s works because you’re going to shed a tear at some point in the story. I won’t give away the plot and ruin this story but while you do feel some sadness, I felt the story’s main focus was about taking chances and living for the moment, and holding onto those memories.

If you like a romance with a slightly older than normal couple and a book with a good emotional pull, I’d say definitely don’t miss this one.

Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

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Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (234 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

IN THE ARMS OF DANGER

Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king’s secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley—and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE

Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she’s the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation.

ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER

When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be—before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this story because I just knew it was going to be great. I’m pretty sure this could be read as a standalone read but it’s even better for fans of the series. Why? Because of Alf, of course. After a while we all figured out who, or better yet, what Alf was but to have that character get a happy ever after is a real treat. The fact that the hero is Hugh, who I met in a previous story, is another hook that I’m all too happy not to resist. He is a man with depths.

I can happily say that I’m thrilled with this novel. I liked how Alf was such a strong heroine; she was spunky, mischievous, and skilled with a sword. I enjoyed watching her slowly change from a survivor to a woman in love. There was so much to admire about her character that I think she’s become one of my favorite leading ladies. Her soft heart was in evidence whenever she dealt with the young children in the story. Alf truly touched my heart.

Hugh is a complicated man. His lineage is intriguing, his job is fascinating and for all the power he holds, he is powerless to help his own kids. He doesn’t stop trying, he doesn’t stop loving and the author’s choice of words to describe some of the scenes between them were all heartbreaking and tender.

Duke of Pleasure is an emotionally rich story and is a credit to Ms. Hoyt’s skill as a storyteller. I was wowed.

A word to the wise, this book can also steam your glasses, if you wear them. I chose spicy as the heat level but it was a toss-up. There were a couple of scenes that were quite possibly hotter than a habanero pepper, but it might have seemed that way because I really liked the dynamics between Alf and Hugh; she was innocent, he was not, but, she wasn’t demure and shy, oh no, Alf was pragmatic and a quick learner to the point of enthusiasm. Hugh didn’t stand a chance.

The overall story arc had an exciting and tightly written conclusion and I was so happy that the worst was over … until I read the sneak peek for the next book in the series. Oh my! That one should be very interesting indeed. Guess what I can’t wait for!!

Duke of Pleasure has a perfect happy ever after for two wonderful people and I’m a very satisfied reader. It’s no hardship to recommend this novel to any and all historical romance readers because it’s such an entertaining and engaging read. Once started, I couldn’t it put it down so please leave enough time to enjoy to get the full effect. It’s worth it.

Unspeakable by Sandra Brown

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Unspeakable by Sandra Brown
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (449 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Carl Herbold is a cold-blooded psychopath who has just escaped the penitentiary where he was serving a life sentence. Bent on revenge, he’s going back to where he began–Blewer County, Texas…

Born deaf, lately widowed, Anna Corbett fights to keep the ranch that is her son’s birthright, unaware that she is at the center of Herbold’s horrific scheme–and that her world of self-imposed isolation is about to explode…

Drifter Jack Sawyer arrives at Anna’s ranch asking for work, hoping to protect the innocent woman and her son from Herbold’s rage. But Sawyer can’t outrun the secrets that stalk him–or the day of reckoning awaiting them all…

All I can say is wow. From the start this book had me. The characters were so in depth and real that I couldn’t help but be drawn into the story. I normally don’t like to read lengthy books but this one was so enjoyable and wasn’t overly wordy that I am so glad I didn’t let the number of pages prevent me from reading because I would have missed out on a great read.

I enjoy books that take place in small towns. Blewer County has a set of interesting characters that kept this book moving. With a prison break, a unsolved murder and a deaf widow the action and thrills are continuous thorough out. Not only did I love the character’s bio I was also in awe of the author’s writing and how the plot was laid out for pleasant reading. The author filled the characters with an incredible amount of detail and liveliness. Some of the context and language may be uncomfortable to some reads. To me it’s not overly harsh context but more so Carl’s character traits and habits being visually displayed in true form.

This book just took my mind to Blewer County; to the people like former sheriff Ezzy Hardge and his commitment to a 20 year cold case. My favorite character is Cora, Ezzy wife and young David Corbett. Each character had a personality and believable qualities that made them so likable and real. Their dialogue added such realness to the scenes.

There were quite a few things going on in the novel but it wasn’t too much. Carl Herbold and his prison mate Myron Hutts have escaped. Jack Sawyer has coincidentally arrived on the farm of Delray Corbett just as word has spread about Carl’s prison escape. Emory Lomax, the towns loan officer is pressing Delray about selling his farm. This unforgettable read delivers perilous danger, soft romance and heart-stopping action.

Skillful storytelling in relaying deaf widow Anna’s voice. I was curious how the author would be able to including a deaf character but I have to commend the author on a wonderful well done job on having a strong sense and talent to carrying this out with success. I am sure once a reader starts reading they will be captivated and won’t be able to put the book down.

This edge of your seat thriller will keep you reading until the last page.

The Killing Forest by Sara Blaedel

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The Killing Forest by Sara Blaedel
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (308 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Following an extended leave, Louise Rick returns to work at the Special Search Agency, an elite unit of the National Police Department. She’s assigned a case involving a fifteen-year-old who vanished a week earlier. When Louise realizes that the missing teenager is the son of a butcher from Hvalsoe, she seizes the opportunity to combine the search for the teen with her personal investigation of her boyfriend’s long-ago death . . .

Louise’s investigation takes her on a journey back through time. She reconnects with figures from her past, including Kim, the principal investigator at the Holbaek Police Department, her former in-laws, fanatic ancient religion believers, and her longtime close friend, journalist Camilla Lind. As she moves through the small town’s cramped network of deadly connections, Louise unearths toxic truths left unspoken and dangerous secrets.

A compelling, spine-tingling read!

By the time I finished the first chapter, I was outraged at the despicable way mean men had treated one of the men’s son and the woman. Besides all that, they’d done it in the name of a religious rite. I needed some “good people” quick to set things right.

I’d not read previous Sara Blaedel’s Louise Rick novels. I was not acquainted with the characters. But it really didn’t matter. Enough back-story was blended as the plot unfolded to give insight. Louise and Erik, her partner now, are with the Special Search Agency of the police. They are soon hot and heavy after the scary men who did those unspeakable deeds at the huge, old sacrifice tree in the forest. The things they uncover and discover are chilling.

Sara Baedel’s writing style is so realistic, so grim, so graphic at times one shudders and wants to shut the book; BUT how can one stop reading without knowing how these arrogant antagonists get their comeuppance?

Every time Elinor, the old woman in the forest, says, “The wagons are rolling on the death trail,” a foreboding chill ran through me.

While I knew the gods’ names in Norse mythology, I knew little else; so this fictional account was a real eye-opener—enough fact to make the fiction believable.

While the suspense and mystery is afoot, the reader gets to know Louise Rick. She is smart, resilient, determined, and loves her foster son as if he were her own, but carries a load of guilt about the death of her first love, Klaus. How her quilt is eased and how it related to the major plot intrigues.

Sara Blaedel’s characters, especially the “bad” ones, and multifaceted plot make page-turning, breath-holding reading.

Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt

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Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (292 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Defense attorney Andy Carpenter manages to sail through any tough situation whether inside the courtroom or in his personal life. But this all changes when his marriage breaks up and his father suddenly dies, leaving him distraught – and 22 million dollars richer.

A death, a mystery, a courtroom… and a golden retriever!

I’d never read a book by the author David Rosenfelt before. I’m glad I remedied that. I love books with animals in them and this book was gripping. I had to keep going to unravel the mystery as well as to see how the dog fared. Be warned, I’m the type who wants the dog to survive–above all else. If you’re like me, then this book is for you.

I do have to say there were moments when this book seemed like the first novel by a first time author. There was a lot of telling in the beginning and the first half of the book dragged. But I suggest you slog through it. The story is very much worth it.

Of all of the characters, I loved Tara, the dog, the best. I could see her and loved when she showed up on the scene. There was one particular scene that angered me, but it concerned the choices of the human characters. I also enjoyed the character of Laurie, although I wished she’d have grown more of a backbone. Still, I rooted for her.

The main character of Andy…he left a little to be desired for me. I liked him as a lawyer and how he grew through the story. But his immaturity at times grated on my nerves. He needed to go through this journey to grow in his maturity, but also to come to grips with who he is.

There were plenty of twists and turns I never saw coming. Between courtroom antics, lies and Andy’s past coming back to haunt him, I had to keep reading to know what would happen next.

If you like a good mystery with eclectic characters, then this might be the book for you.

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks

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At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (277 pgs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

There are a few things Jeremy Marsh was sure he’d never do: he’d never leave New York City; never give his heart away after barely surviving one failed marriage; and never become a parent. Now Jeremy is living in the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, engaged to Lexie Darnell, the love of his life, and anticipating the start of their family. But just as his life seems to be settling into a blissful pattern, a mysterious and disturbing e-mail sets off a chain of events that will change the course of this young couple’s relationship. How well do we really know the ones we love? How do we handle the inevitable doubts, fears concerning parenthood, and stumbling blocks that are sometimes placed in our way? Continuing the story of the young couple introduced in Sparks’s bestselling True Believer, this novel captures all the heartbreak, tension, romance and surprises of those who are newly wed. An astonishing tale about the love between a man and a woman and between a parent and a child, At First Sight is about endings that bring new beginnings . . . tragedies that lead to unexpected joy . . . and, most of all, the magic of everlasting love.

I’ve been lucky enough to review three books by one of my favorite authors and this is the final of the three. It’s a sequel of sorts to another one of Mr. Sparks’ books, True Believer. I haven’t read that book so don’t worry if you haven’t either because you’ll still get into the story of At First Sight.

This is another highly enjoyable read peppered with characters you can’t help liking. Jeremy is the fish out of water and Lexie is the small town girl with a zest for life. Unlike other Nicholas Spark books, these two people are already in love, expecting a baby, and about to be married when the story begins. So where’s the conflict you ask?

It’s in the form of an e-mail that Jeremy receives from an anonymous person that has him questioning his relationship with Lexie and his upcoming marriage to her. It had me wondering where the plot was going and I found myself turning the pages to see how things worked out for these two characters.

I won’t give away the plot but let’s just say there was lots of relief for me but then the ending, which I also won’t give away, is a heartbreaker. I didn’t see it coming and as I read the last ten pages, tears were sliding down my face. The author certainly knows how to pull on your emotions and one of the reasons I enjoy his books so much.

If you love a good romance with some quirky characters and a tearjerker of an ending, don’t miss this one.

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

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A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (341)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Miles Ryan’s life seemed to end the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident two years ago. As deputy sheriff of New Bern, North Carolina, he not only grieves for her and worries about their young son Jonah but longs to bring the unknown driver to justice. Then Miles meets Sarah Andrews, Jonah’s second-grade teacher. A young woman recovering from a difficult divorce, Sarah moved to New Bern hoping to start over. Tentatively, Miles and Sarah reach out to each other…soon they are falling in love. But what neither realizes is that they are also bound together by a shocking secret, one that will force them to reexamine everything they believe in-including their love.

Once again get out your hankies for this wonderful Nicholas Sparks story. This one is a love story, a mystery, and one about doing the right thing even if it’s going to cost you everything.

The story begins with Miles Ryan who lost his wife to a hit and run driver and now is raising his son, Jonah, all by himself. He’s still grieving and another person who’s trying to start life over again is school teacher Sarah who’s recovering from a divorce.

Both of these people are wonderful characters and as the story unfolds you follow along as they slowly fall in love. However, as always, the road to true love is never smooth. The person who hit and killed Miles’ wife was never caught and it’s become somewhat of an obsession for him to find out who was responsible.

Weaved through this story is a first person account told by the guilty party about what happened the night of the accident.

The story takes a wonderful turn when someone is arrested and offers information about who killed Miles’ wife and gradually things begin to fall apart for Miles and Sarah. From there on in, the story is a roller coaster of emotions. I did have a slight inkling who the guilty party was but it was still a page turner to see how everything played out and if Miles and Sarah would have their happily ever after.

If you love a good romance, small town setting, and a splash of mystery, I’d say definitely read this story.

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

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The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (411 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Seventeen year old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father…until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels–first love, love between parents and children — that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts…and heal them.

Spoiler Alert…tear jerker of a story.

I can’t remember when I discovered this author but let’s just say I’m glad I did. You’d think as a fan of Mr. Sparks I would have read all of his books, but I haven’t and when the opportunity arose to review some of them, I couldn’t turn down the offer.

This story, like the other books of his I’ve read, is peppered with wonderful characters who feel like real people that I got to know and cheer for. In this case it’s Ronnie and her father Steve. Steve left the family and Ronnie’s never forgiven him. However, fate intervenes and she and her younger brother go and spend a summer with him in North Carolina.

Ronnie is a most a troubled soul, getting in with the wrong crowd during her first week there, having words with her father, and also meeting a young man who will play a significant role in her future.

The story pulled in and I soon learned something about Steve that brought tears to my eyes (no, I won’t give away the plot). What begins as a cold relationship between father and daughter blossoms into something beautiful and told in a way that only this author can pull it off. And did I mention the setting? So beautifully described that I felt I was there on the beach and in the house that Steve lived in and just a step away from the ocean with all its sights, sounds and smells.

If you like stories about families, forgiveness and love, and like a good cry when you read a book, I’d say definitely give The Last Song a try.

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

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Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (245 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A MAN OF SIN

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.

A WOMAN OF HONOR

Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.

A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH

Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

He was a dastardly villain in Sweetest Scoundrel and the things he did put everyone in sixes and sevens by trying to kidnap the same woman numerous times, amongst other things. How then, can a man who everyone does not trust, some even hate, become a hero? How can a man exiled from his country come back and reassert himself into the ton? Readers, get ready because The Duke of Montgomery is back and he’s nothing like you’ve read before.

To say that I was blown away by Val is an understatement. Ms. Hoyt outdid herself with his story, and what a convoluted tale it is. This novel is definitely a standalone read but for readers of the series, Duke of Sin picks up at end of Sweetest Scoundrel when Mrs. Crumb, the ever so proper, efficient and organized housekeeper is caught with her hand in the cookie jar – so-to-speak. What she finds is something with huge ramifications and pertains to one of the subplots in this newest adventure.

I am sitting here trying to formulate how much to say without giving away any spoilers and I’m once again reminded just how rich, busy and robust this whole complicated courtship is between the duke and his housekeeper. I simply don’t know where to start.

First, Val, the Duke of Montgomery is a tortured hero. You have no idea what his childhood was like until he shared it with Mrs. Crumb, a/k/a Bridget, in small increments throughout the whole novel. Once the bulk of it was revealed, I felt ill. Ms. Hoyt’s descriptions broke my heart. The true villains were Val’s own family and once I understood the extent of his abuse, I understood why a man that made the perfect villain in previous novels makes the absolute best hero that can appeal to any woman who wants to love, cherish and heal her man. It’s going to take a special touch, a unique woman and a dramatic gesture of romantic sacrifice to create the catharsis that will heal the past and insure a future. Oh my gosh, the passion!!

Bridget has a lot of secrets. She’s a strong heroine and is totally worthy of her eventual relationship with the Duke of Montgomery, even though it will never go far. I mean, who ever heard of a DUKE marrying his housekeeper? There is a lot more to Mrs. Crumb that meets the eye and as I learned about her, I came to respect her and cheer for her blossoming relationship with Val. She’s so proper, so sure of herself and her vision of what is right and wrong is clear and concise, yet she’s flexible, thoughtful and capable of whimsy, when she allows herself. She’s a woman with great passion and when Val finally taps into it the pages practically explode into flames. Val teaches Bridget the glories between a man and a woman, to the point that Bridget wants more than Val can give – that’s the hope, the challenge and the heartbreak. My emotions were wrapped up in Val and Bridget’s romance and it was a twisty roller coaster ride of surprises.

Make no mistake, Val is a product of a twisted childhood and his actions can be violent and swift. And, for all the blood, he makes a kind of backwards sense, a logic that, if I follow it right, means he cared enough to make things quick versus the alternative. I was shocked at his casual violence but more stunned in my agreeing with his thinking. In his own way, he has developed his own sense of justice and morality. It was thoroughly unique. His willingness to act is absolutely crucial towards the end of the book and in that he epitomizes the definition of the word, hero.

There are so many layers to this novel, some of which involve secondary characters that play critical roles in the relationship between Val and Bridget. There are adorable moments, like Pip the dog, and others that made me laugh and some that left me puzzled because Val is an enigma and how he dealt with people was so unusual and abrasive.

Duke of Sin is one of those books that stay with a reader long after the last page is read. Val is a hero that is unexpected, inimitable and charming in his egotistical way. He is a man I’ll remember as being a personality that truly and believably went from villain to hero and I fell in love with him along with Bridget. He’s not a comfortable or banal character. He’s not dull or predicable. Ms. Hoyt struck gold when she introduced her readers to the Duke of Montgomery. I hope this novel receives many accolades because in my estimation, it earns every single one. I’m a very happy reader.

Hope Springs on Main Street by Olivia Miles – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win a copy of the book, which releases today.

10_27 olivia miles Miles_Hope Springs on Main Street_MMSometimes love is where you least expect it . . .  What do you do when your cheating husband proposes to the “other woman”? For Jane Madison, it means you keep calm, carry on, and sneak candy bars and wine for dinner. Jane’s grateful for her adorable little girl, yet she yearns for the love that was missing from her marriage. Only one man ever really “got” Jane-and she’s stunned when he returns to Briar Creek. But a single mom can’t date her ex’s best friend . . . can she?

Jane’s still kind, beautiful-and far too good for the buddy Henry Birch tried to stop her from marrying years ago. Laying eyes on her now is like a much-needed ray of sunshine. Back in town to sell his family’s old house, Henry wants to close a bad chapter in his life and move on. But time with Jane and her sweet daughter has him flirting with the idea of happily ever after-if he can convince her to take a second chance on love . . .

Enjoy an excerpt:

“We’ll work on the box step first, so if everyone could just take their partner…” She set her arm on Henry’s shoulder, feeling the warmth of his body through his cotton shirt. Her breath caught as his hand went to her waist, and not gingerly. Nope, no hesitation there. Henry knew how to hold a woman, how to make her feel with just one touch that he was exactly where he wanted to be. Slowly, she lifted her other hand, and he took it in his, holding it firmly. A wave of exhilaration shot through her as she looked up to meet his gaze. It bored through hers, but there was a hint of a smile on his lips.

Right. Time to demonstrate. She swallowed hard and tore her gaze from his, looking at Grace, so she wouldn’t be tempted to indulge in further masochism by glaring at the man who was single-handedly trying to ruin her life, or meeting Henry’s sharp blue eyes and daring to imagine how it might feel if his hand dropped a little lower.

“One, two, three, four.” Jane counted out the steps, over and over, and soon all the couples in the room were stepping within their own self-created boxes, many already laughing or whispering to each other.

“We haven’t done this in a long time.” There was a hint of a smile in Henry’s voice.

Jane looked up to find his gaze trained steady on hers, his lips parted in half smile. Her heart skipped a beat, and she looked down, watching their feet move in perfect unison.

“You’ve been practicing,” she observed now, trying to steer the conversation back to something more professional, but it was no use, not when his eyes were sharp, hooked with hers, refusing to let her go.

Was it just her or did he press himself a little closer?

Her heart flipped with pleasure, and she fought the instinct to pull back, to not let herself get too close. His body felt warm and safe next to hers, and she closed her eyes, listening to the beat of the music, letting herself forget that there was anyone else in the room other than the two of them. His hand slid down her back, looping around her waist, his fingers tracing a pattern on her hip.

The music suddenly stopped and, red-faced, Jane pulled back. For God’s sake, she was teaching a class, not enjoying some moonlit waltz!

She marched across the room to the CD player, fumbling to remember the correct buttons to press as her mind spun with emotions. Too much was going on at once, and she couldn’t even think straight.

She wondered if Rosemary was still in the building. She’d claim she wasn’t feeling well, let her boss stand in her place…

She glanced at Henry, her pulse kicking a notch. He was waiting in the center of the room, and he wasn’t waiting for Rosemary, or just anyone. He was waiting, she realized, with a sudden smile, for her.

The music started from the top and the couples began again, improving on their basic steps. Jane averted her gaze from the corner of the room where Adam and Kristy stood, but for some reason she didn’t even care in that moment that they were here.

She had her dance partner. And maybe, just maybe, for more than just tonight.

About the author:10_27 Olivia MilesOlivia Miles is a Chicago-based romance writer. Having grown up in New England, Olivia attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec before settling in Chicago where she lives with her husband, their daughter, and two ridiculously pampered pups.

When she is not chasing after her little ones, she is hard at work creating feisty heroines and alpha heroes with a heart. A city girl with a fondness for small-town charm, Olivia enjoys highlighting both ways of life in her stories.

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