Trent Jamieson isn’t one for virtual romance, but there’s something about the intriguing woman he meets on the Internet he can’t resist. Then the small town bachelor discovers the mystery woman who shares her secrets with him online is the laced-up librarian in his self-defense class! Veronica Sussingham may just be his toughest student yet. Because how can he show the vulnerable beauty that
some men areworth letting your guard down for?
This kiss. Oh, this heavenly kiss. Veronica patted herself on the back for pushing aside her first instinct to remove Jim’s hands from her waist in a public place. The way he’d whispered “sexy” drove a warm blast straight to the core of her belly.
This time when they kissed, his mouth molded perfectly to hers, not his usual awkward preamble. He was strong and demanding, yet not too pushy. His relaxed lips lulled her into a quick surrender, a surrender she strangely didn’t mind at all.
His hand slipped to the back of her head, and she sighed into his mouth, wishing this kiss would never end. Slowly and surely, however, he pulled away, but she kept her eyes closed, clinging to the sensation a few seconds longer as his breath landed near her ear.
“God, baby,” he said, low and husky. “I can’t wait to get out of here with you later.”
Not. Jim’s. Voice.
Her eyes flashed open. She slapped her palms to the stranger’s chest, pushed him away. “What the hell!”
He stumbled back a few steps, his mouth agape and brows furrowed. “You’re not Angie.”
“Well, you’re not Jim! How dare you touch—”
“Calm down. I thought you were my date.” He blinked a few times. “Hey, I know you. From—”
“The elevator.” Her head spun as she stared into his crystal blue eyes. His gaze swept her from head to toe, making his dark lashes flutter. “Thank God you kept your lips to yourself then.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” His smiled dropped. “I’d never do that to a stranger.” With a slight cock of his head, a grin creased his cheeks and he lowered his voice. “Although I’m pretty sure we both enjoyed what just happened.”
Her face burned, as if set on fire. “How dare you suggest that I—”
“Hey! You guys are early.” Sophie entered the bar area, Duncan in tow.
Veronica tried to speak but found herself more flabbergasted when Sophie walked right up to Hotlips and they hugged. “Hi, Trent.”
Veronica pinched herself in a bid to wake from this surreal dream. Before she could gather her bearings, Duncan surrounded her in one of his big bear hugs. “Ronnie, you look beautiful. New dress?”
She blinked, nodded.
Sophie came over and hugged Veronica. “You okay?” she whispered in Veronica’s ear.
“I’m fine. Happy birthday.” From over Sophie’s shoulder, Trent watched them. Veronica narrowed her gaze, but he only grinned, like the devil might if he learned your biggest secret.
Duncan slung an arm around Trent’s shoulders. “I see you’ve met my brother.”
“Yes. I have.” The heat of her cheeks still simmered.
Trent winked in her direction, and a sizzling blast assaulted every inch of her skin.
“Pearls made me feel right at home.”
“Pearl? That’s not my name.”
“Pearls,” he corrected, an extra emphasis on the s. “Like your necklace.”
She reached up and touched the smooth, hard jewels near her collarbone. A few other guests arrived and snagged Sophie and Duncan’s attention. While she clutched the hard beads and tried to digest what just went down, she glanced at Trent. He watched her closely, but a playful twinkle in his eyes suggested the case-of-mistaken-identity kiss hadn’t upset him a bit.
Despite that, it was an enjoyable read.
Veronica has been hiding a secret for twenty years–and it’s a pretty big deal. It’s the reason she came back “different” from graduate school, and the reason that she moved back at all–had the event not occurred, she would have taken a job in D.C. rather than back in her small hometown. A culmination of factors–including a situation that her niece is having at school and an upcoming reunion where she is likely to encounter the person who caused the event for the first time in twenty years–makes now the time that she’s finally going to deal with her issue. I found her journey back sympathetic and believable for the most part, but question that her mystery pen pal (who, for all of his being anonymous and seeming benevolence, is still a man she doesn’t know) is the first person ever she’d tell about what happened.
Trent’s moving to Blue Moon Lake for a fresh start–a recovering alcoholic and addict, he’s taken a marketing position at his brother’s new winery both as a chance to begin again and as a way of testing his resolve. A good chunk of it is also because his old job was working for his brother, who sold the company at the beginning of the book to embark his new venture. Trent’s three years sober, but he’s also moving closer to some pretty major family drama (a truth was revealed in the last book, the repercussions of which are still making the rounds in this one) that will test his resolve before the book’s end. His journey felt pretty realistic, though in parts he did seem to get through challenges a bit too easily.
Veronica and Trent’s romance relied fairly heavily on a series of coincidences, but was very sweet overall. He did a nice job of helping her through her issues, though, which makes up for a lot. He definitely should have told her sooner that he’d figured out he was her electronic pen pal–I agree with not having done so right away, but he had a pretty fantastic chance to reveal it a little while later and didn’t take it. Fortunately for him, Veronica forgave him soon after and he wasn’t required to make a grand gesture (he does end up making one, but it would have all been for nothing if she hadn’t voluntarily shown up where he was that night, so I don’t know if it should really count). I think I would have liked to have seen him put more of himself out there to mend the rift between them than actually happens, but it was a sweet scene nonetheless.
I’m definitely tempted to go back and read book one, just to get a more complete picture. The synopsis of book three (Bella Luna) makes it appear to be more of a standalone than this one was; I don’t think either the heroine or the hero were in Harvest at all.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
—Laura Drake, author of RITA-award winning The Sweet Spot
Connecticut, the friendliest place she’s ever lived. For more information, including where to find her other novels and published essays, please visit her website.