Published by Harlequin
This bachelor’s pretend girlfriend just made a shocking discovery—
Although they dated for only a month, Harley O’Hannigan just agreed to be Vince Messina’s plus-one at a Harmony Valley wedding. Big mistake, given her deepening feelings for the tall, dark, unavailable bachelor. And what about Vince’s long-buried family history? Then there’s the growing secret that could transform this pretend relationship into the real thing…
Praise for Melinda Curtis:
“Wonderfully entertaining!” Jayne Ann Krentz, NYT Bestseller (referring to Playing for Love)
“Reading Slade and Christine’s story reminded me of why I enjoy romance. SEASON OF CHANGE has found a place on my keeper shelf!” Brenda Novak, NYT Bestseller
Harley carried her tea and cookie, and joined Vince outside. She tried to make light of his reception with his ex-girlfriend. “You must have broken Sarah’s heart in high school. She latched onto you like a bride at a wedding dress clearance sale.”
“That woman is scary.” Vince took Harley’s arm and led her down the sidewalk, adding in a lowered voice, “She pinched my butt.”
“You lie.” Harley stopped, completely taken aback. “She wouldn’t do that in front of a roomful of people.”
“Oh, yes, she did.” With a furtive glance over his shoulder—possibly to see if Sarah was following them—Vince tugged Harley back into motion. “Didn’t you see me jump?”
Harley chuckled. She had.
“Don’t laugh. You’re supposed to protect me from her.”
“You should have bargained for a kiss in front of Sarah.” She knew the words were a mistake as soon as they left her mouth.
“I still could.” Vince’s gaze fell to her lips, his steps downshifted to slow-mo and his expression turned serious.
Harley’s breath caught in her throat. Against her better judgment. Against all experience to the contrary. Harley wanted to be held by Vince. Not for show. Not to fulfill her end of a bargain. But because she liked him and because, when he kissed her, when his arms came around her, she felt that all her mistakes didn’t matter.
All her mistakes…
Pride had led her to accept a job with Dan. Pride had made her show her sketches to him. Pride had made her quit. “You were wrong the other day about men needing pride,” Harley said. “Pride steals your footing. It makes you doubt. It brings you down.” To a place where you needed someone to lift you up. She wanted that someone to be Vince. But that would go against the pep talks she gave herself about being resilient, not to mention, Vince didn’t want to be her rock. “You don’t need another kiss.” Her voice was a thready whisper.
He cocked a brow. “I don’t?”
She hadn’t been talking to him. She’d been talking to herself, talking herself down from the kissing ledge. “No. You need this.”
She didn’t kiss him. She hugged him. She hugged him tight. And, for just a moment, she didn’t worry about balconies in the clouds, dreams lost or hearts that might be broken.
Melinda Curtis is an award-winning, USA Today Bestseller of over 40 romances. She writes sweet romance for Harlequin Heartwarming, sweet romantic comedies and sexy sports contemporary romances. When not working on DIY projects around their home, Melinda and her college sweetheart enjoy watching Duke mens basketball and visiting their three kids and one grandchild. Sign up for her mailing list to receive two free reads.
Always the Hero by Anna J. Stewart
He never relied on anyone but himself…but he needs her now!
Butterfly Harbor deputy Matt Knight wants two things: to date Lori Bradley and the chance to adopt Kyle, a troubled teen. Wounded in Afghanistan, Matt knows he can’t move forward anchored to the past. But once he regains the guarded hotel manager’s trust, will his need to protect those he loves cost him a future with this extraordinary woman?
Praise for Anna J Stewart
“The talented Anna J Stewart delivers every time.” ~NYTimes Bestselling Author Brenda Novak
“Anna J. Stewart will tug at your heartstrings more than once while leaving you utterly besotted with her characters.” ~The Romance Reviews
“What’s wrong?” Matt rested his arms on the table and leaned in. She could feel the warmth of his breath, feel the heat of his concerned gaze.
“Nothing.” She shifted in her seat. “It’s…nothing.”
“Now who’s lying?”
Her chin shot up at his accusation but it was then she saw he was teasing her.
“Come on, Lori. Tell me what’s bothering you. You’ve been acting weird since before we came in here. Are you embarrassed to be seen with me?”
“Why on earth would I—” She took a deep breath. “You’re making fun of me.”
“How else am I going to disarm you enough to tell me what’s going on in here.” He reached up and tapped a finger against the side of her head.
“It’s not important.” Darn it, why did she always let this get to her? Why hadn’t she just been honest and told him she didn’t want to go to breakfast?
“Given we’ve spent the last couple of minutes debating that fact, I’ll say you’re wrong. What is it?”
“I just…” Could her face feel any hotter? “I don’t like eating out, okay? There. You got me to confess, copper. Take me to jail.” She held out her wrists, palms up.
“Why don’t you like to eat out?”
“Oh, for…” She tucked her hair behind her ears and sighed. “It’s silly.
“Clearly, it’s not. Tell me.”
Tell him? Tell him one of her most embarrassing secrets? Tell him about how even her own parents were disgusted by her? Yeah, that should kill off any residual feelings he might have for her. “When I was a little girl and we went out to eat, my mother would constantly criticize me. I shouldn’t have that or what will people think, a chubby girl like you eating that. I embarrassed her. And she made sure everyone knew it.” All these years later and it still messed with her head. “I told you it was stupid.”
“It’s not stupid. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.” He reached over and held out a hand. She stared at his open palm, heart pounding as she realized how much she wanted to take it. Instead, she pulled her hands into her lap and locked her fingers together. “No child should ever be made to feel less than. For any reason.”
“I totally agree. Which is why I haven’t talked to her in about a gazillion years.” That neither of her parents seemed interested in reaching out to her—or Fletcher—didn’t help the situation. It was one thing to be a child and suspect your parents didn’t like you; it was another to be an adult and know it to be true. “So, there you go. I don’t like to eat out because my mother used to make fun of me for being fat. Bring on the chocolate pudding.”
“Have I mentioned how much I loathe self-deprecating humor?” He sat back and pinned her with a stare that made her shiver. “We’re being honest with each other now, yeah? Stop making fun of yourself. I don’t find the jokes funny and I don’t agree with them. What on earth does your dress size have to do with the type of person you are? I like who you are, Lori. I have from the first time I saw you, so suck it up and deal with it. And while you’re at it, stop making light of things that cause you pain. It’s irritating.”
“Yes, it is.” She didn’t want to take what he said to heart. She didn’t want to believe he meant what she’d always wanted someone to say to her; someone who might actually care for her, love her. “It’s also the one defense mechanism that’s worked for me, so forgive me if I don’t bow to your lack of expertise in this matter.” She meant for the comment to tick him off, drive him away. Offend him to the point he’d settle her firmly in the friends column. Instead, she watched the anger lines around his eyes ease and the
corners of his mouth flicker.
“You’d be surprised what I know about parental disapproval, but that’s a conversation for another time. Look at us, getting to know each other. Being honest with one another. It’s almost like we’re starting a new relationship or something.”
Lori shook her head, wanting nothing more than to walk away and forget that whenever she was with him she didn’t want to be without him. He had a way of making her forget everything that shouldn’t be important. “What’s wrong with you? Everything that should make you angry makes you laugh.”
“And sometimes vice versa,” he confirmed with a shrug. “You have your coping mechanisms, I have mine. And for the record, I’ll give you time to work on that bad habit of yours. Not a lot, but some.”
USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J. Stewart writes sweet to sexy romance for Harlequin’s Heartwarming and Romantic Suspense lines. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily ever afters for her independent heroines. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it’s Snickers who tolerates her). When she’s not writing books or her monthly blog for USA Today’s Happy Ever After, you can find her at fan conventions or at her local movie theater, or building her client list for her content editing services.
Blog Tour Schedule
I Am A Reader – Spotlight
A Writer’s Life – Spotlight
Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm – Spotlight
Why Not? Because I Said So! – Spotlight
Aubrey Wynne: Timeless Romance – Spotlight
Laura’s Interests – Spotlight
Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review
The Christian Fiction Girl – Review
Bargnhtress – Spotlight
Bonnie Phelps, Author – Spotlight
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Spotlight
The Avid Reader – Spotlight
T’s Stuff – Spotlight
My Devotional Thoughts – Spotlight
Susan Heim on Writing – Spotlight
Remembrancy – Review
Wishful Endings – Review
Rainy Days and Pajamas – Spotlight
Bookworm Lisa – Spotlight
The Eco Lifestyle – Spotlight
Diana’s Book Reviews – Spotlight
Stacking My Book Shelves! – Spotlight
Reading Is My SuperPower – Review
Always Books – Review
Room With Books – Spotlight
Hearts & Scribbles – Spotlight
Queen of All She Reads – Spotlight
BookHounds – Spotlight
StoreyBook Reviews – Spotlight
Thoughts of a Blonde – Spotlight
Alina Snow Book Adventures – Spotlight
Among the Reads – Review
Rockin’ Book Reviews – Spotlight
Kindle and Me – Review
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