Vanessa Jackson is just trying to get her life together.
It's been more than a year since her marriage ended and her husband left her and their children destitute and in foreclosure. She and her daughters are making it... barely, but making it. If she could just divorce that sonofabitch, the future would be bright, but Warren is fighting the process every step of the way.
If she wants a divorce, and to move on with her life, she needs an attorney.
Gibson, the youngest of four brothers, all attorneys at Kincaid Family Law, is the rebel. He's the one who's never going to do what Mother- Sylvia "Silver Shark" Kincaid, wants him to do. Instead of serving the interests of wealthy and high profile clients, Gibson prefers to serve the down on their luck sector, earning him the nickname "community lawyer". When Sylvia rejects Vanessa as a client, it's a lucky break that she literally runs into Gibson.
The attraction between them is immediate, smoldering, mutual. And distracting. Vanessa’s just trying to get divorced, not pick up a new man, and certainly not her divorce attorney.
Gibson is trying to do right by his new client, but he can't lie; he wants to help Vanessa get divorced. So he can have her to himself.
But Warren still has a few tricks up his sleeve, Gibson has family commitments holding him back from being real with himself... and Vanessa swears she's ready to move on, but she's hiding a huge part of her past that she's not ready for Gibson to know.
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Sylvia’s demeanor had run the gamut from warm and friendly to combative and now she looked like she wanted to toss me out of her office on my ass. She pushed herself up from the chair and leaned onto the desk.
“I am not in the habit of sending clients to my competitors, Ms. Jackson. I suggest you consult the Yellow Pages. If there’s nothing else, Janet will show you to the front desk. The receptionists will validate your parking.”
She pressed a button on the phone and chirped brusquely. “We’re done, here. Tell Gibson to come to my office, please.”
“Of course, ma’am,” came the crystal clear response from the speaker.
I stood and slid the handle of my bag onto my shoulder. I was even more eager to get out of that office, out of that suite, out of that building. This was a bad idea.
“I’ll see myself out,” I mumbled, almost stopping to offer a handshake to Sylvia, but she was preoccupied by the stacks on her desk. I’d been dismissed. I pulled open the double doors and hurried down the hall toward the front desk, head down, on a mission. I rounded a corner and walked right into a wide, solid chest.
“Oh!” I leapt backward a few steps and tried to get my bearings. My bag, which slid from my arm mid-collision, was splayed on the carpet between us, half of its contents spread across the hallway.
“Ma’am, I am so sorry. Let me help you clean that up.”
A well- built man in a dark, tailored suit squatted to gather my belongings and handed them to me so that I could stuff them inside my bag. I was thankful that I hadn’t been dragging around any personal items— tampons, lip gloss... mini vibrators. My datebook, pens and business card case were embarrassing enough.
“Did we get everything?”
His eyes swept the area, then lifted to mine, accompanied by the most handsome smile I’d seen since I first met Warren Jackson. Smiles were my kryptonite and his… mmmph. Thick lips, two rows of straight white teeth, deep skin tone and dark, soulful brown eyes, the kind that made you want to pour a glass of brown liquor and get lost in them.
My mouth suddenly felt like it was full of sawdust and my breathing was slightly labored. “I… I think we got everything. Thank you. And sorry for running you over.”
“No need to apologize. I was looking at my phone, not watching where I was going.” He extended a hand, palm up. Without even thinking, I slid my palm across his. “Gibson Kincaid. Are you a client?”
His question made me laugh, which wasn’t a reaction I expected to have at not being accepted as a client. “No. In fact, I met with your mother and we decided that Kincaid isn’t the firm I’m looking for.”
“Oh?” His eyebrows shot up, nearly to his hairline, which I noticed was lush with dark-as-night curls. ”Did she give you the bring them to their knees, we make them pay speech? She loves that line.”
His smile was devilish. The twinkle in his eye was way too tempting. The lilting, teasing tone of his voice had my thoughts meandering in a direction they had no business going in. I was in this stuffy grey office trying to divorce my husband, not pick up a new man.
“Uh, yep,” I answered with a deep nod. “I did get that speech. Unfortunately, as much as I want to uhm… make him pay… Kincaid isn’t the firm for me.”
“Well, that’s too bad, if you really feel that way. But not all of us practice law like my mother does. Some of us are little more sensible.”
He smiled again, sending sparks skipping down my spine. “Tell you what,” he said, reaching into an inner pocket to pull out a business card holder. He plucked a card from the silver case and flicked it out at me between two fingers. Two long, thick, manicured fingers. “Give me a call. We can talk. If I can work something out, I’d—”
We both turned at the sound of Sylvia screeching down the hall, disturbing the quiet. I felt bad that I’d kept him from his mother’s beck and call, so I took the card and stepped around him.
“Thanks. Sorry to keep you.”
“My pleasure,” he said, still standing in the middle of the hallway, clearly in no hurry to answer to Sylvia. “I didn’t catch your name, Miss….”
“Vanessa. Vanessa Jackson.”
“Ms. Jackson,” he responded, extending his hand again. Again, I slid my palm across his and reveled in the gentle strength as it closed around mine. “It was a pleasure running into you. Please do give me a call, before you call another firm.”
Before I was ready for him to do so, he released my hand and slipped his hands into the pockets of his slacks.
“I will definitely give you a call, Gibson.” I began to back away, feeling like if I didn’t start moving, I was never going to get out of the building. And, despite having met Gibson, I wanted to get out of that building. “Have a nice day.”
Just then, Sylvia rounded the corner, barreling down the hallway with fists clenched.
“Gib! I’ve been calling you. When I summon you, I mean right away! I don’t have all day.” Her eye caught my form lingering near the door the lobby. “Ms. Jackson, I thought you had left. Is there something else I can do for you?”
“No ma’am.” I pushed through the door and stumbled back out to the visitor area. There was nothing Sylvia could do for me.
Gibson, though…if I was a different kind of woman, Gibson Kincaid could do a lot for me.
But I wasn’t, I remembered, coming down from my high. I was a woman in a mess of a marriage, trying to get out of it. An attraction to a man that wanted to be my divorce lawyer wouldn’t turn out well at all.
After leaving heartache in the Midwest, Jessamine Davis ventures to the mountains of New York City to pursue her dreams of editing best-selling novels. At the top of her game, Jessie sees no pitfalls in her future until a wedding invitation makes its way from Colorado. After her assistant mistakenly sends her RSVP, which includes a plus-one to attend her ex-fiancé and sister’s wedding, Jessie searches for a picture-perfect date to drag across the Rockies.
Asher Whitaker is in a writing slump. The words that usually flow screeched to halt a year ago. Hoping to gain inspiration, he takes a part-time job at his favorite coffee shop. Nothing could have prepared him for the unusual meeting with a gorgeous tea fanatic. Despite his reservations, Asher agrees to accompany Jessie to a week of family time on Mount Princeton.
Hilarity ensues as the two strangers attempt to pass off their faux relationship to the onslaught of her family. Torn between wanting to keep her distance from the ex-Army Ranger turned barista, Jessie begins to feel something other than repulsion for the opposite sex. Asher isn’t the typical Wall Street type, so her attraction to him startles her. With his bold tattoos and teasing demeanor, Asher mirrors everything she didn’t think she craved in a man. His dimpled smile and tall stature puts her at ease and creates havoc in her celibate mind.
Between fishing and four-wheeling, Asher’s connection to Jessie deepens along with the tall tales he spins regarding the real reason he left his mundane side job. Every hour he spends at Jessie’s side only furthers his desire to be more than a boyfriend. Yet, his secret identity holds him back from fully disclosing the truth.
Though they had ulterior motives for their hiatus, the two discover something greater in each other.
In a moment of irony, Jessie discovers who the tattooed barista truly is—a well-known author of novels that leave women weak in the knees—but more importantly, the man she was supposed to sign with her publishing house before leaving New York City.
Jessie’s time spent with Asher forces her to choose between being scorned by love or transforming her heart for the future.
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The commercial airplane taxied down the runway while Asher studied the sports magazine in his hands. It was opened to an article about baseball, a subject that enraptured him a majority of the time. Any words he read were lost to him. He couldn’t keep his attention fixed on anything with Jessie so close. She smelled like books. Freshly printed books with a hint of lemon. He might have been able to handle karma’s bitch-slap if she wore her hair up in a bun again.
Swiveling his eyes to her in a stealthy manner, he steadied his breathing at the sight of her mildly curled hair, which fell below her shoulders by a good four inches. That, coupled with her deep blue blouse and tan capri pants that exposed toned calves, sent him reeling. Today, Jessie didn’t look like the uptight executive who spilled her tea over them both. She looked normal. Well, normal for a New Yorker. The knowledge that she wasn’t born and raised in the city startled him at first. Her go-getter temperament and drive was typical for the bustling hub. Not many outsiders thrived under the circumstances. Many moved to the suburbs to escape the havoc, but she admitted to living in the heart of the city that never sleeps.
“What did you say you do for work again?” he pestered when he realized they never touched on the subject other than her offering to get him a job. He was shocked at her proposition, but then again, she knew him as a barista and that was all. He would never accept her job offer, but she didn’t need to know yet. Though he didn’t want to divulge his mainstream of income, he was interested as to hers.
Jessie tucked a curl behind her ear. “Oh, I um.” She stumbled as if in search for the right words. “I work in the publishing sector. Nothing too fancy. Books, magazines, websites, etc.”
Asher let his face relax, but only slightly. The little research he did online of her was somewhat satisfactory. In her personal life, she was an internet ghost, save one social media account which was marked as private. As to her occupation, Brecon Books boasted her as an established editor. Her titles varied were predominately romance, but a few mystery, and non-fiction titles had her name attached to them. A stray thought filtered through his mind, but he shoved it aside. Jessie didn’t recognize him, so she couldn’t be the editor who was supposed to meet with him from the publishing house.
“What about you? Is barista your sole job title?” Jessie asked, shuffling through pages of the latest fashion magazine.
“As a matter of fact, no. I’ve dabbled here and there with other professions,” he clarified, skirting the whole truth. She didn’t need to know the reason behind his coffee shop experiment. It would make things awkward.
“So a nomad hippie?” she asked with a disconcerting tone. “They will love it.”
The seatbelt sign flipped off, so Asher turned in his seat to face her. If she knew the truth, her family would love him. He didn’t like to deceive her, but the exposure on the other end was a far cry from the quiet getaway he longed for. “Yeah, it’s not a very stable occupation, but I’m fond of it.” She flipped another page. Her cavalier nature unnerved him. “Since you’re not a fan of me being a barista, what should we tell your relatives? Should we make up a profession? I can play along.”
Closing the magazine, Jessie eyed him from head to toe. As a rule, he would encourage such exploration, but the way her icy blue eyes slid over him was in no way seductive. “You’re an actor too? I guess it works to our advantage.”
Asher opened his mouth to explain, but slammed it shut as she continued. “Nothing pretentious. My mom will look you up online the instant she hears your name, so a quiet profession would be best.”
Asher grinned at the thought of a maternal form of Jessie. He pictured her now as a warm and nurturing type who had a bit of a stalking tendency when it came to the men her daughters dated. “Don’t worry. There isn’t much online to find about me. I’m not very active on the social media platforms. I like my privacy,” he concluded in partial truth. Her mom wouldn’t find anything about Asher Whitaker that wasn’t positive. Without a doubt, she would discover his military history, but it wouldn’t be so bad.
“So do I.” She unbuckled her seatbelt. “It looks like we have one thing in common.”
“Oh, I’m sure there’s more than one.” He plastered a grin on his face and it deepened when her face turned a shade of red. “Anyway, my occupation.”
Jessie tapped her index finger against her knee, deep in thought. “You were in the military, so what about a facet off that? A security company or military recruiter?” she proposed with a hopeful smile.
Thinking over those options, Asher figured they were safer than business. He was horrible at business. He had Mike to deal with the money side of things. “I could pass for a recruiter.”
“Perfect.” Jessie produced a book from her oversized satchel and handed it to him. “This should give you a rundown on what you need to know, although, I’m certain you already know most of it.”
Staring at the thick book, Asher held in his surprise. It was apparent that she’d thought this through last night. She managed to find a book on his fake career named The Basics of Recruiting. The humor wasn’t lost to him on the title either. Opening the bright green cover, he sucked in his breath. He could pass as a recruiter without reading this mumbo jumbo, but she seemed adamant he read it. “Thanks, Mina. It was real nice of you.”
Jessie’s blue eyes darted to his face at the nickname derived from her full name. “It’s Jessie not Mina.”
“Whoa, calm down there, Mina. Why the temper? It’s part of your name after all,” he prodded, skimming her features with his eyes. She was frustrated at his attempt at a nickname. He’d never met a girl named Jessamine before, and though he was surprised she chose Jessie instead of Jessa as a nickname, he liked to play with names. It was one of his favorite parts of his real job. The way her eyes turned to fireballs was irresistible.
“Because he called me Mina.” She somehow seethed through clenched teeth.
Asher understood the dilemma, and right off hated the man who turned Jessie to stone. It wasn’t fair of her ex to monopolize her future. He liked the nickname and he wouldn’t stop because another man tainted it.
Leaning toward her, he lowered his voice. “The best revenge is to move on and be happy. If your ex sees a new man calling you the same name, one I know you secretly love, he will accept the fact you’re over him.” Opening his mandated book to a new chapter, he added, “Plus, I like the name.”
He watched as her face went from prissy to understanding. “My dad wanted boys, but he didn’t get them, so he named us. Jessie for me and Bobbi for my sister. My mom was the one who fancied the names up so people knew we were girls.” She slapped a hand over her mouth. “I don’t know why I told you. Just forget it and read your book.”
Asher watched with vigilance as she jammed ear buds into her diamond-studded ears. The accidental tidbit told him quite a bit about his week-long girlfriend. She didn’t want to be a woman with a flowery name. She wanted to be mistaken for a man. A woman whose desire was to run with the big dogs of New York City.
He smirked when she all but scooted to the edge of her seat as though her insight somehow changed his perception of her. It did, in reality. Her slip up still resonated through her slender frame. The more he learned about her, the more Asher was enthralled. She would make an excellent story character.
Settling back into his seat, he skimmed the pages of the book which was altogether worthless. He was positive his date had also stuffed a book about the security profession in her bag, in case he opted for the other route. Holding in a grin when she mouthed the words from the song playing in her ears, Asher did his best to mind his own business. When she crossed her legs and sat upright like a jolt of lightning hit her, his focus was on her alone. “Everything all right?”
“The list. I forgot to go over the list with you,” was her stammered reply.
Her hands dove into her carryon and produced a notebook with scribbled handwriting in black ink. “I wanted to go over some ground rules for this week.”
Intrigued by her incentive to write out rules, he set his homework aside. “All right, shoot.”
Jessie licked her lips and kept her eyes on the book. “No ifs and or buts on not sleeping together.” She looked up and explained, “My family has this rule where you can’t sleep in the same bedroom unless you’re engaged.”
Asher couldn’t help but insert, “We could pretend to be engaged.” The flush on her cheeks was worth the glare that followed.
“No.” She ticked the sentence off her list. “I’m not a real touchy feely type of person, so limiting our physical interactions would be appreciated.”
Crossing his arms, he shook his head. “Well, I’m a very hands-on person. If your relatives are supposed to believe we’re together, some touching will be required.”
She narrowed her eyes but then relinquished her prude statement. “Fine, but minimal.”
“Unless you beg for more,” he said under his breath.
“What was that?”
Asher hid a smirk. “Nothing, Mina. What’s next?”
It was clear the use of his nickname aggravated her, but she didn’t correct him. “My mom is nosy, so try not to make up some outlandish story about us.”
“Duly noted.” He pointed to the next one. “No showering together? What? Now, that’s just irresponsible.”
Jessie’s face smeared in panic. “What? It’s not on there.”
“Oh, so we can shower together to conserve water? I know it’s important in the mountains.”
Her eyes flashed annoyance. “Not what I meant when I put ‘abide by mountain rules.’” Lickety-split, she scribbled more words after the sentence. “Yes, we need to conserve water and the like, but not by doing so together.”
“Mhmm, you say so now.”
“Asher, be serious.” Jessie offered him a stern glance.
“Proceed.” He held out his hand, giving his approval.
For the next five minutes, the beauty next to him rattled on about the dos and don’ts of the week ahead. Well, five days, but who was counting? It was clear Jessie was a control freak, and her tendencies didn’t stop when they flew over the Midwest states.
By the end, he was somewhat peeved at her requirements. “If I’m getting this right, you want a perfect boyfriend for the week. Sound accurate enough?”
Jessie stuffed her notebook into her purse. “In essence, yeah. I mean, not too perfect though, because they’ll see through you.”
“Right, because that would be horrible.” He let out a frustrated breath. “I don’t know why you want perfect, Mina. No one is perfect.”
“It’s what I want,” she said, her mind obviously set on that fact.
“And now I know why you’re single,” Asher pointed out, settling back into his seat. He didn’t bother to look over at the expression of malice which covered her face. It was an intentional jab. She desired perfection in an imperfect world. Though sad, it opened his mind to the real reason why her fiancé cheated on her.
The pilot announced their turbulence over the intercom and Asher buckled his seatbelt. He was in for one hell of a ride, beginning with navigating the dicey waters running through Jessie’s veins.
Knox Riley is at the top of his game when it comes to the world of professional choreography. In fact, there’s only one other person in the field who even comes close to matching his stature.
Knox’s eye has been on Amerie since the day she first auditioned for one of his tours. And while the arrangement that developed between them soon after might’ve ended in disaster, Knox feels he’s being given a chance to redeem himself – and his personal life, in general - when he and Amerie are casted for the reality show, Choreographer Lane.
Too bad Amerie doesn’t see it the same way.
After avoiding Knox Riley for years, she’s completely apprehensive to anything that involves even being in the same room as him. But when he shows up to her office with an offer she can’t refuse, she quickly finds herself in a predicament that involves old desires being exposed, unresolved feelings resurfacing, and new boundaries being tested.
Once the line is crossed, there’s no turning back. But just because an encore is called for doesn’t guarantee it will be pretty…
(Note: This book is a spinoff of, A Rehearsal for Love. While it can be read as a standalone, it does contain major spoilers for that title.)
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“A feel-good, heart-warming, tear-jerking love story.”
The best sort of holiday read, recommended for fans of Jane Costello, Erica James, and Lucy James
“My dog didn't like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn't like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).”
When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.
Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?
Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.
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The fate of two best friends and the secret love between them is known only to a mysterious figure who offers to aid one in hiding the truth from the other...lest their lives and love meet a tragic end.
When Olivia Villalobos finds a bloodstained love letter she endeavors to deliver it before Chief Inspector Sedeño finds it in her possession.
A city along the southern coast of Puerto Rico emerges in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Olivia, daughter of a drunkard police investigator who never knew the truth behind her mother’s disappearance, finds a bloodstained love letter in the hidden compartment of her father’s coat. Convinced it belonged to the man recently found dead she sets out to deliver it to the Labyrinth of Love Letters. A mysterious place believed to be an urban legend where the transients of forbidden love leave missives for one another. She enlists the help of Isaac Quintero to find the Labyrinth and they soon realize their quest has opened the door into Old Sienna’s darkest secrets—the perils, madness and depth of tragic love.
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Tim and Susannah have ordinary lives on the surface, he’s a mortician for whom death is a serious business, and she’s a chef who really knows her way around a knife, but if the neighbors in their small Midwestern town knew of her dark hobby, they’d run for the hills.
Raised by an apathetic mother and a cruel father, Susannah was bullied and pushed to her breaking point long before she met mild-mannered Tim, and has learned to channel her murderous impulses into a strange form of art, which keeps her clueless husband safe…for now.
As strange events occur, and Susannah’s eccentric behavior becomes more dynamic, Tim starts to wonder about his wife. Will he be too perceptive for his own good?
This twisted, psychological, serial killer thriller will sear your psyche and rattle your soul, so buckle up, you’re in for a terrifying ride.
CONTENT WARNING: If you are a reader of Summer Prescott’s Cozy Mysteries, please be advised that this book depicts the actions and mindset of a serial killer, contains some adult language and adult circumstances.
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