NY Times Bestselling Author
Kari Dale has plans—big ones that are about to be realized with the launch of her store in Starlight Bend. Totally focused on achieving her goals, Kari isn’t prepared for tall, dark, and amazing Ty Timberlake.
Within minutes of meeting Kari, Ty knows he’s in trouble. She’s smart, funny and beautiful. He understands her goals, but knows the rat race won’t make her happy. Kari is hell-bent on making her mark and moving on to the next challenge; Ty is equally determined to win her love and make her stay.
As Christmas draws closer, Kari begins to question who she is and what she wants. Should she stick to her plan and be long gone come the New Year, or chart a new course with the man who’s stolen her heart?
Kari Dale comes to town with a plan, setup the store and move on to the next town. Unfortunately she’s not sure she want’s to stick to that plan.
Tyler Timberlake was grading papers when Kari walks into The Bar on the Lake. He finds her attractive and strikes up a conversation with her. This is a favorite scene.
The history teacher studied her for a moment, glanced at her shot glass, and then looked into her eyes. “Are you here to drink alone, or would you like some company?”
He had a nice voice, rich and smooth. Deep down, something gave her a hard elbow in a soft place. Yes, it whispered, she wanted company. Surprised at the power of the feeling, she nodded.
“Company would be nice.”
“You sure?” he asked.
And she liked that he asked. It spoke of a gentleman’s manners. Of a confident man who didn’t want to push. Or, most likely, didn’t need to.
“Yeah,” she said, feeling her cheeks heat. “Why not?”
He nodded, picked up his stack of papers, tapped them a couple times to straighten the edges, then crammed them into his satchel. Man, satchel, and the watery iced tea, moved down the bar to the empty seat next to her. The old bartender watched it all suspiciously.
“Stan, I’ll have what she’s having,” he said, pushing the tea forward so Stan could dump it.
“Ain’t it a school night?” Stan asked with a sour frown.
The teacher’s brows shot up and he grinned. “You gonna call my dad and tell on me?”
“Maybe I will,” Stan grumbled, moving to the taps. A few seconds later, he placed the beer and a shot of whiskey on the bar. The teacher clinked his glass against hers before drinking down the shot without coughing his brains out after. He did suck a quick breath through his teeth, though.
“Haven’t done that in a while,” he said with a laugh.
Cautiously, she took a drink of hers, too, finishing it in several small swallows this time. The second one went down easier than the first and warmed her blood like wildfire.
“I’m Tyler,” the teacher said, holding out his hand. “But everyone calls me Ty.”
“I’m Kari. With a K.” She put her hand in his, shocked by its warmth and size. He gave hers a gentle squeeze and released, but didn’t pull away. She didn’t, either. It was the alcohol, she told herself.
“Welcome to Starlight Bend, Kari with a K.”
For a moment, they just stared at one another, still touching. Still not pulling away. Stan muttered something she couldn’t make out and finally, she slipped her hand from Ty’s. Her palm tingled and she curled her fingers around it to hold onto his warmth.
Ty turned in his seat so he faced her, one booted foot on the railing by her stool. “So . . . what brings you to our little corner of paradise, Kari?”
“The same thing that brought me to this bar,” she answered truthfully. “Work.”
“You don’t like your job?”
“I love my job. I’ve just been in overdrive lately. I guess I’m a little burned out.” A lot burned out, actually, but she was in the homestretch of this sprint. Almost there, if she could just keep it together long enough to reach the finish lineHe nodded with understanding. “Burn out is hard to get past. What kind of work do you do?”
“I co-own a small chain of men’s clothing stores,” she said. “My business partner and I have opened four so far.”
“Impressive. And you’re opening another near here?”
“Right here. In Starlight Bend.”
Ty let out a bark of laughter. When she didn’t join in, his expression turned incredulous. “You’re serious?”
“Absolutely. I have just enough time to get the doors open and catch the holiday retail wave.”
“Wave? Starlight Bend isn’t big enough for a wave.”
“Maybe, maybe not. It’s an easy drive from Kalispell and not far from the Canadian border, though. Canadians like nice things, right?”
She narrowed her eyes, not trusting that sure. “It’s a solid location. Our other stores are in similar demographics and they’re doing fine.”
He took a drink of his beer, eyes glinting again. “Have you ever even been to Montana before, Kari?”
“It doesn’t matter. We know what we’re doing.” She might have left it at that, but he looked so unconvinced that she had to go on. “The ratio of men to women is very high in Starlight Bend,” she told him. “That’s good for sales.”
Had she really just said that? Had to be the alcohol. Normally, she was very articulate about their strategic plan and the success they’d had so far. But normally, she wasn’t drinking shots in a bar beside a man who looked like this one. Up close, he took attractive to a whole new level.
“And you think that ratio’s going to make all the men go shopping?” he asked, clearly perplexed.
“Well, yes. If they want to catch the eye of the fairer sex.”
“The fairer sex?” he repeated skeptically. “I hate to tell you this, Kari, but that’s not really the way things are done out here.”
“Yeah, that’s what they said in the last town, and the one before that. But some things are the same no matter where you go. If a man wants to make a good first impression—”
Ty held up a hand. “Sweetheart, in this town, first impressions get made when you’re born.”
“My point exactly.”
“What point?” he said with a teasing laugh that made her smile, too.
“He’s going to have to make her look twice,” she insisted. “The women here know everything about the men in their vicinity. And frankly, they’re bored.”
“Did you Google that?”
“Starlight Bend has almost twice as many men as women, yet sixty percent of the single women of marriageable age, choose to remain single. That’s a majority,” she said, in case he’d missed it.
“Who does your math?”
She smiled. “Right now, Irish whiskey.”
“In that case . . . Stan, load us up.”
“Load us up,” she agreed, laughing.
Evidently, Stan didn’t see the humor. Scowling, he poured them each another shot, which only made it funnier.
“I don’t think he likes us,” Kari said.
“He loves me,” Ty said. “I think it’s just you he’s got problems with.”
Wright, Erin. Holiday Heat: The Men of Starlight Bend. (Kindle Locations 1533-1584). Bella Media Management. Kindle Edition.
Of course you know where all this leads and when he wakes up alone he heads to the coffee shop. Everyone seems to know who he was with including his father. Up until then he had no idea of where Kari was opening her store.
Even with conflicting feelings, Ty pursues Kari. The Wishing Tree again plays a role as does the Santa with the Mysterious bag that gives out cards. Even Ty’s students lend a hand to make Kari’s store a success.
In spite of herself Kari finds herself falling not only for the sexy teacher, but also this small town.
A fun and emotional read so perfect for Christmas Wishes.
5 Contented Purrs for Erin!
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New York Times Bestselling author Erin Quinn writes romance for the thinking reader. Her books have been called “riveting,” “brilliantly plotted” and “beautifully written” and have won, placed or showed in the Booksellers Best, WILLA Award for Historical fiction, the Orange Rose, Readers Crown, Golden Quill, Best Books, and Award of Excellence