USA Today Bestselling Author
After Eliana Quinn’s ex-husband left her for another woman, she traded in the snowy mountain tops in Vermont for an outdoor Tiki Bar in Jupiter, Florida. She’s determined to make it on her own, but when she sees her purchase for the first time, she worries she may have sunk every penny she had into a business that she might never get off the ground. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the contractor she hired to do all the work, took her deposit and ran. She needs nothing short of a miracle if she’s going to pull off a holiday opening. However, she hadn’t expected it to come in the form of her super sexy, but gruff and aloof neighbor.
Levi Grayson spent twenty years serving his country as a Navy SEAL. An injury forced him into an early retirement. Shortly after that, his wife left him and for the last two years, Levi has been licking his wounds. He’s angry, bitter, and the last thing he needs is a new sexy neighbor making him question his life decisions. He does whatever it takes to avoid Eliana until a shady businessman runs off with her money. Levi will help her any way he can, but as soon as she’s got her business up and running, he’ll go back to being the cranky captain of a fishing charter.
Christmas in July is so much fun and in some the snow can help cool you off. This book however takes place in Florida, so cooling off isn’t an option.
Eliana has big plans now that she’s away from her controlling now ex-husband. She’s purchased a property that is perfect for her business. A restaurant/bar and marina she intends to make a success. She’d done everything long distance and now she’s about to see the progress made by the contractor she hired. Unfortunately that progress doesn’t exist and it’s her one marina tenant who breaks the news about the fraud and disappearance of said contractor.
However, Eliana has a problem with men who seem to take things into their own hands. She has to do this on her own, at least she thinks she does.
This is a favorite scene.
She pulled into the parking lot at Castaways right next to Levi’s pickup. She assumed he’d gone fishing. That probably hadn’t gone over too well with his family. She remembered one such holiday morning that had been sixty degrees back in Vermont when Gino decided to play eighteen holes while she slaved over a turkey feast for his family.
Looking down toward the docks, she noticed Levi’s boat. She frowned. He’d been a tough read. He came off a little rough around the edges and aloof, but also a bit like a true gentleman, which threw her for a loop. She wanted to dislike him for his crude comments and the distant way he came off, but that proved to be hard when he’d been so kind, giving her the nasty news of her contractor.
But it was his kindness that also put her on the defensive. If she’d learned anything from her failed marriage, it had been that good looks were always a lie, and most men were selfish bastards.
She slipped from her vehicle and gasped when she noticed the freshly trimmed entrance to the bar area. She eyed Levi standing with his back to her in front of the dock area as he chopped down one of the dead trees. Her eyes soaked in his raw sexiness, reminding her that she was still a woman, but when he raised the ax again, rage flared deep in her gut.
“Hey,” she yelled. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Good morning to you too. I brought a thermos of coffee, and I actually have an extra mug. Feel free to help yourself.” He raised the ax and slammed it back down into the trunk of the palm tree. The fluid motion of his flexed biceps held her captive.
A thick lump formed in her throat, making it difficult to swallow, much less speak. She opened her mouth twice, but nothing came out. Third time’s the charm. “I don’t want coffee. I want to know what you think you’re doing and why?” She planted her hands on her hips, squeezing tightly, needing something to hold on to.
“Making room for smaller, more colorful plants. Or maybe you can open this up and have a sitting area down by the docks like some of the other restaurants down here. Either way, you’ve got to clear this place up.”
“And what makes you think I’d want that tree down or that I’m even ready to start with the landscaping?” Anger flared with every syllable.
“Well, you don’t want to leave it like this. That would be stupid.”
“Are you calling me stupid? Are you implying I don’t know what I’m doing?” Men. Were they all alike? What made them think they could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted? And why did they all think women weren’t capable of doing anything but sitting there and looking pretty? “I have a degree in hotel and restaurant management.”
“I thought you might like some help clearing all this stuff out. No need to get defensive.”
“You have no idea what my plans are for the landscaping or any other part of this establishment, and I resent you taking matters into your own hands.” Nothing worse than a pushy man who thought he knew what a woman wanted or needed. “For all you know, I have a crew coming here any minute.”
“I doubt that. It’s Thanksgiving. And all I’ve done is remove dead trees and bushes and trim back the overgrowth. I don’t have any intention of planting or anything like that. Just trying to help. Be neighborly. Considering what Scott did to you, I thought it was the right thing to do.”
“Well, you’re obviously not married, in a relationship, or have a business partnership, or you’d understand that what you just did was overbearing, controlling, and just plain rude.”
“Rude? Helping someone in need is rude? Since when?” He glared as if to shoot daggers from his eyes.
“Since I didn’t ask, and I don’t need or want your damn help.” She stepped behind the main bar and cringed at how badly warped the wood had become. She’d hoped it would be salvageable for some kind of opening in a few weeks. She’d filed for her liquor license, which had come in the mail, and she had all the necessary paperwork to open the bar and grill. She even had a few local bands lined up, which at this point she’d need to pay regardless. All she needed was a working space to do so and a few employees.
She reached above her head at the rolling metal wall, but it didn’t budge. Without the ability to lock the bars, she couldn’t stock them. Of course, no way could she serve anyone from behind these suckers. And where would anyone sit, and what and where would she cook? Talk about a clusterfuck. She twisted her hair and pulled it up into a messy bun.
No problem is too big to tackle.
You got this.
Levi took a white rag and wiped the sweat from his brow. “If you want to get this place opened, you’re going to need help, and I’m willing and so are a couple of my buddies.”
“Why? What’s in it for you and your friends?
What do you want?”
“We all have jobs, so this would be a second gig for all of us, but a small paycheck would be nice.”
“Well, that’s a huge problem because I don’t have any money.” Bitterness smacked her throat. Try as she might, she couldn’t swallow it. The nasty taste lingered in her mouth like garlic cheese fries.
“I’m willing to help you for free boat storage.”
She needed that money to pay her bills. “It’s damn fucking presumptuous—”
“Do you want to make a go at this place? Or do you want to toss in the white flag? Because rumor has it that Stephanie Peters has a client who wants to snatch this place up along with other properties, and they want to build condos or some such shit.”
“Who is Stephanie Peters?” she asked with a huff. “And how do you know she wants this place?” A wave of dizziness rolled over her body like a wave crashing into the shore. It retreated only to smack into her a second time. Selling would give her a little cash to live while she found a job.
Her heart plummeted to the pit of her stomach. Gino told her she’d never make it on her own. He’d actually laughed in her face. The sound echoed in her memory like an old record with a dusty needle creating static as it skipped over the vinyl, repeating itself over and over again, grating on her nerves until she went mad.
“Because she came by here yesterday looking for you,” he said with a fair amount of irritation in his tone.
Eliana planted her hands on her hips and scowled. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“Because I don’t have your number, and I’m telling you now.” He tossed his hands wide as if he’d been accused of something he hadn’t done. “Look. The locals around here don’t want more condos, especially on the Riverwalk. They want Castaways on the Inlet and have been excited ever since they heard it would be reopening. I’ve got a few good men who are willing to help you for—”
“Why would they help me?” She held up her hand. “Wait. Back that up. Why would you ask them to help me?”
“Because if you’re up and running, I get more business.”
“Fair enough.” She admired that he at least admitted he had skin in the game. “And your friends? What’s in it for them? Because no one does anything out of the goodness of their heart. Everyone has a motive.”
“I never thought I’d meet anyone more cynical than me.”
“Just answer my questions.”
“Either Scott took their money, or they don’t want to see this property turned into the pool area for a condo association, closing it off from the rest of the Riverwalk.” Levi narrowed the gap, leaning against the bar. The sunrays peeked through the bushes where he’d managed to trim. A motorboat filled with laughing girls trolled by. A fishing boat with a single man and his dog eased by in the other direction. A group of kayakers headed across the inlet. Everything she envisioned was unfolding right in front of her eyes.
If she concentrated carefully, she could picture people milling about on a sandy floor, drinking and laughing while a country band played on the stage. The moon would dance on the Intracoastal waters and the light from the Jupiter Lighthouse would guide the boats through the inlet and right to her docks. This could be the “it place” for cocktails, live music, and bar food. Not a sit-down experience, but a casual atmosphere where you could kick back and chill.
“I wasn’t lying when I said I didn’t have any money to pay people to work here right now. I’m not even sure how I’m going to hire a staff for opening week.”
“Like I said, I’ll work for free boat storage, and I’m happy to be a bouncer, which you will need, especially on weekends. I’m also a good bartender.”
“Well, aren’t you freaking Prince Charming.”
“Not even close. I just like to keep busy, but more importantly, I’d love to see anyone who got taken by that scumbag, Scott, rise to the top, in spite of that asshole.”
Jen Talty. Christmas in the Sand: A Holiday Novella (Kindle Locations 300-370).
Eliana’s meeting with Stephanie just proved Levi’s point about her. This makes Eliana even more determined to make this venture a success.
There is a process for both Eliana and Levi to come to terms. Their pasts are defining their actions where relationships are concerned. Being together in the process of getting the bar ready to open just increases the heat between them.
The help she gets from Levi and his friends isn’t going to be enough and the option proposed to her is going to be hard to turn down.
Fun, snarky and romantic with some suspense and sizzling heat.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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Books 1-3 Plus a Bonus Story!
Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.
I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.