Love in the Adirondacks—
where hearts come together
like the moon and the stars
shining bright in the sky,
showing the boats
the way home at night.
USA Today Bestselling Author
The last thing she wanted was a man.
But he was exactly what she needed.
Tayla Johnson doesn’t have time for romance. She barely has time to stop and smell the roses. However, when her parents plan a big family reunion, she makes a promise to her mom and dad she will take two weeks off work and spend time with them and her two sisters. Something she hasn’t done in years. She’s ready for a little fun in her childhood home, but she’s not prepared for the sexy next-door neighbor that won’t take no for an answer. She doesn’t want love or happily-ever-after. All she’s ever known is work, career, and sheer determination.
Gael Waylen spent most of his twenties and thirties chasing dollar signs. He had no idea life had passed him by until his parents and baby sister were killed in a small plane crash six months ago. At their funeral, he vowed to make changes in his life, but he has no idea what that really looked like until the day Tayla Johnson came home. He sees in her exactly who he used to be and he doesn’t want her to make the same mistakes. While he tells himself he’s only trying to give her the gift of time, he ends up giving her his heart.
Cover by Charity Hendry Designs
Tayla has made many sacrifices for her career, a big one is time with her family. Living in New York City although not that far from the Adirondacks makes visiting difficult with her demanding job designing for a top clothing house. She’s taking a vacation for the first time since taking the job, yet she still has work to do.
Gael bought the house next to Tayla’s parents after losing his family in a small plane crash. He’s learned some very hard lessons, and his brother-in-law is helping him as he reevaluates what he wants to do in life. He’s been where Tayla is now and doesn’t want her to have the regrets he does. While his job was very different from hers, he finds the demands were much the same as he investigates her boss.
Tayla’s grandfather has asked to do redo her life goals for him like she used to do. He even went so far as to ask Gael to go over them with her, comparing the previous ones she’s done to the one she will now create. Her family is throwing the two of them together and the attraction is definitely there, but she feels the timing is just wrong.
This is a favorite scene.
“I’m a work in progress.” He curled his fingers around her wrist and kissed her palm. “I always worry that I could become that man again if I’m not careful and sometimes I see a little bit of him in you.”
She recoiled, taking a full step back. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
He took a healthy gulp of his wine and let out a long breath. His left eye twitched. “Did you read your old goal worksheets before sending them to me?”
“I didn’t need to. I know what’s in them. I understand myself. I know what I want and I resent you implying that I’m anything like the person you just described.”
“First, I didn’t say that. Second, are you doing this to placate your grandfather?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I want to compare where I am now to what my goals were when I graduated and push out another five-year plan.” She held up her hand. “I also know I need to make more time for family. My grandfather always told me that planning gives you that freedom.”
“My brother-in-law is a huge believer in that. I call him the list guy. You walk into his house and he’s got lists everywhere and I’m not talking a grocery list. I’m talking timestamped daily activity lists. He actually sends me calendar invites for everything. He’s more organized than anyone I know.”
“That’s awesome.” Tayla wished she had that skill. She tried and for a week or two, she’d been really good at it, and then she’d start slacking. But she never missed a deadline, so her system worked. “But nothing you’ve said so far explains how I’m like the person you described who was married to your ex-wife.”
He glanced toward the ceiling and rubbed his chin with his thumb and forefinger in a contemplative gesture. “When Tiki accused you of not being there for her and how that made her feel as though work was more important than people.”
Tayla opened her mouth but the only thing that came out was a noise that sounded like a dying chipmunk. She cleared her throat. “I know I screwed up. I don’t need you telling me that. I’m doing what I need to in order to correct that and make adjustments so that never happens again.”
“Okay. What about earlier today when you were sitting with your sisters by the water with your computer. What were you doing? Working?”
She sucked in a hot breath. It burned her lungs. The blood racing to her heart ignited into flames. How dare he judge her for checking and responding to email.
Or for doodling a little with her designs.
Being on the lake put her in a creative mood and she wanted to capture the moment. She could sketch and chat at the same time.
“You told me you needed to come over here so your family wouldn’t hover while you took just a few hours out of the day instead of all day doing what I just witnessed.”
“No.” She shook her head. “I asked for space because my parents are constantly knocking on my door, asking if I need anything, pulling me from my focus. That way I can work for a few hours and not be late for dinner or whatever my family has planned when everyone else isn’t working because it appears that I’m the only one who took a vacation.” She pulled her hair from her bun and twisted a few strands between her fingers. “Besides. My sister was thumbing through a magazine while I was making tweaks to a finished design. Nothing that needed my full attention.” She kept her tone even, making sure she didn’t let her emotions run too hot. Her grandfather always told her when that happened, there was something to whoever pushed her buttons. “But I still needed to deal with it all before I settled into it tomorrow,” she said. “I appreciate all your help with my goal worksheet and giving me a space to work. I even appreciate your candor. I’m sorry for your loss and everything that you’re going through. However, I’m not you.”
“I never said you were.” He pushed from the counter and rested his hands on her shoulders.
“Yes, you did.” She swallowed her breath. Gael put new meaning into the phrase sex appeal.
“What I meant was that there are moments when I look at you and the way you are with your sisters and I remember how close Piper and I used to be and I ignored the tightness in my chest as we grew apart. I chalked it up to being adults. To taking care of business. Where she knew that I was slowly becoming someone else. It would be one thing if that person was a better version. But it’s not.”
“Wow. I’m supposed to sit here and let you keep on insulting me.”
“You’re an amazing woman. Talented. Funny. Beautiful. I love spending time with you and I’m sorry that I suck at being tactful. I just don’t want you to make the same mistake and I see you doing it.” He pressed his hand against the center of his chest. “I feel it to my core and it’s breaking my heart.”
“I know. I’ve never experienced this kind of emotion before and I’ll be honest. I’m running a little scared.” He fanned her face, running his thumb over her cheek. “I like you. I care about you.” He kissed her softly. “I’ve studied your plans. You’re not following your career goals. You might think you are, but you’re not.”
Jen Talty. An Inconvenient Flame (Kindle Locations 1650-1690). Jupiter Press.
Tayla has much to think about and amends to make to her family. On top of that the attraction between her and Gael grows in intensity from a simmer to a sizzle.
I love the way this story plays out and I look forward to the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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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.