Contemporary Romance, Sensual
BLURB: This book is the first in the Sweetwater Springs series of stand-alone books.
Sam Moreland is desperate to keep his daughter out of the clutches of her abusive mother seeking custody. He resists legal advice to provide the court with a complete family unit because past relationships have soured him on love.
Though she yearns for children, Rosie Baxter knows a failed pregnancy has likely left her barren. She remains single rather than bring her problems into a marriage and concentrates on her business with its financial woes.
A temporary marriage pact means Rosie provides Sam with the illusion of family in return for an influx of cash into her store. But kisses for show become all too real. When outside threats shake their growing bond, each must trust the other with their darkest secret or lose their best chance for love and happiness.
Fans of Marie Ferrarella, Tanya Michaels, Leanne Banks and Susan Mallery will enjoy this series, which contains sensual, contemporary romance against a backdrop of family and community in the small town of Sweetwater Springs, Arkansas.
Warning: This book contains a heated tryst in the kitchen, a cricket choir, conniving exes, and big family gatherings. Do not read if you are allergic to tall, dark and handsome men with sweet baby girls or determined red-haired women with strong maternal feelings. The author makes no guarantees against sudden urges in the reader to move to a small southern town.
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EXCERPT 1 of 2:
“Okay, Mr. Big-Shot Writer, spin me a tale of romance.” Rosie leaned back and crossed her arms under her breasts. After his earlier remarks about not believing in love, this she had to hear.
“All right. Give me a minute.” He got to his feet and paced, his brow furrowed with concentration. Then he slowly clapped his hands together. “I’ve got it. The best thing to do is stick as close to actual facts and events as possible. That way, there’s less chance of us getting tripped up.”
Rosie faked an exaggerated yawn to show him what she thought of that idea.
“Don’t go all skeptical on me yet. We talked by phone and exchanged e-mails over the last four months, right? So we build on that. A few e-mails turned into dozens flying back and forth. At first we reminisced, then we caught up on each other’s lives and started talking almost every evening. This time it was different. Our friendship took on a new dimension. When we saw each other again—”
“Sam.” Rosie interrupted his fantasy story before he got to the real-life part about them staring at each other in her shop. What had that been all about? “That’s not very original. The e-mails, the meet? That’s a variation of my favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.”
“Exactly!” He said in a smug, ah-ha voice. “It’s life imitating art.”
Except that it wasn’t. They weren’t. Not at all.
“With a little convincing, they’ll believe it, because they’ve seen it happen on the big screen.”
“And we’re going to accomplish this how?” Rosie was suspicious, having long ago learned not to rise too quickly to the bait when her brothers suggested something risky.
“Relax. I’m not suggesting we scandalize the blue-haired ladies of Sweetwater Springs by French kissing in public.” Sam looked affronted. “I’m just saying a little hand-holding here, an arm around you there, maybe take in a family movie and voilá!—we’re a couple.”
Rosie experienced a little thrill at his last words. She’d been dating casually for so long, being part of a couple—even a pretend one—would be a nice change. With Sam playing her love interest, the problem would be remembering it was all for show.
The PDA didn’t sound too over the top, but it involved more than casual touching. What if she liked it too much?
* * *
Sam watched the play of emotions across Rosie’s face. At the moment, she looked ready to bolt. A distraction was needed and quick.
Before he could talk himself out of it, he swung over to sit facing her on the edge of her chaise. She flinched as he braced himself on either side of her shoulders and leaned in.
“Whoa.” Rosie slapped a hand to his chest, her gaze darting to where their outer thighs touched. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like?”
“I don’t . . . are you . . . you’re not . . . ” Her eyes widened, her gaze dropping to her hand, where he was sure she could feel the accelerated bump of his heart.
“Practice,” he explained. “This has to look natural when we’re in public.”
Her tongue darted out, wetting her bottom lip before dragging her teeth across it. He’d seen her perform that nervous habit and every time it got to him. Damn. Much more of this and he’d lose his focus.
“Give me your hand.”
Her breath puffed forth with an ego-bruising relief hard to ignore. She lifted her right hand off his chest and turned it palm up. Sam flipped it over and threaded their fingers together, noting how fair and delicate hers looked next to his. He dragged his gaze back to her face. Her eyes, darkened to a deep aquamarine, regarded him steadily.
“Are you okay with this?” he asked, to break the tension.
One shoulder jerked and her lashes lowered. “It’s just hand-holding.”
“Good. Ready for the next step? Let’s go for a hug.”
Rosie tugged her hand free and eased forward. Though she slid her arms around him in a loose embrace and rested her cheek on his shoulder, she was about as relaxed as a taut rubber band.
He tightened his hold, urging her closer, closing his eyes against a sudden stab of desire as her breasts smashed softly against his chest.
“Not bad,” he said, trying to keep his breathing even. “It has to look like it’s second nature when we hug or kiss, or we’ll never fool anybody.”
Rosie straightened, breaking his hold and stared. His hands dropped to her waist and her lips parted. “You didn’t say anything about kissing. Do we have to kiss in public?”
Have to? Now that deserved a little payback. Sam hid his bruised ego behind a smile and skimmed his fingertips over her shoulder and neck. Her skin felt like warm velvet. “I’m your fiancé now. We’ll be expected to kiss occasionally.”
“I guess you’re right. I hadn’t thought of it like that.”
He tilted her chin a smidge with his thumb, caressing her jawline. Her tongue darted across her bottom lip again, and he bit back a groan. Damn. Payback for her. Torture for him.
Need rose in him, sharp enough that his position became damn uncomfortable. He stopped caring about why they were doing this and concentrated on her lips, so close, begging him to taste them.
“We don’t have to, um, practice everything tonigh—”
He covered her mouth with his, making her point moot. For a few seconds, neither of them moved. Sam eased back, trembling with the effort it took to keep himself in check. He changed the angle and closed the gap, needing to taste her, unable to resist flicking the tip of his tongue across her mouth.
Rosie’s lips parted in surprise, and he deepened the kiss, taking it from a gentle experiment to a thorough claiming. The tension left her body and she melted against him like a lone pat of butter on a stack of fresh hotcakes. The sensation set off alarms, and he stilled. What was he doing, kissing her like there was no tomorrow? Rosie wasn’t his to claim. Sam eased away from the kiss, though he didn’t want it to end.
She swayed toward him before her eyes flew open. He only caught a glimpse of blue before she turned away, breathing harder than normal.
Yeah. He knew the feeling. Kissing Rosie had surpassed anything he’d imagined it to be. He’d been celibate too long if kissing a friend did this to him.
He cast about for something witty to break the awkward silence, but came up empty. The last thing he wanted to do was rehash what had happened. He cleared his throat and stood. “That’ll do for tonight.”
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Blurbs are great to know what the book is about, but I love to dig through the reviews to see what others thought about a book. In case you like to do the same, here are a few review snips from others about A Suitable Wife.:
“From friendship to love . . . a bumpy ride, but so worth it. This was my first time reading works by Carol Burnside, but it definitely will not be my last.” – Shirley Buchanan, Romance Book Haven 5/5 stars, Goodreads review
“This story tugs at the heart strings. Mrs. Burnside produces a perfect afternoon read not to be missed. You not only fall in love with the characters but the town of Sweetwater Springs!” – Susan May, 5/5 stars, Amazon review
“I thought I would take a quick look at the first chapter… Before I knew it, I was more than halfway through the book . . .. This book was well worth the sleepy morning.
A Suitable Wife has it all. Passion, friendship, a villainous ex (or two), picturesque settings, heart touching back-story, dedicated family, and some great love scenes. Sweetwater Springs is a place where anyone would feel welcome. Carol Burnside has created a community that I hope to visit often. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.” – Tami 5/5 stars, Goodreads review
Set against the backdrop of charming Sweetwater Springs with a supporting cast of evil exes, a loving family, and devoted friends, this is a love story that satisfies in every way. I can’t wait to get started on the next book in the series (click HERE). Five enthusiastic stars! Very highly recommended! – Pam Asberry, Sometimes It’s Cloudy, Sometimes It’s Clear
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