Monday, March 13, 2017

The Lost Groom by Taylor Hart is now Available!

Not only do I enjoy writing clean romance, but I love reading it too. It gives me great pleasure to recommend books that are well-written and entertaining.

My good friend Taylor Hart has a new book out. I beta read this one and loved it. I know you will too!


Luke Freestone ventured out on his boat to celebrate the deal of a lifetime, never expecting to run into the ex-girlfriend--the woman who had eloped with his best friend ten years ago. After apologizing for missing her husband’s funeral, she slaps him, and he kisses her -- revealing the sparks he'd long since hidden.
Savannah Loveless, matchmaker extraordinaire, ventured back to Park City to visit her family and save enough money to get to California. There was no room in her fresh start to deal with Luke Freestone or the secret she’d kept for ten years. As far as she was concerned, the past could just stay in the past.
But Luke wants closure, so she agrees to help him find a wife--she is a match maker after all and if she can't find a match for someone she loves--used to love--then she might as well walk away from the business. However, the more time she spends with Luke the harder it is to tell if the feelings she’s having are from the past…or from right now.
As things heat up, they have a choice to make—stay lost because of the past or let love find them once and for all.

Read more HERE

Excerpt:

The lake was like a good woman, Luke thought, captaining his way across Jordanelle Reservoir right outside of Park City, Utah. Soft and easy when she wanted to be, or treacherous and uncooperative if she felt like it. Leaning back, he sucked in a long breath and grinned—today she was smooth and easy.
Checking his phone, he saw there were no messages from his brothers, who were late. Where were they? It was time to celebrate. He was a day away from getting them the deal of their lives, a deal that would make him a billionaire and his brothers millionaires.
Grinning, he thought of the luck he’d had two weeks ago when Nathan Pennington, who’d recently married a girl from Midway, Utah, and relocated, walked into his office. Nathan wanted Luke to broker a project, and asked that he and his brothers’ company develop and build it. Bam! Just like that.
Tomorrow he would meet with all the power players and hash it all out.
Fate had smiled down on him. His mother would say it was God. After she was taken by cancer when he was twelve, he hadn’t decided if he believed in God or not.
Today, he put his water bottle up to the wind. “Okay, Mom, today I’ll let you win the argument. God exists. If I get this deal, I’ll believe He exists forever.” It was something he did, talk to his mother. She was the only woman he really talked to about everything.
A face flashed into his mind. Savannah’s face.
“Fine, Mom, I used to talk to Savannah, but that was ten years ago, okay? We’ve talked about this. I … she married Sean.”
He thought of being a little kid again, when he, Sean, and Savannah all lived next door to each other and had been best friends. Luke’s throat closed up with all the memories of Sean. It’d been a year today since he’d died.
He blinked and shook his head. Man, why was he thinking about this? “I don’t need this today, Mom. I know I did things but she messed it up.” He insisted in his imaginary conversation.
The memories continued. He discovered over the past ten years since they’d betrayed him and gotten married that once the memories started, he had to let them come up for a little bit before stuffing them back down into deep storage … or else they would refuse to leave him alone. So he saw them, all of them—in the tree house, jumping on trampolines in the backyard. The laughing. The bike riding up in the mining shafts, which they secretly hoped they’d get dropped into. They would yell their heads off and savor the adrenaline rush.
Even this boat had been part of it. He thought about his father bringing all of them out here when he was young, before his mother died. If Luke had to come up with the perfect memory from his childhood, it was being on the lake with his best friends. The smell of pine. The clear blue calm of the lake. The laughter as they splashed, and Savannah’s reluctance to jump into the lake until he and Sean mercilessly splashed her to the point of soaking.
Then everything had happened, and now that memory had a weird, bitter, dream-like quality. In a rush, he was back to the present.
Sean’s face still lingered. Luke had almost gone to the funeral, but he knew Savannah wouldn’t have wanted him to. Could he blame her? Today was the anniversary of Sean’s death.
His phone buzzed. He shook his head to clear it, then pressed answer on his ear bud. “Where are you lame-os?”
“Busy,” Nick said. “Damon got stuck doing an extra shift at the firehouse and I’ve been pulled in on a case.”
“Seriously? I’m about to make us all a ton of money and you can’t show up to celebrate properly? C’mon!”
“Dude, we have jobs.”
“And I don’t have a job?”
Important jobs.”
The barb stung. Yes, this had been the way Nick and Damon always got Luke’s goat. “Whatever.” He didn’t need this today.
Nick laughed. “Kidding.”
Luke scowled. Even if Nick had been kidding, it felt like he had thrown a personal attack.
“You’ve been edgy lately,” Nick said. “Why don’t you invite one of your women out?”
“I don’t have a woman.”
“Yeah, about that. What’s been going on with that lately? Where’s Vanessa been?”
“We split six months ago.” Luke felt defensive.
“Oh, wow. Why didn’t you say anything?”
“It wasn’t a big deal.” Luke replied, not wanting to think about Vanessa or how she’d sent a text to let him know it was over.
Nick laughed. “So that’s what’s made you so touchy.”
Luke reflected he hadn’t thought about her much at all, hadn’t even thought to tell his brothers. “I’m not touchy.” But his tone sounded defensive, even to him.
“O-kay.” Nick said quietly.
“And when was your last date?” Luke demanded.
Nick sputtered. “Hey, everyone knows I’m married to my job, but you … I don’t know, it’s like you’ve been a little lost or something.”
“Lost? Lost? You think I’m lost? Did you not get the memo explaining how this deal will put me in the billion-dollar club?” Luke’s mood darkened. “I gotta go.”
“Wait.”
“What?”
“Tomorrow night, after your final meeting, we’ll meet for pizza at Antonio’s.” Nick said it like a peace offering. “And we’ll celebrate it’s done.”
Deciding not to let his brother’s sense of responsibility ruin his day, he rolled his eyes. The gas was low, so he turned for the Marina. “Fine. Bye.”
“We’ll buy your pizza.”
Luke grunted. “Yeah, you will.” He ended the call and circled to the dock.
It wouldn’t do to be mad at his brothers. Nick was right on some level—their jobs were pretty important, as far as saving people’s lives. A cop and a fireman. He snorted. It made the life of an attorney look … attorney-ish. But Nick was totally off about him being lost. So he hadn’t had a woman on his arm in a while. So what? Truth be told, lately he hadn’t felt like dating.
He wouldn’t call himself lost.
No.
Just … in limbo.
Waiting for something.
Or someone.
Maybe it was the fact Damon would be getting married in less then a week and he and Samantha were so annoyingly happy together. He let out a breath, feeling guilty for even being a little bit jealous.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t happy for Damon, he was. He was just … he pushed away those feelings and focused on the deal.
The deal!!! Tomorrow he would become a billionaire! That was huge! He shoved his bottle of water into the air. “It’s still a good day, Mom.”
Docking the boat, he killed the engine and grabbed the gas can. He’d put a couple more gallons in and grab a sandwich from the snack shop, then bask in his own awesomeness … all by himself. Trudging to the marina, he was kind of bugged at how the day had gone. It was supposed to be spent with his brothers.
Forget his brothers. He didn’t need anyone to celebrate with. Frankly, he couldn’t wait to blast the music, lay in the sun, clear his head. It was better he got today by himself anyway.
Opening the door to the marina, he went right to the treat aisle. Usually, he didn’t like a bunch of junk, but he picked up his favorite candy bar, a Snickers, and then went and grabbed a bag of popcorn. Pity food. Redeeming himself he grabbed some Smartwater and a sandwich.
“Look, this wasn’t the deal,” someone said in a loud, somehow familiar voice.
“Well, baby, your sister said you’d be a lot more fun of a date. That was the deal for me.”
Luke frowned at the tone the guy was using. He quickened his steps to the front of the cashier.
The woman said, “I’m here to interview you, sir, but I don’t think I want to represent you.”
“Well, maybe I don’t want your stupid company to find me a woman anyway.”
“Ouch! Let go of me!”
Luke turned the corner and froze. As if plucked from his mind, the vision of Savannah stood right in front of him. Her red hair had been long before, but now a short A-line framed her face; otherwise, she looked exactly the same.
He blinked and swallowed.
“Let go!” All her focus was on the guy holding on to her bicep and trying to pull her out the door.
It seemed like time had frozen and Luke couldn’t find any words. He looked at the cashier, who picked up his phone, likely to call the cops.
Then time lurched back into motion. The gas can and everything in his other hand dropped and he moved forward. “Let her go.” His voice didn’t sound like his own. In fact, it felt like he was having some kind of out-of-body experience. A million questions fell through his mind. How was she here? Was it really her?
Savannah and the guy holding her arm stopped short and turned to him. “Luke?” Savannah sounded as dumbfounded as he felt.
Luke was more focused on the fact that someone was manhandling her. The guy wore a tank top, was tanned and muscle-y, and had an earring in his left ear. Luke scowled. “Get your hand off of her.”
“Luke?” Savannah asked again.
Luke was locked in eye contact with the idiot holding her.
The guy frowned and yanked his hand back. “Who are you? Some old boyfriend?”
Luke felt his hands flex into fists. “You wanna find out?”
Savannah gathered her composure. Her hand shot out to Luke as if to say stop. “Wait.” She turned to the guy. “Todd, you better just go.”
Todd frowned and jabbed a finger at her face. “I told your sister I would take you out on the lake today as a favor.” He shrugged. “I guess that didn’t work out.”
Luke hadn’t felt the need to clock someone since Tommy had fought Damon last year. Now, all he wanted was to feel this guy’s face crunch against his fist. “Walk away, man.” Luke thought of a thousand other ways he could throttle him.
The guy glared at him, then backed up, grimacing at Savannah. “I guess you have your next client right there.” He gave Savannah a mocking wink.
The door dinged as the guy left and Luke swerved his gaze to Savannah, expecting to find answers. He found her staring right back at him. Her skin paled for a second, and then she inhaled a long breath. “What are you doing here?”
“I …” All words fell from his mind like a deck of cards thrown into the air. He couldn’t quite figure out what he should say. He couldn’t even believe the woman he’d thought about only minutes ago was right in front of him. “What are you doing here?” he managed to ask.
Savannah pursed her lips together and moved for the door, yanking it back. “Leaving.”
It was ridiculous at this moment, but he noticed some fruity scent that washed over him. She wore a red halter-top swimsuit with jean shorts that flattered her curves, not to mention the high lace-up-around-her-calf-muscle red shoes. She looked good. More than good. He shook his head and followed her, forgetting why he’d come in the store, only focused on this woman and getting answers. “Savannah,” he called out, picking up his pace to match hers.
She ignored him, keeping her pace brisk. “Go away, Luke.”
Resisting the urge to do exactly what he’d gotten mad at the previous guy for doing to her, he jogged a couple of steps and barred her path. “Wait, please.”
She simply walked around him.
That’s when he caught the tears on her cheeks. There was no way he would be letting her get away. “Wait.” He stumbled through one of his old football juke moves to cut her off again.
“Stop.” She pulled herself short to avoid bumping into him and wiped beneath her eyes.
Pain flashed through his heart. She was beautiful. She was here. She was crying. It all felt surreal, like it was happening ten years ago. All the desperation rushed to the surface, and then he thought of Sean. His dead friend, Sean.
Her husband.
Her eyes met his, and it was like they were on the same wavelength. As kids, Sean had teased that they could read each other’s thoughts, and it had felt that way. They would say the same things at the same time, or he could just tell when she was feeling something.
She squeezed her eyes closed and hung her head. “He’s gone, Luke.” With a sharp intake of breath, her eyes snapped back up at him in defiance. “And you didn’t even come to the funeral.”
This time the pain turned raw, and his own eyes misted with emotion. Before he knew what he was doing, he reached out and pulled her into him. She only offered a half-hearted shove, then leaned her head into his chest.
“Shh.” He held her close, thinking of how many times he’d thought about doing this exact thing. He’d second-guessed himself so many times about the funeral and wondered if he should have gone to Texas for it. Sean’s parents had moved away from Park City after Sean and Savannah had gotten married. Luke knew Savannah had buried him in Texas.
Another round of sobbing had her gripping his T-shirt more tightly. “I still can’t believe it. Today it’s been a year, and sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday.”
Every part of him had been reduced to nothing. “I know.” All of his happiness or plans or anything in his life he’d aspired to felt like a big fat zero at this moment.
Abruptly, she pulled back from him. “I …” She shook her head, disoriented. “I need to go.” She headed toward the parking lot.
Without her in his arms, the loneliness was freezing. “Wait.” He couldn’t let her go. He had to talk with her. He needed her. It was something that had always been at the edges of his thoughts—how different his life would have been with her. He’d forced himself to let it go, to have a different life. What choice did he have?
Now, out of the blue, she was here.
His head felt detached from his body. “No.” He walked faster, maneuvering his way in front of her again. “Just wait.”
She stopped and stared up at him with those ice-blue eyes he’d thought of on his last fishing trip to Alaska. When he’d looked at a glacier for the first time, he’d thought of her. Man, he always thought of her. “What are you doing back in Utah?”
She challenged his stare, though he could see in her eyes that she was scrambling to remember. “I’m here for a few weeks to see my parents and my sister. That’s all. Then I’m leaving.”
Of course. Yes. He always did polite conversation anytime he’d seen them, but they didn’t really run in the same social circles, so needless to say he never really saw her sister or parents. Savannah’s parents hated him. He didn’t blame them, but her mother was especially vigilant in snubbing him whenever she had the opportunity. “Oh.”
They continued to stare at each other.
“Savannah,” he said eventually, “I … I’m so sorry about Sean.”
She bit her bottom lip and tears came to her eyes, just as he remembered her doing growing up when she was nervous or frustrated.
Taking a chance, he reached out to take her hand, but the tightness of her face told him not to touch her. He dropped his hand back to his side. His heart hammered inside his chest like a caged bird. There was a lump in his throat and his mouth was dry. “Can we go somewhere and talk? Please?”
Something in her eyes changed, and all the emotion evaporated. “Talk? You want to talk, Luke Freestone?” She barked out a laugh. “Actually, it doesn’t surprise me you want to hear yourself speak. You sure told Sean what you thought he should do with his life, didn’t you? Enlist. Become a soldier. And now he’s dead.”
Her words stabbed at his heart like cold metal.
“No, Luke, I don’t want to talk.” Eyes wild, she stomped away.
He went after her, unable to let her go. Ten years of this had left him desperate and wild and crazed himself. “Just listen!”
Spinning around, she slapped him—hard enough to rock him to his very core. “That’s for everything else.”
Not even reaching up to touch the pain on his cheek, he watched her walk toward the parking lot. More like stalk to the parking lot.
Once again, he found himself running after her. No. No. No. She didn’t get to do this. This time when he maneuvered in front of her, he wasn’t afraid of the gleaming hatred in her face. She stopped, and they were in a standoff again.
“I told him to enlist because he took you away from me.” The words sounded juvenile and stupid in his brain, but they were the truth. Exactly how he’d felt. How he still felt. “He took everything away from me.”
She glared at him, tears in her eyes. “Newsflash, you dumped me, remember?”
His heart pounded loud enough to drown out all reason, and he did something he’d never done before without asking her—he cupped her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers.
At first she tensed, and when she tried to pull back, he slipped an arm around her midsection and held her to him. More forcefully, she pushed against his chest, but he held on, partly because he’d dreamed of doing this the last ten years and partly because he was angry.
Then he felt her give, and at once, it was passion and glory and the first time they’d kissed after the Sadie Hawkins dance a hundred years ago when they were seventeen. He was lost, completely unaware of anything or anyone except this moment.
When he let go, she pulled her hand back to slap him again, but this time he caught her hand in midair.
She looked confused and flushed and beautiful. “How dare you!”
The confusion on her face mirrored the confusion that had struck him like a lighting rod to the heart. Quickly, he flashed her a smile. The cocky, arrogant smile he used to cover any kind of uncertainty. “I figure if I take a slap, I may as well do something to deserve it.”
Fury raged into her eyes. “I hate you, Luke Freestone!” She rushed away from him.
Watching her go, he turned back to the marina muttering, “Fine, Mom, is that what you wanted? To show me I always mess it up?”

Get it HERE!

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