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Josh Mattingly has spent the last two years trying to turn over a new leaf, focusing on his role in the family corporation and erasing his womanizing reputation. In Asheville, North Carolina, on business, the last thing he’d planned on was getting involved with a local girl. But one encounter with Marissa has him hooked. He soon falls hard for the designer, and now he’s terrified to reveal his romantic past for fear she’ll bolt.
Marissa recognizes a playboy when she sees one and tries to keep her attraction to Josh under wraps–until they share a passionate kiss that leaves both of them singed. Still, she knows their love affair has an expiration date, and everything is destined to end once Josh finishes his business in Asheville. Now, along with showing his family that he’s left his old habits behind, Josh has a new challenge–proving to Marissa that she can trust him with her heart.
Shaking my head, I reach out to set the bottle back on the table. In the process, I upset the stack of magazines and books. Josh lunges for them as they slide off the edge, but other than one paperback book, he can’t keep ahold of them. A snort of amusement escapes him as he studies the book cover. “What the hell is this?”
Horrified embarrassment leaves me cold. The book in his hand is a romance novel, complete with a bare-chested hero and swooning heroine on the cover, that Ava lent me a couple weeks ago. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with reading romance novels, I’d rather not have Josh find them laying around my house. “That’s not mine.”
He glances at me, then flips to the spot where I left off and plucks out the bookmark. “So you’re not reading it?”
Unsure if I’m reacting to him finding the book at all or potentially losing my page, I launch forward, grasping for the paperback. “Come on, give it back.”
“I thought it wasn’t yours.”
Stretching, Josh holds the book just out of reach, and I kneel on the couch and lean further over him in an attempt to retrieve it. Laughter sputters from him, until I give one desperate flail and lose my balance. He drops the book and hooks his arm around my waist as I tumble toward the floor. Both of us roll off, landing between the couch and the coffee table, with me on my back beneath him. At the last second, Josh manages to put both knees and one hand down to break the fall and keep from squishing me.
But his other arm is still securely around my waist, and I hold his shirt in a death grip.
Every trace of laughter is gone from his face, replaced with tense longing. Flattening my hands on his chest, I feel the hammer of his heart.
I clear my throat, but my voice still comes out as a hoarse whisper. “Truth or dare?”
Half a minute goes by before he answers. The already dark blue of his eyes deepens in the shadows. “Dare.”
“Kiss me.” There. Now he has no reason to put off the first move anymore. If he argues that I’m not one-hundred percent interested in locking lips, I’ll make the move myself.
Historical fiction remains J. Lynn’s “first love”, but she has enjoyed the journey to becoming an author of romance and chick lit. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Central New York Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. She is also a teacher who tries to instill a love of learning, reading, and writing in her students.
When she’s not writing, J. Lynn enjoys travelling, gardening poorly but enthusiastically, studying various topics in American history for her own expertise, and channeling Julia Child every time she steps into the kitchen.
A native of Oswego, NY, she now lives in Charlotte, NC, with her own Romantic Hero of a husband and the most adorable toddler on the planet.
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