Alice Cramer is tired of being pitied for her family’s transgressions, so she resolves to break out of the gutter and into the spotlight. As long as her local congressman can forget about their checkered past and help her secure a federal grant to open Harmony Falls Little Theatre, she’ll be the brightest star in town. But when Alice stands up in church and stops the congressman’s wedding, she dives headfirst into fresh scandal.
Why is Harmony Fall’s golden boy, Justin Mitchell, speeding down the interstate sans a new wife but with the local drama queen he’s been trying his whole life to avoid? Alice Cramer may have saved him the hassle of an arranged marriage to a woman he didn’t love, but she’s put a business transaction big enough to save an entire town in jeopardy–not to mention his reputation.
Soon Alice and Justin are dredging up and indulging in an attraction that threatens all their dreams and aspirations. But what if life together is the dream that matters most?
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Alice jumped a wave, and Justin was assaulted by a flash of creamy skin and black lace. She was swimming in her underwear. Catching sight of a pile of clothes out of water’s reach, Justin shook his head. Apparently, she had ditched her dress. Why was he not surprised?
“What are you doing?” he called above the surf.
She flashed him a smile he hadn’t seen in years. “I’ve never been to the ocean.”
His untucked shirt tails whipped in the wind, and with the strength of his hands he fought the chaos. “I guess that explains it.”
She stayed smiling, considering him with the same hypnotic eyes he knew as a child. Back then, he wondered what she saw when she looked at him. Now, he was afraid to know the answer.
“I’m going to get the bags and the dog out of the car, and then I’ll bring you a towel. Be careful. No further. You hear? In fact, stay closer to the beach. The undertow is strong, and I’d like to avoid another rescue.”
A few steps up the beach and her wail hit his back. “I don’t need to be rescued.”
But she did. Somebody had to keep her from making rash decisions, like stopping weddings and swimming in the ocean half-dressed. He slowed his pace and closed his eyes. That someone couldn’t—shouldn’t—be him. On an inhale, he opened his eyes and returned to the surf. “Fine. No more rescues.”
“Good, because I’m not a baby. I can take care of myself. Stop telling me what to do. Stop treating me like you’re my father or my brother. You’re not. You’re just a guy. I’m just a girl. And you make life too complicated.” She raised her arms to her side and fell backwards into the sea.
Justin’s heartbeat quickened as he searched the choppy water, waiting for her to surface. Her father died an alcoholic and her brother looked destined to follow. Not being lumped in their category was a good thing, but where did that leave him?
Relief flooded him when her head broke the surface. She pushed soggy curls from her face, and raising her arms over head, spun until a wave knocked her off her feet. She was definitely not a baby. But if he was just a guy and she was just a girl, then bringing her with him was an even bigger risk. He had obligations, expectations and an image to uphold. In trying to avoid a scene at the church, he’d put himself in one hell of a compromising situation.
Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who has lived as far west as Utah and as far north as Wisconsin. She drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.
Elley has been reading romance novels since she was a sixteen-year-old babysitter, sneaking Judith McNaught and Danielle Steele novels off the bookshelves of the women who employed her. She started her first manuscript when she was twenty-five, writing during babies’ naps. A total of three children and ten years later, the manuscript was complete. Little did she know, her journey to publication was only beginning…
Elley writes provocative contemporary romances for Crimson Romance.