His gift is the only thing left from the love they shared…and she plans to sell it. Former bad boy, now famous artist, Zane DeMonde laughs off an engraved invitation to return to Regret Hollow, the same town that booted him out fifteen years ago. When he discovers the woman who once broke his heart is putting his professional reputation at risk by selling his old paintings, he’s no longer laughing. He’ll do anything to stop her, even return to town … even put his heart in jeopardy again. High school art teacher Julianne Truman’s last chance to save her beloved art department from budget cuts is to sell the old artwork Zane gifted her. Her heart breaks to remove the final traces of him from her life, but she needs to finally move on from the love she never got over. Julianne’s life belongs to her students, and Zane’s only goal is to protect his art. But the moment they wrap their arms around each other, their old attraction flares to life hot enough to incinerate them and their best intentions.
Oh, Zane DeMonde never had any intention of returning to his hometown, Regret Hollow. Once the love of his life, Julianne Truman chose her family over Zane and the rest of the town labeled him a bad boy, well, the decision to leave and never return was easy to make. For years, Zane’s decision has been easy to live with but when the engraved invitation to an art auction arrives, Zane is compelled to go home.
Julianne Truman has spent the majority of her adult life fighting to keep her job as a high school art teacher. When budgets are being cut, the arts are always the first to go and Julianne can’t bear to see her kids suffer because of a lack of funds. In order to save her program and her job, Julianne has agreed to auction off her four most precious works, four early and original Zane DeMonde’s. Each of the four works catalogues a moment in Zane and Julianne’s relationship and though they are tremendously special, Zane is gone and her students are not. Except, she invited Zane to the auction.
When Zane discovers exactly which of his works Julianne is auctioning off, he has no choice but to return to Regret Hollow and talk her out of the madness. Zane isn’t embarrassed to have his early works shown but he is livid that Julianne would part with something so personal. Intent on talking her out of selling, Zane sweeps into town determined to get his works and get out. What he doesn’t count on is how quickly his feelings for Julianne come rushing back to the surface and dominate his thinking and decision making. If Zane wants his cake and the opportunity to eat it too, he is going to have to make some big decisions and this time, he isn’t willing to walk away.
The Bottom Line: This is a short and sweet, second chance at love read. Both Zane and Julianne are decent people who gave up everything when they were much younger and dumber. When Julianne’s circumstances change, Zane is forced to return to Regret Hollow and face a whole lot of crappy from his past. Once the awful is faced and dealt with, the way is paved for Julianne and Zane to have the happily ever after they both deserve. The drama, the naughty bits, and the backstories are all appropriate to the length of the read. There is even enough space to lead the reader into the next novella in the series, The Bad Boy’s Guilt.
“Do all those things I confided in you years ago mean nothing to you?”
“Family’s important,” she whispered. She hadn’t imagined he’d see her actions as a betrayal of trust.
“I remember exactly how important family is to you.” Sarcasm crept into his voice. “A hell of a lot more important than me, definitely more important than this.” He hooked his arm around her shoulders and hauled her across the console, slamming his lips against hers.
Hard, angry demands from a man who no longer cared about pleasing her contrasted sharply with the memories of teenage sweetness and gentle tentativeness he’d once shown. He thrust his tongue between her lips, plundering her mouth. Instead of pushing him away and ordering him to stop, she leaned into him and tangled her tongue with his, meeting him stroke for stroke.
The hands gripping her shoulders relaxed, and the demanding thrusts of his tongue turned to languid strokes. She sifted her fingers through his soft black hair. Oh, how she’d missed being held in his arms, touching him, exploring him, and being one with him.
But they were hardly on their way to becoming one when he kissed her as a punishment.
She jerked away.
A car horn blared.
She straightened. Damn. She’d forgotten about Len, forgotten everything but Zane’s hands and mouth and sweet exploration.
Blinking out the windshield, she braced for the sight of Len laying on the horn of his pickup. Instead, he stood across the yard, wearing padded headphones and maneuvering a weed whip.
“If you’re looking for the honker, I believe you’re the culprit.” Zane nodded to her elbow resting on the steering wheel.
“Oh.” She yanked her arm back, settling into the passenger seat and pulling the seat belt strap. After three tries, she managed to lock the buckle into place. If Zane noticed her shaking hands, he didn’t mention it as he pulled away from the curb and left her house and his father behind.
If he’d kissed her to teach her a lesson, she’d learned one thing. She still wanted him, now more than ever.
Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to steamy and everything in between. She grew up in a small town and was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels. She has no regrets about turning her back on her accounting degree to write romance, but she deeply regrets her inability to keep track of her car keys. Find out more about Sara: Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest