Since childhood, Courtney has loved fairies. After her mother died when she was ten, she lost touch with that feeling of magic. A year ago, at age twenty-nine, she rediscovered it when she left her father’s landscaping business to spread her wings and start a fairy garden business and teashop in beautiful Carmel, California. At Open Your Imagination, she teaches garden design and sells everything from fairy figurines to tinkling wind chimes and trickling fountains. Now she’s starting a book club tea.
But the light of the magical world she’s created inside her shop is darkened one night when she discovers neighboring dog-grooming business owner Mick Watkins dead beside a fountain. To make matters worse, the police suspect Courtney of the crime. To clear her name and find the real killer, Courtney will have to wing it. But she’s about to get a little help from an unexpected new friend . . .
The Bottom Line: Once again, I find myself in the minority when it comes to star ratings on a book. I struggled through this book from page one to the very end and that made me angry because I really wanted to love this read. It has everything I normally love in a cozy mystery and even has a dash of the paranormal, but somehow none of this came together for me. I found most of the characters to be rather flat, the plot to be rather cliché, and the addition of the fairies to somehow be beyond the realm of possibility, even in a fiction book. To be completely honest, I am not sure why this read didn’t work for me, but as I finally made it to the end, I realized, I won’t be giving the series a second chance. I think this may simply be an instance of “not for me” but I can absolutely see how this book is appealing to other readers.
Welcome to Shady Pines, where the sun is shining, the sea is sparkling, and there’s a cosy chalet waiting to be your home away from home. But will April find the new start she’s looking for?
April Statham had it all – until her husband left her for a blonde ten years her junior. Now she’s thirty-five, single, and starting again. So she does what anyone in her position would do: she impulsively invests her life savings in the chalet park she used to visit as a child, on the beautiful Cornish Coast.
The Shady Pines Chalet Park is… ramshackle. But it has one big advantage – it is as far as physically possible from April’s ex, his new fiancée, and her old life. With gorgeous handyman Cillian O’Leary, April is looking forward to the challenge.
As visitors arrive, April realises that Shady Pines isn’t just a second chance for her, it gives Cillian another shot at happiness too.
But when he moves into the chalet next door, April’s painful past starts to catch up with her, and she struggles to reconcile her feelings for Cillian.
Is April’s new beginning destined to end in failure – or will she find new friends, a new life and new love at her second chance hotel?
April Statham’s life was not meant to turn out this way! At thirty-five, she was meant to still be happily married with a growing family. As it happens, life doesn’t always turn out the way you mean for it to and adjustments have to be made. In April’s case, two adjustments included running from the fallout of her old life and investing nearly every cent she had in an old, run-down chalet park.
Some of April’s greatest childhood memories are from her time at the Shady Pines Chalet Park. Sadly, April’s memories of the site are far better than the site itself. After years of neglect and incompetent management, April has a load of work to do if she is going to bring the Shady Pines back to its former glory. Though April has a small budget for repairs and updates, she doesn’t have unlimited funds. What she also doesn’t have is the skill set necessary to do many of the repairs herself. To that end, she hires Cillian O’Leary.
Cillian O’Leary has enough baggage for himself and four other adults. His ex is an addict who does nothing but further damage to their daughter, he doesn’t yet have sole legal custody of his daughter, and he needs a job that will be flexible enough to care for his daughter yet still earn a decent income. Thankfully, alongside his baggage, Cillian also has all the skills April is looking for in a handyman and her job offer comes with a home for he and his daughter.
From the moment they meet April and Cillian are at odds and often have serious miscommunications. Cillian is grumpy and wary of women while April is determined and wary of men. If it weren’t for Martha, the crusty old artist who lives permanently onsite, Cillian and April would likely never get over their issues and realize they actually care for one another. Working together is difficult, but Martha finds ways – subtle manipulations – to put the two together and force cooperation. As Martha is playing matchmaker, she is also dealing with the implications of her own baggage, her past, and how it has seemingly comeback to haunt her.
The Bottom Line: The Second Chance Hotel isn’t just April’s story of love and redemption, but also a story of love and redemption for Martha, Cillian, and Cillian’s daughter. All their lives have been turned upside down and Shady Pines feels like their last hope. As the four learn to trust one another, they also learn to like and even love one another. While there are plenty of obstacles to their various HEAs, there is still an HEA for each. While I can’t say this is an overly emotional read, it does have loads of feels and it is a nice mix of the past and the present which I am always a fan of. The setting is also lovely and evolves as the characters evolve. In all, this is a sweet read that will most certainly appeal to romance readers.
Yeah, that just happened.
In my defense, if I’d known it was Connor Colby of the Colby’s Chocolates and Candies empire standing by the display dressed in a candy cane-striped suit, I never would have opened my mouth to tell him that their signature chocolate bar sucked.
How was I supposed to know he was the boss man?
He was in town temporarily to help save his father’s company.
I was only there for a payday to jump start my art career.
I had one job—help him come up with a rock solid marketing plan.
The task included long nights and late dinners working by Connor’s side.
It did not include kisses, sex in the supply closet, or … worst yet, falling in love.
Why is that so bad you ask?
Because the man is leaving right after our mission is complete. Job done.
Will our sweet love turn into sour patched tear jerkers or will he be my big hunk, now & later and forever?
Glancing to my right, I noted the hallway we’d come down. Now I sat in the middle of a large midnight blue sofa with two leather club chairs angled across from me. A brick fireplace and tall windows dominated the room almost as much as Arkady’s foreboding presence did.
His gaze left me only to inspect the purse he’d stolen from me.
When I began to get up, he pointed in my direction. “Don’t move, Lucia.”
The stark coldness in his voice reflected in the iced-over blue of his eyes.
Fear froze in my veins, and I clamped my hands between my thighs in hopes of hiding my trembling fingers.
What if he killed me now?
Who would find me then?
My father would bury two children in the space of three months.
The gag made it difficult to breathe but, after another threatening look from Arkady, I didn’t dare remove it, not even though air staggered in and out of my lungs.
He made quick work of the contents of my handbag, emptying everything onto a side table adorned only by a trio of tall ivory candles in black enamel holders. After poking through my cosmetics bag and even feeling along every inch of the lining for hidden items, he scooped the small satchel back into my purse.
He hummed when he found my keys and the small pepper spray canister attached. He placed my keychain aside then looked through my feminine hygiene products and birth control pills, which made my cheeks flame brightly.
I almost looked away but, when he glanced at me and saw my embarrassment, I glared even harder.
I cursed a muffled noise when he retrieved my phone. Then he paced to me, and his hand shot out as fast as a whip.
I winced, recoiling from a blow that never came.
His face took on an unreadable expression before he gave two sharp tugs to the gag stuffed between my lips. The pocket square removed, I took a deep stuttering breath, and he raised the phone screen to my face.
He had the device unlocked in an instant from my facial ID.
Lunging up from the deep cushions, I tried to throw myself at him—shove him off-balance, do anything to escape—but he merely sat me back down with one hand centered on my chest.
“Those are my personal belongings!” Red hot anger laced my voice.
“Not anymore.” His face hardened into harsh angles, those snapping blue eyes of his even deeper in contrast to his dark hair.
Every motion he made was precise while pure chilling menace rolled off him in frigid waves.
The side of my face throbbed, my knee hurt, my pants were ripped, and I was thirsty and tired and running on pure adrenaline alone.
I was helpless to do anything to protect myself, and that was the worst blow of all.
He spent no more than a few minutes on my phone and must’ve gleaned whatever information he wanted because he removed the SIM card and smashed it beneath his shoe.
My heart kicked up its wild beating, and I felt like I’d start hyperventilating.
Next, he expertly found the tracker hidden within the phone’s case and crushed it just like he had the card. He discovered a second tracker sewed into the lining of my handbag, and I swore softly beneath my breath.
He sent the most sinister, most triumphant smile my way, and my hands grew clammy.
“Stand,” he ordered after returning the non-contraband items to my purse.
I rose to my feet, nails digging into my palms. I wanted nothing more than to lay a stinging slap across his arrogant face.
“Jewelry,” he said.
“You’re stealing my jewelry? You’re no better than those street thugs,” I spat out.
He said nothing more, holding his hand outstretched.
Knees quaking, I removed my diamond stud earrings, the slim gold chain around my neck, an antique opal ring left to me from my nonna, and the heavy bangle bracelet from my wrist.
He took all the items and examined those too. Finding them clean of bugs, he dropped those into my handbag, which he then tossed at me.
When he pivoted away, I rushed at him from behind.
I didn’t even make contact before he whirled around to capture me in an iron-like embrace. Snarling wildly, I pummeled him on his unyielding chest, but my hands made little impact on his hard musculature.
I’d never detested a man more than I did in that moment.
When I jerked my leg to knee him in the balls, he released me so fast I stumbled. I didn’t even get a chance to steady myself before he grasped me behind the legs and swiftly tipped me onto my back. I landed on the floor, scrabbling to get back up.
He simply reached down, heaved me back up, and pinned me against his body, once more demonstrating his overwhelming power.
His face darkened, restrained fury thinning his lips and, with one hand, he clasped my wrists behind my back.
The next thing I knew, he held the barrel of his gun against the bruised side of my face.
Breath left my mouth in a hiss as cold metal kissed the skin of my throbbing temple.
Arkady slid the barrel down and across my lips.
True terror seizing my insides, I clamped my mouth shut, and his eyes became deadly blue slits as he skimmed the gun beneath my chin.
Then I felt two hard things at the same time—the muzzle of the gun pressed beneath my chin to angle my face up and the rigid thickness of his cock nestled tightly against me.
“Are you scared of me yet, dragotsennaya printsessa.” Gruff hoarseness deepened his voice.
I was petrified and, yet, sudden intense so-wrong arousal tickled across my body to settle low in my belly.
“Yes,” I whispered.
I heard him holstering the sidearm then his hand was at my throat.
I became transfixed by the different kind of heat that entered his blue eyes. Smoldering heat. Male lust as he squeezed my neck, and my nipples traitorously pinged up within the cups of my bra.
Arkady’s head bent toward mine as his hand moved up my elongated neck.
Heat flashed. I thought he was going to kiss me. His mouth would be warm and firm, unlike the kiss of his gun. His hard cock pressed into my belly, and fluttery sensation swarmed lower to pool between my thighs.
His lips barely whispered across my cheek, and my breath hitched in my throat.
My head was spinning.
I had no idea what was going on.
His grip on my neck tightened then loosened then squeezed again, and his lips touched the shell of my ear.
I almost moaned before I swallowed the sound.
I was pressed wholly against this killer Russian who’d just held a gun to my head, and illicit lust spiraled out of control inside of me.
“I don’t need a gun to make you do what I want, Lucia.” His deep drugging voice made my toes curl.
She grew up in Maine, went to college in Iowa (Iowa, what?), lived in Scotland, and married in Englishman. In true roundabout fashion, they came back to the States, settled in South Carolina’s lowcountry, putting down southern roots and pursuing their arty endeavors. Tale spinner and character diviner, Rie is a lover of sleep, wine, and rude memes often involving either Disney characters or Winnie the Pooh. She is raising two teen daughters along with an entire brain full of unruly characters.
Rough-talking alpha men? Rie has that on tap.
Stubborn sassy heroines? You bet.
Smoldering sex scenes that’ll set your Kindle on fire? Check, check, check.
Keep a fan handy, you’ll need it.
Follow the signup link below to her romance newsletter for sneak peeks, new releases, first looks, and her quirky sense of humor.
And, as always, happy sexy reading to you!
Also Known As Ezra Cross
He’s one of a pair.
Identical twin to Damon.
And an enforcer for the Inferno if one is ever needed.
I knew better than to get involved with him.
With his aggression.
With the constant fights.
With the games the twins were known to play with every woman stupid enough to fall for them.
We made a mistake when we met again as adults.
I fell in love.
He fell in love.
His brother fell in love, too.
What used to be a good time is now a tragedy.
Our story is messy.
Despite all that, Ezra refuses to let go.
*** Each novel in the series depicts a unique romance, but the plots through each book connect in one world. For the best experience, read the series in order.
Nine Dangerous Men. Nine Unrepentant Sinners. Nine Irresistible Manipulators.