Reeling from a sudden breakup, Casey Webb leaves Brooklyn, drives north, and settles in a sleepy mountain town in upstate New York. She’s convinced she’s happy being alone—until she reads the acknowledgments in her ex-boyfriend’s hit debut novel, thanking his new girlfriend “above all.”
Good thing Ben Mailer is in town. The hot, young Brooklyn-bound chef offers the perfect distraction. Soon the backwoods are heating up… But as their fling turns into more, the demands of Ben’s family and budding career make moving to her idyllic town impossible.
Now Casey must decide what she can’t live without—her life in the mountains, or the man she wants to be hers above all.
EXCERPT- ABOVE ALL by RebeccaBrooks
At last he turned to go. On his way out, he wished Casey a good night and then reached up to tap the back of the doorframe before swinging the door shut behind him.
She really, really wished he hadn’t.
Because lifting his arms to the doorframe made his jacket rise up enough to expose the top of his low-slung jeans. As well as the thin green line of his boxers hugging his hips underneath. It didn’t take X-ray vision to know that just above that patch of skin, hidden by his white undershirt and whatever else he had on under his black North Face fleece, were two long dimples carved into his lower back, matching the dimples on his face.
Officially the sexiest part of any man’s body, and the one thing Casey dreamed about on those rare nights when she did, in fact, allow herself to dream.
But this was not going to be one of those images she replayed in her mind’s eye. She was already berating herself for noticing. Not only had she turned to putty simply because he slid the hair out of his eyes as if he didn’t know the gesture would make every girl within a ten-mile radius want to extend her hand to his cheek. But she, Cassandra Webb, competent, capable, got dumped on her ass but still got back up again, thirty-four-year-old independent woman, had checked out his twenty-something-year-old butt.
She made herself swear she wouldn’t give him a second thought. She wasn’t interested. Period. She’d come to the woods to be alone and she fully planned to stay that way. She was going to read a little more until she was sufficiently distracted and then head back to her cabin, warm some cookies in the microwave, and go to sleep. Geller would take over registration in the morning and she would never see this group again.
Casey reached for her book, but she couldn’t stop her hand from hovering over the ledger. Before she knew what she was doing, she allowed herself a quick peek at the records and groaned.
Geller’s handwriting was unmistakable. They were staying for four days, three nights.
There was no way she wouldn’t find herself looking at those dimples again.
ABOUT REBECCA BROOKS
Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx. Her books are about independent women who leave their old lives behind to try something new—and find the passion, excitement and purpose they didn’t know they’d been missing.
For ten summers Claire and her mother had been guests at the Prescott’s beach house at Kelly’s Cove. And for ten years she played with Mallory and her twin brother, Colin. But it wasn’t until she returned after college graduation for her last summer there, that she realized Colin had grown into a guy who made her knees knock just by smiling at her. Being from different worlds, she knew nothing would come from her attraction to him.
Having returned to the states from studying abroad for four years, the last person Colin thought he’d find staying in his bedroom was Claire Ashton. Lanky and awkward during her adolescent years, he had to look twice to make sure this was the same girl. After a week together it was obvious he’d overlooked something before, because he felt things for her he’d never experienced before. There was only one problem—his last name and all that came with it would never permit him to be with her.
In the end, it’s either love or prestige that will win in the game of love.
He swam closer to her, reaching out in the dark recesses of the water and brushing against her arm. Thoughts of having accidently touched her in other places began sending messages to his mind, thus sending a wave of heat through his already cooling off body. She situated herself in front of him, holding onto his arms. They were face to face with one another. Her wet hair smelled like strawberries.
“That’s better,” she said.
He watched as she looked in his eyes. Her lips were glistening in the light of the moon. Her hair was completely soaked and pulled back from her face. A smile broke out on her face. He was barely able to make out the dimple on her right cheek that he’d known was there. “You have a pretty smile.”
“Does that mean you purposely looked at me changing out of my gown and now feel guilty about it? By saying something nice?”
“Man, has anyone ever paid you a complement that you didn’t think had an ulterior motive behind it?”
“Says the guy who climbed up in a tree to watch me swim naked?”
“Jeez, that was years ago, Claire. We’re grown up now. You’ve definitely grown up.”
“What does that mean?” She stopped twirling him around in circles.
“Just that you’ve matured. You’re very pretty. Some might say alluring. Maybe not me, but some might.”
“Okay. Thank you…I think. And why not you?”
“Oh, you know. I’ve seen your skinny body—pre-college years. It’s not for me to say something like that. We have history…snakes, frogs…you know.”
No, she didn’t. He wanted to say he did find her alluring. Captivating even. He wanted to tell her how she made him feel at ease, or how at dinner he thought several times that she’d caught him watching her, or even how the sight of her body made him wish they were two different people in a different time.
“I dare you to swim to the beacon.”
“Now?” He held tighter to her arms. She was drifting from his grasp.
Without hesitation, he swam in the direction of that stupid beacon. “Hey, wait, I was kidding. Not tonight,” she yelled out to him.
It was too late, he was headed for it. Something of a challenge for his male ego. He’d taken up swimming as a sport in college and knew he could do it without a problem. That was until he heard Claire’s scream.
“Colin, come quick.”
He whipped around and did long breaststrokes to back to her.
“Something brushed up against me. God, it’s going to eat me alive! I felt it.” She was hysterical, flailing her arms and panting wildly.
He finally made it to her. She grabbed his neck and pulled him closer. He noticed she was shaking, her lips even quivering.
“It’s okay. I’ve got you.” He stroked her hair, trying his best to calm her down.
“It was something big. I thought it was going to grab my legs and take me under. Colin, I’m serious.”
He felt her breasts press against him, her breathing rising and lowering with rapidness. Her legs had become locked around his waist. He felt his own heart, palpitating like a man who’d just swam thirty laps in less than two minutes. But, it wasn’t from the swim. It was from the touch of her skin on his. He had to get some space between them.
“Let’s get you out of here. Come on.”
When they got to shallow water she un-gripped the vice she had put on him. He escorted her to the sandy beach. The moon temporarily had ducked behind a cloud, making it difficult to see their way back to the pier.
“Stand here, I’ll go and get your gown.”
Claire stood there and waited for him to return, her arms crossed in front of her. He was glad for the opportunity to get himself in check before standing close to her again. When he returned with the gown, he’d already put on his shorts. He handed her clothes to her, with his other hand over his eyes. “Here.”
It took her only a second to get dressed. “You can open your eyes now,” she said quietly.
He removed his hand and looked at her. Even in the dimmer light, she looked so much better with nothing on. He knew he better get it together before morning came and he had to face her in the daylight. His mother had always told him how transparent his feelings about things showed on his face.
“I might actually get some sleep after all that exercise in screaming and flailing for my life.”
He laughed and took her hand in his. It felt like the natural thing to do now that they’d done it in the water, but she seemed puzzled by it. Her big brown eyes squinted, almost questioning his. It was too late to let it go. He figured if she didn’t want to hold his, she would’ve let go first. But she didn’t, she squeezed harder.
They returned to the creaking back porch door. Before she grabbed for it, he took her other hand and held it in his. “I had a great time with you tonight, Claire. Even if all you did was scream like a girl and think an eel was eating at your legs.”
“That was an—“
Before she could finish her sentence, he lightly pulled her by the neck and kissed her. Her lips were moist and chilled like the water they’d just come from—salty, too. He wasn’t sure if she was going to kiss back or smack him for getting fresh. When he pulled away he saw her eyes were still closed. She seemed more relaxed than earlier. He’d wagered correctly. Claire Ashton was receptive to what this summer could turn out to be for the both of them.
ABOUT JULIEANN DOVE
Julieann lives in Virginia, where she loves collecting houseplants, sewing cute little quilts, and writing about messy love. She fell in love with reading at a young age, after following Nancy Drew in solving the mysteries of the world. This carries on today, as crime shows are among her favorite to watch. Well those and the Hallmark channel love stories and mysteries. Keeping busy with soon-to-be six children, she needs time to unwind!