Blurb: Antony Love is the quintessential responsible oldest brother of a boisterous, Italian/Irish family, placed in charge at a young age by his parents who are busy running the family business. He manages his siblings with a fair but iron hand, until his life is shattered by personal tragedy leaving him the shell of the man he once was.
When outspoken matriarch Lindsay Halloran Love becomes ill, the youngest brother Aiden shows up at Antony's garage, having dropped out of school (again), needing work and a place to crash. Antony provides both, with three caveats: "Don't smoke in my truck, don't be late for work, and don't mess with my girlfriend."
But Aiden Love, budding novelist, gets one glimpse of Rosalee Norris, young widow of Antony's lifelong best friend and all bets are off.
Love Garage Excerpt: Love Garage opened bright and early the next morning, a Saturday, a day Aiden had hoped to spend recovering.
“I get so many oil changes and random small jobs on Saturdays, it doesn’t make sense to be closed and let the jackasses with the Quickilube at Walmart get the business,” Antony insisted
when Aiden groaned with dismay upon being awakened after two hours of drunken sleep. It didn’t help that the awakening occurred at the business end of a thrown pillow. “Get up, Romeo. You owe me rent money.”
He did, slowly, queasily hitting a shower, sore all over, his skin mottled from bug bites. But nothing topped the glorious agony of a bourbon hangover like the one that had him firmly in its evil grasp.
He slouched out the door, cursing Antony, cursing Tricia, cursing her ex-husband for throwing her in his path last night. But mostly cursing his own weak-ass uselessness. He rested his head against the cool comfort of the truck window until Antony hit a bump or two, which sent extra pain jolting down his spine.
“Sorry,” his brother muttered, glancing over at him.
“No, you’re not.”
“Got me there. And you’d better warn me if you’re about to toss your cookies. I won’t have that in my vehicle, got me?”
Aiden rubbed his neck and nodded, swallowing the urge to throw up all over the pristine interior on principal. “Why d’you hate me so much? You used to like me.” He stared over at his brother, heart thumping, ears humming, throat closing up with nausea. He despised waking up still drunk.
“I don’t hate you.” Antony turned onto the main road headed into town.
“Could’ve fooled me. You’re a real asshole anymore. Worse than Dom.”
Antony merely shrugged, not rising to that tried-and-true bait. So they spent the rest of the ride to the garage in silence. Once there, Antony sat gripping the wheel. Aiden waited, hoping he’d get something out of him—something he would assure him that the man he thought he remembered as the protective, funny, and loving guy he’d grown up with still existed inside the guy walking around wearing Antony’s skin.
Finally, he let go of the wheel, exhaled, and squared his shoulders as if prepping for battle. Aiden made a mental note to talk to Kieran about how badly Antony had descended into his life of non-stop mourning and jerk-hood.
“So, Rosalee, not putting out for you or what? You need to get laid maybe? Knock the edge off?”
The glare Aiden got for saying those particular words did make him worry Antony might punch his aching head through the passenger-side window.
He clenched his jaw in the way Aiden remembered from their childhood. “That is so far outside the realm of your business as to be in another galaxy. Get to work and don’t say her name to me again.”
And with that, Aiden was left with the fleeting thought that mentioning Rosalee directly was probably not a good idea. He surely didn’t need Antony to guess that her name was on his lips, or front and center of his mind.
He shook his head—a Bad Plan because it summoned the pounding agony back with a vengeance. Groaning, he climbed out and shuffled over to the door.
A new day began at Love Garage.
Blurb: The smoldering intensity of first love ~ the forbidden fantasy of temptation ~ the cold hard facts of real life.
When one man’s hopes are dashed apart in a split second after years spent chasing a dream, he returns home to Kentucky furious at the world and everyone around him.
Kieran Francesco is the middle son of the volatile, tight-knit Halloran-Love family. His role as peacemaker and the one true athlete is well established. He now faces life devoid of the sport he adores after a horrific, career-ending accident, which places him in a new and entirely uncomfortable position—that of the brother with no future.
Over the course of a few tumultuous months Kieran is plunged back into life at the center of the Love family, where he must cope with one self-destructive brother, one ill-timed reconnection to an old flame and a series of bad choices that land him in more trouble than he’d ever known existed.
“Hey, it’s Kieran Love!” one of the punks shouted after a few blocks. “Can you come over and shoot a few with us?”
He waved and drove on, gratified but sad, the sound of their cheerful unhappiness at his refusal filling his ears, taking the stretch of four lane road at seventy miles an hour, pressing the gas pedal to the floor, the throaty, powerful roar of the car’s engine revving him from head to toe.
It would be all right because he and Melinda loved each other. They had from the moment they’d met. He passed some grandpa in a Toyota, as the deep green fields surrounded by picturesque white fences and dotted with horses filled both sides of his vision.
He’d been home and recuperating from radical knee surgery with the best prognosis he could hope for after such a nasty break--to walk normally, much less play the occasional pick up game. His depression had been deep, wide, and terrifying. He woke every day at his parents’ house, unwilling even to get out of bed, not that he could without help for the first few weeks.
Antony had tossed a laptop computer at him one day when he’d been sulking, unshaven, and eating an entire bag of potato chips, something he’d not done since the age of ten when his fate--bound for basketball fame and fortune--had been determined.
“Here, find a job, find a date, find something,” he’d said before yanking the empty chip bag away and smacking Kieran’s head hard enough to make his ears ring.
“Ow. Leave me alone, asshole. I’m grievously injured,” he’d said, not caring about the swear-free zone he inhabited.
“That’s three dollars young man,” his mother had called out from the kitchen.
“You live with this, jerk, and see how you feel about finding ‘a date.’“ He’d hooked his fingers around the words, heart in his throat at how badly he’d wanted to call Cara right then.
But by the next weekend he was caning and limping his way toward the door to some faux-fancy Italian restaurant in Lexington, rubbing his freshly shaved face and trying not to sweat through his dress shirt. The woman from the internet site sat at the bar, twirling an olive-laden swizzle stick in her martini glass, long, slim, bare legs crossed, feet encased in sky-high patent leather heels. He’d exhaled, beyond relived that he’d not been cat-fished by some troll, or worse, a dude.
He’d hesitated then, something in him telling him to turn around and leave, fast. But at that moment, she’d flashed him the whitest, most perfect smile he’d ever seen and he’d been hooked. He still didn’t know how. They’d gone out for three weeks before she let him kiss her. It’d been another three weeks before he got anywhere near her tits. It had been a solid four months before he scored but that encounter had been, in a word, epic.
Melinda liked to talk dirty, wear heels and a garter belt while he fucked her. Loved doing it with all the lights on and in semi-public places. She gave head like a pro at first, before he’d given her an engagement ring.
Her bitchiness had come across as extreme decisiveness, sort of hot in way, he’d admit, since he tended toward the spontaneous and unplanned--”wishy washy” as he now understood it thanks to Melinda’s re-categorization of his personality. Her tight grip on her emotions and her surroundings, the OCD way she ordered her life did grate on him at times but he figured she tolerated his innate sloppiness and willingness to wake on a Sunday without a plan in place for the rest of the day. When he realized he sat across from her at some overpriced, hipster restaurant near her office after going out with her for eight months, ready to present her with a ring he could barely afford, it had shocked him without seeming to even faze her.
“Well, of course I’ll marry you, but you’ve got to find a better job,” she’d drawled as she sipped her champagne.
“A new job?” He’d gotten the teaching gig at his old high school and couldn’t imagine any job he’d want or like better. She made six figures for Christ’s sake, at least he thought she did.
Elated, drunk with lust and achievement, he’d tried to get his long legs adjusted under the small table jammed between all the others and covered with small plates of “tapas” which, best he could tell were “appetizers” only twice the price and half the helpings.
“I’ll do anything you want, Melinda. You saved me, honest to God you did.”
She’d fluttered her inky black lashes and gazed at him with an expression that convinced him he’d made the drastic move for the right reasons. The following year had been a combination of frustration, anger and high school level blue balls. The double drama Antony and Aiden had foisted on the Love family during that time hadn’t helped but it had distracted him. He’d taught his classes, helped out with the basketball team pro bono without telling Melinda and had been happier than he’d ever been as a pro athlete.
The fact that she maintained her uber-bitch persona around his family killed him. But he was hooked.
Every family has one—the black sheep, the problem child, the prodigal. But Dominic Sean Love could teach all of those guys a lesson or two. Stuck in the middle of a boisterous group of siblings, he’s given “acting out” a new meaning from the day he drew his first breath.
While he’s the one son who follows his strict father’s footsteps into the Love family business, he’s also the one who butts heads with him the hardest. Their epic clashes are the stuff of family legend. But they have made peace and work side by side to take Love Brewing to the next level of success.
Until Dominic does the one thing his father can never forgive.
Diana Brantley has been Dominic’s friend, girlfriend and ex-girlfriend so many times she’s lost count. When he shows up at the farm she’s slowly transforming into a wildly popular farm-to-table resource for restaurants all over the U.S. her first impulse is to shoot first and ask questions later. But she doesn’t. And their lives entwine once more, for good, bad and ugly.
Working (pre-edited) Excerpt:
Dominic would give anything be able to talk to Kieran. They’d gotten close in the last months since he’d required a rather alarming rescue from a jail down in Georgia and his brother had shown up, very few questions asked. But no, Kieran had his own issues and likely at that very moment was busy trying to convince his high school girlfriend to marry him, even as she was poised and ready to marry someone else.
“You need dry clothes,” Diana said, interrupting his pity party.
He shrugged and kept his gaze fixed on the view of rain. “Your garden looks like shit. When’s the last time you bothered to pull weeds?”
She snorted. He smiled. He used to love it when she’d do that. He’d honestly had no intention of showing up here today. The Brantley farm remained way off the beaten track, if the track around Lucasville could be considered “beaten” in any way. When he’d raced out of the stifling hot sanctuary and hotwired Kieran’s car he’d driven off without a single thought in his addled head other than “escape.”
But when he’d finally released his death grip on the steering wheel he’d looked through the windshield and found himself facing the old two-story farmhouse where he’d lost his virginity—not to Diana but to her sister Jen, an older version of the girl he’d been hanging around with since God was a boy. The whooshing sound that had deafened him for the last couple of days had receded ever so slightly at the sight of the place.
He’d not been anywhere near it in over six years, ever since he’d run out here to get solace from Diana when Gina had bolted for New York. Her reaction to his surprise visit had been decidedly less hostile then. He groaned and ran a hand down his wet face.
No one to blame but yourself for this reception, numb nuts.
As if on cue, one of the dogs whined and bumped his leg with its huge muzzle.
“Bossy bitch,” he said softly, giving her another scratch behind the ears. The animal gazed at him adoringly.
Yeah, at least dogs always loved him.
He glanced up and caught sight of Diana tugging on something dry that looked way too big for her. The sight of it sent a thrill of something he didn’t want to acknowledge as jealousy down his spine.
You have less than no place being jealous of anything about her, he reminded himself. She stared at him as she buttoned up the light blue, obviously man-sized shirt. He had to restrain himself from blinking too fast at the onrushing memories threatening to mow him down.
“Put on a few pounds eh Di?” he said, leaning back against the rough barn wall. The dog practically crawled up onto the hay bale and laid its head in his lap. Damn thing weighed over eighty pounds and smelled like rancid pond water, but he didn’t stop it.
“Fuck you,” she said, turning away and giving him a lovely view of the backs of her slim, tanned legs. “Come up to the house and get some dry clothes on, you dumbass.” She stood there, wearing that shirt that made his chest tight, pondering where it had come from, her legs bare and beautiful. It made him want to weep. He set his jaw and turned away from her.
“I missed you and your ladylike ways,” he said, almost absently, as he turned back to study the rain pounding against the window. “Ow!” The towel pop flicked his neck, then his thigh. “Damn girl, you on your period or what?” He rubbed his leg and noted that he was, indeed, soaked through and could use a change of clothes. Too bad he hadn’t thought of that when he ran away from what remained of his former life.
“I can feel your crybaby BS from clear across this barn,” she said. “Makes me wanna laugh.”
He turned fast, angry at her words. But her gaze comforted him. And suddenly, he realized why he’d found himself here, on what could be labeled as the worst day of his sorry-ass thirty years.
“How’d married life work out for ya,” he said, shoving the dog off his lap and getting to his feet.
“How d’you think? I mean, I’m sure it was the talk of the town.” She kept staring at him, not moving.
For a split second, Dom found himself headed toward her, needing to feel her skin, taste her lips. But he stood, keeping the four or so feet between them, the dogs milling around their ankles making worried noises. An errant drop of water fell from a lock of hair over his eyes. The moment felt fraught and he cursed himself for causing her pain, again. And again.
“Well, I guess the guy was lucky to escape with his balls intact,” he said, finally. “You’re still as ugly as homemade sin,” he lied.
The corner of her lips lifted. He let himself exhale.
It was on now. And he knew she’d let him stay here as long as he needed.