Desert Isle Keeper
It’s a cause for celebration when a favorite author gifts us with a new series. Welcome to Herons Landing, the first of JoAnn Ross’s new Honeymoon Harbor series. Honeymoon Harbor is a town in the Pacific Northwest – rest assured, it’s full of stories to be told.
Brianna Mannion grew up in Honeymoon Harbor but after she earned her degree in hospitality and hotel management, she embarked on a “gypsy life of traveling the country”, eventually climbing the ladder to become “chief concierge of the butler floor at the Las Vegas Midas Resort Hotel and Casino.” She’s great at her job; well versed at accommodating every vagary a demanding customer might require. She learned growing up “working on the Mannion family Christmas tree farm”, how to smooth things over when dealing with difficult customers. In the hospitality business, isn’t the customer always right? Perhaps 99% of the time – but when her boss insists she write a note of apology to a totally-out-of-line customer (who called her a bitch!) – she asks him to accept her resignation. Maybe it’s time to pursue a new dream. Be like Lorelai of Gilmore Girls and create a “warm and caring environment in her very own inn.” Brianna knows just the inn for her dream B&B too. All it needs is a LOT of work.
Brianna thinks Honeymoon Harbor renovation expert Seth Harper would be perfect for the job. There’s only one little niggle; he’s “her best friend’s widower and the neighborhood boy she once crushed on—hard.” Still, that was in the past. She needs Seth to check out Herons Landing, the dilapidated old mansion she has set her heart on, to tell her if the project’s a go. If it is, only Harper Construction will do for the remodeling.
Seth has been widowed for a few years; he hasn’t moved on from his Army wife Zoe’s death in any appreciable way. She died in Kabul, Afghanistan, the victim of a random bombing. Maybe he’s never opened the door to the nursery he lovingly designed in anticipation of their life after Zoe left the military, but he still makes sure Zoe’s car runs, just to name one example. Dating, women, re-entering the town’s social scene – that’s just not on his horizon. Until Brianna comes back to town, that is, needing his help. No one’s better than JoAnn Ross at setting the scene.
The first thing he noticed when she climbed out of the snazzy red convertible, which wasn’t all that practical for the rainy Pacific Northwest, was how long her legs were. Why hadn’t he ever noticed that before? She was wearing a pair of cropped skinny jeans and a shirt blooming with hibiscus blossoms open over a white tank top. Her turquoise flats had little bows on them like the ones he remembered on Zoe’s ballet slippers during those years her mother had made her take dance lessons.
Seth is curious whether his old friend Brianna really wants to come home. Is it more than a whim?
“I’ve been homesick for a while,” she said when he carefully brought the subject up. “The idea had been simmering beneath the surface for some time, but I was too busy and distracted by work to recognize it. The minute I saw it was for sale, I felt the tug to come home.”
Maybe you can come home again. Sparks fly and unrequited sexual tension sizzles when Brianna works side by side with Seth as he transforms an old wreck with great bones into a romantic retreat for honeymooners. Fans of HGTV and Hallmark Television will love Herons Landing; it’s the perfect mashup of remolding and falling in like/lust/love. Their first kiss is simply dreamy. Brianna makes the first move, going up on her tiptoes to kiss him.
It was just a soft, gentle press of lips. Beyond what friends might share, but certainly not anything even R-rated. Even so, she felt her heart nearly stop with the sheer perfection of the kiss she’d waited a lifetime for.
It didn’t last long. There wasn’t any tongue tangling or lip nicking. But the scrape of his afternoon beard had her tingling and wanting more. Much, much more.
But then he leaned back, looking down at her, his hands on her shoulders. To push her away? Or pull her closer.
“Again,” he said.
Whoa mamma, you can say that again! Seth and Brianna are a delicious couple, ready to take a chance on happiness. Well, perhaps with a few stumbles along the way, but with everyone in Honeymoon Harbor rooting for them, surely an HEA is in the cards.
~ Janet Webb