I’m so excited to welcome fellow Wild Rose Press Author, Jennifer Wilck. Her latest release, A Reckless Heart, published on March 29th and is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Kobo.
Meg Thurgood, former society girl, took the blame for her friend and paid a steep price. Now all she wants is solitude and a chance to rebuild her life. She thinks she’s found that in an isolated house she rents from a mysterious stranger.
Simon McAlter has hidden in his house on the coast of Maine since a fire left him scarred. A successful landscape architect who conducts his business and teaches his classes remotely, he’s lost his inspiration and is trying to pretend he’s not lonely.
Simon’s new neighbor is more than he bargained for. When he learns Meg’s secret, will he retreat into the shadows or will he learn to see past the surface and trust in Meg’s love?
And now, a scene that I hope you’ll love as much as I do. To give you a little bit of the setup, Meg is renting a house from Simon. The house has been damaged in a storm, and he’s trying to fix it. But his scarred hands make that difficult:
She watched him for ten minutes as he stood on the ladder, cursing and hammering in about equal measure as he struggled to cover the hole. But she didn’t pay attention to the curses or the hammer or the lack of progress. No, she paid attention to his ass. Another five minutes, and he shucked his jacket, allowing her a better view to admire how his denim jeans hugged his backside in all the right ways. The worn denim emphasized his thigh muscles. Her mouth went dry, and she looked away.
In the past, she’d always been a sucker for a guy in a well-cut tux. Now she knew what she’d missed.
Granted, she’d never done manual labor before, but if this was how it was to be, she’d turn into Lumberjack Jane. As she waited at the base of the ladder, Simon’s arm muscles flexed. She needed to stop staring. He wasn’t her type. Of course, she didn’t have a type anymore, not since she turned over a new leaf, but still. Moody, broody, and silent didn’t seem what she should switch to. No matter how attractive she might find him, she had to stop.
Except… His muscles were taut, his Henley stretched across them. When he bent his head, his hair swung to the side. He clenched his jaw. For every nail he pounded, he dropped three. Why did he insist on doing this work, when it was difficult? Was it pride? Fear of being seen? Something else? Her chest squeezed at his persistence and how hard he worked to overcome his difficulty. Other men might rail at the world for what happened, and what he could no longer do. Yet he never yelled at her or demanded she retrieve his dropped nails. He never asked her for help. He cursed in general and continued.
She snuck glances his way as he continued to attempt to fasten the tarp. Maybe it was time to worry less and take control of the situation.
She climbed the ladder. When he didn’t stop or acknowledge her presence despite the rattle of the metal against the side of the house, she held out her hand. It hovered in midair until, with a deep breath, she lowered it onto his shoulder. He froze, and she forgot to breathe. Bone, muscle, and sinew flexed beneath her fingers. The soft material separating skin from skin contrasted with the hardness of his shoulder and overwhelmed her.
She wanted him. More than she’d ever wanted any other man, she wanted Simon. Her mind carried her to the day when he’d protected her from the storm. His spicy scent, mixed with the scent of the cut tree, filled her nostrils and warmth pooled in her belly.
“What are you doing?” His question sounded strangled.
What was she doing? Physical contact eliminated all thoughts other than a desire to be with him. She tried to remember why she’d come here in the first place.
He dropped another nail. Oh, right. “Give me the nails.”
“Give me the nails. I’ll hold them. You can hammer.”
“I don’t need your help.”
“Please?” She kept her tone matter-of-fact, so as not to offend him.
His tension left him and without a word he clumsily dumped the nails he held into her hand. She cupped her hands together and held them out to Simon, waiting for him to pick a nail to use. He grabbed for one, but with his bent, stiff fingers, all he did was mix them around and scrape her skin. The contact tickled, but the sight of his scars made her pause. This was why it took him such a long time. She glanced at him and caught his expression a split second before he covered his face with his hair and looked away.
His hands, with their scars, didn’t have the fine motor skills to hold an individual nail in place, which meant if she were to help him, she’d have to do it while he hammered.
She blanched as she looked at his hammer. Could she trust him not to miss? Desire and compassion for this man combined. He’d gone out of his way to help her.
She trusted him.
The last time she’d helped a friend she’d lost everything. Maybe the consequences this time weren’t as severe—worst case, she got bruised fingers. If it happened too often, she could tell him to stop. But did she want to sacrifice her own well-being for someone else again? There used to be a time when she’d never have given the question any thought. The answer would have been clear. But now?
With shaking hands, she held the nail in place and raised her shoulders to her ears as she waited in fear. Nothing happened. Movement to her left made her hold her breath. His large hand on hers made her jump. She might have squeaked, but she would never admit it. Pressure on her palm was firm but gentle. Her lips were pressed together, and she swallowed.
He moved her hand into the correct position. “I won’t hurt you.” His voice was low and hoarse. She stared at his thumb as he tilted her wrist and positioned her hand in the exact spot he wanted the nail. His touch sent tingles along her arm, and goose bumps formed. She wanted to twist her hand and hold onto his, but she’d drop the nail, and he’d probably curse at them again. She let him maneuver her fingers into their proper position. When he was satisfied, he placed his own hand over hers, so only the nail head showed. His scarred skin was warm against hers. With a quick set of taps, he hammered it into the wood before her goose bumps faded.
He’d protected her.
Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with her family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open in the first place. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.
She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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