Romance has met its most unlikely match-up… Luke Bradford is a chocolatier on a mission. After moving his chocolate shop, and newly single life, to the quirky town of Cactus Creek, Luke wants nothing more than to devote all his energy into making his business a success—by taking the romance market by storm. But his grand plans get thrown for a loop when he locks horns with the feisty beer-brewing beauty next door who calls his ‘romantic idealism’ a load of fairytale bull. Soon, driving the woman sparking nuts becomes another wickedly fun priority he simply can’t get enough of. In his defense, she’s addictively easy to incite…and plain impossible to resist. Beloved local brewmaster Dani Dobson is beyond riled up. It’s bad enough the new shop owner in town comes locked and loaded with both a distractingly rugged charm and sexy flashing dimples, but the whole only-in-the-movies variety of romance he’s selling—the kind her world has been crushed by before—is really doing a number on her allergy to unrealistic clichés. What’s worse, he’s created an annoyingly clever ad campaign that dubs ‘beer joints’ like hers as the “cave where romance goes to hibernate.” The nerve of that man. Combustible chemistry or not, damn it, this means war. The stakes…very likely, her heart.
A jolt of awareness charged her skin as she recalled every memorable thing about him, all now tattooed in her brain. Halfway down the fairly long list, Dani huffed out to herself, “Xoey’s losing it. That guy can’t possibly… I mean he was just so—” She shook her head, at a loss for words to match her blistering hot thoughts. “I was so...what?” prodded a deep, gentle voice from behind her. “You!” she gasped, spinning around. She gripped the rum bottle she’d just unloaded from its crate and poised it before her like a fencing sabre. “What are you doing back here?” “Whoa, easy.” He shot both his hands up in the air, amusement curving his mouth into a lopsided grin. “No need to bottle-bash me. Your friend, the other bartender, sent me in to help you.” “Of course she did,” Dani muttered in exasperation. Mental note: Xoey was so fired. When she pulled her weapon away from his face, the man efficiently slid next to her as if she hadn’t been poised for assault with deadly bottle, and began opening liquor cartons like he was being paid to. “Now what were you just saying about me?” She balked. “How could I’ve been saying anything about you?! I don’t even know you.” His pupils flared. But not in annoyance at her well-worded, bald-faced lie. But rather…in hunger. She took a step back. “Sorry.” He tore his eyes away from her and focused on the whiskey bottles he was lining up behind the older bottles in accordance with the labeled restocking instructions on each shelf. “The thoughts in my stream-of-consciousness just went to dangerous waters,” he added in that malt-rich voice of his. “I went from thinking ‘pants on fire’ to thinking about your pants.” His voice graveled, heated for a second as if teased by his own words. “Then, well, you can follow the breadcrumbs.” Lordy, the man was lethal to the female population. She did in fact follow those crumbs, right over to her backside. Unconsciously, she took a compulsive swipe at her jeans with her free hand—nope, no flames engulfing her butt—and felt the temperature in the small room spike dramatically. Dammit, if he didn’t quit looking at her like that—all steamy eyes valiantly glued to her face rather than her fire snuffing efforts below… She shivered. Not wanting to even mentally voice the trouble that would ensue from that train of thought. It was bad enough that the faint scent of one of her dark ales was lingering on his lips in that sexier than sin sort of way, but candying it atop a gentlemanly sweet center to boot was just playing unfair. Of course, like a masochist, she tipped her head back to meet his gaze anyway. “Hi,” he rumbled gently, a soft smile flirting with the corners of his lips. It was a content murmur more than anything else and somehow he managed to make that one word, the mere act of greeting her, meeting her for the first time sound so...special. Oh, hell. The moment her fingertips began gravitating to his chest, the rest of her couldn’t help but follow. His hands settled lightly at her sides and she watched, spellbound, as the simmering heat in his eyes burned hotter. Deeper. An unexpected sigh of pleasure seeped out of her and instantly, his fingers flexed against her hips in response. It was the only warning she got. In one sultry swoop, he strapped a steel arm around her waist to pull her flush against him before he caught her jaw with his free hand and just exploded past all her defenses with one slow, soft brush of his lips against hers. Then just as quickly, he pulled back. Seemingly shocked at his own actions, eyes fixed on hers as if to gauge her reaction, he dragged in ragged breath after ragged breath. To try to slow things down probably. One second, two seconds... On three, her lips found his racing pulse just above his collar. A timid tongue swipe was all it took to get her shoulders pinned back against a wall, his hand speared through her hair, and the sensitive skin along her neck schooled on how turnabout was so far beyond fair play. Breathing became barely a memory as his mouth decimated any hope she had of control. Before she knew it, she was undoing her shirt, daring him to follow suit. She wasn’t normally the bold instigator type but with him...she couldn’t think, couldn’t wait, couldn’t— She gasped. She didn’t even know this guy’s name.
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels. When she's not arguing with her story characters or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, she enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools while trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first and cooking 'special edition' dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. Violet lives in Hawai'i with her two cute kids and similarly adorable husband.
Find the latest on her books and weekly giveaways at www.facebook.com/VioletDukeBooks