Lemonade Dreams (MF)
[BookStrand Romantic Suspense, HEA]
Ten years ago, undersexed, overweight Ellie Brisby risked it all for the chance to be loved by Jackson Sedgwick. To this day, she’s haunted by nightmares of his harsh rejection and the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend, Nikki Harper. Summoned by her aunt, a savvy, slimmer Ellie returns home to small-town Georgia and manages to resist the pull of Jackson’s cocky charisma, but when Nikki’s murdered body is dug up and suspicions of Jackson along with it, she can’t stay detached for long.
Against his better judgment, the happily-ever-after-phobic Jackson is showing an interest in the grown-up Ellie. How long will that last? Thrown together, Ellie and Jackson face off against a wily killer, but dark secrets and motivations threaten to taint their feelings for one another. He crushed her in the past. Can she afford to trust him with her future?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
4.5 STARS: "One name in this small Georgia town is shrouded in mystery. One name can bring back a ton of memories, some of which are good, and some that are not. One name brings up the only missing persons case this town has seen in years. No one wants to say it, but everyone is thinking it. Ellie Brisby whisks into town a new woman. She couldn't have come back for a visit at a worse time. Not long after coming back, the inevitable and unthinkable happens. Headstrong, stubborn Ellie wants to get to the bottom of things. The disappearance all those years ago has an affect on her as well. Jackson Sedgwick is one of those guys who appears to be willing to stay a bachelor forever. He comes from a powerful family, and people either really love him, or hate him. There's a few people who wouldn't mind seeing him pay for things they swear he's been involved with, and with the new developments, it's time to face the music and the people. Lemonade Dreams is a small town romance with a ton of mystery. I enjoyed the feel of this book and how people who aren't blood related look out for one another, the quirkiness of the characters and the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of a young girl with whom everyone was connected. What a shock at the end! I never saw any of it coming, and the twists and turns that lead the reader right into the major climax have the heat and suspicions building. To put it simply, I loved this book! I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know more. Real life just didn't compare with what was going on within the pages of this book. I enjoyed it a lot, and had a mix of happy and sad emotions at the end. Happy because things worked out, and sad, because I was about to leave this fun band of characters I'd come to connect with. If you're a fan of romantic suspense and have a chance, get lost in a cup of Lemonade Dreams and fall in love with this charming town just as I did. I have a feeling you won't regret stopping by." -- Sunflower, Long and Short Reviews
4 CUPS: A request from her Aunt has Ellie Brisby coming back to her home town; ten years have passed and she is no longer overweight and is more experienced in life. Jackson’s rejection of her still haunts her, along with the questionable disappearance of his girlfriend, Nikki Harper. The discovery of Nikki’s body causes interest as to what happened that night to resurface. She decides to investigate, and in the process her determination to resist Jackson again might break. Jackson Sedgwick grew up with Ellie and treated her as a sister. He never really thought of her in another way, at least not back then. He knows what the town’s people think of him and suspect him in the murder of his old girlfriend. In searching with Ellie for the truth, his view that settling down is bad might actually reverse. Ellie knows that there is more to what happened to Nikki that has been discovered. While searching out the facts she has to make a choice. Does she trust Jackson with her heart again? Old secrets, along with someone who does not want the truth to be found out, might keep her from finding the facts of that night and giving her heart to Jackson. This story was a delight to read. I liked the mystery in it, as Ms. George kept you guessing, giving enough information for you to think it may be one person, then something else is revealed which makes you think that someone else might have actually been the one who did it. If you are not adept at keeping an eye out for details the little clues she scatters through-out the story will not add up, and the person and why who actually did it might be a surprise to you. I found this to be a good read. The mystery was actually a mystery. It did not seem to be something easy to figure out, and the romance between Ellie and Jackson unfolding was a pleasure to read. I would read this story again and recommend it to someone who likes romance with some mystery thrown in. -- Llaph, Coffee Time Romance & More
He took hold of her hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze. “What about you, Ellie Girl? What do you need? Is there anyone special in your life?”
How many times did she have to dodge this question? “You mean is there a man in my life? Why is that always the first thing people ask any female beyond the age of twelve?” She pulled her hand out of his. The conversation was turning too personal for her to maintain physical contact with him. Slipping off her sandals, she tucked her legs under her. Ellie leaned back against the corner of the couch and challenged him with her stare. Figuring the best defense was a good offense, she said, “I’m no virginal spinster if that’s what you’re asking. I go out with friends, but at the moment there is no one I’m seeing exclusively. Is there a woman in your life?”
“No one special, but I’d make a lousy monk.”
“Ah, that explains the sheets.”
He laughed. “No it doesn’t. Blame Melanie for that. She chooses the linens. I’ve just noticed how much I like ’em.”
“Didn’t Jasper have a bevy of wealthy beauties lined up for you once you graduated college? I seem to recall he had big plans, some grand financial alliance with a daughter of one of his cronies. How’d you manage to wiggle out of that?”
“I told him I was gay and that I would much rather marry the son of one of his good ole boy buddies, preferably a football player.” His golden eyes twinkled.
She laughed at the sheer absurdity. “I wish I’d seen Jasper’s reaction to that. His homophobia ran so deep I bet he didn’t see the humor.”
“He didn’t and I won’t bore you with his opinion of same-sex marriage.” The thought made him smile, but after a moment his eyes grew serious. “I never was Jasper’s idea of the perfect son. He threw these poor girls at me over and over again. It got so I’d date them just to keep from hurting their feelings. These days, I make damn sure that the women I take to my bed know the score before I get involved.”
“How sporting of you.”
His chuckle woke one of the sleeping dogs. “It’s not as bad as it sounds. In case you haven’t heard, women like sex just as much as men do, and they’re free to admit it these days. It doesn’t have to end in happily ever after. Sedgwicks suck at commitment. If she’s looking for the fairy-tale ending, then I’m not the man for her.”
“I guess not.” She tried to sound casual and amused, but the topic was going in a direction that made her nervous.
“I told you mine. Now you tell me yours. Why aren’t you involved with someone special?”
This wasn’t the conversation she wanted to have with him of all people, and she regretted starting it. He smelled too good, sat too close, and looked too appetizing. She shrugged. “What’s the big deal? I haven’t met the right person, that’s all.”
His eyes gleamed gold and promised all kinds of buried treasure. “No one has ever lived up to those kisses we shared, huh?”
He couldn’t leave it alone, could he? What game was he playing? She’d never been one much for sport, but for the first time in her life, Ellie decided to take the field. “Just what makes you think they were so special? They were my first. As you pointed out, I had no frame of reference and you’d had plenty.”
“Yeah, and practice makes perfect.”
She batted her eyes, at last getting the hang of the rules. “Yeah, and they say a woman never forgets her first.” She shot him a challenging look and said, “Don’t go getting all cocky. If they hadn’t been my first, we wouldn’t even remember those kisses.”
“Cop-out! It was more than that and you know it. You’ve had something to compare it to in all these years.” He leaned toward her and, in a heavily accented whisper, taunted, “Tell me it didn’t melt your butter.”
Her eyes widened as she looked at him, and it occurred to her they were actually flirting again. Damn it! Suddenly, she lost her nerve. Ellie didn’t want to play anymore. “I don’t have to tell you anything, Jack,” she said.
Her words killed the lighthearted amusement in his eyes. He reached out to her, running a callused finger down her cheek. “No, Ellie Girl, you don’t have to tell me anything, but let me tell you something.” His eyes watched his finger explore the curved line of her jaw, then her neck and collarbone. His voice was low-pitched and raw. It sounded strange, almost angry, when he said, “I’ll prove I’m right. How ’bout I kiss you now? I promise it’ll be so good you won’t be able to resist kissing me back.” His thumb caressed her bottom lip, sending southbound reverberations, making her long to take it in her mouth, suck on it, bite it.
He’d given her plenty of warning. She could have run for the hills. Instead she sat mesmerized, enjoying his wandering finger’s journey from her lips to her ear and back again. Every inch of the skin he touched felt activated. Invisible, fine hairs on her sensitized flesh lifted and reached out to him. Each nerve in her body was stretched to the limit, waiting for him to make good on his threat. She knew she’d lost her mind, but for the moment she didn’t care.