Spotlight & Giveaway: Home to You by Robin Kaye

Posted April 9th, 2015 by in Blog, Spotlight / 46 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome romance author Robin Kaye to HJ!
Spotlight&Giveaway

Hi Robin and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, HOME TO YOU!

 
Hi Sara, thanks so much for having me.
 

Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:

I can write a book, a summarization… well, short is not my strong suit. Here’s the back cover copy…

Home to YouJackson Sullivan III has always lived up to his uncle’s expectations, until his career is sidelined, leaving him lost and in need of a retreat to his family’s cabin. But his solitude is interrupted by a beautiful visitor whose combative feelings about the Sullivans lead Jax to a surprising declaration: he pretends to be someone else.

Though she hasn’t seen the privileged scion since she was a child, Kendall Watkins hates everything Jackson Sullivan represents. She should know: her parents have managed the Sullivan estate for years. In need of her own peace and quiet, she heads to the cabin, never expecting to come face to face with the most handsome man she’s ever met. Soon stranded by a violent nor’easter, Jax and Kendall end up sharing more than they dreamed. But Jax knows that when the storm clears, his true identity will be revealed, and Kendall will be left with a betrayal that may be too great to forgive…
 

Please share your favorite line or quote from this book:

“A broken axle? Seriously?” She raised her gaze to the sky. “God, I know I’m strong, independent, intelligent, and resourceful, but don’t you think the broken axle was just a little over the top?” She waited a beat to give God a second to strike her down, in case he was in the mood. “Okay, you win. I give up.”
She knew she stood beside a snowbank, but looked over her shoulder just to make sure before taking a seat. Who could blame her? After the day she’d had, she had good reason to question her own judgment. At that moment, she couldn’t have cared less who the man before her was or that he, a complete stranger, would witness her tears. At times like this, self-respect was overrated. Besides, it wasn’t as if he had to stand there and listen— he could slink off to wherever he came from.
She took a stilted breath before dropping her face into her hands and crying again in earnest. “In the past day, I’ve been downsized and dumped. In a month, I’ll be homeless, because without my job and my fiancé, I can’t afford to keep my apartment. And if that isn’t enough, now you tell me I’ve just broken the axle on my car. I’m no crack mechanic, but even I know that’s really expensive.” The snowbank gave way, and she sank another six inches. “And now I’m sitting here, in the middle of nowhere, crying in front of a total stranger, my ass is wet, and I’m stuck.”
A slow, self-deprecating smile spread across his face. “I’m not much of a stranger anymore.”

 

Please share a few FUN facts about this book…

I wrote a novella, HEAT OF THE MOMENT, in which Kendall was a secondary character so we meet her looking through the eyes of her best friend in Boston, Erin. I’ll never stop being amazed at how different a character is perceived when seen through the eyes of another character. It was a lot of fun getting into Kendall’s POV and realizing that although her best friend thought she was so together, in reality, she was just as insecure as Erin, maybe more so because her fiancé was all about the image. Her life held the illusion of perfection, but even her happiness was a thin vainer.
 

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

Jackson Sullivan is a Funds Manager who has done nothing but work and go to school since his parents died when he was 16. He’s a mathematical genius, who, after a brain injury, loses all ability to work with numbers.

Kendall Watkins is a Social Worker/Marriage and family therapist who, on the same day, lost her job and came home to find her fiancé, the man she’d dated since they were in the eighth grade, packing his things and moving to San Francisco without so much as a good bye.

They both escape to an old hunting cabin to hide away for a while and recover–they just never expected anyone else to show up.

Jaime Rouchard is Jax’s best friend since they were four years old and has known Kendall all her life. When he finds out that Kendall showed up at the cabin, Jax had already fudged his identity, so Jaime either had to help his friend or out him.

Addison Lane is the local kindergarten teacher and Kendall’s best friend in Harmony, NH. She dresses to conceal, she hides from the world and the only man who see’s her, really sees her is Jaime Rouchard–unfortunately, thus far, his attention is really unwanted.
 

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I ended up doing quite a bit of research on brain injury. Years ago friend of mine suffered a traumatic brain injury–actually, it happened before we met but she told me all about it, and even after all this time, she still has to deal with the changes and challenges of having a traumatic brain injury. Among other things, she lost all ability to work with numbers–she couldn’t tell time, count change, or dial a phone if you gave her the number. I found that strangely fascinating since, after the accident, she had no problem reading.

When I started writing the book, I had no idea why this happened, and frankly, I didn’t think I’d need to know. I just knew that if I had to pick out the worst thing that could happen to Jax, a numbers guy, the man who was written up it the Wall Street Journal as the youngest funds manager ever… well, taking away his ability to work with numbers would do it.

It wasn’t until I was almost done writing the book that I had to dig into some heavy research about the brain and was able to answer my question as to why this strange phenomena would occur. I found an article in the Journal of Neuroscience about researchers who studied epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted into their brains to determine the source of their seizures. During the study, they discovered a cluster of specialized brain cells that deal specifically with numbers. I was fascinated by the research, and had a good time explaining to my friend exactly why that happened.
 

The First kiss…

He knew her scent, the feel of her skin, the strength of her body against his, the softness of her hair, and , thanks to the bright sunlight shining through the bare window, that she slept commando beneath that wisp of silky fabric. He hadn’t known women actually slept in getups like hers. Lord knew if she were going to bed with him, the damn thing would be off within seconds. That’s what he’d always assumed lingerie like that was for— a prelude to foreplay, a sign that the woman wearing it wanted to do anything but sleep. No, a woman who wore that kind of lingerie wanted multiple orgasms, she wanted to lose her voice screaming her lover’s name, she wanted to go more than three rounds. Wearing lingerie like that was a serious, I-hope-you-ate-your-Wheaties-this-morning warning. And to think that for the first night in his erotic dreams, Kendall had worn baggy T-shirts and flannel sleep pants. Even in those, she’d been enough to drive him crazy. Every night since had been worse, but now, knowing what he knew, seeing what he’d seen, wanting her the way he did, he might never again be able to sleep under the same roof. He dropped his head in his hands, closed his eyes, trying to erase Kendall’s image, and groaned again.
“Jack, are you okay? Is it another headache? Do you want me to get you your medicine? Water?” Hands squeezed his knees and slid up his outer thighs.
His eyes shot open, and there was the real Kendall, kneeling before him on the plaster-littered floor, wearing a pair of faded denim jeans and a worn Boston College sweatshirt with the collar of a faded blue-plaid-flannel shirt poking out beneath the open neck. Concern created a gully between her dark brows— brows he’d wanted to trace more times than he could count, if he could count—which served as punctuation marks for her every expression. He swallowed hard, and she leaned in closer, sliding between his splayed legs. His heart rear-ended his rib cage, and every muscle in his body vibrated with the need to touch her, but he knew that if he did, if he gave in, he’d be lost.
“Jack, what’s wrong?”
Her eyes met his. He couldn’t look away, no matter how hard he tried. It was like being caught in a riptide, and he was dragged underwater, powerless to fight it, his only option to go along for the ride and hope that when he was tossed back on the jagged shore, he would still be in one piece.
Kendall’s eyes widened, darkened, if that was possible, and her expression, with only the movement of her brows, morphed from one of concern to inquiry, and then slid into a knowing, powerful, self-assured. A damn sexy expression he’d never before seen grace her face.
Her breath caught , and she held it as she slid her hands to his waist and trailed her fingers over his abs. The shock of her hands on him through his shirt was enough to have his stomach muscles tighten so violently, they all but kicked the air from his lungs. She continued her exploration, pausing on his chest, where he was sure she could feel the gallop of his heart beneath her fingers.
“In all my life, I’ve only really kissed one man. I’ve only wanted to kiss one man. Until now. Now I only want to kiss you.”
“Kendall—” It had been his intention to stop her, but when her fingers wove through the hair at the back of his neck and her lips touched his, all the myriad reasons why this was a very bad idea floated away like smoke from a chimney.
Her kiss was so soft, if not for the warmth of her lips, he could have believed he’d imagined it— until he breathed, dragging in the tantalizing scent of her. It wasn’t perfume; maybe it was her soap or shampoo, but her scent was just like her— light and fun with an unexpected hit of seduction that sneaks up on a guy and grabs him by the throat. Her next kiss was less tentative, but no less innocent. God, she was sweet.
His arms wrapped around her, dragging her up and over him as he lay back on the bed. When her hand fisted in his hair, he growled, and when he felt the weight of her body cover his, her breasts pillowed against his chest and her long legs straddling his hips, he lost his tenuous hold on the last frayed thread of his control. Jax took possession of her mouth like he’d dreamt about since she’d come crashing into his life. He cupped her head, changing the angle, and returned the kiss, which went from innocent to incendiary with one deep, hard stroke of his tongue. She tasted of coffee and toothpaste and desire.
He slid a hand along her back , beneath the flannel shirt, amazed by the heat and softness of her skin. Had he ever paid attention to the feel of a woman’s skin before? If he had, he couldn’t recall. His hand explored each bump of her spine, the dip of her waist, and the dimples right below the loose waistband of her jeans. He wished he could trace the same path with his mouth.
She slid higher, ground her pelvis into his, and damned if his dick didn’t jump for joy. It didn’t seem to matter that he might very well end up with a permanent zipper tattoo. All that mattered was the sweet sound she made and the way her eyes shot open in surprise and what looked like amazement. Her breathing came in gasps as he kissed her neck, tugging down the collar of her sweatshirt and surging against her heat, swallowing back a groan of his own. God, he didn’t think he’d ever been this hard with clothes on. He cursed the layers and layers of clothing separating them. All he wanted to do was touch, kiss, and lick her bare skin . Okay, that wasn’t all he wanted. He wanted all of her. He wanted her now. And he wanted her with a fierce, mindless urgency that rattled him and left him panting and shaking.
Kendall rose above him, and, with one swift move, pulled both her shirt and sweatshirt off. For the second time in one day, all the air burst from his lungs. He stared and realized he’d never seen a woman as intrinsically beautiful as the one offering herself to him now. “God, you’re breathtaking.” And she was. Dark, almost black, hair fell over her beautifully shaped pale shoulders, teasing her collarbones. The baby-pink lace bra was incongruous with the outfit— but, then, he wasn’t sure if there were bras that would reflect denim and flannel. Her skin was opalescent, so pale; he could see the faint blue veins on the inside of her arms . Although he knew it was a mistake, he couldn’t stop himself from touching her just once more. But he knew all the same that if they went any further, she’d regret it, and he couldn’t stand the thought of her regretting a second of their time together.
“Jack?”
It was all he could do not to cringe. He felt more like Jack than he did Jax or Jackson Finneus Sullivan, but he doubted she’d understand the subtle difference. If she knew the truth, she’d see him as a man just like her ex. Maybe she’d have been right before the accident, but that’s not who he was now. “Kendall.” He took a deep breath and sat, taking her hips in his hands and sliding her toward his knees and away from his straining erection.
Kendall stared at him a moment and then practically vaulted from his lap, grabbed the inside-out ball of her wadded shirts off the floor, and hugged them against her chest. “I’m sorry. I . . . I thought that you wanted . . .”
“I did. I mean, I do. It’s just that you’re on the rebound— as cliché as that sounds, that’s where you are right now. And me, I don’t even know where I am. The thing I do know is that I don’t want to be your rebound guy. I don’t want to do anything that you’ll end up regretting. If we’re nothing else to each other, I hope we’ll always be friends, and, as a friend, I can’t . . .”
A look of horror crossed her face. “You want to be friends?”
“We are friends. As for what I want—” He shook his head, trying to gather his thoughts, trying to figure out how to explain the jumble of feelings ping-ponging around his brain. “Kendall, we’re in two different places, you and I.” He stood and pulled the tightly held bundle of knotted shirts from her— she didn’t let it go easily, and then she hugged herself, covering her breasts with her crossed arms.
Hurt and confusion radiated from her, her eyes wide and glassy.
He took both her forearms in his hands, forcing her to bare herself to him once again before tugging her against him and placing a gentle kiss on her swollen lips. “You have to believe me when I say I want you. I think that’s more than obvious .” He ran his hands down her back to her waist and pulled her closer so there was no way she could miss his raging erection . “But this can’t be just about sex— at least not for me. I want you to want me, not just because I’m here and we’re attracted to each other. Not just because you’re curious about what it would be like to be with someone other than David. I want you to be with me for the same reasons I want to be with you— because there’s no one on earth with whom I’d rather make love.”
“But I—”
He cut her words off with another kiss. “Believe me, this is not over. You need time, and I guess I do too. Let’s just hope what they say is true.”
She held him close and buried her face in his neck. She fit against him like they’d been molded to each other’s specifications— the perfect height; their arms were the perfect length for hand holding; and, he knew, if they were to walk with their arms around each other, hip to hip, their steps would match too. She burrowed closer— was that wetness he felt against his neck? Had he made her cry? He couldn’t tell.
“What is it they say that you hope is true?”
“Time heals all wounds. We’re both wounded, just differently.” But then when he thought about it, maybe they weren’t so different after all. They’d both had the foundation of their lives rocked with the force of a catastrophic earthquake . They were both trying to envision a life completely different from the one they’d led before. They were trying to find their balance on a swiftly shifting landscape. For better or worse, they had only each other to lean against and hold on to.
“I don’t want you to be my rebound guy, Jack. I want you because of who you are.”
“Have you ever been on the rebound before?”
She pulled away slightly, and he saw fire in her eyes. “You know I haven’t.”
“Then you don’t really know that, do you?”
“I know what I feel. I don’t want to be with you because I need to prove I can. I don’t want to be with you because I’m not complete without a man in my life. I want to be with you because I care about you, and, well, when I’m with you, I feel this overwhelming, urgent, almost uncontrollable need to rip your clothes off and have my way with you. I’ve never felt that way before— not even with David. Nothing even close. I never thought I could feel like this.”
“Yeah, well, the feeling is definitely mutual.” He was all for sexual honesty, but damn, he wished just this once she’d have kept that beautiful mouth of hers shut. He stepped back, turned away, and raked both hands through his hair. It was either that or dragging the rest of her clothes off and taking her up against the wall. “Christ, Kendall, I’m trying to be a gentleman here, and you’re not helping.”
“I don’t want you to be a gentleman.”
“Yeah, I got that. But do me a favor and put your shirt on anyway.”

 

Was there a scene in this book that was harder to write than others?

The black moment is always the hardest–well, that and the immediate aftermath.

The next morning Kendall woke up to moaning. And not the good kind. “Jack, what’s wrong?”
He rolled over, and she got her first look at him. He was pale, a little on the green side, and sweating profusely.
She pushed the hair off his forehead, which was clammy. “Headache?”
“Like you read about.”
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
“I thought it would go away.”
Men could be such babies. “It looks like you were wrong. Didn’t any of your nurse girlfriends tell you that you need to stay ahead of the pain? That means Motrin as soon as you feel one coming on. Have you taken anything?”
“No.”
“What do you need?” “
A bullet.”
“Very funny. Motrin and Tylenol, or are you ready for the hard stuff? “
“The hard stuff.”
“Okay.” She swung her legs over the edge of the bed. “Where is it?”
“Medicine cabinet.” Jack groaned again and covered his eyes with his arm.
She got out of bed, and a shiver ran through her— she wasn’t sure if it was from the cold or concern for Jack . His color was off, plus the pain she saw in his eyes and the strain in his body— everything about this scared her. Should she take him to the hospital? She shaded her own eyes as she turned on the obnoxious overhead light and opened the medicine cabinet. She pulled down a prescription bottle, but it was prescribed for Jackson Sullivan. “I don’t see it. Are you sure you put it in the cabinet?”
“It’s on the second shelf.”
There was only one prescription bottle in there— right next to the Motrin and Tylenol. TAKE TWO EVERY FOUR HOURS AS NEEDED FOR PAIN. But the prescription was for Jackson Sullivan. Jax never came to the cabin. He hadn’t been there in years. Why would he have a prescription here?
“Jack, Jackson.” She heard blood rushing through her ears. “Oh, God. No. He can’t be.”
She looked at the date of the prescription. Last month. December. She remembered her mother saying that Jax was coming before Christmas for a ski vacation. Her face tingled like a million bees were stinging her, their buzzing filled her ears, and her vision grayed. Her hand shook so badly, the medicine sounded like a maraca.
Jack— her Jack— was Jax. She closed her eyes, and her hand clamped onto the edge of the porcelain sink. She couldn’t deal with it now. No, she’d medicate him, and once he got better, she’d kill him.
Kendall blinked her eyes, trying to clear the gray fog closing in on her and realized she was holding her breath. Not good. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, then another. She was fine. She was in control. She was strong. She was also an idiot . Jack— Jackson. Wow, how could she have fallen for that? He’d even told her his parents had died— she’d never put the two together.
She remembered Jax’s parents and their funeral. The whole town showed up to pay their respects. Everyone loved Jack and Marie Sullivan. She remembered Jax that winter day, wearing a black suit and overcoat. He looked nothing like the boy she’d followed around the summer before— no, he looked like a man. A stranger— his expression blank, his eyes dead. He looked as if he were made of wax, like one of the statues she’d seen at Madame Tussauds the time her parents took her to New York.
Jax might have stood beside both his uncles, but even at twelve years old, she’d known he was alone. His sister, Rocki, had survived the accident that killed their parents and was still in the hospital. That had been the last time Kendall saw Jax. When she’d tried to speak to him, he’d looked right through her, as if she didn’t exist, didn’t matter, didn’t count. He’d been in shock. She knew that now. Back then, though, all she knew was that it hurt.
That was fourteen years ago.
Kendall could almost forgive herself for falling for David; she’d been a child then. She didn’t have that excuse now. She’d fallen head over heels in love with Jax Sullivan, the Grand Pooh-Bah of Harmony— a money-hungry, narcissistic, megalomaniac just like David.
But the Jack she knew, the Jack she’d made love to, the Jack she saw in her dreams was sweet and honest and loyal. Jack was an illusion.
She moved mechanically to the kitchen, grabbed a water glass , and filled it. When she returned, he was lying in the same position. “I have your meds, Jax. Can you sit up?”
His eyes shot open, and he looked at her— she couldn’t tell if the pain she saw was because of his headache or because she’d caught on. In the end, it didn’t matter . Nothing mattered. “Your name is on the prescription bottle.” She struggled with the childproof top and coaxed two pills into her shaking hand.
“Sweetheart, I can explain.”
“Not interested.” She handed him the water and the pills. “Just take your medicine and give me your phone.”
“Why?”
“Why the phone, or why am I not interested?”
He downed the pills and groaned.
“I’m not interested because, if you remember correctly, I’m pretty good at getting lied to. I’ve heard all the excuses before. And I need your phone because if the headache hasn’t subsided, you’re going to have to take more medicine in four hours, and last I heard, you can’t tell time— unless that was a lie too.”
“I never lied to you.”
“I’m going to set an alarm— I wouldn’t want you to accidentally OD on this stuff.”
He reached for her, but she snatched her hand away. “Kendall, please listen to me. Sweetheart, I love you.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that line before too. I shouldn’t have believed it then, and I’m certainly not falling for it now.” She set the prescription on the bedside table along with his water, picked up the clothes she’d laid out the night before, and went into the bathroom to change. She’d be damned if he’d ever see her naked again.

 

If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include and why?

I call it the bathroom fight… It happened shortly after the disastrous first kiss… and a scene in the shower where through frosted glass, she teases the hell out of him. The poor boy is not in a good mood. 🙂

“Kendall, when will you be ready to leave?”
She stepped out of her room and almost ran into Jack. “Five minutes. Why? What’s the rush?”
“I was thinking we could have lunch out— I’m hungry. It’ll be my treat.”
She headed back to the bathroom to do her makeup, shaking her head all the way. “Oh no, we’ll go dutch. We’re friends, remember? You taking me out to lunch would be too much like a date, and friends don’t date, do they?”
“Sure they do. How do you think you go beyond friendship?”
She turned toward him and stopped just inside the bathroom . “I figured having sex would do the trick. But if you think friends date, then I guess we wouldn’t be breaking your rules.” She went to the sink and pulled out her makeup case.
“Rules?” He hovered in the doorway to the john, looking like the dictionary definition of the word indignant. “I don’t have rules.”
“Oh, come on. Of course you do— you’re a man. You probably have a whole list of things that have to happen to prove to you that I’m not on the rebound.” Just like David with his list of things that they had to accomplish before they could set a wedding date. Just the thought of being caught in the same kind of situation made her angry. She bit her lip to keep from saying so, then changed her mind. To hell with keeping her mouth shut and going along to get along. She was starting down a new path, and she’d say what she thought. Holding back had never done her any favors. “You know”— she turned to him, eyeliner in hand—“ just because you have rules doesn’t mean I have to follow them. I never agreed to play that game. I can do whatever I want.”
“I’m not playing a game. I have no rules. I just think it’s too soon for you to jump into something like—”
“Sex? And who gave you the power to decide what I am or am not ready for? Maybe it’s you who’s not ready, and, if that’s the case, that’s fine. That’s your choice. But don’t think for a moment that you can decide anything for me. I’m done with abdicating my decision making. From now on, my life, my sexuality, and my future are in no one’s hands but my own. Got it?”
“Oh, I got it, all right.” His voice went down a few octaves along with his volume, but the words seemed to echo in her very bones. He was pissed , that much was obvious, but not frighteningly so. His anger was hot as hell but held in check, like the controlled burn of a rocket launcher. “But you need to understand something too. I’m not David. I don’t take advantage of people, and I don’t play games— not with you, not with anyone. And just so we’re on the same page, there’s one more thing you need to know.”
“Oh, really? And what’s that?”
He stepped closer, close enough for her to see the silver in his blue eyes and feel his coffee-scented breath on her cheek. “The next time you invite me into the bathroom when you’re showering, you’d better be willing to share a whole lot more than just the hot water, sweetheart. Are we clear on that?”
She grabbed the edge of the porcelain sink and held on. Oh, my. It made her want to strip back down to nothing and turn on a lot more than just the water. “Crystal.”

 

What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I write to entertain people. To entertain myself. I want to give everyone a little escape, a laugh or two, a sigh… a smile. I’m not trying to change the world here–just make it a little more pleasant.
 

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?

I’m writing the fourth book in my Wild Thing series. Right now, the working title is BAD KARMA. I’m not sure if that’s going to stick, but if you know anything about my character Karma Kincaid, you’d have to admit the title fits.

 

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

 

Giveaway: Three copies of HOME TO YOU (US Residents only)

 

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you were to escape your life, where would you go? Me? I’d head to Boise, Idaho. The mountains call to me.

 
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Excerpt from HOME TO YOU:

CHAPTER ONE
Kendall Watkins stopped the Jeep and threw it into four-wheel drive before turning off the main road onto the sorry excuse of a trail that led up the hill to the cabin, her sanctuary. She’d gotten through a long, tough day on almost no sleep. She’d made the trip from her Boston apartment to Harmony, New Hampshire; powered through her best friend, Addie’s, inquisition about Kendall’s first heartbreak with minimal waterworks; and taken all the groceries, love, and support that she could stand.
As much as she loved Addie and appreciated the offer of her spare bedroom, right now, the last thing she needed was company. No matter how supportive, understanding, and well-intentioned Addie was, Kendall needed to be alone to lick her wounds and wallow in self-pity for as long as it took her to feel human again, or until the Rocky Road ran out—whichever came first. She had a bad feeling she’d be busy until the cupboards were bare.
Addie had told her in no uncertain terms that the grocery shopping spree was a onetime-only offer. There would be no refilling of the five basic food groups—chocolate, wine, pasta, ice cream, and Nutella—until Kendall poked her head out of her cave and rejoined society.
From a therapist’s perspective, Kendall had to admit it was a sound plan on Addie’s part. Everyone knew wallowing for more than a week or two might lead down the dark road of clinical depression, but from the perspective of a woman who was just unceremoniously dumped from a twelve-year relationship with no warning and not so much as a this-isn’t-working-for-me chat, a week or two didn’t seem nearly long enough.
Last night, the only thing she had wanted was to escape the apartment she’d shared with David. She’d never felt at home in Boston, and she wanted to go home. Home to Harmony.
When she thought of possible escapes, a picture of the old hunting cabin immediately came to mind. She knew she could go there and no one would find her hiding place. The only person who lived within five miles of it was Jaime Rouchard, and if he caught her, she was sure he’d keep her secret and respect her privacy. She felt certain that Jaime would keep his mouth shut, and, as far as she knew, he and Addie were the only people in their gossip mill of a town who could.
She looked through the dwindling light of late afternoon and tried not to think of all the times she and David had gone to the cabin. She did her best to tamp down a case of sudden nerves, wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans to make sure she had a good grip on the steering wheel, and wondered if she wasn’t making yet another a huge mistake. When she’d come up with her plan in the wee hours of the morning, it hadn’t occurred to her that the last thing she needed was to be stuck in a cabin with the Ghost of Boyfriends Past. No, she wouldn’t allow David to ruin her homecoming. She refused to give him that much power.
The trail was snow covered, and in the fading light it was difficult to discern the path at all. It was clear that whoever plowed hadn’t done so recently, so she was stuck picking her way up the steep incline in low gear.
Sara Bareilles’s Gravity—a song she’d always liked but could never relate to until today—drowned out the rumble of the engine and struck a chord so deep within her she had to blink back tears and fight for control of her emotions.
Kendall took a hand off the wheel to wipe her eyes, and the front passenger’s side of the Jeep ran over something—a boulder, the edge of the trail, a snow-covered log; she wasn’t sure. All she knew was she needed to get off the damn thing, since the Jeep canted awkwardly. She stopped and sent up a little prayer that she had enough clearance. After all, this was why she’d bought a four-wheel drive in the first place. It gave her the ability to go off-road, and this was definitely off-road. She eased up on the brake and tapped the gas, and the Jeep surged forward off whatever it had been on and landed with a decidedly expensive-sounding crunch of metal.
“Damn.” She tapped the gas again, and the Jeep grunted ahead, except this time the front passenger’s side fell at an awkward angle and lurched to a stop, way too low to be considered normal.
“Oh, God. This is just the icing on a total shit cake of a day. Can’t anything go right?” She put the car in park—as if it would go anywhere—and banged her head against the steering wheel with a painful thud. She rubbed her forehead. The action did nothing to make her feel better.
“Whoever thought that a good head bang would release tension was obviously an idiot.”
Great. She was in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest person, in a disabled car. She took a quick look at her phone—no cell coverage. Unfortunately, in a twenty-four-hour period filled with nonstop shocks, the lack of cell coverage wasn’t one of them.
Strains of Lady Antebellum’s song “Love Don’t Live Here” filled the car, and she considered banging her head again. “Maybe love don’t live here anymore, but it did once,” she mumbled, and killed the engine.
That thought pushed her over the edge of the emotional cliff she’d been skirting for the past day and a half. She stopped fighting the good fight and let loose the river of tears she’d kept dammed up with a finger, a wad of gum, duct tape, and a prayer.
She wasn’t sure how long she’d sat in the cooling car, crying, when a triple rap on the driver’s-side door interrupted her midmeltdown. Kendall jumped, let out a startled yelp, and blinked at the image of a hairy hulk of a man staring through the steamed-up driver’s-side window. He had longish blond hair sticking out of a navy blue knit cap, a two- or three-week beard covered what looked like a square jaw, and he sported crinkles around the bluest, most intense eyes she’d ever seen. Even with tears and a foggy window clouding her vision, her gaze felt shackled to his, and, like a sleepwalker, she slowly opened the door and let out an embarrassing, hiccupping sob.
The man took what looked like a cautious step back and crouched before her, maybe to seem less threatening. “Are you hurt?” He sounded as if he didn’t want to know the answer, but felt awkwardly obligated to ask.
Another sob escaped. She shook her head and took what she hoped was a calming breath. “Physically, I’m fine. Emotionally, I’m a complete wreck.”
He rose to his full height, rounded the front of the car, and then crouched to inspect the sunken front end. She wasn’t sure if it was to look for damage or just a damn good excuse to get away from the crazy woman blubbering all over herself. He placed one large hand on the edge of the hood and pushed, rocking the car with a grunt of effort.
The next sound she heard was a manly hum of disappointment confirming her initial assessment of the situation: she was screwed.
He came to his feet in one smooth move and caught her gaze—probably to gauge her mental competency—and his expression shifted from polite but hugely uncomfortable concern to an I’ve-got-bad-news-for-you grimace.
Kendall wiped her cold, tearstained face. “You might as well just say whatever it is.”
He looked her up and down again. “I don’t want to make what is obviously a terrible day worse, but it looks as if you have a broken axel.”
“A broken axel? Seriously?” She raised her gaze to the sky. “God, I know I’m strong, independent, intelligent, and resourceful, but don’t you think the broken axel was just a little over the top?” She waited a beat to give God a second to strike her down, in case he was in the mood. “Okay, you win. I give up.” She knew she stood beside a snowbank, but looked over her shoulder just to make sure before taking a seat. Who could blame her? After the day she’d had, she had good reason to question her own judgment. At that moment, she couldn’t have cared less who the man before her was or that he, a complete stranger, would witness her tears. At times like this, self-respect was overrated. Besides, it wasn’t as if he had to stand there and listen—he could slink off to wherever he came from.
She took a stilted breath before dropping her face into her hands and crying again in earnest. “In the past day, I’ve been downsized and dumped. In a month, I’ll be homeless, because without my job and my fiancé, I can’t afford to keep my apartment. And if that isn’t enough, now you tell me I’ve just broken the axel on my car. I’m no crack mechanic, but even I know that’s really expensive.”
The snowbank gave way, and she sank another six inches. “And now I’m sitting here, in the middle of nowhere, crying in front of a total stranger, my ass is wet, and I’m stuck.”
A slow, self-deprecating smile spread across his face. “I’m not much of a stranger anymore.” He pulled a folded bandanna from his pocket and held it out to her. “Here, blow your nose.”
She took the bandanna. “What do I look like? A five-year-old?”
“No. No one would mistake you for a child, but you’ve been crying with all the abandon of one.”
Kendall always enjoyed arguing, but even she couldn’t argue with this. After all, he was right. She shrugged, snapped the bandanna open, and blew her nose. Before she finished wiping tears from her face, he had a grip on her arm.
“Come on. It’s getting colder, and we’re losing the light. I can deal with a lot of things, but not a frozen ass. I have a cabin just up the hill. I’ll stoke the fire, and you can thaw out.”
She dug in her heels. “You have a cabin?”
“Yeah, but just to warn you, it’s not much.”
“You’re staying in the Sullivans’ hunting cabin?”
“The very one.”
“My father rented it to you?”
When he didn’t answer, she forged ahead. “My father works for the Grand Pooh-Bah of Harmony, Jackson Finneus Sullivan III.”
“Teddy Watkins—”
“Is my father. Guilty as charged.”
From the look of consternation on his face, she figured he must have recently been on the receiving end of her father’s third degree—the same one her dad gave to anyone interested in renting one of the houses or cabins on Sullivan’s Tarn.
“Well, that’s a relief. At least I know you’re not an ax murderer. The Secret Service has nothing on my dad when it comes to looking into the backgrounds of tenants.”
“Teddy’s that careful, is he?”
“Oh yeah.” She looked from the guy who still had a hand on her elbow to the land around them. “I’m a little surprised Jax Sullivan hasn’t developed this side of the lake by now, but, then, maybe he’s forgotten he owns it. I guess when you own half the town, not to mention half the banks in Chicago, you’d have better things to do than remember a falling-down cabin on a heavily forested piece of land.”
The man rocked back on his heels and blew out a breath. “It sounds as if you don’t like your dad’s boss very much.”
She shrugged and brushed the snow off her skinny jeans. “Believe me, the last thing I want to do is think about Jax Sullivan or men like him. Just because my parents think he walks on water doesn’t mean I do.” She shrugged. “But, then, I can’t say I have feelings about him either way—”
“You could have fooled me.”
“I haven’t seen him since I was in grade school. By the time he started coming back to the lake, I was in college or living and working in Boston.”
He didn’t say anything. He just stared at her with those startling blue eyes.
“So, it’s nothing personal. I don’t actually dislike him, but I don’t automatically like him either. He pays my parents’ salary, and he must treat them well. If he didn’t, I doubt they’d still think he walked on water.” She shrugged. She might not know the man, but she couldn’t help but lump Jax in with every other stuffed shirt with whom her fiancé forced her to socialize. She’d always wondered why David tried so hard to impress the corporate elite. Now it all made sense. “Well, enough about me. What brings you out here in the off-season?”
He stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Me? I wanted some peace and solitude. I thought this would be the perfect place to find it. I’m staying at the cabin for a few months at a cut rate and doing some handyman work.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Why is that so hard to believe? I’m just repairing the roof and cleaning the place up a little.”
“Do you mean to tell me that the great Jax Sullivan—Harmony’s own Scrooge McDuck—is so cheap, he’s not even paying for your labor?”
“I think it’s a fair deal.”
“Right.”
“You make it sound like having money is a criminal offense.”
“No, but taking advantage of people should be. It’s not having money that’s bad; what’s bad is what people usually do to keep it.”
“Are you speaking from personal experience?”
She looked at her car, wondering how much money David had seen fit to leave in their—make that her—savings account. “Probably.” She blew out a breath and tossed her hair over her shoulder before she shook her head. “Look, don’t mind me. I just discovered that sometime in our twelve-year relationship, my ex-fiancé turned into a Jackson Sullivan wannabe. If I’d known world financial domination was what he was after, I never would have gotten involved with him in the first place.”
The guy seemed to relax a little then. “We all make mistakes.”
“Obviously, but in my own defense, when David and I started dating, he wanted to be a fireman—of course, we were in eighth grade at the time.”
“So I take it the career switch didn’t come as a complete shock?”
She shrugged. “Yes and no. In college and grad school, he majored in finance, but our plan had always been to move back to Harmony—not exactly a world financial center. I was going to open my own psychotherapy practice, and I thought he’d get a job at the bank, maybe do some financial planning, sell insurance—that kind of thing.”
“He had other plans?”
“Apparently. Plans he didn’t see fit to share with me. He took a promotion in San Francisco. Yesterday I got a pink slip, and then, to top off my day, I came home to find him packing. He said he didn’t need a modern-day Betty Crocker with a Carl Jung fetish. His words, not mine.”
“Wow, that’s harsh.” He leaned back against the car and tilted his head, as if looking at her from a different angle would change the picture. No such luck for either of them. “Would you have gone to San Francisco with him if he’d asked?”
She wanted to say yes, but the look in his eyes stopped her and made her really think about it. Would she have followed David to San Francisco? She’d followed him to Boston, but that was with the understanding that they’d return to Harmony. Boston was two hours away from home, not on the other side of the country. “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never wanted to live anywhere but right here.”
“I would think that if you really loved this guy, you’d follow him anywhere.”
“We spent the past twelve years planning our life together, and David never even floated the idea of a move to San Francisco, or anyplace else, for that matter.”
The man didn’t argue; he just continued staring.
“If I used your logic, I could say that if he really loved me, he would never leave me for a job on the West Coast.”
“You’re right. Which begs the question: why are you wasting your time crying over a man who obviously doesn’t love you? At least not anymore.”
Ouch; that hurt. Tears welled in her eyes, but she blinked them away. “He might not have loved me, but I loved him.” It came out on a sob, and his frown deepened.
“Not enough to follow him to San Francisco,” he said softly. His eyes stared into hers, as if he were willing her to agree.
Except she wasn’t feeling very agreeable at the moment. “I might have if he’d asked. Instead, he waited until I left for work to pack his things and move out of our apartment without a word about it to me. If I hadn’t lost my job and come home early, I would have received nothing more than the e-mail he’d planned to send from the airport. He said he wanted to avoid the drama.”
He stepped closer and crossed his arms, his gaze pinning her in place. “Look, you don’t know me from Adam, but if you ask me, I think the jerk did you a favor.”
“You think he did me favor?”
“Yeah. He’s obviously a coward. No real man would spend over a decade with a beautiful woman like you—even with your penchant for tears—and leave you with no warning, no apology, and without so much as a good-bye. You should thank him for keeping you from wasting any more of your life on him. He probably saved you years of misery, not to mention the cost of a good divorce attorney. In his own cowardly way, he did the right thing. He set you free to be happy.”
She took a deep breath and gathered her thoughts, and his words pinballed their way around her mind, hitting more buttons than she would have thought possible. “You know, I doubt I would have ever come to that conclusion on my own, but you might be right.” She stared at the tall, blond, obnoxiously gorgeous man, and wondered who in the hell he was. “If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll feel that way in a few years. Right now, I’m having a difficult time working up any real gratitude.”
“It won’t take years, believe me.”
“Who are you?” That question seemed to surprise him. She couldn’t fathom why.
“Excuse me?”
“It’s suddenly occurred to me that I’ve just spilled my guts to a total stranger and I don’t even know your name.”
“I’m Jack.” He held out his hand in a manner so businesslike, it was odd, considering where they were and the fact that he was dressed like a construction worker.
“Jack.” She tried his name on for size and found that it fit, rolling off her tongue with an unnatural ease. Jack was a no-frills, competent, strong-sounding name, and it suited him. His warm, work-roughened hand engulfed her smaller, smooth, frozen one. “It’s nice to meet you, Jack. I’m Kendall.”

Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
 

Book Info:

Jackson Sullivan III has always lived up to his uncle’s expectations, until his career is sidelined, leaving him lost and in need of a retreat to his family’s cabin. But his solitude is interrupted by a beautiful visitor whose combative feelings about the Sullivans lead Jax to a surprising declaration: he pretends to be someone else.

Though she hasn’t seen the privileged scion since she was a child, Kendall Watkins hates everything Jackson Sullivan represents. She should know: her parents have managed the Sullivan estate for years. In need of her own peace and quiet, she heads to the cabin, never expecting to come face to face with the most handsome man she’s ever met. Soon stranded by a violent nor’easter, Jax and Kendall end up sharing more than they dreamed. But Jax knows that when the storm clears, his true identity will be revealed, and Kendall will be left with a betrayal that may be too great to forgive…

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Meet the Author:

Robin KayeRobin Kaye was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge next door to her Sicilian grandparents. Living with an extended family that’s a cross between Gilligan’s Island and The Sopranos, minus the desert isle and illegal activities, explains both her comedic timing and the cast of quirky characters in her books.

She’s lived in half a dozen states from Idaho to Florida, but the romance of Brooklyn has never left her heart. She currently resides in Maryland with her husband, three children, a precocious puggle, and a three-legged cat with attitude.
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46 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Home to You by Robin Kaye”

  1. CelineB

    I would go to a cabin in the woods by a lake. It’s a fantasy so nowhere specific but I’m sure there are several places that fit.

  2. mrsmac19

    A local-ish escape would be Washington. DC because I just love that city. For something more exotic, I’d like to escape to Australia – might as well go big!

  3. Suzanne

    I prefer the mountains. A cabin in the woods in the North Carolina mountains would be great.

  4. stormy27

    I would go to the Seychelles Islands/the Maldives. A beautiful island with tranquil breezes and amazing tropical ocean views. *sigh* Someday…

  5. Joye

    If I wanted to really get lost, I would go to Greenland but if I wanted to have a good vacation I would head for the Isle of Capri

  6. Glenda

    If it was spring, summer or early fall – either the Tetons or the Rockies. Other times of the year, probably the beach. I don’t do snow. 🙂

  7. angela smith

    i’ve always wanted to go to maine because my mom was born and raised there.also always wanted to go to a cabin in the woods away from everyone

  8. Debbi Wellenstein

    I would go to my grandparents’ cottage on Lake Michigan-it’s a wonderful, peaceful place.

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