Title: At First Blush
Author: Marianne Rice
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Alexis Le Blanc enjoys her simple life in Crystal Cove, Maine. After taking a chance on romance and getting rejected, she has given up on love. Now she devotes all her time to running her family’s winery, Coastal Vines. She wants to keep it small and traditional, but her parents have other ideas—hence why they hire some big-shot marketing executive from Napa Valley to rev up business.
When Benito Martelli shows up in her family’s tasting room, she’s more than stunned to discover he’s the man who wined and dined her the night before. Alexis is beyond peeved at his deception in trying to get into her good graces for the sake of making money on her winery. At first, she wants nothing to do with him or his big business ideas, but she’s pleasantly surprised when they come to a compromise, and even more surprised when she gives in to the sparks between them.
Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and Alexis is faced with complications she never could have predicted. Promises and secrets unravel, and she must decide if love and wine are as well paired as she hoped.
“You want brutal honesty?”
“That would be nice. For once.”
Ben grabbed the collar of her jacket and jerked her toward him, their faces inches apart. “I want you. In my bed. Underneath me. On top of me. But I also don’t want to hurt you. I’m letting you go because I don’t want to be a selfish bastard. There are things you don’t know…”
“I seem to go for selfish bastards so…” She licked her lips, hoping for one more kiss. Hoping he’d ask her to stay. Hoping he’d let her go.
“I’m not special.” Alexis lowered her eyes and shook her head. More lies to get her into bed. Only he didn’t want her in his bed. Her mind raced searching for answers, yet she didn’t even know the questions. It was all too much.
The way her heart raced when he was near. The way her legs trembled when his dimple appeared as if just for her. The way her mind went dizzy with longing when his stunning eyes were so intently focused on her.
“See, and then you do that vulnerable thing and I just want to…”
A spark ignited inside. She was not weak. “I’m not vulnerable.” She lifted her gaze to his and studied the intensity in his eyes, the seriousness in his jaw.
“I like that you are, and that you think you aren’t.”
“I think I should go.” She was smart enough and strong enough to walk away before she’d get emotionally attached and have her heart broken.
“I’ll follow you home.”
“When was the last time you drove in the snow?” Ben didn’t reply, his gaze still on her lips. “I didn’t think so. I don’t want to have to haul your ass out of a ditch so stay here. Play on your laptop. Style your hair. Go be sexy. Whatever it is you do at night.”
Alexis frowned when she pulled away from him so easily, and let herself out, driving home in silence and confusion.
Leaving her hot and horny and alone on a cold night, Ben was right about one thing. He was a total selfish bastard.
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Marianne Rice writes contemporary romantic fiction set in small New England towns. She loves high heels, reading romance, scarfing down dark chocolate, gulping wine, and Chris Hemsworth. Oh, and her husband and three children. You can follow her all over social media, and keep up to tabs with her latest releases on her website: www.mariannerice.com
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