Grayson, Bachelors and Babies Book 8 by @lcarrollbradd is a KU Bookish Event pick #historicalromance
Title: Grayson, Bachelors and Babies Book 8
Author: Linda Carroll-Bradd
Genre: Historical Romance
Lawyer Grayson Wainwright is on the brink of his biggest, and most personally motivated, case. He must protect his key witness, Catalina del Mar, and learn how to tend an abandoned infant. Does he have the skills to outsmart an unscrupulous businessman while juggling baby care and living in enforced proximity with Catalina, a situation that threatens his heart?
Within minutes, Catalina completed her report, said her goodbyes, and headed down the block. Passing an alley, she heard voices from the back of the Palace.
“I tell you, McDougal, I know that female at the counter. But not from the hotel.”
Hearing O’Toole’s speculative tone, she glanced over her shoulder and recognized the man’s mustachioed silhouette. Standing at his side was a man with shoulder-length hair. Those two same men. Her mouth dried, and she quickened her steps. Men like O’Toole didn’t need a pretense to initiate conversation…or more. At the next intersection, she crossed left and darted down Eighteenth Street. If she walked a couple blocks off her normal routine, she could enter her rooming house from the back.
Walking down alleys at the outside boundary of the proper section of town was not her favorite activity. Why hadn’t she grabbed the blackjack? If needed, she’d have to use the boot knife strapped to her ankle. The knife crafted by Joaquin was a birthday gift she hadn’t truly appreciated until after he was gone. But retrieving it wasn’t a subtle action and would cost her time.
Hard footsteps sounded on the boardwalk from not far away. Following her, or just pedestrians about their own business?
Normally, she had no fear when returning home from the hotel. The hour was early enough that many merchants were still handling final transactions with customers or in the process of pulling inside carts or stands before closing their doors. At times like this, she really missed Joaquin. He might not have been the most motivated of workers or the most attentive of husbands, but walking at his side had always provided her with a sense of safety. His physique had personified the definition of a blacksmith— hard upper body and strong, muscled arms. Although not too tall, he’d carried himself with a swagger that caused others to step out of his path. Reaching the next corner, she chanced a glance over her shoulder.
Two silhouettes moved from murky shadows in front of darkened shops to small circles of yellowish lamplight.
Her pulse pounded. She doubted she could outpace them. The weight of her boot knife tempted her to stop and unstrap it. But could she spare the precious seconds? At the next corner, she debated if she was far enough ahead to dash into the alley behind Humphrey House. They’d be sure to determine her destination. Instead, she turned right and scurried along Pioneer Avenue. Halfway down the block, she glanced over her shoulder and spotted the two men rounding the corner. They were gaining.
Ahead about a dozen feet, a tall man stepped from an office and locked the door.
Her first impression was of a man in a stylish overcoat and a bowler hat. What she could see of his hair and beard looked trimmed and neat. The debate was, either to linger close to this stranger or risk being accosted by two men she already didn’t like. Her instinct said she could trust the well-dressed man. “Ah, there you are.” Living with an actress taught her a thing or two. Waving a hand above her head as a pretense of acquaintance, she approached him from behind then dropped her hand to slip it into the crook of his elbow. “Please, sir, walk quickly and act like you know me.”
Her whispered words held urgency. He glanced sideways at the black-haired woman who wanted to pretend an acquaintance. A plea lingered in her dark brown eyes. Was this ruse a new ploy by soiled doves for customers? In this respectable part of town? Her modest attire snatched that supposition from his mind. Shorter by several inches, the woman’s head was about even with his shoulder. A scarf swathed her neck and chin. She wore no rouge to highlight her cheeks or kohl to line her eyes. Nothing detracted from her tan skin and chocolate eyes. Playing along, he lifted his hat. “Good evening. Glad to see you again.”
“Thank you.” She spoke without looking up and kept moving forward.
Leaning down toward her ear, he tilted his head her way and pitched his voice low. “Where are we going?” Then to assist the ruse of them being acquaintances, he lifted his chin and laughed.
“Take me where more people are.”
Just before the streetlamp on the corner, Grayson made a gradual perusal of the street, as if checking for traffic, and spotted two men keeping pace about half a block away. Must be who she’s avoiding. But why? His lawyer brain spouted several questions, but he kept walking, turned right at the corner, and opened the door for The Whistle Stop.
The lady slid into the seat and let out a sigh, her shoulders slumping several inches.
Grayson waved off the approaching employee and stacked the dishes onto another abandoned plate on an adjacent table then set to work undoing his buttons. From the corner of his eye, he watched the woman do the same to reveal a stark black dress. A widow? After draping his coat over the back of his chair and setting aside his hat, he sat.
“Sir, I am in your debt. I can’t tell you how—” Her dark eyes rounded, and she jumped to her feet. “You.” She leaned forward and shook a finger. “You’re the man who cost me my job.”
Who is this woman? Instinct pushed him back in his chair, away from the threatening digit. He looked again at her face but had no idea why she would make such an outlandish claim. Movement at the window caught his attention, and he spotted two men, leaning close and watching their exchange. One wore a droopy moustache. “If you wish to stay clear of the gents who followed you, miss, you will lower your voice and sit like we are acquaintances about to share a friendly meal.”
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
This story teams characters who have every reason to distrust one another into a situation of forced confinement. Working on a legal case with personal stakes, Grayson is beset with difficulties and how fun that his biggest distraction is a toss-up between an orphan and a widow.
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Winner will be drawn on November 18, 2020.
As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor and a bit of sass from her home in the southern California mountains.
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