Title: Home in Your Arms
Author: Charlotte O’Shay
Genre: Contemporary Romance
After her sweetheart Joe dies in a road accident, twenty-four hours after he returns from Army service, grieving Karla Payne slams the door on love. Five years later, Karla's tavern business is booming, and she owns her home, but she knows forever love has no part in her future. Headed to interview for his first civilian job, retired career Army 1st Sgt. Zane Blackthorne can't resist visiting his late buddy's beloved Vermont hometown. He also can't resist looking up Joe's sweetheart, Karla, who is an alluring mix of brains, beauty, and bravery.
Loyalty to his brother-in-arms demands Zane fight his attraction to Karla. Besides, even if Karla wants him, she'll never love him. Can Zane say goodbye to the woman he has no right to call his own? Even if his only true home is in her arms?
She lifted the heavy steel lid of the dumpster with her left hand and held it aloft while she hoisted the garbage bag up with her right. It wasn’t the easiest maneuver to accomplish, but her chores at the tavern constituted the only exercise she’d consistently done in years. At this point, lifting these colossal bags was second nature.
“Can I give you a hand?” A guttural male voice pierced the quiet.
A scream lodged in her throat, but she froze without giving it voice, her thoughts racing. Who in hell was messing with her? She didn’t recognize the harsh voice, and Karla knew every soul in Willow Springs, not a difficult feat in her small hometown.
The garbage bag fell to the ground as she rounded on the intruder, taking an offensive stance.
“Who’s there?” Her gaze darted around the deserted alley behind her establishment. “Who is it?” she said again, injecting more aggression into her tone.
A shadow separated itself from the trees across the road, his tall figure camouflaged by black jeans and a black leather bomber jacket.
He eased toward her slowly, raised his big hands palms out and chest high in front of him.
“I didn’t mean to startle you, miss er, ma’am, ah, Karla.”
Karla? Karla? He knew her name? And she had no idea who he was? She backed up fast, her shoulders pushing into the dumpster.
“Who are you? How do you know my name?” In spite of the inner voice telling her to control her response, her voice shook. Her mind reeled before she forced it to snap back into focus. Fight or flight? Pressed as she was against the garbage container, there was no fast way to get back inside the “tavern; nor judging from the length of his limbs could she make it past him round the bend to her house down the road. Fighting this enormous guy off would not come easy even if she had a weapon to level the odds. Her gaze swept over the barren, sodden ground in search of a shovel or a broom but she already knew she wouldn’t see anything useful. Her tidy nature guaranteed every piece of equipment was where it belonged in the storage closet at the back of tavern. She opened her mouth to scream.
He kept his hands lifted in front of him as he spoke. His roughly voiced words spilled out fast.
“Don’t. It’s okay. I was…I was walking by. I saw you.” When he said, “I saw you” he jerked his chin at the name on her jacket. ARMSTRONG was stamped in black block letters over the chest pocket of Joe’s jacket. “I served with Joe.”
Her gaze flew to his face, but his expression was unreadable. She straightened her spine to her full five foot eight, assessing him and the situation with fresh perspective. Big and broad, he was taller than any of her brothers so he was probably six-foot-three or four. His demeanor was quiet and serious, his tone respectful. He called her ma’am, for crying out loud. This was Joe’s senior NCO. This was First Sergeant Zane Blackthorne. Joe had been his driver, then his friend.
“You scared the shit out of me just now.” Her shoulders relaxed and she cracked a rare smile. “I almost screamed the whole town awake. And please, don’t call me ma’am.”
“I won’t…er, Ms. er…Karla. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
She forced a shrug, in spite of the adrenalin still powering through her. “That’s gonna happen when you creep up on somebody at two-thirty in the morning. What are you doing in Willow Springs, sergeant?” The garbage bags weren’t going to stow themselves, so she turned back and lifted the lid of the dumpster as she asked him. He stepped around her and grabbed the garbage bag at her feet, tossing it inside the dumpster like it was a candy wrapper.
“I’m passing through on my way to a job interview. And my name is Zane.”
She tilted her head to give him a discreet onceover. What had Joe told her about this man? Something about his solitary nature and commitment to serve. What job was civilian Zane Blackthorne going for? The one and only time she’d ever met him, he’d been in his dress uniform at Joe’s funeral. She’d pushed memories of that awful day into the deep recesses of her mind. All memories of the years Joe was away were likewise lodged in the far reaches of her memory. It was the only way she knew to cope. She couldn’t forget, but she didn’t want to actively remember either. The grief counselor had urged her to live in the present while honoring the past. Impossible concepts she struggled to master every day. She wasn’t there yet. She flat out couldn’t think about the past. Why was this man here dredging up her pain?
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
One of my favorite ways to shake off winter doldrums is with a walk. An energetic walk in the fresh winter air, even on a cold day, revitalizes my body and mind. I always get excited about trying new recipes or reading a new-to-me author’s work when the winter blues hit.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
Home in Your Arms is perfect to cure the winter blues because it’s a hopeful second chance love story. Both Karla and Zane believe they lost their chances for a forever love. They’re wary and suspicious and just so cute as they begin to give in to their attraction. For me, writing this story especially in the year we’ve just had, was an exercise in optimism and faith in the idea that love always finds a way.
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) Gift Card
Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) Gift Card
Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) Gift Card
Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) Gift Card
Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) Gift Card
Runs March 1 – 31, 2021.
Drawing will be held on April 1, 2021.
There's only one thing best-selling, award-winning author Charlotte O'Shay loves more than reading page-turning romance where happily ever after always wins. Writing them. Her writing has been called, "intoxicating, emotional and irresistible." ~N.N. Light’s BookHeaven Inspirations: Mac, her ever-growing family and New York City
Influences: Bruce Springsteen, Audrey Hepburn, red wine, Terminator, Gladiator, all the other 'ator movies.
Social Media Links: