Title: Jesse’s Girl
Author: Tara September
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Jessie's got himself a girl and I want to make her mine!
Successful Texas lawyer, Reade Walker, curses that damn song every time it plays, all too aware of the irony of its lyrics. After all, he has been secretly and painfully enamored with Jesse’s girl, Gwen, for nearly a decade. It was love at first sight for him, but sadly she’s not his girl. She belongs to the one man who betrayed him and knows Reade’s hidden family secret. Yet Reade can’t seem to love anyone except the one woman he can't have. Or can he make her mine?
When Gwen Clark’s senator husband runs off with his intern and all their money, the ensuing scandal turns her life upside down. Deserted, penniless and desperate to provide for her six-year-old daughter, Gwen has no one to turn to but Reade Walker. The one man her heart desperately wants, but her pride dreads having to ask for help. Despite welcoming them into his home, it seems like Reade can barely stand being in the same room with her anymore, let alone under the same roof—in the same bedroom. But Gwen is determined to get her life back on track. It is past time to rediscover her own dreams…if only she can keep her aching heart from breaking all over again.
What the hell had she been thinking?
Gwen Gallo-Clark hadn’t been, obviously. It would only have taken a few measly seconds to reach up on her tiptoes to look through the peephole before opening the oversized front door. Maybe then she would have been better prepared. Not that she could possibly have prepared herself for the sight of over a dozen reporters elbowing each other as they surged toward her. She wiped the sweat from her palms on her pants and prepared for the worst.
Thank goodness Maddie isn’t home. Her daughter would have been terrified by the mob that confronted her at their door. Luckily, Gwen had just dropped her off at school.
She flinched from a particularly blinding flash of light from an expensive-looking camera with a lens so long you’d think the man was photographing Mars. Black and yellow spots appeared along the corners of her vision. Bringing her hand up she lowered her head to shield her eyes from the blaring lights. Being in the public eye was part of being a politician’s wife—one of the things that Gwen detested. However, the press had never shown up at her home unscheduled or uninvited. And why were they looking for her husband, the Senator, here at his Texas residence and not at his offices or apartment in Washington, D.C.?
Pushing her anxiety aside, Gwen straightened and tried to look as composed as possible while standing there ill-equipped and barefoot, listening to the barrage of questions being thrown her way.
“Sorry, but one at a time please,” she called out firmly to the crowd. “If you’re looking to speak with my husband, he isn’t here.”
Her statement caused several of the journalists to laugh. One reporter quipped, “Yeah, we gathered as much, ‘mom.’” Looking pointedly down at her chest, he aimed his camera and snapped a photo, which created even more snickering amongst the gathering.
Following the direction of his eyes, Gwen blushed at the reminder of what she wore. Black yoga pants paired with a loose gray T-shirt with scripted letters that read, “The World’s Okayest Mom.” She’d thought the self-deprecating shirt was rather funny, but not so much at the moment with microphones being shoved in her face.
Clenching her clammy fists, a sick feeling washed over her. Scanning the hostile group, she locked eyes with a friendly tabloid reporter she knew from her journalism school days and smiled. The woman’s pitying look stopped her breath and for a moment, the spots in front of her eyes were back, nausea churning in her gut.
Those first terrifying moments of shock having passed, the reporters’ words began to seep in.
“Mrs. Clark, would you care to comment on the allegations that Senator Clark has been having an affair with his intern?”
“Did you know about their embezzlement from the Literacy Foundation?”
“We have a source that estimates it is in the millions. Can you confirm the amount that’s missing?”
“Have you heard from your husband?”
“Will you be stepping down from the Literacy Foundation?” The last question was practically spit at her by the formerly friendly journalist. Gwen mentally kicked her to the “can’t be trusted” list.
Despite the disturbing accusations, her racing heart and sweaty palms, Gwen tried her best to mask her features to the crowd, wiping away all appearances of shock that she was sure were initially written on her face. No longer fully seeing the people in front of her. A bizarre sense of detachment joined the nausea. Not a pleasant feeling, but it was familiar. Once again, she’d lost control of her own life. Very much like she had shortly after marrying Congressman Jesse Clark seven years ago.
Tripping over her words, she managed to stammer out, “Nnn… No comment.”
She forced the door closed then leaned her back against it, ignoring the banging and shouts on the other side. She slid to the floor and landed on her rear as if a carpet had been pulled out from under her—literally as well as metaphorically. The irony.
Staring out at the empty foyer, she said aloud, “Jesse, what the hell have you done now?” Once again, she had unwillingly been thrust into one of Jesse’s schemes. Still, it was hard to imagine that his latest manipulations had meant to include accusations of affairs and illegal activities.
She had come to terms with the fact that their marriage was just another part of his career strategy, like a human chess game. She was simply one of his political maneuvers. Jesse had skillfully moved her from space to space until it was checkmate and all her pawns were gone. He’d won a game she hadn’t even been aware they were playing.
But she’d never dreamed her career-conscious husband would do anything as scandalous as what the reporters were accusing him of. Not only to get caught having an affair, but to steal money? Jesse was always so meticulous and cautious about his public image. For him to give it all up in such an explosive fashion was incomprehensible.
Gwen sprung to her feet and went to the side table by the entryway to collect her purse. She dug through the ginormous bag for her cell phone, which had been set to silent and now showed seventeen missed calls from unknown numbers. But not a single voicemail or text from the man in question.
Logically, she should call Jesse to find out what the hell was happening. Yet she’d rather have called their mutual friend Reade Walker, to hear his deep and steady voice reassuring her. Regardless, Reade had left the country the week prior on a month-long work assignment. He’d be away for a few weeks and besides she didn’t want to intrude. Instead, she called Jesse’s executive assistant while walking to her computer to do her own investigating.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
If you’re a fan of the 80s song and wondered who Jesse’s Girl was, this award-winning novella is for you. Tropes: Single-Parent, Second Chance Romance set in a small town.
"I really enjoyed reading this novella. The writing is fantastic and paints a realistic picture. I laughed at a few clever comedic lines and smiled a lot while reading this. I felt drawn to Gwen’s pain and desperately wanted to see Reade continue to be a swoony hero. Nice one!” ~ Jade, Goodreads
“Great sensual tension between Gwen and Reade. There is also a charming family element to this story, which makes the happy ever after more rewarding. This easy to listen to audiobook is perfect for lovers of sensual romance and happy endings." ~ Jane Hunt, Author and book blogger
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Fueled by an IV of green tea and Prosecco, Tara September is a multi-award-winning contemporary romance author of sassy & steamy love stories.
Based in Southwest Florida, Tara holds a master’s degree in journalism from New York University. Proud mom to twin boys and four cats, she also blogs over at When Tara Met Blog @tarametblog, a lifestyle and parenting blog of 16 years.
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