Title: Lies and Solace
Author: Jana Richards
Genre: Contemporary Small-Town romance
She can’t live with one more lie. He can’t tell the truth.
Harper Lindquist is convinced she’s found the answer to her financial prayers. Unless she pours cash into crumbling Solace Lake Lodge, she’ll lose her family’s legacy. Her would-be savior arrives in the middle of a Minnesota blizzard and she’s determined to prove to her reluctant, and trapped, financier the lodge is a sound investment. But Harper isn’t completely honest with him. And she has no idea the lake is hiding secrets of its own. Ethan James is a liar, but his money is very real. He isn’t convinced a broken-down inn is a smart investment opportunity. But the more he understands Harper’s dreams and desires, the more he wants to be the man to make them come true. The trauma in both their pasts means neither can fully trust the other. They must find the courage to love, to trust, and to accept, or yesterday’s sorrows will keep them apart.
This was good news. She should be celebrating, jumping for joy. Or at least smiling.
Instead, she felt mildly depressed, bereft, as if she’d lost something. Ethan was in a hurry to leave. Any connection she’d imagined with him was an illusion, a product of her loneliness.
For one wild moment, she wished she were the kind of woman that men couldn’t resist. She looked down at the frayed cuff of her shirt and the faded denim of her jeans. They were clean, but that was about all her clothes had going for them. She was plain, old Harper Lee Lindquist. Nice enough looking, but no femme fatale.
And even if Ethan decided he wanted something more from their relationship, she was afraid she’d disappoint him.
No one wants the oldest living virgin in Minnesota, Harper.
Sometimes she wished she’d let one of her male classmates take her virginity back in high school just so it was over and done with. But she’d wanted someone special to be her first, and none of those boys had fit the bill. Then she’d gone away to college for four years. She’d been tempted a couple of times, but had pulled back. Something had always felt wrong, or at least not quite right, and she hadn’t been ready to take such a momentous step.
After her grandmother died and she was running the lodge and looking after Maggie and her grandfather, there’d been no time to date. There’d been a few unattached men her age left in the community, but they hadn’t interested her. For a long time, she’d been too busy to care. Between cleaning, cooking for guests, doing the books, and helping to maintain the boats and snowmobiles, her days were full. Even maintaining relationships with her female friends who’d remained in Minnewasta had been difficult. All of them were married and having babies, their lives so different from hers.
When her grandfather became ill, she’d devoted all her time to caring for him. Scarlet and Maggie had helped when they could, but most of his care fell to her. He’d wanted to die in his home rather than in some cold, impersonal hospital, and she did everything she could to fulfill his wishes. It was only after he died and she was alone that she began to think of dating again. She’d even joined an online dating site for a while. But the results were less than spectacular.
She was beginning to think she was going to die a virgin. Pathetic.
With a disgusted huff, she pushed away from the table, gathered the dishes, and took them back to the kitchen to wash.
She’d just placed the last dish on the drain board when Ethan entered the kitchen, his hair still damp from his shower. He’d shaved with the razor she’d found for him and was wearing his own clothes again. Once more the elegant, well-dressed businessman. The chasm grew between them even as he stood in her kitchen. She was stupid to believe there could ever be anything aside from business between them.
She lifted her chin, determined not to let her façade slip. “I’ve gathered all my estimates and drawings and put them in a bag so you can take them with you.”
“I appreciate that.”
They walked together to the front door, and Harper lifted his beautiful overcoat from the coat tree. It still held the scent of his after-shave, and she had to resist the urge to raise it to her nose and breathe it in. Instead, she held it out to him with a forced smile. “Have a safe trip back to Minneapolis, Ethan.”
“Thanks.” He took the coat from her and slipped it on. “I want to thank you for your hospitality.”
“It was my pleasure.”
So formal. But it was the only way she could get through the next few minutes.
He picked up the cloth bag with all her information on the renovation project. “Goodbye, Harper. I’ll be in touch soon.”
“Goodbye.” She shook his outstretched hand briefly.
He opened the front door and headed toward his truck. Harper grabbed a sweater from the coat tree and stood in the open doorway watching him leave, not quite able to shut the door on him despite the biting cold.
Halfway to the truck, Ethan stopped. For a second, he stood completely still, his head bowed. Then he dropped the bag, turned on his heel, and walked back to her, his steps full of purpose.
“Did you forget something?”
He pulled her into his arms, his mouth descending on hers with an urgency that set her blood on fire. She moaned as she molded herself against him, her arms winding around his neck, her fingers tangling in his damp hair. He swept her mouth with his tongue, demanding a response. She gave herself over to his kiss, loving the sweet taste of his mouth, the clean smell of his skin, the solid feel of his body.
All too soon he broke the kiss. He grasped her shoulders and pushed away from her, breathing hard. She searched his face for answers.
“I have to go,” he said. “I’ll call you soon.”
She nodded, unable to speak. He released her and walked back to his truck. No longer sheltered in his arms, the bitter cold swept through her. She pulled her sweater more securely around her shoulders.
Harper watched Ethan pull out of the driveway, her heart racing. When she could no longer see his truck, she closed the front door and leaned against it. The taste of him remained on her tongue and she could still smell his clean scent. Excitement and fear danced up and down her spine, fighting a duel inside her to decide which one ruled supreme.
Fear won. In one way or another, everyone she’d ever cared about had left her. She couldn’t bear for Ethan to be one more person on that list.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
LIES AND SOLACE is book one in my Love at Solace Lake series, a contemporary small town romance series. This book and the series is a must read because it is full of emotion and mystery. As the three Lindquist sisters try to navigate their way back to each other and fill in the blank spaces in their lives left by the deaths of their parents who died when they were children, they also find the love that will change each of their lives.
In LIES AND SOLACE, Harper Lindquist, the oldest sister, seeks an investor to save her family’s fishing lodge in Minnesota. When Ethan James blows into her life during a blizzard, he changes everything she believes about herself. But Ethan is hiding a secret that could derail the new business they’re trying to build and the new love that Harper never thought was possible.
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Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her part-time day job as bookkeeper, or dealing with dust bunnies, Jana can be found pursuing hobbies such as golf (which she plays very badly) or reading (which she does much better).
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.com
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