Title Wine Country King
Author Claire Marti
Genre Contemporary Romance
A cocky, charming real estate attorney.
A brilliant, gorgeous sommelier.
Neither has time for romance.
One mind-blowing kiss changes everything.
Jack Cassidy heads the team opening the next in an exclusive line of boutique hotels, this one in wine country. Working with his best friend’s sister should make it easier, tapping into her expertise about the area and its wines. The pair have been friends for years, so sharing an apartment shouldn’t pose any issues… except for the simmering heat building between them.
Campbell Taylor’s one of only a handful of women to battle the all-boys club and go for the title of Master Sommelier. She didn’t rise to her position by being a pushover, but living and working with her brother’s best friend – the man she’s secretly crushed on for years – might prove to be her greatest challenge. How can she get him to see her as more than Cameron’s little sister? And will their undeniable attraction derail her dreams?
The moment when Campbell Taylor first laid eyes on Jack Cassidy, her heart performed a double cartwheel, triple back flip. She was sure one day they’d ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
Seventeen years later, reality hadn’t aligned with her teenaged fantasies.
Yes, they were working together every day to open Maison du Soleil.
Sure, Jack was parking his sleek silver Range Rover in front of her rented duplex, where they would reside together for the next few months.
And that was her current dilemma––Jack believed he was moving into his own one-bedroom apartment, not sharing hers.
When he learned she’d taken the liberty of breaking his short-term lease without consulting him, the odds of him being aggravated were high. Despite his charming, easy-going demeanor, he was an intense real estate attorney reputed to always negotiate the best deal for his clients and losing his living space without his consent wouldn’t sit well.
Once she explained the circumstances to Jack, he’d be cooperative. Keep telling yourself that.
No need to be nervous––Jack was a level-headed guy. She wiped her damp palms along her jeans, squared her shoulders, and whipped open the front door. She shielded her eyes from the penetrating California sun beating down from the cloudless blue sky. September in Paso Robles ran hot––as evidenced by the sheen of sweat that glued the back of her thin cotton tank top to her skin. With a fortifying breath, she waved and sauntered outside.
No way could she allow her landlord, their landlord, to break the news to Jack first. “You made it.” There, that sounded normal, not like the cry of a panic-stricken woman, right?
He unfolded his lean, muscular frame clad in dark denim and a crisp white button-down from the SUV. His square-jawed face split into that familiar crooked grin, his eyes shrouded behind mirrored aviators. “You planning on helping me unload my stuff?”
The wide gravel path crunched beneath her low-heeled boots as Campbell crossed the postage stamp yard separating them. “Something like that.” She swallowed the nerves fluttering up her throat. “Let’s go inside first.”
Jack’s dark brows drew together. “Is something wrong?”
“Not exactly. It’s sweltering out here, so come inside and I’ll explain.” She turned and strode toward the building. Their landlord Kyle’s house was across the palm-tree-lined courtyard, and she wanted to ward him off, at least until she’d explained the situation.
Jack shrugged one broad shoulder and fell into step next to her. “You’re acting weird.”
She looked up at him. “Not weird. There’s been a change in the living arrangements, and I prefer to discuss it in the air-conditioning.”
They entered the small yet charming condo she’d been calling home for the last few months. It was essentially one room, with a wood-beamed ceiling, wide-plank floors, and a butcher block kitchen island dividing the space. She’d adorned the ivory walls with colorful reproductions of Monet and Manet paintings, two of the artists she’d fallen for during her year abroad studying in Paris.
Jack sat in the honey-colored leather armchair and hooked his sunglasses on his shirt collar. “What’s going on?”
She perched on the edge of the soft plum-colored velvet couch across from him and the words tumbled out. “So, our landlord’s father is ill. He couldn’t stay in assisted living and refused to start hospice care in the middle of his son’s tiny living room. When Kyle told me about it, I told him you and I could share my condo since he knew we were practically family. I figured you’d agree once you learned about the situation.”
Jack massaged the back of his neck and sighed. “Wow. Okay, that’s a tough one. But Paso Robles is at full occupancy because of harvest season and this place only has one bedroom, right? And we aren’t family, Campbell.”
Her cheeks heated. “I know, but I figured since there’s a Murphy bed in here, you’d be okay with sharing my place. As soon as harvest ends, something should open up. And you were planning on buying a house up here anyway, right?”
Jack’s jaw tightened, but to his credit, his voice remained the same whiskey smooth baritone. “I’m not house hunting during these last few months before opening the hotel, no. And your brother isn’t going to be thrilled at the idea of us sharing a place.”
She snorted and rolled her eyes. “Cameron knows I’m a 32-year-old woman and hardly need a chaperone. Especially with you.”
Jack’s full lips turned down at the corners. “Especially with me? What’s that supposed to mean?”
Campbell laughed. “Are you offended? You’re basically my honorary big brother and you used to stay at our house all the time. I think we can handle being roommates.” As long as she could keep her secret attraction to him under wraps. Which had seemed a lot simpler before his larger-than-life personality and six-foot something of deliciousness dominated the condo.
“I haven’t had a roommate in over a decade. There’s got to be another solution.” He surged to his feet and stalked to the other side of the room, where rustic bookshelves framed a matching faux barn door. He tugged on the wrought iron handles and unveiled his sleeping accommodations. “And a Murphy bed? It’s like something out of the last century.”
She smoothed back the pesky strand of hair escaping from her ponytail and huffed out a breath. “This place is lovely, and it’s been fully remodeled. Surely you can adapt to pulling down a queen-sized bed from the wall.”
He turned and smirked at her. “Yes, I am capable of pulling the bed down. I just don’t want to.”
Laughter bubbled up in her throat. “You look like a toddler who was sent to his room without a bedtime story. Stop pouting.”
He stuck out his tongue and sank onto the mattress, which creaked under his weight.
“We’re two executives opening a luxury destination retreat on York Mountain, catering to some of the most exclusive wine lovers in the world, and we’re sharing a miniature condo?”
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Claire Marti is an award-winning and USA Today Bestselling author of swoonworthy Contemporary Romance novels set in Southern California, including the Pacific Vista Ranch series and the California Suits series. She lives in San Diego with her husband, silly dog and three clever cats.
Claire started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
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