Title: In the Moment
Author: Jennifer Wilck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cassie Edwards, a former foster child, purchases an 1870s Victorian mansion, the one home from her childhood where she felt like part of a family. She’s spending her summer lovingly restoring it, with dreams of one day raising a family of her own here.
Rayne Tucket, a photojournalist, is haunted by the death of his best friend in Afghanistan, a death he thinks is his fault. He survives day to day. Forever is not in his vocabulary. Swearing off photography, he answers an ad for a handyman—mindless, no emotion involved.
As the two of them renovate her house, can Cassie show Rayne that love is strong enough to heal all wounds?
When Sally turned and pointed to where Cassie stood, the man met her gaze. He nodded from behind his coffee cup. She jumped back from the window, and her cheeks heated.
He was no stranger. He was Rayne. He’s going to think I spend all my time spying on him.
The door swung open and Sally returned. “You got a bite from your handyman flier,” she said as she returned to prep for dinner.
Cassie frowned. “Rayne Tucket wants the job?”
“You know him?” Sally wiped her hands on a dishtowel. She began chopping the rest of the vegetables for soup. “Why didn’t you say so?”
“Sort of,” Cassie hedged. “He mowed my lawn today.”
“You let some stranger mow your lawn?”
Cassie’s hackles rose at the overprotective tone. She forced them down. Sally had been her best friend forever and was looking out for her out of love, not because she was an orphan. “He was passing by my house and saw me fighting with the lawnmower. He tamed the beast and offered to mow the grass for me.”
“You should be more careful, Cass,” Sally said. “You’re all alone out there. He could be a convict for all you know.”
“Technically, he’s not a stranger. His grandparents were Ben and Dinah Montgomery. I’m pretty sure we would have heard if their grandson was a convict. Nobody can keep a secret in this town. Even Mrs. Murdoch knows him.”
Sally laughed. “Of course she does! In that case, you should go out and talk to him.”
She twirled a strand of hair. “I don’t know if I want to hire him.” He’d been friendly enough, and capable, but something about him made her anxious. Maybe it was his avoidance of her questions? She was a big fan of privacy, but there was a limit, especially for someone she might hire.
“Stop overthinking it, Cass. You’ll never know whether or not you want to hire him if you hide in here all day. Besides, he saw you. And he’s gorgeous.”
That was the other problem. She hadn’t taken this much notice of a man in...forever. She wasn’t interested in a relationship with someone who was just passing through. But if that were the case, why was he responding to her flier?
She was proving her friend right, and Cassie stuck out her tongue as Sally laughed at her. With a deep breath, she left the kitchen. His gaze never left her. She resisted the urge to smooth her hair or pull down her T- shirt. She’d already made her first impression—a clumsy one. A last-minute backward glance told her Sally also watched from the kitchen.
Great, an audience.
Warm, hazel eyes and the smell of roasted coffee greeted her.
“Hi.” The one word came out breathless, as if she’d run a marathon. She cleared her throat. “Hi,” she repeated, in what she hoped sounded more confident.
A dimple flashed behind his cup, and she groaned to herself. Rayne was going to give her a hard time.
“Hello.” He paused. She could almost hear his unspoken repetition of the greeting. He winked, and she rolled her eyes. He laughed. The deep, velvety sound made her toes curl. “Your friend says you’re looking to hire a handyman.”
Cassie leaned against the table, aware her friend listened to their every word as she delivered Rayne’s sandwich and retreated to the kitchen. “My friend has a big mouth,” Cassie ignored Sally’s sputter and continued. “Besides, I thought you were headed south.”
“I am, but I decided to see if I could find some temporary work in the area. Not sure what’s around, so I figured I’d better stop and ask while I can.”
“What kind of a job are you looking for?”
“I’m not picky. I saw your flier.”
“Do you have experience doing landscaping and outdoor cleanup?”
“I’ve been doing all kinds of manual labor, including landscaping and construction, these past few months. I could help you until I have to leave at the end of July.”
“She could definitely use your help,” a muffled voice interrupted.
Cassie swung around. She frowned at Sally, who’d poked her head out the kitchen doorway. “What are you doing, Sal?”
“Helping you out. You told me you need help with that big house and barn. Mr. Tucket is perfect. Look how big and strong he looks.”
Rayne shifted in his seat, but she ignored it. “You can call me...” he said.
“It’s a carriage house, Sal, not a barn. I know how much help I need, or don’t. Plus, you didn’t even give him a chance to decide if he wants to do the work!”
“You can call me Rayne, and I’m happy to help—”
She turned toward Rayne’s voice but spun back toward Sally when she interrupted. “See, he just said he’d help. He’s practically a local, and he doesn’t look like a convict. Hire him and stop being so stubborn.”
Cassie brushed off the choking sound from Rayne and glared at Sally. Her friend would be the one to choke in a minute if she didn’t butt out of her business. Sally ignored her.
Cassie grabbed a glass of water and handed it to Rayne, who drained it in one long gulp. She turned back to her friend, hands on her hips. “Practically a local? He hasn’t been here since he was a child. You’re the one who said he might be a convict, not me, when you were worried that I’d let a stranger mow my lawn!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Cass. I remember hearing about the Montgomerys from my mom. She always liked them. He comes from a nice family, so we have nothing to worry about.”
Cassie balled her hands into fists. “We? What ‘we?’ I haven’t decided yet if I’m hiring him.”
“Excuse me, ladies, but could I speak for a minute?” Rayne interrupted.
“What?” they both asked in unison.
“Like I said, I’m happy to work for you, if you’re hiring, Cassie. I can even provide references if you’d like.”
The look he gave her was so reasonable, so polite, so...sexy, she wanted to shake him as much as she wanted to kiss him. Kiss him? Where had that thought come from? She looked at his lips—soft, supple, perfect—and groaned. How could she hire a man she couldn’t look at without wanting to jump his bones? He looked like the perfect fling. She didn’t do flings.
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What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
A Victorian mansion near my house went on sale and my daughters and I attended the open house. The mansion was beautiful—original woodwork, gorgeous floors and fireplaces, etc.—and we all fell in love with it. Unfortunately, it was a little (make that, a lot) out of our price range. So, since I couldn’t live in the house, I decided to use it as the setting for my next book. I imagined the type of woman who would live there—someone who valued deep roots and would want to fix up the place to be able to live there. Cassie Edwards was born. Then, I came up with the polar opposite for her hero—a man without any roots at all. And Rayne Tucket came to be. Putting the two of them together, and giving them the happily ever after they both deserve, makes this one of my favorite books I’ve written.
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Runs September 1 – 30
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Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with her family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open in the first place. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.
She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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