KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife.
Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person? Can she even trust herself?
Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.
Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.
“Yeah, well, people can hide in plain sight,” she said grimly. “You think you know someone, you think it’s safe to love them and …” She clamped her mouth shut.
He met her gaze, his own dark one warm and curious. “Personal experience?”
“Maybe. Just a little.” She shook her head and turned to look out over the water. “So this is your happy place?”
“Are you … happy?
He didn’t answer for a long time. In fact, he searched the bag, found one last chalupa and took his time eating it so she thought maybe the conversation was over.
“That would’ve been better with another sauce on it but someone Bogarted them all,” he said.
She lifted a shoulder. “Be fast or be hungry.”
He laughed and she realized she could get addicted to that sound very fast.
“I wasn’t happy here,” he said suddenly, surprising her. “Not for a long time after I came back. I was career military. I was good at what I did and I craved the adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment. When I came back, I was angry and bitter.”
“What changed?” she asked.
“Not much on the inside.” He gave her a wry grimace. “But Samantha and Sierra … they’re the opposite of angry and bitter.”
“I’ve noticed,” she said on a low laugh.
“They lost their mom. The last thing they needed was an angry jerk for a dad.”
“You fake it pretty good.”
He toasted her with his soda in thanks. “You were married too,” he said.
“No. I’m a widow.”
Mark didn’t show a lot of emotion, he was good at hiding himself. Real good. But there was a flash of shock. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“But you did know I take three sugars.”
He didn’t smile or let her joke this away. “How long ago?” he asked.
She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. If he hadn’t died when he had, I’d have killed him myself.” There. She said it out loud. And it only hurt a little. A dull pain really, sort of like a boulder barreling into her. “Probably shouldn’t admit that to a cop, right?” she teased at his silence.
“I’m not a cop right now. And I wouldn’t judge a murderous urge.”
“Because you’ve had one or two?”
“Or a hundred trillion million,” he said.
She choked out a laugh. He challenged her like no one else, and he was also fairly effortlessly dragging her past out of her. At least part of it. But there was no way she’d tell him what Kyle had done to her. That humiliation was all her own, thank you very much. “I’m not actually kidding you know, about the murderous urge.”
“Neither am I.”
She nodded. Anger, she understood. Anger was a wall she’d built to protect herself. She knew that because she could feel the weight of the bricks she’d built around her heart. What she didn’t know was how to tear it down.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis writes warm, funny, sexy contemporary romances and women’s fiction. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she’s also a two-time RITA winner and has more than 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.