Some Like It Hot
Harlequin HQN / July 30, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital
“Wrong for each other” never felt more right...
Even a lifelong traveler like Harper Summerville has to admire the scenery in Razor Bay, Washington. There's the mountains. The evergreens. The water. And Max Bradshaw, the incredibly sexy deputy sheriff. Still, Harper's here only for the summer, working covertly for her family's foundation. And getting involved with this rugged, intense former marine would be a definite conflict of interest - professionally and personally.
Max's scarred childhood left him determined to put down roots in Razor Bay, yet one look at Harper - a woman who happily lives out of a suitcase - leaves him speechless with desire for things he's never had. He might not be big on talking, but Max's toe-curling kisses are getting the message across loud and clear. Harper belongs here, with him, because things are only beginning to heat up....
Readers were introduced to the intriguing Harper Summerville and aloof Max Bradshaw last year in Susan Andersen’s first book in her new Razor Bay/Bradshaw Brothers series, That Thing Called Love.
Harper might be even taller than Tasha—something she couldn’t help but envy. And between the other woman’s imposing stature, that latte-with-an extra-splash-of-cream complexion, those glossily dark, loose spiral curls and large olive-green eyes, Jenny’s first impression was of exotic, regal stylishness.
And Max's first impression of her is equally remarkable, even if her stunning looks leave him tongue-tied:
“I don’t have a problem with the flash girls,“ he said. “They make it easy by doing all the talking—even if it is all about stuff that you don’t really care about. That’s a trade-off, since they don’t seem to mind all that much if you’re not read good with the chitchat shit.”
His gaze sought out Harper across the field, where she stood with ramrod posture talking to Jenny and Tasha. Jake watched Max’s frustrated interest as he watched her.
“The silver-spoon girls are different,” his brother said without talking his eyes off the apparently fascinating Ms. Summerville.
“They freeze me up every time.”
Now in Some Like It Hot, the second book in the series, we get to discover more about this intriguing, mismatched couple. On the surface they seem to have little in common. But they share an interest in the fate of Cedar Village, a group home for at-risk boys, which evens the playing field. Because of his troubled childhood, Cedar Village is important to Max. Unbeknownst to him, Harper is in town to appraise Cedar Village for a possible grant from her family’s organization, Sunday’s Child.
That aspect of the book, and Harper’s interracial heritage, make this book very appealing. Harper volunteers to help out at Cedar Village in order to scope out their operation. However, Max is not a pushover; he is more concerned about his boys then furthering his interest with Harper.
“Listen, I only work three quarter time at the inn… I’d love to volunteer some of my free hours to Cedar Village.”
“Yeah?” He studied her through shuttered dark eyes. “What do you have to offer?”
“I don’t know. What do volunteers generally do? I’m pretty much a jack-of all-trades. But what I really rock at is organizing activities. And fund-raising.”
When he continued to simply look at her with level, noncommittal eyes, she shrugged impatiently. People usually jumped at her fund-raising skills. “If that doesn’t work for you, I could always just provide a woman’s touch.”
“I wouldn’t mind a woman’s touch,” drawled a blond boy who was swabbing down the counter a few feet away, and his tone told Harper he wasn’t thinking motherly thoughts.
“That’s enough, Brandon,” Max said, but it was the look that Harper aimed at the youth that made the boy squirm. It was a thousand-yard stare she’d perfected when she was twelve, a nonthreatening but cool gaze that made the recipient completely question the wisdom of uttering the words that had warranted it in the first place.
Of course it is Max’s wariness around affluent women that is the reason for his reticence, but the boys at Cedar Village don’t know that:
“Dude,” she heard one of the boys say as the door closed behind her. “She’s hot. Why’d you let her get away?” There was a beat of silence, then, “Oh, man. It’s not because she’s black, is it?”
Harper froze. Omigawd. Was it? That hadn’t even occurred to her, maybe because she’d spent the majority of her life in Europe where race wasn’t as big an issue—or at least didn’t have the history that it had in the States. But for all she knew—
“Hell, no,” Max’s voice said emphatically. “Listen, kid, men don’t hit on every hot woman they see.” He was quiet for a moment, then said slowly, “Besides, did she strike you as the kind of woman who would welcome me hitting on her?”
There is a good reason why a relationship between the two is doomed to failure, besides Max’s reserve around Harper. Harper is not being completely honest with Max or her new friends about why she is in town. Harper is not the type to settle down in one place and she is not looking for any long term relationship. Her father moved the family from one place to another and Harper loves being free to pick up and go when the mood strikes her.
She was enjoying her stay in Razor Bay way too much.
Setting aside the wineglass, she thumped her feet flat on the porch deck. Too much? Really?
That was ludicrous—why shouldn’t she enjoy herself? It wasn’t as if she was doing something wrong. Sunday’s Child forged long-term relationships and she simply needed to be sure its dollars went to the best of the best.
And just because it was nice to rise from the same bed every morning for a change, it didn’t mean she was looking for permanence or anything. The differences she discovered in the new places she visited were precisely what she adored.
Max is looking for something more. After years spent in Marines, stationed in war-torn counties, he is ready to settle down:
He’d stick a needle in his eye before he’d admit as much out loud—especially to Jake—but what he’d long wanted more than anything else in the world was a guy version of the white-picked-fence life. Right down to a loving wife would put him first. Because that . . .well. That was something he could only imagine.
He’d never come first in anyone’s life.
And he’d like kids, too, one day. He would never do what his father had—he’d sacrifice his right testicle before he’d cheat on his wife or abandon any kid of his.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he is saving himself for marriage. Or is he?
Oh, absolutely.” She nodded emphatically. “Let’s have sex.”
“Man, I’d love to.” The fervency in his voice sounded genuine. Then he shook his head. “But . . . no. I’m saving myself for marriage.”
He was putting too much effort into appearing virtuous, and Harper smacked his arm. “You are not. You’re a guy—everyone knows guys think about sex, like, every twenty-five seconds.”
Of course Max does think about sex every twenty-five seconds, but Harper, with her sophistication and classiness, brings out his insecurities:
Ever since he’d severed the sexual potential with Harper the night she’d shown up at his house, he’d been kicking himself. So he’d had a headache and a set of scratches that had throbbed like a bitch in heat—it sure as hell hadn’t been those that had stopped him. The sad truth was, a momentary case of she’s-too-good-for-me had pulled him back. One minute his only thought had been how right she felt in his arms. Then out of the blue he’d started questioning what made him good enough to put his hands all over her. . .
So, instead of moving them to his bedroom where they’d so clearly been heading he’d made a big joke of his refusal.
Okay, that had actually been kind of fun, since he wasn’t generally a joking kind of guy. But it was also dicked up, given the hit to his self-respect and all the cold showers he’d had to endure since then. And how wrong was it that he’d allowed a decision he’d known was whack even as he’d made it to mess up the one thing he wanted more than his next breath—to make love to Harper?
Eventually, of course, Max gets over being intimidated by Harper, but not before they both confront their secrets and insecurities.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Susan Andersen's Some Like It Hot before its July 30 release:
Leigh Davis, Blogger