Hope everyone is relaxing over a morning coffee. Today’s sneak peek is between the covers of Almost Perfect. I think I’ve mentioned the Loopies a time or two before, a group of pretty cool gals who all wrote for Dell way back when. It’s been about fifteen years now that we’ve been on an email loop together, sharing, laughing, venting. Some of us even banded together and wrote an anthology, Masters of Seduction, featuring stories written in our own unique styles and genres.
Julie Ortolon is the Loopie who got most of us roused into reissuing our backlists and climbing on board the ebook self publishing wave. I know she gave me a hard kick in the butt, not just for the reissuing, but for picking up the pen and starting to write again. So, with no further smarm, here’s a peek into book one of Jules’s Perfect trilogy:
Maddy, Christine and Amy are thrilled that their old college suite-mate has written a bestselling book, How to Have the Perfect Life—until they realize she used them as negative examples of how women let fear screw up their lives. The worst part is…it’s sort of true. Together they make a pact: they each have one year to face down their fears—and maybe show Miss Perfect a thing or two!
A Free Spirit and a Reformed Bad Boy — a Perfect Match?
Maddy was always the artistic one of the group, alive with color and mischief from her saucy red curls to her vintage hippie skirts. Her challenge, the friends decide, is to get her artwork accepted at a gallery. A job as arts director at a summer camp near Santa Fe—with its multitude of galleries—seems like a start in the right direction.
There’s just one catch: The camp is run by Maddy’s high school flame, Joe, whose heart she broke—okay, smashed—and his anger towards Maddy hasn’t cooled one bit. But neither has their attraction.
Old desires burn hotter than ever as Joe makes it clear there’s only one way back to his heart: She has to get serious about her art. But will falling in love help or hinder Maddy as she struggles to meet her challenge?
Excerpt from Almost Perfect:
Maddy managed to control her excitement during the paperwork. It broke free, though, as she and Joe left the gallery.
“Can you believe that?” she asked the minute they stepped outside. “She likes the pastels!”
“I like them too.”
“Really? You mean that?”
“I do.” He smiled at her as if suppressing laughter at her enthusiasm.
She didn’t care if he did laugh. “She took all of them on consignment! And she wants to see more. Oh my God!” She did a little dance as they crossed the parking lot.
Joe did laugh at that. “Congratulations.”
“My work is in a gallery. In Santa Fe!” She twirled about, making the skirt of her dress flare, then wrap around her legs. “And not just any gallery, but Images of the West. An art publishing house. I can’t believe this! I can’t wait to tell Christine and Amy. This is so great!”
They’d reached the truck and Joe hit the remote to unlock the doors. Maddy climbed into the passenger seat as he slipped behind the wheel.
“Oh, Joe.” She crossed her hands over her heart and sighed. “This means so much to me. I can’t even tell you. Why didn’t you tell me this was a publishing house?”
“If I had, would you have gone in?”
“No way!” She laughed.
“Exactly. I picked this place because it looks so unassuming, I knew you wouldn’t chicken out.”
“You didn’t expect her to take me on, did you?”
“I knew it was a long shot—but you know what they say: Start at the top. And damn, Maddy, you nailed it.”
“I did.” Her body sagged as realization hit her. “Holy cow, I really did.” She looked at him, overcome, then threw her arms about his neck. “Thank you!”
He returned the hug without thinking. Then the feel of her in his arms slammed into his senses on one blinding wave. He closed his eyes as the impact sucked him under. Desire delivered a second blow, sending him into a roll.
Before he knew how it had happened, his hands were in her hair and his mouth was on hers. The taste of her made joy flood his veins. Her name beat in time with the pounding of his heart. After years of starving for her, he was holding Maddy, kissing Maddy.
He tipped his head and deepened the contact, thrilling to the feel of her kissing him back the way she always had—with an eagerness to match his own. His whole body came alive as their mouths opened and mated. He wanted to lift her over the gearshift and onto his lap, slip his hands under her dress and feel her warm skin. She moaned again, and arched toward him as if wanting the same thing.
Maddy! His heart sang. He was kissing Maddy!
His brain kicked in and his body froze.
He was kissing Maddy!
He jerked back and held her at arm’s length, his pulse pounding like surf against rocks. She stared back at him, her eyes wide, her breath coming as hard and fast as his. “What just happened here?”
She blinked as if stunned. “I don’t know.”
Releasing her as if she’d turned to fire, he plastered his back against the truck door. “We are not doing this.”
“I think we just did.”
“It was habit.” He put his hands on the steering wheel. “A knee-jerk reaction. Put us in a vehicle and bam, we’re back in high school making out in the front seat of the Colonel’s station wagon.”
“Actually, it usually progressed to the back of the station wagon.” She looked at the bed of his pickup. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, considering where we’re parked. Unless we want to get arrested for public indecency.”
“I don’t care where we’re parked.” His hand shook as he inserted the key into the ignition. “This will not happen again.”
“Of course not.” Maddy clasped her hands in her lap and stared straight ahead. “Not if you don’t want it to.”
“I don’t.” Was she saying she did? The thought made him edgy with panic as he drove out of the parking lot. What had he been thinking to kiss her like that? Or had she kissed him? He honestly didn’t remember. The only thing he knew was that barely forty-eight hours had passed, and already she was slipping past his defenses. Had he learned nothing from his last go-round with this woman?
The Rangers had taught him how much physical pain his body could endure, but he refused to spend the summer letting Maddy back inside his heart, only to have her walk away come fall. That much pain he couldn’t handle.
Almost Perfect is available through:
Be sure to check out Julie’s website at www.JulieOrtolon.com
AND…the clock is ticking down on the last few days to pick up a free copy of my own high seas pirate adventure, Across A Moonlit Sea. Get it while you can, this is the last freebie promotion for a book in the Pirate Wolf Trilogy.