Since her divorce two years before, Kelsie Collins has been determined to guard her heart and steer clear of seemingly ‘perfect’ men. An easy task considering the kind of men her matchmaking mother and her best friend, Nanci, keeps setting her up with. She allows them to set her up, knowing their hearts are in the right place and that there is no risk of her letting any man close enough to hurt her again. Her growing experience in ways to slip out of those ‘dates from hell’ prompts her to start writing a bad date survival guide. One aptly titled - OPERATION: DATE ESCAPE. And it’s during one of those escapes that sexier than sin firefighter Cole Maxwell comes to her rescue.
Cole isn’t sure what to think when the sexy redhead he’s just ‘rescued’ from a bad date informs him that he’s too ‘perfect’ to date. That’s a first. He’s had relationships end because the women couldn’t handle the risks that go along with his chosen profession, but never because he’s too perfect.
When his crew gets called out to rescue someone who is stuck in a tree, Cole finds himself once again coming to Kelsie’s rescue. This time he’s not about to let her get away without agreeing to give him a chance, even holding her high heels hostage to make it happen. She finally gives in and things heat up between them like a 3-alarm fire. But there’s more than passion between them and Cole sets out to prove to Kelsie that he’s nowhere near ‘perfect’, but he is the ‘perfect’ man for her. Can he get past the wall she’s built up around her heart? Or will he end up being just another chapter in her book of men she ran from?
*Operation: Date Escape was a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist as well as a finalist in the American Title III Competition put on by Romantic Times and Dorchester Publishing.*
Cole’s gaze slid down to the silver tray in her hands. It was filled with what appeared to be assorted slices of cake.
“Uh, I’m Cole. Can I help you with something?”
Her face lit up at that. “You sure can!” She moved toward him in a determined stride. Smiling, she held up a plastic fork. “I need you to try these and let me know which kind you like the best.”
“The one I like the best?”
She nodded. “Yes. I’m particularly fond of the cappuccino truffle torte myself, but I think my daughter’s more the French vanilla with cream cheese icing kind of girl.”
He looked toward his crew; certain this had to be some sort of joke. Only they weren’t laughing. Their slightly agape expressions told him they were as confused as he was at that moment.
“I’m sure they’re all good,” he said, trying to placate the plastic fork-wielding woman.
“Oh, will you just look at that dimple!” she exclaimed. “And that smile. You probably had her hooked right there.”
The woman’s gaze moved over him in an appraising manner that had him shifting uncomfortably where he stood. “It looks like you take very good care of yourself. I can certainly see why she’s crazy about you.”
No, crazy would be this cake lady and her true cake of choice should be fruitcake with a side of nut roll because this woman was definitely nuts.
“Uh, well, yeah. We try and stay in shape around here,” he replied with a warning glance to his friends who were snickering in the background. “The job can get pretty physical.”
“Of course.” She smiled at him.
“Speaking of which,” he said, feeling more than a little uncomfortable. “I don’t mean to sound rude, but I really do need to get back to work.”
“Yeah, he’s got dish duty today,” Nate called out with a grin.
The woman glanced toward the kitchen area. “Oh, well let me get those for you while you taste the cakes.” She set the tray on the dinner table and took a forkful of one of the miniature slices. She lifted it to his mouth. “Here’s the first one. It’s lemon crème.”
“Um...” Cole muttered around the forkful of cake she’d just shoved into his mouth. “Don’t you think your daughter and her husband-to-be should be the ones sampling these?”
“Absolutely, but Kelsie’s got a full schedule of cleanings this afternoon so I decided to─”
“Kelsie?” he gasped, half-choking on the tangy lemon cake still left in his mouth.
“My daughter,” she prompted as she handed him the fork. She shoved the tray his direction and then stepped around the island to the kitchen area where a few dirty dishes awaited. “Now try the raspberry crème,” she called out to him.
“Something you forgot to tell us, Maxwell?” his captain asked with a grin.
“Look, Mrs. Collins...” he began as his gaze shifted from the tray of cakes to Kelsie’s mother.
“Miss,” she interjected.
“Collins is my maiden name,” she said as she turned on the water and reached for the dish soap on the counter by the sink. “I never married. But seeing as how you might end up part of my family, I’d rather you call me Melinda.”
Lyndsey will be awarding a $10.00 Amazon gift certificate to three randomly drawn commenters during the tour. So the more you comment, the better your chances of winning!
September 2: Welcome to My World of Dreams
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Author Bio and Links:
Romance author Lindsey Brookes grew up reading romance novels. She penned her first romance, a historical, at the age of seventeen. From there she went on to join Romance Writers of America where she learned the ins and outs of the publishing business and ways to hone her craft. She switched to writing contemporary romance and has finalled in/or won more than 75 RWA chapter sponsored contests with over a dozen different manuscripts. She is also a four time RWA Golden Heart finalist as well as a past American Title III finalist and winner of Harlequin's Great American Romance Novel contest. She's married to her childhood sweetheart, her hero, with whom she has two beautiful daughters.
Check out her websites:
Operation: Date Escape purchase links:Barnes & Noble