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Aug 3, 2014

Cover Reveal - The Cottage Next Door by Natasha Moore

Cover & Excerpt Reveal

The Cottage Next Door
by Natasha Moore

CottageNextDoor-TheIt’s tough to grasp a second chance at love when you’re holding on to the past.

After his wife died in a car accident, bestselling author Hunter McCaffrey stopped writing—and stopped living. He’s rented a beachfront cottage to try to get his head on straight, and start the long climb up from his pit of despair Instead of pounding out a first draft, though, he runs the beach, drinks away his pain, and tries to ignore the vibrant woman in the cottage tucked next to his.

Still floundering months after the loss of her adventure-junkie husband, Sylvie Chase hopes some beach relaxation will help her decide what to do with the rest of her life. Instead she’s wondering what to do about her unexpected attraction to Hunter, who makes her body long for the feel of his arms around her.

As Sylvie drags Hunter back to the land of the living, soon they’re agreeing to a short fling. Just to get past their sorrow, not because it means anything. But when emotions get in the way, it’s a struggle to leave the past behind and dare to love again.

Warning: This story has plenty of sun and sand, with an energetic golden retriever thrown into the mix. Prepare to laugh and cry and cheer for two people who deserve a second chance at love.

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content/Theme(s): Seaside, Beach, Second Chances
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Excerpt & More

Purchase links:   Samhain   Amazon   iTunes   Kobo   B&N
Hunter still didn’t know how he’d let Sylvie Chase get under his skin, or how she’d gotten him to agree to have dinner with her, but as he stepped into a pair of shorts and tugged on a T-shirt, he was struck with a strange sense of anticipation. The steaks smelled amazing. His stomach growled. He was getting tired of the crap he’d been living on for the past few months. Yeah, that was the only reason he could think of why he’d agreed to join her for dinner.

When he stepped back out onto his deck, he saw she’d taken the steaks off the grill. She stood beside the decked-out picnic table, looking a little apprehensive. Maybe she’d realized she was out of her mind to invite a jerk like him any closer.

His gaze skimmed over her skimpy top with the thin straps and the hard nipples poking at the fabric, drawing attention to her perky breasts that obviously were not being restrained by a bra of any sort. He swallowed and let his eyes drop over the shorts hugging her narrow hips and down the tanned legs until he saw the bright purple polish, the same deep purple as that tiny top, sparkling on her toenails.

“Hungry?” Her voice wasn’t much above a whisper. She cleared her throat and then louder said, “Come on over.”

Dinner. He was coming over for dinner. Hunter’s mouth watered when the scent of the meat hit him again. He grabbed a couple of cans from the ever-iced cooler beside his chair. “Beer?”

She nodded. “Thanks.”

He handed her the cans over the railings, then boosted himself over to join her. Riley barked and ran down one set of stairs and up the other. At Hunter’s command, the dog curled up on the floor beside him.

Sylvie gestured to one side of the picnic table. It was shaded by an umbrella and covered with a long cloth splashed with flowers of red, yellow and blue. A bright orange salad bowl sat in the middle, and the steaks had been placed on heavy green plates. He wasn’t surprised to see she liked lots of color in her life.

They sat down on opposite sides and their knees bumped under the narrow table. They shifted so they no longer touched, then looked at each other. Looked away. Looked back. She didn’t have a stitch of makeup on, but she was just about the prettiest thing he’d ever seen.

No, that wasn’t true. Jenny had been pretty too. Beautiful. She’d been beautiful but in a different way, with long blond curls and a pouty mouth and full breasts he got lost in. But even as he thought about his wife, he couldn’t help but notice the light sprinkling of freckles across Sylvie’s cheek. How could fucking freckles be sexy?

He grabbed his beer and chugged. When he set the can down, she was watching him. What did she see? He had to look pretty rough. When was the last time he’d combed his hair? He ran his fingers through his too-long hair then absently rubbed his jaw. Jenny had always complained he felt like sandpaper when he didn’t shave.

“Don’t want the food to get cold.” Sylvie shot him a small smile. “Dig in.”

Dinner. Right. Hunter nodded his thanks and cut into the tender steak. He shoveled the first piece into his mouth and moaned in appreciation.

He noticed she ate with quiet efficiency, cutting her steak one piece at a time, then eating it before she cut another piece. She didn’t use the steak sauce she’d put on the table, but then neither did he. The good stuff didn’t need any extras. He glanced up and caught her licking some juice off her lips, and he felt a stirring in his shorts he hadn’t had in a long, long time. Her lips were wet and shiny, and when a groan slipped past his, he stuck another piece of meat in his mouth and let her think the sound was in appreciation of the meal.

He kept his eyes on his plate after that. They ate in silence for a while, just the way he liked it.

“I’ve read all your books,” she said a moment later.

He grunted and took another bite.

“Really. I love Angus Quinn. The way you describe him, I think of a big teddy-bear detective, gruff on the outside but soft inside. His dry sense of humor gets me every time.” Her slender fingers traced a line in the condensation on the beer can. “And I’ve enjoyed seeing how the relationship between Quinn and Olivia has grown over the course of the books.”

He couldn’t avoid looking at her any longer. He frowned. “Most people read them for the mysteries. To solve the crimes?”

Her brown eyes sparkled. “Oh, yeah, I like that too, but I read them more for the characters you’ve created.”

He laughed, a short bark, and took another bite of steak. He prided himself on creating well-rounded characters, but few people commented on them before talking about the mysteries he’d devised. He was surprised to catch her slipping Riley a bit of meat beneath the table and couldn’t help but like her a little bit for that too.

“How do you know Fletch?” The words surprised Hunter when they popped out of his mouth.

She shrugged, and damned if one of the thin straps didn’t slip off her shoulder. She hiked it back up with the crook of a finger. “He’s been a friend for a long time and he was my husband’s agent too. Fletch said you might have met him once. My husband.”

She was married? That should have been a relief and not a disappointment. Now that Hunter looked close, he could see there was a faint tan line on her ring finger. Maybe they were divorced. But she hadn’t said ex-husband.

It didn’t matter. Still, the question was out of his mouth before he could stop it. “Who’s your husband?”

“Matt C. Chase.”

The story came back to him then. A tragedy. He remembered Fletch introducing them. A travel writer. Extreme sports or something. A wiry guy with lots of energy. “Oh. Yeah. Sorry.” Shit. This was why he never asked personal questions. He cleared his throat. “I remember hearing something about a fall? He died a couple of years ago, right?” Shortly after Jenny, so he didn’t remember the details very well.

A shadow passed over her face. “No. Actually he died almost six months ago. But yes, the fall is what killed him.”

That sounded like a story Hunter didn’t want to get into. He might have already been here drinking beer on the beach by then. “My wife died a couple of years ago.” Now why the hell did he say that?

“Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss.” When Hunter didn’t offer any more information, he couldn’t blame her for asking, “Had she been ill?” It served him right for bringing it up to begin with.

“Car accident.” He looked out over the ocean—for what, he didn’t know. “She was killed instantly.”

“I’m so sorry.” Sylvie placed her warm hand on his. He swung his gaze back around to meet hers. Her eyes glittered with an understanding sadness. “I know how horrifying that must have been.”

People had been saying that for months, but Hunter realized that Sylvie was one person who actually would know the misery of losing a loved one in a senseless twist of fate. Of course, she wasn’t responsible for her husband’s mountain-climbing accident, so what the hell did she know?

“People tell me I should be over it by now,” he said, “but sometimes it feels like yesterday.”

Sylvie nodded, then must have realized she was still touching him because she pulled her hand away and placed it in her lap. “I don’t think we ever get over it. We just learn to live with it.”

Yeah, well, that hadn’t worked for Hunter so far.

Her gaze bounced around, the sky, the sand, the surf, anywhere but on him. “It’s a beautiful night though. How’s your steak?”

He took another bite. “Delicious.”

She smiled. “Good. I like to cook. Grill. Bake. All of that. I never got much of a chance when we were traveling and now, well, I don’t usually get to do it for anyone but myself.”

“I don’t like to cook for myself,” he mumbled. How could she make a bunch of greens in a bowl taste so good? “Waste of time,” he added.

She lifted her brow and grinned. “Really?”

He shouldn’t notice her mouth again, soft lips and a dimple in one corner. The table was small. It wouldn’t take much for him to lean over and taste her. Although he recognized the urge, Hunter knew he never would, no matter how much he wanted to.

Her gaze dipped to his mouth. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips.

A sly voice, like a fucking devil on his shoulder, reminded himself that a kiss didn’t mean anything. One night in the sack wasn’t going to hurt anyone either.

Just considering a kiss felt like a betrayal, though. As if he would be forgetting all about the woman he’d loved since high school. And screwing his neighbor? How could the thought have even crossed his mind?

What the hell was he doing here?

Hunter lunged to his feet, tripping over the stupid picnic table bench. Riley jumped to attention. Hunter grabbed on to the edge of the table to catch his balance and pulled the tablecloth in the process, almost spilling everything onto the floor. “Sorry.” He downed the rest of his beer and tossed the can over onto his deck. “Thanks for the steak.”

“Is something wrong? Hunter?”

He didn’t look at her, but he heard the frown in her voice. There might have been hurt in there too. “Sorry. Gotta go.” He told Riley to come, and lumbered down the stairs as fast as he could without looking like he was running away.
Purchase links:   Samhain   Amazon   iTunes   Kobo   B&N
Other titles by Natasha Moore:
Playing for Real

Her Royal
Her Royal
The Ride
of Her Life
of Desire
The Passion-
Minded Professor
Find Natasha Moore at:
Twitter: @natashamoore
Natasha Moore Facebook page
Natasha Moore Pinterest page
Natasha Moore Goodreads author page
Natasha Moore Amazon author page

Be on the lookout for Natasha Moore's upcoming releases: Love Is… (charity anthology) coming August 2014

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