by Mackenzie Lucas
All Haven Jameson ever wanted was to own a little piece of paradise. Now, she does, having established a successful luxury spa in St. Augustine, Florida. But when the property next door is sold to a mega developer and his pro-golf celebrity brother who design trendy, bustling playgrounds for the rich and famous, she fears her dream could slip away. Confronted by her late husband’s infidelity, Haven learns everything she believed about her marriage was a lie; so she finally sets aside her grief and opens her heart to loving the widowed pro-golfer who is her biggest professional competition. In the end, Haven discovers that living a safe, loveless life is far worse than embracing passion and taking a chance on a man who’s vowed never to love again. And that, sometimes, no matter how high the risk, the best paradise of all can be found inside our own hearts.
The Hardest Part About Being A Writer Is …
I’d have to say the hardest part about being a writer is that it can be a solitary business. A writer sits for long hours alone at a keyboard writing stories they see in their heads. They don’t often talk to anyone while they’re working. They work in quiet, trying to process a story and communicate feelings and emotions by getting them down on a page so a reader can understand the tale they’re telling. They often toil away in obscurity. No one knows or cares much what they’re doing. No matter how supportive your loved ones are, they don’t much care if you write today or tomorrow or even if you finish that manuscript. You’re totally alone in your endeavor.
However, we live in one of the best times possible for writers. Because with laptop computers we can now go anywhere to write (not that we couldn’t with notebooks and pens, too). But you don’t need to stay at home to write any more in total isolation if you don’t want to. You can go surround yourself with people at a coffee shop or at a library and peck away at your story. So while you’re still performing a solitary function, you’re not totally alone while you’re writing. Also, social media has made it possible for writers to band together. Find each other. And in the relative safety of their writing space, reach out to others like them to communicate and interact via platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
So, yes, while it’s necessary to still be chained to a computer for X amount of hours to write that story, you don’t need to feel like you’re the only one in the universe doing it. There are writers all around the world who are now just a keystroke away and ready to offer their support and encouragement. Writing is hard, but it’s a tiny bit easier when you know you have company along the way.
Pace Daniels lay on his belly on a massage table, naked except for a thin sheet covering his backside. He rested his cheek on his hands and closed his eyes, and breathed in the calming scent of the room.
Light music played from the overhead speakers, not too loud, but nice. It sounded like a mix of music from India and the Southwest—Burma to Santa Fe. Pan flutes and bowl singing. Interesting.
He breathed deep again, taking air deep into his lungs, and pushed through the pain in his shoulder, the achiness that seemed to stick with him no matter what he did.
It was time to retire. Leave the circuit.
He’d known for a while now. Hell, he was a fairly young man for his profession. But one mistake. One stupid mistake had cost him everything. And now at the age of almost forty, he was facing a blank future. Filled with a lot of nothing if he didn’t make some changes soon.
He had no idea what to expect when he’d come to Essence. A pretty brunette had given him instructions today for the massage, showed him the transition room—a fancy name for a locker room—and where to store his clothes and belongings. Of course, he’d had massages before. Mostly by sports medicine doctors.
Essence surprised him. Pleasantly. The atmosphere was different than he’d imagined. He’d expected fru fru and had been bowled over at every turn. The place wasn’t just a female Mecca, as he’d feared. He’d anticipated salon chairs and manicurists around every corner.
Instead, the spa resort was a posh hotel.
A serene place. A spot he could see himself settling into to find some measure of peace in his own life.
He let out a deep sigh.
But, no. He wouldn’t. He’d move on like he always did.
A knock sounded at the door and a moment later, the door opened on silent hinges. He opened his eyes to see the massage therapist.
The woman who entered wasn’t the petite, curvy brunette who’d checked him in, but a tall, leggy blonde.
He stilled as he watched her.
Yes, she was beautiful. High cheekbones, wide, exotic pale green eyes, lush body. But there was something else. Something indefinable. Something more, he couldn’t explain. Maybe a sadness that clung to her that he recognized because the same sloe-eyed desolation dogged him, day after day for the past ten years.
He couldn’t be one-hundred percent certain to what extent, but on some level, he identified with her.
Then she spoke, and every cell in his body awoke at the husky tone of her voice. Sex liquefied. He’d die and go to Heaven if he could just have her talk to him for the next hour in that sweet, sexy, soft voice.
“I’m sorry. I must be in the wrong room.” She turned to go.
He pushed up from the table. “No. Wait.”
I know that I’ve been raving about the contemporaries that I have been reading but Essence really pushed itself to my “forever” keeper shelf. Yes…forever.
I’ll try to explain in a top 5 list. 🙂
1. Haven (heroine) had a rough childhood and fell in love with a man much older than her. But with him she found love, stability and turned into a smart businesswoman. Plus the fact that she was a massage therapist (I must see one soon). She had the support of her friend, Sally but had to deal with a old bat of a landlady regarding the property adjunct to her spa. Not to be thrown off track she vows to have a large resort built next to hers to diminish from the peace and quiet of her own business. This heroine had guts but when it came to love, she was completely closed off. She figured that she had loved once and would never love again.
2. Pace (hero) is the pro golfer (*sigh) that was injured and just wanted a massage for himself. He already knew that he and his brother Jason wanted the land next to hers but didn’t figure on her walking in to give him his massage. What’s worse is that he is in with landlady from hell regarding the property. He thought that he would have a nice retirement from the pro circuit and be set for life. But being on the circuit has Pace with some deep seeded demons that he will have to overcome to win Haven in the end.
3. The secondary characters are nicely drawn out, too. Sally, Jason and Sally’s son are great when they are around. In fact, I love kids in a book and Sally’s son is no exception. The only problem I had was that the Uncle was dropped from the story. 🙁 Plus, the old bat of a landlady was good, too. She played the villain perfectly. Just saying…
4. The setting – OMG! I’ve been to a spa like that on my honeymoon. It was at the Fairmont Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada. I wept when I left that day and vowed to treat myself again. Too bad that was almost 10 years ago and I barely have time to get my haircut much less a massage, mani/pedi or a wrap. Ms. Lucas took me away to the spa and I felt like I got the hot rock massage that Pace got from Haven in the beginning of the book. I must book an appointment soon. My shoulders and back need it. Anyway, the setting is a character within itself. Ms. Lucas transports you to a place that you want, no NEED to visit. I felt utterly relaxed while reading the book and that’s not an easy feat.
5. Lastly…Haven and Pace, while immensely attracted to each other, never used sex to fix the problems that they had with each other. Sure, there is sex in the book but its not the point. COMMUNICATION between them is the point. Haven and Pace actually talked to each other. Not AT each other but to each other. They truly like each other and really want it to work out between them. Unfortunately, both of the come with mega emotional issues that they have to work out individually and then together. And again, communication is the key to their relationship. They weren’t afraid to say something to the other person. Their dialogue was refreshing for me. And very realistic.
In closing, while this books is a complex, emotional story about two damaged people trying to find true love, I found it impossible to put down. I was immediately drawn to Haven and Pace from the beginning and I will definitely re-read this again. Plus, today I will book a massage. 🙂 Thanks Mackenzie!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Mackenzie Lucas is a lover of story in any form. She’s an avid reader of genre fiction, she writes contemporary and paranormal romance, and she listens to an eclectic mix of music that spans from pop/rock to country to gospel. She loves a good story whether it’s an erotic short, a full-length romance novel, or the narrative slice-of-life found in country music. In any story, emotional integrity and authenticity are most important to her as well as a big dose of romping hot sexual tension. She enjoys smart-mouthed, sexy heroines, hunky alpha heroes who know how to take care of their women, and plot twists that surprise her, but most of all, she just wants to experience a satisfying emotional arc of a character falling in love and finding what he or she needs most in life.
Mac is a small-town country girl with a world-traveler’s soul. She grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and she’s lived in Dublin, Ireland, within spitting distance of New York City in Long Island, and now in the Washington, D.C. area. She obtained her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Dickinson College and received her M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She’s currently an author, writing coach, a mother, and a wife.
With Mackenzie Lucas–whether you’re reading her light paranormal romance, her small-town-based contemporary romance, or her steamin’ hawt erotica–you’ll always get a story about connectedness, community, and emotional authenticity, and, at its core, love. No, and it doesn’t hurt that all her heroes are panty-melting gorgeous alphas and all their sexy, sensually aware heroines know how to stand up to them, give no quarter, and love them just as they are.
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