This is my stop during the book blitz for Promises Under the Peach Tree by Joanne Rock. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 2 till 8 September, you can view the complete blitz schedule here.
The trouble with Heartache
Nina Spencer swore she was done with Heartache, Tennessee, when she left the town—and her sexy ex, Mack—in her rearview mirror. But when her bakery business is rocked by scandal, she needs a place to regroup. What she doesn’t need is Mack Finley reminding her of peach-flavored kisses and the hold he still has on her.
Mack never forgot Nina—not that he didn’t try. Yet between caring for his family and organizing the annual Harvest Fest, he’s overwhelmed and he needs Nina’s help. They can work together without getting swept up in memories and the rush of brand-new passion…right?
You can find Promises Under the Peach Tree on Goodreads
“Mack?” She stopped, certain she recognized the shape of those shoulders.
His back was to her, but as he turned around, she was certain. The dark shadows from an overhanging live oak couldn’t hide the way he moved. Or the electric current that reached out through the night, a predictable tug in her chest that told her it was Mack.
“Calling it a night?” he asked, his swing drifting gently from side to side, his feet on the ground. The chains overhead clanked together as he pivoted around to see her.
Her heart rate kicked up. Another predictable side effect of Mack. How had she ever thought she was over him?
“I’m glad you’re here.” She started toward him, knowing she needed to do something about this strained awkwardness between them. “I wanted to apologize for sounding like Miss Marriage Know-It-All back there. I was shooting off at the mouth and not thinking about how it sounded. I was speaking from my own shadows—with my parents, I mean. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it, me offering marriage advice when I’ve never come close to tying the knot.”
Something about the cool reserve in his tone told her that her earlier words still stung. She’d have to dig deeper if they were really going to have a chance at some kind of peace between them. Closure.
“Actually…” She fidgeted with the leather strap of her purse. “That’s not entirely true, I guess. There was one guy.”
She leaned against the cold metal pole of the swing support while Mack waited. “I thought we were close—that he might propose. But while he was shopping for engagement rings and asking about big, splashy vacations for our honeymoon, I was already decorating a baby nursery in my head.”
Some girls dreamed of huge weddings and fancy dresses, but she cared more about the happily-ever-after part. The picket fence. The kids.
“You rushed him,” Mack observed quietly. Accurately.
Just like she had rushed Mack.
“It’s hard to wait for a dream you want so much.”
Mack grabbed one of the chains on the swing beside him and hauled it closer, holding it out to her.
“Sit for a minute, Nina.” The rough edge of his voice, the masculine timbre of it, went right through her and warmed her from the inside out.
Stepping closer, she took the swing and lowered herself into the seat beside him. The canvas twirled a little beneath her, pivoting her back and forth. Mack leaned over and steadied it, his hand brushing her thigh as he held the chain for a long minute.
Heart in her throat, Nina felt her whole world close in on this moment, sitting in Heartache, the bluegrass band playing, white lights twinkling, stars overhead. And most of all, Mack Finley beside her.
“It wasn’t just what you said,” Mack admitted, his face in shadow from the trees overhead. “I’ve wondered the same thing myself—why I gave up on my marriage when I’m not the kind of guy to walk away from a commitment, even when I see the train wreck coming. So what you said earlier… You just articulated a thought that doesn’t sit well with me.”
He let go of the chain slowly, setting her loose to swing free. Except that she kept her feet planted on the ground, cheating to stay closer to him.
“I have a way of blurting things out.” The urge to touch him was strong, so she tucked he
r fingers under her thighs to keep them to herself.
“But at least you say what you’re thinking.” He gave her a slow smile. “I always know where I stand with you, Nina. No guesswork there.”
Actually, he might be surprised to discover how much she’d been thinking about him since she’d returned home. She didn’t say anything, though, sensing he had more on his mind.
“I never knew with Jenny.” His expression became serious and Nina braced herself, not sure she was ready to hear more about his marriage. His jaw flexed, as if he were weighing words before he continued. “So it surprised the hell out of me when—right before she left—she accused me of never getting over you.”
His words stunned her. They rang through her with a dull hum.
“That’s—that’s ridiculous,” she said finally, her mouth too dry for words. “Did you tell her we hadn’t even spoken since that summer?”
When she’d begged him to come to New York and start a new life with her. When she’d given him ultimatums and he’d gone more and more silent with every phone call until there was no reason to call again.
“She was out the door before I thought of a comeback. And considering it took me that long to form a response, I had to wonder if she had a point.”
It was as if she was listening to someone speak to her through water. She could hear what he was saying, but she felt far away. Like all of this was unreal.
“You can’t be serious.” She didn’t want to think about what it meant if he still had feelings for her. She’d gotten use to hers—the healed over hurt that left a long scar. But if he still cared about her… “I thought we were going to try to be friends.”
“Is that even possible, Nina, when the air damn near crackles every time I get near you?” He stared at her in the moonlight, searching for answers. His shoulder pressed into the swing chain, the sleeve of his polo shirt riding up high enough to reveal some ink from a tattoo that hadn’t been there before.
Maybe she chose now to notice the tattoo because meeting his gaze meant she had to be honest with him. She swallowed hard.
“I don’t know.” Her voice was rough in her throat.
He reached toward her and her heartbeat went wild. His hand wrapped around the chain over her head and he dragged her closer. Closer. Her knees brushed his. Her thigh bumped his hip and the warmth of his body next to hers teased over her senses.
“Does this feel like friendship to you?” He tucked his hands behind her knees and swiveled her to face him. He palmed her calves through her jeans, pinning her knees to his…
Top Ten List:
My heroine in PROMISES UNDER THE PEACH TREE is a baker. She learned from a pro—her resourceful grandmother—and continued to love working in a kitchen after her college degree. I happen to know that’s because it connects her to some of her happiest memories, but it takes her awhile to appreciate that! Sometimes self-knowledge is hard won ;-).
Today, I thought it would be fun to spend some time with Nina Spencer in the kitchen. Here are her Top Ten Items for Baking:
1- Consistent, even heat. You’d be surprised how many kitchens I’ve worked in that don’t have this! An oven can be decades old and still heat beautifully. Test yours before you start your cupcakes or you might end up overcooking the back row and undercooking the front!
2- A really cute apron. This makes the job more fun. I have one with strawberries on it that puts me in the mood for pies.
3- Rolling pin. I realize you don’t need this for cupcakes or even all that many baked goods. But how can you call yourself a baker without one? Side benefit, you can shake it meaningfully at anyone who tries to snitch cookie batter.
4- Kitchen Aid mixer. This is the real deal. It holds the bowl and stirs for you so you can wander around the kitchen searching for the right ingredients. The motor weighs a zillion pounds and it’s built to last into the next century. It may be my only appliance that’s never broken.
5- Timer. I have one shaped like a cow. Like the apron, this makes baking fun. If you don’t have any toys for your job, you’re missing out!
6- A spice rack or spice drawer. This is like the baker’s equivalent of a reader’s bookshelf. Sometimes it’s just fun to look at the array of spices and think about the possibilities. It’s where creativity begins!
7- Toothpicks. Once you’ve frosted your cupcakes, you’ll need these to artfully arrange all the decorative bits on top.
8- A windowsill. The ultimate place to cool a pie. Just be careful no hungry children lurk outside. Don’t be afraid to deploy the rolling pin.
9- Wooden spoons. Sometimes you’ll want to stir by hand and an array of spoons will help you blend, mix and snitch cookie batter for yourself. As the baker, this is your right.
10- Cup measurers. Look for the kind that have the size etched into the handle. The kind that are painted on come off in the dishwasher and you’ll always wonder if you’ve grabbed the wrong size cup.
If you know me at all, you know that I love my Harlequins. Ms. Rock is one of those Harlequin writers that I have read every single thing that she has published with them. Yes, even the Historical Undones. BTW, they are hot and not to be missed. I was pleased but also a bit scared when I choose to read her Superromance book. Yes, she’s a great writer but I was wondering how “hot” it would be since this line tends to not bring the heat level.
Well, I worried for nothing. What Ms. Rock has done is write a brilliant book full of romance, real life issues, second chances and characters that I hope to revisit soon. Heartache is full of richly drawn characters with a setting that makes you feel like you are definitely under a peach tree. The family dynamic with Mack is what really drew me in. We get to know the why he left and his hesitation to fully commit to Nina and it couldn’t have been more real. Mental illness is nothing to snear at and dealing with his mother’s isn’t also a picnic. But the one scene where they actually talk about it, brought a tear.
Nina, on the other hand, took a bad situation and made it worse when she left. Jumping to conclusions and not really thinking through her decision left her somewhat broken in my opinion. I don’t think that was Ms. Rock’s intention but that’s what I got out Nina. It cost her Mack and in some ways, the town’s respect. Moving back to Heartache was going to take a lot of growing up for her to find her way again.
The secondary characters are brilliant. The sub plot with Mack’s niece is OMG…she needs her own book. Please? And let’s also mention his brother’s failing marriage. I felt connected to them and want their stories told. And there is the town itself. Love it and Nina’s grandmother…she’s a spitfire!
Overall, please read this book. Its a great start to a series (?). Just don’t be surprised if you find herself buying up Ms. Rock’s backlist. Trust me, you won’t be sorry. 😉
About the Author:
Three-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock never met a romance subgenre she didn’t enjoy. The author of over sixty romances from contemporary to medieval historical, Joanne dreams of one day penning a book for every Harlequin series. A former Golden Heart recipient, she has won numerous awards for her stories.
Learn more about Joanne’s imaginative Muse by visiting her online:
– Amazon page
– Google +
– Joanne Rock’s Romance Wiki
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Promises Under the Peach Tree, with one US only and one international prize! These are the prizes you can win:
– Romance and More prize pack, which includes 4 classic blaze title by Joanne Rock, The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich, a keepsake vintage Harlequin notebook, sticky-note weekly calendar, lotion and nail polish (US only)
– Paperbacks from The Bookdepository of Shelter Me by Catherine Mann, Someone Like You by Karen Rock and Promises Under the Peach Tree by Joanne Rock (International)
You can enter the giveaway below:
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