Hot as Blazes takes over my spotlight today. I couldn’t be happier for Dani Jace and her scorching contemporary out now. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this work when Dani and I both part of Chesapeake Romance Writers and I am thrilled to share a peek with you today. You can bet I’ll take a virtual vacation to the Outer Banks with this one.
When the Heat Gets Started
JoAnn Mercer was on the verge of surfer stardom when her career took a nosedive thanks to a backstabbing ex. Now she’s back home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, staying clear of men, desperately in need of a job. Joining the local firefighting squad seems like the perfect solution, until she realizes one of her coworkers is an old crush…
It Will Never Stop
Ray Andrews never runs away from a fight. He served his country in Iraq, and he’s battled more fires than he can count. But what he can’t fight is the desire burning between him and JoAnn Mercer. He’s wanted Jo for as long as he can remember, but a promise made years ago has kept them apart. Finally free of obligations, Ray is ready to prove he’s the only man for Jo. But after the trauma of her past, can he convince her to love again?
Ready for the excerpt? Of course.
The dated Shaker-shingle beach house brought Jo Mercer to tears. She’d doubted ever seeing it again. After parking, she wiped her eyes and patted the dash of her dad’s classic Bronco her brother, Bobby, had left at the airport for her.
As she stepped out of the truck, a warm Outer Banks sea breeze kissed her cheeks. Dune grasses waved in welcome. Home. The only sweeter thing would have been a husky Dahlin’ from Bobby’s best friend, Ray. Unfortunately, her stealth homecoming prevented opportunity. Ray was the last one she wanted to know her big California surfing dream had ended like a movie of the week crime drama.
By the dunes sat a black H1 Hummer, chrome surf rack glittering in the afternoon sun. It displayed a firefighter license plate. Probably one of Bobby’s friends. She climbed the steps to the house, unlocked the side door, and stepped inside.
The fragrant cedar aroma drew her into a familiar bare bones décor consisting of a big screen TV, over-sized recliner, and sofa with a couple of end tables. She skimmed her fingers along the worn flagstone fireplace mantle before reaching her father’s flag. So hard to believe he was gone.
Outside, the shower door slammed. Jo secured her sunglasses and headed down the deck stairs. Broad back muscles stretched the Nags Head fire department logo on the man’s shirt as he racked his surfboard. Behind a pair of wraparound shades, he eyed her. “Bobby’s gone for the weekend.”
Her dad had been a captain for Nags Head. “Yeah, I know. How were the waves?”
His smile seemed familiar. He whipped off his shades and closed the distance. “Jo!”
“Ray?” She nearly toppled from her platform flip-flops as huge biceps wrapped her in a bear hug that left her toes dangling. His touch shot through her veins like straight whiskey.
“Bobby didn’t mention you were coming home, Dahlin’.” His pale blue eyes held her captive and his southern twang brought her home faster than a jet from LAX.
The sexy sound of her pet name made her stutter. “Ahh, it was last minute.”
Well over six foot, her high school surfing buddy had grown into a man with a body rivaling most NFL tight ends. He squinted and cocked his head.
With her lifelong fantasy standing so close, coherent sentences failed her. She poked the firefighter seal over his rock hard pectoral. “So what’s this?”
“I thought Bobby told you?” He smiled lazily, running a hand over his close-cropped hair. “Couldn’t play lifeguard forever.”
She might be if her luck didn’t change. Nobody had told her Ray became a firefighter. Guess he didn’t want to worry her after he made it back from Iraq. The same reason she didn’t tell him about her trouble in California. “Awesome, Cappy would have been so proud.”
At her father’s nickname, hurt flashed over his handsome face. He flipped her sunglasses to the top of her head. “I was beginning to think I’d never see you again.”
“Me too.” She avoided his gaze as tears welled.
He tamed a wavy strand of her hair with gentle fingers. “Figured you would have cut it by now.”
The sensual gesture set off a resurgence of feelings she didn’t want to revisit. Hope welled in her chest, but she crushed it with memories of past heartache. He’d never see her as a woman. “Nope, still Bobby’s tomboy sister.”
“I never saw you that way, Jo.” His gaze softened with his tone.
He’d always had the ability to strip her of pretense with barely a word. She fought for control. “ Okay, your surf buddy then.”
“Always.” He smiled then checked his diver’s watch. “Damn, I’d love to stay and catch up, but I’m picking up a partial shift. You’re here for a few days, aren’t you?”
Guilt heated her cheeks. She hadn’t wanted him to know of her arrival and now he wanted to spend time with her. “How about some cools ones after some waves?”
A little boy grin lit his tanned face accentuating his stubble. He winked a sexy blue and pecked her cheek with a kiss. “Sweet.”
As his beastly SUV disappeared from the driveway, her heart finally slowed to a normal rhythm. He never knew how much she’d loved him during high school nor would he ever. Besides, how would he feel when he learned the truth as to why she’d been kicked off the surfing team? She slipped her cell from her pocket and dialed a California number.
“Santa Cruz probation office,” a receptionist answered.
Hot as Blazes is available at:
Dani Jace lives in coastal Virginia and enjoys writing headstrong, flip-flop casual heroines and everyday heroes who work with their hands―and other body parts. Claiming the Outer Banks of North Carolina as her second home, she includes the scenic and legendary chain of barrier islands as a setting for many of her tales.
When not working on her next novel, she’s dipping her toes in the ocean, reading or checking out the newest action flick. Her husband, son and black Lab, plus her many imaginary characters make life complete.