I'm delighted to welcome the Harlequin Winter Holiday Traditions (+Reads) Blog Tour to The Romance Dish today. One of my favorite holiday traditions is curling up on the sofa under the glow of the Christmas tree with a cup of hot chocolate (laced with Kahlua is even better) and losing myself in a good book. Today, I'm happy to share an excerpt from one of Harlequin's Winter Reads: Can't Let Go, the emotional fifth book in New York Times Bestselling Author, Gena Showalter's The Original Heartbreakers contemporary romance series.
Excerpt from Can’t Let Go by Gena Showalter
He was back.
Ryanne Wade poured her world-famous fruit cocktail moonshine—affectionately known as CockaMoon—into a small mason jar and, as discreetly as possible, watched as Jude Laurent prowled through her bar. And okay, the moonshine wasn’t exactly world famous but regionally famous. Okay, almost regionally famous; made from her personal recipe, it was distilled at a local brewery and sold exclusively at the Scratching Post.
Jude had once called the drink Downfall in a Glass. Or DIG. Like, you’re digging your own grave, Wade. Just to get a rise out of her, she was sure.
The former army ranger was a new resident in her hometown, and one of three co-owners of LPH Protection, a security firm. Sometimes he looked like a brawler from the maddest, baddest streets, yet other times he looked like a businessman fresh from a boardroom negotiation—and he’d won. Tonight, he was a bona fide brawler, ready to throw down and heat women up. He wore a black T-shirt, ripped jeans and combat boots. Leather cuffs circled his wrists, and three silver rings glinted on his fingers. His version of brass knuckles?
No matter his persona du jour, he was always as gorgeous and tempting as sin—and an all-around pain in Ryanne’s backside.
He really churned her butter.
Usually he only blessed the Scratching Post with his exalted presence when one of his two friends required a designated driver. He never ordered anything but water, and never spent a dime or even left a tip for the waitress unlucky enough to serve him. Namely Ryanne. Not even the insulting kind of tip: a note on a napkin. Fetch my drinks faster next time, and you’ll get cash.
The worst thing about him? He liked to stand at the jukebox and intimidate patrons with a death-ray glare. Oh, and let’s not forget how he sometimes attempted to police the door, commanding people to sit and stay as if they were dogs, simply because they’d had a sip of something—anything—alcoholic.
The nerve of the man. And the body on him…
Ryanne fanned her flushed cheeks. Time to crank up the air conditioner. Because no, her boiling blood had nothing to do with Jude’s sexy, muscled, delicious, sexy, mouthwatering, sexy good looks.
Not too long ago—okay, okay, soon after meeting Jude—Ryanne had decided to nix her ban on romantic relationships and pick someone to date. The timing was purely coincidental, of course, but her hormones had been out of whack ever since.
Besides, even if she did want Jude, she wouldn’t go after him. Despite his surly attitude, females young and old continued to approach him in droves, stealthily or not so stealthily dangling their bait, but he never even nibbled. He might as well have Off Limits tattooed on his forehead.
Was tonight the night he relaxed and had a little fun?
Shivers rained over her as he cast a dark, brooding glance in her direction. He had collar-length blond hair
with the slightest wave, eyes bluer than a morning sky, and the body of a surfer: lean, muscled and bronzed. But he also had a perma-frown. To her knowledge, he’d never smiled, joked or laughed, and he’d always radiated scary-hot menace and aggression.
If he ever smiled…goodness gracious, her hormones might explode from lust overload!
Of course, he had a good reason for his bad attitude. A few years ago, he lost his entire family in a terrible car accident; his wife and twin daughters were gone in the blink of an eye. Talk about the ultimate heartache. Ryanne reckoned guilt and grief ate at him on a daily—hourly—basis. And she absolutely 100 percent empathized.
But come on! His troubled past didn’t give him the right to accuse her of duplicitous flirting practices in order to boost return visits, and oversalting snacks to ensure patrons remained thirsty. First, she wasn’t a plain, ordinary flirt; she was flirtish, and there was a difference. She wasn’t after conquests but smiles. Second, how would Jude know anything about the food? He hadn’t tasted a single dish she served.
For some reason, he’d pegged Ryanne as a villainess at their first meeting, and his opinion of her hadn’t changed.
Dang him. I’m as sweet as sugar, and probably tastier to boot!
When he turned on his heel and headed her way, a frisson of electricity raced through her. Their gazes locked once again, and his step hitched—so did her breath. The sight of him, drawing nearer while fully focused on her…
Keep your cool, mi querida.
Can't Let Go
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: October 31, 2017
With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men. Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar, and all bets are off. The former army ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible.
For Jude, Ryanne is off-limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood—and her life—he can’t turn away. She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he’s determined to protect her, whatever the cost.
As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future…or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over fifty books, including the acclaimed Lords of the Underworld and Angels of the Dark series, and the White Rabbit Chronicles. She writes sizzling paranormal romance, heartwarming contemporary romance, and unputdownable young adult novels, and lives in Oklahoma City with her family and menagerie of dogs. Visit her at GenaShowalter.com.
Have you read any Christmas romances yet this year?
Have you read any of Gena Showalter's The Original Heartbreakers books?
What's your Christmas reading beverage of choice?
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