The Sweetest Seduction
The Kelly Brothers
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Crista McHugh
Date of Publication: January 6, 2014
Number of pages: 193
Word Count: 48K
Cover Artist: Jaycee DeLorenzo at Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs
The first book in a new contemporary series from award-winning author Crista McHugh, that’s a sexy, modern twist on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Lia Mantovani has created one of the hottest restaurants on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, but all that could disappear if she loses her lease with Kelly Properties. Having had her dreams ripped away from her before, she’ll do everything in her power to keep her restaurant. Her fate hangs on the whims of the frustratingly handsome Adam Kelly.
Adam has spent years trying to convince world famous chef Amadeus Schlittler to open a restaurant in Chicago, but he wants the prime location held by Lia. Business has always come first… until sparks fly when Adam meets her. When things get hot outside the kitchen, though, they’re both in danger of getting burned.
Lia rounded another bend in the road only to see more trees. Her mother’s instructions had been vague at best, simply telling her to go to Geneva Lake and then to make a right. “How much farther, Ma?”
“Just a little bit down the road.” The knitting needles resumed their steady click. “Maureen’s lake house is so quaint and intimate—the perfect place for a nice family dinner. And she called just this morning to say how much she appreciates you agreeing to drive up here.”
Nightmares of trying to cook a four-course meal in a rustic cabin filled Lia’s mind. She gripped the steering wheel and wondered why on Earth she’d ever agreed to this.
The trees finally parted, revealing a massive Craftsman-style home that looked like something Frank Lloyd Wright would’ve designed. Lia’s jaw dropped. “Quaint and intimate?”
“Yes, darling. You should see her home in Highland Park.”
So Mrs. Maureen Kelly had money. Lots of it. And Lia could only imagine how much she must’ve bid at the charity auction. Which begged the question of how her firmly middle-class mother knew this lady. “You said Mrs. Kelly goes to church with you?”
Her mother nodded and packed away her knitting. “She’s also part of my bridge club.”
Lia frowned as she parked the car at the apex of the curved driveway. She didn’t know her mother played bridge. What other secrets was she hiding?
“Hello, Emilia,” a tall blond woman called from the doorway. “So glad you and your daughter could make it today.”
A shaggy mass of white fur bolted past the woman. Lia barely had time to grab the door before it pounced on her, knocking her back into the car. A few loud sniffs sounded in her ear before a series of wet doggy kisses coated her face.
“Jasper, bad dog! Come back here.”
Jasper placed one extra lick on Lia’s cheek before obeying his owner and retreating back to the front porch. She wiped the slobber off her skin. When she’d bemoaned the fact that it had been more than four years since any male had swept her off her feet and kissed her, this was not what she’d had in mind. “Is he always this friendly with strangers?”
To her credit, Mrs. Kelly actually sounded apologetic for her dog’s behavior. “No. He’s usually so well behaved.”
“Must just be me, then.” Lia reached into her glove compartment and retrieved the bottle of hand sanitizer she kept for those unavoidable stops on highway rest areas. It was peach, her favorite scent, and matched the shower gel and lotion she used every morning. Once she’d rubbed it into every place Jasper had licked her, she made her second attempt to get out of the car and meet her hostess.
Maureen Kelly looked like one of those women that time stood still for—probably thanks to Botox. She had to be as old as Lia’s mother, but only her hands hinted at her real age. Everything else seemed to belong to a forty-something model from the latest L.L. Bean catalog. She smiled warmly while she held on to Jasper’s collar. “So nice to finally meet you, Lia. Your mother just goes on and on about how proud she is of you.”
Lia released the breath she’d been holding. So far, Maureen Kelly didn’t seem to be a snob, despite her obvious wealth. “So nice to finally meet you, too.”
“I really appreciate you coming all the way up here for dinner. My son is home for a week before going to Afghanistan, and I really wanted to do something special for him.”
And just like that, any resentment she felt for having to drive two hours north of Chicago vanished. “It’s no trouble at all,” she replied and reached for the twenty-gallon cooler in her trunk.
“Oh, don’t hurt yourself. Let my son get that.” Maureen turned around, Jasper’s collar still in her death grip, and called into the house, “Caleb, would you please be a dear and help out your mother’s friends?”
A moment later, a man appeared on the porch. He was about a head taller than Maureen, his short brown hair styled in the standard military buzz cut. He placed a kiss on his mother’s cheek before jogging down the stairs to Lia’s car. The afternoon sunlight twinkled in his bright blue eyes as he winked at her and grabbed the cooler. “Let me get that for you.”
Okay, so maybe Ma was on to something with Kelly boys, Lia decided after watching the muscles ripple under Caleb’s tee shirt.
Crista McHugh is a multiple award-winning author of fantasy romance and paranormal romance with heroines who are smart, sexy, and anything but ordinary. She currently lives in the Audi-filled suburbs of Seattle with her husband and two children, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends.
Series website: http://www.thekellybrothers.cristamchugh.com