Carolina Girl

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In Carolina Girl, gifted writer Patricia Rice gives readers a marvelous novel about two very different people who, against all odds, end up with a common goal: to spend their lives together. . . .

Born and raised on an island off the shores of South Carolina, Aurora Jenkins isn’t about to let her home’s rural beauty and delicate ecology fall victim to over-development. Her life takes an unexpected turn, though, when she meets Clay McCloud. No one has ever affected her so deeply....

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Overview

In Carolina Girl, gifted writer Patricia Rice gives readers a marvelous novel about two very different people who, against all odds, end up with a common goal: to spend their lives together. . . .

Born and raised on an island off the shores of South Carolina, Aurora Jenkins isn’t about to let her home’s rural beauty and delicate ecology fall victim to over-development. Her life takes an unexpected turn, though, when she meets Clay McCloud. No one has ever affected her so deeply. But their views on the island’s future don’t mesh, and Aurora will have to win him to her side if she is to have any chance of protecting her home . . . because she knows it’s already too late to protect her heart.

Clay McCloud was hiding out on the serene little island, enjoying some richly deserved down time. He wasn’t looking for a fight or trouble or even a knockout redhead—but that is exactly what he got with Aurora, a woman who is all contradiction: part business mogul and part goddess. Her beauty and the attraction he feels for her are undeniable. And though he has certain rules about women like Aurora, leave it to a bad boy like Clay to decide that rules are meant to be broken. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Laid off from her high-power banking job, finance expert Aurora Jenkins volunteers her services to help implement a grant for a state park that will keep the South Carolina island where her family lives from being destroyed by development. She needs the help of software expert Clay McCloud to get the names of the current property owners, but after one meeting with the surly but gorgeous hunk, she realizes it is going to be a lot harder than she thought. A disillusioned dot-com owner who lost more than his business in the crash, a no-nonsense businesswoman who looks-and occasionally acts-like a Viking warrior princess, and a plot complicated by greed, corruption, and a "long-lost treasure" result in a lively, sensual story that is sure to please fans. Laced with humor and zingy dialog, this concludes Rice's "McCloud Brothers Trilogy" (Almost Perfect, McCloud's Woman). A veteran writer of well-received romances, Rice lives in North Carolina. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Jill Smith
“Rounding out her trilogy about the McCloud brothers, Rice brings back all her previous characters, as they take on the establishment. Carolina Girl is full of the warmth, humor and poignancy that make Rice's books very special.”
staff reviewer
““...Rice does such a good job of weaving the reader through each character, making them personable and the ending all the more romantic.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587247378
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 7/20/2004
  • Pages: 449
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Rice is the million-copy bestselling author of Wayward Angel, Denim & Lace, Paper Moon, Garden of Dreams, the national bestseller Blue Clouds, Volcano, Impossible Dreams, Nobody’s Angel, Almost Perfect, and McCloud’s Woman. She has won numerous awards, including the Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award. A mother of two children, she lives in North Carolina.
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Read an Excerpt

ONE

“You’re kidding me, right?” Aurora Jenkins glanced at the nearly empty budget file the head of the tourist commission handed her. “You want me to spin gold out of straw, too?”

Shrugging his narrow shoulders at her disparaging words, Terry Talbert retreated to his desk so she didn’t tower over him. “We’re all volunteers here, Rora. We have a million-dollar grant, but no one with your financial expertise.”

No one else had her big mouth and opened it so frequently, she corrected, mentally kicking herself. She’d just been laid off from her lucrative bank position for opening her mouth one too many times. But this time, she’d done it for her family.

She could fix her career easily enough, but she was pinning her family’s future on the state park plan represented by this meager file. Volunteering her time and expertise had seemed the best means of getting on the inside track. Now it looked as if she would have the responsibility of making the park happen. No point endangering this golden opportunity by telling Terry he was a lazy bum.

Shouldering her bag, she slipped the file into it. “I’ll start with land acquisitions. Who’s this Thomas Clayton McCloud? I’ve never heard of him.” This was a small town and she’d grown up here. She thought she knew everyone.

“Some computer guru the mayor’s mother thinks is cute.” Terry grimaced in distaste. “You know how things get done around here. ”

Yep, she did. She’d just landed this position because she’d been Terry’s high school lab partner. Networking, that was called in the city.

“And ‘cute’ will acquire the land how?” she asked. “With charming smiles and asking if we could have the beach, pretty please?”

Terry snorted. “Not from McCloud. He’s a surly bastard. Check him out. He’s usually sitting on the courthouse roof at this hour.”

Oh, good, surly bastards were right up her alley. A good fight to get the old adrenaline going, and she could put an end to the park right now. Keep the big mouth shut, Rora.

“Is it too soon to resign my commission?” Rolling her eyes but not giving back the file, Rory headed for the door. She’d accomplished more impossible feats than persuading budgets out of surly computer gurus who sat on courthouse roofs. Maybe not any quite so colorful, though. The sophisticated city life she’d been leading paled in comparison.

“Don’t strangle him until you get the list of landowners out of him!” Terry called after her.

Once she had the list of heirs to that tract, the state could start purchasing land for the park. The sooner the island had a park, the sooner they could bring some tourist money in here to fill her family’s pockets, and she could be on her way again. Maybe she would take a job in Chicago this time. The skyline there was spectacular, and the culture and nightlife beat Charlotte’s by a country mile. A career move would be good for her.

Walking out of city hall, she nearly bumped into Jeff Spencer, the town banker, conversing with the elderly mayor. They both knew her but didn’t acknowledge her existence. Recognizing the attitude, she shrugged and stepped out of their way. She wasn’t rocking any more boats these days.

Breathing in the sweet scent of blooming jasmine, she glanced up the oak-lined street to her rural hometown’s only claim to a skyline. The gilding on the clock tower of the courthouse gleamed in the bright May sun.

Built shortly after the Civil War, the steepled courthouse was too small and dark to be effective for anything except record keeping, but they still used it for all their criminal proceedings. Not that a place this size had much more than a few drunk-and-disorderlies.

Given her father’s rowdy habits, Rory had been on the inside of the courthouse a few more times than she cared to recall—one of the many reasons the town’s substantial citizens ignored her.

Walking beneath live oaks trailing gray beards of Spanish moss, she studied the high-pitched roof of the city landmark, easily locating what appeared to be a half-naked Greek god perched at the peak, tampering with the clock’s internal mechanism. It looked to her like it would be easier to tackle the job from inside the tower, but who was she to argue with mechanical genius? Or Greek gods? His shoulders alone were awe-inspiring.

The clock never had run properly, not since the mayor’s daddy “fixed” it back during World War II, according to town legend. She kind of liked the fact that the clock always ran slow no matter how many times someone set it. It seemed to depict the town’s cautious attitude of living one step behind the times.

If McCloud looked as good up close as he did from down here, she’d be willing to climb up there and join him.

Obviously a victim of her sexless life, Rory shook her head at her voyeurism. She had enough complications in her life without adding a man to it. Someday her prince might come, but in the meantime she was perfectly happy building her own castles.

Emerging from the shade to stand on the courthouse lawn, she called up to him. “Thomas McCloud?” She wondered if her voice would carry that far. Climbing the ladder leaning against the side of the building wasn’t on her agenda for the morning.

Rory couldn’t tell whether it was her voice that caused him to halt what he was doing or if he’d just decided to take a drink. Either way, he slipped his screwdriver into a tool belt, picked up a bottle of water, and glanced downward through his expensive wraparound sunglasses.

Calling his name again, she waved at him to catch his attention.

From her view on the ground, Thomas McCloud could have doubled as a movie star—sun-bleached hair, slim hips, taut, tanned abdomen, and admirable pecs. And all attitude, she’d just about swear, waiting for the movie-star illusion to dispel the instant McCloud opened his mouth.

Shoving the aviator glasses into his thick, wavy hair, he lifted the water bottle in a salute, took a drink, set the bottle down on a ledge, and pulled his screwdriver out of his tool belt, completely ignoring her. Attitude. She’d known it. The good-looking ones were born with it.

“Thomas McCloud, I need to talk with you!” she shouted at him.

He carefully unscrewed one corner of the clock frame and dropped the screws into a pouch on his belt without once looking down.

She damned well didn’t intend to stand here screaming like a jay, making a spectacle of herself. The townspeople already thought little enough of her family without confirming their “trailer trash” reputation.

Rory marched around the courthouse and up the steps. She’d been the one who’d taught her classmates how to climb up into the tower.

She supposed a sensible person would have gone on to the next order of business and hoped to catch one Thomas Clayton McCloud in another time and place. But life had taught her that the timid got walked over and the stubborn got things done.

Besides, he’d ticked her off by ignoring her. She wouldn’t have accomplished as much as she had if she’d let people ignore her.

“How you doing, Elena?” Leaning on the counter in the DMV office, Rory greeted the file clerk who’d worked there for decades.

Sliding her purple-rimmed glasses on top of her gray hair, the clerk smiled a greeting. “Aurora, how good to see you!”

Rory waved her hand at the door partially hidden behind a bank of file cabinets. “I need to climb up there and talk to the clown on the roof. Is the staircase accessible these days?”

“He’s a sight to behold, isn’t he? If only I were thirty years younger.” Elena reached behind an antique wooden file cabinet and removed a key from a hook.

“I thought it was only the high school kids who sought attention by climbing up there.” Rory accepted the key and started around the counter.

“He never talks to anyone, so I guess it’s not attention he’s after.” She tucked a pencil into the bun of hair at her nape and grabbed a shrilly ringing phone, waving Rory on.

Clasping the key in her fist, Rory wended her way past desks and cabinets and assorted equipment to pry open the squeaking door. She wrinkled her nose at the musty stench emanating from the wooden structure. If the town ever hired a real live fire marshal who actually inspected buildings, he’d probably condemn this stairway. Until then, she needed a broom to clear out the cobwebs.

Checking a nearby janitor’s closet and finding a worn broom, Rory thanked the good Lord for people who never changed their habits. She could swear this was the same broom she’d used the first time she’d sneaked up the stairs. Wielding the handle, she brushed aside cobwebs and cleared a path.

The old staircase seemed safe enough. With her sensible heels slapping the wooden treads so he could hear her coming, Rory climbed to the third-story landing and located the vent overlooking the roof.

“McCloud!” she called, rattling the louver until it opened enough for her to see out. “I need to talk with you. You want to do it here or somewhere more appropriate?”

The clock tower was actually overhead, perched on the peak of the roof, so she had to look up as well as out to see the mechanic. Mostly she could see his long, jeans-clad legs. Apparently amused by her call, he peered over his sunglasses at the open louvers, but she figured he couldn’t see her. “There’s a ladder in here,” she shouted. “I can climb up there if I have to.”

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

ONE

"You're kidding me, right?" Aurora Jenkins glanced at the nearly empty budget file the head of the tourist commission handed her. "You want me to spin gold out of straw, too?"

Shrugging his narrow shoulders at her disparaging words, Terry Talbert retreated to his desk so she didn't tower over him. "We're all volunteers here, Rora. We have a million-dollar grant, but no one with your financial expertise."

No one else had her big mouth and opened it so frequently, she corrected, mentally kicking herself. She'd just been laid off from her lucrative bank position for opening her mouth one too many times. But this time, she'd done it for her family.

She could fix her career easily enough, but she was pinning her family's future on the state park plan represented by this meager file. Volunteering her time and expertise had seemed the best means of getting on the inside track. Now it looked as if she would have the responsibility of making the park happen. No point endangering this golden opportunity by telling Terry he was a lazy bum.

Shouldering her bag, she slipped the file into it. "I'll start with land acquisitions. Who's this Thomas Clayton McCloud? I've never heard of him." This was a small town and she'd grown up here. She thought she knew everyone.

"Some computer guru the mayor's mother thinks is cute." Terry grimaced in distaste. "You know how things get done around here. "

Yep, she did. She'd just landed this position because she'd been Terry's high school lab partner. Networking, that was called in the city.

"And ‘cute' will acquire the land how?" she asked. "With charming smiles and asking if we could havethe beach, pretty please?"

Terry snorted. "Not from McCloud. He's a surly bastard. Check him out. He's usually sitting on the courthouse roof at this hour."

Oh, good, surly bastards were right up her alley. A good fight to get the old adrenaline going, and she could put an end to the park right now. Keep the big mouth shut, Rora.

"Is it too soon to resign my commission?" Rolling her eyes but not giving back the file, Rory headed for the door. She'd accomplished more impossible feats than persuading budgets out of surly computer gurus who sat on courthouse roofs. Maybe not any quite so colorful, though. The sophisticated city life she'd been leading paled in comparison.

"Don't strangle him until you get the list of landowners out of him!" Terry called after her.

Once she had the list of heirs to that tract, the state could start purchasing land for the park. The sooner the island had a park, the sooner they could bring some tourist money in here to fill her family's pockets, and she could be on her way again. Maybe she would take a job in Chicago this time. The skyline there was spectacular, and the culture and nightlife beat Charlotte's by a country mile. A career move would be good for her.

Walking out of city hall, she nearly bumped into Jeff Spencer, the town banker, conversing with the elderly mayor. They both knew her but didn't acknowledge her existence. Recognizing the attitude, she shrugged and stepped out of their way. She wasn't rocking any more boats these days.

Breathing in the sweet scent of blooming jasmine, she glanced up the oak-lined street to her rural hometown's only claim to a skyline. The gilding on the clock tower of the courthouse gleamed in the bright May sun.

Built shortly after the Civil War, the steepled courthouse was too small and dark to be effective for anything except record keeping, but they still used it for all their criminal proceedings. Not that a place this size had much more than a few drunk-and-disorderlies.

Given her father's rowdy habits, Rory had been on the inside of the courthouse a few more times than she cared to recall—one of the many reasons the town's substantial citizens ignored her.

Walking beneath live oaks trailing gray beards of Spanish moss, she studied the high-pitched roof of the city landmark, easily locating what appeared to be a half-naked Greek god perched at the peak, tampering with the clock's internal mechanism. It looked to her like it would be easier to tackle the job from inside the tower, but who was she to argue with mechanical genius? Or Greek gods? His shoulders alone were awe-inspiring.

The clock never had run properly, not since the mayor's daddy "fixed" it back during World War II, according to town legend. She kind of liked the fact that the clock always ran slow no matter how many times someone set it. It seemed to depict the town's cautious attitude of living one step behind the times.

If McCloud looked as good up close as he did from down here, she'd be willing to climb up there and join him.

Obviously a victim of her sexless life, Rory shook her head at her voyeurism. She had enough complications in her life without adding a man to it. Someday her prince might come, but in the meantime she was perfectly happy building her own castles.

Emerging from the shade to stand on the courthouse lawn, she called up to him. "Thomas McCloud?" She wondered if her voice would carry that far. Climbing the ladder leaning against the side of the building wasn't on her agenda for the morning.

Rory couldn't tell whether it was her voice that caused him to halt what he was doing or if he'd just decided to take a drink. Either way, he slipped his screwdriver into a tool belt, picked up a bottle of water, and glanced downward through his expensive wraparound sunglasses.

Calling his name again, she waved at him to catch his attention.

From her view on the ground, Thomas McCloud could have doubled as a movie star—sun-bleached hair, slim hips, taut, tanned abdomen, and admirable pecs. And all attitude, she'd just about swear, waiting for the movie-star illusion to dispel the instant McCloud opened his mouth.

Shoving the aviator glasses into his thick, wavy hair, he lifted the water bottle in a salute, took a drink, set the bottle down on a ledge, and pulled his screwdriver out of his tool belt, completely ignoring her. Attitude. She'd known it. The good-looking ones were born with it.

"Thomas McCloud, I need to talk with you!" she shouted at him.

He carefully unscrewed one corner of the clock frame and dropped the screws into a pouch on his belt without once looking down.

She damned well didn't intend to stand here screaming like a jay, making a spectacle of herself. The townspeople already thought little enough of her family without confirming their "trailer trash" reputation.

Rory marched around the courthouse and up the steps. She'd been the one who'd taught her classmates how to climb up into the tower.

She supposed a sensible person would have gone on to the next order of business and hoped to catch one Thomas Clayton McCloud in another time and place. But life had taught her that the timid got walked over and the stubborn got things done.

Besides, he'd ticked her off by ignoring her. She wouldn't have accomplished as much as she had if she'd let people ignore her.

"How you doing, Elena?" Leaning on the counter in the DMV office, Rory greeted the file clerk who'd worked there for decades.

Sliding her purple-rimmed glasses on top of her gray hair, the clerk smiled a greeting. "Aurora, how good to see you!"

Rory waved her hand at the door partially hidden behind a bank of file cabinets. "I need to climb up there and talk to the clown on the roof. Is the staircase accessible these days?"

"He's a sight to behold, isn't he? If only I were thirty years younger." Elena reached behind an antique wooden file cabinet and removed a key from a hook.

"I thought it was only the high school kids who sought attention by climbing up there." Rory accepted the key and started around the counter.

"He never talks to anyone, so I guess it's not attention he's after." She tucked a pencil into the bun of hair at her nape and grabbed a shrilly ringing phone, waving Rory on.

Clasping the key in her fist, Rory wended her way past desks and cabinets and assorted equipment to pry open the squeaking door. She wrinkled her nose at the musty stench emanating from the wooden structure. If the town ever hired a real live fire marshal who actually inspected buildings, he'd probably condemn this stairway. Until then, she needed a broom to clear out the cobwebs.

Checking a nearby janitor's closet and finding a worn broom, Rory thanked the good Lord for people who never changed their habits. She could swear this was the same broom she'd used the first time she'd sneaked up the stairs. Wielding the handle, she brushed aside cobwebs and cleared a path.

The old staircase seemed safe enough. With her sensible heels slapping the wooden treads so he could hear her coming, Rory climbed to the third-story landing and located the vent overlooking the roof.

"McCloud!" she called, rattling the louver until it opened enough for her to see out. "I need to talk with you. You want to do it here or somewhere more appropriate?"

The clock tower was actually overhead, perched on the peak of the roof, so she had to look up as well as out to see the mechanic. Mostly she could see his long, jeans-clad legs. Apparently amused by her call, he peered over his sunglasses at the open louvers, but she figured he couldn't see her. "There's a ladder in here," she shouted. "I can climb up there if I have to."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2004

    Environmentalist seeks relationship with developer...

    Aurora Jenkins left home to concur the world only to return to her roots once she looses her financial job. Not to be left bored, she is tasked with caring for an injured father and sister. Once home, Aurora decides that the island where her town is located needs a park and volunteers her expertise to provide a budget to the town. Everything runs smooth until she discovers that her budget will mean having to track down the landowners. Had she taken the conventional route through city hall and bureaucracy, she would have missed the sparks that fly when she determines that hooking up with software genius Clay McCloud is the quickest path. Clay was just sitting around, minding his own business without desiring any complications. When this gorgeous redhead seeks his assistance, he can¿t help but to be intrigued. While they don¿t share the same outlook for the island, they do share a hidden passion for each other that begs through the pages to be unleashed. The backdrop is environmental versus development. A supporting cast carries this story and the overall outcome is wonderful if not a tad too obvious. The 180-degree opposite personalities of the love interests add to the passion as each wants to dominate the other. I enjoyed the book and recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2004

    Very good reading

    Aurora Jenkins 'Rory' had been born and raised on an island off the shores of South Carolina. She volunteered to help protect the area from fancy lawyers buying it all up and turning it into high-rises, motels, big businesses, parking lots, and tearing up the entire area. She was fighting for her family (in more ways than one), neighbors, and environment. She would use all her big business know-how, if necessary, to do it. But in order to succeed, she must win Clay McCloud over to her side. The State Parks Department (Mr. Ben Little) only needed Clay to locate the owners for them. If the lawyers could get just one of them to sell their small share of the property, then they could have the WHOLE PARCEL on the auction block within a few short weeks! Getting Clay to just LISTEN would not be easy though. The software genius has been playing hermit, hoping not to have to deal with any of it. .................. Clay McCloud was enjoying being alone and secluded! He had enough of owning dot coms online or designing business software and computer games only for someone to steal them from him. He no longer wanted the big dollars, fancy cars, and gorgeous women that he'd had for so long. Or so he thought! Rory looked a lot like the Viking princess he had designed on his video game 'Mysterious'. As attracted as he was, Clay had his own set of rules about women like Aurora. But rules were made to be broken. ................. ***** Awesome story that kept my nose stuck in the book tighter than cement glue! I even learned some interesting things about rural coast lines and the animals that live there. This story is a sure winner! ***** Detra Fitch/Huntress Reviews

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2003

    A real treat for romance fans

    After losing her financial job, expert Aurora Jenkins returns home to Coastal Carolina to care for her father and sister, both suffering injuries. Rory has volunteered to put together a budget proposal for her island town to request a grant to purchase land for conversion to a park. However, Rory learns she needs to work with software genius and all around hermit Thomas MacCloud whose program will identify the land owners............................. As Rory and Thomas squabble, they learn that the politicians and big business have gotten together with a plan that will over develop and ultimately destroy the beauty of the island. The duo works together seeking a solution to boost the local economy yet keep the island¿s natural beauty even as they fall in love. However, though both are ready to battle the big shots, neither is ready for a relationship....................... CAROLINA GIRL is an entertaining contemporary romance that focuses on the issue of development vs. environment especially through the eyes of the strong support cast. The lead couple is fun to follow as they battle, argue, and squabble. Though the final resolution seems too easy, fans will enjoy the teaming up of the Amazon Princess and the software game developer against superheavyweights used to getting their way............................... Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2013

    4 STARS Carolina Girl is the third book in the Carolina/McCloud

    4 STARS

    Carolina Girl is the third book in the Carolina/McCloud Brothers.

    In the McCloud brothers they all had money and then lost it in different ways. This book ties up the loose ends in the
    previous books. Some sex scenes.

    It has some great characters, some old favorites and some new ones. Has drama,danger and heroes. Shows how much family can do and share each other burdens and trials.

    Clay is hiding out at the beach house this book. He was betrayed by his fiance and business partner. He does not plan to let anyone else take his work. He is going to control everything. Right now he is being a beach bum. Also he is tinkering with the clock tower he plans to get it working.

    Clay watches a Loggerhead turtle come onto the beach and lay her eggs. He wants to protect them after that. He also wants to protect his brother and sister-in-law land from being overrun.

    Aurora is back home after being fired. She is also helping her family both her sister and father were hurt in a accident. She has sold everything she can to help pay the bills. All she has is her expensive car.

    Someone wants to buy the land thier family has had for generations. If one person sells to the state it will force the land to be auctioned off. some will make money the rest won't even have a home if that happens. She wants some changes but not the swamp gone
    and condos built.

    I liked how the story ends even if I guessed some of the story.
    I bought on amazon.



    Discription below taken off Goodreads.

    An ambitious MBA with a genius for opening her mouth when she shouldn't, Aurora Jenkins wants nothing more than to fix her accident-prone family so she can leave the suffocating rural culture of her hometown and run back to the big city where she belongs.
    Considered an eccentric hermit with no more ambition than to repair the courthouse clock, Clay McCloud has withdrawn to his brother's South Carolina island home to rethink his wasted corporate life. After giving up his million-dollar lifestyle to pay back the investors devastated by his treacherous, MBA wielding ex-fiancée, all he wants is to be left alone. The last thing he wants is another woman with an MBA and strong opinions.

    A real estate scam that threatens the island and both their families, and a million dollar bottle cap that can save only one of them, forces these two brilliantly stubborn people to recognize what's really important as they fight for the island, their families, and the chance to love and live again.

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    Posted May 25, 2011

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    Posted November 1, 2008

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    Posted January 13, 2010

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