Family He Wanted (Silhouette Special Edition Series #1968) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Raised without a father, Jana McPartland did not want the same for her unborn baby. So when the daddy-to-be took a hike, she turned to her closest friend, Sam Harrison. He'd always been her refuge from the storm...and this was one heck of a hurricane she'd found herself in.

The bestselling novelist offered her a roof over her head, a paycheck for her hard work and all the safety she craved. Yet Jana found herself needing more from the brooding...

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Family He Wanted (Silhouette Special Edition Series #1968)

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Overview

Raised without a father, Jana McPartland did not want the same for her unborn baby. So when the daddy-to-be took a hike, she turned to her closest friend, Sam Harrison. He'd always been her refuge from the storm...and this was one heck of a hurricane she'd found herself in.

The bestselling novelist offered her a roof over her head, a paycheck for her hard work and all the safety she craved. Yet Jana found herself needing more from the brooding bachelor--to finally give in to the unspoken attraction that had always burned between them. But as a former foster kid, Sam wasn't the type of man who stepped out of his comfort zone.

Until he proposed!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426831331
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Series: Fostering Family Series , #1968
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 155,677
  • File size: 210 KB

Meet the Author

Writing has been Karen's passion since the fourth grade when she vowed she would one day "be a writer." She took a circuitous route to the writing profession, however.

She always wrote during her school years—poetry and short stories for the most part—but rather than major in English, she studied mathematics, physics and computer science. After earning a BA in math from a California state college and an MS in computer sciences from UCLA, Karen worked as a software engineer for nearly fifteen years.

With a move from the Los Angeles area to northern California, Karen and her husband agreed she would stay home with their two sons and write full-time. It took four years of hard work, but in 1997, Karen finally sold her first romance novel. She sold four others within a year, but then that flurry of sales was followed by a nail-biting two-year dry spell during which Karen sold nothing, nada, zip.

Before Karen decided that plumbing might not be such a bad profession after all, she struck gold again with a call from Silhouette books. In addition to writing for the Silhouette Special Edition series, Karen also works with L.A. producers on screenwriting projects. She's also had a lot of fun producing her own short films.

Karen's real-life romance is still going strong—her marriage is well past the two-decade mark. With one son married and the other poised to leave the nest, Karen looks forward to writing more books and spending more time with her husband, Gary and her beautiful Andalusian/Morgan cross mare, Belle.

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Read an Excerpt

Eyes burning with exhaustion, butt sore from the long drive, Jana McPartland pulled her ramshackle white sedan up to the security gate of Sam Harrison's Sierra Nevada foothills estate. If Sam had changed the gate code since last year, she was sunk. With her cell phone disconnected and not a pay phone in sight, she'd have to sit out here in the gloomy early January drizzle until he next passed through the gate.

She couldn't make out Sam's house—never mind that it was the size of Nebraska. The big, white two-story was around a curve of the asphalt-paved drive, hidden by a row of cypress trees. She'd spent a month there last May, right before she became Tony Herrera's assistant at Estelle's House. Sam had gone off on a book tour for his latest crime thriller and had asked Jana to house-sit. Talk about the lap of luxury.

She rolled down the driver's-side window, her arm tiring as the hand crank resisted. She had the security code memorized, but still she pulled out the slip of paper Sam had written it on. She liked seeing that almost illegible cursive, the words Gate Code reading more like "Goat Cake." He'd laughed when she'd pointed that out to him, had chucked her under the chin like he had when she'd been ten years old.

She knew that touch had meant way more to her than to him. That was why she'd saved the slip of paper, so she could remember that moment.

Tucking the slip of paper back inside her purse, she punched in the five-digit code. A moment of silence, then the gate mechanism clicked and clacked as it rolled aside. She smiled with relief as she continued up the driveway, the gate shutting again behind her.

As she traveled the last curve of the road, her stomachstarted a two-step, threatening a redo of the nausea that never seemed limited to the morning. She'd eaten lunch at twelve-thirty in Redding, downed a few crackers when she'd stopped for pee breaks in Corning and Sacramento. The only time her stomach cooperated was while she was eating. At three-thirty, with all the crackers gone, it wasn't looking good.

She tucked the sedan alongside the six-car garage, out of the way in case Sam wasn't here and had to pull in. Even on a nasty, rainy Friday afternoon, he could be out running errands. Sam had a thing about keeping his six cars out of the elements, especially the five to-drool-for vintage models in his collection.

Her back aching, she unfolded herself from the sedan, brushing cracker crumbs from her elastic-waist jeans. Snagging her thrift shop jacket from the passenger seat, she shoved her arms into the sleeves. Nothing to keep her head dry, but hopefully she wouldn't be out in the wet for very long.

She'd always loved Sam's house—the wraparound front porch shaded with oak trees, the wide front lawn that sloped gently along the drive. She would have killed for a lawn like that as a kid, a place to run, a million nooks and crannies for hide-and-seek. She'd made do with Estelle Beckenstein's tiny front yard and backyard. She'd sneak over there from the small apartment where she and her mom lived, play rough-and-tumble games with Estelle's foster kids. But Sam's sixty-acre estate was a kid's dream.

Relieved to be under the porch overhang, she tried the doorbell first, pressing her ear to the front door to make sure the three-note gong sounded. Then she knocked, just to be on the safe side. Still no response. Of course, if he was out back somewhere, he wouldn't hear the doorbell or her knock.

Walking along the porch, Jana made her way around the house. She could kill two birds here—one, look for Sam, and two, brave the wet to see if he still left the little bathroom out by the pool unlocked. That would save her the indignity of using the bushes. She'd taken care of business at the service station when she eked out another quarter tank with the last of her cash, but that was a good half hour and a soda ago. Caffeine free, of course.

He hadn't locked the bathroom. That gave her a chance to not only use the toilet but also wash her face and finger-comb her stick-straight chin-length hair. That was a laugh, considering the way the damp strands clung to her face. Hopefully, she wouldn't terrify him when he got home.

Nothing to do but wait. Trotting back to the porch as the rain started in earnest, she retraced her steps to the front. He'd added a porch swing out here, giant-size, big enough for even six-foot-four Sam to stretch out on. A blanket lay folded over the back, and the seat was piled high with pillows. It looked too comfy to pass up.

Shucking her wet jacket, she flopped it over the porch rail then sank onto the soft cushions. The swing swayed as she tugged the blanket over her. Warmth suffused her, the patter of rain a pleasant accompaniment to the motion of the swing.

Since the day the test stick turned blue, stark fear had been her constant companion. Sometimes her terror grew so fierce it all but choked her. But now that she was here, safe at Sam's, she could let it go.

A sudden thought speared her mind, wrenched her from her peace. What if Sam was off on another tour? What if he was a thousand miles away from here and out of reach? No phone, her car nearly on empty—what would she do?

Tears ambushed her. Fighting them back, she turned over, burrowing her forehead into the back of the swing. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tightened her hands into fists and pressed them tightly against her chest. She refused to cry. Refused to be all red-eyed when Sam got home.

And he would come home. He had to. Because she needed him. Because she didn't have anywhere else to go.

Water rolling off his high-tech jacket and rain pants, Sam Harrison hiked up the wooded hill behind his house, satisfied he'd cleared enough brush to keep his creek from overflowing its banks. He'd spent an hour pulling deadfall from the roiling water, hauling soaked branches high enough up the bank to keep them from falling back into the creek. Now when the next storm arrived later tonight, the creek's flow would continue downstream rather than collect at the tight bend behind his house.

Not that the approaching deluge could have dumped enough water to risk flooding his house. It had been built at the top of the rise, well out of the flood zone. But after a rough, wakeful night, his skin had crawled with the kind of toxic, restless energy that severe sleep deprivation always gave him. He'd had to burn it off with something physical.

He'd been all ready to head into town, his power tools loaded into his pickup, gripping the keys to what he privately referred to as his secret folly. He'd told no one about the little storefront in Camino he'd closed escrow on six weeks ago—not his best friend Tony, not his former foster mom Estelle. He feared they'd laugh at his whimsical idea. Even worse, Estelle would know immediately from what sad, wretched place his harebrained notion to open a Christmas store had come.

It was contemplation of their judgment, as well as the strengthening deluge, that changed his mind. The retrofit of the store could wait for yet another day. He'd be better off with the punishing misery of pulling rain-soaked deadfall out of an icy creek.

Reaching the porch steps, he headed for the back door, then remembered he'd left it locked. He'd have to go around to the front. Which meant he'd have to slip off his muck-covered boots outside the door. He might not give a damn about muddy footprints on the travertine tile entry, but his cleaning lady would have a hissy fit.

About to tug open the screen door, his gaze drifted over to the porch swing, then to the rain pouring buckets beyond it. Then in a double take, he fixed back on the swing. Who the hell was curled up on his cushions, snugged down all comfy and cozy under his blanket?

For a flash of a heartbeat, he wondered if it was Faith, come to beg him to take her back. Except he'd seen the acceptance in her eyes last week when he'd handed over the coup de grâce in the form of a diamond tennis bracelet. Faith had seen it coming. She was good enough friends with one of her predecessors to know how Sam would end it: a pricey gift, a kiss on the cheek, a firm goodbye.

So he wouldn't have the messiness of Faith's return to deal with. He crossed the porch to the swing. It swayed ever so slightly when a gust of wind curled under the overhang and hit it. The woman had her back to him. She'd buried her face into the swing's cushions as if she'd wanted to close out the world.

With the blanket pulled just past her chin and her light brown hair fallen partway onto her cheek, he couldn't see the woman's face. But something familiar about her tickled the back of his mind.

Could she be a foster kid, someone who knew about his history? Maybe she'd heard about Estelle's House, Tony's independent living program for emancipated fosters. Could be she wanted Sam's help getting a spot at the ranch. But how'd she get past the wrought-iron fence and security gate? She looked far too delicate to have jumped the fence.

Lightning sparked in the sky, and it must have been nearby, because the thunder that followed hit like an explosion. With a gasp, the woman's eyes snapped open, and she jolted upright on the swing. Her gaze locked on him, her brown eyes so huge they seemed to fill her face.

"Sam."

Her voice trickled down his spine. His brain finally engaged. "Jana."

She pushed aside the blanket and fussed with her hair. In quick succession, he registered the changes, the differences that had foiled his recognition of her. No more bleached-blond, pink-streaked hair. Her short, spiky cut had grown out long enough to cover the nape of her neck, its natural honey-brown color reminding him of that pugnacious kid he knew from Estelle's. She hadn't been a foster kid like him, but her mother had neglected her enough that Jana spent more time at Estelle's than she did at home.

Not only her hair but also her body had changed from the tomboyish twenty-three-year-old's he'd known last year. Her face was rounder, her hips a little broader and her breasts—Okay, better not to think about her breasts. Yeah, he'd noticed around the time Jana turned twenty that she wasn't a little girl anymore. She had a lot less meat on her bones than most of the women he dated, but her lean-as-a-racehorse body nevertheless intrigued him. But she was a friend and he'd known her since she was a child. Breasts shouldn't even be in his lexicon with Jana, even though the ratty blue V-neck sweater she wore shaped them so nicely.

He dragged his gaze back up to her face. "You came back." Nothing like stating the obvious.

His staring must have made her jittery, because she jumped to her feet. She went green the moment her sneakers hit the deck, clutching the chain suspending the porch swing and swaying with its motion. He grabbed her, hooking her arm around his waist and supporting her across her shoulders.

"Let's get inside," he said as he walked her to the door. She leaned against him, damp but warm, softer in places he remembered being bonier.

As they crossed the entryway—so much for keeping his cleaning lady happy—Jana tried to wriggle away from him. "I'm fine. Let me go."

"You looked ready to pass out a minute ago."

"Just let me sit." She glanced down at his feet. "Mrs. Prentiss will go ballistic if you walk on her carpet with those muddy boots."

"It's my carpet. I can walk on it any way I want."

Jana lifted one brow. "She scares you spitless. You lock yourself up in your office when she comes to clean."

"I'm just trying to stay out of her way."

Jana smirked and he knew he'd lost the argument. It was only a few steps from the entry to the recliner anyway. She made the short trip without incident and eased herself into the chair.

Hooking his jacket on the coatrack, he bent to unlace the offending boots. "Can I get you something?"

The leather upholstery creaked as she reclined. "Some saltines. I'll get them myself. After the month I spent house-sitting, I probably know better than you where to find them."

He was contemplating the fact that she probably was right when a game show ding-ding-ding went off in his head. Despite his chosen career as a novelist, he'd always had a fair mind for math. He could generally add two and two and come up with the correct answer.

He listed the clues mentally. The soft rounding of Jana's body. Her obvious nausea when she stood too fast. The request for saltines.

He skimmed off his rain pants and tucked his long-sleeved henley more securely into his jeans. "You stay put. I'll get them." He marched off to the kitchen, catching himself worrying whether his damp socks would leave prints on the carpet.

Stepping inside the walk-in pantry, he started scanning the groaning shelves arranged in a U around the narrow space. When Jana spoke behind him, he nearly jumped out of his socks.

"I've seen mini-marts with less merchandise."

He turned and found her inches away, leaning to one side to see past him. "Don't you ever listen to what you're told?"

"Where's the fun in that?" She edged around him toward the bottom of the U, smelling of rain-dampened flowers. "Does Mrs. Prentiss still alphabetize everything?"

"She doesn't alphabetize." Trying to shake her scent loose, he backed away and came up hard against a shelf full of pasta. "She just organizes it to make it easier for me to make a meal."

"Like boxed mac and cheese or canned chili? There they are."

She went up on tiptoe to snag the saltines from the top shelf. But the shelf heights accommodated his six-foot-four frame, not Jana's five-six height. Wannabe five-footer Mrs. Prentiss used a stepladder to off-load groceries onto the highest shelves.

All Jana managed to accomplish was another apparent bout of dizziness that tipped her toward him. Her hands slapped against his chest for balance as he gripped her shoulders. He had a three-second grace period to enjoy the feel of her hands clutching his henley before he got a good look at her face. This time she was even greener about the gills.

As she sagged against him, he lifted her carefully into his arms. She whacked him on the chest and said feebly, "Put me down."

He kept walking out to the living room. "I'd just as soon you not upchuck on my floor."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 110 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 111 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    Karen Sandler presented life as it is. This story is so moving and displays how all we do, say, think and treat others stays with them their whole life. Went from smiles to laughter to tears and felt every disappointment experienced by Jana and Sam. For those who have a tie to the lives it is worth a read for either man or woman.

    Thanks Karen for the effort you put into this book as I think there will be many who are helped by it. Merry Christmas 2011.

    Pudgie

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  • Posted June 16, 2011

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    GOOD BOOK!

    Nice, easy read, good story, characters well developed. I like the way the author allowed the relationship between the main characters to change and grow over time.

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  • Posted January 8, 2011

    Good read

    I enjoyed this book. It's a typical romance novel, great rainy day book with good character development.

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