Ready for Romance (Harlequin Bestselling Author Series)

( 22 )



At fourteen, Jessica Kellerman was madly in love with Evan Dryden, one of the boys next door, much to the amusement of both their families. Now, ten years later, she's about to start working for the Dryden brothers, Evan and Damian. But no one will let her forget her girlish crush, and Jessica finds it frustrating in the extreme. Because she's in love with a Dryden, all right—Damian, not Evan. And this time she knows ...

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At fourteen, Jessica Kellerman was madly in love with Evan Dryden, one of the boys next door, much to the amusement of both their families. Now, ten years later, she's about to start working for the Dryden brothers, Evan and Damian. But no one will let her forget her girlish crush, and Jessica finds it frustrating in the extreme. Because she's in love with a Dryden, all right—Damian, not Evan. And this time she knows it's not puppy love, it's the real thing.

How is she supposed to convince Damian of her true feelings when he's still trying to push her toward his brother?


Mother To Be by New York Times bestselling author Tanya Michaels

Delia Carlisle can't believe she's pregnant at forty-three. Yet while she's shocked and anxious, Alexander DiRossi is elated. Can he convince Delia that they will be a happy family?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373180868
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/29/2014
  • Series: Harlequin Bestselling Author Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 159,076
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.62 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at

Tanya Michaels is an award-winning author of over forty romances, a six-time RITA nominee and the mom of two highly imaginative kids. Alas, Tanya's hobbies of reading, oil-painting and cooking keep her much too busy to iron clothes. She and her husband are living out their slightly wrinkled happily-ever-after in Atlanta, but you can always find Tanya on Twitter, where she chats with followers about books, family and TV shows ranging from Outlander to iZombie.


Publishing did not come easy to self-described "creative speller" Debbie Macomber. When Macomber decided to follow her dreams of becoming a bestselling novelist, she had a lot of obstacles in her path. For starters, Macomber is dyslexic. On top of this, she had only a high school degree, four young children at home, and absolutely no connections in the publishing world. If there's one thing you can say about Debbie Macomber, however, it is that she does not give up. She rented a typewriter and started writing, determined to break into the world of romance fiction.

The years went on and the rejection letters piled up. Her family was living on a shoestring budget, and Debbie was beginning to think that her dreams of being a novelist might never be fulfilled. She began writing for magazines to earn some extra money, and she eventually saved up enough to attend a romance writer's conference with three hundred other aspiring novelists. The organizers of the conference picked ten manuscripts to review in a group critique session. Debbie was thrilled to learn that her manuscript would be one of the novels discussed.

Her excitement quickly faded when an editor from Harlequin tore her manuscript to pieces in front of the crowded room, evoking peals of laughter from the assembled writers. Afterwards, Macomber approached the editor and asked her what she could do to improve her novel. "Throw it away," the editor suggested.

Many writers would have given up right then and there, but not Macomber. The deeply religious Macomber took a lesson from Job and gathered strength from adversity. She returned home and mailed one last manuscript to Silhouette, a publisher of romance novels. "It cost $10 to mail it off," Macomber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2000. "My husband was out of work at this time, in Alaska, trying to find a job. The children and I were living on his $250-a-week unemployment, and I can't tell you what $10 was to us at that time."

It turned out to be the best $10 Macomber ever spent. In 1984, Silhouette published her novel, Heartsong. (Incidentally, although Heartsong was Macomber's first sale, she actually published another book, Starlight, before Heartsong went to print.) Heartsong went on to become the first romance novel to ever be reviewed in Publishers Weekly, and Macomber was finally on her way.

Today, Macomber is one of the most widely read authors in America. A regular on the New York Times bestseller charts, she is best known for her Cedar Cove novels, a heartwarming story sequence set in a small town in Washington state, and for her Knitting Books series, featuring a group of women who patronize a Seattle yarn store. In addition, her backlist of early romances, including several contemporary Westerns, has been reissued with great success.

Macomber has made a successful transition from conventional romance to the somewhat more flexible genre known as "women's fiction." "I was at a point in my life where I found it difficult to identify with a 25-year-old heroine," Macomber said in an interview with "I found that I wanted to write more about the friendships women share with each other." To judge from her avid, ever-increasing fan base, Debbie's readers heartily approve.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Macomber:

"I'm dyslexic, although they didn't have a word for it when I was in grade school. The teachers said I had 'word blindness.' I've always been a creative speller and never achieved good grades in school. I graduated from high school but didn't have the opportunity to attend college, so I did what young women my age did at the time -- I married. I was a teenager, and Wayne and I (now married nearly 37 years) had four children in five years."

"I'm a yarnaholic. That means I have more yarn stashed away than any one person could possibly use in three or four lifetimes. There's something inspiring about yarn that makes me feel I could never have enough. Often I'll go into my yarn room (yes, room!) and just hold skeins of yarn and dream about projects. It's a comforting thing to do."

"My office walls are covered with autographs of famous writers -- it's what my children call my ‘dead author wall.' I have signatures from Mark Twain, Earnest Hemingway, Jack London, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Pearl Buck, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to name a few."

"I'm morning person, and rip into the day with a half-mile swim (FYI: a half mile is a whole lot farther in the water than it is on land) at the local pool before I head into the office, arriving before eight. It takes me until nine or ten to read through all of the guest book entries from my web site and the mail before I go upstairs to the turret where I do my writing. Yes, I write in a turret -- is that romantic, or what? I started blogging last September and really enjoy sharing bits and pieces of my life with my readers. Once I'm home for the day, I cook dinner, trying out new recipes. Along with cooking, I also enjoy eating, especially when the meal is accompanied by a glass of good wine. Wayne and I take particular pleasure in sampling eastern Washington State wines (since we were both born and raised in that part of the state).

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    1. Hometown:
      Port Orchard, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yakima, Washington
    1. Education:
      Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Jessica Kellerman's time of reckoning had arrived. For the first time in eight years she was about to face the Dryden brothers. Evan didn't concern her. She suspected he wouldn't even remember what a nuisance she'd made of herself. Then again, he just might. But Damian was the brother who worried her most. He was the one who'd caught her red-handed. He was the one who'd mocked her and suggested her devotion to his brother was a passing fancy. Now she was forced to face him and admit he'd been right. She sincerely hoped Damian would have the good grace not to drag up the past.

Swallowing her dread, Jessica walked into the high-rise office building in the most prestigious part of downtown Boston. The building was new, with a glistening black-mirrored exterior that towered thirty stories above the ground. The Dryden law firm was one of the most distinguished in town, and in Boston that was saying something.

Jessica's footsteps made tapping sounds against the marble floor in the lobby. Although she'd been in this part of town often—the university wasn't far from the business section—this was the first time she'd been inside the impressive building.

She was nervous, and rightly so. The last time she'd spent any time with either of the Dryden brothers she'd been caught kissing rearview mirrors.

Looking back, she knew she'd been a constant source of amusement to the brothers and their respective sets of parents, as well. Young love, however, refused to be denied. Risking her family's censure, Jessica had diligently sought Evan's heart all through high school. It wasn't until Benny Wilcox asked her to the graduation dance that she'd realized there were other fish in the sea. Sweet, attentive, good-looking ones, too. Yes, Evan had been the man of her dreams, the one who'd awakened her to womanhood. She held her love for him in a special place in her heart, but was more than willing to forget the way she'd embarrassed herself over him, praying he did, too.

Although Jessica had let her infatuation with Evan die gracefully, neither set of parents had. Particularly, Lois and Walter Dryden. They thought the way Jessica felt about Evan was "cute," and they mentioned it every now and again, renewing her embarrassment.

When Walter Dryden heard that Jessica had recently graduated from business college with a certificate as a legal assistant, he'd insisted she apply with the family firm. In the beginning Jessica had balked, but jobs were few and far between just then, and after a fruitless search on her own, she'd decided to swallow her pride and face the two brothers.

She was warmly greeted by the receptionist, who gave her a wide smile. Jessica smiled back, hoping she looked composed and mature. "I have an appointment with Damian Dryden," she said.

The woman, who appeared to be in her early thirties, with large blue eyes and a smooth complexion, glanced at the appointment book. "Ms. Kellerman?"

"That's right."

"Please have a seat and I'll let Mr. Dryden know you're here."

"Thank you." Jessica sat in one of the richly upholstered chairs and reached for a People magazine. She'd dressed carefully for this interview, choosing a soft dove gray suit with a double-breasted jacket. The silver-dollar-size buttons were made from mother-of-pearl with flashes of deep blue and white. She wore high heels, hoping to seem not only professional, but sophisticated. Her glossy brown hair was sophisticated, too, cut in a flattering pageboy. She'd grown up, and it was important Damian know that.

Jessica hadn't even scanned the magazine's contents page when the elder Dryden brother appeared. She'd seen Damian often, from a distance, but this was the first time they'd spoken in months, possibly years. She'd forgotten how tall he was, with broad shoulders that tapered to slim hips. She remembered how much he enjoyed football as a teenager, and how good he was at tackling the opponent. From what she remembered about Damian, he preferred to tackle problems head-on, too. She knew him to be aggressive, hardworking and ambitious. He'd taken over the leadership of the law firm upon Walter Dryden's retirement three years earlier, and the firm, which specialized in corporate law, had thrived under his leadership.

"Hello, Jessica. It's good to see you again," Damian said, stepping forward.

"It's good to see you, too." She stood and offered him her hand.

He clasped it with both of his own. He wasn't an especially large man, and at five-eight she wasn't especially small, but her hand was dwarfed in his. His grip was solid and strong, like the man himself.

"I've come to talk to you about a position as a legal assistant," she said. The direct approach would work best with Damian, she felt.

"Great. Let's go to my office, shall we?"

She was struck by the rugged timbre of his voice. It exuded confidence, sounding deep and firm. Little wonder Damian was one of the most sought-after corporate attorneys in Boston.

He motioned her to be seated, then walked around behind the deep mahogany desk and claimed the black leather chair. He tilted it back slightly, conveying ease and relaxation.

Jessica wasn't fooled. She sincerely doubted that Damian knew how to relax. His mother, Lois, had often voiced her concern about her elder son, complaining that Damian worked too many hours.

"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice," Jessica said, crossing her legs.

"It's my pleasure." He rolled a pen between his palms. "I understand you recently graduated from college."

She nodded. "I have a degree in early American history."

The motion of the pen between his palms froze and a frown creased his brow. "Unfortunately we don't have much call for historians here at the firm."

"I realize that," she said quickly. "About halfway through my senior year, I realized that although I love history, I wasn't exactly sure what I planned to do with my degree. I toyed with the idea of teaching, then changed my mind."

"And you want to be a legal assistant now?"

"Yes. I was dating a law student and I discovered how much I enjoyed law. You see, we often did our homework together. But rather than register for law school and invest all that time and effort, I decided to work as a legal assistant—sort of get my feet wet and then decide if becoming an attorney is what I want to do. So I went to business college and got a certificate." She said all this in an eager rush. "Your father suggested I come and talk to you," she added, winding down. She opened her purse and produced her certificate for his inspection.

"I see." The pen was in motion again.

"I'm a hard worker."

Damian smiled fleetingly. "I don't doubt that."

"I'll work any hours you wish, even weekends. You can put me on probation if you want." She hadn't meant to reveal how much she wanted the position, but despite her resolve, she couldn't keep the anxiety out of her voice.

"This job means a great deal to you, doesn't it?"

Jessica nodded.

"I think," Damian said casually, "you're still infatuated with my brother."

He spoke as if it had been only a few days since she'd all but thrown herself at Evan. Heat radiated from her cheeks. "I…I don't believe that's a fair statement."

Damian smiled shrewdly. "You've had a crush on Evan for years."

"Perhaps, but that has nothing to do with my applying for a position here." She closed her mouth and collected her composure as best she could. She should have known Damian wouldn't conveniently forget their encounter all those years ago.

"It's true, though, isn't it?" Damian seemed to take delight in teasing her, which infuriated Jessica. She clamped her mouth shut, rather than argue with the man she hoped would employ her. "I was there the day you put kisses all over his rearview mirror, remember?"

Not trusting herself to speak, she nodded.

"I watched you look at him with those big worshipful eyes. I've seen plenty of other women do the same thing since, all gazing at my younger brother as though he were an Adonis."

Jessica's eyes widened at the use of the term. That was exactly the way she'd viewed Evan. A Greek god.

"It's true isn't it, or are you going to deny it?"

Jessica's mouth refused to work. She opened and closed it a number of embarrassing times, not knowing how to respond, or if she should even try.

Cathy Hudson, her best friend, had claimed it wasn't a good idea to apply for work with a family who knew her so well. Jessica was about to concede that Cath was right.

"I did have a schoolgirl crush on your brother at one time," she confessed, "but that was years ago. I haven't seen Evan in…heavens, I don't remember. Certainly not any more often than I've seen you. If you believe my past feelings for Evan would hinder my performance as a legal assistant, then there isn't anything more I can say—other than to thank you for your time."

Damian's smile was slightly off-kilter, his eyes bemused as if, despite himself, he'd admired her little speech. Slowly a look of sadness crossed his face. "Evan's changed, you know. He isn't the man you once knew."

"I'd heard from my mother that he's been unhappy recently." She didn't know the details and hoped Damian would fill in the blanks.

"Do you know why?"


Damian gave a soft regretful sigh. "I might as well tell you, since you'll find out soon enough yourself. He was in love possibly for the first time in his life, and it didn't work out. I don't know what caused the rift, and neither does anyone else, not that it matters. Unfortunately, though, Evan can't seem to snap out of his depression."

"He must have loved her very much," she whispered, watching Damian. He was genuinely concerned about Evan.

"I'm sure he did." Damian frowned, apparently at a loss as to how to help his brother, then shook his head. "We've ventured far from the subject of your employment, haven't we?"

She straightened and folded her hands in her lap, wondering if Damian would take a chance and hire her. She was a risk, too, fresh out of school, with no job experience.

"You're sure you want to work here?" he asked, studying her with a discerning eye.

"Very much."

Damian didn't immediately respond. His silence made her uncomfortable enough to want to fill it with something, even useless chatter. "I know what you're thinking," she said breathlessly. "In your eyes I'm a love-struck fourteen-year-old, convinced your brother and I are meant for each other." She shook her head. "I don't know what to say to convince you I've grown up, and that nonsense is all behind me, but I have."

"I can see that for myself." A glint of appreciation sparked in his eyes. "As it happens, Jessica, you're in luck, because the firm could use another legal assistant. If you want the job, it's yours."

Jessica resisted vaulting out of the chair and throwing her arms around Damian's neck to thank him. Instead she promised, "I won't let you down."

"You'll be working directly with Evan," he replied, still studying her closely.

"With Evan?"

"Is that a problem?"

"No… No, of course not."

"Just remember one thing. It doesn't matter how many years our parents have been friends. If you don't do your job and do it well, we don't have room for you here."

"I wouldn't expect you to keep me on if I didn't pull my weight," she said, trying hard not to sound defensive.

"Good." He reached for the intercom and glanced at her. "When would you like to start?"

"Now, if you want."

"Perfect. I'll ring Mrs. Sterling. She's Evan's secretary, and she'll show you the ropes."

Jessica stood and extended her hand. "You won't be sorry, I promise you." She pumped his hand enthusiastically until she realized she was overdoing it.

Grinning, Damian walked around to the front of his desk. "If there's anything I can help you with, let me know."

"I will. Thank you, Damian."

She hadn't meant to call him by his first name. Theirs was a professional relationship now, but it was difficult to think of him as her boss. A personal bond existed between them, but until this interview Jessica hadn't realized it was there. To her surprise she found she had no such problem regarding Evan.

She and Damian walked out of the office together and down the corridor to a door with Evan's name engraved on a gold plaque.

Damian opened the door for her and allowed her to precede him. Jessica's gaze fell on Evan's secretary. The woman was middle-aged, with sharp, but not unattractive, features. She seemed to breathe efficiency. One look and Jessica was confident this woman could manage Evan's office and the entire law firm if necessary.

"Mrs. Sterling," Damian said, "this is Jessica Kellerman, Evan's new legal assistant. Would you show her around and make her feel at home?"

"Of course."

Damian turned to Jessica. "As I said earlier, come to me if you have any problems."

"Thank you."

"No, Jessica," he said cryptically on his way out, "thank you." The door made a small clicking sound as it shut.

Mrs. Sterling rose from her chair. She was a small woman, barely five feet, a stark contrast to tall and slender Jessica. Her salt-and-pepper hair was cropped short, and she wore a no-nonsense straight skirt and light sweater.

"I'll show you where the law library is," Mrs. Sterling said. Jessica glanced toward the closed door, wondering if Evan was in. Apparently not, otherwise Damian would have made a point of letting his brother know Jessica would be working for him.

The secretary led the way out of the office and down the hall. The library was huge, with row upon row of thick dusty volumes. Long narrow tables with a number of chairs were scattered about the room. Jessica knew she'd be spending the majority of her research time here and was pleased by how pleasant it was. She noticed the faint scent of lemon oil and smiled as she saw various types of potted plants set here and there, including a speckled broad-leaved ivy that stretched across the top of one large bookcase.

"This is very nice."

"Mr. Dryden has worked hard to make sure our work environment is pleasing to the eye," the woman remarked primly.

"Damian's like that," Jessica murmured.

"I was speaking about the younger Mr. Dryden," came the surprised response.

"Oh, of course," Jessica said quickly.

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Customer Reviews

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( 22 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 26, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    I love Debbie Macomber and love her books. She writes a good rom

    I love Debbie Macomber and love her books. She writes a good romance that is not all sappy. I first read one of her books about two years ago and have read almost nothing else but her books since. I'm planning to read all she has written. I like that some of her stories go in directions you would never imagine and I love when she changes things up and writes in a different way. I highly recommend all of her books and I've read at least half of them.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2014


    I loved both of the stories included in this e-book. Debbie McComber is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors and will add the author of the other story to my list. She did an exceptional job as well. The plot and style of writing made it difficult to put the book down. Loved the characters. LA-TXN

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2014

    This was an excellent story, one that if I put it down I couldn'

    This was an excellent story, one that if I put it down I couldn't wait to pick it up again. ENJOYED IT!

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