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That Thing Called Love

That Thing Called Love

3.8 31
by Susan Andersen

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He's the last man on earth she should want…

For a guy she's fantasized about throttling, Jake Bradshaw sure is easy on the eyes. In fact, he seriously tempts inn manager Jenny Salazar to put her hands to better use. Except this is the guy who left Razor Bay—and his young son, Austin, whom Jenny adores like her own—to


He's the last man on earth she should want…

For a guy she's fantasized about throttling, Jake Bradshaw sure is easy on the eyes. In fact, he seriously tempts inn manager Jenny Salazar to put her hands to better use. Except this is the guy who left Razor Bay—and his young son, Austin, whom Jenny adores like her own—to become a globe-trotting photojournalist. He can't just waltz back and claim Austin now.

Jake was little more than a kid himself when he became a dad. Sure, he'd dreamed of escaping the resort town, but he'd also truly believed that Austin was better off with his grandparents. Now he wants—no, needs—to make up for his mistake. He intends to stay in Razor Bay only until he can convince Austin to return with him to New York. Trouble is, with sexy, protective, utterly irresistible Jenny in his life, and his bed, he may never want to leave….

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This warm summer contemporary melts hearts with the simultaneous blossoming of familial and romantic love. Selfish young Jake Bradshaw left his newborn son, Austin, in the care of his dead wife’s parents, Kathy and Emmett Pierce, and escaped the small resort town of Razor Bay, Wash., to become a world-traveling photographer. Thirteen years later, the Pierces die and newly mature Jake decides to step up as a dad and take Austin across the country to big city life in Manhattan. But teen Austin and his temporary guardian, petite Jenny Salazar, an orphan raised by the Pierces as Austin’s big sister, are hard to convince. Sexual tension builds as Jenny succumbs to intense attraction to Jake and the lack of other prospects in Razor Bay, and Jake tries to prove he’s grown up and learned how to be a dad. Though the plot is unsurprising and the characterization is a bit stereotyped, Andersen’s mastery of the heartstring tug makes this light story emotionally satisfying. Agent: Meg Ruley, the Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Guaranteed snap, sizzle and sass!"

—New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips

"A sexy feel-good contemporary romance...a winner."

—Publishers Weekly on Bending the Rules

"A smart, arousing, spirited escapade that is graced with a gentle mystery, a vulnerable, resilient heroine, and a worthy, wounded hero and served up with empathy and a humorous flair."

-Library Journal on Burning Up

"Andersen again injects magic into a story that would be clichéd in another's hands, delivering warm, vulnerable characters in a touching yet suspenseful read."

-Publishers Weekly on Skintight, starred review

Library Journal
To Jennifer Salazar, 13-year-old Austin has always been just like a younger brother, so when the grandparents who raised him die, having named Jenny temporary guardian, she and Austin both expect it to become permanent. Then Jake Bradshaw, world-class photographer and Austin's absent dad, arrives with ideas of his own. But making up for lost time isn't easy with a resentful teenager, even with fiery, no-nonsense Jenny's reluctant help, and Jake is a babe in the woods when it comes to parenting. Laugh-out-loud humor, heart-wrenching emotions, gripping sexual tension, and superb, insightful characterizations of both the adults and the teens make this story of ordinary people facing tough issues with courage and grace a cut above the rest. VERDICT Realistic, sexy, funny, and tender, this heartwarming charmer is classic Andersen and is sure to leave you smiling. Andersen (Playing Dirty) lives in the Seattle area.

Product Details

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A Razor Bay Novel
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Read an Excerpt

Jake Bradshaw blew into town almost two months later, at a quarter to three on a blustery, sunny April afternoon.

Not that Jenny was keeping track or anything.

Hell, who kept track of those things? She was busy minding her own business, washing the window over her kitchen sink and thinking the shutters on the Sand Dollar—the luxury cottage across the shared parking lot from her small bungalow—would benefit from a new coat of paint, when the doorbell rang. She just happened to check her watch. Then, looking down at her seen-better-days cropped T-shirt and raggedy jeans, she sighed. Why didn't anyone ever drop by unexpectedly when she was dressed to kill?

Murphy's Law, she supposed. Shrugging, she set aside the old tea towel she'd been using, paused her iPod, pulled out the earbuds and went to answer the summons. School had let out for the day; it was likely a friend of Austin's, although Austin himself wasn't home yet. When she pulled the door open and saw the man on the other side, her mind went blank. Holy Krakow, how wrong could one woman be—this was no teenage kid. This was a total stranger, something you didn't see very often this time of year—unlike during the summer tourist season. And the guy was a god.

Okay, not really. But he was definitely the next best thing. His hair, which she'd mistaken at first glance for blond, was actually a medium brown that had either been burnished by the sun or was the product of some world-class stylist.

She'd vote for the former, given that every man she'd ever known would choose castration before they'd be caught dead over at Wacka Do's wearing a headful of little tinfoil strips. And although she could honestly say she'd never met an actual honest-to-gawd big-city metrosexual, she was pretty sure this guy wasn't to be her first.

His tanned hands were too beat-up looking, his skin a little too weathered. He had muscular shoulders beneath a nice gray suit jacket, worn over an olive-drab hoodie and a silky, silver-gray T-shirt. And solid thighs that were molded by a pair of button-fly Levi's that had seen hard wear.

She couldn't see his eyes behind the shaded lenses of his sunglasses, but he had the most gorgeous lips she'd ever seen on a man, full yet precisely cut. If she were a different type of woman, in fact, she might almost be able to imagine lips like those kissing h—

"Is your mother home?"

"Seriously? " All right, not the politest response. But, please. She hadn't almost imagined what his lips could do—Marvin Gaye had started crooning "Let's Get It On" in her head. And having him talk to her as if she were a child was like ripping the needle across a vinyl record, bursting her pretty, if where-the-hell-did-t/zat-come-from, fantasy.

After a startled look, he studied her more closely. Those lips curved up in a faint smile. "Oh. Sorry. Your size fooled me for a minute. But you're not a kid."

"Ya think?"

His smile deepened slightly. "I'm not the first to make that mistake, I'm guessing."

Okay, get a grip, sister. What was her problem, anyway? She didn't lust after strange men. And she'd been in the hospitality business since she was sixteen, for pity's sake, so rarely, either, was her first inclination to unleash snide sarcasm on people.

At least not on people I don't know.

She gave an impatient mental shrug. Because even if she was in the habit of lusting or unleashing, this guy could be a guest at the inn for all she knew. It was the dead lowest part of the low season, which was why she'd felt comfortable enough leaving Abby to man the front desk while she took a rare day off. But Abs was still green, and it wasn't a stretch to imagine the girl blithely drawing directions on one of the resort maps to help a complete stranger find Jenny's place on the back grounds of The Brothers Inn.

Jenny plastered a pleasant expression on her face. "Is there something I can do for you?"

He looked down at her. "Yeah. I was told I could find a Jenny Salazar here?"

"You found her."

"I'm here about Austin Bradshaw, regarding his guardianship."

Jenny's heart picked up its pace, but she merely said, "You don't look like a lawyer."

"I'm not. But Mr. Verilla said you're the person I need to talk to."

She sighed and stepped back. "Then I guess you'd better come in. You'll have to excuse the mess," she said, leading him inside. "You caught me in the middle of cleaning day."

Her place was just under six hundred square feet of recently weatherized cottage, so it took a total of five seconds to reach the middle of her living room. She turned to face him and saw that he'd removed his shades and was hooking one temple arm into the neck of his T-shirt. Raising her gaze from his strong, tanned throat, she met his eyes for the first time.

Shock jolted through her. Oh, God. Only one other person in the world had eyes that pale, pale green—the exact same shade as the summer shallows in the fjord that was Hood Canal.


Anger was deep, immediate and visceral. And it had her drawing herself up to her not-so-great greatest height. "Let me guess," she said with ice-edged diction. "You must be Jake Bradshaw." when she looked at him now, she didn't see that compelling face or the abundant sex appeal. Instead, she pictured all the times Austin thought his father might call, might show up, and the stark disappointment each and every time that didn't happen. Disdain she couldn't quite disguise tugged at her upper lip.

"Mighty big of you to finally decide you could spare your kid a minute of your precious time."

For over a decade, Jake had dealt with all manner of people. He'd long ago perfected the art of letting things slide off his back. Yet for some reason the contempt from this little female dug barbed needles under his skin.

It didn't make a damn bit of sense. The woman was all of five foot nothing, for crissake, and her shiny dark hair, plaited into two thick little-girl braids, with a hank of long bangs pulling free from the left one, didn't exactly promote a grown-up vibe. She had spare curves, clear olive skin and brown eyes so dark it made the surrounding sclera look almost blue-white in comparison. Dark eyebrows winged above them, and her slender nose had a slight bump to its bridge.

His brows met over the thrust of his own nose. "who the hell do you think you are, lady?"

Okay, not what he'd intended to say. But being back in Razor Bay, the place he'd spent most of his teen years plotting to see the last of in his rear-view mirror—well, it put him on edge. Plus, after the thirty-two-hour trip from Minahasa to Davao to Manila to Vancouver to Seattle to here, he was so dead on his feet he was all but punch-drunk. Not to mention seriously tense at the thought of seeing his kid after all these years. Of having full responsibility for him for the first time.

So excuse the hell out of him for reacting to the contempt in her voice and his own flicker of temper that here was yet someone else who thought they could dictate to him about his son.

Stuffing down every negative feeling that arose, however, he managed to moderate his tone when he inquired, "And you think you have the right to judge me, why?" God knew, he'd done enough of that on his own. He didn't need some half-pint stranger's condemnation on top of it.

He watched as she crossed her arms and raised her chin. "Well, let me see," she said coolly. "Maybe because I'm the woman who's been in Austin's life for the past eleven years. And this is the first time I've ever seen you."

Jake wanted to howl at the unfairness of her charge. Except. .was she actually wrong? He'd had a series of come-to-Jesus talks with himself on the endless journey back here and was forced to admit that he'd been looking at his dad ethic through a pretty skewed lens for a long time now. The admission made not defending himself to Ms. Salazar more than a simple matter of pride, more than an ingrained reluctance to plead his case to a stranger.

He couldn't in all conscience smear the memory of Austin's grandparents. Not only would it be too much like something his own father would have done—making it all about him and not giving a damn that his kid had loved the people he was trash-talking—but all that damn soul searching had made him realize that he'd spent too many years blaming Emmett and Kathy for doing the job he himself had abdicated.

They'd protected Austin. And if it cut to the bone that they'd felt it necessary to do so from him…well. I guess it sucks to be you, Slick.

Somewhere over Midway Island he'd dropped his defenses and admitted they had cut him a lot more slack than he'd deserved before they'd finally lowered the ax and banished him from Austin's life.

But that wasn't the central thing here—at least not right this minute. That would be that he was finally doing what he should have done a long time ago: stepping up.

So, go him.

Meet the Author

Susan Andersen is a bestselling author and proud mama of a grown son. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over forty-five years and her cats Boo and Mojo. To be added to Susan’s email list to hear about upcoming releases, please visit her website at www.susanandersen.com and enter your email address on the contact page. Or become a member of her Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/SusanAndersenFanPage.

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That Thing Called Love 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
SmittenWithReading More than 1 year ago
My Review: Flat out, this was a good book. On the surface, Jake is "that guy"...you know, the one that no girl wants to meet. He abandoned his son 13 years ago without a single look back. Since then, he's been globetrotting the world becoming a world famous photographer for a National Geographic-like magazine. In reality, Jake was only 18 when he left Austin in the care of Austin's grandparents after Austin's mom and Jake's wife died from complications from Austin's birth. He was scared and overwhelmed and since then has decided that Austin is better off without him. That all changes when Austin's grandparents die within a few months of each other. By the time the news gets to Jake, Austin has been living and adjusted to life with his pseudo-sister (they aren't really related, but Jenny came to live with the grandparents shortly after Austin was born and she was 16 at the time), Jenny. Confused yet? Don't be...it's much simpler to understand than I make it sound....LOL! Jenny convinces Jake to give Austin some time to get to know him before whisking him off to a new life in NYC and in the meantime, they all start to get to know each other better. That was the best thing about this book...watching these three characters develop their relationships...so good! And I LOVE that Jake is a photographer...it added some fabulously fun details to how they see each other. I love how Jenny is tough on Jake and finally tells him to suck-it-up. I was standing up applauding her because I was to that point in the book too. Probably my only complaint in this book....he held onto that for too long, but that's also where the conflict in the book comes from so it's kind of hard to change that and still have the book. ;o) Also, I loved the glimpses of Jake and his half-brother, Max, together. Another relationship mended in this book and it was so fun to watch them together learning how to interact as adults. I'm hoping there will be another book someday featuring Max. He needs an HEA too! I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great but to me it was too long. Also I didn't like that jenny went back to jack so fast. Can't wait to read the next one.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd previously never read one her books but I have to say I really liked the book, style, it was one I would read again. I liked it so much I bought the second one in the series as well. This author is good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not my very favorite, but was enjoyable and worth the time.
Judy_F More than 1 year ago
Susan Anderson starts another sexy series in That Thing Called Love. Jenny Salazar loves her life in small town Razor Bay. Running the Brothers Inn takes up all of her time as does the temporary custody she has of teenager Austin Bradshaw. Austin has just lost his beloved grandparents and Jenny will protect him with her life. But Austin’s dad Jake Bradshaw has deemed them with his presence and Jenny’s world is teetering on its edge. Jake Bradshaw thought he was doing the right thing thirteen years ago when he life Austin in his late wife’s care. Jake was no more then a kid himself when he became a husband and dad. After his wife’s death he couldn’t stay in Razor Bay any longer. But now he is back to make amends and become the man and dad that is son needs. Standing in his way is the spitfire called Jenny Salazar. They start off on the wrong foot but soon Jenny realizes Jake had his reason’s for acting badly all those years ago. With Jake agreeing to stay in town to get to know Jake better he is also getting to know Jenny too. Jenny and Jake start out as adversaries but soon it turns into a hot and sexy affair. Jenny has a tall task ahead of her, Jake doesn’t believe in love and wants to take Austin to NY. Will she be able to convince him that love does exists and its right here in Razor Bay? This book is a feel good, fun, emotional and all out sexy read. Ms. Anderson does an exceptional job of turning Jake’s less then stellar life into someone you can bank on. I loved the changes between Jenny and Jake as well as Jake and Austin. Looking forward to another visit soon to Razor Bay.
SharonRedfern More than 1 year ago
Great start to a new series! This is the first book in the new Razor Bay series and it is a great start. Jenny Salazar has been the caretaker for her 13 year old “brother” Austen for several months since the deaths of his grandparents. Austin is not related to her by blood but since Jenny worked for his grandparents since she was 16 years old, they have grown up together. Jenny knows it is a matter of time before Austin’s father, Jake Bradshaw, comes back into Austin’s life but is surprised when he shows up unexpectedly. Jake has not seen Austin since he was an infant. The 18 year old Jake had gotten Austin’s mother pregnant and did the right thing by marrying her and leaving all of his college dreams behind. When his wife died in childbirth, leaving him with a colicky baby, he panicked and took the grandparent’s offer to raise the child. He has not seen or interacted with Austin since. He is now a famous photographer who has traveled all over the world and is based in NYC. He lets Jenny know right from the start that he plans to take Austin to NYC with him and she convinces him to hold off telling Austin until they have developed some kind of relationship. Needless to say, Austin does not react well to Jake’s appearance. He wants nothing to do with Jake and thwarts his efforts to connect at every turn. I think that Ms. Anderson does a great job of portraying the feelings of a young man who desperately wants a father but has been disappointed so many times that he is afraid to open his heart again. I like the fact that neither Austin nor Jenny cut Jake any slack and make him work for both relationships. I also appreciate that Austin is a typical teen with normal worries and not a bratty whiner. What adds to the romantic tension is Jake’s long standing disdain for the life in Razor Bay and Jenny’s need for the roots and stability the town gives her. Jenny is in a really difficult position, not only does she stands to lose Austin, but if she gives her heart to Jake, she knows he can’t give her the life she needs. She also has to do everything she can to foster the relationship between father and son which just makes the situation have more potential for heartbreak. I liked the character of Jake even though he should be a villain. As written, it is easy to understand why he made the choices he did when Austin was born. However, he still needs to be held accountable for his lack of communication as he got older. Jake matures emotionally in this book, with a few relapses but mostly with good results. He has another relationship to work on with his half-brother Max and that is almost a source of comic relief in the way they resolve their issues. Great beginning to the series and it is perfectly set up for the next book due in 2013 and featuring Max.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice book
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
I really liked this one--a well-written contemporary romance with substance. I loved the characters of Jenny and Austin--Jenny was a strong character, and her relationship (as a sister/guardian) with Austin was great. The parts from the teenager's POV were cute (though I know no self-respecting 13-year-old would want to hear that, it's true--Andersen's teenage "voice" was spot on)--and though Jake took a bit more warming up to, once you do the man is very warm. Hot, even. ;-) Seeing things from his POV--especially the past--definitely helped his case here; it's hard to see him as a good guy at first. His brother Max appears to be set up as a future hero, and I'll definitely be in line to read his story. My one and only complaint (and it seems to be a theme with the books I've read this past week for some reason) is that the protagonist who needs a wake up call to get us to the HEA gets it rather abruptly--not quite enough for the reader to feel cheated, thank goodness, just a smidge faster than one would have thought. Really, though, it's not much of a complaint. This is the first in a new series for the author, set in Razor Bay, Washington--a town I am looking forward to visiting again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading this author. Great story, recommend this book.
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a good read..had some very funny parts in it. only 259 pages tho..so kinda spendy
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