Until He Met Rachel (Spotlight on Sentinel Pass Series)

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Overview

Rufus Miller is a mystery.

It's the one fact the entire town of Sentinel Pass can agree on. And Rufus has no intentions of solving the riddle. He likes his privacy. His cabin and his work suit him just fine, thanks.

Then Rachel Grey shows up.

The energetic entrepreneur has decided Rufus is her ideal client and is full of marketing ideas to make him a household name. And he's tempted. Not by her impressive ...

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Until He Met Rachel (Spotlight on Sentinel Pass Series)

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Overview

Rufus Miller is a mystery.

It's the one fact the entire town of Sentinel Pass can agree on. And Rufus has no intentions of solving the riddle. He likes his privacy. His cabin and his work suit him just fine, thanks.

Then Rachel Grey shows up.

The energetic entrepreneur has decided Rufus is her ideal client and is full of marketing ideas to make him a household name. And he's tempted. Not by her impressive strategy, but by her. Suddenly the guy least likely to answer a direct question wants to open up. Wants to share his space with her. Wants her to know all the skeletons in his closet. And that urge to be with Rachel so completely is the biggest mystery of all.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373716333
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Series: Harlequin Super Romance Series , #1633
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 249
  • Product dimensions: 4.12 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Sell the Porsche.

Rachel Grey clutched her chest theatrically. "Mother, I'd sell you into white slavery before I'd sell the Porsche. It's the only thing I'm taking away from my marriage. A marriage you pushed for, I might add."

"The fact that you and Trevor never found the common ground necessary to make your marriage a success is not my fault," her mother stated imperiously. A recently retired bank V.P, Rosaline Treadwell was a master at passing the buck. "The car is completely impractical."

"That's what I like best about it." Rachel crossed her arms in a way her mother would recognize from the many childish rebellions Rachel had fought—and lost—over the years. She wasn't losing this one—childish or not.

"Forty thousand dollars could provide you with enough of a cushion that you could stay in Denver and find a real job. You wouldn't be reduced to working as a clerk in a tourist trap." Her mom made a sweeping, all-encompassing gesture that would have caused Rachel to die of embarrassment if the establishment's owner, Char Jones, had been present.

"Native Arts isn't a tourist trap. It's more of an art gallery than a store. The local artists are amazing and I love working here. The energy is…electrifying."

Rosaline would never be so crass as to roll her eyes in public, but Rachel could tell her mother had no interest in, or respect for the creative process. She'd never forget an argument they'd had her senior year of high school.

"I've been accepted at a design school on the West Coast, Mom. Isn't that great?"

"Not if you plan to pay for it using the money I put into your college fund. Accounting might not be as glamorous as advertising, but it's a lot more predictable. Death and taxes are never going out of style."

That had been the beginning of a month-long battle. In the end, Rachel had opted to stay in Denver, live at home and graduate from business school with an emphasis on accounting and statistics. The chief lesson Rachel learned from this was the person whose hand controlled the purse strings had the most pull. Too bad the same was true about love. The person who pulled the most strings controlled the pocketbook—broken marriage vows or no broken marriage vows.

"The nature of this business isn't the point, is it?" Rachel asked, shifting impatiently from one well-broken-in UGG boot to the other. "Even retail might be acceptable if the high-end designer boutique were back home, right? Please don't take this the wrong way, Mother, but I'm moving to the Black Hills to get away from Denver."

"Away from me, you mean."

Rachel heaved a sigh and shook her head. "I knew you'd take it the wrong way. Mom, I need a fresh start, a clean break. Why can't you see that and support my decision—even if it's the wrong decision? Just this once."

Her mother's carefully painted lips pressed together in a way Rachel knew all too well. Rosaline Treadwell would have made a fabulous wartime general. "Never lose sight of your goal," she'd admonished so often in Rachel's childhood, Rachel had threatened to have it engraved on her mother's tombstone. What Rosaline couldn't understand was she and her daughter had different ideas about what constituted a goal.

Mom held up one perfectly manicured hand and listed her complaints, finger by finger. "My daughter is moving to a new state with no job, no real home and only a vague idea of what she wants to do with her life. And I'm supposed to be happy about that?"

"And a forty-thousand-dollar sports car," Rachel added.

Her mother's eyes narrowed. "In the dead of winter," her mother finished, waving her pinkie for emphasis. "I honestly don't understand you, Rachel. Are you certain you don't want to try therapy?"

That subject had been covered at length in a recent e-mail that had included links to several outpatient clinics in the greater Denver area and one in Taos, New Mexico—so no one from the bank would hear about her daughter's collapse, Rachel assumed.

Rachel didn't bother trying to repress her sigh. "I'll make you a deal, Mom. If Sentinel Pass doesn't work out—if I'm flat broke and miserable a year from now—I'll move home and see any doctor you want. Okay?"

There was a pause of a heartbeat or two before her mom said, "Are you absolutely certain you're not here to try to meet a man? Maybe an actor from that silly TV show, Sentinel Passtime? My friends are concerned that you've become addicted to the glamorous lifestyle you had with Trevor and can't give it up."

Rachel's shudder came from deep inside. "Are those the same friends who pushed you to introduce me and Trevor in the first place? I promise you I'm done with pretty-boy prima donnas." She paused. "Wait. Can a man be a prima donna? Wouldn't that make him a prima Donald?"

Her mother's slow, dramatic inhale made Rachel rush to get back on topic. "Mom, I married superficial charm once in my life, and once was enough. If I ever fall in love again, it's going to be with a plain, down-to-earth, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of man. Homely, hook-nose, bald, whatever. Looks only count in advertising. I learned that the hard way."

Her mother didn't seem convinced, but she set aside the topic of love and returned to the one of location. "Please explain why you chose this town, Rachel. A small, flash-in-the-pan overnight sensation. I know you and your brother are close, and I will admit that Kat has grown on me. I understand your wanting to help plan their wedding, but surely you can do that from Denver."

I could, but that's not the point. "Mom, face it. There's nothing for me in Denver. The big, beautiful house that Trevor was so quick to get listed on the celebrity home tour is as good as sold. Thanks to the crazy economy, my dependable accounting job is history. Last hired, first fired." A job her mother got for her and Rachel had never really liked, although she had, toward the end of her employment, found ways to make it her own. "I like this place."

Rosaline didn't reply.

"I like the people. I love my future sister-in-law and her sons. I can't wait to be part of the Wine, Women and Words book club. Char is a gas. We bonded when she came back from her trip to California, and I feel as though we have a true friendship blossoming. I need that."

"Fine. Do what you want. You always have."

It took every bit of self-control Rachel possessed not to scream, "What are you talking about? I usually do what you want. And always have."

True, mother and daughter had butted heads most of Rachel's life. But in the end, her intelligent, opinionated and strong-willed mother almost always got her way—Rachel's father had insisted on it when he was alive.

Rachel wasn't sure what was fueling her current rebellion. Maybe Jack's unexpected too-early-for-midlife crisis was the catalyst. Her straight-arrow, look-before-you-leap brother shocked everyone when he bought a motorcycle, rode to the Black Hills and fell in love with Kat, a single mom with two sons.

Rachel felt a little sheepish trailing after her big brother this way, but Jack knew about her secret dream to open her own Web design and online marketing company. Probably a foolish plan given the fact she lacked any real training or experience, but she'd dabbled in Web design for years. In fact, the mock-up she'd done for Trevor the day after they met at her mother's big charity golf event had impressed him so much he'd asked her out. He claimed to have been blown away by her innate ability to grasp the inner Trevor Grey. The man behind the public persona.

She'd been flattered. He'd played to her ego and swept her off her feet. When he asked her to marry him, her instincts told her to slow down and see how they gelled over time. But her mother had berated Rachel's cold feet. "Only a fool would pass up a fine catch like Trevor Grey," Mom had said.

So, Rachel ignored her misgivings and let herself become swept away by the energy and craziness of planning her own wedding. Afterward, her mother walked around for weeks with a copy of InStyle's Celebrity Bridal edition to show her friends.

Unfortunately, Trevor wasn't good at math. He didn't understand that one plus one was supposed to equal two, not three or four or as many meaningless trysts as he wanted. Besides feeling angry and humiliated, Rachel slowly came to realize her self-confidence had suffered the biggest blow. She'd failed to trust her instincts. What if she made the same mistake again?

That mistrust was one reason she was moving away from Denver. Away from her mother. Mom had made it clear a long time ago how much stock she put in creative endeavors. The less she knew about Rachel's current plans, the better. At the moment, Rachel and Jack had agreed to let Mom believe that she was here temporarily to plan his wedding and do some fill-in jobs until Jack's new dental office was up and running.

"I need to start setting out the Christmas displays for Char," she said, gesturing toward a stack of boxes. "And you don't want to get caught in traffic when you reach Denver, right? Drive carefully and call me when you get home, okay?"

Rachel could tell there was a lot more that her mother wanted to say, but Rosaline managed to contain herself by pressing her lips together for several seconds before she gave Rachel a quick, perfunctory hug then walked away.

Rosaline paused at the door of her Cadillac Seville but didn't wave at Rachel. Instead, she scowled at Rachel's small, midnight blue payoff for a quick, quiet divorce.

Her mother was right, of course. They both knew it. Rachel would have been smart to sell the car months ago, before the economy took a downward spiral. But as long as she was driving the Porsche she could pretend that she'd come out of her marriage ahead. That her spirit was strong and vital like the perfectly tuned engine under the sleek, sexy hood. That she wasn't damaged goods, someone to be pitied. Or worse, such a lousy wife she couldn't keep a husband.

If Rachel were a bigger person, she would have admitted that she'd listed the car online last week and had several very promising responses, including one from a guy in Denver. She planned to meet him next week when she returned home to finish packing her stuff. A trip her mother knew nothing about.

Rachel felt an uncomfortable pressure on her chest as she watched the Caddie pull out of the gravel parking lot onto the highway. Bad daughter, she silently castigated. But she had her reasons for keeping mum on both subjects.

For one, if her mother knew exactly how precarious Rachel's finances were, Rosaline would have felt compelled to offer Rachel a loan. Or worse, an advance on her inheritance. Either way, the money would have been one more blow to Rachel's pride.

Secondly, Rachel didn't want her plans to interfere with Rosaline's golf getaway to Florida. With any luck, Mom would be so charmed by the weather, she'd become a snowbird like several of her friends. Which probably sounded like a terrible thing for a daughter to think, but, at the moment, distance sounded like the best way to keep her mother out of her business.

Was she crazy to risk everything on an unproven business in a remote corner of the world? Mom would certainly say so. But Rachel knew that the Internet didn't care where you lived, if you were good at your job. But was she? That remained to be seen.

She could crunch numbers with the best of them, but could she blend that left-brain functionality with her right hemisphere's love of art, color and composition?

She fished a bright, glossy business card out of the front pocket of her jeans. WebHead—Designed to Sell, Rachel Treadwell Grey, owner. She would have given one to her mother if she thought for a moment that Mom would have been happy for her.

Despite their differences, Rachel loved her mother, and wishing things were different between them was a waste of effort. She set her card on the counter, intending to leave it by the register for Char after she finished unpacking the dozen or so boxes.

She grabbed the retractable box cutter and was poised to slice into the largest of the designated boxes when her cell phone started playing "Red, Red Wine"—the ring tone she'd given Char.

"Hi. How's Spearfish?"

Char had gone to the northern Hills town to register for classes at Black Hills State College. "It would be better if I'd called first—as you suggested. The registrar's office is closed for Thanksgiving break, for heaven's sake. What's wrong with me?"

Rachel smiled. "You're in love. And you're excited about starting a new phase of your life. I understand completely since I'm doing the same thing." She coughed. "Well, not the going-back-to-college or falling-in-love parts, but…" She let out a small howl of frustration. "You know what I mean."

Char's laugh was inclusive, not mean-spirited. "I do. I truly do. And, trust me, Sentinel Pass is the perfect place to reinvent yourself. Worked for me."

That was true. Char Jones had started with very little, built a business, created a diverse network of friends and reconnected with the love of her life—and the son she'd given up for adoption. And, thanks to Rachel's tweaking of the Native Arts' Web site, Char's online sales had doubled from this time last year. A fact that encouraged Rachel to believe she was on the right track, career-wise.

"So, are you coming straight back?"

"No. I drove to Sturgis to see Damien and Eli. It's such a nice, clear day we've decided to hike to the top of Bear Butte for a picnic."

Rachel leaned sideways to look out the large picture window at the front of the store. A small amount of snow remained in piles near the edge of the highway, but the bright winter sun seemed to hold a special sparkle. "Cool," she said. "Some might say chilly."

"Some already have," Char returned, a laugh in her voice. "Damien is such a California kid. His blood hasn't had time to acclimate, but Eli bought him some new boots and heavy wool socks. He'll be fine."

Spoken like a true mother. A supportive, your-kid-can-do-no-wrong kind of mother.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is an enjoyable contemporary romance

    When her marriage ended, accountant Rachel Grey took only the Porsche and left Trevor in Denver while relocating to Sentinel Pass in the Black Hills. There she plans to run a web-design business.

    When Rachel meets local artist Rufus Miller, she hopes to persuade him to let her design a website for him. Rufus refuses at first, but she remains persistent until he reluctantly agrees because he is attracted to her and her energy. As she works with him on his website, Rachel realizes Rufus' hesitancy is caused by his past that he prefers to conceal; as he is the famous underwear model R.J. Milne. He wants his work taken seriously and not because he posed.

    This is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring two likable lead protagonists who seem so contrary fans will assume they have no chance as an entry. He is a hermit with good reasons for withdrawing form society while she is an extrovert with good reasons for bringing him back into society. Readers will enjoy the Spotlight on Sentinel Pass as Debra Salonen writes delightful tale of opposites-attract.

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Posted April 14, 2010

    Excellent Read

    This is an excellent story and I recommend it to all who love romance. This book is the first of four more Spotlight on Sentinel Pass books that Debra has planned. The hero has run from his past and is trying to hide it from those who live in Sentinel Pass by being a recluse. On the other hand the heroine is trying to get him to open up and let her set up a website to sell his work.

    Rufus Miller arrived in Sentinel Pass as an unknown and lives out away from town because he likes his privacy. He uses wood found in nature to make birdhouses and other objects. He dress and looks like a hermit in order to keep people away from him as much as possible and is rarely seen in town. But that doesn't stop Rachel Grey from being determined to get to know him and she persuades him to set up a website for selling his products. He is mainly interested in selling what becomes known as Dreamhouses where there is an open space to hide your dreams by writing them on a slip of paper and putting it inside the open space until it comes true. Rufus is a success with his carving as well as his Dreamhouses and Rachel becomes a success at building websites. But will two such diverse people fall in love and get together?

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    Posted October 10, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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