Nestled in the lush green mountains of North Carolina, the Honeywilde Inn will be a romantic's dream getaway-if only the Bradley siblings can keep it running. It will take a combination of hard work, good luck, and the kind of love that dreams are made of...
Roark Bradley is no stranger to responsibility. Growing up, he practically raised his younger siblings while his parents threw themselves into working the inn-and arguing with each other. Determined to make the Honeywilde shine once more, Roark jumps at the chance to conduct business with a no-nonsense event planner who approaches him about celebrity nuptials that could put the inn back on the map. If only it wasn't so tempting to discuss some no-strings attached pleasure with her instead...
Madison Kline is done with weddings-at least personally. Her own youthful mistake is a well-guarded secret, and one she refuses to repeat. But as she and bold, broad-shouldered Roark work together to make a rock star couple's wedding a reality, she finds herself wishing romance didn't feel like a four-letter word. Can either of them surrender their hard-won independence and workaholic ways for something sweeter-and even more rewarding?...
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Moment of Bliss
By Heather McGovern
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Heather McGovern
All rights reserved.
Madison lifted her chin and sniffed the lobby again, thankful no one was around to see her bang-up bloodhound impression.
She was at the inn to work; to make the impossible happen with her skill and professionalism. But right now something smelled like fresh-baked heaven covered in sinful cinnamon frosting, and she had to find out what.
The reception area held no piles of cookies or cakes. No candles or bowls of potpourri; only a single flower arrangement centered on a mahogany table the size of her car. She leaned over and gave the flowers a good long whiff.
Someone behind her cleared his throat in a deep rumble.
"May I help you?" A man — too good looking and looking too amused — stood beside the reception desk. Tall and broad enough to fill the doorway behind him, he struck a serious figure in his dress shirt and slacks, but he held a tiny, frilly edged, peach-colored towel in one hand.
"Your gladiolus smells like cookies," she told him.
One dark eyebrow crept up. "I'm sorry, my what?"
She pointed her finger, an accusatory arrow right at the lobby's floral arrangement. "This flower. It's a gladiolus, but it smells like cookies."
"It's not the flowers." He closed the space between them in three long strides, and Madison's pulse jumped at his approach.
"I'm Roark Bradley, owner of Honeywilde Mountain Inn and Resort. Is there something I can help you with?" His Southern drawl rolled the words off his tongue, like rough rocks that'd been tumbled smooth. He made the question sound so much more appealing than it really was.
She knew exactly who Roark Bradley was, from Honeywilde's website. She wasn't about to tell him that though, or that he was even better looking in person.
"Madison Kline." She stuck out her arm.
Her plan was to take charge of this meeting and keep the upper hand until she got her clients what they wanted. So far, she'd managed to get busted sniffing the flowers and eyeing the owner.
All she could do now was hope her palm wasn't sweaty.
Roark shook her hand, not tight and overpowering, but firm and polite. His skin was smooth enough that she could tell he took care of it, but not so smooth that he'd never known a day's work. Hands like his were a good sign for any business owner, and she always took note of the signs.
"You're the wedding planner."
"Event coordinator," she corrected him.
"Sorry. Event coordinator."
Polite, well dressed, well spoken — he was exactly what she'd come to expect from the hospitality industry. He was well built too. Not that it had anything to do with his business skills.
"So, you want to have a wedding here."
"No." She corrected him again. "I want to take a tour of the place to see if my clients might be interested in having their wedding here. That is all." All a big bluff, more like. Her clients wanted Honeywilde and nowhere else would do. Madison's job was to make it happen and pull it off in less than three weeks.
"I'm sure once you have a look around, it will be an easy decision."
The decision was already made. The trick was in the execution, but at no point could Roark Bradley realize the cards were dealt in his favor — like, royal flush in his favor. "We'll see. First, are you going to tell me why these flowers smell like dessert, or is it an inn secret?"
He shrugged and held up the little peach towel like it explained everything. Then he nodded toward his arm.
Madison followed his gaze to a huge wet splotch that covered the left sleeve of his dress shirt.
"It's me. I was in the kitchen right before you arrived, and our chef is baking for the afternoon tea. There's this vanilla and cinnamon and spices mixture he uses. He can be all elbows sometimes and ..." Roark glanced up with a sheepish grin. "Anyway, there was a thing with some vanilla and now I smell like cookies. How about we get started on that tour?"
She forced her lips into a polite smile. The man smelled delicious. Of course he did. Because that's just how her day was going.
Roark held up the little towel. "Let me put this back in the office and I'll show you around." He strode toward the office with a lot of dignity for a man who was cookie-scented and carrying a little peach towel.
Madison gave Honeywilde's lobby another once-over. She could see why the bride-to-be insisted on getting married here. The inn held a unique charm. It was a well-kept secret that it had been off its game in the last several years, but what was bad news for Honeywilde might be good news for her.
This was her first big event since she'd struck out on her own, and if she succeeded, all the naysayers would have to eat their words.
Madison smoothed her hair back, making sure her chignon was secure. Her fingers trembled with nerves, so she clutched her portfolio tighter.
"We can avoid the kitchen for now, if you think the cookies are dangerous," she told Roark when he returned. Her comment came out unintentionally playful and she fought not to roll her eyes at herself.
With a lazy grin that proved he'd caught the tone, Roark clasped his hands behind his back. "Yes, we should probably save the danger for later. Play it safe. Since your main concern is most likely the location for your clients' wedding ceremony, may I suggest we start outside the inn, on the veranda? You'll find the view from there is second to none and it's the ideal setting for a ceremony."
Now was the perfect opportunity to take charge and lay down the groundwork for how this appointment would go. She couldn't let Roark charm her with his good looks and easy smile. No slick sales pitch, only to slap on an astronomical price tag when it came time to book the inn.
She might be desperate to hook Honeywilde, but he didn't have to know that.
"Actually, I'd like you to answer a few questions first, and I have an order I want to follow for the tour." She opened her black leather portfolio and whipped out her pen. "I have several main concerns, not just about the location of the ceremony, but the entire inn. You've recently taken over operation of Honeywilde, correct?"
"I worked as manager under my parents, but I became the owner a few years ago, yes."
"Word is, the resort fell off in the last few years, prior to your inheritance of the property."
His smile disappeared as he worked his jaw. "That is true, but now my siblings and I run things entirely. I've invested a lot of time and money into the resort and I assure you our place is in top shape."
She made notes, knowing it'd show diligence. With her former employer, Madison was known as "a hard-nosed broad." Yes, she'd really been called that, even in the twenty-first century. She was proud of the moniker, but what people left off was she had to be hard-nosed to crawl her way up from the bottom.
"Rumor has it you intend for Honeywilde to reclaim some of its former glory," she said as she wrote.
"Not some, all. It's more than just a rumor too. You'll see the improvements as we tour. Honeywilde will again be the inn to stay in."
"I like your enthusiasm, but the tag line needs work." Madison clicked her pen and pointed toward the front door. "Now, since I've seen the inn's entrance and lobby, rather than see the veranda, I prefer to continue on through the great room. Then I'd like to make my way to one of the guest quarters, then the restaurant and kitchen, and finally the exterior, including the veranda and the view."
Roark's eyebrows crept up. Surprisingly, she didn't detect the usual judgment she got for taking charge. He looked more impressed than offended.
"Starting in the great room works for me." He held one arm out, inviting her to join him.
They took the three steps down into the sunken great room and walked toward the center seating area. Roark was at least six foot two, built like the baseball player he was — according to a quick Internet search he'd played ball for all four years of college at Appalachian State, then went on to get his MBA there — and able to reach the center of the large room in about ten steps.
Lagging behind allowed her quite the view, but she knew better than to let him lead.
With her height and long strides, she easily caught up to him, and marked it down as a small victory.
Four people occupied the large common area, on the far side of the room, and she hadn't seen a single guest milling about since she arrived. Unless everyone was playing the most successful game of hide-and-seek ever, the rumors of slow business were true.
"Touring in the order I listed, I get to experience Honeywilde as if I were one of the wedding guests. I can see what they'll see and know if this is the right place."
"My clients are very ..." She looked at the enormous stone fireplace at the end of the room, hoping the right word would pop down like Santa Claus. The bride and groom seemed like perfectly nice people, and for newly minted celebrity-status musicians, they were strangely down-to-earth. "Discerning. They know what they want and it's my job to make sure they have it."
Their business manager, on the other hand? Arrogant, intolerable, and insistent that Madison come in under his budget. But she couldn't say anything about a business manager or celebrities. Not right now anyway.
"I have to be one hundred percent sure of Honeywilde before I begin any arrangements," she told Roark.
Why did she keep justifying her actions to him? She was supposed to spin this as the resort being lucky to have her business. The goal was to exude confidence and command or a man like Roark Bradley would never respect her or her offer.
"I agree completely."
Trying to rebound, she gave him a curt smile. "You're just agreeing with me to be polite, but I don't need to be schmoozed."
Roark turned to her with a playful smile. "Actually, I legitimately agree, but I can disagree with you for the rest of the tour, if that's preferable."
She tilted her head, reconsidering the man in front of her.
This wasn't some Southern gentleman patronizing her, or a man offended that she'd come across bossy. This was Roark Bradley being a smart-ass.
She liked a smart-ass. A person who could give as good as he got, that was someone she could work with.
"Schmoozing isn't my thing either. I prefer to get down to business."
Madison unclicked her pen and clutched her portfolio in front of her. "Good. Then you won't be offended when I ask some pointed questions?"
"I welcome them."
She studied Roark for a sign he was bluffing to get on her good side.
The line of his jaw didn't budge, his blue gaze steady, clearly confident in his claims.
"How many weddings have you hosted in the last three years?"
"Only two, but before we'd have at least two each season."
"How many other events in general?"
"A few in the spring and summer, but not as many as I'd like."
"When do you think you'll have the hearth around the fireplace redone?"
"Excuse me?" He finally blinked.
"The hearth." She pointed over with her pen and stepped closer to the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. "Some of the stones are missing on each end."
"Right." Roark cleared his throat, clenching his teeth enough that she could see the tension in his jaw. "That's on my list. It's the last item on the great room renovations, and we have a guy coming out next week."
She made a note in her portfolio, also noting she'd hit a nerve. "I hope you can appreciate why I ask. When I'm planning someone's wedding, I can't sugarcoat the questions."
His gaze met hers as soon as she looked up. "Ms. Kline, I can handle sugar-free. The hearth was supposed to be fixed last month. I'm not happy about it either."
She studied her notes again so she wouldn't stare at him. When he looked at her like that, a zing of pleasure rushed through her body. It seemed there'd be no BS with Roark Bradley, but working with him could still prove complicated. "That's good to hear. And you may call me Madison. Now, regarding the fireplace. Is it operational otherwise?"
"Fully operational and comfortable to use anytime, except maybe in the middle of summer. Even in September you can have perfect weather for a night fire. When the sun goes down up here, it can drop more than twenty degrees. Summer to early winter in one day."
"I ..." She'd gone and opened her mouth about it; now she had to spit it out. "I used to live near here."
"Oh yeah? Well, welcome back."
She glanced over, clicking the top of her pen. Roark's voice was pure warmth, full of sincerity like he was welcoming her home.
When Madison was fifteen, her mother's boyfriend of the moment got moved to western North Carolina for a job. They'd lived there for all of nine months. It was the longest she'd lived anywhere, until she turned eighteen and her mother told her to get the hell out and get her own place.
People like Madison didn't call anywhere home, even if they wanted to.
Her grip on the pen tightened. "What's beyond that door?"
"That is our game room, complete with a couple of billiard tables, darts, and foosball." He went past the fireplace to the door on the left and pushed it open. "We keep it separate so people can be enthusiastic about shooting pool without disrupting our quiet readers and lobby loungers."
She looked out over the lobby, with its scattered seating arrangements of couches, love seats, and chairs, all in the same comforting chocolate color, distressed leather with coordinating pillows. The furnishings appeared new and beckoned a person to sink down, relax, and never get up again unless forced.
"The furniture." She peeled her gaze away. "I'm assuming all of it can be moved? None of it is bolted down."
A short bark of a laugh escaped him as he turned toward her again. "Bolted down? Are you being serious?"
"Why? Do you think your clients will steal it?"
"Excuse me?" Madison gaped.
Roark's full laugh came out, as he put a hand up. "I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you."
She fought not to smile. "I think you kind of are." He was joking with her. People never did that. She owned a sense of humor, just most were afraid to look for it.
"Maybe a little. But bolted down? Come on."
"You'd be surprised at the things I've seen while looking for wedding locations. Furniture that's bolted into place is the least of it."
"I thought they only bolted stuff down at the Super 8."
She shook her head. "I wish. This was at a well-known hotel that shall remain nameless."
"And you've seen worse?"
As a rule, she kept the dirty details she learned top secret, but sometimes she wanted to vent so badly. The crazy stuff she went through, most people wouldn't believe. Sharing one or two anecdotes with Roark couldn't hurt. Perhaps it'd even butter him up when she lowered the boom about the kind of deal she wanted. "Once, I toured an outdoor amphitheater with a shoddy sound system that would blast bluegrass music without warning. I convinced the couple not to use it because who wants the Soggy Bottom Boys in the middle of their vows?"
She relaxed a fraction. "I wish I was. But the best was the barn wedding with the wayward cows. They got out of their barn — the non-wedding barn across the property — and migrated toward the ceremony. I've never moved so fast in heels in my life. Luckily, the owner of the place was a cow whisperer or something. He got the herd moving back in the other direction."
She was sharing too much and she knew better, but her job was the one thing she loved to talk about. Every event was a challenge and even when she planned everything down to the tiniest detail, something always came up at the last minute to keep things thrilling.
"You didn't want to try your hand at cow herding?" A teasing note played through Roark's question.
She was about to laugh but caught herself and cleared her throat. Too chummy, too early in the deal. "Um, no. So that's a no on the bolted-down furniture?"
"Definitely a no."
A handful of guests strolled by and Roark greeted them with a "good afternoon" while Madison made notes in her portfolio. "What about the rest of the common area?"
Roark showed her every inch of the great room, the groupings of furniture, the comfy yet elegant leather chairs and sofas, the enviable chessboard setup, and the reading nook, which was occupied by exactly one person.
"We also have modernized yurts if your clients have any adventurous wedding guests."
Excerpted from A Moment of Bliss by Heather McGovern. Copyright © 2016 Heather McGovern. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.5stars A moment of bliss is sweet love story between wedding planner and inn owner. I loved to read such a sweet love story like this one. It has a great plot with very likable well develop characters with sizzling attraction between. I loved how honest were Roark and Madison with each other. It was good to read that they did not deceived, lied or denied the feelings that they felt toward each other. They escapades were funny hot. I really liked how they affected each other; they were happier and more productive. They have their HEA and I am curious for the next book and the love story of Dev. *ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
A Moment of Bliss was a a great book. It had a little bit of everything, family drama, musical drama, small town, hot hero and plucky heroine. I was instantly drawn into the story between Madison the wedding planner and Roark the oldest brother and owner of a family inn. Both Roark and Madison are workaholics that are driven to make their respective businesses a success. They dance around each other in an effort to use each other to further their dreams and end up realizing they are perfect for each other! Honeywilde is ran by a entertaining family and I can't wait to read the next book about Roark's little brother Devlin. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this one! Loved Roarke. It was great how he loved his family, the relationship he talks about with his grandfather, and how determined he is to make a success of Honeywilde in his grandfather's honor. Madison is determined to make a success of her event planning business and the rock superstars she is currently planning a wedding for will put her way ahead of the game. The one thing the couple is insisting on - the location must be The Honeywilde. So working with Roarke is something she has to do. If he wasn't so tempting!!!! Their story is sweet, sexy, and fun. This is a book I highly recommend.