Construction Beauty Queen by Sara Daniel
She's on the job…and out of his league.
Chicago socialite Veronica Jamison is determined to shake off her sheltered lifestyle and overbearing parents. She heads to her grandfather's small town of Kortville, ready to roll up her sleeves and work for the family construction business. She'll prove her worth, even if it means answering to the company's ruggedly handsome co-owner, Matt.
Matt Shaw just wants to run his business, spend time with the niece he's raising on his own, and give back to the townspeople who have stood by him. Managing a spoiled-rotten princess he knows he'll never be good enough for? Not part of his plan. But as he gets to know Veronica, he learns there's more to her than her beautiful looks and designer clothes. She's got a heart as rich as her background. With the quirky townspeople rallying against Veronica inheriting her grandfather's business, it's up to Matt to try to drive her out of town. But how can he, when instead she's driving her way into his heart?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Construction Beauty Queen
A Small Town, Big Dreams Novel
By Sara Daniel, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Sara Daniel
All rights reserved.
The checkered destination flag on the GPS screen waved over the entrance to the most desolate trailer park Veronica Jamison had ever seen. She'd faithfully followed the disembodied direction voice for four hours from the only home she'd ever known, with her parents on Chicago's North Shore, to the microscopic town of Kortville in central Illinois. But instead of depositing her on her grandfather's doorstep, the GPS mocked her with its cheerful announcement that she had arrived at her destination.
A man who owned a seven-building distribution complex and had a sizeable investment in a construction company surely didn't live in a dilapidated trailer with duct tape covering the crack in the front window and a partially depetaled sunflower pinwheel struggling to spin in the front lawn. Right?
Then again, Veronica knew nothing about her grandfather, except that he was her only hope for building a life where she used her hard-earned business degree to launch a career that incorporated her financial and leadership skills, instead of existing for cocktail parties that demanded nothing more than empty-headed smiles.
The door creaked on her ancient tank of a car as she stepped out. She didn't think she'd ever get used to the sound, but it was the best she could afford after she'd made her choice and sold her sporty little car in order to pay off her student loans.
Veronica picked her way through the weeds and trash to the trailer's front door and knocked. As she suspected, there was no answer. The place was clearly uninhabitable. In fact, it appeared to be the last one standing on the abandoned lot. She looked across the street and was greeted with a sign of civilization — a convenience store in the midst of being remodeled.
The gas pump nozzles were covered with plastic bags. Half the store sported peeling paint underneath a sagging banner announcing they were open despite the mess. The other half had new beige siding, but it was rectangular, windowless, and drab.
Veronica got back in the car and turned off the useless GPS. She was a small-town girl now — she could do things the small-town way. She'd ask at the convenience store if anyone knew her grandfather or could offer directions.
She drove across the street, parked, and walked to the glass doors propped open by two cases of beer. She tugged her denim blazer around her and continued inside.
Dust swirled in the air. Behind the counter, a man held a gray-white panel against the open framework of an inside wall. His white T-shirt stretched tight across his back as he pounded nails into the panel.
Her skin tingled with excitement. Grandfather's offer was for her to work for his construction firm for thirty days before she took over running the distribution company he owned. And already she'd spotted an opportunity to take on a construction job. This man could hire her to remodel his store so he could focus on running his business. Windows, some pretty wooden-lattice trim on the outside, and white, lacy curtains inside would create an inviting ambiance.
She watched, trancelike, as the man's forearms flexed. If his biceps were any indication, he knew what he was doing with a hammer. Which, unfortunately, was more than she could say for herself. Luckily, she'd been studying her Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement Manual, so she wasn't completely clueless about what she was getting into.
"Can I help you?" Apparently at some point while she'd been ogling, he'd stopped pounding and turned toward her. His cinnamon-brown eyes locked on hers, and he hooked his hammer into the side of his tool belt.
Veronica never realized she had a weakness for a man in a tool belt. But wow, she'd have to be dead not to. She gulped and dragged her eyes back up to his attractively scruffy face, which added to the proof she was plenty weak but far from dead. "I hope so. I'm lost and in need of directions."
"To the interstate?"
"No, that I could find." She looked away from the golden flecks in the man's eyes and landed on his tough-guy chin just begging to be caressed. She had to focus. She was done being arm candy. "I'm looking for a man by the name of Ron Walker. I thought the address he gave me was for his house, but it led me to that trailer across the street."
The guy's grin was slow and lazy. "Ron definitely doesn't live there. In a few more weeks, that trailer will be gone, and the lot will be a baseball field."
"So you know Ron?" Veronica curled her toes inside her black, ankle-high boots, trying to ignore the awareness that fairly crackled around them and instead to concentrate on the helpful information he could provide. "This is great. I knew I was going to love small-town life."
"You're staying here?" He seemed surprised.
"Absolutely. I'm Veronica Jamison, Ron's granddaughter. He invited me to live with him." She smiled widely and held out her right hand, looking forward to the feel of his big workman's palm engulfing it in a shake.
"Matt Shaw." He took her hand but didn't hold it long, as if he didn't quite trust her. "What do you plan to do while you're here?"
"I'll be running his distribution warehouse eventually, but first I'm going to work for this construction company he has an investment in — Kortville Construction. I don't know if you've heard of it."
"Oh ... I've heard of it." His voice sounded strangled.
"Are you okay?" Veronica took a step toward him.
"I'll call Ron and let him know you're here." Matt grabbed his cell phone off his tool belt and stalked out of the store.
* * *
She misinterpreted my offer. Send her over, and I'll set her straight. Those were the words Matt imagined would come from Ron's mouth, accompanied by a big, hearty laugh.
Instead, Ron said, "No kidding! She actually came? I never thought she'd have the guts to defy her parents. I guess you'd better come over. I have some explaining to do."
Matt certainly would come to Ron's house. Kortville Construction only hired employees who'd proven they were capable of and willing to provide hard work. This bombshell blonde didn't have a single callus on her soft hands and was wearing fashion boots that would blister her feet before her lunch break.
Veronica sauntered out of the building toward him. She looked from Matt to his truck with the Kortville Construction logo emblazoned on the door, and her mouth formed a tiny O of surprise. Apparently, she hadn't made the connection until now.
He searched for her car, but only a twenty-year-old Oldsmobile and Barney's rusted Blazer were in the lot. She must have had some driver drop her off. "If your guy already left, you can ride to Ron's with me."
"I'll follow you." She walked to the olive-colored Olds and got in.
Now Matt was surprised. His ex-girlfriend had taught him enough about expensive fashions that he could spot high class a mile away. This woman had high class — and high maintenance — written all over her. Yet, she was driving a car that was worth less than her high-heeled boots.
He made sure she stayed in his rearview mirror as he drove past his office and the diner. Then he signaled and turned left down Main Street. On one side was the bank and Laundromat with six washers and five quarter-eating dryers. The post office, hardware, and grocery stores all shared the same brick storefront on the other side of the street. Matt waved to Wilbur and Agatha Hollister, sitting on their usual bench out front, watching the cars go by. He chuckled, thinking of how they'd probably spend the rest of the afternoon debating the identity of the person driving the car behind him.
He turned again at the police and volunteer fire station, then drove past the library — which reminded him he'd forgotten to return Jenny's book; he knew if he didn't turn it in by tonight, Mrs. Parker would be stopping by his house to demand it in person.
When he stopped on the street in front of Ron's house, Veronica pulled around him into the driveway. They reached the front door at the same time.
"Thank you for your help." She smiled at him as she pushed the doorbell. "I can take it from here."
Matt didn't move. He wasn't leaving until Ron assured him he'd check out the references Veronica had provided for her previous construction work.
Ron opened the door, shuffling a little as he always did with his bad leg.
"Grandfather." Veronica glided toward him with her arms outstretched for a hug.
"Grandfather?" He looked shocked as he stood awkwardly in her embrace. "I was never a grandpa to you."
"But now that's all going to change." She beamed at Ron. "Thank you for bringing me here and giving me this opportunity. I can't wait to make up for lost time."
He cleared his throat, looking distinctly uncomfortable. "Why don't you just call me Ron?"
"Of-of course. That makes more sense until we get to know each other better." She dropped her arms and stepped back.
Matt wasn't a guy prone to hugging every stranger who came his way, but even he recoiled at Ron's cold reception. Ron had invited her here, yet his attitude clearly proclaimed he didn't want any of the things Veronica expected from her visit. Their lack of grandfather-granddaughter relationship wasn't Matt's problem, though — in fact, it proved that Ron had no intention of setting this woman up to work for Matt's company. He was home free. "If you're just having a family reunion, I'll leave you two alone. Nice to meet you, Veronica."
"She came here to work for you," Ron told him.
Matt gritted his teeth in frustration. "I'd like to check her references from her previous employer before we make a decision."
"She wants to work construction, and I want to hire my granddaughter," Ron said. "So she's hired."
This was ridiculous. The woman had probably never held a hammer in her life. Matt, for one, had better things to do than teach her how.
Veronica turned and faced him. "I might not have done hands-on construction before, but I've been studying what you do. I can quickly put it to practical use."
Matt raised an eyebrow at Ron. Surely he would reconsider his foolish decision.
"Thirty days. That's all I'm asking," Ron said. "I've sat quietly by and let you run things the way you've seen fit. But I have a fifty percent ownership stake, and I'm exercising my voice. This is your new employee for the next month, unless she decides to return to her parents before then."
"Which I won't," Veronica asserted.
"She's proving herself to me," Ron explained. "Then I'll let her run my distribution warehouse out by the interstate."
And it was okay to use Matt's life as practice? He tried to rein in his anger. "I thought you were selling that and retiring."
"I am retiring. I'd planned to give it to my daughter before she ran off with that fancy city man. Now I have another chance to pass it down to my family instead of selling."
After he's promised a share of the sale's proceeds to every needy cause in town? Furious beyond the ability to speak rationally, Matt gritted out, "I'm going back to work."
Ron wouldn't renege on his promise to Kortville, because Veronica was never going to last the thirty days working for him. Matt knew her type, and he knew she wasn't cut out for small-town living or construction work. As long as Veronica Jamison was around him, she would have both — in spades.
* * *
"So, you'll work for him," Ron announced as Matt stalked to his truck.
Veronica watched him slam the door and spin his tires as he sped off. For the first time, she felt a sense of trepidation about the decision she'd made. "I don't think he's happy about it."
"He'll come around. I'll give you his number, so you can contact him to work out the details."
If only Grandfather — Ron, she corrected — had explained to Matt ahead of time that she was coming. She'd assumed the other owner of the construction company was agreeable to the decision to hire her, and a friendly welcome would have gone a long way toward calming her nerves. She punched Matt's number into her phone and then slipped it back in her purse. "Why don't I unpack and get settled? I'll talk to him after he's had a couple hours to get used to the idea."
"Brilliant plan." Ron gave a nod of approval and put his hand on the door, as if he was about to close it.
"Do you want to show me around before I bring in my suitcase, or is there another door that's closer to my room?"
"What? You're not staying here."
"I'm not?" He'd invited her to come for a month. She tried to remember the exact phrasing of the e-mail. Maybe he hadn't explicitly used the words stay in my house, but they'd certainly been implied ...
"Absolutely not." He seemed extremely uncomfortable by the notion. "I'm an old man; I've lived alone for nearly thirty years. I have one bathroom in this house, and I don't want any of your frivolous lotions cluttering it up."
"I'll be careful not to leave anything behind." Her grandfather had appeared much more welcoming when she'd first e-mailed him for advice about leaving her parents' home — he'd immediately offered her a job and a place to stay. Maybe he wasn't as open when it came to face-to-face meetings, but with a little time, she knew she could get him to warm up, and then they could make up for all the years they'd never had together.
"I don't want you in there at all. I'm seventy-eight years old. When I have to go, I have to go. If you'd followed my directions to the trailer, you'd know you already have a place. You can stay there for as long as you're in town."
"That trailer? You mean the address wasn't a mistake?"
"Of course not." He sounded offended. "My body might be falling apart, but there's nothing wrong with my mind."
Panic fluttered in her stomach. She'd been prepared to make sacrifices, like sharing a bathroom. But moving into the only home in a run-down, practically condemned trailer park sounded downright dangerous. "I ... I'd really rather stay with you."
"I went out of my way to provide you with this very generous offer. You can take it or leave it," Ron told her.
Veronica squared her shoulders. She knew she couldn't spend her entire life living with family. She was an adult, after all, and if she wanted to be treated like one, she needed to live like one. "D-do you have a key for me?"
"The door should be unlocked," Ron said.
She didn't know whether this detail was supposed to relax her or frighten her, so she tried to joke. "Unlocked as in 'housekeeping is tidying up for my arrival' or unlocked as in 'enter the local thugs' hangout at my own risk'?"
Ron didn't crack a smile. "I have nothing in there worth stealing. If you're looking for maid service, you'd better go back to your parents and all the wonderful things they're willing to give you."
Sure, she could have all that money could offer. All she had to do was give up her chance to build the career she'd fought so hard to begin.
No big deal.
The trailer door stuck so badly she couldn't even turn the handle. As if that wasn't frustrating enough, the knob was sticky. With what, Veronica didn't want to speculate.
She suspected Matt hadn't cooled down to the point where he'd gladly lend a hand. She decided to leave him alone, to give him time to warm up to the idea of working closely with her.
The perfect solution was right in front of her: she'd fix the doorknob. It would prove to Matt that she had skills and that she wouldn't burden his company, and it would show her grandfather she appreciated his generosity and intended to persevere despite the obstacles.
She removed the thick hardcover Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement Manual from the trunk of her car and found the section that talked about doorknobs. She moved her finger down the page. Troubleshooting.
Cylinders could be frozen. She lifted her face to the sun. The day was nearly sixty degrees, a beautiful start to the month of May. Ice shouldn't be a problem.
Obstructed or damaged keyway. She looked from the book back to the trailer entrance. No, the door was supposed to be unlocked already.
Many lock and doorknob problems can be solved by cleaning and lubricating the bolt mechanism. A-ha! She slapped the book closed and walked across the street for some disinfecting wipes and oil.
Excerpted from Construction Beauty Queen by Sara Daniel, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2012 Sara Daniel. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
Veronica was so amazing! She was such a great she-ro (girl hero) i just loved her! She had the best attitude and never gave up, so great! Matt was sweet, im glad he came through! The towns people made the story, so rude yet so sweet! Please read!!! So worth it
Author: Sara Daniel Published by: Entangled Press Age Recommended: Adult Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Book Blog For: GMTA Rating: 4 Review: "Construction Beauty Queen" by Sara Daniel was a very good contemporary romantic read. This was another good love story that evolved around Matt and Veronica that was sweet and funny read. All of the characters were colorful and well developed and some really having you to laughing out loud. This was a emotional story in that you find Veronica was just trying to 'fulfull her dreams against everyones will' especially those towns people who did like or appreciate her even being there. "Her grandfather tells her she can work for his construction firm for thirty days, and if she is successful then she can take over his distribution company he owns." Then there was Matt who what the owner of the 'Kortville Construction Company'who wasn't happy that she was there and having her work for him. Now, what is this all about?...Poor Veronica would have to not only prove to herself, grandfather, whole town and Matt but she must win them all over. Will she be able to do that? This is the time that I say you must pick up the excellent read to see how Ms. Daniel will present it all to the reader. We see from the read that Matt Shaw has lost his brother, sister in law in a accident. He has the care of his niece and has also taken over his brother's company and with that has become a big part of the town. So, will this hero and heroine finally be able to get pass all that has been put in front of them come together and work out the real problem? You will have to pickup this read to find out. If you are looking for a good read I would recommend "Construction Beauty Queen" to you as a good read.
3.5 stars - Nice Story - Sweet Characters - Easy Read This book is really sweet and really easy to read. The story is nice - it's set at a nice pace, and overall it was really nice. I didn't particularly connect with the characters, but I still enjoyed the book. There isn't a lot of action/drama or twists in the book, but it moves along nicely and I still had to know what happened to the characters. Anyone could read this book and not be offended - in my opinion. There are not really adult moments - however - it is classified as an adult book due to a few situations that arise between Matt & Veronica. Veronica - was an ok lead female. She wasn't whiny or anything like that but she got on my nerves a little because she is inside her head so much... she never did anything that she thought - never said it either - which just bugged the hell out of me... Matt - was ok as well. He was a lot like Veronica in the fact that he seemed to always be in his own head... I loved his story with his family and his niece. Neither character wanted to take a chance on the other... that drove me bonkers! Aside from that aspect, I enjoyed this book. Like I said above - it is a nice story with nice characters. The pace was good - I was never questioning what was going on. I did really like how everything in the story revolved around the two main characters but still included the entire town, Jenny, and Veronica's previous contacts. I would have like to see more of what happened after the Grand Opening - like maybe an Epilogue or something. But, I did really think this book was well done.