Dani O'Rourke is no stranger to hard work. She’s been raising her two brothers alone since their parents died and she owns and operates her own business, O’Rourke Cleaning Services. Spending all her time working and looking after her family means she’s never had time for men. And if she was going to look for a relationship, it wouldn’t be with an arrogant and cynical man like Burke.
A brush with death has successful businessman Burke questioning his priorities. He’s come to Jamesville for some peace and quiet to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. Catching a woman breaking into his cabin certainly isn’t part of his plan, nor is being attracted to her after her finds out just how wrong he was about her.
Burke finds himself caught up in Dani’s family, but is there room in such a gentle woman’s life for a man as hard as him?
Each book in the Jamesville series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1: Discovering Dani
Book #2: The Way Home
Book #3: The Return of Patrick O’Rourke
Book #4: The Seduction of Shamus O'Rourke
Book #5: A Legal Affair
Book #6: By the Book
Book #7: Past Promises
About the Author
Once upon atime N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore,sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in aplace where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to thebookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years.
One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon,she received a tentative acceptance for her first erotic romance novel and lifewould never be the same.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who hasalways been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels ofher own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, andnext-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’sa tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Read an Excerpt
"Don't just stand there, man, push!"
Dani O'Rourke flinched inwardly even as she stepped up to the beige Mercedes and placed her mitten-covered hands next to a large pair of leather-gloved hands on the cold, hard bumper. She shoved as hard as she could, while the car's wheels spun crazily in the slush.
"Harder!" the male voice growled.
Bracing her booted feet as best she could on the snow-covered ice, Dani pushed with all her might.
"Again!" the voice demanded. Once more, she threw her weight against the back of the car as it started to rock back and forth.
"Put some muscle into it," the male voice ordered.
One more shove sent the car spinning from the icy patch and a shower of cold snow spraying into her face. Dani sputtered and swiped at her face with her black wool mitten as she straightened up and watched the man who had issued the terse commands walk slowly toward the front of the car without a backward glance.
"Thank you ever so much," a girlish voice gushed from the driver's seat. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't stopped to help."
Sighing, Dani turned away and trudged down the road, unnoticed by either. She knew the car's owner, or more specifically, she knew about the car's owner. Everyone in Jamesville was familiar with Cynthia James and the James family. Her family's ancestors had settled the town a hundred years before and were still heavily involved in real estate and banking. Cynthia was beautiful and she knew it. She had the long blonde hair, blue-eyed, California girl appearance that men seemed to find irresistible. All she had to do was bat her eyelashes and smile, and men fell all over themselves to please her.
Dani pictured the stranger in her mind's eye, wondering who he was. Born and raised in Jamesville, she knew everyone, if not personally, then by sight. She suspected he was probably visiting friends or just passing through.
What does it matter to you? She scolded herself impatiently. A man like that would never notice a woman like her. Her hair was a plain medium brown that was usually worn in a no-nonsense braid that fell to her waist, and she'd never had the money or the inclination to wear makeup. Her few attempts at mascara and eyeliner had left her feeling more like a raccoon than a model. Somehow, she never felt quite right if she was wearing anything more than lip-gloss.
She could still picture his coal black hair, damp and shining from the falling snow. Eyes almost as black as his hair, snapping with impatience, as he'd issued his commands. An aura of power and arrogance had surrounded him as he'd barked his orders with no doubt that they would be followed.
Of course, she reasoned, he had the size to back it up. He was built like a mountain, tall and broad, with a face that looked as if it were carved from stone. A long jagged scar had bisected his left cheek. Dani thought it gave him the dangerous air of a pirate or a highwayman. Just like the unsuspecting hero in a romance novel, she mused.
"Stop it, Dani O'Rourke," she muttered as she reached her truck and dug into her pocket for her keys. "He thought you were a man, for heaven's sake." But she could understand why. At five-foot-eight, she was a tall woman and solidly built. Not overweight, but sturdy. Wearing her brother's hand-me-down parka that zipped around her face and covered her to her knees, well, it was no wonder he had mistaken her for a male. She consoled herself even as she wondered why the thought made her head hurt.
She had wasted enough time, lusting for things she could not have. There was work to do. It was the same lecture she had been scolding herself with for the past seven years, ever since her mother died and she became sole guardian of her brothers. If it sounded a little flat, well, that was just too bad, she told herself as she unlocked the door to her truck and prepared herself to face the rest of the day.
Burke glanced at the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty who smiled at him from the driver's seat of the luxury sedan. She flipped her hair back with a practiced motion and batted her eyelashes at him, sizing him up, as she offered her thanks yet again. Her good looks left him unmoved as the calculating look in her eyes, speculating his worth, was all too familiar.
"Thank you ever so much. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't stopped to help. My name is Cynthia James. Are you new in town?"
Burke ignored her question and countered with one of his own. "What about the other guy? Aren't you going to thank him too?"
Cynthia's perfect smile grew wider and then she started to laugh. "That's really funny. You thought that was a guy helping you? Wait until I tell my friends. They'll love a good laugh."
Burke scowled, and she quickly lost her smile under his glare. "What do you mean?"
"That was Dani O'Rourke. Miss Dani O'Rourke. Don't worry about it though, I mean, it was only Dani. What did you say your name was?"
"My name is Black, Miss James. Have a nice day." He turned and limped away from the car and back to his four-wheel drive truck. His truck was new, but the trip here had covered it in road salt and dust, giving it well-earned character. He heard her call out to him, but didn't look back as he climbed into the cab.
As Burke settled himself into the driver's seat his left leg started to throb. Lost in thought, he absently rubbed it with his left hand as he turned the key in the ignition with his right. Even though it had been almost five months since the accident, he still was surprised when his body ached some days. He guessed the fourteen-hour days that he'd put in at the office since his release from hospital hadn't helped, but they had been necessary for his plans.
He glanced in the rearview mirror and the coal black eyes that stared back at him were as cold as the smile that he bestowed upon himself. He knew the scar that now bisected his left cheek from temple to chin, along with his dark as night hair, gave him a slightly demonic appearance. All in all, that knowledge pleased him. It suited his mood. Black.
His thoughts drifted back to those long weeks he'd spent lying in a hospital bed, after a drunk driver who'd sped through an intersection had hit his car. Other than the obligatory visits of business associates and doctors, he had spent it alone. He'd had too much time to think, and the conclusions he reached had left him in a dark temper.
Being confined to a wheelchair, even for a few weeks, had made him feel weak and helpless. His broken left leg, encased in a plaster cast from hip to thigh, had made him feel useless. He was unable to do for himself for the first time in his life, and he didn't like the feeling.
And oddly enough, he had felt lonely. That, too, had made him angry. He'd never relied on anyone in his life. He'd learned at a young age that to do so was a mistake. People looked out for themselves, and so did he. Still, there had been no one in his life, except for paid help, who would have been upset if he'd been killed in that accident. That felt wrong somehow. And that realization had changed him.
A genuine smile lit his lips as he remembered the conversation he had had with his second-in-command on his first day back at work. At first his Vice President, Jim Thomas, had refused to believe him when he had announced he was selling everything.
"Are you crazy, Burke?" Jim had had a stunned look on his face as he sank slowly into the padded leather seat behind him, as if his legs could not bear the shock of the announcement.
"No, Jim, I'm not. I'm thirty-five years old and I have more money than I could spend in my lifetime. Besides, I'm only selling off the company's business interests. I'll still have my own personal investments to keep me occupied."
"What in the name of God are you going to do with yourself? You'll be bored to death within a week. Think this through, Burke. Don't make any rash decisions that you'll regret later."
"Don't worry, Jim. I'll make sure you're taken care of." Burke was smart enough to realize Jim's concern was for his own position and not for his boss's health. After all, the only time Jim had shown up at the hospital was when business decisions needed to be made or when papers needed to be signed.
With the speed and ruthlessness that had made him a multimillionaire to begin with, he had sold everything. His business concerns, his large lavish home with the expensive furniture where he slept but didn't really live, and the foreign sports car that he drove back and forth to work. He relinquished all the trappings that had been associated with his old life, one by one. Gone were the designer suits, starched white shirts and silk ties, and in their place came blue jeans and cotton shirts.
Taking a deep breath, Burke looked away from the mirror and pulled his thoughts back to the present. Putting the truck in gear, he pulled away from the curb where it had been parked. He had forgotten how much he liked wearing jeans and driving a truck. These days he had no one to answer to but himself and that's what had brought him to the small community of Jamesville. A business associate had casually mentioned it as a good place to do some fishing. He might not be interested in the fishing, but it had exactly what he needed right now. Peace and quiet, and anonymity.
He was responsible for no one but himself, and no one wanted anything from him. God knows he had earned it. He'd been taking care of himself for as far back as he could remember. His mother, when she'd been sober, hated having a child to look after and had let him know at every moment how much he had ruined her life. He'd scrounged meals where he could get them and clothes from the local church charity. Anger and humiliation drove him to better himself. He'd studied hard and stayed out of her way. One sunny spring day, he came home to find their apartment empty. He'd found some of his belongings in the Dumpster out back.
At fifteen, he'd dropped out of school, lied about his age, and started in construction. He'd worked physically hard in the days and mentally hard at night. Eventually, he'd gotten his high school diploma at night school. Then he'd started taking business classes.
He invested in his first run-down building when he was twenty and got lucky when real estate values had soared in that section of Chicago five years later. By that time, he'd owned several buildings and had sold them for a huge profit and reinvested in more property. He had a knack for knowing which property would increase in value, as well as the patience to wait. But after twenty years of non-stop work, he was filthy rich and very tired.
He pulled into the parking lot of the small grocery store he had passed the night before and parked the truck. "Greer's Grocery and Gas Bar" was printed with black letters on a white sign attached to the front of the building. He'd pick up a few things now and then head back to the cabin he had rented for the next few months and unpack his things. He was suddenly anxious to get settled in. Then he had to find a woman named Dani O'Rourke and apologize for this morning's slight misunderstanding.
Dani stamped the snow off her boots as she let herself into Cozy Cabins rental number five. The first thing she saw was the pile of suitcases and boxes in the center of the living room floor. Obviously, the new tenant had checked in early. According to her schedule, he wasn't due until tomorrow.
"Hello, is anyone here?" Dani waited a couple of seconds by the front door for a reply. When only silence answered her, she picked up her supply box from the front porch and went inside. If the place was empty, she might as well clean it. Since the tenant hadn't unpacked, she could easily clean without disturbing their belongings. Dani unzipped her big navy parka and draped it over the back of the couch, picked up her cleaning supply box, and strode to the small kitchen at the back of the cabin.
As she placed her supplies on the counter, she noticed a black briefcase sitting on the kitchen table. The leather on the case looked expensive, and on closer inspection, she could see that the initials B. B. had been discreetly etched on a brass plate near one of the locks. This was obviously custom-made and not something one picked up at a local department store. Carefully, she picked it up and placed it safely on the kitchen counter. That way she could clean the table and the floor around it and not have to worry about damaging the briefcase. That done, she set to work.
She sang along with the tune on the radio as she cleaned and disinfected the refrigerator. It was a country song about a man who felt he was too young to feel as old as he did. She laughed at herself. "Country singer I'm not." She enjoyed country music and although some days she related to the words of the music, today she felt pretty darn good. She loved the Cozy Cabins, as they represented her business beginnings.
She could still remember the first time she'd driven out here to clean them. Dani had only been eighteen years old when her mother died, and she'd quit school to look for work. Luckily, they'd already owned the little house they lived in.
She'd only been sixteen when her father had died of a heart attack and her mother had used a good portion of the life insurance policy to pay off the mortgage. Dani had spent the next two years after her father's death watching her mother just fade away. Her mother had not been the same after big Patrick O'Rourke had died.
Dani had taken over the running of the house and the care of her two younger brothers, Patrick Jr. and Shamus, but her mother's presence had enabled her to stay in school. When her mother passed away after a short battle with cancer, Dani discovered there wasn't enough money left to bury her. Her mother hadn't worked, and medical bills combined with just plain living had finished off what was left of the insurance money. It had been scary for an eighteen-year-old to find herself responsible for two boys only nine and twelve years of age.
People had been kind to them and many had donated money so Dani hadn't had to get a loan to pay for the burial. After the funeral, well-meaning people had started talking about where the boys should be sent now that there was no one to take care of them. She'd been furious, and determination had filled her. They had lost too much already. They were a family, and no one was going to split them apart.
They had the house, but she knew she needed a steady income to prove to the authorities that she could take care of her brothers. She had placed notices all over town that she was willing to clean people's homes. At first, she had gotten little work, but then she'd come up with a new idea.
She'd approached the local real estate company with a business proposition, offering to clean the homes that were being listed by the Jamesville Real Estate Company. Most people, she reasoned, didn't want to clean a house they were moving out of, and most buyers wanted to move into a clean home. Mr. Carter, the owner of the Jamesville Real Estate Company, had listened to her proposition. He hadn't laughed at her or scoffed at her idea. Instead, he'd become her first corporate client.
"Miss O'Rourke," Mr. Carter had begun. "I believe you and I can do business." He had then helped her to set up her own small business enterprise and signed the first contract with O'Rourke Cleaning Services. He also signed a contract with her for cleaning the Cozy Cabins, which were a group of six vacation cabins he and his brother, Ernest, owned and rented.
The first cleaning job she had undertaken, as the proud new owner of her own business, had been Cozy Cabins number five. Heady stuff for an eighteen-year-old. The job had enabled her to keep her family together and to provide a future for her brothers. Once she had established herself as a legitimate business, other corporate clients had followed, including the Jamesville Bank and Dr. Parker's office. Now at twenty-five, she was proud of what she had accomplished. It felt good to be a respected member of the community.
Dumping the last bucket of dirty water down the sink, Dani turned and surveyed the kitchen with pride. The stove and refrigerator shone, and the counters and floors gleamed. She knew that the bathroom was spotless and crisp white linens hung from the towel racks. Fresh sheets were on the bed, and the furniture in the bedroom glowed with the combination of furniture polish, lemon oil, and elbow grease. The living room was ready for its new inhabitant to kick back and relax.
Excerpted from "Discovering Dani"
Copyright © 2006 N.J. Walters.
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
This book is boring with a boring heroine and angry hero. They are a couple who don't appear to be able to make it together. Dani is way too naive for a man like Burke.
Other books by this author are good, so I got this one. yuck. Weak heroine. Moves too fast. They barely meet and she's in love. Dont waste the money
A favorite book from years back - tame by current standards, but I love it so much that in the day of ebooks - still one I am happy to have in my bookcase. 1st of the Jamesville Series, our heroine Dani is mistaken for being a teenage boy when she stops and helps push a stranded vehicle to the side of the road. Misunderstandings and her own dreams put on hold while raising her two brothers allow the plot to twist and turn. A very nicely crafted book. The brothers books - are far more erotic - but I love this one anyway!