Trent Jamieson isn’t one for virtual romance, but there’s something about the intriguing woman he meets on the Internet he can’t resist. Then the small town bachelor discovers the mystery woman who shares her secrets with him online is the laced-up librarian in his self-defense class! Veronica Sussingham may just be his toughest student yet. Because how can he show the vulnerable beauty that some men are worth letting your guard down for?
Veronica returned to her hometown seeking shelter for her shattered spirit. The last thing she needs is a blue-eyed charmer who wants to show her how to live—and love—again. Then she discovers Trent is not just another admirer, but a man who knows her deepest secrets. Now Veronica must choose between running from her past—or finding future happiness with the kind of man she swore she’d never fall for….
About the Author
When she’s not working, she and her husband happily sip their way through the scenic towns of the Connecticut Wine Trail, travel the world, and enjoy spending time with their precious pets and two grown daughters. She writes from the friendliest place she’s ever lived, Bethel, Connecticut. For more information, including where to find her published essays, please visit www.sharonstruth.com or visit her blog, Musings from the Middle Ages & More at www.sharonstruth.wordpress.com
Read an Excerpt
A Blue Moon Lake Romance
By Sharon Struth
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Sharon Struth
All rights reserved.
Three things shine before the world and cannot be hidden. They are the moon, the sun, and the truth ... -Buddha
If Veronica Sussingham believed in signs — which she didn't — this was the second one today suggesting she crawl back under the covers and avoid the world. She stood at the doorway and stared at the bed, too stunned to speak.
She drew in a calming breath. "Come on, Boomer. Can't you ever give me a break?"
The two-year-old Newfoundland lifted his eyes while his full tail swished against the patterned quilt. He continued to chew the near-shredded tag dangling off Veronica's brand new silk blouse. The expensive fabric bunched like a ball in his large black paws, and the same slobbery drool resting on his neck also soaked the blouse. Last week's half-eaten electric bill and torn-to-shreds Sunday news was proof the dog had a paper fetish. But a clothing tag?
She marched closer, attempting a stern expression.
Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. He avoided her gaze. If she didn't know better, she'd swear she spotted a grin on his snout.
Boomer released the tattered tag, and it fell on her bed. At least the training they'd taken last year wasn't a total waste. He hopped down with a thud and headed for the door, the nails of his large paws clicking on the hardwood floors.
She tossed the filthy shirt near the hamper, washed the slobber off her hands in the bathroom sink, then went to her closet to pick a new outfit. It would take more than an early morning broken hot water heater and ruined blouse to keep her from the annual librarian luncheon in Hartford.
She flipped through dresses, shirts, and slacks lined up in neatly separated groups, then arranged by color. A pretty red wraparound dress with capped sleeves caught her eye, one she hadn't worn since the spring.
She shrugged off her terrycloth robe, slipped the garment over her head, and tied the side. Stepping to her dresser, she twirled her necklace carousel to her five strands of pearls, in varying gem size and length. Since receiving her first pearl necklace as a gift on her eighteenth birthday, a strand always draped her neck.
She lifted the graduated arrangement and slipped it on. The smooth beads rested against her collarbone, their touch in the familiar place always a source of comfort. She took a brush to her loose curls, dotted on some soft pink lipstick, and slipped into her black, open-toed pumps.
With some time until she needed to head into Hartford, she went into the living room, settled in front of her roll top desk, and logged into her computer. A quick perusal of e-mail showed mostly retailers, which she bypassed, in search of a reply from Ry. Nothing. She swept aside her disappointment and deleted the unwanted spam, but stopped when she hit an online invitation from PartyTime.com, a service she'd used last time she hosted a Christmas gathering at her place.
The subject read, "Gail and Eli's End of Summer Bash." Last year's party had been fun, the annual event one of the few times she'd see her graduate school friends. She opened the invite, double-checked the date on her calendar, then responded yes. Fond memories of her friends brought a smile to her face. A section listed all invited guests, so Veronica figured she'd see who else might be coming.
Sometimes Veronica missed a good old-fashioned paper invite, but the Internet had changed the world. Her friendship with Ry was living proof.
Combing through the list, she noted how half the guests had profiles set up with personalized photographs, including hers — a photo holding Boomer when she first got him. Her gaze swept the faces and names, looking for her closest friends. She skipped past an unfamiliar couple, but then backtracked to take a closer peek. The man in the photo stared back. Panic rushed through her limbs.
For twenty years, Veronica hadn't seen Gary Tishman's face, but his image still haunted her. The clang of a silent alarm screamed inside her head, begged her to close the computer. Only she couldn't move or figure out why he was on the invited guest list.
She scrutinized the face of the man who'd changed her life. Twenty years had added a few pounds, his handsome face slightly fuller. A soft sparkle rested in his eyes, set off by a warm smile. Veronica grimaced, recalling how it was the same bait he'd used to lure her to his side, a mask worn to hide the real monster lurking inside.
The woman at his side was her old friend Carin Cummings, who now wore her honey blond hair in a blunt cut, but otherwise still looked the same. Next to the photo, the name read "Carin Cummings-Tishman." After grad school, Carin had moved west and rarely kept in touch with their posse of friends. She was now married to Gary? It didn't make sense. They hadn't mixed in similar circles back in college, so how did they meet?
Their response to the invitation remained unanswered. Still, sickness twirled in Veronica's stomach as a cold reality hit. If she'd seen him on this online invitation, had he seen her? Did he remember her?
A slow chill tickled the hairs on her arms when a movement fluttered in her peripheral. She quickly jerked around, catching the flurries of her sheer curtains moved by the breeze from an oscillating fan. Taking a calming breath, she stood and went to the fan to shut it off. Outside the window, thick woods surrounded her small house, always giving her privacy and the illusion she lived in a protected fortress. The way her picture randomly appeared on the same website as Gary's, however, told her otherwise.
Gail might be at the librarian luncheon today and could explain how Gary suddenly stepped into Carin's life.
Enthusiasm for today's event withered. Instead, horrible memories of the moment Veronica's life and goals had changed shattered her well-being. For half a second, she considered changing her reply to "no," only a voice inside her head whispered a challenge. Hasn't the past haunted you long enough?
Despite the warm breeze drifting through the window, she shivered again. First the broken hot water heater. Then her ruined blouse. Now Gary Tishman's return into her world. Going back to bed and starting the day over wasn't a bad idea.
Instead, she grabbed her purse and went out the door, glad bad things were said to only come in threes. Nothing else could possibly go wrong today.
* * *
Forty-five minutes after leaving the quiet country roads of Northbridge, Veronica spotted the jagged Hartford skyline. She'd nearly forgotten her one errand before the luncheon and now ran a few minutes behind schedule. The GPS directed her straight to the corporate offices of Resorts Group International.
She pulled into the underground garage and parked. The envelope she'd promised her friend Sophie she'd take to Duncan — Sophie's fiancé — sat on the passenger seat. She slid the package containing his cell phone and signed contracts into the side pocket of her large purse. Lucky for Duncan, Veronica had planned to come into the city today and could make the drop off. Sophie had said he'd woken up so anxious about today's meeting to finalize the sale of his firm he'd forgotten to put on his socks, a surprise to Veronica because the successful executive always seemed to have a handle on all matters.
Fifteen minutes until the luncheon started. She hurried from the car and hoped she wouldn't miss the opening address by one of her favorite Connecticut authors. At the elevator, she tapped the "up" button and waited, jittery with anticipation of getting to her real destination. Bright orange cones placed near a used pile of yellow and black caution tape sat on the concrete floor several feet away from the elevator. She leaned forward to read a sign wedged between the cones. Please Use Stairs.
The loud screech of tires echoed against the walls. She snapped her head around to spot a red Audi TT navigate the corner. The vehicle zipped into a nearby reserved spot, close to the elevator. A rock beat rumbled from the car.
Veronica tapped "up" a few more times. Her peripheral vision caught a tall man with dark hair exiting the Audi. He leaned over and disappeared into the back seat. She gave the button another impatient swipe.
Ding. The doors parted. She hurried inside and scanned the panel until she spotted "RGI Reception-8." She tapped the button and pressed her back to the far wall as the doors glided together.
Bang! An arm covered by a white dress shirt poked between the nearly closed doors, and they popped back open. The guy who'd just pulled into the lot stepped inside, now wearing a fedora, à la Justin Timberlake, and humming a song.
Their eyes met and his humming faded. She quickly looked to the safe spot right above the doors, annoyed she couldn't enjoy her ride alone. He pressed his floor and leaned against the side wall. The doors slammed shut, and the metal box lurched upward.
Veronica peeked at her fellow passenger. His slightly wrinkled shirt hung outside the waist of black jeans and the top three buttons were opened, revealing a small patch of dark chest hair. Proper corporate attire didn't seem to be his thing, surprising in this office building filled with company headquarters.
He cleared his throat, glanced her way. For a nanosecond, she couldn't tear her gaze from his chiseled chin, but when his steel blue eyes softened, heat brushed her cheeks. She forced herself to look at the hardwood elevator floor.
His humming resumed. She again covertly peeked his way. He spread his thick fingers across his thigh and patted out a beat, his head moving with a slight sway to the music. She recognized it. "Oye Como Va," by Santana. The only thing corporate about this guy was his leather attaché and prime parking spot in the garage. Other than that, he belonged in a nightclub or an opening act for JT.
His gaze slowly drifted toward her, his dark lashes flickering as he studied her from head to toe. "You've got something on your dress." He spoke with a delicate, smoky tone, then motioned with his hand to her chest.
She dipped her chin. A dollop of dried toothpaste perched atop the mound of her left breast.
"Damn it," she mumbled. "Thanks."
She frantically rubbed the chalky mess, but the silence in the elevator made her glance his way. He watched her with interest, a little too much interest. Instead of finishing, she folded her arms to hide the mess. She'd deal with this later, without an audience.
His demeanor switched as deep lines burrowed along his forehead. "Oh, shit." He patted his pant pockets on both sides, front and back, and took two long steps to the panel. He hit "G" several times with his thumb.
Once was all he needed, and she'd been about to let him know, but her own impatient behavior earlier in the garage made her stop.
An exaggerated groan thundered from gears overhead. Thump! Boom! Clunk! The steel box vibrated. Veronica swayed. Thud! The elevator stopped with a jerk. Veronica's arms flailed. Her feet lifted from the floor. Her purse slipped off her arm. No control, she slammed into the other passenger, sending his hat flying. He wrapped his arms around her waist, but the force of her body propelled them both into the wall. They slid to the floor. Veronica sat posed on his lap, like a ventriloquist's dummy.
"Jesus. You okay?" His blue eyes widened and blinked a few times as they stared into hers.
Move. Move. Move.
She inhaled, filled her lungs with air, but couldn't ignore the protective way he still held onto her. "Yes. I'm fine."
She wiggled to get off and he released her. She shimmied away and pushed herself to the opposite wall, where she sat on the floor and tried to regroup.
"Sorry I knocked you over." She glanced up and followed the direction of his eyes, right to the spot where her skirt had lifted to the tippy-top of one thigh. Grabbing the hem of her dress, she tugged it down to her knees and glared at him.
He looked up without an ounce of guilt and ran his hand through his black hair, setting the strands askew. "Don't worry about it."
Concern etched the corners of his eyes as his gazed skipped over her. He stood and extended his arm. "Let me help you up."
She shook her head and pressed her hand to the floor. "I'm fine."
Once up, she smoothed her skirt, adjusted the sash at her waist, and swiped at the caked on toothpaste, loosening a few crumbs. "Next time you decide to change floors mid-ride, you could just hit the button once."
He raised a brow but said nothing and walked over to retrieve his hat. Replacing it on his head, he went to the panel, pressed emergency several times, and started pounding on the steel doors. "Hey! Anybody out there? We're stuck in the elevator!"
She stared, silently willing him to stop yelling. Hysteria never solved anything.
"Help! Anybody?" He waited a few seconds and turned to her. "I can't believe this. I've spent the past ten hours at airports, left my cell phone in the car, unless I mistakenly left it back at the United Airlines lounge at O'Hare. And now ... now this."
He turned around and made a fist, one step from giving the door another pounding. Veronica searched the recesses of her memory for the details from an article she'd read online about elevator safety.
"You should relax. Once you push the emergency button, there's not much more we can do."
He glanced back and chuffed a disagreeable sound, right before hitting the door several times. After a moment, he gave up and paced in the small space.
She fiddled with the smooth beads of her pearl necklace, but they didn't bring their usual sense of calm. The stranger continued his random patrol, his thoughts his own.
Veronica recalled the article details. She stepped to the door and peeked through the crack. "There's light up there." She glanced up to see where they had gotten stuck and returned to the crack, hoping to gauge how close they were to signs of life. "We're close to the fifth floor. Someone should be here soon."
He moved behind her, too close for her comfort. In the space above her head, he pressed his eye to the crack.
She gritted her teeth and stepped aside. "I'd be happy to move."
He didn't respond, only banged on the door again and yelled, "Can anybody hear us?"
She sighed, loudly, hoping to make a point. He continued banging. When he stopped, she cleared her throat.
He turned, raised his brows. "Yes?"
"Relaxing in a crisis lets you think clearly. You might want to give it a try."
His mouth slackened and eyebrows rose, as if nobody had ever asked him to chill. Looking up, he studied the ceiling. "I'll bet that panel pops out. I could help you shimmy up there." His gaze dropped to the lower half of her dress, and he wrestled with a smile. "Or you help me up."
"I'm not doing either. Want to know the first rule of elevator safety?" She tipped her head but didn't wait for his answer. "Stay put. Climbing out is the last thing you should do. So save your energy, Bruce Willis. We could be in here a while."
"In Die Hard. Wasn't he in an elevator when he fought those terrorist?" She again brushed at the toothpaste remains. "Not that I typically watch his movies."
He chuckled and the frustration evident on his face slipped away as he considered her for a moment. He took a step toward her. "Sorry. I'll calm down. You're ri —"
The elevator lurched. Veronica grabbed his arms at the same time he reached for hers. They steadied themselves for a few seconds, their eyes locked. The elevator smoothed and each let go.
She leaned over and picked her purse up from the floor just as the doors opened at the fourth floor.
He motioned with a sweep of his hand. "Ladies first."
She nodded and hurried out, greeted by a short man wearing maintenance overalls.
"You two okay?" he asked.
She hoisted her purse over her shoulder. "I am, thank you. Which way to the stairs?"
He pointed down the hallway.
"Thanks." She hurried down the hall. If she dropped Duncan's package off fast, she might still catch the keynote speaker's address.
She stopped and turned at the sound of her fellow passenger's voice.
He studied her with a curious stare, then grinned, kind of sweet, as if they'd become best buddies during their quest for elevator survival. "Bye. Nice to meet you."
"Oh, right. Good-bye." She rushed inside the stairwell, flustered but not really sure why. What else could go wrong today?
Excerpted from Harvest Moon by Sharon Struth. Copyright © 2015 Sharon Struth. 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
Harvest Moon is the second book in the Blue Moon Lake Series by Sharon Struth. I don't rehash the blurb or give spoilers in my review. Ms. Struth tells the story of two people, who in a very clever twist, are keeping the same secret from each other without knowing it, but who need healing, redemption and true love. And she's told it very well. Sophie and Duncan are back from Share The Moon (Book 1) but the story revolves around Duncan's brother Trent, who comes back to town lugging a little baggage and a town scandal from years past. Since a traumatic incident in college, Veronica has sort of retreated from life. She prefers quiet and safe, like the very nice but boring man she's dating. The characters are multi-dimensional, humorous, and hurting but come across as realistic and relatable. A couple sub-plots and characters round out the story well. If you're a fan of comtemporary romance, you'll enjoy this book as much as I did. I'm looking forward to the third in the series. Harvest Moon is a stand alone, but it does help to have read Share the Moon - also a great read!
It was sweet and romantic. The characters complimented each other wonderfully. Trent and Veronica make the perfect couple. From heartbreak to love. The parts of Ry and Etta were a perfect way to bring them together without them realizing until later. The scenery was beautiful and the story was well written. I loved reading their story.
A wonderful sweet read that had me hooked from the very beginning. Trent and Veronica are two characters that I connected with right away and my fondness for them only grew as the story unfolded. The kindness and caring that Trent shows Veronica just grabbed my heart. The story is very interesting and has little secrets and twists throughout. Very enjoyable read that I would recommend to everyone.
I enjoyed this book even more than the last one in the series! It was nice to see Duncan and Sophie again after enjoying them in Share The Moon, but I really enjoyed meeting his brother Trent. There's just something about two injured souls finding each other that pulls at the heartstrings, so having him find Veronica was really comforting to read. Trent Jamieson has had a dramatic life, but he's finally coming into himself and finding that he's happier being himself and living an honest life. He has moved closer to his brother to take a new job for a Vineyard they are starting up, he has an interesting friendship with someone he met on-line, and he's looking forward to the future. Veronica Sussingham is a haunted soul due to past happenings in her life, so she has been leading a plain, unfulfilling life where she can feel safe and comfortable. She has felt the first excitement in her life in many years by chatting with a guy online for the past 6 months. He really gets her. Then in walks Trent to add to the excitement with his sexy smile and glimmer in his eyes each time he teases her. When they put two and two together and realize that they not only like each other in real life, but they are looking at the person that has been sharing their life with them virtually for months, will they be happy with who they see in front of them? ** Received free in exchange for an honest review **