If Sarah Mercer had ever been asked to describe herself in one word, it would be sensible. After all, she had a steady job. Made prudent decisions. Was in what she though was a logical relationship. But when her fiance dumps her for an exotic dancer, Sarah decides it's time to change...everything! The first thing on her agenda? To get out of town and take a three month trip to Ireland. She'd always been captivated by the Emerald Isle. And she'd heard that there was nothing like an Irishman with a sexy accent and eyes as devastatingly green as the country's rolling hills to make a girl feel better.
But maybe she shouldn't have hooked up with her new landlord on the first night in town. Cian Murphy wasn't supposed to be her type. His arms and chest were tattooed, and he had piercings everywhere. Still, he made her feel beautiful, sexy…alive for the first time in years. Falling for the Irish hottie was as natural as breathing. But figuring out what she'd do when it came time to leave? Not so easy...
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About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lauren Hawkeye never imagined that she’d wind up telling stories for a living... though when she looks back, it’s easy to see that she’s the only one who is surprised. Always “the kid who read all the time”, Lauren made up stories about her favorite characters once she’d finished a book... and once spent an entire year narrating her own life internally. No, really. But where she was just plain odd before publication, now she can at least claim to have an artistic temperament.
Lauren lives in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada with her husband, two young sons, pit bull and two idiot cats, though they do not live in an igloo, nor do they drive a dogsled. In her nonexistent spare time Lauren can be found knitting, reading anything she can get her hands on, or sweating her way through spin class. She loves to hear from her readers!
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Read an Excerpt
Kiss of the Irish
The Foreign Fling Series
By Lauren Hawkeye, Jenn Mishler
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Lauren Hawkeye
All rights reserved.
When a white-hot bolt of lightning speared the ground in front of her, Sarah Mercer decided that she'd officially gone insane.
Hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles were white, she slowly inched forward through the onslaught of rain. Yes, she had to be crazy. Why else would she be driving through a torrential downpour in a strange country at night, on the wrong damn side of the road?
Squinting into the darkness, Sarah swore when the tires of her rental car skidded in the pools of water on the road. If she believed in such things, she might have thought that this rain was an omen, a sign that she didn't belong here. No, she belonged back in Boston, spending her days as a highly respected curator at a very prestigious auction house, and her evenings in the quiet condo close to Newbury Street, the one she'd chosen so she could wander in and out of the densely packed art galleries as much as she chose.
The young woman she'd sublet her little condo to could be wandering those art galleries now. Would she wander them with a boyfriend? Or would she be by herself, the way Sarah had been since that douche canoe Ross had left her?
No, that wasn't fair. Ross had been dissatisfied with their relationship, and so he had done the rational thing by calling off their engagement. She should be thanking him, since marrying someone who felt their partnership was unsatisfactory was hardly the sensible thing to do.
These flashes of pure crimson rage and subsequent panic attacks had led to rash decisions. Not nipping them in the bud was why she'd lost her ever-loving mind and decided to rent an apartment — no, a flat — in the middle of nowhere, Ceanmore, Ireland, for two months.
The prudent, well-cultivated side of her brain screamed at her to turn the car around and hop the next flight back to the States. The other side — and until recently, she hadn't even been aware that there was another side — told her that she'd come this far, and no way in hell was she going back now.
She'd been abandoned for a newer model, never mind that she was hardly at her expiration date herself. She supposed she was allowed to be a little upset.
Plus, the GPS on her cell was useless out here where it couldn't pick up a signal — or call anyone for that matter. Logic told her that her destination was probably closer than the three-hour drive back to Dublin. The best course of action would be to continue down the road until she reached a gas station or a house — any place where she could stop for a few minutes to catch her breath. She was tired — the kind of bone-deep fatigue that came from waking up in one time zone and being plonked down in another one hours later. She probably shouldn't even have driven — the smart thing to do would have been to stay the night at a hotel by the airport in Dublin.
She was sick of doing the smart thing.
A few more minutes of terrified driving and she thought she saw the pale cream color of headlights in the distance. With a lot of deep breathing and only one terrified shriek when she almost went off the road, Sarah finally turned onto the quiet street of what appeared to be a small town. Hands starting to tremble, she pulled the car to the side of the road. And then, realizing her error, she did a U-turn and parked on the side of the road that she was supposed to be on, the opposite one from back home.
This is going to be a challenge.
Yeah. That was putting it mildly.
She closed her eyes for a moment, sucked in a deep breath, and held it until her lungs started to burn, then she exhaled on a giant whoosh, picturing all of the bad things in her life leaving her body.
The breakup. The disappointments. She tried willing it all away, imagining it dancing off into the dark night.
"I'm here." She might be crazy for coming to Ireland. She might go insane in the quiet of the small village and want to go screaming back to her trendy condo, her comfortable circuit of art galleries, the Chinese restaurant on the corner where she picked up a standing order of wonton soup and tea every Friday after work. But she was here for two months. No high-pressure job at the auction house to worry about, no fiancé to please. For the next few months, she was free.
The notion was absolutely terrifying.
It's not like I'm wasting months of my life. I need to pull it together.
This was true enough. In coming to Ireland, Sarah had hoped to clear her mind enough to put some energy toward earning her masters in Art History. It seemed like forever ago that she had gotten her undergraduate degree. What Sarah had really wanted was to be a painter herself, but her parents had scared her into going the sensible route. Her art history degree earned her job at the auction house. The position had paid enough for to afford her trendy apartment.
But, somehow, it had never been enough. Sarah was hoping her masters would help to fill the gap. To make her forget how she'd been told she had the talent but lacked the courage to step out on her own.
And these were deep thoughts when she was jet-lagged and completely out of her element. It was in the air, she decided. The air here was so crisp, so clean, so completely unlike the nearly constant scent of exhaust back home.
Her body didn't know what to do with so much oxygen, and it was making her dizzy.
Opening her eyes, Sarah squinted, trying to see through the rain. She had parked in front of a restaurant with bright lights behind foggy windows, and she could hear the faint lilt of what she supposed was Irish music — a place where she could go in and ask for directions to Ceanmore, or find a room for the night.
Instead, Sarah found herself glued to her seat, the nerves that she'd run across the ocean to escape coiling tightly in her belly and threatening to make her explode.
This — none of this was right. In no version of the plan for her future had she noted "get dumped by fiancé and run to foreign country." And she was the kind of person who made plans. Plans and lists. Spreadsheets.
She was not the kind of person to rent an apartment over the internet. Not the kind of person to pursue renting that apartment — sorry, flat — after a brief and completely inappropriate flirtation with her future landlord.
Who flirted with someone they'd never met? This Cian Murphy seemed fine with it, but it was yet one more thing that cast Sarah so far off-balance she was surprised she didn't fall.
But when she forced herself to wrench open the car door, when she made herself step out into the never-ending freaking rain to be promptly drenched from head to toe, she stood solidly. The wind that chilled her cheek was cruel enough to have her scurrying on stiff legs to the door of the place, where a sign proclaimed it Wild Irish.
The pub Cian had told her to stop at to collect her keys. Which meant, she supposed, that he was in there to collect the keys from.
There were those butterflies again, dancing a jig in her belly. Only she would get flustered by an online flirtation that the man himself probably didn't remember.
Other than the lilt of music and the patter of the rain, the street was utterly silent. It was so very different from what Sarah was used to. Back in Boston, in her über-chic neighborhood, the noise outside her bedroom window was nonstop — cars honking, people shouting and laughing, music drifting into the air from the bars and cafes and the buskers on every corner. There was so much sound, all the time, that she hadn't realized how much she'd tuned it out until just now, standing in near silence.
That silence, and the startling contrast of it to home, seemed suddenly so loud that her ears rang. The realization was enough to make her yank open the door of the building and step into the pub.
After the wet chill in the street, the noise indoors was like a warm embrace. Standing just inside the door, she looked around with wide eyes, taking in the details and cataloging them in her brain the way she'd always done.
The room was large but cozy, with a smoky-smelling fire burning in a fireplace big enough for her to stand in. It cast interesting shadows throughout the dimly-lit room, flickering over and lending warmth to the faces of the patrons. The walls, wide stripes of weathered wood, had darkened with age, and Sarah guessed that if she pressed her nose up to the rough grain, they'd smell of the smoke and whiskey they'd absorbed over the years. Scarred wooden tables with mismatched chairs were crowded throughout without much thought to symmetry. Her fingers started itching to move them into some sort of order, but here the result was more charming than messy, as was the semi-circle of squishy armchairs surrounding the fireplace, all occupied by wizened men with gray hair, and gnarled fingers curved around tall pint glasses or short tumblers of whiskey.
At the far end of the room was a large bar with racks of gleaming glasses suspended upside down above it. On a shelf behind the length of polished wood sparkled a row of bottles in emerald, amber, and sapphire. The entire scene seemed designed to invite a person to order a pint and curl up in front of the fire to wait out the rain.
But she wasn't here to while away hours in a warm, cozy haven. That wasn't the kind of person she was. No, she would get her directions and continue along to her destination, then get settled in. That was the logical thing to do.
She looked back at the bar. A tall man now stood in front of the row of colorful bottles, laughing with a patron as he poured what appeared to be a crisp, cold beer into a pint glass.
"Whoa." The word escaped Sarah's lips without conscious thought, but damn, something about the man made an impact. When he turned, giving her the full view of his face rather just a profile, she saw just what a man he was. Over six feet tall, she was pretty sure, and every inch packed with tight, lean muscle — the kind of body that would look good in the well-cut suits that the businessmen at her auction house favored, but that was even better dressed casually, the plaid shirt and worn jeans hinting at what he'd look like stripped-down.
That same flannel shirt was rolled up to the elbows and showed off a rainbow of ink decorating his arms, gem-toned hues contrasting with skin gone bronze in the shadows of the fire. When the man leaned across the bar to slide the pint to an elderly man, his muscles rippled, sending the tattoos dancing and making something Sarah wasn't entirely familiar with tighten in her belly.
Was this Cian Murphy, he of the inappropriate online flirtation? It was hard to be sure — she'd added him as a friend on Facebook so that he could verify that she was a real, normal person, but when she'd looked at his profile in return — scrolling guiltily through his photo albums — she'd found mostly scenic images taken in locations around the world. There had been a few group shots with his name labeled, but they'd all been in bright sun or in shadow, making it hard to get more than a general impression.
That was probably for the best. If she'd known that those flirty little emails were being exchanged with this man — if this was, in fact, Cian — she'd have lost her nerve entirely. Men who looked like fallen angels didn't flirt with women like her, and with the lean planes of his face, blue eyes so dark they were nearly black, and full lips that curved in a devilish grin, she called to mind his screen name.
Wicked Wanderer. How could a man who looked like that be anything else? But she just bet he was wicked in all the right ways.
As she watched, the man — Cian? — smiled at his customer, and the light of the fire winked off a piercing in his eyebrow. An actual piercing. In his face.
She had no reference for this kind of man — the ones she knew at home were all on the more conservative side. Suits. The kind of man who drank wine she couldn't pronounce instead of tall pints of beer. So yes, he was fantastically hot, but not her type at all.
The silver in his brow winked again, and Sarah felt her belly tighten even more — which was simply because she was hungry and standing in a restaurant where the scents of fried fish and potatoes hung heavy in the air. Shaking her head at herself, she crossed the room to the bar, toward the only one person currently working in this pub. She remembered that her friends who'd visited Ireland tended to reminisce about their favorite pub. A lot.
Finding that she was shaking a bit from fatigue, she seated herself awkwardly on a stool at the bar. She flushed when the rain-soaked fabric of her pants squeaked on the worn leather. How embarrassing. In fact, this entire scene was distressing. She was lost, something that had never happened to her in her life; she was far too organized for it. She was exhausted — she'd been so wired for her trip that she hadn't gotten a good night's sleep all week. And she hadn't looked in the mirror, but she was pretty sure that she resembled a wet chicken, or possibly a hedgehog. It certainly wasn't the smooth, polished appearance she usually strove to present.
"It doesn't matter, Sarah. Get a grip." Sarah lectured herself. No, it really didn't matter how she looked, and it didn't matter that the bartender had a raw, sexual appeal that compelled her to sneak glances at him when she thought he wasn't looking. She'd never seen anyone who looked quite the way he did, with the confidence of owning that lean body and quite possibly any woman who was lucky enough to be underneath it.
She would ask for directions, and then she'd never see him again. Because she was not the type of woman to approach a man she found attractive. Especially not one with an eyebrow piercing.
How deliciously ... bad.
Then that hauntingly blue stare turned her way. The eyebrow with the piercing arched as the man took her in, his lips quirking as though he liked what he saw.
Her mouth went dry, adrenaline surging — was he going to head her way?
He didn't, turning instead to help another customer.
"Idiot." She cursed herself as she fumbled for her purse. Well, he'd get here eventually. She was actually quite thirsty. She'd ask for a glass of juice. That would hold her until she got where she was going.
She could be honest with herself, right? She felt like staying here for a while, settling into the fabric of the scene. Maybe enjoying a pint of her own, and a meal.
Taking in the mouth-watering view.
She'd never ordered beer in public before, though she'd always had a secret taste for it. The women in her circle would never have been caught drinking something so unrefined.
The realization very nearly had her ordering one, just because. In his messages, Cian had said that Wild Irish was right down the street from her flat, so driving wouldn't be a worry. But the exhaustion clawing at her limbs, and the fuzziness in her head, told her it wasn't the wisest idea.
"God damn it." She wanted a drink. A glass of wine — no, a beer. A beer because it wasn't something she could drink around her colleagues back home without raising eyebrows — professional women like her drank fancy wine or cocktails.
"Would you like a partner in the conversation, or are you content on your own?"
Startled, Sarah looked up from her purse, right into the deep blue eyes of Mr. Tall, Dark, and Tattooed. Those eyes sparkled with a wicked twinkle that made her mouth go dry.
"I — uh ..." Her skin felt too tight for her body, and that was ridiculous. Sure, he was a good-looking man, but she'd met good-looking men before. The heat blooming in her belly just from having him look at her was ... Well, it was completely uncalled for.
"Let's try another question, then." The bartender grinned, and Sarah felt — actually felt — her stomach do a slow roll when that hoop in his brow caught the light. "What would you like to drink?"
"I ... oh. Well. Um." It was the accent. It had to be the lilting Irish in his voice scattering her wits. The wits that were in short supply already, after that unnerving drive in the rain.
"Beer? Wine? Whiskey?" His voice reminded her of the fire, low and smoky and utterly compelling, inviting her to curl right in. Unbidden, she imagined what it would sound like rumbling over dirty, dirty words.
"Juice!" She blurted this out, blushing furiously as her consciousness caught up with her thoughts. Lord, but she was tired. She needed sleep. So much sleep. "Juice, please. I'd like juice. And directions."
Excerpted from Kiss of the Irish by Lauren Hawkeye, Jenn Mishler. Copyright © 2017 Lauren Hawkeye. 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.
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