Her father’s death has brought Cyndi Marks back to Jamesville, and she’s determined to settle back in her hometown and lay her ghosts to rest once and for all. But not everyone is happy to see her. Every small town has secrets, and Jamesville has secrets some would kill to protect. When Cyndi needs help, there’s only one person in town she can trust.
Shamus O’Rourke is happy living in Jamesville. He loves his job, his family, and small town living. All that’s missing is someone to share it with. When he runs in to Cyndi and helps her with a flat tire, he’s drawn to the reserved, wary woman. He’s pretty sure the feeling is mutual, even though she tries to deny it.
When Cyndi’s life is threatened, just about everyone in town is a suspect, and she’s not sure her fledgling relationship with Shamus can stand up to the town and his family’s concerns. The only things she is sure of is that she can’t see herself surviving in Jamesville without the younger man.
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 a time N.J. had the idea that she wouldlike to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave herhometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And shedid. Two years later, she went back to the book store and her hometown andsettled in for another seven years.
One day she gave notice at her job on a Fridaymorning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her firsterotic romance novel and life would never be the same.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spendsher days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons,time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smolderinggood looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got tolive it.
Read an Excerpt
"Not now. Not now," Cyndi Marks muttered as she maneuvered her usually reliable Honda over to the shoulder of the road. Although, to be fair, it wasn't the car's fault that she had a flat tire. But that didn't keep her from swearing under her breath.
When the car finally rolled to a halt, she put it in park and sat there in the driver's seat with her hands still curled around the wheel. She so did not need this. Sighing, she released the wheel, turned off the ignition, and yanked out the keys. Sitting here wishing that it hadn't happened wouldn't change the facts. She still needed to deal with her flat tire. Unfortunately, the jack and the spare were in the trunk, buried beneath her luggage.
Tipping her head back, she leaned against the headrest and took a deep breath. The keys dug into her palms, she clutched them so tight. Aunt Verna had told her this wouldn't be easy. The older woman had even offered to make the trip with her, but Cyndi had declined. She'd needed to face the past on her own.
She knew if she flipped open her cell phone and called, Verna Marks Mitchell would be there within hours. Her aunt had been a surrogate mother to her and, even more, she'd given Cyndi hope when she hadn't had any herself.
Shaking off her melancholy, she opened the car door and stepped out onto the pavement. Immediately, the crisp, fall air filled her lungs. Scanning the area, she realized she was perched on top of a hill overlooking the town.
Jamesville, Maine. It looked so peaceful nestled down in the valley below, but Cyndi knew that even a small town had dirty little secrets. Turning her back on the picturesque scene, she strode to the trunk of her car. She needed to keep focused on the task at hand and right now that included getting her car back on the road so she could reach her destination before dark.
The sun was low in the afternoon sky, but she had an hour or so until it finally sank. Lots of time to change a flat tire and get to the lawyer's office before it closed for the day.
Unlocking her trunk, she pocketed her keys and hauled out her two suitcases, setting them beside the car. Next came her laptop, which she tucked into the backseat for safekeeping. Two boxes containing her pillows and comforter, specialty teas, and her favorite snacks were next. She figured she'd need all the comforts she could get. She was under no illusion that the task ahead of her would be easy.
Cyndi ignored the small voice in the back of her head that whispered she didn't have to stay. She'd made her decision and she wasn't about to back down now. It was time for her to face down the demons of her past and put them to rest once and for all. The only way to do that was to settle in Jamesville. She'd put all her belongings in storage, let the lease on her apartment lapse, and quit her job as manager of an upscale bed and breakfast. For better or worse, she was here to stay.
Dragging out the jack and the spare tire, she carried them one at a time to the front of the car. The left-hand tire was as flat as a pancake. She must have picked up a nail or something. As soon as she hit town, she'd have to go to a garage and get it seen to.
As she was shoving the jack beneath the car, she heard another vehicle rumbling up behind her. She scooted in front of her car, not wanting to be out in the road as the other vehicle passed. She'd pulled her car as far off the road as she could, but the shoulder wasn't that wide and part of the vehicle was still on the pavement. A dusty, blue truck passed her, but the brake lights flashed almost immediately, and the vehicle rolled to a stop several yards up the road.
Cyndi climbed back into the driver's seat and locked all the doors. Maybe she was overreacting, but a woman on her own, on a fairly deserted stretch of road, couldn't be too careful. She knew what Jamesville used to be like, but that was a long time ago. The whole world seemed to have changed in the intervening years.
The truck door opened and a long, jean-clad leg came into view, quickly followed by another. The man who got out of the vehicle was huge, standing at least several inches over six feet. His shoulders were wide, straining the seams of his dirty, white T-shirt. The short sleeves of the shirt did nothing to hide his thick biceps and muscular forearms. His jeans were faded white at the knees and crotch area. Cyndi forced herself to look away. A stranger was coming toward her, and she was staring at his crotch. It had to be the stress she'd been under making her so loopy. Still, she did enjoy the view.
His large, booted feet quickly ate up the distance between them. Cyndi reached into her purse and yanked out her phone, ready to call for help if necessary.
The man stopped beside her door, leaned down and tapped on the window. "Didn't mean to frighten you, ma'am."
Cyndi got her first, really good look at his face and it started her heart pounding, but not from fear. The man was gorgeous, in a rough sort of way. His thick, molasses-brown hair was tied back at the nape, falling just below his shoulders. His face was all sharp angles and planes; his nose was large, but somehow suited his face. Eyebrows the same color as his hair were straight slashes above a pair of concerned, blue-gray eyes, eyes the same color as the sky just before a storm.
"Ma'am?" She heard his voice through the glass and realized she was sitting there like a fool simply staring at him.
Quickly she rolled the window down, but just a crack. "I'm sorry. What did you say?"
He tilted his head to one side, staring at her. Cyndi knew she looked a mess. She'd been traveling for hours, and the past few weeks had been extremely stressful. She knew she had dark circles under her eyes and wasn't wearing any makeup, save her clear lip balm. Her days of dressing to please other people were long over.
"I said that I didn't mean to frighten you." He smiled then, a slight upturn of the corners of his mouth, but the effect was devastating.
Butterflies danced in her stomach and she felt a throbbing between her thighs. She shook her head, desperately trying to fight the unwanted burst of physical attraction. She was thirty-nine years old, for heaven's sake, long past the stage of being ruled by her hormones. And he looked to be at least ten years younger than her.
"A woman alone can't be too careful these days." His words echoed her earlier thoughts. "You stay put in the car and I'll take care of that flat tire for you."
"No," she snapped. Realizing what she'd done, she softened her tone. After all, it wasn't his fault she was attracted to him. All he'd done was stop and offer to help. "That's fine. I'll take care of it myself."
He scrubbed his hand across his jaw and her eyes followed the action. She could see the five o'clock shadow on his chin. It made him appear even sexier, if that was possible. There was something elemental about this man. Even dressed in old work boots, faded jeans and a dirty T-shirt, there was an air of barely restrained power about him.
"I figured you could handle the problem on your own, ma'am, but there's no need for that now that I'm here."
Was he for real?
She guessed so when he turned on his heel and crouched down by the front tire. Within seconds, the front of the car was raised and he was using the tire iron to loosen the lug nuts.
Cyndi laid her cell phone on the seat beside her and rolled down her window, not quite willing to leave the dubious safety of the confines of the car. The man was big and strong enough that if he meant her harm, he'd certainly be able to get to her with little effort. Her instincts told her he was exactly what he claimed to be — a Good Samaritan. But she still wasn't taking any chances.
"You visiting someone around here or just passing through?" His voice jolted her. She hadn't realized he was paying any attention to her, as he seemed totally focused on his task.
"I ... ah ... I have business in Jamesville." That was the truth, but not the entire truth.
"That so?" He yanked off the flat tire and grabbed the spare, popping it on quickly. "You going to be here long?"
That was the same question she'd been asking herself for the past few weeks since she'd first gotten the news that had ultimately brought her here. "Yes." Determination filled her. She'd promised herself that she would free herself from the past once and for all.
He glanced up, his stormy eyes capturing her gaze. "I thought you could buy me a cup of coffee and maybe a piece of pie to say thanks." When he grinned, she could see a dimple in his left cheek. The man was outrageous, but he made her smile. She could feel her lips parting, the corners turning upward, as she shook her head. "Now don't answer too quickly," he drawled. "You might hurt my feelings."
The man was flirting with her. She laughed and leaned her arm on the window, staring at him. He certainly wasn't hard on the eyes. Crouched down like he was, the faded material of his jeans outlined the muscles of his thighs. His biceps rippled as he spun the tire iron, tightening the lug nuts on the spare.
Cyndi wasn't usually this at ease with a man she'd just met. In fact, because of her past, she had a hard time trusting any man. But this stranger had a way about him. She was sure he could charm the birds from the trees without even trying.
"I'm sure you've got plenty of women your own age wanting to take you out for lunch and supper and anything else you might want." Inserting her age in there was a way for her to take a step back from the situation. It was a reminder to herself that he was harmlessly flirting. He didn't really mean it.
A guy that good-looking had to have a girlfriend, or several girlfriends for that matter. Or maybe even a wife. She glanced at his hand, but there was no ring. That didn't really signify anything though. Her ex-husband had taken to leaving his wedding ring at home while he was cheating on her. She pushed away the memories. That was a long time ago and she was no longer the young, naïve woman she'd been back then.
The front of the car lowered back to the ground. He picked up the jack, tire iron, and flat tire, taking them around to the trunk. The back of the vehicle jerked as he tossed it all inside. As she watched him out the side window, he picked up her boxes and suitcases and loaded them back into the car. The trunk came down with a heavy thud. He was finished and she was ready to be on her way again.
He wasn't smiling when he reached the driver's side. "I didn't mean to make you feel as if you owed me anything for doing this." He propped his hands on his hips and stared down at her.
Now Cyndi felt embarrassed. "I didn't think you were serious. I mean, you're obviously so much younger than me ..." Her voice trailed off. She didn't know what else to say without making a complete idiot of herself.
"Not that much younger and you're a very beautiful woman."
Her eyes narrowed as she studied him. Who was he trying to kid? She knew she looked like crap at the moment.
"I thought that if you were going to be staying in town a while, I might take you out for coffee at the local diner. That's all. I understand if you don't want to."
Now she felt ungrateful and petty. "I'm sorry. I really appreciate the invitation." Her words were neither an acceptance nor a denial. His offer was tempting. She could certainly use a friend, but if she was going to settle here, the last thing she needed was to get involved with a man like this one. Cyndi knew she was right in assuming he could probably date just about any single woman in town. She had enough problems on her plate without adding to them.
"Good enough. If you're here a while, I'm sure we'll run into one another. If you're looking for a good place to eat, check out Jessie's on Main Street."
"Jessie's is still there!" She wanted to call the words back as soon as she'd said them.
He grinned. "I take it you're familiar with Jamesville."
Cyndi nodded, not wanting to answer any more questions. "I haven't been back in a lot of years."
"Some things have changed, but you'll probably find almost as many that are the same. If you stop by Sampson's Garage, Mike will take care of that flat tire for you." He wiped his hand down over his thigh and extended it. "Shamus O'Rourke."
She took his hand without thought, his name beating at her brain. "Cyndi Marks."
His much larger hand wrapped around her fingers, holding them for a brief second longer than necessary, but not so long as to make her feel uncomfortable. "Pleased to meet you, Cyndi Marks," he murmured. "And I'll definitely be seeing you around town." With that parting shot, he tapped his hand on the roof and turned away. "Drive carefully."
She watched as he sauntered back to his truck and climbed in. He had a loose-limbed gait that would make any woman's mouth water. But hers was dry. Shamus O'Rourke. What were the odds that she'd run into one of the O'Rourke family before she'd even hit town? She had a bad feeling about the days ahead. They were not going to be easy.
His truck pulled away and she heard the friendly toot of his horn as he gave her a wave through his open window.
Cyndi shivered, the cool wind reminding her that her window was still rolled down. She put up the window, reached into her pocket, and pulled out her keys. Shoving them into the ignition, she gave them a sharp turn. Cyndi took a deep breath, wrapped her hands around the wheel, and eased the vehicle back onto the road. She kept her speed down, not wanting to catch up with Shamus.
He obviously hadn't recognized her, but then again, why would he? She'd changed so much, and not just in appearance, since she'd left town. He'd have been a teenager when she'd dragged herself aboard the bus for Vermont so long ago. No reason he'd even remember her at all.
There were many in town who would remember her and not fondly. Her stomach lurched, and she focused on her breathing to calm herself. The past was the past. She couldn't change it, but she could try to come to terms with it and put it behind her once and for all. That was the main reason for coming back to Jamesville. Her father's death had precipitated her unexpected homecoming and brought a lot of unforeseen changes to her life.
As the town limits came into view, cold sweat trickled down between her shoulder blades, making her shiver. Memories rose up to taunt her. Cruel images from the past flitted through her mind like an old movie she had seen so many times that she knew every image and line by heart.
She drove her car down Main Street, but she didn't really see it. She focused all her attention on her destination. The stately, brick building came into view, and she pulled into a parking spot right in front of it. Stuffing her phone back into her purse, she forced herself to get out of the vehicle and lock it behind her.
Every step was torture as she made her way up the stone walkway and the three short steps that led to the door. The discreet plaque off to the side identified it as the offices of Harris and Hammond, attorneys.
Bile churned in her belly and she swallowed hard. She should have gone to a motel tonight and dealt with this in the morning. She should have given herself more time to shore up her defenses against the shadows of the past.
But it was too late. She was here and her days of being a coward were over.
Grabbing the handle, she turned it, pulling the heavy door open. As she stepped inside, she tried to compose herself as best she could. Tilting her chin up, she squared her shoulders and strode confidently to the receptionist's desk.
The older woman, dressed in a prim, gray suit, gave her a practiced smile. There was no warmth in her eyes. "May I help you?" Her tone implied that someone dressed as shoddily as Cyndi would certainly have no business in these prestigious offices.
The woman was in for a huge surprise. Not only did Cyndi have business here, she was now their biggest client, although that might change in the days ahead.
Narrowing her gaze, she stared back at the receptionist and pulled a name out of her past. It was a name she'd discarded fourteen years ago, a name she'd legally changed and never thought she'd have to use again.
"You can tell Mr. Harris that Cynthia James is here to see him."
Shamus glanced in his rearview mirror, but he didn't see the white Honda behind him. He wasn't surprised. He figured that she'd hang back, not wanting to appear to be following him.
He grinned as he reached out and turned on the radio. Country music blared from the speakers, and he tapped his fingers against the wheel as he pictured Cyndi Marks.
He hadn't had a real good look at her before she'd climbed back into her car, but he figured that she was about five-five, five-six, give or take an inch. The oversized, pullover sweater she was wearing had partially concealed her figure, but Shamus knew women, and from what he'd seen, she had a nicely rounded figure beneath her clothing.
She hadn't believed him when he'd told her that she was beautiful, but what she hadn't realized was that he wasn't just talking about her physical appearance.
Excerpted from "The Seduction of Shamus O'Rourke"
Copyright © 2008 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
"The Seduction of Shamus O'Rourke" by N.J. Walters is book four in her Jamesville Series and for those who haven't read any of the others, it will likely have you searching for your own copies to keep. This story has suspense, emotion, hot sex, romance, and reality. I can't say much more except I'm not about to get rid of my copy as I'm sure I'll read it again, and again, and again.
Cyndi Marks is back in Jamesville. She's determined to face her fears and prove to herself and the rest of the town that she's not like her father. As soon as she was notified of her father's death and that he'd left her everything, Cyndi knew what she had to do. She had no intention of getting involved with anyone in the O'Rourke family, not after her history with them. But darn if Shamus doesn't blow all of her good intentions right out of the water. He's everything she never thought a man could be and he says he wants to be a part of her life...but still. And now there's someone who definitely doesn't want her in town. And apparently they don't just want her gone, they want her dead.
Shamus quickly realizes that Cyndi is the one for him. She's also nothing like he's heard she used to be. So if he can realize this, why can't his family?
I can't say much more without giving away all the plot, but suffice to say that I couldn't put it down once I picked it up. There were a few irritating things regarding the mystery that chafed a bit, but nothing took away my pleasure of reading about two people determined to be together. Shamus is smoking hot and not ashamed to show his softer side. I fell a little in love and that's another sign of a great read! While this story doesn't cross the line into erotica, it is significantly hotter than most mainstream romance, so be warned.