You Can Leave Your Hard Hat On by Stephanie Bond
Successful architect Samantha Stone finds the tool belt and bulging muscles sexy, but her employee Teague Brownlee digs dirt for a living. If backhoes are his business, then his sweet backside is none of hers!
The Total Package by Jennifer LaBrecque
Software genius Deke Foster wants marketing whiz Abby Carmichael to fix his image so he can bag a wife. He's adorable as is, but career-oriented Abby doesn't want a husband — especially one with a pocket protector!
Her Hero? by Rhonda Nelson
Her high-school sweetheart, Jackson Harper, was always hot, but not exactly ambitious. So prestigious clothing supplier Carley Deluna's hopes soar when Jackson tells her he's moved up in the world. "I'm a used-car salesman now," he says. Oh.
|Product dimensions:||4.00(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Stephanie Bond grew up in eastern Kentucky, but traveled to distant lands through Harlequin romance novels. Years later, the writing bug bit her, and once again she turned to romance. Her writing has allowed her to travel in person to distant lands to teach workshops and promote her novels. She’s written more than forty projects for Harlequin, including a romantic mystery series called Body Movers. To learn more about Stephanie Bond and her novels, visit www.stephaniebond.com.
After a varied career path that included barbecue-joint waitress, corporate number-cruncher and bug-business maven, Jennifer LaBrecque has found her true calling writing contemporary romance. Jennifer lives in suburban Atlanta with a Chihuahua who runs the whole show.
A New York Times best-selling author, two-time RITA nominee, Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee, and National Readers’ Choice Award Winner Rhonda Nelson writes hot romantic comedy for Blaze. She’s thrilled with her career and enjoys dreaming up her characters and manipulating the worlds they live in.Rhonda loves to hear from her readers, so be sure to check her out at www.readRhondaNelson.com, follow her on Twitter @RhondaRNelson and like her on Facebook.
Read an Excerpt
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, we're making our final approach into Dallas. At this time, please stow your tray tables and return your seats to their upright position. And remember, there are some guys that you should never date."
Samantha Stone's eyes popped open and she straightened in her window seat. As the rest of the flight announcement floated away, she realized that in her dream state she had projected her own thoughts through the PA system. She'd definitely had too much wine with the girls.
Next to her, a young couple sat with their shoulders and heads close, poring over brochures of Hawaii — their obvious destination after connecting in Dallas. Their excitement and love for each other overflowed in every glance, every gesture. They could barely keep their hands off each other.
Sam's heart squeezed with an unidentifiable emotion — envy? The way the young man's fingers mirrored the young woman's, pressing intimately before intertwining, pinged a memory chord. Unbidden, a set of hooded green eyes rose in her mind — he had laced their hands over her head as he had settled his body over hers, with the most intense eye contact and the most complete connection that she had ever experienced with a man.
Sam blinked. Only Teague Brownlee hadn't been a man — he'd been a handsome rebel boy with raging hormones and a desire to bed a girl way out of his league. They'd shared a one-night stand the night of graduation...the culmination of four years of flirtatious looks across the crowded halls of their high school from the safe confines of their respective cliques — hers the most popular, his the most notorious.
She willed away the distant memory, as she had a thousand times before, but it stubbornly lingered. Forgetting Teague Brownlee had become an automatic reflex after she had left Gypsum, a suburb of Dallas, to study architecture at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. She had been single-minded, determined to get her degree in record time while maintaining top honors.
That forbidden night with Teague had crept into her thoughts often in those days, usually at night when she'd pulsed with homesickness and loneliness. But the desire to be in his arms had been overridden by her desire to succeed, to prove her mettle to her successful father, to make her mark in what was still primarily a man's industry. Being involved with someone like Teague, a guy with no ambition and no prospects, would only have held her back. Besides, she'd burned that bridge the morning after their illicit night together.
She hadn't thought of Teague in years and blamed the flashback on the lunch talk with Abby and Carley. Deep down, she wondered if her vehemence in denouncing men who were less driven had something to do with Teague Brownlee. She remembered feeling frustrated and angry that he'd seemed directionless and bound for mediocrity because she'd thought he could do better for himself...that they might have had more than one night together if he hadn't been willing to settle for a small life in the small town of Gypsum. She idly wondered what had become of him and decided that he was doing something with his hands or working in one of Gypsum's factories, probably married to a pretty Gypsum girl, the two of them raising a gaggle of wild Gypsum kids.
Through the small rectangular window the Dallas skyline came into view. Fondness swelled Sam's chest. She knew each building by its shape and height, knew the architect's name and the approximate year it had been erected. Someday she hoped that her own unique structures would pierce the skyline, that the name Samantha Stone would be synonymous with progressive architecture and an era of new growth for the city.
The young woman next to her laughed, touching her boyfriend's face. They were oblivious to her. Sam shifted slightly in her seat to give them more room, more privacy...and to distance herself from their intimacy.
When she was their age, she was contemplating postgraduate work at Wharton, where she would eventually meet Abby and Carley. She had taken herself so seriously, always thinking that there would be time for a relationship after she finished school, after she was situated in a good career path.
But instead of slowing down, her life had only become more hectic. One assignment had melded into another as she tried to prove herself to the partners in the architecture firm where she worked. There hadn't been time to foster a romantic attachment, and the few men she had dated, frankly, hadn't been worth the trouble. She wanted a man who appreciated her intellect instead of being threatened by it, yet who still could make her feel like a woman. When she'd turned thirty-one a few months ago, she had felt a little desperate around the edges with no significant other and no significant work accomplishments in the foreseeable future.
And then the Carlyle Library project had materialized. Sam closed her eyes briefly, smiling as she imagined the finished structure. Once completed, the private, three-story corporate library would be her first signature building. Competition for the design on the Carlyle Library had been fierce, and the partners in her firm had been jubilant when Sam had won the project. No one, however, had been more thrilled than she, and she wasn't about to mess up this chance of a lifetime. Her first hurdle was to manage the initial phase of the job — excavation of the site. Although the board of directors had commended her innovative design, they had expressed doubts about its viability on the sloping site that had been chosen.
The thrill of telling her father, a wildly successful developer with investments in every corner of Texas, that she'd been awarded the project had diminished when he had expressed similar concerns about her design. The frown of Packard Stone's doubt was etched into her brain. The hurt that had sliced through her chest at his skepticism had given way to disappointment, then determination. It was how her father had raised her, after all. She intended to overcome the engineering obstacles with a new concept for building retaining walls. If she could successfully manage the excavation on time — thirty days — and on budget, she would receive a green light on the entire project. If not, her career-making landmark would perish before it even got off the ground.
But she would not allow that to happen. When they deplaned, Sam watched the young couple until they disappeared into the crowd, their hands clasped like a vise. A pang of longing hit her with the force of a blow to the stomach, stopping her midstride, disorienting her. Sam stood still for a moment as people walked all around her, brushing past as they hurried to meet their parties. Everyone seemed to be hurrying to meet someone...everyone except her. The noises around her suddenly seemed muffled, as if she were standing in a vacuum. She hadn't felt so acutely alone since the day her mother had died, when Sam was seven years old.
The world had fallen away from her that day, leaving her cold and scared and wondering if anyone would ever again love her with such intensity. Packard had tried, but he was a salty Texan businessman, inconvenienced by his slip of a daughter. Out of necessity, Sam had learned to be self-reliant, reluctant to let anyone get close enough to make her emotionally dependent.
Sam breathed deeply, and slowly her vital signs returned to normal. Someday soon — perhaps after the Carlyle Library project — she would be more open to a relationship and make an effort to meet men.
Successful men, she reminded herself with a smirk. She hadn't held out for the right man this long only to settle now.An attractive attorney had recently moved into her building, on her floor, and had been making small talk at the elevator. She hadn't felt a chemical reaction between them, but maybe the timing had been wrong.
When she next saw what's-his-name, she promised herself, she would make an effort to strike up a conversation.
Sam glanced at her watch and headed for the airport exit, her stride lengthening. Equipment would be arriving on the library job site today, and the ground would be broken. And even though the foreman she'd hired had assured her that he had things under control, she wanted to stop by the site, just in case. She looked down at her clothing and ruefully conceded that a cream-colored skirt and jacket, yellow silk blouse and pale, lizard-skin pumps weren't exactly job-site attire, but they'd have to do.
She was, after all, the boss.
She gave the taxi driver directions to the job site, then pulled site maps from her briefcase so the specifications would be fresh in her mind. Within seconds, she was immersed in the world she loved — a world of exact dimensions and tangible materials that would, under her guidance, turn an empty lot of loose dirt into the home for a building that would be a permanent symbol of her success...one that her father and everyone else would have to acknowledge.
"Are you sure this is it?" the cabbie asked.
Sam lifted her head from the maps and surveyed the plot of land dotted with heavy equipment and marked with the sign The Future Home Of The Carlyle Library.
"Yes. I should be only a few minutes — can you wait?"
Sam folded the papers and returned them to her briefcase, anticipation hammering in her chest. She alighted onto the curb and inhaled the scent of freshly turned dirt, sighing in satisfaction to see that work had already begun. But as she picked her way across the uneven ground, she was frustrated to see several workers standing around or, worse, sitting down. A couple of card games had broken out on the tailgates of pickup trucks, and more than one worker was sipping on a beer, a blatant work-site violation.
Where was her foreman?
While she stood frowning at the scene before her, catcalls began to sound all around her.
"Woo-hoo, pretty lady, are you lost?"
"Where've you been all my life, darlin'?"
Sam scowled at the men — it wasn't the first time she'd been harassed on a job site. "Where is Mr. Langtry, the foreman?"
Shrugs ensued and many of the men adopted suggestive stances. "I can be anybody you want me to be," one of them shouted, inciting a round of raucous laughter.
Anger sparked in her stomach, but Sam ignored the men and began to make her way toward a section of the site where a deep channel was being dug — a channel that wasn't on the site plans. The ground was soft from recent rains, and she knew she probably looked ridiculous hobbling around in her high heels, but frustration spurred her forward. Chaos and improperly placed ditches this early in the process were not good signs. She shouldered the strap of her briefcase, then cupped her hands like a bullhorn. "Has anyone seen Mr. Langtry?"
Unfortunately, the movement threw her off balance. She flailed to regain her footing but failed miserably and tumbled toward the trench being dug. Her pride flashed before her eyes — she only hoped she didn't break something important when she landed at the bottom. At the last second, she had the impression of a yellow hard hat, a bare chest and a pair of muscular arms reaching for her.
When she opened her eyes, she was being held aloft by a man who had been standing in the muddy channel and, judging by the shovel lying nearby, was responsible for most of the dirt that had been moved. Sam's initial emotion was gratitude, although she realized instantly that being rescued by one of the workers would probably be more damaging to her reputation than if she'd wound up at the bottom of the ditch with her skirt over her head.
But when she turned her head to look at the shirtless man who held her, her breath caught in her throat. Denial exploded in her brain, but there was no denying the taunting, impossibly green eyes under the brim of the hard hat. Teague Brownlee.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
¿You Can Leave Your Hard Hat On¿ by Stephanie Bond. She wanted him back in high school, but now that Samantha Stone is a successful architect, Teague Brownlee¿s lack of professional credentials seems appalling. On the other hand the backhoe operator¿s muscles are appealing. --- ¿The Total Package¿ by Jennifer LaBrecque. Software guru Deke Foster hires marketing superstar Abby Carmichael, who can change frogs into princes, to change him from techno geek to techno hunk as he seeks a wife. Abby thinks Deke is cute albeit even with a pocket protector and calculator. However, the customer is always right seems wrong because as she makes him over she desires the inner man who has wanted her from the first moment his brain malfunctioned upon seeing her. --- ¿Her Hero?¿ by Rhonda Nelson. Carley Deluna always had ambition to make something of herself and has succeeded with supplying top of the line clothing her high-school boyfriend Jackson Harper, prefers mellow as he has not one ambitious cell in his body. When her car breaks down, he comes to the rescue informing her he is now a used-car salesman. --- These three interrelated (though the friendships between the lead females) lighthearted romantic romps star strong characters. While the men work hard they are satisfied with their blue collar or service positions while the women want to own the world they instead settle on love with the right man. --- Harriet Klausner