Surrounded by Ireland's music and myths, a widowed American writer meets a tour guide leery of love...
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On her own at the end of a long and difficult marriage, Gemma Pentrandolfo still hears the critical voice of her husband taunting her from his grave. To foster her independence, she schedules a summer vacation in County Mayo intending to write her first book, and she=s counting on Ireland for inspiration. An idea presents itself when she tours Achill Island with a silver-tongued tour guide whose good looks prompt her to write more than her high-minded novel: she transcribes her years of longing in a steamy fantasy no one is meant to see.
Years have passed since an accident claimed the self-absorbed wife who scorned Ben Connigan and his music. Since then, the former tin whistle ace has avoided marriage, though he never lacked for female companionship before he traded his high-tech career for the slow-paced life of a hometown tour guide. Ben has accepted the end of his run of discreet affairs, until he takes Gemma touring. Her passion for Ireland impresses him. Her love of Irish music soon compels him to dust off his whistles. Knowing she=ll leave at the end of the summer, he sees no harm in keeping her companyCuntil he dares to dream of spending the rest of his life with her.
But he knows it can=t be, not while the ghosts of their partners still haunt them. Not unless the music and myths of Ireland can help them find their wayY
Scully tapped his arm. “Go buy her a drink, Ben.”
“You’re staring at her like she’s one of them feckin’ U F of Os.”
“She’s windin’ your clock, Big Ben,” said Tom. “Be said and led by me: paddle the wave when it comes along. Buy the woman a bloody drink.”
A vigorous nod bespoke Scully’s agreement. “At least give her your business card. She’s a Yank. Probably wants to see the sights. Trace her roots and all that shite.”
Ben raised a hand. “Back off. I need no advice from a pair of henpecked husbands wearing their wedding rings through their noses.”
Undaunted, Scully and Tom tilted their drinks to their smirking mouths. The gleam in their eyes dared Ben to act. Despite their jowls and glasses, they might have been fifteen again.
He wasn’t about to reveal the incident with the hose to these two. They didn’t have to know he only meant to apologize, not initiate farcical courtship rituals.
So why did a pendulum swing in his chest, its speed increasing with every stroke?
Something to do with her drenched blouse and pants. Would she remember him? Accuse him and his garden hose of lewd behavior? He swallowed a mouthful of beer and wiped his hand across his lips. The pendulum slowed. Aware of the eyes digging into his back, he kicked himself out of his chair and swaggered to her table.
She read her menu through little gold glasses. Tiny laugh lines enhanced her eyes and her curving lips. No lipstick. Ben liked that. She held the one-page card in her long slender fingers. No nail polish.
No paint nor powder, no none at all…
And no wedding ring. Scully was right about that at least.
She frowned at the menu as if she couldn’t decide what to order. He thought he might suggest the soup, or perhaps the fish and chips, or maybe…
He’d reached the chair where she’d laid her coat. She sensed him there, for she looked up. Eyes as brown as Belgian chocolate widened in surprise. Her mouth fell open; her cheeks turned crimson. No doubt about it, she knew him. Now what?
Fortune favors the bold, and all. Exploiting her befuddlement, he pounced. “We haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Ben Connigan. Might I sit?”
Her eyes returned to their normal size; the red in her cheeks softened to a tea rose hue. She slipped off her glasses and smiled at him, and his heart flopped like a fresh-caught trout.