||Wings ePress Inc
||Apr 1 2002
Recently widowed Tess Barrett is relishing her new state of independence, not dreaming her world is about to be rocked on its axis by Jack Donovan, the man she spent many hours fantasizing about when he worked for her bully of a husband. Trapped in a marriage with a tyrant who eroded her confidence and humiliated her Tess sees herself as plain and dowdy; what would a now rich, successful, handsome, younger man see in her?
But her reserved nature bewitches Jack as much now as it did when he was a raw young man. Determined, now she is free, to go after her he uses his desire to buy her dead husband's construction company as an excuse. Sure his marriage to a selfish woman collapsed in part because of his infatuation for Tess Jack yearns for a woman who can give him unconditional love. Unsure of his motives Tess can't understand what Jack sees in a woman nearing middle age with grey in her hair. Jack finds their age difference immaterial and sets out to overcome her self- set barriers.
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Wings ePress Inc
Tricia McGill Romance author
Tricia McGill Romance Author
Her slender hands straightened the denim over her knees and he swallowed hard. The simple action set off all sorts of reactions. With a harsh intake of breath, he waited while she seemed to mull over his words.
Then to his utter surprise and delight, she said, "I was going to do spaghetti bolognaise for Gary’s dinner, and he’s not coming home. Would you stay and share it with me?"
Would he ever? "That’d be nice."
Nice! Good God, it would be bloody marvelous. "Are you sure?"
"I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t." She got up with her wonderful grace and reached to take his empty cup. Roses. She still wore the same perfume. It wafted about him, making his head spin, his senses reel. "Another cup?"
"I’ll get it. You go ahead and do whatever you have to do with the spaghetti, and I’ll top our cups up."
She was blushing again. Christ! If it happened too often he would fall apart. Was she such a delightful shade of pink all over? Keep it cool, Jack. For God's sake don't make a grab for her like a rampaging lecher and frighten the daylights out of her.
"I’d rather not have another. But you go ahead and help yourself." She nodded as she picked up the tray.
~ * ~
Jack followed Tess to the kitchen and, while she started to get a saucepan from the cupboard he refilled his cup, then leaned back against the counter to watch her.
Jack sipped his drink. "Am I in the way? Just tell me to go jump if I am." Was there a tremor in her fingers? Or was his own awareness playing tricks on him? She shook her head and, with an endearing little smile, carried on. His gut clenched.
"So, your daughter’s sixteen. Is she a problem teenager?" He tried to set her at ease. Besides, he loved the sound of her voice, could listen to it all day. It was soft as a summer breeze and had a slight huskiness to it. Made a man think of forbidden things, like sultry nights of passion and sweat-sleeked bodies.
Her warm smile told him she adored her daughter. "Laurel a problem? Heavens, no--I couldn’t wish for a better daughter."
Jack pulled his thoughts back to the mundane question he’d asked. "You must be one of the lucky ones. I have friends with teenagers who reckon they are a pain in the neck."
"I am lucky." A small frown creased her brow. What had caused that? "Des was like your friends--inclined to look on girls as not worth the bother it takes to raise them." As if she regretted being so outspoken, she bit her lip as she turned her back on him.
Des. Yes, Jack couldn’t imagine dear old Des being the kind of father a girl would enjoy having. He was far too dogmatic and unbending. Too mean and nasty to have the sensibilities needed to rear a daughter.
She smiled warmly as she faced him. "Laurel wants to be a nurse. She’ll be a good one too. Her dolls have been her patients since she was a toddler. Every one of them has had a bandage on one limb or other since she was old enough to wrap it." Pride shone in her eyes. "I think she’ll probably want to go overseas to help the refugees or displaced people. She has a very compassionate nature."
"Is she as beautiful as her mother?" Damn! Now she’d gone all wary again, but her blush told him his revelation pleased her.
Laughing nervously she eyed him across the small space separating them. "Don’t be daft." She almost sounded like she was scolding him.
"Daft to think anyone could be as lovely as you, you mean?" With a grin he watched the peachy stain travel from her throat and up her face. God, she was endearing.
She snorted, a spoon held high. "You should see about getting glasses."
"My eyesight is perfect." Fascinated, he watched her movements. Yes, she was flustered for sure. "Surely Des told you how lovely you are. And there must have been many men over the years that commented on it. Unless they are the ones who needed glasses."
She emptied a packet of spaghetti into boiling water. "I’m a mother, past my prime, and my hair’s going gray."
Jack made a rude sound. "Rubbish! Past your prime? You have the face and figure of a twenty-year-old, Tess. Your skin’s like silk, and I happen to like the touch of silver in your hair." Would dearly like to see if her skin felt as soft as it promised to be. Itched to run his fingers through that sleek hair.
“I think you’re kidding me, Jack Donovan.” As she sat
opposite him, her hazel eyes sparkled with a mischievousness
he found endearing. She’d always been so serious. He’d wanted
to be the one to bring a smile to her face—the one to bring a
little sunshine into her life.
“Do you remember bringing us ice cream one morning? I
have a feeling it had choc chips in it too.” He was lying now,
but it was worth it to see the sparkle again.
“Jack! I wouldn’t have a clue what morning you’re talking
about, and I don’t think you do either.” She laughed, showing
her even white teeth, the fine arch of her throat, as she put her
“I love to hear you laugh,” he blurted, feeling a fool at her
stunned expression. “I’m sorry.” He tried to make amends, but
her eyes had gone wary again. “I shouldn’t have said that.
Damn! Yes I should. I have to tell you, Tess, I like many things
about you, your laugh being just one.”
Abruptly she stood, and he cursed beneath his breath. “Jack
Donovan, I think you’re just trying to wind me up.” It was that
scold again. She turned the tap on, filled the sink with hot water
and squirted some detergent into it.
“All I’m doing, Tess Barrett, is being truthful. One thing
you’ll find out about me is I’m blunt, and as honest as a high
court judge.” Jack stood, moving to her. He placed his hands on
her shoulders and felt a quiver run through her. His body shook
with the restraint he was putting on it.
“Don’t,” she whispered, turning the tap off. As his fingers
pressed onto her shoulders she hunched them slightly.
“Don’t what? Don’t warn you I’m to be trusted? Don’t
touch you? Turn around, Tess,” he ordered softly. “I want you
to look at me while I tell you something.”
She didn’t obey, and with gentleness, belying the flare of
something animalistic roaring through him, Jack turned her and
moved his hands down until they rested lightly on her waist.
“I fancied you like crazy when I was a raw twenty year old,
Tess,” he divulged.
“No!” Her mouth parted. He almost groaned with his need
to smother it with his own when her pink tongue darted out to
moisten her lips.
“Why do you deny it? You must have seen how I looked at
you. Des knew. The old bastard took delight in taunting me.”
Christine Janssen, author of EPPIE finalist, Nightmare Run, www.wings-press.com
Throughout most of their 22-year marriage, her husband treated her like a doormat, so when he dies, Tess Barrett feels only relief. Then Jack Donovan re-enters her life and turns it upside down.
Ten years ago, Jack was a 20-year-old laborer helping build an addition to the Barretts' house. Her marriage already crumbling, Tess spied on the young man through her kitchen window and fantasized about him. Now he's a successful builder who offers to buy her late husband's construction business. When they'd met, Jack had also been attracted to Tess, but now, when he tries to establish a more intimate relationship, she can't help but think he's only wooing her to gain control of the company.
Author Tricia McGill has written another charming tale about people so delightfully real, you want to invite them for coffee. Tess displays a believable vulnerability, wondering why a hunk 15 years her junior would be interested in her. Jack is bluntly honest about his intentions as he wears down her resistance and opens her eyes to possibilities. Autumn Fires is a romance to sigh over as it demonstrates the power of love to conquer all.
Jennifer Macaire for A Romance Review.
Autumn Fire starts as Tess Barrett is adjusting to a new freedom after the death of her tyrannical husband. For twenty years, Des made her life a misery, but she stuck it out because of their children. Believing that a stable family was important for them, she let Des run her life, and finally she came to believe that she was just as worthless as he always claimed she was. But after his death, she tentatively began to live again, and it was at that moment a ghost from the past rang her doorbell.
Jack Donovan had worked for her husband more than ten years ago. She could never forget his kindness or his devastating good looks. But he hadn’t come on a social call. Her husband’s building company, now run by her son Gary, was in trouble and Jack wanted to buy her out.
During their conversation, Jack also makes it plain that he has never forgotten her and he’s not only interested in her business, but he’s planning on getting to know her better. Tess, stunned, replies that he’s fifteen years younger than she is, and there is no chance of them ever having a relationship. Besides, she’s paralyzed with fear about what her son Gary will think.
Gary is as overbearing and difficult as her husband had been, and Tess tried to avoid confronting him. Luckily, her daughter Laurel is a wonderful, caring girl. Tess has an ally in Laurel. But Jack won’t take no for an answer, and his wooing is both tender and intense. And what woman could hope to resist Jack? As a romance hero, he is one of the best!
Fate won’t be kind to Tess and Jack, but things have ways of working out, even if it isn’t what you’d expect. But one thing is sure, expect to spend a few sleepless nights reading this page–turner and enjoying the scorching love scenes between Tess and Jack! Once started, Autumn Fire is impossible to put down. Ms. Mc Gill has conjured up a cast of characters that will stay in your mind and a story that will warm your heart.
Sandra J. Dugas, www.sandradugas.com
Sensual and sizzling, the story of Tess Barrett and Jack Donovan
jumps off the page and into your heart. The scars of a loveless
marriage to an overbearing man still haunt Tess even after his
death, so when Jack Donovan--a man she hasn't seen in over ten
years--walks back into her life, she's not prepared to believe him
when he says he's attracted to her. But who could blame her? Aside
from her damaged self-esteem, Jack is fifteen years her junior...
and heart-stopping handsome. Why would any man like that go for a
woman like her? Could it be that he really is interested in her,
and not just in buying the family business, as he claims? Can she
really trust him? Can she trust her heart? Tess' vulnerability
speaks to those same feelings in each of us and Jack's tenderness
makes us long for such a hero to sweep us off our feet. Autumn
Fire leaves the reader glowing with warmth long after the last
page. Definitely a book you don't want to put down.
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