Related to: 'Sunset over the Cherry Orchard'

December Book of the Month

Nikki and Damien continue in Take Me

I awake to an empty bed and the smell of frying bacon. I roll over to find my phone on the bedside table, then glance at the time. Not yet six. I groan and fall back among the pillows, but I don't really want to go back to sleep. What I want is Damien. I slide out of bed, then grab the tank top and yoga pants I'd left draped across a nearby armchair. I head barefoot out of the bedroom and move the short distance down the hall to the third-floor kitchen. We're standing in Damien's Malibu house, and the wall of windows that faces the ocean is wide open, the glass panels having been thrust aside to let in the breeze. The smell of the ocean mingles with the scent of breakfast and I breathe deep, realizing that I am content. Whatever demons had poked at me during the night, Damien effectively banished them. I glance toward the windows and out at the darkened Pacific. Waves glow white in the fading moonlight as they break upon the shore. There is beauty there, and part of me wants to walk to the balcony and stare out at the roiling, frothing water. But the siren call of the ocean is nothing compared to my desire to see Damien, and so I turn away from the windows and head straight to the kitchen. It is larger than the one in the condo I used to share with my best friend, Jamie, and it is not even the primary kitchen for this house. That is on the first floor, and could easily service a one-hundred-table restaurant. But this - the "small" kitchen - was installed as an adjunct to the open area that serves as a venue for entertaining, and since it is just down the hall from our bedroom, Damien and I have gotten into the habit of cooking our meals and eating in this cozier, more informal area. Usually we're joined by Lady Meow-Meow, the fluffy white cat I took custody over when Jamie moved out. I know Lady M misses Jamie, but she's also enjoying having the run of this huge house, and Gregory - the valet, butler, and all around house-running guy - spoils her rotten. Now I lean against the half wall that marks the break from hallway to kitchen. Damien is standing at the stove cooking an omelette as if he were nothing more than an ordinary guy. Except there is nothing ordinary about Damien Stark. He is grace and power, beauty and heat. He is exceptional, and he has captured me completely. At the moment, he is shirtless, and I cannot help the way my breath stutters as my eyes skim over the defined muscles of his back and his taut, strong arms. Damien's first fortune came not form business, but from his original career as a champion tennis player. Even now, years later, he has both the look and the power of an elite athlete. I let my gaze drift down appreciatively. He is wearing simple gray sweatpants that sit low on his narrow hips and cling to the curves of his perfectly toned ass. Like me, he is barefoot. He looks young and sexy and completely delicious. Yet despite his casual appearance, I can still see the executive. The powerful businessman who harnessed the world, who shifted it to his own liking and made a fortune in the process. He is strength and control. And I am humbled by the knowledge that I am what he values most of all, and that I will spend the rest of my life at his side. "You're staring," he says, his eyes still on the stove. I grin happily, like a child. "I enjoy looking at pretty things." He turns now, and his eyes rake over me, starting at my toes. "So do I," he says when his gaze reaches my face, and there is so much heat in his voice that my legs go weak and my body quivers with want. His mouth curves into a slow, sexy smile, and I am absolutely certain in that moment that I am going to melt. "You spoiled my surprise," he says, then nods toward the breakfast table where a tray sits with a glass bud vase displaying a single, red rose. "Breakfast in bed."

Headline Review

A Winter Beneath the Stars

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Honey Farm on the Hill

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

Notes from the Northern Lights (A Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

Late Summer in the Vineyard

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Red Sky At Night (A Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

It's time for Layla to recapture the magic of her childhood...A sparkling, feel-good short story from the bestselling author of The Oyster Catcher, The Olive Branch, and The Honey Farm on the Hill available exclusively in ebook.When Layla arrives in the Welsh coastal village of Swn-y-Mor with new fiancé Rob in tow, she plans to carry out her dad's final wishes, then return to Cardiff quickly, before too many unwanted memories surface.But the longer Layla remains, the harder it is to resist the lure of the autumn skies and memories of family holidays gone by. With fishing trips and firesides to enjoy, is Rob really Layla's future, and is Swn-y-Mor going to remain in her past for ever?What readers are saying about Red Sky at Night:'Fabulous as always! Jo makes you feel like you are right there with the characters. This book took us to beautiful West Wales and you can almost smell the sea air as you are reading''A lovely believable story. Hard to put down' 'Another heart-warming short story from Jo Thomas. You won't be disappointed'

Headline Review

The Olive Branch

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Chestnut Tree (A Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

Treat yourself to this wonderfully funny and romantic short story by Jo Thomas, kindle bestselling author of The Oyster Catcher, The Olive Branch and Honey Farm on the Hill, available exclusively in ebook.Praise for Jo Thomas' The Olive Branch: 'Sun, good food and romance, what more could you want?' HeatWhen Ellie Russet leaves home and her restaurant in the wake of disaster to housesit in the Kent countryside, the last thing she wants to do is cook for a living - ever again.Ellie's new neighbour, Daniel Fender, is struggling to make ends meet as a furniture maker. Could the answer to his problems lie in the chestnut orchard at the bottom of the garden?Only Ellie can help Daniel unlock the delicious secret that will bring them the fresh starts they need. And as autumn approaches, romance will blossom amid the glowing embers of the chestnut fire...Contains an extract from Jo's second novel, THE OLIVE BRANCHWhat readers are saying about The Chestnut Tree:'A gorgeously satisfying short tale that appeals to all the senses''This is a fab little story with delightful characters all played out in a beautiful rural setting''A lovely story. Strong characters, fast-paced plot. A joy to read'

Headline Review

The Oyster Catcher

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

It's sink or swim in the search for love. . . Ebook bestseller The Oyster Catcher is Jo Thomas's first irresistibly feel-good novel, set on the coast of Ireland. 'A world you long to live in with characters you love' Katie Fforde Dooleybridge, County Galway: the last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for brooding local oyster farmer, Sean Thornton, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and an unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back. Join Fi as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...What readers are saying about The Oyster Catcher:'A fantastic debut novel which was the perfect escapism read; I literally could not put it down and read it at every opportunity I could get''Beautifully written. You feel like you are breathing in the sea air and walking along the sand''A realistic romance with some strong and colourful characters, set in a fascinating, modern Irish coastal community'

Barbara Nadel

Trained as an actress, Barbara Nadel used to work in mental health services. Born in the East End of London, she now writes full time and has been a visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She received the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger for her novel DEADLY WEB, and the Swedish Flintax Prize for historical crime fiction for her first Francis Hancock novel, LAST RIGHTS.To find out more, follow Barbara on Twitter @BarbaraNadel or visit her website www.barbara-nadel.com

Chloe Benjamin

Chloe Benjamin is the author of The Anatomy of Dreams, which won the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. She lives with her husband in Wisconsin.

Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 14 novels including the Sunday Times bestsellers My Best Friend's Girl, The Ice Cream Girls and Goodnight, Beautiful. Dorothy's novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton. The Brighton Mermaid is her most recent novel.

Eowyn Ivey

Eowyn Ivey's debut novel, THE SNOW CHILD, was published in twenty-six languages, and became an international bestseller. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 2013, and Eowyn won the International Author of the Year category at the 2012 National Book Awards. A former bookseller, Eowyn lives in Palmer, Alaska, with her family.

G X Todd

G X Todd lives and works in the West Midlands. After completing a history degree at the University of Birmingham, she worked for public libraries for fifteen years, where she drove a 35-foot-long library van around the Black Country. She now spends her days living the dream: writing books while in her PJs.

Gill Thompson

Gill Thompson is an English lecturer who recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University. The first three chapters of THE OCEANS BETWEEN US were longlisted for the Mslexia novel award. She lives with her family in West Sussex and teaches English to college students.

James Patterson

James Patterson is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. Since winning the EdgarT Award for Best First Novel with The Thomas Berryman Number, his books have sold in excess of 300 million copies worldwide and he has been the most borrowed author in UK libraries for the past eight years in a row. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past two decades - the Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club, Detective Michael Bennett and Private novels - and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. He lives in Florida with his wife and son. James is passionate about encouraging children to read. Inspired by his own son who was a reluctant reader, he also writes a range of books specifically for young readers. James is a founding partner of Booktrust's Children's Reading Fund in the UK.

Janet Evanovich

JANET EVANOVICH is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels including Look Alive Twenty-Five and Hardcore Twenty-Four the Knight and Moon novels including Dangerous Minds, co-written with Phoef Sutton; the Fox & O'Hare series - The Heist, The Chase, The Job, The Scam and The Pursuit - co-written with Lee Goldberg; the Lizzy and Diesel novels including most recently Wicked Charms, co-written with Phoef Sutton. She has won several major crime fiction awards including the CWA John Creasey Award, Dilys Award and Silver Dagger.Janet's website can be found at www.evanovich.com. She is on Twitter - @janetevanovich - and Facebook - /JanetEvanovich.

Jill Shalvis

New York Times bestseller Jill Shalvis is the author of many romance novels including her acclaimed Cedar Ridge, Lucky Harbor and Animal Magnetism series. The RITA winner and three-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe. Visit her website at www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog, and www.facebook.com/jillshalvis for other news or follow her on Twitter @jillshalvis.

Jo Thomas

Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 2's The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children.

Jo Watson

Jo Watson is an award-winning writer whose romantic comedies were originally published on Wattpad. Her first novel Burning Moon won a 2014 Watty Award for being one of the site's most downloaded titles and has now had over 7 million reads. Jo is an Adidas addict and a Depeche Mode devotee. She lives in South Africa with her family.Visit her website www.jowatsonwrites.co.uk for exclusive extras and follow her on Twitter @JoWatsonWrites, Facebook at www.facebook.com/jowatsonwrites and Instagram @jowatsonwrites.

Jodi Taylor

Jodi Taylor is the author of the bestselling Chronicles of St Mary's series, the story of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel!Born in Bristol and educated in Gloucester (facts both cities vigorously deny), she spent many years with her head somewhere else, much to the dismay of family, teachers and employers, before finally deciding to put all that daydreaming to good use and pick up a pen. She still has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up.