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

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

Dive into this gorgeous winter warmer from Jo Thomas, bestselling author of The Oyster Catcher and Late Summer in the Vineyard. Notes from the Northern Lights is a sparkling short story available exclusively in ebook.Wardrobe mistress Ruby Knightly has been sent to Iceland on a very special mission that could save her opera company's opening night. And she's determined that her fear of the dark - and the incoming weather - won't stand in her way.But as Ruby follows her nose across Iceland's wild, volcanic landscape to the warmth of the smokehouses, she will soon discover that there is shelter to be found from even the most turbulent of storms. Particularly if there's romance around the corner...An irresistible winter tale that will melt the coldest of hearts.

Headline Review

Late Summer in the Vineyard

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Red Sky At Night (Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Olive Branch

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Oyster Catcher

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, available exclusively in ebook.When 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 exclusive extract from Jo's brand-new novel, THE OLIVE BRANCH, out February 2015*

Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a doctor by trade; optician more specifically. It is rumoured that during his off periods of work he would think about and write his various stories. He is well known for several science fiction works, but of course his most recognizable works are the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. He died in 1930.He tried desperately to "kill off" Holmes so that he could pursue other genres of writing as well, and not just be known for the Holmes mysteries. However, after much public outcry, Holmes returned in "The Empty House" and in many other stories following, up to the "Case Book of Sherlock Holmes" collection.

Bateman

Bateman was a journalist in Northern Ireland before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, DIVORCING JACK, won the Betty Trask Prize, and all his novels have been critically acclaimed. He wrote the screenplays for the feature films DIVORCING JACK and WILD ABOUT HARRY and the popular TV series MURPHY'S LAW starring James Nesbitt. Bateman lives in Ireland with his family.

Beth Kery

Beth Kery is the New York Times ebook bestselling author of Because You Are Mine and recipient of the All About Romance Reader Poll for Best Erotica. Beth lives in Chicago where she juggles the demands of her career, her love of the city and the arts, and a busy family life. Her writing today reflects her passion for all of the above. She is a bestselling author of over thirty books and novellas, and has also written under the pen name Bethany Kane.You can read more about Beth, her books and upcoming projects at www.bethkery.com, discover her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beth.kery, or follow her on Twitter @BethKery.

Caspar Walsh

Caspar Walsh is a regular writer for BBC Radio 4, with broadcasts including the sixties gangster story Vincent Vice's Rainbow. The Prison Father, a critically acclaimed feature length docudrama, and the young offender docudrama, Inside Out, were based on his prison life experience. As a workshop facilitator in and out of prisons, he helps fathers and their families to rehabilitate by using his own experiences as an inspiration.

Clare Dowling

Clare Dowling began her career as an actress and has worked in theatre, film and radio. As a writer, she has had drama and children's fiction published, and has had several short films produced. As well as adult fiction, she writes scripts for Ireland's top soap, Fair City. She lives in Dublin with her family.

David Churchill

David Churchill is the pseudonym of an award-winning journalist, who has conducted several hundred in-depth interviews with senior politicians, billionaire entrepreneurs, Olympic athletes, movie stars, supermodels and rock legends. He has investigated financial scandals on Wall Street, studio intrigues in Hollywood and corrupt sports stars in Britain, and lived in Moscow, Washington DC and Havana. He has edited four magazines, published seventeen books and been translated into some twenty languages. The Leopards of Normandy trilogy reflects his lifelong passion for history and his fascination for the extraordinary men and women of the past who shaped the world we live in today.

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is an international household name whose novels have sold many millions of copies worldwide and have appeared on national and international bestseller lists, selling millions of copies each year. He lives with his wife Gerda, their dog Anna and the enduring spirit of their dog Trixie in southern California.

Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is a bestselling author who has earned rave reviews and a dedicated following for Wicked, the first novel in the Wicked Years quartet (which also included Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men and Out of Oz), that was made into an award-winning musical. He received his doctorate in English Literature from Tufts University, and has taught at Simmons College and other Boston area colleges. He has also served as an artist-in-residence at the Blue Mountain Center, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Hambridge Center. Gregory has lived in Dublin and London, but now makes his home near Boston, Massachusetts, with his partner, their two sons and daughter.

Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans is the author of seven previous novels, Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. She lives in London with her family.

Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in Oklahoma with her husband and dogs. She has three grown children, who are all scattered around the country having lives of their own. A lover of sports, Jaci can often tell what season it is by what sport is being played. She watches entirely too much television, including an unhealthy amount of reality TV. When she isn't on deadline, Jaci can be found at her local casino, trying to become a millionaire (so far, no luck). She's a total romantic and loves a story with a happily ever after, which you'll find in all her books.Find the latest news on Jaci's books at ww.jaciburton.com, and connect with her online at www.facebook.com/AuthorJaciBurton or via Twitter @jaciburton.

Janet Evanovich

JANET EVANOVICH is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels including Turbo Twenty-Three and Tricky Twenty-Two; the Knight and Moon novels including Curious Minds, co-written with Phoef Sutton; five novels in 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; twelve romance novels; the Alexandra Barnaby novels; the Troublemaker graphic novels; and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author. 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.

Jennifer E. Smith

JENNIFER E. SMITH is the author of several novels including This Is What Happy Looks Like, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Geography of You and Me, and Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between. She earned a master's degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into twenty-nine languages. Her website is jenniferesmith.com.

Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY, YOU AND ME, ALWAYS, THE ONE YOUR REALLY WANT and THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.Jill keeps in touch with her readers on Twitter - @JillMansell - and Facebook - /OfficialJillMansell. She lives in Bristol with her family.