Anna Madison has faithfully avoided her old flame for six years, even though their Main Street restaurants are only a few blocks apart. The sting of his rejection was enough to make her swear off dating for good, but when her successful restaurant is damaged in a fire, she’s left to the mercy of the one man she’s spent years proving she doesn’t need…and convincing herself she doesn’t want.
Mark Hastings can’t say he’s happy being alone, but at least his heart is safe. Burnt out from running the Briar Creek diner, he’s ready for a change. He tells himself he’s just being neighborly by letting Anna use his kitchen, but being by her side again stirs up temptations he might not be able to resist a second time around.
Having grown up in New England, Olivia Miles attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec before settling in Chicago where she lives with her husband, their daughter, and two ridiculously pampered pups. When she is not chasing after her little ones, she is hard at work creating feisty heroines and alpha heroes with a heart. A city girl with a fondness for small town charm, Olivia enjoys highlighting both ways of life in her stories.
* Read on for an excerpt, review, and a tour-wide giveaway below the cut *
Mark leaned in, catching a whiff of her sweet scent as he did. He closed his eyes briefly, trying to capture the single sense. When he looked up, Anna was staring at him, her gaze hooded. He could lean in, just another inch, remember what it felt like to kiss her mouth, to feel her soft curves pressed against him.
He pulled himself back in the stool instead. He was here to find her friendship again. Nothing more. “The bookstore’s doing fine now; I see people in there all the time. It’s never looked so great.”
Anna sighed through a small smile. “It does, yes. But…that’s not what has me worried. I took out a loan to match Grace’s investment. She’s covering rent and the bookstore renovation; I’m covering well…everything else. For now. It was all going to be fine. More than fine. And then–”
She nodded. “The fire.”
“How bad is it?”
She met his stare. “Bad.”
He let out a low whistle. It was exactly the kind of situation that made Hastings to appealing. The place was paid up; they owned it outright. A new venture, of any kind, could never offer the same security. One day it could be booming, the next…
“Does Grace know?”
“No,” said quickly, “and I don’t intend to tell her.”
He leaned into his elbow. “So what’s your plan, then?”
She looked at him quizzically. “I intend to win this contest!”
He burst out laughing, hearing his own foolish desires in her preposterous statement. Until now, winning had been a vague notion, not something he was banking on, but hearing her say it aloud, a desire to not only compete but to win, made him suddenly believe it was possible. That anything was possible.
“I do intend to win!” Anna cried, but even she couldn’t stop from laughing. The sound rolled through the room and pulled at his heart, filling holes he didn’t even know were there.
He didn’t realize he’d stopped laughing until she did. The air went still, punctured only by the sound of his heart beating in his chest, and he knew he couldn’t hold back any longer. Without thinking, or daring to consider the consequences, he leaned into her and her eyes flashed with surprise, her lashes fluttering quickly as he slid off his stool and closed the distance between them.
A gasp of surprise escaped her throat as he brought his lips to hers and his hands came around her waist, pulling her close to his chest until he felt her body relax on each kiss. He sensed her hesitation, but he couldn’t pull back, not when her lips were on his, her sweet taste filling his senses. She parted her mouth, and he pulled her closer, feeling the soft swell of her breasts against his chest. His groin pooled with warmth as her thighs rubbed against his. He pressed his palms deeper into her back, and lower, resisting the urge to explore her hips, knowing if he did he wouldn’t be able to stop. And he should stop–he should. But…he couldn’t.
He kissed her, as if for the first time, tasting the forbidden fruit, knowing it was wrong, wrong, wrong, even thought it felt so damn right. He tore his lips from hers, letting his mouth roam her neck, burying himself into her hair, that coconut-scented hair, and breathed into her ear, wondering if she would run, if she’d push him back, tell him to go.
He pulled back, watching the way her eyes searched his. He should say something, explain himself, but there was nothing to say.
Anna’s cheeks were dotted with pink as she picked up a knife and pulled the vegetables from the basket. His gaze lingered her on a few moments more, watching the way she expertly chopped and diced, the way they’d been instructed in school, fingers tucked.
“Anna.” His voice was low and husky.
He should tell her it was a mistake, that it couldn’t happen again. That he wanted to be friends, to make her understand once and for all that it was all they ever should have been.
“We should get to work,” she said abruptly, and he hated the slight quiver in her voice. “We still have a lot do and we leave for Cedar Valley tomorrow afternoon.”
They’d be at the lodge for two nights; he’d have time to talk to her then. For now, she was right. It was time to get to work, put all personal matters aside, and focus on winning this contest. And getting what they wanted at long last.
*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review *
This is the first book by Olivia Miles that I’ve read, and the second book in the Briar Creek series. The book was well-written and it was easy for me to relate to the heroine, though hard to read about her troubles because this book hit close to home in many ways for me.
I liked Anna because I understood what she was going through, what she’s been through, and how hard it is to see her ex, Mark, all the time without letting on to people who know them that they share a deeper, personal past together. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about Mark through the first half of the book because he was acting like a jerk most of the time, but even as jerk-ish as he was, I still got where he was coming from and that allowed me to understand who he is and why he does the things he does. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to achieve that level of perception with a less talented author because, as I said before, this book hit some major personal buttons for me. More so than any other book I remember reading in recent years.
Throughout reading this book, my heart hurt for Anna, and for Jane as well. It was so difficult for Anna to deal with Mark because there were so many unresolved feelings and secrets between them. So much so that the entire book was one tense, emotional read for me. Very well-written and layered with so much angst, which is an admitted favorite of mine but also exactly what made this book so personally difficult because the angst in this is so well-drawn and so true to life.
I love, love, love reunion after painful past stories and this one was chock full of pain and heartache and unspoken, undeniable love. Anna and Mark had to truly work for their happy ending, which takes readers on a huge emotional journey throughout the story.
An excellent, emotional, angst filled read. My only true issue was how well Mark was drawn as a jerk, but also how easy he made it to like him and root for him to get over his issues and be the man Anna both deserves and needs. Parts of their story made me tear up.
You’ll love this story if you love angst, reunions after a painful past, and second chance at love stories. But be prepared to have your heart in your throat throughout reading this because the author doesn’t pull punches with heaping on the pain for her characters, or making them walk over emotional hot coals again and again and again. By the time I reached the end, I was aching for Anna and Mark to find happiness and relief, which just goes to show how talented this author is at making people care about her story people and wanting them to reach their happy ever after.
Tour-wide prize: 10 print copies of A Match Made on Main Street up for grabs.
*Click the covers to add the books to your goodreads shelf *
Briar Creek Series
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Special thank you to the GCP publicity department for providing the promo materials, excerpt, and giveaway link for the A Match Made on Main Street blog tour.