An anthology of novellas about hunky blue collar, hammer wielding heroes and the women who tame them. Stories are by USA Today Bestselling Authors Cari Quinn, Cathy Clamp, Anna J. Stewart, and featuring authors Jodi Redford, Amie Stuart, Leah Braemel, and Chudney Thomas.
Gabriel Silva started working as a handyman at the Starlight Motel in Louisiana when he emigrated from Brazil a decade ago. When the owner died, he inherited half. The other half went to Sophie Greene, the man’s granddaughter. And oh, what a woman she is! Smart, fiery and gorgeous and can hammer nails as fast as him . . . maybe even faster. He could watch her climb and stretch all day, and all night too! But she wanted to turn the Starlight into a high end resort spa! Never! The Starlight is home to all of Will’s friends–elderly men and women who are proud to be able to live on their own.
It made sense that Sophie would inherit the motel, since she’d managed Grandpa Will’s string of rental properties in Texas, but the Starlight had always been a money pit. She had better get the place profitable, and quick, if she wanted to eat next month. Meeting Gabe sent shock waves through her. Not only suave and handsome, but he could handle power tools as well as her. She saw how he looked at her, his eyes raking her body as she put up roofing next to him. Maybe there were other ways to convince him to see things her way…
“Absolutely awesome anthology. This book is a definite must read for any romance lover…What happens when two people inherit a motel? One is the motel handyman and the other the granddaughter of the previous owner. Their visions are different but their attraction to each other sizzles.” — Night Owl Romance Reviews, (Top Pick!)
HOT SUMMER NIGHTS
The pounding in Gabe’s head was getting worse. If he didn’t get out of the sun pretty soon, he was going to wind up with heat stroke. The buzz of cicadas in the ancient cypress trees overhead made the air feel even heavier— thick enough to cut with a knife. Even if the sun hadn’t been so unrelenting, the humidity weighed down his clothes. They hung from him like he’d been swimming in the pool. The patterned scarf covering his head was soaked with sweat and his eyes stung from the salt. But the new roof panels were up and just in time, if the dark clouds on the horizon were any indication.
“Gabe!” He looked down and saw tiny Mrs. Hernandez using her extension tongs to hold up a bottle of water from her third floor balcony. “You’re all red. Drink. Drink.”
Her age spotted hands shook as she reached the bottle as high as she could with the metal pincer contraption she always carried around. It was a nice gesture, but he honestly wasn’t sure if he could bend far enough down to grab it without falling head first onto the pavement.
He waved at her and walked down the steep slope of the roof, keeping the tie line of his safety harness at an angle so it didn’t tangle. She squinted up at him. “Obrigado, Senhora Dona Hernandez. Thank you. But I have water up here. I will take a break soon. I promise.”
She lowered the water bottle and shook her head. “You work too hard, Gabriel.” She always pronounced it as though he was French, with a soft ‘a’ and an emphasis on the ‘el’. It wasn’t correct, but he liked how she said it. “You should tell Mr. Will that you need help.”
“Mr. Will passed away, Senhora Dona. Don’t you remember? A few months ago.” And he’d just used the last supplies that the old owner had paid for. Other than the few wrappers of shingles to cover the wood and a little paint, the supply room was empty.
But he was ready. He’d saved nearly every dime he’d been paid as an employee, just like Will Green had taught him. How many nights had he slept hungry, even while there was money in the bank? When the motel was officially his, he could care for it. Mr. Will had kept track of much the shingles cost, and the same for each plate of glass, square foot of carpet and even pillows. He’d read the reports and understood them. I’m ready.
Like I promised.
He let out a slow breath as the frail widow escaped back into her room, probably to put her face deep into the breeze from the air conditioner. The Louisiana heat was hard on the people who lived here. He had to make sure he kept their rooms in good repair. Every air conditioner worked, was top of the line. The independence of living at the Starlight Motel, not being a burden on their families, was their pride . . . and his. This wasn’t a motel. It was a community.
He opened the cooler tucked in the shade next to the television antenna, but even though he’d packed it with blocks of ice when he’d started on the roof, the bottles of Gatorade were floating in a pool of tepid water now. Still, warm was better than hot and he gratefully gulped down the salty orange fluid.
There was no way he was going to have time to get the shingles put down before the storm hit, so he started to roll out plastic sheeting to cover the bare wood. It was exterior grade, but it would still be easier to shingle tomorrow if the wood wasn’t wet.
As Gabe was lowering the bucket with his tools to the ground, he noticed a long black car pulling into the driveway. A limousine? Was it finally time? This was the wrong neighborhood for a limo, unless it was about Mr. Will’s estate.
A man in a suit that probably cost more than Gabe’s whole wardrobe stepped out of the limo, carrying a briefcase. The man was middle-aged, his hair thinning but still with color, his tie bright red, shiny enough to be silk. The suit was Italian cut, in the latest style. But it wasn’t Mr. Will’s attorney . . . at least not the one he’d been introduced to last fall. Still, he probably was a lawyer. He remembered Mr. Will’s lessons about meeting new people. Notice clothing always, Gabe. People speak through clothes. Listen to what they tell you. But remember–clothes do not make the man. Clothes are just words. The strength of the words is in the people.
“Excuse me!” He yelled the words up to be heard over the traffic and insects. “Habla Ingles? Are you Gabriel Silva?”
It made him chuckle as he unhooked his safety harness from the static line. Will Greene’s voice came into his head again. No blinks, Gabe. Be firm, meet his eyes. No matter how you are dressed at the moment. Make your clothing.
He kept his gaze locked on the other man’s, taking his measure. He shouted back in reply. “Yes, I’m Gabriel, and I speak English.” With a little Cajun accent, which he had worked hard to perfect. It was likely why people used the French pronunciation of his name. It was a long way from a being teenager who arrived as a stowaway, who couldn’t speak anything but his native tongue. “But even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t speak Spanish. I’m from Brazil. We speak Portugese.”
That made the man blink, which amused him. Dark skin didn’t automatically mean Mexican, especially in Louisiana. In fact, when he wasn’t working in the sun all the time, his skin was almost pale. While the man was deciding what to say next, Gabe tested the ladder to make sure the feet hadn’t shifted. He really should attach a ladder to the wall to reach the roof. Maybe next year.
That was when he saw the shiny black stiletto heel slide out of the limo. The leg that followed was bare of hose, but the calf muscle said the woman was a runner or at least a fitness buff.
He watched while the rest of the woman exited the vehicle. She was wearing a pair of white capri pants and a sleeveless shirt. But what drew his attention was the summer hat, broad brimmed white with a patterned black and white ribbon. A gust of wind from the coming storm hit his back, nearly blowing him off the roof. It caught the hat and tried to pull it off her head. The hair underneath was the color of beach sand. She reached up to hold it on, and looked up. Their eyes met and her lips opened. It was the same expression. The very same. Gabe’s breath stilled at the same moment his heart started to race.
It was her. The woman in the photograph…