One Hot Summer Trilogy Megabook [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Eve Asbury
eBook Category: Romance/Suspense/Thriller Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read, Night Owl Romance Reviewer Top Pick
eBook Description: THREE COMPLETE NOVELS, ONE MEGABOOK SERIES LOW PRICE! The entire Contemporary Romantic Suspense series from Bestselling author Eve Asbury, including: ONE HOT SUMMER: Sky-eyed farmer Beau Jessup and rich little princess Charlie Aldrich Thornton are about to reunite. Seven years earlier, Charlie's dad, the sleazy mayor, set up Jake Jessup, Beau's father, who subsequently died in prison. Now Charlie is back, the divorced wife of a California lawyer. Her own life is in shambles, yet her memories of the hired hand that one hot summer remain unfaded. When sparks start to fly under the hot southern sun, their passion is powerful and immense. But danger crouches in the shadows, old enemies and new ones threaten to destroy everything, as Charlie and Beau risk it all to defy the odds against them. SOUTHERN MOON: Southern Moon features Charlie's half-brother Mason Aldrich, who spilled a shocking secret at the end of book one (One Hot Summer). Once the wild rebel in motorcycle boots and torn jeans, Mason came back to town two years ago and started a youth center. But the sexy bad boy who still knows how to drive the ladies wild holds more secrets. Unveiling these dark secrets would not only reveal Mason's alter ego?but shake the entire town to its very foundation. FALLING FOR YOU: Dana Van Diver is hip, she is chic and most of all she is carefree. The kind of woman everybody wants as a friend and nobody wants as a girlfriend. But deep in her heart, Dana longs for one man: Jake Jessup. Where she is reviled in town, Jake is lauded for being loyal, hard working, and still deeply in love with his dead fiencée. Yet a brief affair with Dana begins to open his eyes to what he may be letting pass him by. They were friends, they have been lovers and now a dead woman is making them act like strangers. Will Jake's silent and stoic character force Dana's pride to accept it is over, or will two opposites finally see that they had love all along?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, Published: 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2009
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7 Reader Ratings:
5 out of 5 Hearts, Top Reviewer Pick! ?The One Hot Summer anthology by Eve Ashbury is a kick ass anthology that will leave you breathless with each character. Of all the three though I have to say I liked Mason the most. Here is a brooding man with a dark past and Rainn is the one light in his life. He just needs to redeem himself. Each story proves that love does exist with strong men and that women need courage to continue. Eve Ashbury did a great job with each story and every one will love Charlie, Rain and Dana for their courage and passion for their men. Great job.? Melinda, Night owl Romance Reviews
"Ms. Asbury has done a masterful job creating a thoroughly wonderful story, captivating from beginning to end. Charlie and Beau are great characters, both displaying a measure of strength and vulnerability that make them utterly endearing. In fact, One Hot Summer is filled with remarkable characters with similar attributes, making this supporting cast very memorable. From the sweet and sexy chemistry between Charlie and Beau, the flowing dialogue, to the obstacles of the past and the added touch of suspense, this story was impossible to put down. One Hot Summer gets my wholehearted recommendation."_Reviewed by: Jen H., Fallen Angel Reviews, 5 Angels and a Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read!
"Southern Moon is the second book in the series, continuing a storyline begun in One Hot Summer Night. I did not read One Hot Summer Night but it wasn't necessary to have read that one in order to understand the plot, characters and action in Southern Moon. It would have been nice to have had the background on the characters but I was still able to follow along in this second story without any trouble. I totally enjoyed reading Southern Moon, mostly because of the candid, realistic relationships between her characters. There are remaining characters in these two families and it is my sincere hope that Ms. Asbury will consider carrying this series forward. Well done!"_Reviewed by: Carly, Fallen Angel Reviews, 5 Angels!
"I LOVE EVE ASHBURY!!! Falling for You takes the reader on a trip, from total frustration with Jake, empathy for Dana and finally the satisfaction of a romance that delivers. I definitely Joyfully Recommend Falling for You for readers who are looking for story that will leave you smiling and hunting for the other books in Ms. Ashbury's One Hot Summer series along with her equally tempting historical romances while holding your breath waiting for the next offering from Eve Ashbury!"_A Recommended Read!--Melissa, Joyfully Reviewed
The only thing worse than going back to a town where one's father shot himself ... was trying to start a new life there.
Charlie Aldrich Thornton's hand wobbled a little as she applied her makeup. It was her first day on the job--a job her brother had talked her into. After seven years apart, he felt they should build a relationship. That wasn't so easy considering the twenty-seven before that, they were virtual strangers.
Charlie lowered the mascara wand and glanced at her cousin Dana in the mirror. "Come in."
"How's it going?"
"I'm so damned nervous, my stomach is in knots."
Dana flopped down on the bed, shoving her wine red hair out of her face. "You'll kick ass."
"I haven't ever had a real job in my life," Charlie muttered, putting the mascara away and dragging a brush through her strawberry colored hair. She and Dana had inherited the Van Diver genes from their mothers, but Dana's eyes were golden brown and she had freckles.
Charlie's creamy smooth skin was flushed with tension. "Catalogue modeling was a breeze compared to facing this town. I'm supposed to do writes-ups and advertisements for the businesses mix with the locals. I'll be lucky if they don't lock their doors on me."
"That old scandal with Uncle James has to have died down, Charlie. If Mason has lived here two years without being run out of town, then they'll give you a chance, too."
Yeah, right. Charlie wiped her hands on a tissue and scraped her makeup back into her purse. Her brother wasn't considered a snob. The little princess, that's how they saw her, and not in a good way.
It wasn't like she'd known her privileged life was paid for with dirty money. She hadn't known anything until James committed suicide. Daddy's little girl had been as devastated as anyone else, but people weren't going to believe that.
She turned and smoothed her blouse and picked up the jacket that matched her cream slacks. "I wish he hadn't done this." She looked up at Dana. "I want a relationship with him, too, I honestly do. But getting us back here and springing this on us." Mason had always mingled with people in the town. He'd run all over on that motorcycle, sleeping wherever anyone would put him up for the night.
"All he's done is offer a way for us to start over." Dana shrugged. "Let's face it, after your divorce from Harry the asshole, we weren't exactly living the high life."
Charlie laughed both at the description of her ex and the bald truth. They had shared a tiny apartment while Dana took bartending jobs and Charlie tried to find enough work to pay the rent. They'd been floundering. Of course, her ex from hell hadn't made things any easier.
"Yeah, well this is the last place I'd have chosen to start over." Charlie sat down on the vanity chair. "Mason was the rebel, it was easy for him to come back and open the youth center. He's doing something for the community. I wasn't allowed off these grounds unless it was to ride with Daddy in the parade." She did her little princess wave and rolled her eyes.
Dana chuckled, but insisted, "If I can go work at that center considering my screwed-up family life, then you can handle a job at the town paper. Mason has faith in us for some reason."
"He thinks we can give back what Daddy took away." Charlie stared at her soberly. "Trust and faith and lives that were screwed up because of his dirty dealings, how are we supposed to restore that? How am I? I'm more resented here than anyone."
"You don't know that."
"I do. I realized it when I drove through town and people turned to point and whisper. I knew it when I called Mr. Moffat to accept the job. He kept telling me to focus on business and not let people put me off. If that's not a sign of what's to come, I don't know what is."
"We've talked about this before, Charlie. You have to believe in yourself and not let the divorce or the scandal put you back in that state of denial."
"I was numb."
"No, you just left Uncle James' funeral and shut down. You married Harry before you'd even caught your breath. You're finally trying to deal with reality. You can't apologize for an upbringing. So what are your choices? Mason ran for years; hell, who knows where he's been? He doesn't apologize for anything; he's just doing what he has a right to, living his life."
Charlie stood and walked over to the dormer window. The one she'd looked out and down on the world from as a child. The old Van Diver mansion had been left to Dana and herself through their mothers. They'd given Mason a lifetime right to live there, because neither of them had wanted to.
To this day, she couldn't bring herself to unearth the extent of her father's corruption. She only knew that the bullet he'd put in his head had shattered her world, too--a pretend world of firm rules and rigid decorum that hid a much more sinister reality.
"I wasn't in denial, I was frightened," she admitted. "I'm scared now, too. I'm afraid I'll just prove everyone right. I don't want to fail at running my own life, not at twenty-seven years old."
She shifted her shoulders uneasily. "I don't want to face those old ghosts. It's not just the town. It's the fact I walked away from that funeral and ended up married to someone just like Daddy--someone who did everything for me and expected me to play the same role, the worshipping, well-bred, southern belle. And I did it. Me, a college educated woman, who should have had enough guts to just strike out on her own and face reality."
"Give yourself a break. Hell, I'm thirty and I'm screwed up, but I'm here."
Charlie laughed. "Dana, you're as street smart as Mason. And you're here because you're damned loyal. You should resent me, too."
"Why, because you grew up in this mausoleum?" Dana snorted and looked around, though Charlie's room didn't reek of the Old World elegance that the other three floors did. "Sure, my life was tough, but I'll take that shitty apartment in Ohio over this place. It's no wonder Mom was cold and unemotional."
Dana had traveled to California to see Charlie about a DNA test after her mother died. She'd found a diary that Bonnie Van Diver had left, confessing she'd aborted a child by James Aldrich. She'd had an affair with him before and after Charlie's own mother, Bridgett, had passed away.
Dana's parents had been divorced from the time she was a toddler; her dad had stopped speaking to her. Dana had wanted to know once and for all if she was James'.
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Mason's mother, Janet, had been Bonnie's private nurse, a woman who'd secretly been having an affair with him too. She became James' second wife after Bridgett died. Mason turned out to be Charlie's real brother, not a stepbrother as James had always claimed. Charlie had heard that from Janet's own lips when the woman finally filed for divorce. James shot himself before that too could take place.
It was a stinking mess--a history of James' manipulation and thirst for power; his complete disregard for other people's feelings. Since Charlie had loved him, worshipped him and obeyed him without question, it only proved to her how blind she apparently was, because she'd never suspected a thing. Being mayor of a Southern Virginia town hadn't satisfied James' ambition. When his political career didn't bear fruit, he became more and more twisted in his own little kingdom.
"Come on, you're going to be late. Mason has some bagels and coffee ready." Dana crawled off the bed, straightening her sweatshirt and smoothing her worn Levis.
They headed down the stairs. Charlie's gaze touched on the oak panels on the lower wall and the French wallpaper above. Her grandparents, the Van Divers, had lived a life of genteel wealth and respect until James had wed their daughter. She sometimes wondered what the staid old couple thought when they'd had to cover Bonnie's abortion, knowing they'd chosen the new money lawyer for their other daughter to marry. She supposed the only good thing was that her mother died young and ignorant of it all. Someone had managed to keep their illusions intact.
They reached the bottom of the stairs and turned to walk through the parlor and into the kitchen. Her brother Mason stood by the marble-topped island, a cup of coffee in his hand. He leaned on his elbows, reading the paper.
"Hey." He glanced up at the sound of Charlie's high heels on the shiny floor.
"Good morning." She found a smile for him. She'd realized the moment they'd reunited how much her father had kept them apart, how little they knew about each other's childhood. And, how guilty she felt that she hadn't tried harder to get in touch with him before deciding to offer him the house to live in.
Mason was a hard man to find. She'd eventually done so through his mother in Florida. It was one of the first decisions she'd made on her own after the divorce.
"Very stylish." He eyed her suit as she poured coffee.
"You're dressing better these days." She grinned and sipped from her mug, comparing the old Mason in leather and motorcycle boots with long hair, to the image in Dockers and polo shirt wearing Eddie Bauer shoes in front of her.
Mason was handsome like her father had been, but in a more laid-back way with his nape-length, sun-streaked hair, very Brad Pitt in color and style, falling across his strong brow. Taller and brawnier, he wore a close-cropped beard. His skin was darker, and his eyes, green like her own--had lines of maturity at the corners. His Roman nose suited him, and that square jaw gave him a rugged look.
It appeared the rebel had transformed, except for his tattoo, still visible through the faint blonde hairs on a bulging bicep. The tattoo was a design only he understood: a full moon inside a black cross. It gave her the willies when she was younger, but now it just made her curious.
"I have to look respectable; otherwise, I'd never get any donations for the center." He smiled and folded up the paper.
"I guess seven years changed us both." Charlie held his gaze over the cup rim.
He slid his hands into his pockets, crossing his ankles and leaning against the counter. "Thank you for coming back here and doing this."
"Don't thank me yet." She shrugged. "I may be tarred and feathered by this evening."
"People will give you a chance. You're doing a job, that's it. Don't take shit from people because of Dad, and don't let it freak you out."
"People resent me, too."
"Tough." He arched his brow. "You didn't know what Dad was doing and that's the only truth that matters."
Dana came over and hopped up on one of the barstools, hooking her sneakers over the rung. "So, we're all going out to face down the town of Laurel Vayle." She licked cream cheese off her bagel. "The snob, the rebel, and the screw-up. The old Van Diver ancestors are rolling in their graves," she said, then laughed.
Mason snorted and Charlie was aware they were trying to help her relax. She rolled her eyes at Dana. "I said I'd give it a chance, and I will." She looked at Mason, needing to say it ... "You and I had no business being strangers all these years."
His expression turned serious. "I agree. You offered me a place to live two years ago, and I'm offering you support from someone who believes you can make it here. You belong here."
"I love moments like this." Dana glanced back and forth at both of them. "You two here together, standing strong for each other."
"You, too." Mason stole her other bagel and bit into it and chewed, then looked at his watch. "And we're all going to be late, so let's save the Kodak moments for dinner."
Charlie left first, going out to her Mustang, an older model she'd received after doing a car lot commercial before she'd gone into catalogue modeling. Mason and Dana would be in his beat-up pickup. He was still trying to get it started when she waved and rolled out of the drive. She'd offer him a jump, but had already learned he liked to cuss it into running.
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Charlie left the top down. The sun was already climbing and hot.
Driving through town was a surreal experience ... Like her own life, made up of surface and shadow. Main Street had all the outward charm one might expect, with black iron lampposts, American flags, and window boxes overflowing with purple and yellow peonies. Mixed in with the new were the This and That Discount Store, Aunt Mae's Bakery, and antique shops with hand-hewn benches outside.
Charlie had spent most of her twenty-seven years behind the invisible line on Main Street that separated the haves from the have-nots and has-beens.
Past the city limit sign, Cottonwood Street led to the farms that had supported the local economy for a hundred years. Another street, running alongside the train tracks, led to all the wickedness and sin to be had in Ghost Town--or Turkey Creek by the old-timers.
She'd never set foot in Ghost Town. The newspaper was filled with stories of shootings and stabbings in numerous shacks, pool halls, and shady places that had illegal poker games, brothels, and drug dealers.
The place James Aldrich shot himself in a sleazy hotel.
She shivered despite the hot sun and let her gaze wander to the tallest and most stately building, the town hall, across from the circular park and its memorials to the Van Divers. Dana had suggested they both use their mothers' names here, to disassociate themselves from James Aldrich. That was fine with Charlie. She had no problem letting go of both James and Harry Thornton III. She did a wry salute to the towering marker, praying her dear old relatives were looking down on the last of their bloodline and putting in a good word for them.
She eased into a cramped parking space, putting the car in park and eyeing the dusty window of Moffat's office. This was it. She'd be out there today talking to people, getting their input on the advertisement she'd be doing for the town paper. It only ran during the tourist season, but she knew how particular people could be, and she'd have to be both a diplomat and come off as a hometown girl.
Charlie laughed mentally at that and collected her purse and got out. She drew herself up and put on her usual brave front. Nothing like coming home to a warm welcome and cheers, she thought, feeling a dozen eyes on her from the businesses across the street. She walked toward that bright yellow door.
Pulling it open, the first thing she saw was a teenager at the front desk, wearing denims and a T-shirt that said Will work for college money. The girl had headphones on, obviously not listening to the same twangy country song that wafted through the speakers. When she turned her back and began digging through a file cabinet--the back of the shirt said, or Pizza.
Charlie grinned and spotted Mr. Moffat in the doorway of an office at the end, apparently on a cell phone. He had on a pair of denims and a blue shirt with bright red suspenders. He waved, pointing at something.
She looked in the general direction he was waving and saw a beat-up desk with a ribbon on it, and a huge sign that said Charlie Van Diver's desk. Chuckling, she nodded to him. He winked, giving her a thumbs up. She carried her things to the desk and sat down. There were the usual forms to fill out for taxes and insurance sitting on her right. Just peeking in the drawers for something to write with, Charlie glanced up when the girl came over and placed a stack of memos on it.
"Thanks," Charlie said, knowing the kid couldn't do more than read her lips because she could almost make out the hip-hop music, too. When the teen walked off, Charlie saw the top sheet.
Call Beau Jessup.
She let out a long breath. Right there was the multiple line phone--yes, right there it was, on the edge of the desk, all she had to do was pick it up.
Her hand trembled as she lifted it. A nerve constricted in her temple. She cradled it in against her shoulder pulling a drawer open where she'd seen a phone book. About the time she found the number, the teen was back with a Rolodex. Charlie found Jessup Farms and dialed.
He wasn't in. She left a message with his sister Rain and then started on the insurance forms. In spite of the music and the tap of Moffat's old-fashioned typewriter behind her ... she nearly jumped out of her skin every time the phone rang.
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