As her two best friends settle into their happily ever afters, destination wedding designer Arielle Chandler is beginning to wonder if the promise of “The One” – one true love, meant only for her – is merely folklore passed down from her Native American grandmother. But when a mysterious man nearly mows her down on a hill overlooking Barefoot Bay, the legend of destined love suddenly feels very real. That is, until Ari learns of Luke McBain’s plans to demolish a piece of land she believes is sacred.
Luke isn’t proud of the fact that he spent ten years as a mercenary warrior, fighting battles for another country. With those dark days behind him, he’s focused on creating a new life instead of destroying others, so he’s moved to Barefoot Bay to launch a contracting business and build a house for an old friend. But when an enigmatic dark-eyed beauty steals his attention and stops his progress with her announcement that he is about to flatten a native burial ground, Luke has a new battle to fight.
While their immediate and potent attraction grows complicated, Luke and Ari discover the hills of Barefoot Bay could be hiding something far different – and even more valuable – than ancient art or graves. They are determined to discover the truth, but that will come at a cost. Will they risk their chance at once-in-a-lifetime love to uncover secrets that could change the landscape of Barefoot Bay forever?
Excerpt/BAREFOOT IN PEARLS
"No teaching is wasted. Someone always learns something, even if they don’t want to." Arielle lifted her hand, this time to graze his jaw while studying his face. "And you don’t have to hold back on your skepticism or unbelief, although…"
"Although what?" he prodded.
She sighed slowly. "Although if the things I hold true and dear in my heart are meaningless to you, then…does that mean you are meaningless to me? I’m not sure I want to know that yet."
"Yet?" Like him being meaningless was inevitable? "Not sure I want to know that yet, either," he admitted as that possibility crushed his chest a little.
She closed her eyes and puffed out a breath. "I need something sweet," she sighed.
"Then close your eyes." He got up enough to reach into his pocket, making her brows lift in surprise.
"You have something sweet in your pants?" she teased.
"Of course I do." Laughing with her, he pulled out a cardboard package of wax bottles full of sugar juice.
"Nik-L-Nips!" She reached for them. "How did you get them? They’re impossible to find."
"Nothing’s impossible, Arielle."
Her shoulders softened as she looked at him. "’Bout time you figured that out, McBain." She nodded toward the candy. "I’ll share the blue one."
"You have to teach me how to open it."
She slipped the little wax bottle from the case and held it to her mouth. "Put it right here, between your teeth."
Everything, every cell in his body, tightened and squeezed.
"And"—she bit down—"snap it off." She popped the wax top out of her mouth so it bounced on the blanket. "And spit it out."
"That was pretty sexy, Arielle. Except for the snapping-it-off part."
She gave him a slow, sly smile. "Don’t worry, I don’t bite."
His hormones went wild. Wilder. Wild enough that it took a moment for him to notice the playfulness disappearing from her expression. "What’s wrong, Arielle?"
"Look at you, getting all in tune with the feels again. You spend too much time with me, Luke, and you’ll be the one communing with nature. Would you like me to teach you how to listen to what the wind says?"
"I’d like you to teach me how to read your expression, which changed a second ago while you were looking at me."
She averted her eyes, as if she’d been caught and couldn’t deny it. "Okay," she agreed. "I was thinking, right then when you said wax-bottle biting was sexy, that…"
"That I wish sex with you hadn’t taken on all this magnitude because I really want to…" She laughed again, unable to find the word. "I really want to," she finally said.
Thank God, because he really wanted to, too.
"We could…" With a gentle nudge, he eased her to her back, leaning over her. "Let go of the magnitude."
"We could," she agreed on a shudder as his fingers found their way to the bare skin exposed between her T-shirt and jeans.
"What’s the worst that could happen?" he asked, stroking the satin of her stomach.
"It could change everything."
"Yeah, we could go from being the world’s two horniest people to the most satisfied." He gave a mocking eyeroll. "That would suck."
"Or we could go from being new friends with a strong attraction to each other to lovers with thoughts of ‘forever’ dancing in their heads. Would that suck, Luke?"
Every cell—even the ones lining up for a party in his pants—stilled at the unanswered question.
She laughed softly. "And he panics."
"No, not panic." Yes, panic. "Is that what would happen? I mean, is that like a definite possibility if two people are…" He couldn’t even say it. But he had to. "Meant for each other?"
She lifted one shoulder. "I don’t know. I’ve never taken on the universe in a full-blown fight. Wouldn’t expect to win, though."
For a long time, neither of them spoke. They looked into each other’s eyes while Luke’s hand spread flat on her stomach to absorb some of her infallible "gut" instinct.
Barely breathing, he leaned closer, letting their mouths lightly brush, feeling her pulse thrum through her body.
There’s no going back. There’s no going back.
He closed his eyes, not sure if she said that or he heard it or…it was the wind. Either way, right then, he didn’t care about anything except how much he had to have Arielle Chandler’s body become one with his.
There’s no going back.
"I don’t care." He murmured the words into a kiss, completely lost under her spell.
Barefoot in Pearls by Roxanne St. Claire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Barefoot in Pearls by Roxanne St. Claire is a 2015 South Street Publishing release. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is the third in the Barefoot Bay Brides trilogy, but can be read as a stand alone.
Karma, Fate, Destiny, call it what you will, but Arielle and Luke were meant to be. The instant Luke ran right over Ari and their eyes met, she knew... Luke was “ the one”. Don't believe in love at first sight? This story just might change your mind.
Ari is one quarter American Indian. She had a very close relationship with grandmother- “Grandma Good Bear”. She promised her grandmother she would wait for the right guy, “the one”, and so for two years she has been celibate. But, both of her best friends are now either married or about to be, and she is really starting to wonder if that guy is ever going to show up.
Luke really knows how to make an entrance into a person's life. While Arielle thought their meeting was proof her intuitions were right, Luke looked at it as mere coincidence. While Ari was convinced he was the one she has been waiting for, Luke is hell bent on avoiding anything that resembles love. That's not all that is impeding their relationship though. Luke is about to begin work on a piece of land that Arielle believes could be sacred. Luke needs the work, putting Ari in a difficult spot. Determined to do the right thing, Luke stalls the project.
In the meantime, he and Ari have some investigating to do, as well as some hard core soul searching.
I really enjoyed this story. Arielle, named after “The Little Mermaid”, has “feelings” about things and people that are uncanny, and while she isn't always right, for the most part she has a real knack for reading people. She is kind of offbeat, but is principled and sticks by those beliefs even when they are not popular, which I really admired.
Luke.. well my goodness! This guy's back story is really something. It's no wonder he is a little shy about getting involved with anyone. So, he fights against Ari's feelings that they belong together. One part of him knows she is right, but the other part of him is too afraid to admit it. He winds up being his own worse enemy sometimes.
The Native American backdrop was a nice touch. I love cultural stories because they add a deeper level of interest.
I also enjoyed the level of suspense when it seems Ari's probing may have stirred up some trouble for herself and Luke. What was on that piece of land that someone didn't want discovered and to what lengths would they go to keep Ari from upsetting their plans?
So, this story has a little something for everyone. A sweet and sensual love story, danger and suspense, and a little bit of a paranormal element, as well as humor. Luke can be really funny especially when trying to keep names straight. I loved, loved, loved the deeply romantic ending, giving all the naysayers out there regarding soul mates and love at first sight something to think about. 5 stars!
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