BOOK #1 in the Caught Up In Love series (Romantic Women’s Fiction / New Adult)
An unforgettable debut in romantic women’s fiction, Caught Up in RAINE captures the struggle of a woman who must reconcile guilt from her past with the promise of a future as her life intersects with a much younger man who offers her a second chance to get “caught up” in love on her road to redemption.
Two Hearts. One soul-shattering decision. 40s romance writer plagued by loss comes to rescue of troubled 20s male cover model.
“DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER MODEL”
Forty-two and widowed, romance writer Jillian Grant believes hospitals equal death. Plagued by loss and convinced more is imminent when her aunt ends up in critical condition after heart surgery; she has come to equate the absence of pain with happiness. When she spots a hot, young landscaper working on the hospital grounds with an eerie resemblance to the male lead in her next novel, she convinces him to pose as her cover model.
Working multiple jobs to put himself through college, twenty-four-year-old Raine MacDonald is no stranger to loss. Behind his handsome face and rockin’ body lies family tragedy and agonizing secrets. When circumstances put him back in the path of his abusive father, fate delivers Jillian as his unwitting savior. Thing is, when he thinks of her, his thoughts are far from platonic.
Despite their age difference, Jillian and Raine discover they’re more alike than they could ever imagine. But torn between facing her own fears and grasping a chance at happiness, Jillian makes a soul-shattering decision that threatens to blow their world apart.
My heart lifts and my shoulders relax the moment I step outside and the sun hits the crown of my head. The click-clack of my high-heeled sandals across the parking lot marks the distance between me and this godforsaken place. After a silent prayer for Vera, I switch mental gears and find my escape.
Drew, the male lead in my novel who’s loosely based on my real-life Drew, slips into my head the moment I sit behind the wheel. He’s particularly loud today, begging me to write some hot scenes with Becca.
Ah, to be young and brimming with hormones.
I smile and flip on the air-conditioning. “Down, boy. You’ll need to wait until I get home.” I picture him scowling at me with his muscled arms crossed.
One glance in the rearview mirror tells me I need some major construction on my face. Thank God for waterproof mascara. Kitty missed my mini-breakdown before she arrived. No wonder she kept checking to see if I was okay. I look like total crap.
I pull out my compact and smooth my face with mineral powder, dab on some lipstick, and feather on a subtle layer of blush. Makeup always cures what ails me to some degree. “Look good, feel good,” Aunt Vera always says.
Rather than heading out the front entrance, I turn onto the long, winding drive toward the east-side exit. A chunky dump truck emblazoned with Petrillo’s Landscape Design blocks my way. Saplings with puffy treetops are visible over the side.
Seriously? Swearing under my breath, I calculate my chances of squeezing my SUV past the truck and arrive at an unwanted answer. So I shove the car in neutral, set the brake, and get out. I stalk around the oversized Tonka toy to where four guys are digging various parts of a new landscape bed.
My eye gravitates to one in particular. Oh. My. God. Above a pair of dirt-encrusted jeans, his broad, sun-kissed shoulders glimmer in the sunlight. A landscape of ripples contract along his back and arms as he works. His tawny-blond hair is drawn back in a ponytail at the nape of his neck.
I force my slack jaw back into place. “Excuse me.”
Four heads turn at once, and when the blond turns, my breath sucks in fast.
Drew. He looks like Drew—at least in my head and from what I remember. Narrow waist, hard, and lean. Unlike the rest of guys with shovels, he hasn’t used his body as a living canvas for self-expression. He has no ink. But I only wonder why for about half a second. My brain is too busy superimposing Drew as I fight not to gape.
“Um, can someone pull up the truck? I’m trying to get out,” I say, doing my best to be polite. I look away to hide my blush.
An older, dark-haired guy tosses a set of keys to the blond. “Yo. Catch.” By process of elimination, he has to be the “Petrillo” named on the side of the truck. The other two men are smaller Hispanic guys, and the blond doesn’t particularly strike me as a “Petrillo.”
My heart races as the blond trots over with the keys. He scoops up a white T-shirt lying in a mound on the grass on his way over, and wipes his face. Giving me a crooked smile, he heads to the driver’s side.
“Hey, sorry about that. You’re the first person to head down this way all day.”
“This exit points me closer to where I need to go. Sorry to be a pain.”
“No problem,” he says, and climbs up into the cab. The timbre of his voice sends chills down my spine. It’s Drew’s voice . . . or maybe just my overactive imagination.
He stares down at me quizzically. “You good?”
I realize he’s waiting for me. “Uh, yeah,” I say, waking up from my daydream haze and forcing myself back into the SUV to back up.
Acrid black smoke rises skyward from the truck’s vertical exhaust accompanied by the dull roar of the engine as he drives past me, his profile catching my peripheral vision.
My brain short-circuits as my sandal hits the gas pedal. How can I just leave?
The idea hits me like a sledgehammer, and I jam on the brakes. The blond guy is on his way back to where the other guys are planting trees when my mouth develops a mind of its own.
“Excuse me,” I yell impulsively through the open window.
He alters his direction and comes over. Stooping down, he leans his hands on my open window. “What’s up?”
His sudden proximity heightens my heart rate. For a split second, I almost lose my nerve until I look into his stunning blue eyes—Drew’s eyes. For a second, I’m back in the summer of 1990, sitting behind the wheel of my dad’s Chrysler.
Drew drops his backpack of schoolbooks onto his driveway, and leans into the open car window. His eyes, blue like the summer sky, connect with mine. Tawny blond hair falls down around his face. “I’ll pick you up at six-thirty for the concert,” he says and presses his lips to mine. Then he steps back, juts out his hips, and breaks into an air guitar riff and the first line of “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
Giggling, I shift into reverse. “Later, Bon Jovi. Love ya.”
“Love ya, too,” he shouts back, scooping his books off the blacktop.
If I’d only known how little time we had left, I would’ve done so many things differently, kissed him a little longer . . . held onto him a little tighter.
I take a second to compose myself and clear my throat. “Um, this may sound strange, but how would you like to be on a book cover?”
His head jerks back slightly, and his eyebrows fly up. “What?”
Undeterred, I give him a sweet smile and repeat slowly, “Would you. Like to be. On a book cover?”
He chuckles. “I’m not mentally deficient. I heard the question. I’m just not sure what you mean.”
I can’t help but stare at his delicious full lips, wishing I were half my age. I take a deep breath and prepare for his refusal. “You happen to resemble the male lead in a novel I’m writing, and I haven’t had a book cover designed yet. I’m wondering if you’d like to be on it.”
The corner of his mouth tips up. “I think I’m flattered.”
I can’t suppress my smile, secretly glad I fixed my face earlier.
“What would this entail, exactly?” he asks.
“A two- to three-hour photo shoot.” As if I haven’t been impulsive enough, I add, “Sometime this week.”
He gives me a pointed look. “Clothed, right?”
I tilt my head, a spark of hope flaring inside me. “Pretty much the way you’re dressed right now, except with cleaner clothes.”
He looks down at his pants and grins. Then his mouth turns into a frown. “Hmm. This week might be tight.”
“Is that a yes?” My heart picks up tempo.
Petrillo yells over, “Yo! Stop flirting with the nice lady and get back to work, man.”
“Hey, I gotta go.”
“Wait.” I fumble in my purse and pull out a business card. Without thinking, I thrust the card at him and blurt, “I’ll pay you $300 in cash.”
His eyes light up. “Really?” Then he glances at my card. “You’re on, Jillian Grant. By the way, I would’ve done it for free.” Wearing a lopsided smile, he shoves the card in his pocket and taps the side of the SUV with his hand. “I’ll text you.”
A thrill shoots through me as he heads off, and then I remember. “Wait! What’s your name?”
He turns and calls, “Raine. With an e.”
I smile. Raine with an e. It suits him, almost better than Drew.
For the first time all day, I feel alive.
I really enjoy reading books by authors that are "new" to me. Caught Up In Raine is the first book the new Caught Up In Love series by L.G. O'Connor.
It is a wonderful heartwarming story that is powerful and full of emotion. I was thoroughly wrapped up in this story and didn't want to stop reading it until I was done.
Jillian Grant is a 42-year old New York Times best-selling author. She is visiting her sick aunt in the hospital when she sees Raine, whom she is enthralled with. He looks strikingly similar to Drew, the love of her life who passed away many years ago. Since the new book she is writing features Drew, Jillian asks Raine to be the cover model for the book.
Raine MacDonald is a 25-year old part-time landscaper and bartender who is also pursuing his college degree. He is attracted to Jillian and agrees to pose for her cover pictures. He also can use the money she has offered him.
Both characters have had their own traumas in the past that have molded them: Raine had lost his mother at a young age and his father is abusive. Jillian has had many family members, including her husband, pass away. She is always afraid of losing someone else.
Even though there is a big age difference and Jillian is not sure she should do it, she and Raine start a relationship. They help each other heal from their loss and life experiences.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am very much looking forward to reading the next story in this series!!
L.G. O’Connor is a member of the Romance Writers of America. A corporate strategy and marketing executive for a Fortune 250 company, she writes adult paranormal and contemporary romance. She is the author of the four-book, one-novella urban fantasy / paranormal romance series The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles. The third full length novel launches in 2016. In addition, she is the author of the upcoming Romantic Women’s Fiction / New Adult Caught Up in Love series. L.G. lives a life of adventure, navigating her way through dog toys and soccer balls. When she’s feeling particularly brave, she enters the kitchen . . .
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Book site: www.caughtupinraine.com