Author: L.G. Pace III, Michelle Pace
Series: Carved Hearts #4
Release Date: December 24, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Amazon UK
Kelly's world is far from perfect. She keeps several states between herself and her overbearing mother, and she's sick of her friends playing matchmaker. Her naive teaching ambitions haven't panned out, and after years of spinning her wheels in a troubled school district, she's tired of fighting an uphill battle.
Then her missing father calls, and she reluctantly heads to Texas to hear him out. Their reunion isn't exactly a Hallmark moment, but Kelly falls hard for the vibrant city of Austin, and Mac Hildebrandt, the blue-eyed smart-ass who works with her dad. Her choice to move isn't about her father; it's in spite of him.
Since his disastrous divorce, Mac's been satisfied as a bachelor. He's interested in two things: knocking boots and looking out for his kid. Kelly crashes into his life and leaves him reeling from the impact. Try as he might, he can't shake her sweet smile, and that body of hers ain't half bad either. Still, she's Francis's daughter, and Mac's volatile ex is a constant chore, so the complications are impossible to ignore. He ought to know better, but the sparks between them are just too tempting to resist.
I knew the voice immediately, even though I hadn’t heard it since I was twelve years old. My mouth went dry, and I almost dropped the phone. A wave of goosebumps rolled across my flesh.
“Yes.” I sounded scared, reduced to the child I’d been the last time I’d spoken with the man on the other end of the line.
“Hi, darlin’. It’s your dad.”
Enjoying another cold one, I watched several couples take the plunge before gearing up. From what I could tell, they all made it to the bottom in one piece. Between the alcohol and the flirtatious ribbing from my fellow travelers, I soon found myself being buckled into a zip line harness, wondering what I had gotten myself into.
“Just remember how much you love me, Kelly,” Isaac called to me. I frowned at him as I fastened my helmet, completely confused about his random statement. He eyed the other zip line platform nervously, and I turned to see what he was looking at. I’d been so focused on trying not to freak out and make an ass out of myself, that I’d ignored the commotion at the platform a few feet away. Just as my handler was about to release me, I glanced over and saw Mac buckling himself into the other harness. The determined set of his jaw as he met my gaze made my breath catch.
“What the f—” I began, but my handler interrupted me. “Ready, set, go!” He gave me a shove and I found myself hurtling down the hill, clinging desperately to the nylon harness. My heart hammered with such ferocity that I was convinced it would take flight from my chest. With growing dread, I tracked Mac in my peripheral vision. He was rocketing down the hillside much faster than I was, and I realized that at the rate he was traveling, he’d be waiting for me at the bottom. We’d have to hike to the next zip together, so unless I wanted to hike back to the beach, I was stuck facing him, if that was what he had in mind.
The entire trip down probably took less than a minute, but our entire relationship flashed before my eyes in that short span of time. I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline or the alcohol, but I was a live wire by the time I reached the bottom.
As I reached the platform, I saw Mac was already free from his harness. Approaching me before I’d come to a complete stop, he grabbed hold of my trolley and reached for me as if he planned to free me from my restraint.
“Sir!” one of the zip-line attendants said, moving toward Mac as if to intervene.
“I got this, boy.” Mac turned toward him. I wasn’t able to see his face, but the attendants both took a couple of steps back.
“No!” I tried to wiggle out of his grasp. His eyes swept me, and I watched helplessly as the ghost of a devilish grin played on his familiar lips. I knew exactly what was going through his dirty mind.
“All clear?” The question sounded from the nearby attendant’s walkie-talkie. He raised the walkie to his lips and pressed the button.
“Hold please. We have a situation,” I heard him say and I fought with my restraint, trying desperately to free myself so I could get back on my feet. As it was, Mac was holding my trolley, and I could feel the tips of my toes scrape the platform, but only if I pointed them like a prima ballerina.
“Calm down, Chief. This is no situation.” Mac’s voice sounded gruff and commanding. “I just need a few words with the lady.”
“We have nothing to talk about,” I snapped through gritted teeth. I worked the straps of my harness hopelessly. I hadn’t been paying enough attention when the college boy hooked me in, and three beers on an empty stomach were getting the better of my coordination. Or maybe it was just Mac. Something about him flustered me, and that started long before our current state of affairs.
Regardless, he turned in response to my words and got in my face until I had little choice but to look him in the eye.
“I didn’t say we were going to talk. I’m gonna talk. You’re gonna listen.”
“Can you get me down, please?!” I called to the two attendants lurking nearby.
“I got this,” Mac called to them, without taking his eyes off of me.
“Let go,” I managed calmly, even though a storm raged inside me. I wanted to kick him where it would hurt the most, but he was too close for me to get the backswing to do the amount of damage I felt he deserved.
“Sure thing.” He twisted his hands and released the catch, steadying me so I wouldn’t fall. It happened so quickly that I found myself standing free before my mind had a chance to catch up. He towered over me, and his sudden closeness was painfully familiar. “Now, all I’m asking is that you listen.”
“It’s the sign of a true artisan when he can create beauty from what others consider trash. It takes heart to use a twisted bit of scrap and make something from it as if it were good wood.”
Somehow Joe survived the unlivable, and now he’s just going through the motions. An endless string of one night stands does little to dull the ache from all he’s lost. Even though he distracts himself daily with back-breaking work, his violent rage still simmers just under the surface.
Then along comes Molly, the feisty baby sister of his two best friends. Joe hasn’t seen her in years, and he’s unprepared for his reaction to her when she falls out of the food truck and into his arms. Molly is still as mouthy as ever, and now she’s as delicious as the food she’s serving up. It’s totally against “The Bro Code”, but he just can’t seem to keep his hands off of her.
Molly has come back home to Austin to mend fences and feed a whole new crowd. Dealing with Joe’s demons doesn’t figure into her business model. Something is very different about him and she craves the ‘Old Joe’ she used to have a crush on.
Still, the broody carpenter’s swagger is damn near irresistible. And all work and no play makes Molly a cranky girl.
“A good chef can throw seemingly random ingredients into a pot and create something delicious. On rare occasions, fate does the same thing with hearts. With the right combination of elements at just the right time, a couple can fall head over heels in love. That being said, blending two lives can get messier than any kitchen and also a hell of a lot harder to clean up.”
Molly’s food truck took Austin by storm, and she’s got more prospects than she knows what to do with. Her crazy ex is out of the picture, and she’s moved in with her gorgeous boyfriend, Joe. She and Joe rarely see one another, and when they do, their time is squandered arguing. Molly’s anxious to break this cycle because the tension between them is literally making her sick.
After years alone and shattered, Molly has reawakened a part of Joe that he was sure couldn’t be revived. He’s terrified of losing her, but their combined baggage makes every step forward seem littered with landmines. Molly’s more than worth the fight, but she shouldn’t be the one he’s constantly battling. A master carpenter by trade, Joe has restored countless treasures which seemed beyond repair. He’s determined that he and Molly won’t be the exception.
Fate kicks in the door and rocks them to their very foundation. Boundaries are tested, tears shed, and Molly and Joe will question everything they think they know about themselves and each other.
“When we were kids, my cousins planned for their weddings like they were coronations. Sleepovers revolved around notebooks stuffed with clippings from bridal magazines and elaborate plans scrawled in purple ink. Horse drawn carriages, twenty tiered cakes, groomsmen in tails, and scads of bridesmaids, none of whom were nearly as pretty as the bride. Me? I’d just yawn and wander off to the backyard and play fetch with their dog. I never cared about any of that crap, at least not until I met Joe.”
With her wedding rapidly approaching, Molly’s days consist of herding Joe off to tux fittings and diaper changings times two. She misses life on the food truck, but she isn’t quite ready to leave the twins. Planning for every detail to be as perfect as her groom, she hopes her instincts are wrong that it’s all too good to be true.
Knowing Molly like he does, Joe can plainly see that his girl needs to decompress. She’s as stubborn as always, and talking her into a honeymoon without the babies proves easier said than done. Molly’s on edge about every little thing, from the nosey next door neighbor to cars speeding down their quiet street. While Joe revels in their otherwise blissful existence, he worries that Molly’s paranoia may be a symptom of something bigger.
Come back to Austin one last time for the wedding of Molly Elizabeth Hildebrandt and Joseph Samuel Jensen. Raise a glass in celebration alongside their family and closest friends. Wave goodbye as they ride off into the sunset toward a dark fork in the road that could destroy their happily ever after. Will they finally get their fairytale ending? Find out in Heartwood, the explosive conclusion to the Carved Hearts series.
Carved Hearts Series Bundle #1-3
Molly’s a successful chef who’s just escaped a tumultuous marriage with the clothes on her back and enough money to buy an old food truck. She returns to her hometown of Austin for a fresh start and discovers the ruined remains of Joe Jensen, her girlhood crush.
Joe led a charmed life until the tragic night he lost it all. Once a master carpenter, he’s now part of a restoration crew, when he isn’t too hungover to crawl out of bed. He exists in a booze-fueled haze of one night stands, barroom brawls, and working until he drops.
Then Molly Hildebrandt shows up at the job site in a food truck as red as her glossy lipstick. She’s no longer the jailbait girl who used to trail after him, but she’s still the little sister of his best friends, Mason and Mac. Molly’s a splash of ice water to Joe’s whisky-addled heart, and as much as he hates the idea of screwing up his friendship with the twins, he can’t keep his hands to himself.
Saddle up for The Carved Hearts Series, a funny, tear-jerking, swoon-worthy tale of a tattooed spitfire and her not-so-average Joe.