Despite the fact that I’m on holiday with limited internet access, I couldn’t not join in with the release day blitz for Rebecca Raisin’s new book Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm.
Maple sugar kisses…
Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.
Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…
Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!
Fall in love with Ashford, Connecticut in this dazzling and beautiful romance from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin.
The Maple Syrup Farm was, at best, a ramshackle mess. The front gate hung off its latch, creaking in the wind, pitching backward and forward like an invitation to enter. In the distance you could make out the cottage. Gnarly old vines twisted around porch posts as though they were slowly strangling them. Cottage windows were smashed, leaving only dirty shards of glass clinging to their perches. Mountains of junk had been abandoned across the land for so long that grass had grown over them. Odd sticks of wood protruded like arms in supplication. The decaying façade of the place was somehow compelling rather than confronting.
Behind the gate, the property spanned for miles. Long snow-dotted grass swayed like green ribbons and grew into everything, wild and free. Even down the graveled driveway the grass had crept over like it was intent on taking over, burying the vestiges of ground.
I pushed the creaky gate open and walked purposefully, convincingly, like I’d been on a million farms before and knew what to do. As I neared the cottage music blared from inside. I stepped onto the porch. It was rotted in places, worm-wooded. I covered my ears against the noise as I dodged holes and hoped to God I made it inside without tumbling into trouble in my boots.
Whoever was inside the small cottage was belting out lyrics to “Pony” by Ginuwine like he was the only person in the world. Clay? I couldn’t really see an old farmer type listening to such provocative music, but it took all kinds to make a world, as my mom was keen on saying.
With a quick rap on the door, I set my shoulders, pulled my coat tighter and waited. No answer. There was no way he’d hear me with the volume up so high. With a shrug, I opened the front door, and stuck my head inside.
My mouth hung open at the sight before me. Clay was not old. Not weathered. Not wearing overalls.
He stood all six foot something of him, on the top rung of a stepladder, wearing only tight denim jeans, holding a drill. His broad shoulders moved to the beat of the music, his biceps flexing in time. As he turned and leaned I caught sight of his sculpted abs, the grooves and valleys of them, the color of his skin, tanned somehow in wintertime. He was the epitome of the perfect male model. I imagined him nude, and wanted to paint him in explicit detail because it would make such a stunning portrait.
The tight denim jeans accented his butt, and he thrust his hips to the rhythm of the song. That kind of taut, strong body would be a joy to paint. Just watching him made me uncomfortably warm. I had been wanting to capture a man on canvas, their intense lines and lengths, especially one as chiseled as this.
He flicked his dark blond hair back, and turned suddenly, one hand grasping the top rung of the ladder. When he caught sight of me the singing and, sadly, the thrusting stopped abruptly.
I walked to the stereo to turn the music down, before saying, “Hi, nice drill you have there.” Nice drill you have there? I promptly closed my mouth, and hoped my brain would catch up with my voice. In my effort to come across convincing, like I knew what a drill was, I sounded like I was flirting. Or just plain stupid. “What I meant was—”
His expression darkened and he spoke over the top of me. “You lost?”
I tilted my head, confused at the hostility in his voice. “No.” I appraised him—a hot guy with a bad attitude. I’d been expecting to see a middle-aged guy wearing overalls, not someone half-dressed, and mesmerizing from a painting point of view. The fierceness in his eyes—would I capture it?
He jumped down from the ladder, a fine sheen of sweat glistening on his abs. From a sofa covered with plastic, he snatched up a crumpled tank top and pulled it over his head.
“No need to get dressed on my account.” I resisted the urge to clap a hand over mouth. “What I mean is, just be as you were…” The words were coming out wrong, in my effort to be someone I was not.
“Can I help you?” He let the drill drop, the cord slipping slowly through his fingers—he didn’t take his eyes off me, before it hit the ground with a clunk. For some reason the gesture seemed highly erotic. But the steely glint in his eyes told a different story.
Thoughts of traipsing back down the driveway, jobless, flashed through my mind. “I’m here about the job.” I raised my chin.
His face cracked into a cynical smile. He snatched a rag from the coffee table and wiped his brow, all the while chuckling to himself. I held his stare, while he gave me a once-over. His eyes were a mesmerizing, deep, dark brown, almost fathomless. I should have changed my outfit before I set off. He couldn’t take me seriously for the job, looking like some kind of bohemian.
“A job?” His mouth twisted. “I don’t think so.” His gaze traveled the length of my body once more and I tried hard not to squirm.
“And why not?” I asked, remembering Becca’s word of warning. Do not take no for an answer.
He sneered. “Do you even know what the job is?”
“Farming, or a farmer, or a farmer’s assistant. Who cares about the title? All you need to know is, I am more than capable of…farming.” Way to go, Lucy, I silently berated myself. Say farmer one more time. He had me on edge with his cool stare. I hoped the desperation wasn’t evident in my voice.
“Who sent you here?”
I tried to hide my smile at his phrasing—it was almost like a line out of a mafia movie. Was this guy for real? “Your cousin Becca. She said you can’t find anyone else.” And now I see why. If I wasn’t so desperate for a job I would have told him exactly what I thought of him and breezed out. But there was also a stubborn side of me that wanted to show him he was wrong about me. I could…farm, as well as anyone else.
He raised an eyebrow. “You think I can’t find anyone?”
“I don’t see people lining up to work for you.” He blanched. If it was a tug of war, I’d just retrieved a bit of the rope. “But I am perfectly able to do the work.”
“Is that so?”
“Sure is.” I pursed my lips.
He took two steps toward me and stood so close I could feel his breath on my face. My pulse quickened—for one second I thought he was going to kiss me. He said, “You think you can handle it?”
About the Author
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.