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Visual Effects (paperback) by Joyce M. Holmes

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  • Drey Winston is a fierce competitor who enjoys challenging her mind and body. But when it comes to her heart—no one ever gets close enough to compete for it. Having grown up believing she was an unwanted burden to her parents, she prefers to keep her feelings well hidden. Just when her hard-fought goals are finally within reach, the audacious Jesse Devlin comes along to breach her carefully guarded defenses.

    After a disastrous marriage early in life, Jesse Devlin prefers strings-free relationships. Confident and outgoing, he gets along well with women, but his natural charm can’t seem to penetrate Drey Winston’s aloofness. While attempting to win her over, he’s the one who ends up losing his heart.

    Can this commitment-phobic bachelor convince the stubbornly independent woman he loves that his feelings—and hers—are the real deal?

    Excerpt:

    he pulled his T-shirt over muscled shoulders, dropped it onto the sand on top of his cap, and made quick work of his footwear. Drey stared in disbelief as he beelined down the beach and ran straight into the low surf. When he was hip-deep in the water, he slipped smoothly beneath the surface. He reappeared several feet out and turned to wave.

    “Join me,” he called. “The water’s great.”

    “Not a chance. The ocean is cold in summer, I can only imagine how frigid it must be today.”

    “Wuss,” he scoffed and splashed water in her direction.

    Shivers that had nothing to do with feeling chilly shot through Drey as she watched him emerge from the water a few minutes later. Rivulets ran down his chest, following the ridges and planes of his brawny body. Wet shorts clung to muscular thighs.

    He ran his hands over his face and then shook himself like a playful pup. “You don’t know what you missed. Nothing like a dip in the salt chuck to get the heart pumping. Well, almost nothing.” He stalked deliberately up the beach toward her, and the look on his face made her back away, but she didn’t react fast enough. He caught her up in his arms, laughing at her shrieks of protest.

    “Lemme go, Jesse. You’re cold. Come on, Jesse, lemme go. You’re getting me all wet.”

    “That’s the whole idea. Get you wet and me warm.”

    She gave him a firm push in the wrong direction as she sprinted down the beach. “Not if you can’t catch me,” she threw over her shoulder as she went. Sensing Jesse right behind her, she ran full out. She could hear his muttered curses as he fell further behind, and she started to laugh and slow her stride. Thinking she’d left him in her dust, she made the mistake of looking back to check. Somehow, he ended up being right behind her and he reached out, clipping her with his hand.

    Caught off-balance, she stumbled in the loose sand, falling first to her knees, then flat on her face. Jesse instantly dropped to her side. “I am so sorry, Drey. I never meant to trip you. Are you hurt, honey? Can you sit up?”

    Drey came up spitting sand. She wiped at the sand stuck to her face, which only made matters worse, because the gritty mess also covered her hands. Jesse’s expression changed from concern to hilarity.

    “Don’t you dare laugh at me, you bully.” Drey drilled him a good one in the shoulder when he couldn’t contain his laughter. She shoved him as hard as she could and he fell over backward. “You’re mean, Jesse Devlin.”

    Still laughing, Jesse rubbed his shoulder where she’d hit him. “You’re the one who’s mean. That hurt.”

    Drey leaned over him, pinning him to the ground. “Oh, poor baby. You can dish it out, but you sure can’t take it.” He gazed up at her, eyes brilliantly reflecting the sky above them. The naked longing she saw lurking in their depths snatched the breath from her body. Realizing too late what he was about to do, she couldn’t stop him from wrapping her in his arms—his wet, sand-covered arms, which pulled her down onto his equally wet, sandy chest.

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Visual Effects (paperback)

Visual Effects (paperback)

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