by Kimberly Kincaid
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cocky farmer Eli Cross plays twice as hard as he works. When his latest stunt drums up a heap of negative PR for the family farm, he grudgingly agrees to play host to an ambitious New York City photographer. Her feature on Cross Creek could be just the ticket to show the country what the Cross brothers do best…which is more problem than solution for Eli.
Scarlett Edwards-Stewart has photographed everything from end zones to war zones. She’s confident she can ace this one little story to help her best friend’s failing magazine. At least, she would be, if her super-sexy host weren’t also so tight-lipped. But the more Scarlett works with Eli, the more she discovers he’s not who he seems. Can his secret bring them closer together? Or will it be the very thing that tears them apart?
Scarlett’s pulse kicked in a burst of realization. “You’re going to be my point of contact at the farm for the whole four weeks?”
Looked like she’d unknowingly managed to piss off karma after all. But come on. She needed a blockbuster, not a ball buster. She had to be stuck with the cockiest Cross of the bunch?
That unsettling smirk worked its way back over Eli’s mouth. “Yes ma’am.”
Greeeaaat. “Scarlett,” she said. “And I’m not going to keel over from heat exhaustion.” She was hardly a delicate freaking flower.
Eli lifted one shoulder halfway before letting it drop. “That’s what everyone says right up ’til they do it. But just because you don’t plan on something doesn’t mean it isn’t gonna jump up and bite you on the…”
“Ass?” Scarlett supplied, filling in the obvious blank from where Eli had abruptly trailed off. No, really? They didn’t even swear all the way out here in God’s country? Fuck, she was hosed.
Chagrin flickered over his sun-bronzed face, there and then gone. “Yes ma’am.”
“Scarlett,” she reminded him, pulling a breath full of hot air into her already tight chest. Story. Story. You’re here for a story. “Okay. Any other house rules I should know about?”
“We start early ’round here.” He angled his boots over a branch on the path, heading toward a long, skinny barn-looking structure.
Wait… “How early?”
His smile paved the way for his answer. “Five-thirty.”
Oh, ow. “You do know that’s inhuman, right?”
“You do want the ‘authentic experience’ of farm life, right?” Eli volleyed, slinging air quotes around the words she’d used earlier, and shit. Shit, shit, sleepless shit. He kind of had her there.
Not that she was conceding defeat of any kind. “So no flip-flops, hydrate, cover up, and be ready to roll at oh-dark-thirty. Is that all?”
The slight lift of his dark blond brows was the only betrayal of his surprise. “It’ll serve for now.”
“Excellent, because I’ve got a couple rules of my own.” Scarlett jammed her flip-flops to a halt on the path, staring Eli down even though he stood a solid foot taller than her in those banged-up boots of his. “I’m here to do a job, and I don’t intend to take any half measures, which means, yes, I’m going to take a lot of pictures, and yes, I do want to experience farm life authentically. I’m fine with hard work, and also fine with any suggestions or guidance you’re willing to offer while we get that hard work done. What I’m not cool with”—she lifted a finger to send her point all the way home—“is you underestimating me. These features are going to do a lot for your farm, and I’m a damned good photographer, not to mention a pretty smart woman. Now, are we going to play nicely together for the sake of this magazine layout, or are you going to keep leading the way with your cocky attitude? In truth, I’m fine with either, but if you want to go the arrogant route, be forewarned. I bite back.”
Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.
Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.
But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.