Sanctuary Island Book Six; Interconnected standalone
Home is where the heart is…
Marcus Beckett left Sanctuary Island after his mother’s funeral, and he hasn’t been back since. Until now. Needing a change from the high-risk, high-stakes life of a bodyguard, Marcus makes a solitary life for himself running the neighborhood bar in his hometown. His only mistake? Seducing and then dumping the town’s sweetheart, Quinn Harper. Marcus knows he did the right thing—a good girl like Quinn has no business with a broken man like him. But now no one will come to his bar, and he’s watching his last chance at a peaceful life go up in smoke. So when Quinn proposes a fake four-week courtship, he can’t refuse…even though he knows it’s a bad idea.
It’s a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own martial problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers besides. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts…and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?
Home at Last is a second-chance romance that features a woman who grew up infatuated by the neighbor’s older son. The small town they live in has subsequently thrown backlash at him after their quick romance ended, leaving his bar hurting for business. So goes her plan…a business proposal that relies on their fake romantic reunion.
I love fake relationships and how they slowly bloom into something real, and I enjoyed seeing Marcus and Quinn’s relationship blossom with a nice, slow burn. I hadn’t read any of the prior books in this series, though I’ve heard their ‘relationship’ is featured a bit in the most recent book, but I can’t speak to how that would’ve helped their story; I didn’t really feel like I was missing anything, or enough of something to make it hard to connect. Marcus’ broody nature mixed well with Quinn’s sweet, helpfulness, and their constant butting of heads kept the pages turning.
I will say, however, that the side story featuring Quinn’s parents was featured too heavily in my opinion. It really detracted from the potency of Quinn and Marcus’ effect on the reader. I found myself skipping those POVs so that I could get back to the real story. I’m sort of impatient that way, so I’m sure not every reader will feel as I did.
Home at Last was a fun story with sexy characters and the right amount of angst-y romance. It was sweet and romantic, and had the kind of second-chance romance readers love to read about. Small towns and their gossiping ways brought back together a couple that were meant for one another, and I enjoyed experiencing it.
Quinn had taken the floor for exactly the reasons she’d said, in addition to the knowledge that however little she liked to think it mattered, Marcus was ten years older than she was. And he was a secret stress case who carried all his tension in his back and shoul- ders. She should know, since she’d nearly sprained her thumbs trying to dig the knots out during a massage that had started out sexy and turned into a to-the-death battle between Quinn and the long muscles lining Marcus’s spine.
Marcus didn’t need to screw up his back by lying on the floor for eight hours, was her point. Not that she would ever say that to him. She didn’t have a death wish.
But as it turned out, the floor was more uncomfort- able than Quinn had anticipated. And as the hours wore down, so did her resistance to the temptation of the warm, soft bed mere inches from her stiff, aching body.
She stared at Marcus’s sleeping form and wondered if she dared.
Then she wondered what the hell was the matter with her. It was a bed. They were adults. Sleeping next to each other didn’t mean they were automatically going to cross some invisible, arbitrary line. She wasn’t going to roll over in her sleep and accidentally impale herself on his penis. They’d be fine.
This is fine, she told herself, getting up off her shaky knees and creeping around to the other side of the bed. The way her knees popped when she stood up was a deciding factor. Quinn carefully peeled back the cov- ers and slid into the bed beside Marcus.
Quinn held her breath, but he didn’t move. His broad chest rose and fell with his deep, even breaths. He threw off heat like a roaring bonfire; Quinn went from chilled to toasty in seconds.
Letting her body relax into the softness of the mat- tress, she drifted peacefully into sleep.
Quinn’s dreams were chaotic, flashes of memories mixed with totally random people from her past and present. She was aware they were dreams, in that vague way that happens sometimes, even when the dreamer is deeply asleep.
In the dream, she and Marcus were walking through the woods behind her parents’ house, holding hands. Even Dream Quinn couldn’t suspend disbelief quite enough for that. Marcus wasn’t a hand-holding kind of guy. So she knew it was a dream, even as he led her deeper into the pine copse, their footfalls muffled by layers and layers of dried pine needles that released their evergreen scent as they were crushed.
Come here, said Dream Marcus, giving Quinn the smile she’d only glimpsed once or twice—the small, private, completely unguarded smile that made Marcus look like the carefree boy Quinn had first fallen for.
She could never resist that particular smile. Not that she wanted to resist. This was only a dream. She could have whatever she wanted, with no consequences.
Emboldened by her freedom, Quinn followed Marcus down to lie on a bed of springy green moss. He lay back, arms crossed behind his head and more re- laxed than she’d ever seen him in real life. Sunlight dappled his handsome face, patterns of light and shadow that shivered over his cheekbones when wind fluttered through the branches overhead.
Her heart swelled with all the feelings she’d been stuffing down and denying since the day Marcus un- ceremoniously ended their relationship. It wasn’t smart to care about him. She knew that, and Quinn wanted to be smart, she really did.
The trouble was that she’d never learned how to stop caring about someone. Her poor, bruised heart was as optimistic and stubborn as her hungry body was when it came to Marcus Beckett.
Despair teased at Quinn’s mind, but she pushed it away. This is a dream, she said aloud to remind them both. Only a dream.
Beneath her, Marcus smiled again, the smile that promised things like love and forever and the kind of pleasure she could live on. Thighs tensing with need where she was suddenly straddling his hips, Quinn felt the low-down clench of her body around the emptiness only Marcus could fill.
A shudder racked her, sweeping up her frame in a rush that tightened the peaks of her breasts and forced her mouth open on a gasp.
Yes, like that, Marcus murmured, his eyes going hot and feral the way she remembered from their first nights of passion. The grip of his hands at her hips ex- cited Quinn. She squirmed a little, wanting to feel it, hoping it bruised so she could look in the mirror later and see the evidence of Marcus’s desire for her.
With a smooth twist of his massive torso, he flipped them so that Quinn’s back was arching off the cool moss and Marcus was covering her with his body. Her legs fell open, wanton and wanting, and she relished the stretch of her thighs as he fit himself into the cra- dle of her hips.
His hardness slotted against her softness with a series of rhythmic nudges that stoked the fire inside Quinn higher and higher. In the dream, her panties melted away like fog, and he was naked too, and they were pressed together so intimately and perfectly and yet, somehow, there was still something in the way, a barrier to Quinn getting what she really wanted. Frus- tration mounting, she reached down between their hot, straining bodies and felt . . . cotton?
Quinn blinked and suddenly, instead of staring up at the waving pine needles of the Lantern Point woods, she was looking at the familiar starburst pattern of the plaster ceiling in her girlhood bedroom.
Her immediate thought was a dismayed No, let me go back to the dream! But in the next instant, she realized Marcus was still on top of her, his hard chest and strong arms caging her in. Their legs were tangled hopelessly in the sheets and they were both still wear- ing what they’d gone to bed in, but other than that?
The dream was real.
Eyes still closed, Marcus twisted his hips, grinding wickedly against Quinn’s most sensitive spot and scat- tering her thoughts like dried pine needles before she could figure out what to do. She reacted mindlessly, her body taking over and bowing up hard, her arms going around Marcus’s neck.
Through her haze of heated lust, Quinn saw the exact moment Marcus woke up.
Copyright © 2017 by Lily Everett and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.
♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦
LILY EVERETT is the author of the Sanctuary Island series for St. Martin’s Press. She grew up in a small town in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and now resides in Austin, Texas, where she writes full-time.