Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Excerpt: Blue Hawaiian

The first rule of serving as the maid of honor at your perfect sister’s destination wedding? 

No mistakes. The second rule? No drama.

For Jess Chavez, a week in Maui is hardly a dream vacation—not when her sister expects her to be the perfect maid of honor. Not only does Jess have to fake perfection, but she can’t let anyone know she’s unemployed and barely scraping by. Above all, she needs to steer clear of Connor Blackwood, the sexy groomsman who broke her heart five years ago.

A family wedding offers Connor the ideal opportunity to convince everyone he’s no longer an irresponsible playboy. If they see he’s changed, they might support his decision to leave the family winery and strike out on his own. With so much at stake, the last thing he needs is an alluring distraction like Jess.

When Jess and Connor end up together, exploring the island’s lush, tropical beauty, the sparks between them become impossible to ignore. Throwing caution to the wind, they decide to make their own rules.

Five days of passion. No strings. No tears. No promises.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Former lovers Jess and Connor are spending a week in Maui, attending a family wedding between Jess’s sister, Gabi, and Connor’s cousin, Marc. On their first day at the resort, they join the wedding party for a group outing to the beach to go snorkeling. Though Jess still resents Connor for the way he ghosted her after their breakup, she finds him hard to resist. 

Jess had no idea how long she’d been immersed in her own undersea paradise, but when she stood up to clean out her mask, Connor was standing next to her. His nearness made her self-conscious, especially since she was wearing the world’s smallest bikini. 

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Just wanted a little quiet. Did you get your luggage yet?” 

“Hardly. I’ll be lucky if it arrives before the wedding.” 

His gaze was bold, traveling over every inch of her body. “Then where’d you get the bikini?”

Pushing past the urge to duck back into the water, she placed her hands on her hips, putting her barely covered curves on full display. If Connor wanted an eyeful, she’d give him one. “It was a gift from Gabi. Do you like it?”

His approval shouldn’t matter. But she was gratified when he gave her a wicked smile that made her toes curl. “Definitely. Gabi has excellent taste.” He took a few steps closer. “Just a warning. You might want to keep an eye out for sharks. Maui’s known for them.”

Ice water shot through her veins. “Sharks? Gabi didn’t mention sharks.” She scanned the horizon. “Shouldn’t there be signs up?” She was about to wade back to the beach, but Connor caught her arm. The sensation sent tingles through her.

“Kidding. I wanted to see if you were still scared of them.”

She smacked him in the chest. “You bastard. If I’m afraid of sharks, it’s because you forced me to watch Jaws.” She lifted her hand to smack him again, but he grabbed her wrist and held it tight. She stumbled, and he steadied her with his other hand. They were inches apart, and she was more aware of his physical presence than ever. She swallowed, torn between enjoying his touch and putting some distance between them.

Jaws is a classic,” he said. “Every movie buff needs to watch it at least once.”

“But you told me sharks had been sighted at Big Bear Lake. It was beyond cruel.”

He chuckled. “It was a freshwater lake in the mountains. Zero chance of a shark attack.”

She’d forgotten how much she loved his laugh. Or how much she enjoyed teasing him. “At least I didn’t freak out and claim a rogue grizzly was rooting through our garbage like you did that summer.”

“Hey, it was pitch-dark outside. And it sounded like a bear.”

She gave him a huge eyeroll. “It was a raccoon, you big dork. You had bears on the brain after we watched The Revenant. Worst movie choice ever.”

“I had to put it on my bucket list. Leo won an Oscar for that movie.”

The sparks between them made Jess’s pulse race. She licked her lips, tasting salt water, only to find Connor staring at her unashamedly, as if he wanted to claim those lips for himself. She forced herself to pull away and take a few steps back before she did something stupid, like kiss him. 

Carla Luna writes contemporary romance with a dollop of humor and a pinch of spice. A former archaeologist, she still dreams of traveling to far-off places and channels that wanderlust into the settings of her stories. When she’s not writing, she works in a spice emporium where she gets paid to discuss food and share her favorite recipes. Her passions include Broadway musicals, baking, whimsical office supplies, and pop culture podcasts. Though she has roots in Los Angeles and Victoria, B.C., she currently resides in Wisconsin with her family and her spoiled Siberian cat.

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