Fuming, Ísa made sure to set the alarm system and lock up. Everyone else was already well into their summer vacation—the sole reason Ísa was here was because she hadn’t been able to work on her lesson plans at home.
Her upstairs neighbor was having repairs done to her bathroom that required banging and hammering.
Not all of it involved nails and wood.
Hopefully the repairs would be finished by now. There was only so much ecstatic orgasmic screaming that a single woman in online-dating purgatory could stand without being driven to violence.
She spotted the tan-colored gardening truck the instant she came down the front steps of the school’s imposing redbrick main building and turned left to head toward her car. The hot gardener had parked it right next to her zippy blue compact. The front of the truck had four doors with tinted windows while the large bed was piled with shovels and other manly tools as well as a huge sack of clippings.
His light brown T-shirt was hanging over the top of the tailgate.
Which meant he was still walking around topless somewhere around here.
“Get in your car, Ísa,” she muttered to herself, well aware what would happen if she came face-to-face with that delicious hunk of manhood. Because while she might’ve conquered her shyness, she knew her limits.
Confronted by a bare-chested man who made her ovaries explode, she’d turn bright pink, lose her ability to form speech, and end of story. “Oh—”
She would’ve bounced off that sculpted chest if he hadn’t grabbed her by the hips.
“Hey, sorry,” he said with a startled smile that lit up the dazzling blue of his eyes. “I didn’t see you.”
“No, um, my fault.” It looked as if he’d crouched down to check one of his tires or something else but had risen to his feet right when she swung around to get into her car. And God, his skin was so hot and smooth and he was so tall and his shoulders were so broad and her mouth was drying up. The stuttering would begin at any moment.
The same stuttering Suzanne had mocked relentlessly when they were fourteen. Until Ísa had gone silent around everyone except the few friends she trusted. And now that horrible, ugly-hearted girl was getting married, having a baby, getting a happily-ever-after. Added to which, Ísa’s mother was jerking her on a string like she was a marionette, and her last “date” had asked her to call him Woofy and reward him with doggy biscuits.
The blue of the gardener’s eyes flickered with a hot flame.
And she thought… I know him. But before she could follow that faint thread, all the fury and hurt and frustration and sheer aggravation in Ísa ignited into an incandescent inferno.
She went mad.
Grabbing the hot gardener’s beautiful face in her hands, she said, “I want to kiss you.”
A wicked grin. “Go on ahead.”
And Ísa pressed her lips to his.
“This is a passionate romance told in characteristic Nalini Singh fashion of a good story with humor, feeling, and poignant emotions.”
– Outlander Book Club
“Nalini Singh pours life into her characters with tender loving care and remarkable attention to detail, and it is difficult not to swoon at her every word… overflowing with emotion and passion, this is the kind of story I am always in the mood for.”
– Natasha is a Book Junkie
“For me what really stood out was Sailor Bishop. He shone like a beacon – OMG, he was sooooo amazing!!! Swoony, and just a real fantastic guy. I loved him. The way that he treated Ísa was wonderful.”
– Corina for Book Twins Reviews
“It’s a sexy, heart-warminig story filled with the trials, tribulations and victory of a true and abiding love.”
– Deanna’s World
“Nalini Singh has a way of writing men you’d love to take home!…This story was sweet, light, and funny.”
– Book Howls
“Not many authors can make me laugh and swoon in the same sentence, but Singh totally managed that. And she did so more than once. These characters brought out all the feels, and I fell in love alongside them, cried when one of them cried, and laughed when one of them laughed.”
– (Un)Conventional Book Views
“This was so fun and charming. It had a light vibe that I found totally entertaining with really likable and wonderful characters. I had a blast reading this!”
– About That Story
“…I loved Cherish Hard. The storyline captured my attention from the very start. The characters are lovable and perfect for each other.”
– Stacey Is Sassy
“A highly entertaining story with a serendipitous romance!”
– Fresh Fiction
“…Sailor and Ísa confide their fears in each other, talk it out and stick together to the road ahead of them. CHERISH HARD has made me want to check out Ms. Singh’s other contemporary romances but this spin-off that she is doing of the Bishop brothers is one that I know I want more of already.”
– Pip @The Romance Reviews