Laugh: The Burnside Series by Mary Ann Rivers
May 6th, 2014
Mary Ann Rivers continues her Burnside family series—perfect for readers of Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, and Ruthie Knox—as two people try to share their hearts without losing their cool.
Dr. Sam Burnside is convinced that volunteering at an urban green-space farm in Lakefield, Ohio, is a waste of time—especially with his new health clinic about to open. He only goes to mollify his partner, suspecting she wants him to lighten up. Then Sam catches sight of Nina Paz, a woman who gives off more heat than a scorcher in July. Her easy smile and flirty, sizzling wit has him forgetting his infamous need for control.
Widowed when her husband was killed in Afghanistan, Nina has learned that life exists to take chances. As the daughter of migrant workers turned organic farmers, she’s built an exciting and successful business by valuing new opportunities and working hard to take care of her own. But when Sam pushes for a relationship that goes beyond their hotter-than-fire escapades, Nina ignores her own hard-won wisdom. She isn’t ready for a man who needs saving—even if her heart compels her to take the greatest risk of all: love.
Excerpt from Chapter One of LAUGH by Mary Ann Rivers
She stepped forward and stuck out her hand, streaked with dirt. “Nina Paz.”
He took her hand, surprising himself by not caring about the dirt. “Sam Burnside.”
“I know.” She didn’t let go of his hand, which suited him. “Lacey told me she was sending me an uptight ginger doctor and not to go easy on you.”
He squeezed her hand and tugged it two millimeters toward him, which was proof of his showing just a little restraint, for once.
She was pretty close now, and there were little beads of sweat along her upper lip.
She was pretty close and she was also pretty. It felt like the two of them were caught in slow, thick seconds, the air actually green and live, something growing.
He felt good, on the verge of laughter and a little helpless.
He didn’t really know Nina Paz, he reminded himself. He didn’t know her, and if her eyes seemed knowing, he didn’t have to keep holding her hand and looking her over, just to find out what she knew.
He just wanted to do a good job, here, and go home. Charge his phone. Check in with Lacey, his brother and sisters. Do his laundry.
He could feel the sweat slide down his own spine, under the waistband of his shorts. Looking right into her shiny eyes, the lashes winged and dark, he had a flash of slick bodies bent over convenient sawhorses, muscles moving along his.
He gripped her hand tighter.
She pressed her thumb, just a little into his hand, to tell him she noticed.
What did she notice?
He lowered his eyes from hers, shy, suddenly, of her seeing either his crass or tender thoughts.
“I’m surprised she gave me such a glowing recommendation, actually.”
“She also said you were bossy, rude, a control freak, would probably bring the wrong thing and to not let you come back to the office today or borrow my phone. Then she promised to take me out to that new barrel bar downtown and buy me a twenty-dollar Scotch.”
“I would’ve held out for bottle service.”
“The day’s young, Dr. Burnside.”
“I look forward to it, Farmer Paz.” He was surprised to realize that he was: looking forward it. Her eyes had softened at the corners. Her skin was golden and flushed. Her hair was dark and curled up in the sweat all along her forehead and cheeks.
“You have freckles, too,” he heard himself say, helpless again. They were the smallest nevi across the bridge of her nose, just a shade deeper than her skin.
“Yeah.” He smiled, feeling something give way in his shoulders, his neck. Warmth filled in where all the tight places unsnapped.
He loosened his grip to turn her hand into a different kind of hold. To search out her wrist, her arm, with his fingers. Her eyelids drifted, just a little bit, and he watched his fingertips start a first stroke along her inner wrist with his thumb.
Then he suddenly lost her gaze to the ground, and she stepped back, pulling her hand with her.
He watched her look over into her plants, and he fisted his hands to keep from fidgeting, from finding something to worry on his clothes, from patting his pocket for his phone.
She looked back at him.
“You ready to work? How’s your back? Or are those shoulders just for show?”
He studied her face, and it was serene. But there was color, up high, under those big brown eyes, and he didn’t think it was from the sun.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“No you’re not.” She grinned, but with no laugher behind the grin.
“No.” He wasn’t sorry. Being sorry didn’t work.
“Don’t ever say you are, if you aren’t.”
“It seems like the thing to do, when I’m a jackass. What people need to hear.”
“You should have it printed on a card.”
“Maybe I should. One of my sisters works at a letterpress. I could get a deal.”
“If I was your sister, I’d charge you double for I’m Sorry cards.”
He laughed, and Nina Paz smirked at him—dirt on her forehead, sweat in a V between her beautiful breasts, the sun glossed in her braids. “You’re right, she should. Her, most of all.”
She looked down at the ground again. But he could see her smile. “You ever picked tomatoes before, Opie?”
“Nope. City boy, through and through.”
“Grab a crate and one of those bales of straw. Watch and learn.”
He kicked his flowers to the side and followed her to the stack of crates, enjoying the view of her Thoroughbred legs bending and lifting and crouching.
A fine way to spend the morning—sun at your back and by the side of a beautiful woman who really knew how to laugh.
He closed his eyes.
Mary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son.
Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 E-giftcard to Book Retailer of Choice, Loveswept Mug and Tote Gift Pack, or Copy of THE STORY GUY and LIVE from Mary Ann Rivers)