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Carved Wooden Heart by Elizabeth Horton-Newton

Carved Wooden Heart

by Elizabeth Horton-Newton

Giveaway ends July 24, 2017.

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Jesse had not moved. It was as though he was a magnet and I was irresistibly drawn to him. “Mr. Carver, how nice to see you.”

His lip curled. “Really? Mr. Carver?” His eyes narrowed. I knew that look. It was not good. “Fine. Miss Stone. Oh wait, it’s Mrs. Newman now, isn’t it?”

I tensed at the sarcastic tone. My husband had passed away almost three years ago and I had returned to using my maiden name. Anyone who knew me was well aware of that.

“It’s Miss Stone,” I responded stiffly. “I’m currently assisting another client. I’m certain Kathryn will be happy to show you anything you would like to see.”

“I highly doubt that since it’s you I’ve come to see. Miss Stone.” His dark eyes glistened

My heart flip flopped and I swallowed hard. “And why would that be, Mr. Carver?”

“Let’s stop playing games, Dani. We both know why I’m here.”

I glanced back at Kathryn and my client to see them both staring at us curiously. Turning back to Jesse I hissed, “Fine. Let’s go to my office.” Brushing past him I strode purposefully toward my office at the rear of the gallery. Opening the door and stepping inside I noticed my hands were shaking slightly. I turned to tell Jesse to take a seat to find he was standing directly behind me. He was much taller than I was and my eyes were on level with the open collar of his Oxford shirt. I looked up slowly. The scent of him filled my head; the long remembered woodsy smell that he seemed to carry with him. Stepping back quickly I indicated the chair in front of my desk before moving behind the desk to my own chair.

“Can I offer you a drink?” I asked politely. “Coffee, tea, a soft drink? Or perhaps you prefer something stronger?” I said the last sarcastically, taunting him with the alcohol problem I knew he struggled with.

He leaned back in the chair and comfortably crossed his long legs. “I don’t drink alcohol anymore. I haven’t had a drink in five years.” His voice was even and undisturbed. My comment hadn’t even ruffled his feathers. “Do you have any bottled water?”

I went to the small refrigerator I kept in my office and withdrew a bottle of water and a can of cola. Setting the water in front of him I returned to my seat, popping open the can of soda. I took a long sip of the cold drink before speaking. “Alright, Jesse. What did you want to see me about?”

“I want to buy the carving back.” He stated it simply with no precursor.

I felt my face grow warm and I knew I was turning pink. One of the unfortunate side effects of being a fair skinned blond was my tendency to blush at the slightest provocation. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I lied and took another sip of my drink.

“Come on Dani,” he practically snarled. “Let’s get on with it. You paid with a credit card.”

I mentally cursed paper trails. “I’m not selling it.”

Jesse tossed the closed water bottle from one hand to the other. “Yes, you are. I’ll give you what you paid for it and an additional fee.”

I laughed sharply. “A fee? That’s rich.” Leaning my elbows on my desk I repeated what I had already told him. “I’m not selling it.”

“It was mistakenly sold. It was only for display.” Now he was lying and I knew it.

“How unfortunate. It had quite a large price tag.”

His eyes glittered dangerously. “I told you, it was a mistake.” He was practically grinding his perfectly white, slightly uneven teeth. “I’ll pay you double what you were charged.”

I never hesitated. Granted it was partly spite. “I have no intention of selling it.” Standing I asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

Jesse stood as well and he glowered at me. His lips were set in a tight thin line. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a card case and tossed his business card on my desk. “Call me when you come up with a fair price.” Before I could respond he had turned on his heel and strode out of my office.

Kathryn hurried in and closed the door behind her. “Who was that? What did he want?”

I realized I was trembling all over. “Someone I knew a long time ago. He wanted to buy something.”

“What?” Kathryn’s eyes were wide. She had never seen me like this.

I collapsed into my chair. “Me.” I said it softly at first. Then I looked at her. “He wanted to buy me.”

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on November 13, 2016
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Carved Wooden Heart is a mixture of high octane romance and a twisty adventure that will keep you up at night wondering how the characters will all evolve. Having already read Riddle and View From The Sixth Floor, I knew Horton-Newton’s work very well. In collaboration with Starla Hartless, an author I wasn’t familiar with, I was glad to find the voice kept up with the traditional clipped pace I was used to.

Erotic romance is not a genre on my regular radar but I found this book to be suspenseful and humorous and very well written. Dani is a character you will want to root for. A mixture of naivety and passion at the outset, she quickly learns that the steely hearted man she has fallen for is not quite your traditional Romeo. The reader gets glimpses of his armored heart with hints of extraordinary charisma that provides a knot of tension throughout the book. But any coping mechanism Dani hopes to achieve gets swiftly tossed out of the window as Jesse takes her on another rollercoaster ride of emotions.

I must say, Dani is hard to outmaneuver and that’s what I like about her. She’s ready to accept the consequences of her actions even though she is relentlessly in pursuit of love. There are a few scenes of graphic intimacy which will convey a reader fairly rapidly to steamsville and many twists in the trail leaving her better equipped to deal with the next hurdle. And she does it all with such panache.The characters are intriguing and cleverly individual, from Doug the savior to Dani’s parents, all the way down to a very believable and lovable boy called Dylan.

This book is not unputdownable – in fact you have to put it down in order to slow down a racing heart. But if you do put it down for too long you deprive yourself of the unique pleasure of unearthing the mysteries of Dani’s sometimes vulnerable and intense journey. It has everything I have come to expect and enjoy in a Horton-Newton novel.

on March 6, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Daniella is a young woman just beginning to find her way in life. Jesse is an artist haunted by personal demons. When Dani’s work brings them together, a brief interval of passion leads to feelings deep enough to last a lifetime. But fate is a fickle thing, and a series of chance events soon forces them apart. But, sometimes, seemingly harmless actions can have lasting consequences, and life doesn’t always lead us along the road we thought it would.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a contemporary romance that reminded me of the style of an Olivia Goldsmith novel. As a transplanted New Yorker, myself, I found the Manhattan setting nostalgic. The description of the scenes was detailed enough that I could almost smell the street-cart food and hear the taxi horns blaring. The characters are interesting and complex enough to keep you interested in their stories. And the love scenes are hot enough to keep romance fans happy. All-in-all, a fun story. Five stars.


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