Monday, March 9, 2015

"Summer with a Star" by Merry Farmer

Summer with a Star
(Second Chances Book 1)
by Merry Farmer

Summer with a Star is the first book in Merry Farmer's new Second Chances series, but it can be read as a standalone. This book blitz and giveaway is brought to you by Badass Marketing.

All Tasha Pike has wanted for the past twenty years is to rent Sand Dollar Point for a summer. The grand Victorian on the beach of Summerbury, Maine was the object of her childhood fantasy and her standard of romance—and it was finally happening. Her dream summer is ruined, however, when she arrives in Summerbury to find that Hollywood superstar Spencer Ellis has muscled his way into the house instead. His offer that they share Sand Dollar Point is not only infuriating—it’s insulting.
He’s a celebrity, and one she’s determined to hate.
Spencer’s summer in Maine was supposed to help him get his head screwed on straight. One look at Tasha, however, made that impossible. She’s beautiful. She’s angry. She doesn’t care who he is. She doesn’t care about his fame. In fact, she doesn’t even like him.
She’s irresistible.
He’s only got the summer. She’s only got her heart. They’ve only got each other.
Note: Steam Level - Very Hot

Chapter One
Twenty years. Tasha Pike had been saving her pennies for twenty years to scrape together enough to rent the big Victorian house that stood on the point overlooking Summerbury Beach. She drew in a deep breath as she drove the last mile of the winding road that hugged the sleepy Maine coast. Her heart thumped against her ribs, as though she was on her way to the first day of school instead of a much-needed vacation. Ten bucks here, half a tax refund there—twenty years had taken forever, but she’d done it. Let people try to tell her she was dreaming now. Let them say that teachers couldn’t rent stunning mansions for an entire summer. She’d shown them. After two decades, Sand Dollar Point was hers. At least it was for the next two months.
Not much had changed about Summerbury since the summers she had spent there as a child. The tiny seaside town was still adorable. She had to inch her way through Main Street to avoid shopping tourists and locals catching up with their seasonal neighbors. Summerbury’s economy was driven by the shops and restaurants along the two main roads that intersected at the town’s only traffic light. One road headed down to the marina. The other wound out of town and around to the shore and the pier, where Summerbury gave way to Summerbury Beach.
“Twenty years,” Tasha repeated the mantra she’d been chanting since turning off of the Maine Turnpike. An upbeat summer jam blared on her radio, giving her courage. “Piece of cake.”
She smiled at the tall pines that poked out behind the sandy parking lot of the hotel her family had stayed in summer after summer. It would have felt natural to turn into that lot and find a spot in the shade beside the shed that housed bicycles for rent. But no, not this summer. She let out a giddy laugh as she drove on, around a sharp corner, then on to the wide curve of Beach Avenue.
There it was, half a mile away at the end of the long stretch of sand-dusted road. Sand Dollar Point. It was as vibrant in reality as it had been in Tasha’s dreams. Its freshly-painted gray siding was off-set by bright white trim and maroon-red shutters. The black shingles on the steeply-slanted roofs sparkled in the morning light. Sand Dollar Point had two stories of balconies, all with lace-like accents that made the house look as though it had been pulled from the pages of a fairy-tale. It even had a widow’s watch at the top of the octagonal tower nestled in the cross-point of the house’s two wings. The house was surrounded by pink and red-blossom sea rose bushes. A wooden staircase leading down to the beach hugged the side of the cliff the house had been built atop.
“Beautiful.” Tasha hummed, warmth filling her soul. She slowed to five miles below the speed limit so that she could draw out her approach. The white wicker porch swing on the first floor porch swayed in the sea breeze as she drove the last few yards to the driveway. Ten-year-old Tasha had once spied a couple kissing on that swing as the sunset bathed them in orange light, and ever since that had been her gold-standard of romance.
“Eat your heart out, Brad Jamison,” she muttered with a satisfied grin.
Brad. He was supposed to come with her on this vacation. They’d met on the very beach she drove past now. He was the boy she’d dug for buried treasure with, the summer crush she’d come back to year after year, her first kiss. He was the man who had made her a woman, the man she’d thought she would marry.
He was the man who had dumped her three weeks before the end of the school year.
Forget it, she told herself, fighting that familiar tremor in her gut as she made the turn into Sand Dollar Point’s long drive. Brad was history. She was well rid of the lying, cheating bastard. The time for feeling like a loser over her dead relationship had passed. The best thing that had come out of the twenty years she had known Brad was fact that she had never once let his snide comments discourage her from saving for Sand Dollar Point. He may have mashed her self-esteem to a pulp, but her vacation of a lifetime would be twice as sweet knowing that she’d persevered on this one point. The summer vacation of her dreams started now. It served Brad right.
The driveway curved halfway out onto the cliff. Its mass of rose bushes hid the parking spots by the front porch from the road, so when Tasha spotted her best friend Jenny’s car already parked, it was a surprise. She pulled into the space beside Jenny and cut her engine. Jenny waved at her from the other car’s driver’s seat as she talked on her phone.
“Why are you here?” Tasha asked, knowing her friend couldn’t hear through the windows. She climbed out of her car—stretching the stiffness of hours of driving from her back—and circled around to the other side. The breeze blowing in from the ocean was tangy with salt and cool enough to make her wish she’d rolled her windows down instead of driving with the AC on.
“I don’t care if it’s listed as confidential,” Jenny snapped at whoever was on the other end of her call as she got out of her car. “I need you to find out.”
She glanced at Tasha walking up between the two cars. The frustrated, anxious frown Jenny wore put a sharp dent in Tasha’s euphoria. Jenny was upbeat. She was the kind of smart chick who made you understand why blondes had more fun. Of all Tasha’s friends, she was the one that could always be counted on to put a smile on Tasha’s face and make things better. She’d brought wine and picked up the pieces at the end of the Age of Brad. She’d given Tasha a pep-talk a week since then. If Jenny wasn’t happy, it wasn’t good.
“What?” Tasha asked as Jenny tapped her phone to end the call and lowered her arm.
“Don’t freak out,” she said.
“Why would I freak out?” Prickles of dread ran down Tasha’s spine.
Jenny let out a breath, then drew in a steadying one. “There’s a problem with the booking.”
Every ounce of elation that Tasha had felt during the drive, every happy memory, and every shred of relief at being able to get away from the last couple of miserable months of her life fell flat at her feet. The loser vibe began to creep up her spine to replace it.
“No.” She shook her head and took a step closer to Jenny. “No, no problems. Swear on your life, Jenny, swear on twenty-five years of friendship that there are no problems with the booking.” Her throat threatened to close up.
“I wish I could, babe. All I know is that they wouldn’t give me the keys at the office because they’ve given them to someone else.”
“The keys?” Tasha’s heart twisted in knots. “Someone else?”
Jenny chewed her lip. “Yeah.”
“No.” Tasha gulped. “This is my house. You know how long I saved for it.”
“I know.” Jenny pivoted to stare up at Sand Dollar Point’s front porch, long ponytail swinging down her back. Even with perfect make-up and a cute, pink linen suit that would make any real estate agency proud, Jenny was still the girl who Tasha spilled apple juice on during their first day of school. She’d laughed it off then—she would laugh this off now.
She wasn’t laughing.
“The office said that someone else has booked the house for the entire summer,” Jenny said with a frown.
“They can’t have,” Tasha answered. She rubbed a hand over her breastbone as if she had heartburn. Heart-break was more like it. “I booked this house three years ago. I had to book it that far in advance to get it for the full two months. I confirmed last year and I confirmed again just last month after Brad—” She stopped before she broke down in tears, and took a deep breath. “There has to be some sort of misunderstanding.”
“I’m sure there is,” Jenny said. She motioned for Tasha to follow her up the flower-lined path to the front porch steps. “The office won’t tell me what’s going on, but maybe there’s someone else I can call.”
As they climbed the steps, Tasha sucked in the sea air, and with it the faint scent of fresh paint. This was her dream. She deserved this after all she’d been through. There had to be something she could do that amounted to more than letting herself be run over yet again.
Jenny fiddled with her phone, then held it to her ear and clipped, “Hey Dana, it’s Jenny. I’ve got a top secret question for you about Sand Dollar Point.”
Tasha walked down to the end of the porch as Jenny dealt with her coworker. Everything about Sand Dollar Point was perfect. A dark pewter eight and five were fixed to the side of the maroon front door, marking the street number. All of the white curtains in the clean and sparkling windows looked freshly laundered. The porch was crisp and white, its white wicker furniture arranged with a view of the beach behind it that would make any decorating magazine drool with envy. The house hadn’t even looked that good in her memory. The owners must have put extra effort into sprucing it up for their season-long renter. No one had ever bothered to go to that kind of effort for Tasha. Even she wouldn’t have put in that much work for her.
She reached the end of the porch and leaned on the rail, peering out over the beach. The cliff-side garden had recently been replanted. The stairs leading down to the beach had been replaced since the last time she had been there as well. The porch swing she’d spotted from the road—still swaying in the breeze off to her right where the porch wrapped around to the ocean side—looked new. A blue-striped towel was draped across its back and a pair of sunglasses lay abandoned on the seat.
Tasha pushed away from the rail and went to investigate. The windows on the ocean side of the house were open, their curtains billowing in the breeze. Somewhere inside the house, a radio played indie rock. Tasha frowned and bit her lip as she reached the swing and picked up the sunglasses. Men’s sunglasses. Tom Ford. She didn’t know much about brand names, but they certainly didn’t sell Tom Fords at the local five-and-dime.
“Someone is in my house,” she whispered to herself, frown growing. How could someone waltz into her house, someone with money by the look of it, when she had worked so hard to have it?
“Tash!” Jenny called to her from the front of the house. The sound of her heels clicking around the corner signaled that her call was over, and that she hadn’t liked the outcome. She came stomping into Tasha’s view. “You’re not going to believe this.”
“Don’t tell me someone swiped this place right out from under me.” Tasha tossed the sunglasses back on the swing and strode to meet Jenny, chest squeezing. This was the last thing she needed. “Don’t tell me that after the spring I had, this place isn’t mine.”
“I wish I didn’t have to, babe.” There was as much distress in Jenny’s voice and in her face as Tasha felt welling up in her gut.
“Please don’t tell me that I’m about to spend the next two months booked into some third-rate motel, or worse, at home, because a real estate big-wig thinks I’m too much of a loser to live a dream for just two months.”
Jenny blinked. “It’s not that. Of course you’re not a loser. It’s—”
“Can I help you?” a resonant male voice asked from the back door.
Tasha turned, fairly certain she would burst into tears in about three seconds.
Her eyes popped wide at what—or rather who—she saw. Suddenly everything made sense, and she fell apart.

Praise for the Book
"I really did enjoy this book. It is a sweet, angst-free stand alone romance, and I will be reading more in this series as they come out. Looking forward to Jenny and Simon's story - Night with a Star - as I need to know more about them!" ~ Janeane, BJ's Book Blog
"Escaping for different reasons, Tasha Pike and Spencer Ellis wind up at the same Victorian rental home in Maine for the summer. You will fall in love with them and the quaint little village while they overcome their fears and find each other. Very heartwarming story." ~ Vickie Raynor
"Loved the book. Simone and Tasha were both such complex characters. The sparks fly. Tasha ignores him she is on her dream vacation. Besides what is a Hollywood star going to see in a plain ole school teacher. Spencer is determined to get to know her. It becomes a battle of wills. Lots of great laugh out loud moments and some sad ones. Definite must read if you are looking for a well written romance." ~ Lynn Smith
"This story will keep the reader captivated with witty dialogue, entertaining characters and heartwarming scenes. Can two people, from two different life-styles make a relationship work? Do you let hurt from the past stop true love or is love worth fighting for? Note: This is an erotica romance, where there are steamy and explicit sex scenes between two people falling in love and strong language." ~ Kathy Heare Watts

About the Author
Merry Farmer lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo. She has been writing since she was ten years old and realized one day that she didn't have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. It was the best day of her life. She then went on to earn not one but two degrees in History so that she would always having something to write about. Today she walks along the cutting edge of Indie Publishing, writing Historical Romance and Women's Sci-Fi. She is also passionate about blogging, knitting, and cricket and is working towards becoming an internationally certified cricket scorer.

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