Friday, July 15, 2016

Blogiversary Excerpt and Giveaway: A Sudden Crush by Camilla Isley

Joanna Price is a city girl with the perfect life. She loves her job as a book editor, she just married Liam, high profile bestselling author and the man of her dreams, and she’s headed to the Caribbean to enjoy two weeks of paradise for her luxurious honeymoon.
Connor Duffield is a gruff, grumpy rancher from the Midwest. He is a country boy who has a no-nonsense approach to life, more scars than he’d like to admit, and he hates city girls.

So it’s just a misfortune they have to sit next to each other for a six hour plane ride. Even more so when their flight is caught in the perfect storm and Joanna wakes up stranded on a desert island with Connor, the very man she hoped she would never have to see again.

Why are they alone on this forsaken island? What happened to Joanna’s husband?

When her dream honeymoon turns into a hilarious tropical nightmare, Joanna’s first thought is survival. However, she and Connor will quickly discover just how boring paradise can be. As the days turn to weeks, and then months, this mismatched pair will have to learn how to coexist and how to resist the sparkles of an attraction they weren’t prepared to feel.

When they are finally rescued will Joanna’s marriage be saved as well, or will the life she knew and loved be in ruins?

Chapter One


“Excuse me,” I say, trying to attract the attention of the man sitting next to me on the plane.
He ignores me.
I try again. “Um, excuse me?” I have to sort this out before we take off.
Is he brushing me off on purpose?
I decide to gently tap my index finger on his shoulder. “Um, sir, excuse me…”
This time I get a brusque, “Yes?” back.
I start my pitch with a smile. “Hi, sorry to bother you—”
“Then don’t.”
I’m taken aback by this guy’s rudeness, but not enough to desist. “Sorry again. It will take only a minute, I promise.”
He rolls his eyes in an exaggerated gesture, but I ignore his body language and continue. I have to try.
“I got married today,” I say with a dreamy, I-cannot-believe-I-am-this-happy smile, “and we, I mean my husband and I, were held back at the reception for so long, the goodbyes took forever, and then there was an accident on the highway—“
“You have a point?” the man interrupts with the same gruff attitude.
“Yeah, of course.” I try to keep my cool, as I need to ask this ogre a favor. “My point is that we arrived at the airport super late and there were no seats left for us to sit together, so I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind switching places with my husband. He’s over there.” I point at Liam.
The grumpy ogre takes a casual look at Liam and snorts loudly.
“Was that a yes?” I ask hopefully.
“No, miss, it wasn’t.”
“It’s Mrs., actually, and—”
“He’s sitting in an aisle seat,” the ogre says. “I want to be in a window one. Anyway, if you ask me, your husband doesn’t appear too bothered with his seating accommodation.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That he seems pretty comfortable chatting with the top model next to him, not worrying too much about his annoying wife not being there to hold his hand.”
“That…you’re the rudest man I’ve ever met!” I’m puffing with indignation; how dare he say those things to me? “You don’t know me, how can you say—”
“I’ve known you the whole of ten minutes, and already I’ve had enough. I can’t help but imagine the poor guy is happy he’s having a break.”
With that last nasty comment, the troll turns around, presenting me with his shoulders, and goes back to staring out the window.
I turn to look at Liam. Admittedly, he seems pretty engrossed in his conversation. I can’t see the woman very well; they’re on the opposite side of the plane to the right, four rows down from me, and in first class four rows is a lot of space. I crane my neck backwards, but I see only the top of a blondish head. She must be tall for her head to pop out like that; it’s almost even with Liam’s, and he’s six-foot-two. What are they talking about? And why isn’t he trying to have her switch places with me?
I push the request-a-flight-attendant button. This is not how my honeymoon was supposed to begin. So far, this journey has been a nightmare. We left the reception too late, and Liam got mad at me for wanting to say goodbye to everyone. And I will admit that at home my bag wasn’t exactly one-hundred percent packed. I was maybe eighty percent done, at the very minimum. But how was I supposed to know the movers had completely ignored my directions for packing, and that none of my things were in the right boxes at our new house? It took me forever to locate the stuff I was missing.
Then there was traffic. Again, it was hardly my fault that some idiot decided to speed up on I-294, lose control of his car, and create the most prodigious traffic jam in Chicago’s history. But Liam is so fastidious about his pre-flight buffer time that, for him, arriving one hour before the departure was almost as bad as missing the plane altogether.
To be fair, when we finally showed up at the airline desk we were the last two people to check-in, and we had to make do with whatever places there were left. No matter how much I whined with the clerk about it being our honeymoon, she said there was nothing she could do at this point and that we would have to try to switch places with someone else on the plane. Which is what I’m trying to do. Only I’m sitting next to a brute.
I throw a sulky glance at him. He must be a couple of years older than me, and looks like a cross between a surfer and a lumberjack. He’s probably someone’s type, but most definitely not mine…too unrefined, too big, and too dark. He has mocha-brown eyes and longish black hair bleached light brown at the points. His strong jaw is covered by a three or four day’s stubble, he has a stubborn mouth, and his face is too rawboned. He’s wearing a horrible checkered reddish shirt rolled up at the elbows that leaves his tanned forearms exposed, a pair of faded gray cargo pants, and sneakers. He has a general air of unkemptness or wilderness about him, and doesn’t look to me like someone who belongs in first class.
Not that I’m a frequent patron; this is my first time ever. But Liam said we shouldn’t settle for our honeymoon, so here we are in plush, bed-like chairs half a plane away from each other. Right now, I’d give up this ridiculously large throne and happily sit in coach if it meant getting to be beside my husband.
“Excuse me, miss, did you call?” A smiling stewardess is towering over me.
“It’s Mrs., actually, and yes, I need some help. You see, I’m on my honeymoon…”
“Congratulations!” she exclaims, including the brute in her felicitations.
“Don’t look at me—I’m not the lucky fella,” he says sarcastically.
“So you’re not sitting next to your husband?” she asks, the smile evaporating from her lips.
“No.” Finally, someone who understands. “And that’s the problem. We were detained at our reception…”
“Here she goes again,” the ogre grumbles, then resumes his out-of-the-window staring.
I ignore him.
“… then the movers had made a mess, and there was the accident on the highway…” I’m babbling; all the adrenaline from today is making me skittish. “So we were late for the check-in, and the only seats left were these two,” I conclude.
“You didn’t check-in online?” the flight attendant asks, perplexed, almost shocked.
Am I the only one who didn’t get the memo that online check-in is the new black?
“I… should have, but I forgot,” I admit, turning scarlet. “With all the details from the wedding to organize, it skipped my mind.”
“Madam, I understand completely,” she says sympathetically. “And I’m very sorry for the inconvenience, but the flight is fully booked.”
“I know, but couldn’t we switch places with some other passengers?”
“I’m sorry, madam, but it’s too late for that.” She puts the last nail in this journey’s coffin. “We’re about to take off, and the seatbelt sign is already on.”
“Oh.” I want to cry. “But this is a six hour flight!” If it were a one or two hour connection, I wouldn’t care.
“Again, I’m very sorry,” she says with a fake smile that I’m sure she reserves for customers she can’t accommodate. “Can I offer you some complimentary Champagne before we depart?” she asks, the smile never leaving her face.
Free Champagne, wow! At least she’s trying to make up for it.
“Yes, thank you.” I say, slightly soothed.
“I will take one too,” chips in the troll.
We both glower at him. The stewardess, because he just gave away her game by pointing out that in first class the bubbly is free for everyone, and me for making me feel stupid that I thought the hostess was giving me a special perk.
“I will be back in a minute,” she says graciously. She shoots a cold look at my neighbor, her smile changing from fake to “I-politely-hate-you”.
As she leaves, the security instructions begin to play in the background. I cross my arms on my chest and look around me, bored, only half listening to them.
“…this aircraft has ten emergency exits…”
Bored, I automatically reach into my bag to take a manuscript out―I’m a book editor, I love my job, I’m great at it, and I always carry a manuscript wherever I go. But when my searching fingers can’t find anything, I remember Liam made me promise to leave all work-related books at home. He’s a best-selling author, so we made a deal that he wouldn’t write a single word on our honeymoon if I didn’t edit a single word. So I left all physical book copies home. Only now we’re trapped on this plane for six hours, miles away from each other, and I don’t have anything to do. I could try to edit something on my phone, I guess, but I don’t want to be sloppy―no author deserves that―and I’m too tired to accomplish anything half-decent anyway. I even feel too tired to just read, which has never happened to me before.
“…illuminated strips on the floor will guide you to these exits…”
Joan, stay positive, I say to myself. The destination matters more than the journey.
“…in the event of a loss in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will automatically drop from the panel above you…”
Tomorrow I will wake up in a five star resort in a tropical paradise. There’s no need to stress about the plane ride.
“… every seat is provided with a life vest. In first and business class, the vest is located under the armrest. In economy class…”
“Here’s your Champagne, madam.” The stewardess is back with two plastic flutes filled with the sparkling liquid. “Sir,” she adds curtly. “I hope you have a pleasant flight. Let me know if I can assist you in any other way.”
I mutter a thank you. The troll doesn’t even bother. So rude.
“…personal electronic devices may be used during take-off and landing, providing all transmission functions are switched-off and the device itself is put into airplane mode….”
I take my phone out of my bag; there’s a text from Katy, my maid of honor. She sent me a selfie of us together that she took just before we left. Yes, it was another one of the above-mentioned deferments. I reply with a waterfall of XOXOs and obediently switch the phone to plane mode.
The plane accelerates on the runway and takes off. I calmly sip my Champagne and watch the Chicago skyline disappear beneath us as the plane soars higher and higher in the dark-blue sky. Relax, I tell myself. I need to let go of the stress of these past few weeks. After all, from now on this trip can only get better.



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