When Caroline McNeill shows up outside her
husband’s mansion, she claims to have no memory of the past year…or their
passion-filled honeymoon. But faking amnesia is the only way Caroline can find
out if Damon was behind her abduction. She needs to trust him—a man she craves
but still barely knows—before she can tell him about their infant son. Did the
Silicon Valley mogul merely marry to claim an inheritance then dispose of her?
Or is what they share real and forever?
Damon McNeill used all
the resources available to him to find his wife who disappeared shortly after
their honeymoon. Her father claims Caroline wanted out of the marriage and
nothing further to do with Damon. Imagine Damon’s shock when one year later,
Caroline appears on his doorstep claiming amnesia.
Caroline McNeill is on
the run. Kidnapped and drugged, she eventually escapes her captors and finds
refuge with her father. However, Caroline’s memories are slowly returning and
her father’s version of events is beginning to sound false. It’s up to Caroline
to discover if Damon really did marry her for mercenary reasons or was theirs a
My first introduction to
Caroline and Damon was in Book #4 of the McNeill Magnates series when we hear
about Damon’s attempts to locate his missing wife. This mystery remains unsolved
until this book.
This is a second chance
romance for Caroline and Damon following Caroline’s kidnapping. Standing in
their way is the distrust each holds for the other given neither knows what
specifically occurred, especially given Caroline’s amnesia.
Both Caroline and Damon independently
decide to remain together for the sake of their family and until the mystery is
solved. Their physical attraction is strong and they soon let passion override
their reservations. Frustratingly, Caroline and Damon’s discussions tend to
focus on the kidnapping plot and we rarely see them communicate their feelings
towards each other until the end.
Concurrently, there is
the storyline of who kidnapped Caroline. The culprit is obvious and while the
person is ultimately caught, we never really understand the reasons for this
Readers who like Harlequin
Desire books will likely enjoy this book and the continuing story of the extended
out the waterproof blanket on the snow—plastic on one side, wool plaid on the
other. She watched him line up the sled at one end of the blanket before he
knelt in the snow to open the picnic hamper. All the while, Caroline rocked the
carriage gently, tilting it back and forth. Thankfully, their bodyguard sat
outside the trees, keeping an eye on the hill below to make sure no one
intruded on their space. She didn’t feel “watched,” per se, although she felt
certain the guy kept an eye on them somehow. The team Damon hired seemed very
skilled at maintaining a discreet presence.
that I’m not alone any longer, and I’m glad for that.” She debated lifting
Lucas out of the baby carrier, but then changed her mind, putting the brakes on
the contraption and facing the carrier toward the blanket so they could keep an
eye on him.
“Are you ready for the winter picnic to end all picnics?” Damon asked,
waiting to open the picnic basket until he had her attention.
his gloves into the pockets of his vest. His dark hair had a few fresh
snowflakes coating the top where he must have brushed against one of the
know what’s in there?” She peeled off her own gloves, ready to eat. “I can’t
imagine what a winter picnic entails, so my expectations are fairly low.”
this myself. And believe me, my expectations run permanently high.” He tipped
open the lid with a flourish. “I present to you, the Post-Sledding Woodland
felt her eyes go wide. Crammed inside the huge basket were two brightly colored
thermoses and insulated mugs, a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth, a wooden
cheeseboard with fresh fruits and cloth-covered cheeses, a tray of shrimp on
ice, a stack of Sternos and a lighter, a bag of huge, homemade-looking
marshmallows, a tin of graham crackers, chocolate-covered strawberries…
champagne!” Her gaze finally reached a bottle of a highly recognizable brand of
bubbly inside a champagne bucket. “Is that even legal?” She glanced around,
half expecting a park ranger to issue a citation.
the park is regulated, but not prohibited, so no one will bother us unless we
start causing trouble.” Grinning, he gestured for her to have a seat on the
blanket. “Get comfortable and I’ll serve us.”
She did as
he asked, her eyes still on the stuffed hamper.
this?” It was a feat of engineering, the way everything was stacked and
technical mind is good for more than designing software, you know.” He pulled
out fondue sticks and set them beside the Sterno cans so they could toast their
own marshmallows. “And under the champagne is a bottle of whiskey if you’d
rather doctor up the hot chocolate.” He produced a smaller basket with
airline-sized bottles of Jameson and Baileys, plus a variety of add-in flavors
from vanilla and almond to butterscotch.
outdone yourself.” She glanced up into the carriage to check on Lucas.
Surrounded by trees on three sides, their picnic spot felt safe and
surprisingly private considering the view of the mayhem near Cedar Hill and the
row of emerging snowmen lining the biggest walking trail less than fifty yards
admit, it’s been hell keeping a lid on the surprise all day.” He found two
small hurricane lanterns and placed candles inside them even though the sun
still shone brightly outside. Then, he uncapped one of the containers of cocoa
and poured her a mugful. “Here. You can add what you like while I work on the
scrambled around to the back of the blanket where he used one arm to scoop a
pile of snow under the edge of the wool plaid. It took her a moment to
understand why he wanted a big lump of snow under the spot where she was
sitting. But then he covered it up again, packing the pile into a U-shaped
curve to create a support for her back.
she announced, settling into the snow seat with her mug of hot chocolate, the
picnic spread out at her feet. “It really is the picnic to end all picnics.”
to that.” Damon poured his own hot chocolate and settled on the blanket beside
her. “Here’s to our first real day as a family.”
She met his
blue gaze, his eyes all the more crystalline in the bright sun. He’d taken
considerable time and trouble to make the day perfect for her, and Lucas, too.
While she’d been sleeping late to catch up on rest, he’d been ordering a
special sled and packing the perfect picnic.
family,” she echoed, softly clanking her pewter cup to his.
drink to her lips, she savored the complex swirl of flavors. She hadn’t added
much alcohol, just enough to give a pleasant jolt of warmth on the way down.
The almond and vanilla notes were especially good, and the melting homemade
marshmallow she’d set on top was a gooey bonus.
about to compliment the first beverage course, but when she turned to him
again, she felt a flash of heat from the simmering look he gave her. His mug
remained untouched, his attention fixed on her mouth.
He was very
Self-conscious, she set her cup aside in the snow. “I have marshmallow all over
my face, don’t I?”
went to her nose, but Damon caught it. He’d set his own drink aside, too,
freeing his hands.
He canted closer, his focus shifting to her eyes.
ratcheted up so much it was a wonder they weren’t melting snow.
feel her heartbeat quicken, the answering spark she’d always experienced with
this man. Time and distance hadn’t broken it. Even forgetting him completely
for weeks on end hadn’t erased the response she had to him.
nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn't like. The author
of over eighty books enjoys writing a wide range of stories, most recently
focusing on sexy contemporaries and small town family sagas. An optimist by
nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her
life outlook perfectly--love is worth fighting for. A frequent speaker at
regional and national writing conferences she enjoys giving back to the writing
community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree
in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing
skills to her intensive study with friend and fellow author Catherine Mann.
When she's not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite
sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded