Carmella Sannarelli is a people pleaser. She can’t say no to anyone, even when it means putting off her own personal goals in the process. So, when her best friend, Sadie Miller, calls with the announcement that she’s broken up with one fiancé and eloping with another in St. Croix, Carmella can’t stop herself from dropping everything and accepting the invitation to stand as maid of honor.
Jilted fiancé, Ryan Wutkowski, has been the third member of the Carmella-Sadie trio for nine years. He fully supports Sadie’s new engagement and upcoming nuptials, knowing it’s the right decision and best for both of them. But when he boards a plane to San Juan for a business conference, Carmella is the last person he expects to find occupying the seat next to his.
Two days in San Juan, then a week in St. Croix—Carmella knows her two best friends are hiding something. But can she figure out what went wrong between them as she battles her own tingly, off-kilter feelings toward Ryan, while dodging advances from a womanizing best man, and confirming for herself that Sadie did make the right decision? When Ryan unexpectedly shows up at the rehearsal dinner and gets himself invited to the wedding, will Carmella finally uncover the secret he’s held since the day they first met?
Ryan’s silent for a second or two. “Maybe I’ll put the house up for sale and move to Savannah. I’d be closer to you if I did that.”
“Oh, come off it,” I scoff, but my voice quivers with tears.
“I can deliver cakes for Tess.”
He’s trying to joke about this? “Your career, your whole life is in Atlanta.”
“Maybe that’s not important enough to me anymore.”
I should protest, should tell him he’d be stupid to uproot himself because of all that’s happened. But my voice stops working, and I don’t know why. In the end, he wouldn’t really do it, even though he’s always professed a certain adoration for my adopted hometown. Ultimately, he would suck it up, maybe sell the house, but continue on as usual without complaining.
After a few minutes, the urge to wail like a thwarted baby passes, and I relax against him. He rests his chin on the top of my head, swaying to the unpredictable ebb and flow of the foaming breakers. The movement calms me, and I close my eyes with a grateful sigh. He gathers my hair and lifts the whole, tangled mass of it, resting his hand at the nape of my neck. His fingers caress, a touch so fleeting I barely notice it.
There’s a note in his voice I don’t understand, and my defenses flare. With a deep breath to steel myself, I push away from him, thankful the shadows hide both our faces.
PURCHASE BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE
J. Lynn Rowan started writing stories as a small child, usually starring her favorite cartoon characters. Most of her work through middle and high school was filled with typical teenage angst and melodrama, and usually mirrored the books she loved to read. But eventually she found her own author’s voice and decided to seriously pursue a writing career.
Historical fiction remains J. Lynn’s “first love”, but she has enjoyed the journey to becoming an author of romance and chick lit. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Central New York Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. She is also a teacher who tries to instill a love of learning, reading, and writing in her students.
When she’s not writing, J. Lynn enjoys travelling, gardening poorly but enthusiastically, studying various topics in American history for her own expertise, and channeling Julia Child every time she steps into the kitchen.
A native of Oswego, NY, she now lives in Charlotte, NC, with her own Romantic Hero of a husband and the most adorable baby on the planet.