Just One Look, That's All It Took

One of my favorite all time recording artists is Linda Ronstadt. In the song written by Gregory Carroll and Doris Payne, Just One Look, Linda sings about falling so hard after that first look--the very first impression. Here's a YouTube clip of the song.

First impressions are so important, especially in romance. Me and a few friends of mine would like to share some of those first impressions. Okay, maybe some of them are second or third impressions. Okay, okay, some of them are ah-ha moments when the heroine first realizes the man she's ogling might be her new hero. All of them are moments that take the heroine's breath away.

Click on the book cover for the Kindle buy link.

From my book Deceptions of the Heart

Here's the blurb...

Surviving as Jennifer Cristobal isn’t easy for Rhonda Prentiss. Three years ago, a sudden, fatal trauma stripped Rhonda of her middle-class, stay-at-home-mom existence. A brand new shock prompts Rhonda’s essence to invade Jennifer’s soul, suppressing the other woman’s memories and replacing them with her own. When Jennifer’s heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Crane, can’t—or won’t—help her understand her unusual body-swapping dilemma, she turns to the only man she can trust. But can she fully trust Jennifer’s husband, Anson? Rhonda’s memory proves faulty—and sugarcoated. Multiple threats from her past shake her fragile hold on mental stability. If one of her enemies succeeds, he will kill Rhonda’s soul… or Jennifer’s body… or both.

My hands pushed against the tension building in my chest. Sliding over the side of the bed, I held my breath until my bare feet hit the hardwood floor. The splash of running water trickled from behind a closed door. The tension in my chest relaxed. Alex was whistling as he often did in the shower. I crossed the room and nudged the door open, a question hovering on my tongue. Steam shrouded the bath in wisps of billowy white. The rush of water ceased and the shower door popped open. I opened my mouth to speak. Water dripped from his body as he reached for a towel. Above average height. Medium build. Light brown hair. Not Alex.
A scream wedged in the back of my throat.
I whipped my eyes from his nakedness and scanned the room for an escape route. The king-sized bed blocked my path to the bedroom door. I rolled onto the mattress and pulled the soft sheets up to my neck. My breath escaped in huffs and puffs while I tried to steady my nerves.
Perceptions floated through my mind as if I’d been drugged. No broken bones. No aches or pains. No apparent violation.
 If he’s a kidnapper, would he allow me the luxury of sleeping late? No. Wouldn’t I wake up in a dungeon, or under a dark hole on a cold, stone floor. Maybe even on a filthy pallet or a mangy cot?
I checked my wrists. No abrasions from duct tape.
When the man emerged from the bath, I shuttered my eyes, daring to peek from beneath my lashes. He disappeared into a walk-in closet. I pushed up on my elbow. One of my feet dared to peek from beneath the comforter, then the other. Before I could wiggle to the edge of the mattress, he returned to the bedroom and stood in front of the dresser. He sighed as he stared into the mirror, sucked in his gut and released it, then ran his fingers through his hair. I drew first one foot then the other beneath the covers while he buttoned his shirt sleeves and straightened his tie.
He hovered near the bed as I feigned sleep. Poised over me for a horribly long time, he never uttered a word. I stifled a flinch when he brushed the hair from my face. The gentle glide of his fingertips across my cheek sent a shock racing through my limbs. He dragged in a deep, ragged breath and then lifted a suit jacket from a chair. After he shut the door behind him with a near silent swoosh, I lowered the bedcovers from my chin and released the breath I’d been holding.

From Keri Neal's book Flightless

Here's the blurb...

Pen was a Guardian, but one violent night took his wings. Ten years later he is given the opportunity to earn them back.

Jade is spellbound by the new student. Pen is quiet, but she is determined to learn more about him. When her terrifying past comes back to haunt her, Pen reveals there is much more to him than she could have ever imagined.

With his soul on the line, Pen cannot protect Jade if his feelings keep getting in the way. But with Jade’s soul on the line, he must protect her from unearthly forces who want her blood. Will the truth redeem them, or tear them apart?

Pen and I are lounging under a big white umbrella. I am curled up with my head on his chest. His heartbeat is steady and slow, his breathing shallow. He is sleep. I pinch his arm playfully. “You’re going to miss it.”

He takes a deep breath and chuckles. “I’m awake. And I’ve seen my share of sunsets.”

I turn my head and rest my chin on his chest. His eyes are still closed. “You’re a grouch, you know that?”

He opens one eye and stares at me. “You know I’m going to find you. You don’t need to do this.”

My throat burns with emotion. “Yes, I do. You might not make it in time.”

Both his eyes open and stare blankly up at the umbrella. He is angry. His jaw clenches and his nostrils flare.

“It’s almost time.” I crawl up and lie down, straddling him. My blonde hair makes a curtain around us. He looks sad as he reaches up and holds my face.

“I don’t know how to say goodbye to you.”

I smile. The sun is glowing in the horizon. Its resting place comes alive with color. I see it all happen in the reflection in his eyes.

“Yes, you do.” I press my lips against his, urgently stealing every taste of him. I pull his lip through my teeth, and he groans loudly. The sound is erotic. Suddenly his hand is on the back of my head, pulling me roughly against him. His lips are not gentle anymore. They are rough and scaly, like a snake. He is hurting me. I push hard against his chest, only to realize my hands are bound. I start to cry as the sun descends into its salty grave.

From Christine Steendam's book Heart Like an Ocean

Here's the blurb...

In a society where she doesn't belong, Senona Montez, a strong-willed and free-spirited woman refuses to follow the path expected of a Don's only child.

On the eve of her marriage to a stranger, she saddles her horse and flees everything she knows, only to discover the petty concerns of society did not prepare her for the harsh life on the open sea. She finds an unlikely protector in a reckless privateer, Brant Foxton.

Stradling the worlds of independence and privilege in 1600's Europe, this captivating man challenges her in ways she never thought possible, shows her what living to the fullest really means, and allows her to follow her heart wherever it leads.

When Senona awoke the next morning, she was greeted by the sight of a young man with short blonde hair, sitting with an air of superiority. He was intently studying a map laid out on the ornate desk situated in the center of the room.

“Welcome to the land of the living,” said the man, without so much as a glance up from his map.

“Senor, may I ask where the Captain is?” she asked.

“Captain Brant Foxton at your service,” he said with a smirk, this time rewarding her with his undivided attention.

Standing up, she drew herself to her full height. “So you are the man responsible for my abduction. What do you plan to do with me, Captain? Sell me as a slave? And where is my horse? You owe me an explanation for how I was treated last night.”

She squared her five-foot-five body, waiting for his response. She could see him looking her over and his lips pressed together in a smirk. “Yes, yes you would bring me a tidy sum on the black market. I know a few men off Tortuga who would be more than willing to take you, but that is not what I have in mind. Old Richard, however, the ‘oh so kind’ Captain whom you purchased passage from had just that in mind. He is most likely sitting in Barcelona right now very upset that the young Senorita did not show up. Though I am sure he has spent your doubloons quite frivolously already. Aside from that, I can assure you that your stallion is safe and content below deck.”

“Captain Richard and I had a business deal. I don’t know what made you think his intentions were anything less than pure when you are much more suspicious in my mind. Only the most diabolical man abducts and that is-”

Brant cut her off sharply. “Stop right there, Miss. I am a man of honor, which may be hard for you to believe seeing as what I put you through last night, but I will not have my character questioned by a girl who has barely seen eighteen years and hasn’t sullied her ears with even the maid’s gossip. Old Richard would never have brought you to Port Royale. I will. That is a fact and I urge you to accept it.”

From Lisa J. Hobman's book Bridge Over the Atlantic

Here's the blurb...

Mallory Westerman is a full-figured, successful, young business woman living in Yorkshire, England. Though very career minded, she is extremely self-conscious about her ample curves and so her love life tends to pay the price.

Concentrating solely on her business, she has almost given up on finding someone to love. That is until she literally trips into the arms of a stranger who becomes her Knight in shining armour.

The immediate sexual and romantic spark that blossoms into love and the events that follow, irrevocably change Mallory’s life-path and self-image forever, but only go to prove that the road to true love is never smooth and that things don’t always turn out how you expect…

With Ruby tucked firmly under her arm she strolled over to the bar.  A couple sitting in the corner were chatting quietly and eating a rather delicious looking meal.  Mallory began to salivate as her senses were bombarded with both savoury and sweet aromas.  No, I’ll wait for Sam, she chastised herself.  An elderly gent sat at the bar drinking a pint of beer and reading a newspaper.  Mallory smiled kindly and he returned her smile with a nod. 

Eventually the bar tender came through from a back room, drying a glass with a tea towel and holding it up to the light to inspect it before sliding it back onto a shelf above his head.  He was a tall man; broad and muscular with fairly long, shaggy hair which was almost black except for a slight smattering of grey.  He had a goatee beard which also showed signs of age but this was contradicted by his youthful face.  He was ruggedly handsome and tanned.  Mallory felt quite taken aback by how appealing this man was to look at.  I’m only looking; she smiled to herself but then shook her head to rid her mind of such thoughts as the man looked up, hesitated and then came over.  He leaned on the bar in front of her and stared right through her with dark brown eyes that almost matched the colour of his hair in the dim lighting of the pub.

“What can I get you?”  He almost growled in a strong, Scottish accent.  She felt a little as though perhaps her being here was an inconvenience to him, somehow.

“Erm…Can I just have a diet cola please?”  She whispered feeling like the request was almost definitely unreasonable judging by this man’s surly demeanour.  Who was she to order a beverage in a public house for heaven’s sake?  He didn’t answer.  Turning away from her he walked over and picked up a glass.  She noticed his sculpted forearms as he placed the glass under the tap and drew down the dark brown, fizzing liquid, keeping the glass slightly tilted. 

He was wearing a fitted grey V-neck T-shirt and black jeans.  Around his neck was a tight black cord necklace with a stone pendant which sat close to his throat.  The pendant appeared to have some kind of image carved into it but she couldn’t quite make it out.  Peeking out from under his sleeve was the jagged edge of a tattoo which looked rather like barbed wire.

He brought the drink back over to her and plonked it on the mat in front of her, spilling some of the contents as he did so.  What was his problem?

“One eighty.”  He stated.  She handed over an English five pound note which seemed to disgruntle him further.  He handed her the change and went back to polishing glasses. 

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