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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tasty Tour: More Than You Know by Jennifer Gracen (Excerpt + Giveaway)


Jennifer Gracen hails from Long Island, New York, where she lives with her two young sons. After spending her youth writing in private and singing in public, she now only sings in her car and has fully embraced her lifelong passion for writing. She loves to write contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction for readers who yearn for better days, authentic characters, and satisfying endings.

When she isn’t taking care of her kids, doing freelance copy editing/proofreading, reading, or talking to friends on Twitter and Facebook, Jennifer writes. She’s shocked her family hasn’t yet staged an intervention for her addiction to social media. But the concerts she gives in her car and the dance parties she has in her kitchen are rumored to be fabulous.


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Hotel owner Dane Harrison, middle brother of a wealthy Long Island family, needs a lounge singer for his new luxury property. With her stunning voice and amazing curves, Julia Shay is perfect. She also seems to be the only woman in New York City who isn’t falling at Dane’s feet. And despite her feisty attitude and his rule against workplace affairs, he wants her—in his arms, in his bed, anywhere and everywhere.


Julia loves her new job, and she knows better than to think she can keep it and Dane. Even if he wasn’t her boss, Julia’s painful history has given her ample reason to steer clear of rich, powerful charmers. Still, their chemistry is unlike anything she’s known, and when it becomes too much to resist, they agree to one no-strings night together. But instead of quenching the fire, the intense encounter only proves how much they have to lose—or win…



     Sipping his Cabernet, Dane let his gaze wander along his family’s majestically landscaped property.

     Up on a slight hill, a hundred or so yards across the expansive emerald lawn, was the Main House—which had always struck him as a funny title, considering it was a twenty-seven-room Georgian mansion. It stood proudly, a testament to four generations of Harrison work and rewards. His father still lived there, but only with a small household staff. The mighty Charles Harrison II had lived there alone since throwing their mother out almost two decades earlier.

     Tess had moved back from Manhattan and into the guest cottage two years before, a picturesque fourbedroom house that shared the back property before dipping to the small cliff that overlooked the Long Island Sound. Dane had always loved that vista, one of the very best things about the magnificent estate.
Now, the three of them sat outside on her back patio after a delicious dinner Tess had made, enjoying some wine as the sound of the water just beyond lulled them into a state of serenity. The late May sun glowed orange as it dipped slowly into the horizon, turning the sky over the Long Island Sound into streaky shades of purple, hot pink, and deep blue. The briny scent of the Sound carried up on the warm breeze that blew across the estate’s tremendous backyard—all ten acres of it.

      “You’re evading the question, Golden Boy,” Charles teased.

      “He’s never quiet. I think I scared him witless,” Tess taunted.

     Dane chuckled. “I ain’t a-skeered of you two. I ain’t a-skeered o’ nothin’.”

      “Still avoiding,” Tess singsonged.

      “I’m guess I’m not morally opposed to getting married, if I genuinely thought I’d found the right woman,” Dane hedged. “But hey. All three of us are single, and with good reasons.” He kept his tone jaunty. “Besides, wouldn’t it be bordering on cruelty to drag someone into our clan? Who in their right mind would want to become a part of the Harrison family dramas?”

      “He makes an excellent point,” Charles conceded, and took a swallow of his wine.

      “And, well, my standards are too high. And I work a lot. And I travel . . . Hell, I’ve met so many amazing women, why should I have to choose just one?” Dane grinned as his brother and sister laughed at that. “Not to mention: after our parents’ debacle of a marriage and shitstorm of a divorce, and then you doing the same thing, Charles, I don’t need to follow along that path, you know? And then you, Tess, your broken engagement, all that ugliness after . . .I’ve seen enough.”

      “More excellent points,” Tess allowed with a sigh. Charles nodded in agreement.

      “So, yeah, I’m thinking it’s unlikely I’ll dive into that.” Dane shrugged. “But never say never, right? Like I said, I don’t think about it, to be honest. It’s not on my to-do list. I’m too busy living my life.”

      “Fair enough,” Charles said. He glanced at their sister who sat between them and added, “I think he more than answered your out-of-nowhere question.”

      “He did indeed.” Tess raised her glass in a toast.

      “To the Harrison legacy of shitty marriages: may it now be over.” Her brothers both clinked their glasses to hers before they all drank.

      “So Tess . . .” Dane eyed her, choosing his words carefully. “It’s been two years since that broken engagement. What about you? Have you recovered from that disaster enough to consider ever getting married?”

      “Touché, my dear.” Her usually warm voice turned cold and her face tightened. “But no. I don’t think I’ll be getting married, for most of the same reasons as you. Except for all the women, of course. I live a monk’s life compared to you.”

     Charles let out a guffaw. “We all do, are you kidding?”

      “Shut up,” Dane said. “I’m not that bad.”

     Both siblings started laughing.

      “Shut up!” Dane said, half amused, half annoyed.

     Charles laughed even harder and dabbed at the corner of his eye. Dane glanced over at his brother. Charles rarely laughed like that anymore. He was so stressed all the time, his mind filled with all the things that went along with being the COO of a multimillion- dollar conglomerate and the heir to a family dynasty. Charles never had fun unless Dane was around. If Dane had to be the butt of a joke to get Charles to laugh like that once in a while, he had no problem with that.

     After finally composing himself, Charles let out a deep, cleansing exhale and asked, “Can we talk about something else now?”

      “When’s the last time either of you spoke to Mom?” Dane asked.

      “Last week,” Tess said. “I called her to say Happy Mother’s Day. We spoke for about ten minutes. You?”

      “Same,” Dane said.

      “That’s three for three, then,” Charles said. “We’re all wonderful children.”

      “I got an e-mail from her today,” Dane went on.

      “I’d invited her to the hotel opening. She wanted to let me know she won’t be able to make it.”

      “What a shock,” Charles remarked dryly, and finished the last of his wine.

     Dane smirked. “Yeah. She and Rick will be on a cruise of the Greek islands for the last two weeks of June—so sorry, darling.”

     Tess sighed. “She has her own life.”

      “She does indeed,” Dane said. He’d given up hoping his mother would come around years ago. Laura Dunham Harrison Evans Bainsley was all about one thing: Laura.

      “Speaking of living their own life and ignoring the rest of the family,” Charles quipped, “anyone hear from Pierce recently?”

     Dane laughed at the mention of their estranged youngest brother. “Nice segue, Chuckles.”

      “I hate when you call me that,” Charles said with a good-humored scowl.

      “I know you do,” Dane said. “That’s the bonus.”

      “I text with him regularly,” Tess said, referring to Pierce. “You guys could too, if you wanted to.”

      “He and I have very little to say to each other,” Charles said flatly.

     Tess frowned at him. “There are four of us. You should try to reach out more than you do.”

      “Stop,” Charles said. “Pierce is a grown man now.

     He’s capable of checking in too, Tess. He doesn’t contact us because he doesn’t want to. The only one in the family he gives a shit about is you. This isn’t news.”

     Dane reached for the bottle of wine and refilled his glass. “Either of you want?”

      “No more for me, thanks,” Tess said. “You know one glass is my limit.”

      “Top me off, old boy,” Charles said, imitating their father’s voice precisely, bringing smirks from Dane and Tess.

     Dane filled his brother’s glass, then placed the bottle back on the small table beside him. “I sent him an e-mail last week inviting him to the hotel opening. He also declined.”

      “Really?” Tess looked genuinely surprised. “I’m . . .I’m sorry. It’s a big deal for you. I hoped maybe Pierce would—”

      “Apparently not.” Dane shrugged. “He’s playing that week, can’t get off. It’s cool.” He wasn’t going to let on that he’d actually suffered a twinge of disappointment when he’d gotten Pierce’s response. He was proud of his younger brother. Pierce was a wild child, but he was also a semifamous soccer star in Europe, for Chrissake. That was a major achievement, which almost offset the bad-boy behavior. But he kept Dane at arm’s length, like he did everyone, except for Tess.



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