by: Julie Ann Levin
Series: Divine Island
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Kingbird Press, LLC
Tropical beaches and second chances...
As a rule, Chase Hammond avoided going home to Divine Island whenever possible. But when his father has a heart attack, he's left with no other choice but to go back and hope that he can avoid trouble and stay focused.
Recently divorced and struggling to keep all the elements of her life together, Natalie Rey has absolutely no desire to make her life any more difficult than it already is. But when Chase Hammond shows up on her doorstep, the man who rejected her years earlier, she'll have to do her best to avoid the monumental distraction.
The last thing either of them needs is their sizzling chemistry getting in the way of their goals.
Can Natalie resist the sexy man who broke her heart years ago?
Will allowing him back into her life only lead to more heartache?
How did Chase get himself into these situations? He was a mess if there was a pretty girl around. That’s all there was to it. He tried the door handle. It didn't open. He closed his eyes, exhaled, and jiggled the knob a little harder, but still, nothing.
“Hey, watch it. You're going to break it.”
He gave her a long look.
“Even more. You're going to break it even more.”
He turned around in a circle, automatically searching for another way out. “What is it with you and handles?”
“If you're looking for tools, they're on the other side of the door. All I have here is this wrench.”
He took the wrench from her but set it down on the shelf. “A wrench isn't going to do much good anyway.”
“I'll call someone,” Natalie said. She picked her phone up off the shelf as the phone vibrated, signaling a text message. “Oh, wait, it's your brother.”
“Dylan,” Natalie said.
Chase's shoulders relaxed. Dylan would get them out. “That’s a lot of texting to ask someone to unlock a door. What are you two talking about?”
“Nothing,” Natalie said, looking down at her phone. “He says you need a place to stay.”
Leave it to Dylan to jump the gun. Shouldn’t Chase be the one arranging for a place to stay? “What's the verdict?” Chase asked her. “Make it worth your while.” Dear God, was he flirting with her?
At that, Natalie's eyes swept up and down Chase's body before locking in on his gaze. She looked away, blushing. “Well,” she said, “I haven't seen you in ten years. I'm a little in shock, and embarrassed. Give me a second to assimilate.”
He winced. “It's been eight years, and I've looked into every other option.”
“I didn't say no.”
She didn't say yes either. “Listen, I'll stay with my parents.”
Natalie wrinkled her nose. “That's not even a cottage for two, Chase. It's a blessing your mom isn't over five feet tall and doesn't take up much room. It's like goldfish in there.”
“If you keep them in a small bowl, they stay small. You put them in a big bowl; they get big.”
“Why are you embarrassed?” he asked.
“Because... I broke everything,” she said, sweeping her arm across the bathroom.
“You're embarrassed because you're not good at plumbing.” Chase considered that he might never understand Natalie. He moved to stand behind her and read over her shoulder as his brother pleaded Chase's case.
Natalie: First sign of a tenant, he leaves. Now I have a favor.
Dylan: Name it.
Natalie: We're locked in the bathroom.
Dylan: You and Chase?
Natalie: It's not what you think. He was helping me with a leaky faucet.
Dylan: Right... A leaky faucet. Be there in 5.
Natalie turned her attention back to Chase. “Dylan is on his way. You can stay here in the rental. Don't worry about rent.”
His eyes narrowed. “We'll talk about rent later. Dad is recuperating. I’m sure I’ll be here a week max, and then it's back to Japan.”
Chase slid down the wall and sat on the tiled floor. Natalie mirrored him. He caught sight of her toenails, painted a cheery, pale pink.
“Cute,” he said.
She smiled and searched his face. “You look tired.”
He paused before settling back against the wall. “Gee, thanks.”
“Sorry, I just meant—”
He patted the air between them. “I know what you meant.” He must look bad. Was it the long travel, or worry over his father that made him look so ragged? A seventeen-hour flight from Japan to Florida, followed by a three-hour drive to his hometown of Divine Island would do it, alright.
“He's better than you'd guess,” she said. “And it makes your mom happy when I visit to check his vitals.”
Chase's face softened.
“It's no big deal,” Natalie said, appearing uncomfortable with the look he gave her. “I'm not an RN, yet. All I do is check his blood pressure.” She shrugged. “Your mom could do that.”
Chase shook his head. “It's a big deal, Nat.” According to his mom and siblings, Natalie was definitely a big deal. “I'm pretty sure they're one blood pressure monitor away from naming a wing of the inn after you.”
“The inn doesn't have wings,” she said.
“For you, Nat, they'd build them.”
Natalie took in a big, shaky breath and failed at looking relaxed. Well, sweetheart, he was feeling it too. Turned out eight years and a few thousand miles of distance didn't solve a damn thing.
“You know...” he said, cupping the back of his neck. “I didn't come to Divine right away because of work.”
Natalie shook her head in quick back-and-forth movements. “I don't know why you're telling me this.”
“Dylan had everything under control, so I hopped on a plane the minute I could get away.”
Natalie frowned. “Nobody is wondering about that. Japan is far away, and your dad was out of the hospital faster than anyone could have predicted.”
Chase nodded. It was typical of her to accept his excuse without question when it had been fear that held him back.
“Tell me about these jobs you're working on,” she said.
“Change of subject?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Don't say I never threw you a bone.”
He coughed and shook his head with a smile. “My team bid on a project to design a skyscraper in Tokyo. We'll win the bid, and then it's back to Japan for a year.” He leaned his head back until it rested on the wall. “Dad's health could change my plans, though.”
“He's great, Chase.”
He ran his hands through his hair, messing it up.
She forced a shaky laugh. “God, I feel like such an idiot. You flew across the Pacific to see your father, and I locked you in a bathroom.”
“I'm the one that shut the door, right?”
“Right.” She snapped her finger and pointed at him. “This is all your fault.”
“Don't you have a management company to do the repairs?”
“You're handling the property all on your own?”
She shrugged. “I applied to get it on the city's historic registry. This house, the rental, is a newer addition. It just has the regular problems that any house has. My house, on the other hand, is hanging on. But it’s so old. It needs serious restoration. It's way more work than I anticipated.”
“Alex is such an asshole,” Chase said, which summed up his complete estimation of the man. How he had ever called Alex his best friend was incomprehensible.
Natalie tried at an indifferent smile. “I married him. So, what does that say about me? And how do you know about what happened with Alex?”
There was no room for it in the bathroom, but Chase stretched his legs out and folded his hands on his stomach. She watched his every movement, so he watched her every movement, liking the way she made wild curls in her hair with her fingers. She always had great hair. It was a mess half the time, but still, great fucking hair.
“I haven't been on the island, but I still talk to my family more than you’d think. It’s abnormal how much we call. They're all obsessed with video conferencing, and they've come to visit me on jobs.”
“And the best your siblings can come up with is gossip revolving around my failed marriage?”
His head tilted to one side. “It's not gossip. And besides, it's either that or I have to hear about Ellie's boyfriends. I ask about you; they tell me what's going on. How Alex talked you into buying this property and then left you in a shitstorm.”
“It's not all that dramatic,” Natalie said.
He would bet money it was.
“I'll be okay once I finish school and get a steady tenant.” She leaned her head against the wall and raised her voice. “If I can ever get a stable tenant.”
Chase shook his head back and forth. “You're doing it wrong. You have to stand up with your arms in the air when you make a plea to the rental gods.”
She gave him a rueful smile. “I would try anything.”
God, he felt good—happy to be locked in a bathroom with Natalie, when he should be with his father.
“I thought you were already a nurse,” Chase said.
“I am, but I want to be a Registered Nurse. That way I can supervise and have more responsibility.” Natalie's eyes were downcast as she absently picked at the dried paint on the tiled floor. “Also, it will make my parents happy. It's not as good as being a Doctor like my sister-in-law, but my mother might let up a little.”
“She’s giving you a hard time?” Chase asked.
“You know, the whole, we sacrificed everything for you speech.” She took a deep breath and sighed. “My turn for a subject change. You ask about me?”
He cocked his head to one side. “Don't you ask about me?”
“Why, did Ellie tell you I asked about you?”
He grinned, and Natalie pursed her lips—the story of their lives.
“Ellie talks too much,” Natalie said.
“She's your friend,” Chase said.
“Best friend, but maybe I should be rethinking the relationship.”
He winked and reached out, placing his hand on her calf and squeezing. Natalie froze and nibbled on her bottom lip. Chase's eyes zeroed in on her mouth—full, perfect lips.
“I'm walking into the bedroom,” Dylan said from beyond the locked door. “Don't be doing anything naughty.”
As if they had been doing something naughty, Natalie shot up from the floor. She slipped on water and grabbed for the towel rack to keep herself upright. The metal bar came clear off the wall in her hand, and she fell flat on her back.
“I was just kidding, but I can come back if you guys need another minute.”
“She slipped and fell, you idiot,” Chase said. He leaned over her and helped her sit up.
“Are you okay?”
“Let me guess. You were going to fix the towel rack today too?”
“No.” She swatted at his hands that were touching her head, and then her arms and her back as he checked for injury. “I fixed the towel rack last week, and would you please stop that?”
He grinned. “You're adorable,” he said, and then helped her up into a standing position.
The door handle jiggled, and Chase heard the drill through the door. “Today, Dylan.”
“You want to get out of there yourself, asshole?”
Chase returned his attention to Natalie. “You're sure you're not hurt?”
“Nothing broken,” she said. “Only my pride of course.”
Dylan opened the door. “The prodigal son returns.” He hugged Chase, and they slapped each other on the back. Chase wondered if Dylan was trying to dislodge a few organs while he was at it. Chase was tall, but Dylan had him by two inches, and when he patted him on the back, it hurt.
“It's good to see you,” Chase said.
“Good to see you too. We'd see a lot more of each other if you came around more often. Oh, I don't know, more than every three years.”
“I'm here now, aren't I?”
“Yeah, it just took Dad having a heart attack, over a week ago, for you to come.”
“Why don't you tell me what's really on your mind?”
Natalie held her hands up between them and then appeared to remember she'd dropped the towel when she fell. She crossed her arms in front of her chest over her see-through shirt.
“Alright, I need to finish fixing the faucet, and get ready for work.”
“I said I was going to fix it, and I'm going to fix it,” Chase said. “I'll see Dad, and then come right back.”
“You don't have to fix it,” she said. “Look, I'll call the plumber.” She paled. “Did I just say those words in that order?”
Chase picked through her toolbox. “It'll be working before you get home.”
“Nat,” Dylan said. “Let the man fix the faucet. It will give him an excuse to get away from Mom obsessing over her neglectful son.”
“I'm not neglectful,” Chase said. “She just likes me more than you. That's why she obsesses.”
“You're both kidding yourselves,” Natalie said, backing away through the master bedroom. “We all know Levi is her favorite, but don’t ever tell Ellie I said that.”
Great, he was now knee-deep in plans to repair her bathroom. And he'd touched her, a lot. He could tell with his two eyeballs that she wasn't injured, but still he'd touched her and all those glorious curves. There were reasons he'd avoided Divine, and one of those reasons just became crystal clear.
After everything that had just happened, Natalie still had to go to work. “I'm leaving,” she said, talking to herself. She kissed Dylan on the cheek and squeezed his arm. “Later. Thanks for the rescue.”
“Where's my kiss?” Chase asked.
“Maybe if you'd seen her this century, you'd get a kiss,” Dylan said.
Calm as you please on the outside, but shaking on the inside, she closed the gap between her and Chase. She went up on her tip-toes. “It's good to see you, Chase.”
His head turned slightly, and she ended up kissing him on his jaw, which felt more intimate somehow.
The sandpaper kiss was heaven. She stepped back, managing to maintain eye contact. “Dylan has a set of spare keys he can give you to this house.”
Unable to stomach all the Hammond testosterone in one place, Natalie left her rental. She crossed the gravel walkway over to her house that sat on the same property. Her body was humming from a Chase over-dose. Warning: Standing in close proximity may cause shortness of breath and intoxication.
Maybe one of the doctors would be so kind as to give her a lobotomy at the hospital tonight. Or they could induce selective amnesia. Because Natalie could not deal with still being attracted to Chase Hammond.
Hi Julie, welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Hi, I’m great and excited to be visiting your blog today! Thank you for having me.
You’re welcome. You’re an executive assistant by day and a writer by night. How did you get into writing?
Right after high school, I went to Florida State University thinking I was going to major in advertising, but then I took a writing course and changed my major to Creative Writing. I knew it was what I wanted to focus on for the rest of my life. At 18, I decided that I was going to graduate with my writing degree, get an administrative type job because I'm good at it, write novels and grow as a writer, and eventually, get married, and have a kid. I told myself I was going to do it all, and that’s what I strive for every day.
You have a new series (Divine Island) in which the first book (Worth the Wait) released yesterday. Tell me about the series. Where did the idea for this series come from?
The Divine Island Series, follows the Hammond Family and a lot of it surrounds the Hammond Inn that patriarch of the family owns. The four books follow the four Hammond Children as they overcome obstacles and find true love. The series popped into my head because I live in Miami, and the office I work in is beautiful. I get to stare at the ocean all day and watch the ships go by. Meanwhile, my husband and I were doing repairs on our house. The book opens with the heroine, Natalie trying to fix the shower faucet, and then the hero, Chase steps in to help her. So, between me staring at the ocean all day, and also fixing my house, Natalie, Chase, and Divine Island were born. Then, the Chase in my made-up world has siblings, and I loved them, so I decided to give them each a book.
Worth the Wait is a second chance romance, featuring Chase Hammond and Natalie Rey. What can you tell me about them?
Natalie is a nurse, an LPN. She works very hard, and even harder now that she is divorced. She owns an old historic property that she’s trying to restore. She’s also going to school to become an RN. She’s loyal to her friends, and a little neurotic at times.
Chase is funny and loyal to his friends and family. He feels like he needs to prove himself to everyone because he was the wild child. He wants everyone to see that he’s made something of himself as a respected architect. He’s willing to work hard for what’s important to him.
I love second chance romances. What was the reason these two didn’t work the first time around?
Natalie had a crush on Chase from a young age. They are family friends. Chase is eight years older than her and was what you would call a troubled youth, and then still had trouble getting his act together in his early twenties. For a while Chase felt like their age difference was too great and that he wasn’t good enough for her, so he rejected her advances.
What do you love about these two?
I love their chemistry and their vulnerability. You don’t see them act the way they do with anyone else. For example. Chase is very close with his family, but he acts a different way with Natalie. I love that they push each other’s buttons, but love every minute of it.
What’s your favorite part of a book to write?
I like to write the big fight, which sometimes comes along with the declaration of love. There’s usually a lot of dialogue, and I love to write dialogue.
You already have the titles and cover for the next three books in the Divine Island series. Have you already written the books? If, so, what can you tell me about those couples and when the books will be released?
Yes, the books are written, thank goodness! Each book features one of the Hammond Family children as they find their true loves. Book 2, is Dylan’s story. He’s fighting to keep control of the family inn, and Sarah Battle shows up in town to make an offer on buying the inn on behalf of the corporate hotel chain she works for. She wants to make the deal, and Dylan does not want to sell the inn, even if his father is considering doing just that. Therefore, Dylan and Sarah are at odds with their conflicting goals, but they are also having a hard time denying their growing attraction for each other. Book 3 is about Levi, and someone else tied to the inn, Jessica. They are both recovering from tragedies in their lives and come together to help each other heal their emotional wounds. Book 4 is about the youngest in the Hammond Bunch, the wild and flighty, Ellie Hammond. She’s completely lost in life and finds meaning and at the same time, love.
What do you think Chase and Natalie would say about you? Would they say, “God, we hated Julie for a long time?” or “Julie was such a joy to work with. She listened to everything we told her to do.”
I think they would say I was a joy to work with even if it took me a while to get their story right. I made big changes in editing, and I think the characters would be happy for the changes. I was true to the direction they kept pushing me to follow.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Congratulations on your new release.
This was a lot of fun! Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!
Purchase Worth the Wait from:
The Divine Island Series:
(Click on the book covers to purchase from Amazon.)
Julie Ann Levin grew up in Miami, Florida. She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in English, majoring in Creative Writing. She loves to read all genres of Romance and especially loves contemporary, suspense, and paranormal.
She is known to binge read and is always binge writing.
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