Tuesday, April 2, 2019

🎬 Hero Profile & Excerpt ~ SECOND ACT by Nancy Herkness 🎬

Second Act (Second Glances, #2)
by: Nancy Herkness
Series: Second Glances
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Amazon | Paperback | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Lights. Camera. Romance.

Jessica Quillen, veterinarian for the charitable K-9 Angelz program, didn’t mean to stumble into the middle of a New York movie shoot. She just wanted to rescue the stray dog she’d been chasing. Instead, she’s playing catch-up with her ex-fiancé—and the screen’s hottest action hero, Hugh Baker. The only man she ever loved. The dream that disappeared. The heartthrob who’s now hoping for a “take two.”

Seeing Jessica triggers emotions Hugh has tried to forget. Abandoned by his mother to foster care, he still struggles to feel worthy of love and to open his heart to a woman. His biggest mistake was not trusting Jessica. It was his fault she left. All he wants now is to make up for lost time. But he has to prove that she can trust him.

Though the sparks still smolder, he’s still Hollywood—a world far away from Jessica’s. Now it’s up to her to give their love story a happily ever after.

Name: Hugh Baker

Age: Mid-thirties

Date of birth: November 11. My agent won’t allow me to mention the year.

Physical Description:
I’ve got nearly black hair and eyes that my agent insists on describing as “turquoise.” They’re blue. Because I play a secret agent in the movies, I spend a lot of time working out so I can look believable as the character. My role requires that I wear tailored suits, tuxes, and the occasional wet suit. However, when I’m off duty, I like a well-broken-in pair of jeans and a casual shirt. And not to shave.

Occupation: Actor—or on a bad day, movie star.

3 likes in no particular order:
  • A beautiful piece of wood;
  • The words, “That’s a wrap.”
  • Watching Jess around any kind of animal. Her caring is so incredible.

3 dislikes in no particular order:
  • Paparazzi
  • Paparazzi
  • Paparazzi

Drink of choice:
Beer, preferably imported. Bourbon straight up, when I need to appear to be sophisticated.

Favorite food:
When you grow up in foster homes, you can’t afford to be picky. I’m still not. If it’s good, I’ll eat it with pleasure.

Favorite song:
Werewolves of London, by Warren Zevon. I like to do the howling in the shower. Favorite line: “I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's and his hair was perfect.”

Choice of transportation: Helicopter.

Most prized possession:
The sweater Jessica gave me when my first movie was released.

Favorite way to unwind:
Working with my hands. I did carpentry back in the days when I was a starving actor. It feels good to create something tangible.

Favorite way to spend an evening:
At home, watching any movies except the ones I’m in.

3 things you like/love about yourself:
This question seems a little self-centered, even for a movie star, but I’ll play.
  • My work ethic.
  • My refusal to stab anyone in the back to advance my career.
  • According to every woman I’ve ever known, I should love my hair because they claim it always looks good, even first thing in the morning.

Best friend:
Gavin Miller, bestselling author of the Julian Best novels, without which I would have no career as an actor. We bonded over our unpleasant childhoods.

Best memory to date:
I’ve had an interesting life so it’s hard to choose a single memory, but the best ones always involve Jessica. If I had to pick only one, it would be the day I signed the contract to play Julian Best in the first movie of the franchise. Sharing that moment with Jessica was the most intense emotional experience I’ve ever had. I felt that I was worthy of her love. And then I screwed things up royally.

If you could have a do over, what would you do differently?
I would make sure not to drive Jessica into giving back my ring eight years ago. That was the biggest mistake of my life. And if I couldn’t prevent that, I would swallow my stupid pride and grovel until she agreed to take me back.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
The advantage of being an actor is that you get to portray many professions. The truth is that I’m not much good at any but the one I do.

Most romantic gesture:
Back before I drove her away, Jessica told me that what she loved most were the little surprise gifts I bought her for no reason except that I was thinking of her. She didn’t want grand gestures, which was fortunate since in those days I couldn’t afford them. What she never understood was that she was always on my mind, so everything reminded me of her. I could have easily brought her a gift every day.

Words to live by:
“Acting is not an important job in the scheme of things. Plumbing is.”
        –Spencer Tracy

“Dr. Quillen is sound asleep downstairs in the quarantine room,” Emily Varela said after welcoming Hugh to the Carver Center. He liked the fact that she treated him with warm courtesy but no awe.

“The quarantine room?”

She smiled. “It’s a large storage closet that we put a couple of dog crates in to keep the sick ones from infecting the rest of the K-9 Angelz. Those are our rescue dogs.”

“She’s sleeping in a closet?” Painful flashbacks from his childhood rose up and clawed at his throat.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds.” Emily turned toward the stairs. “I’ll be happy to show you.”

“I don’t want to take up any more of your time. Please just point me in the right direction, and I’ll find her.” He wanted to talk with Jess privately, because he wasn’t sure how the conversation would go.

Emily hesitated a moment before she said, “At the bottom of the stairs, turn left and go into the hallway. The closet is the second door down.”

Playing a character who fought for the good guys had its perks. People tended to trust him without knowing why.

He jogged down the stairs. When the shooting schedule had changed unexpectedly, it had left him with the whole day free. All he could think about doing with that time was seeing Jessica again, so he’d taken a chance and arranged for a helicopter to New York from Boston. Of course, he hadn’t told Jess that the shoot had moved to Boston or that he was flying down early to see her. If he was already here, she couldn’t tell him not to come.

However, it had taken him most of the helicopter flight to track down her whereabouts. Fortunately, Aidan had proved helpful, but her brother had warned Hugh that Jess might refuse to leave the sick dogs.

Which was why Hugh preferred not to have Emily as a witness to their discussion.

A chorus of barking greeted him when he reached the foot of the staircase. Various-sized crates stood in a neat line down one side of a spare but immaculate room. These must be the K-9 Angelz Emily had referred to. He understood why an infectious dog would need to be separated from the pack.

The narrow hallway led into the bowels of the building, although it also was clean and well maintained. When he came to the second door down, he put his hand on the knob and lowered his head to listen. No sound emanated through the metal, so he cracked the door open.

The odor that wafted out made him jerk back a step and blow out a huff of disgust. If Jessica was in there, he couldn’t imagine how she was breathing. Bracing himself, he pushed the door farther ajar.

First he saw two crates with the sick dogs lying in them. Neither barked, he assumed because they didn’t feel well. Leaning farther in, he found Jessica, curled up in the corner on a faded brown dog bed, an overlarge gray hoodie zipped up over her hot-pink scrubs, her hair in a crazy tangle, and her hands tucked under her cheek.

The small, close space, her tightly curled body, the ill-fitting hoodie, all yanked him back to when he was eight years old. His new foster mother had taken him upstairs to show him his bedroom and opened the door to what had once been a walk-in closet but now held a cot and a plastic set of drawers. The hanging bars had been left in place, but they were too high for Hugh to reach back then. He had nothing that required hanging up, anyway.

His foster mother had told him he would be sleeping in there because he was small and didn’t need any more room than that. His meager clothing and few possessions, including his mother’s photo, had gone in and on the chest of drawers. Of course, when the social worker visited, his things got moved into the youngest son’s room, but the kid didn’t want Hugh sharing his space, so he went back to the closet as soon as the social worker left.

It wasn’t the worst place he’d ever slept, but his child’s soul had been shredded by this clear indication of how unimportant he was to his new family.

All those wounds gaped wide, pouring out the agony of being unwanted. He strode into the storage room with one goal—to get Jess out of there.

He shook her shoulder gently. “Jess, wake up. We need to go.”

Her eyelids fluttered open halfway, an expression of bewilderment on her face. “Hugh? No, it can’t be.” She closed her eyes and snuggled her cheek back against her palm.

Without further thought, he went down on his knee, snaking one arm under her shoulders and the other under her legs, and brought her up against his chest before he rose again. Thank God for all the muscle-building workouts his personal trainer put him through in order to be convincing as a secret agent.

Jessica woke up enough to grab his shoulder as he exited the stinking storage room and kicked the door shut behind him. “Hugh? What on earth? It can’t be six o’clock already!”

“I got the day off, so I came early,” he said, walking down the hallway. The fist that had clenched around his heart eased more and more the farther away he got from the closet. He filled his lungs with clean air.

“You can’t just scoop me up and whisk me away to wherever you think you’re going. I have sick dogs to tend.” She began to squirm, so he had to tighten his grip to keep her from falling.

“Emily said you texted someone named Diego that the dogs had pulled through fine.” He kept walking. “I promise to find another vet to come check on them.”

“Do you think some busy vet will just drop everything to make a house call to the Carver Center?” She sounded both annoyed and incredulous.

“Yes, I do. My assistant can find someone to do virtually anything. You can speak with the vet yourself when he locates one.”

“Your assistant. Of course.” She subsided for a moment, and he thought she actually nuzzled her nose against his neck and inhaled. Not that he blamed her after she’d spent the night in that horrific stench.

He reached the bottom of the staircase and put his foot on the first step.

“No,” she said, struggling in earnest. “I’m a full-grown woman. You cannot carry me up a flight of stairs.”

“If you knew how many weight machines I have been tortured by, you would be reassured that I can, in fact, carry you up the stairs.” Now that he had her warm, curvy body against him, he was reluctant to release it, even though she smelled a bit like the closet. Her silky rat’s nest of hair brushed against his cheek, and he enjoyed the feel of her arms wrapped around his neck.

“There might be people up there,” she said. “Please don’t embarrass me in front of my clients.”

That was a plea he could not ignore. As he set her down on the floor, she staggered slightly, so he had an excuse to pull her into him again, the press of her breasts on his chest sending a streak of desire down his center. “Jess, you’re exhausted.”

“I just need a shower and a couple of hours of sleep,” she said, her palms flat against his shoulders as she pushed away.

“I have an entire hotel suite waiting for you,” he said. He’d planned to fly her to Gavin’s mansion on the beach in Southampton but had scrapped the idea when he found out how she’d spent the night. So he’d reserved the penthouse at his favorite Manhattan hotel. Although he was staying at Gavin’s house in the city while filming, he wanted total privacy for Jess to rest in. “Without any ulterior motives except to wrap you in the luxury of rest and give you the pampering you deserve.” That was true at the time. Now that he’d touched her, his motives had become murkier.

Purchase Second Act from:

The Second Glances Series:

Second to None ~ Review
Second Time Around ~ Review
Second Act ~ Review

Nancy Herkness is the award-winning author of the Second Glances, Wager of Hearts, and Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America RITA® award.

A member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc., Nancy has received many honors for her work, including the Book Buyers Best “Top Pick” Award, the New England Readers’ Choice award, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.

Nancy graduated from Princeton University where she majored in English. In addition to her academic work in literature, she was accepted into Princeton’s creative writing program, and her senior thesis was a volume of original poetry.

After graduating, Nancy had a varied career which included retail management and buying, COBOL programming, computer systems sales and marketing, and a brief stint as a receptionist at a dental office. Once her children were in school full-time, she sat down and wrote A Bridge to Love, her first romance novel to be published.

Nancy finds nothing odd about writing in the genre she calls the “Rodney Dangerfield of the literary world. It gets no respect.” She explains: “I was trained as a poet, but from the day my grandmother gave me my first Georgette Heyer novel I wanted to write romance. Romance is the genre of optimism, and that’s why I like it.”

A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey with a goofy golden retriever named Brodie. She cheers loudly for the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

Places to find Nancy Herkness:


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