(Last) Chance of a Lifetime by Martha O'Sullivan
My love affair with California began at the tender age of fifteen and continues today, three decades later. So it should come as no surprise that the book of my heart, which somehow turned into a trilogy, is set there.
Maybe it was the indescribable thrill of a Midwestern girl seeing the ocean for the first time. Or the unapologetically bronzed coeds with movie-star teeth driving silver metallic convertibles and playing volleyball in the sand. Perhaps the towering palm trees swaying against the impossibly blue sky? But that was in Southern Cal; my Chances trilogy takes place in Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, hundreds of miles north.
I was an inadvertently lonely, only child of the 1970s, growing up in a place where a short, precious summer turned into a long, cold winter seemingly overnight. In high school, I often opted for the city bus because it stopped in front of the library. Just a branch, but they had loads of paperback books. And I always found myself drawn to the wire rack of slightly musty and lovingly tattered romance novels. The books took me to places all over the world where effortlessly beautiful, wonderfully flawed heroines were swept off their feet by dynamic, irresistible heroes. I preferred the books to the afternoon soaps because I could use my overzealous imagination to fashion the characters to my liking. And if I found the ending disappointing or abrupt, I would simply continue the story in my head.
Writing such ideas down, however, took another thirty years.
In the interim, I went to college and met my own alpha hero. And he took me to San Francisco on our honeymoon.
And, as cliché as it sounds, that’s where I left my heart. Well, part of it anyway. Because eight years and two babies later, he took me to Lake Tahoe for the very first time.
And my frisson with California moved even farther north.
I hope my Chances trilogy will take you there. And you’ll leave a little piece of your heart behind too. Here’s a blurb and a (PG rated) excerpt from Last Chance:
Moira Brody knows Paul Webster better than he knows himself. But neither one of them know that he as in love with her as she is with him. These friends-turned-lovers will have to look at each other with fresh eyes and brave hearts. And even the single-digit temperatures and snowcapped peaks of the Lake Tahoe winter are no match for their long-bridled desire.
“It was just dinner, Paul,” Moira patronized.
On Valentine’s Day, he silently added. “About that, I came by to apologize.” He wondered if she sensed the audible relief in his voice. “I shouldn’t have assumed we’d see each other tonight. And I certainly shouldn’t have assumed you’d be,” he bit off the word, “available.” He looked away then, into the cottage-style kitchen, and saw what she’d been working on.
She must have acquired clairvoyant powers in those few seconds, because her tone softened and she said, “I had to bring them home. They were too beautiful to waste.”
No, like them.
With four wide steps he advanced into the antique white kitchen he’d designed. “Where are the roses?”
She followed him. “At the office.”
“They’re not too beautiful to waste?” he quickened in a thick voice, turning to face her.
“No, they are.” Her breath hitched. “They’re just not from you.”
Her emerald saucers were filling behind their licorice lashes and she was biting her bottom lip, trying to hold back the tears. Paul couldn’t have stopped himself from going to her if he’d wanted to.
“Moira, what are we doing?” he entreated, gripping her forearms. “What have I done? Have I lost you?”
She shook her head from side to side and her eyes began to empty, leaving sooty tire-like tracks on her china doll face. Tipping his head back in silent thanks, Paul took her in his arms. She moved into his body, sobbing through sawed-off breaths.
“Tell me nothing happened. Tell me there’s nothing between you and him,” he prayed out loud after an affecting moment.
She answered by burrowing her head deeper into his shoulder and wreathing his middle. He felt her breathing level off and he kissed the top of her coal-black mane. She smelled like a subtle version of earlier, infused with wine and garlic. Hope replaced the uneasiness in his stomach and he heard himself say, “I had to force myself not to go back there. I’ve been driving around for hours, going crazy.”
She angled out of his grasp just enough to make eye contact. Suddenly she was the girl he used to know again, not the woman tying his insides into knots. Or maybe the perfect combination of both. Her eyes began to shine and a satisfied smile curved her lips. “You have?”
“Yeah. Like outside my mind crazy.” He laid his lips on hers and tasted the salt from her tears. She melted into the kiss, then the next. He wondered if she could sense him growing behind the zipper. Or the spool of want unwinding into a thousand frazzled threads in his gut. Gasping for air, he released her mouth and cupped her face. “You make me crazy, Moira Brody. Absolutely crazy.”
Her breath caught in her throat and her eyes began to swell again. She swallowed hard and allowed, “Then I like you crazy.”
Last Chance buy links:
Martha O’Sullivan’s Chances trilogy is available now from Red Sage Publishing. Second Chance, the trilogy opener, is a reunion/love triangle romance that keeps the shores of Lake Tahoe blazing hot long after the sultry summer sun has set. Chance Encounter, the trilogy's second installment, heats up San Francisco’s chilly days and blustery nights with white-hot passion and pulse-pounding suspense. And in Last Chance, the conclusion of the trilogy, lifelong friends-turned-lovers melt the snow-packed Sierras into lust-fueled puddles despite the single-digit temperatures of the Lake Tahoe winter.
Martha O'Sullivan has loved reading romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing her own novels is the realization of a lifelong dream for this stay-at-home mom. Martha writes spicy, contemporary romances with traditional couples and happy endings. She is the author of the Chances trilogy from Red Sage Publishing. Her current work-in-progress in a sweet and steamy Christmas novel set in Costa Careyes, Mexico. A native Chicagoan, she lives her own happy ending in Tampa with her husband and two daughters. Find her on the web at: