RoseAnn will be awarding a $15 Amazon gift card as well as a digital copy of RETURN TO AUDUBON SPRINGS to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
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Annie O'Malley's dream of owning a secondhand bookstore in tight-knit Audubon Springs is coming true. Still reeling from her parents' sudden deaths, she believes that signs or messages can be found within the pages of books. She loves her job and has made plenty of friends but longs for the acceptance only love and a family can provide.
Tony Iuliano is there to fix the wiring in her shop. He doesn't believe in fate, magic, or the power of a good book. All this combined with his sexy-as-sin presence and all-knowing attitude infuriates Annie. The quirky bookworm intrigues him enough to accept her bet to read a book from her shop. When he discovers a stack of fifty-year-old love letters in the book, he wants to leave the past alone, but seeing it as a sign, Annie challenges him to read the letters and search for the long-lost lovers or lose the bet.
While shaking the dust off several ill-fated romances and fighting their attraction at every turn, the pair soon become the town gossip daily special. If they can stop arguing long enough, they may just discover this particular sign was meant for them all along.
“You were a bit rude to Mr. Green. That’s not like you.”
“Tony, let’s not pretend you know anything about me, okay?”
“O—kay.” He cocked his head to the side and squinted.
“You were rather quiet and un-opinionated. That’s not like you either.”
“We’re fighting now?” He threw his hands out to his sides.
“No, we’re not.” She gathered the coffee cups and took them back to the storeroom.
“I’m going to head out.” But instead he followed her to the storeroom, leaned against the door jam, so ruggedly handsome a sharp twinge poked her heart. She returned her focus to washing the cups. “Annie, you say I don’t know you, but you’re not acting like yourself.” He pushed away from the door and ventured, tentatively, into the room.
“He used her and broke her heart, and somehow that is considered acceptable.”
“Who said it was acceptable?”
“You did! The two of you sat there in cahoots. Then you’re disappointed in me for being rude.” She tossed the last cup in the drainer and smacked the water faucet off with a satisfying whack.
“I’ve just never seen you act like that before.”
Annie whipped around causing him to take a clumsy step back. “I know you think I’m flighty and too invested in this, but for Susan Shaunessy, there was something more between them than the physical. Remember what she said?”
“Yeah, I do.” He took a step, closing the gap. “She talked about the fire burning out, and there being nothing left. She recognized it for what it was too. Try not to over-romanticize everything.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t over-romanticize anything.”
He glanced at the book she left on the counter and picked it up, weighing it in his big hand as if it were a foreign object. “I don’t get it. What is it about a book that so completely captures your attention?”
Annie’s eyes widened. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Hmmm, no, I don’t think so.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’m not going to try to explain this to a non-reader.”
A dark expression flashed across his face. “I read.”
“Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and Playboy do not count.”
“I said I can read!”
“Calm down there, big guy. I’m sure you can read, but I own the only bookstore in town, and I’ve never seen you in here to buy a book. To my way of thinking, that puts you in the category of a non-reader, as in someone who does not read for pleasure.”
“Okay, fine. You’ve got me. Humor me. What is it about a book that completely grabs your attention, leaving your store vulnerable to theft and you to bodily harm?”
Annie regarded him through narrowed eyes, not entirely sure if he was serious or seriously trying to provoke an argument. She found both options interesting. Up until now, they shared very little in the way of one-on-one dialogue. The nature of this question indicated a certain level of contemplation he’d already given on the subject. “You’re not going to let that go, are you?”
“No.” He revealed just the slightest crack of a smile.