Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.
Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella’s parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.
When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean’s generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?
Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.
In addition to writing fiction, Maria is on the Friends of Thomas Edison State University Foundation Committee and serves on the finance committee for The Present Day Club. She has received the distinguished Family of Edison Award for her work with The Thomas Edison State University Foundation, the Iron Mike Professional Achievement Award from Trenton Catholic Academy, her alma mater, and was inducted into the Italian American National Hall of Fame.
Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Two of her novellas won first place awards in the NEST (National Excellence in Story Telling) contest. “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” won in the short historical category and “A Song For Another Day” won in the short contemporary category. Both of these novellas are also finalists for the Beverley Award.
Visit Maria at www.mariaimbalzano.com
“I agree with Dean. Barb’s Gift Cottage has been in Princeton for thirty years. You don’t decide one day to revamp the entire business. Get rid of the old, make way for the new. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Bella bit her tongue before responding, reminding herself to stay cool. “Okay. I’m open to anything. Let’s talk about your ideas to stay afloat.” She sat, poised with her pad in front of her, pen in hand.
She looked directly at her dad first, eyebrow arched. “I’m listening.” Then she scanned over to Dean.
Her gaze moved up to his eyes—sea green in the harsh kitchen light but beautiful just the same.
His gaze locked with hers and held her hostage— an unwilling prisoner to his warden. All ire morphed into a swirling eddy of primal lust, and she felt herself disappearing into his aura. She needed to save herself as well as her ego. Fighting the pull, she surfaced, blinking to clear her eyes, inhaling to bring her back to the present.
She disconnected and glanced at her parents. Had they noticed she’d been missing?
The smallest smile quirked Dean’s lips—surely acknowledging her lapse into Dean-land. She reached for the annoyance she’d let slip from her grasp and pulled it back into her arsenal.