Title: Kiss Me Hello by Grace Burrowes
Sweetest Kisses Series Book Three
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
He loves her, she loves him not…?
In the third novel of The Sweetest Kisses series, single mom Sidonie Lindstrom has her hands full with a troubled foster son, an abrupt adjustment to country living, and an unforeseen lack of funds. When her taciturn neighbor, MacKenzie Knightley, repeatedly offers practical help, Sid reminds herself she’s not interested in the neighbor-despite his kindness, pragmatism and quiet charm. MacKenzie sees the vulnerability beneath her pride, and he’s determined to change her mind…
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“This is a nice spot,” Mac said. “The horses will loaf here in the hotter months because the trees make for good shade, but the canopy isn’t quite done leafing out yet, so we’ll be able to see the moon come over the ridge.” He spread the blanket on a patch of grass up the slope from the pond.
Sid settled on the blanket, running her hand over what felt like soft flannel, while Mac lowered himself beside her.
“Give me your foot.” Mac didn’t wait for her to comply. He took Sid by the foot, and drew her running shoe off. “Other one.”
He peeled her socks down and tucked them into her shoes, then unlaced his boots and set them beside the blanket, stuffing a sock in each one. “Moonrise is always best appreciated barefoot.”
The sentiment was poetical; the words were not. “Is that a rule?”
“Suppose it is.” He took off his jacket, balled it up, and lay back to rest his head on it. “Come here and let me hold you, Sidonie. I haven’t watched the moon come up with a lovely woman in my arms for years.”
She settled against him, resting her head on the slope of his shoulder. “We’re going to talk about rules like this?” He thought she was lovely.
“We’ll come to some understandings.” His arm came around her shoulders, and his hand stroked over her hair. “I’ll undo this braid while we’re at it.”
“Don’t lose my elastic.”
His fingers were soon winnowing through her hair, drawing the length of it over her shoulder.
“How am I supposed to think about rules when you’re touching me like this, MacKenzie?”
“You don’t need to think. You just tell me what’s true for you.”
“True about what?”
He went quiet again, while Sid repositioned herself against him. She could hear his heart beat, feel the slow, steady thud of his life’s blood beneath her cheek.
“What do you want from me, Sidonie Lindstrom? What do you need?”
“Nobody has asked me that before.” She considered her answer, while Mac’s hand drifted through her hair, across her back, down her arm. “I want a friend, I guess. You’ve been a friend to me, and I wasn’t expecting to find that here.”
“Is that all you want? I can be a good friend. My brothers would vouch for me in that regard.”
She could not tell from his voice if he was disappointed with her answer, or pleased. “No, that isn’t all I want, but I’ll settle for it, and be grateful if that’s where you want to draw the line. A friend, a real friend, is nothing to scoff at.”
Another silence, while Mac got his hand on her nape and started massaging the tension there. His idea of friendship would soon leave Sid witless and boneless.
“I can’t expect you to put yourself out there without showing I’m willing to do likewise: I want you.” Mac’s voice was quiet in the gathering darkness. “I want you at least for a friend, an intimate friend, Sidonie, but I don’t share something that precious. If you allow me the privileges of a lover, then I will expect that for whatever time I enjoy that status, those privileges are exclusively mine. You will agree to this, or our friendship keeps its clothes on.”
Sid shivered, though the night wasn’t uncomfortably cool, and Mac gave off heat like a woodstove. He was so serious about this, when they could have shared a casual romp in the moonlight.
She would have settled for that—and settling would have been a mistake.
She traced his facial features. Beyond serious, he was solemn, as if these understandings he sought could be the foundation for something even greater than friendship.
“If you agree to my terms,” he said, his hand slowing in her hair, “you agree because it’s what you want too, not because I need to hear the words and you have a private agenda that’s different from what you’ll say to me.”
He was asking for honesty, the most basic tenet of a real friendship. Friends were kind to each other, considerate, patient, reliable, but above all, a friend was somebody who told the truth.
“I don’t have much practice with relationships, MacKenzie.”
He rolled slowly, like the earth heaving up, until Sid was on her back with Mac blanketing her. “There’s more to say.” He rested his forehead against hers. “A lot more, but right now, Sidonie, I have to kiss you. Have to.”
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion. The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish won Best Historical Romance of the Year in 2011 from RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.