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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Excerpt: Coming Home by Marilyn Brant

Please join me in welcoming back to Austen in August author Marilyn Brant! Today, she is stopping by to share with us an exclusive excerpt of a complete scene from her upcoming novella collection, Coming Home! Click through to read it in full, and then make sure to stop back by tomorrow for a chance to win a copy! 

**This is from Chandler & Jaleina’s story, SOMEONE LIKE YOU, my modern nod to Austen’s PERSUASION. This scene is from Jaleina’s point of view and takes place in mid-December, a few days before the wedding of Chandler’s twin brother (Chance) and Jaleina’s friend (Nia), the romantic couple featured in the first Mirabelle Harbor book, TAKE A CHANCE ON ME. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek!!**

I yawned. Clearly, I was getting too old for this routine.

As I unlocked the door to my bookshop, I figured I’d better start acting my age and getting a few extra hours of sleep. I should really push my workouts to eight thirty in the morning, rather than go to the gym at the crack of dawn. I’d been up since six a.m.—only because it allowed me to zip into Harbor Fitness for the earliest exercise class and then zip out again before Chance even arrived on the scene. Seriously, I needed to get over my aversion to running into members of the Michaelsen family.
Chance was a good guy and I’d always liked both him and his twin, Chandler, but I still didn’t relish spending a ton of time with their family. Didn’t matter how pleasant they all were to me. Thankfully, the big wedding was this weekend. I was happy to attend for Nia’s sake, but I knew I’d be relieved when Saturday was over.

I rubbed my eyes and went to plug in the coffee maker. C’mon, little stainless-steel machine. Start perking. Please.

The coffee had just begun to brew when I heard the bells chime and an early customer enter the store.

I turned to look at the door and—oh, hell!—speak of the devil.

Chandler Michaelsen.

After several years away, the guy still had a noticeable presence when he entered a room. A trait he shared with his brothers, although he was a slightly torn and tarnished version of his twin and tended to sport a little more facial hair than his clean-shaven mirror image.

But, wow.

While he’d only shot up another inch or two in height, he definitely looked grown up. Manly. Intense.
“Jaleina,” he said, breathing out my name in a way that was uniquely his. Even if I hadn’t been able to tell him apart from his twin visually, which I always could, I would’ve been able to do it aurally. Chance and Chandler had dissimilar speaking patterns and gave off distinctly different vibes. Like “Good Neighbor” versus “Danger Boy.”

“I heard these crazy rumors that you were coming back to town,” I told him lightly. “Guess you couldn’t miss your brother’s wedding, huh?”

He grinned and bowed his head with a rueful nod. “My family insisted my attendance was required. You’ll be there, too?” he asked me, although I got the feeling he already knew the answer.

“I will, yes.”

“Good.” Then he said something that completely blindsided me. “I hope you’ll save me a dance at the reception.”

I laughed this off. “Very gallant of you, Chandler, but I’m sure you’ll be too busy with the young ladies to hang out with an old one.”

His eyebrows shot up. “You’re not old and, no, I won’t be.” He crossed his arms and gazed at me in a way that was almost...assessing.

I felt a sudden flush of warmth, which was totally inappropriate. He was practically a kid compared to me. Well, an almost thirty-year-old kid. But, anyway, I knew he couldn’t be serious.

Regardless, the subject desperately needed to be changed. “So, what are you doing with yourself these days?” I asked. “Still living out East?”

“Kinda. I’ve lived a few places. Doing tech work at IT firms, mostly. Troubleshooting computer problems. That kind of shit.”

“Well, those are desirable skills,” I said, meaning it. “My computer has been giving me fits lately whenever—”

“Maybe I can diagnose it,” he interrupted, glancing around the bookstore, as a few new customers entered. “Is it here?”

“No, it’s my home computer. And I wouldn’t want you to trouble yourself with—”

“It’s no trouble, Jaleina. Just let me know when I can stop by and I’ll take a look. Need to keep my desirable skills sharp during my northern sabbatical or they could get rusty.” He grinned again in that manner that made me certain he wasn’t merely talking about computer competence.

The guy was undoubtedly used to getting his way with women. He’d been brimming with sexual intensity even as a teenager, but now—jeez. Chandler was a potent force to be reckoned with, and I wasn’t as immune to it as I should have been. Not by a long shot. He was Derek’s baby brother, for God’s sake. It was practically cradle robbing even just flirting with him. This had to stop.

But it didn’t.

He spent half the morning with me at the bookstore, keeping me company when I wasn’t helping other customers, asking me questions to prolong our conversation, and getting me to laugh aloud in spite of myself. Best—or worst—of all, he made it clear that he wanted to see me while he was in town and not just in passing at the wedding.

Loneliness could make a woman weak, and it’d been far too long since I’d had a significant other in my life. Just showed what could happen when a woman was thirty-eight and hadn’t gotten laid in over a year. Having a guy paying attention to me was seductive, even if he was too young for me and couldn’t possibly be sincere in his interest.

In my defense, though, no one who hadn’t known Chandler for nearly a decade and a half, the way I had, would have thought he was anything like the scrawny teen of years’ past. His twin hadn’t left town and had grown into a sexy and confident man, too, but Chance was wholesome, for want of a better word. Absolutely perfect for Nia and an all-around sweetheart to the residents of Mirabelle Harbor, if somewhat serious.

Chandler was many things, but wholesome and sweet weren’t two of them. A person could read the difference in the expression in his eyes. The firm brackets around his lips. The posture he used when he strode into a room. He had a way of claiming every step he took, like a predator.

And heaven help me, while in his company, it was strangely difficult to think of myself as a lecherous older woman out to corrupt him. Not when he was staring at me like a wolf.

As Chandler and I continued to chat, one customer came up to the front register, arms full of books. She wanted to buy a six-volume set of Jane Austen novels, along with a pair of bookmarks with literary quotes.

“I hope you’ll enjoy these,” I told her as I bagged her purchases.

“Oh, I already love Austen,” the older woman gushed. “These novels are for my granddaughter. I want to get her hooked while she’s still easy to influence.”

“How old is she?” I asked, expecting her to say a teenager or, maybe, a young woman in her twenties.

“Just turned four,” the woman replied. “Can’t start too early introducing her to Jane.” Then she winked and all but waltzed out the door.

Chandler and I laughed.

“A super fan,” he noted.

I agreed. “Then again, it’s really romantic that Chance and Nia are getting married on Jane Austen’s birthday, December sixteenth. From what Nia told me, that was her first choice for the wedding date.”

“I’m not surprised. Nia, Shar, Vicky, and Olivia are all period drama freaks.”

I crossed my arms and mock-glared at him.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” he added quickly, raising his palms in a sign of surrender. “But Blake and Declan were complaining about all the Regency costumes and literary shit their girlfriends are into. Chance and Derek know better than to say anything. But there’s some Pride and Prejudice marathon on PBS this week, and the ladies have been going crazy over it. Blake starts to gag every time the subject comes up.”

This made me grin just thinking about it. I knew what an extensive reader Blake Michaelsen was, despite his tough-guy image. He’d been an outstanding customer of mine for years. So I also knew he had to be putting on an act for his family. The guy had read nearly all of the classics, including several novels by Austen, and not a single soul had made him do it.

Persuasion is my favorite of the stories, but I’ve been watching the Pride and Prejudice marathon on TV, too,” I informed Chandler. “It’s excellent.”

“Well, you’d fit right in with the rest of my family then,” he said, stopped abruptly, and then grimaced at the awkwardness that followed. “Sorry, Jaleina. I didn’t mean—”

“It’s okay,” I tried to reassure him. “That’s water under the bridge. Really.”

He muttered something I couldn’t catch. Something about “Derek” and “fool.” I might have been flattered if I’d heard the whole thing, but it didn’t matter in any case. I wasn’t a Michaelsen woman, and I never would be. Chandler’s big brother, Derek, had made sure of that...

Honestly, after seeing him and Olivia together, it was all for the best. There was something that hadn’t fully meshed with Derek and me. At the time, I’d blamed our differences in ethnicity, which was easier than thinking we just weren’t soul mates. The Michaelsens had always been a tight-knit bunch, and though I would have loved to have been a part of that camaraderie, it might have been worse if I’d married into the family and never quite fit in.

As my Mexican grandparents used to say, “No podemos escapar de nuestra herencia.” We cannot escape our heritage.

And, anyway, I didn’t want to.

But it was likely my family’s cultural background or my more modest upbringing would never have been an issue. After all, Nia was a first-generation Greek-American, and she’d slid right in with the Michaelsens, in spite of their old money and their WASPishness. Maybe I would’ve been marginalized for no other reason than because I was me.

Chandler seemed to be reading something in my expression that I thought I’d done better at hiding. He immediately asked me about my family. About my parents and my brother, who lived in Southern California. About my abuela, Clarita, who’d immigrated to Texas when she was fourteen and married my grandfather, Lorenzo Longoria. They’d moved to California, too, where he’d passed away a few years ago.

“Must’ve been hard to lose your abuelo,” he said. “I remember that you were really close to your grandparents.”

I nodded. I’d come to Illinois on a college scholarship and stayed, but Chandler knew I flew back often to see my family and talked with them frequently on the phone. “Every so often, I’ll make sopapillas in his honor. Or, when I’m too lazy to actually fix his favorite pastry by hand, I go out to La Vida Feliz and order it.”

“Oh, man, that sounds good.” He licked his lips in a way that shouldn’t have been nearly as sensual as it was. “Is this a new restaurant?”

“Not so new. It’s been around for about five years, but it must have opened after you left town. It’s about fifteen or twenty minutes away. In Glen Forest.”

“Spent a few months in San Antonio a few years back, and I ate like a king. Soy como un rey,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh, pointing to his chest as if he really were royalty.

I laughed, too. It always thrilled me to hear someone speak Spanish, even if it was just a few words. I wondered if he still spoke the language sometimes. “Sigues usando el español?”

“Nah, not really. I wish I were better, but I’ve forgotten a lot since high school. And I haven’t had an authentic Mexican meal in ages.” He paused. “We should go to La Vida Feliz for dinner this week.”

“W-We?” I sputtered before I could stop myself.

“Hell, yeah. How am I supposed to know the best dishes to order without guidance?” He sent me that knowing, captivating grin again that was pure sexiness. I knew better than to fall for it and, yet, he tempted me.

This was so like Chandler.

Impulsive and charming. Reckless and seductive.

He was too much of everything—not the least of which was too young. I couldn’t let myself forget that.

I shook my head. “I don’t think that’s the best idea. You’re going to be so busy with pre-wedding activities and—”

“No.” He took a few steps closer until I could feel his body heat radiating toward me. Enough to warm up even this chilly December morning. “Friday night, yes. There’s the rehearsal at the church and then the rehearsal dinner. But there’s nothing I really have to do tonight or tomorrow. So, which will it be?”

He looked at me so steadily, so suddenly somber that I was forced to make a decision. If I went with him, we’d be out of Mirabelle Harbor at least. It would be less like a date, I reasoned, and more like an outing. With a friend. Right?

Well, sort of.

“Please, Jaleina,” he whispered. “I’d really like to spend some time with you. Only with you. Solamente contigo. Just catching up.”

I felt myself giving in. He was utterly enchanting and persuasive. More so now than he was when I was dating his big brother. Or maybe he’d always been this way and I just hadn’t wanted to acknowledge it. “I’ve got a book club meeting to attend tonight. But tomorrow, I’m free after the bookstore closes,” I admitted.

He shot a cursory glance at the store hours posted in white type on the window. “Six p.m. then,” he said. “Tomorrow night. I’ll pick you up here. And, uh—” He scanned my body, paying special attention to my legs, which, despite my long skirt, burned hotter under his gaze. “You’ll want to dress warm and wear slacks. Maybe jeans.”


He flashed a smile at me that was disarmingly polite, but the mischievous glint in his eye gave him away. “Just trust me.” Then, with a parting wave, he added, “Thanks for saying yes. I’m looking forward to our evening together.”

Before I could reply, he was gone.

A customer asked me a question about the latest psychological thriller at the top of this week’s USA Today Bestseller List, and as I moved to answer her, I saw a motorcycle speed by my bookstore, Chandler riding it.

Ah. Dress warm. Wear slacks. Trust him. I understood now, and I could handle two out of three. But as powerful and alluring as those guys might be, I’d vowed to never fully trust a Michaelsen man again.

Especially not one who looked so dangerously hot in his black leather jacket and jeans.
I had a sneaking suspicion that a ride on his sleek motorcycle wasn’t the only kind of ride the clever and ever-charismatic Chandler had in mind.

Sneaky, sexy boy. Too sneaky and too sexy for his own damn good.

Or for mine.

If you’re interested in reading more from COMING HOME: A Mirabelle Harbor Duet, I’ve got 2 additional excerpts (one from each of the novellas) on my website HERE. The ebooks are available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and Kobo—they’ll be released September 10th—and the paperbacks are coming out before the end of August!

~ Marilyn


COMING HOME: a Mirabelle Harbor Duet by Marilyn Brant
Contemporary, 256 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2017 by Twelfth Night Publishing
Get It | Add It
COMING HOME: A Mirabelle Harbor Duet is Book 6 in Marilyn Brant’s Mirabelle Harbor series, and it features two novellas—ROCKET MAN and SOMEONE LIKE YOU—but these books and all of the contemporary romances in this completed series can be enjoyed as standalone stories.

There’s double the trouble in this romantic story pairing when ex-lovers, Abby Solinski and Chandler Michaelsen, both return to their hometown of Mirabelle Harbor, only to find that the happily ever after they thought they’d given up may, in fact, still be a possibility…just not with the person they’d expected!

Abby had a crush on “Rocket Rick” Zimmerman way back in high school, but he was her brother’s best friend and graduated a couple of years ahead of her, leaving town for an international life of top-secret, science-nerd intrigue. She didn’t understand a fraction of what he did professionally, and he wasn’t allowed to tell her anyway. Abby, meanwhile, meandered around the country with her then-boyfriend, Chandler, eventually winding up alone and working at a couple of part-time jobs in Florida. She’d resigned herself to being single forever and living on the sunny Gulf Coast, a thousand miles away from her Midwestern origins.

But when her parents need her help back in Mirabelle Harbor, she flies home for a week and runs into Rick again, who’s back in the Chicago area for a big physics convention. Immediately, she’s caught up in a surprising game of “Booster Ignition and Liftoff,” where the object seems to be an answer to this scientific question: Just how fast can things heat up between them without somebody getting burned?

As for Chandler, he had no intention whatsoever of coming back to Mirabelle Harbor. When he and Abby broke up, he headed north on his motorcycle from Sarasota to Atlanta, and a life on the road was how he wanted to roll. But then his twin brother, Chance, goes and gets himself engaged, and the groom insists that Chandler needs to be the best man. Fine. He’ll drive back for a few days, for the sake of his twin, but no one had better expect him to stay in town. Of course, that’s before he knows his dream woman—beautiful bookstore owner, Jaleina Longoria—is going to be at the wedding.

Jaleina is not only eight and a half years his senior, she’s also the ex-fiancée of his eldest brother, who’d broken up with her to marry someone else years earlier. That never stopped Chandler from considering Jaleina to be his Ultimate Fantasy. Getting her to stop thinking of him as the restless teen boy he’d once been, however, is going to prove quite a challenge. Especially since the restlessness is still there, even though he’s now a very passionate—and very determined—full-grown man.

Sometimes what you think you’re returning to isn’t what you’d really left behind. COMING HOME, a pair of Mirabelle Harbor stories.

**NOTE: All of the romances in the Mirabelle Harbor series take place over roughly a two-year time frame, and every book listed below can be read as a standalone story. Details on each book and links to excerpts & extras can be found on Marilyn’s website HERE.

Year One:
Take a Chance on Me (Chance & Nia) – April/May
The One That I Want (Julia & Dane) – June/July/August
Stranger on the Shore (Marianna & Gil) – June/July/August
You Give Love a Bad Name (Blake & Vicky) – September/October

Year Two:
Going for It - Kindle World Bonus Story (Trevor & Tina Marie) – June
One Night Love Affair (Sharlene & Declan) – July
Rocket Man - Coming Home (Abby & Rick) – October
Someone Like You - Coming Home (Chandler & Jaleina) – December

“I love coming home to Mirabelle Harbor! This duet is my favorite of the whole series, truly the best for last. I have enjoyed my time in this cute little seaside cove and I am a little sad it has come to an end. I adore everyone in town, including Rick and Abby from Rocket Man but Chandler and Jaleina's story was just so different than all the others. I feel Marilyn outdid herself in Someone Like You. She was able to capture the passion of Jaleina's culture and the determination of a man who knew what his heart always wanted. Sweet and sexy, a romance so passionate, it had me blushing!” ~Margie’s Must Reads

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy, and mystery. In 2013, she was named Author of the Year by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves Sherlock Holmes, travel, music, chocolate, and all things Jane Austen. Her Austen-inspired debut novel, ACCORDING TO JANE, won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award, and Buzzle.com named it one of the 100 Best Romance Novels of All Time. She’s also written several light comedies, like PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH and its sequel, PERFECT BET. Her latest releases are the sexy contemporary romances in her “Mirabelle Harbor” series, set on the shores of Lake Michigan, near her home in the Chicago suburbs. For updates, visit her website: www.marilynbrant.com

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  1. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of Coming Home during Austen in August, Misty!! :)

  2. I have really been missing out by not starting this series yet. Loved the excerpt with Chandler and Jaleina. So playful!

    1. Thanks, Sophia Rose!!
      So thrilled you enjoyed the excerpt!

  3. I have enjoyed the first year's books in this series. I see I have some catching up to do.

    1. Thanks,Deborah!!
      I hope you'll like this one too! ♡

  4. Gah! I want more! This is a great concept and I look forward to reading the rest.

  5. I've read part of the excerpt on Marilyn's website and now I enjoyed reading more of the scenes. Thank you for gifting us this beautifully written excerpt, Marilyn. As it is Persuasion-inspired, I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list.

    1. I'm so pleased you liked it, Luthien!! And thank you for your kind comments! :) xo


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