About LAST CHANCE FAMILY
Mike Taggart has always been willing to take a gamble. But these stakes are just way too high - there's no way he's prepared to become a legal guardian to his five-year-old niece. His only option is to head from Las Vegas to Last Chance to sort things out as quickly as possible. Problem is, he arrives to find an inconsolable little girl, her sick cat, and a gorgeous veterinarian he can't get out of his mind. Charlene Polk has two talents: healing sick critters and falling in love with the wrong men. Mike has trouble written all over him, but she can't leave him in the lurch. And the more time she spends with the sexy high roller, the more she sees that this ready-made family is the best stroke of luck they've ever had . . .
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About Hope Ramsay
Hope Ramsay grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you'll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. She's a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart and is married to a good ol' Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar.
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Charlene stood in the kitchen doorway, her hair wet, her stomach empty, and her heart suddenly racing. Mike leaned against the counter, his head hung low. He seemed to be struggling to draw breath.
She crossed the room and put her hand on the middle of his back. His T-shirt was soft, the body beneath it hard and warm.
He straightened and let out a big breath. "Sorry."
"Killer heartburn," he said, then immediately changed the subject. He moved toward the coffee maker, shaking off her touch. "You want some coffee?"
He turned and gave her a quick glance. That's all it took.
Her heart wrenched, and she responded the way she always did when confronted with unspoken pain. She encountered it often, usually in the eyes of animals. But it was there, beyond that mild-mannered expression he tried to wear. He was hurting. She reached up to stroke his cheek. Her fingers encountered his warm skin and rough stubble. That touch flipped her switch. Electricity flowed inside her.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as her fingers moved over his face to his ear and up into his bright red hair.
"Don't," he whispered, but he made no attempt to move away. He reminded her of an abused animal that growls when all he wants is a little kindness. She cupped the nape of his neck and pulled him down as she rose up on tip-toes.
She gave him a soft, gentle kiss. Nothing deep or sexy, just a little kiss, intended to comfort. But it didn't stay that way. Mike grabbed her by the cheeks and pulled her up into it like a man starving for love. His tongue stroked hers. His right hand dropped to her hip, and he yanked her forward and into his chest.
Her knees almost buckled. But she didn't fall, because Mike had her. His hand found the small of her back as he sagged against the counter. They leaned together, thigh to thigh, chest to chest. The kiss turned utterly carnal. His hand wandered up over her spine to her breast. He palmed it. Her nipples came alive. He groaned.
And her whole body throbbed.
She broke the kiss and looked up into his face. His eyes had dilated with desire. His breath sounded ragged. His skin flushed red.
"I want you," he said in a hoarse voice. "I want to strip you naked and do it right here in the kitchen."
His words ignited a bad-girl fire that pretty much torched her reservations about him. "Okay."
His gaze widened. "I'm not a reliable bet," he said.
She laughed. "You think I don't know that?"
She could almost feel him having second thoughts. And she had no intention of allowing that. She'd have the rest of her life to regret this choice. Or not.
Which would she regret more? Letting her reservations about him put the kibosh on this? Or spending the rest of her life wondering if maybe she should have bet on Mike Taggart?
Heartbreak was her middle name. "I'm a gambler," she whispered. "And sometimes the long shots pay off."
"Not usually," he said.