Holiday Man by Marilyn Brant - Romance>ContemporaryGet caught up in a sexy romance that's told over a year of holidays...
Shannon Quinn is the small-town girl who runs "Holiday Quinn" -- a holiday-themed inn/resort based in scenic Door County, Wisconsin.
One winter evening, wealthy Minneapolis businessman, Bram Hartwick, blows into town along with the fast-falling snow.
The sparks Bram and Shannon create succeed in heating up the chilly Midwestern night, not to mention plenty of holiday weekends in the year that follows...
But is their relationship only for special occasions, or might it be the elusive everyday love that neither of them thought could be found?
Reader Rating: 0.0 Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating: Not rated
From Bookworm2Bookworm"As I finished this story the one word that bubbled in my mind as I tried to encompass everything within it was 'honest'. Make no mistake, there are many more like, hot; sensual; funny; entertaining; warm...romantic... The chemistry that the author created between the two was raw and sizzled throughout the story."
From So Little Time"The holidays sizzle in this cute, sexy read! I love it when the characters have that chemistry...when their fingers touch, and they feel that tingle. Shannon and Bram have that special magic between them, and they are naturally drawn together... It is a fun, quick read, and I read it in one afternoon!"
From Austenesque ReviewsOh! How I love Marilyn Brant's heroes! Whether they are provoking and over-confident like Sam Blaine (According to Jane), challenging and complex like Emerson Edwards (A Summer in Europe), or passionate and magnetizing like Bram Hartwick (Holiday Man), I immediately fall for them in just a few chapters! Bram Hartwick is delicious..."
Excerpt:“Why are you always standing on the sidelines, Ms. Quinn?” a deep voice near her said.
Shannon swiveled toward it, her heart rate picking up speed. “Mr. Hartwick. H-How are you? How are you enjoying your stay?”
“Hmm. Answering a question with more questions. That’s not the answer I was looking for.” He appraised her appearance again, as was his habit, his hazel eyes twinkling as he took in her cream-colored, floor-length evening gown with the gold spaghetti straps. One of the few outfits she felt actually flattered her. “You, of all people, should be out on the dance floor.”
“Because you’re the loveliest woman in the room.”
Her breath caught at these words, but she forced herself to show no overt reaction. God, she hoped she succeeded. Instead, she replied coolly, “You presume too much. This is a singles’ dance, Mr. Hartwick. It’s for those men and women who are looking for love.”
He took a purposeful step closer. “And you’re not?” Those serious eyes bored into her, ready to disagree. “Tell me, are you the queen of your own heart or has some lucky man already claimed it?”
A smooth line but, she had to hand it to him, though it might have sounded silly coming out of anyone else’s mouth, Bram Hartwick somehow managed to sell it with style.
“Mine isn’t a quick or easy heart to claim,” she replied. “But there are plenty of other ladies out there who may feel differently.” She pointed toward a couple of especially pretty guests, both of whom had stolen not-so-subtle glances at him during this little chat.
He grinned. “I never said I needed either ‘quick’ or ‘easy,’ Ms. Quinn, and you deflected my question yet again.” He scanned the room then focused those sharp eyes on her. “I’ll be more blunt this time. I’d like to dance with you, but I don’t want to step on another man’s toes or offend your sense of propriety. If you’re not free, just say so. But if you are, I hope you’ll honor me with the next slow dance.”
Direct, wasn’t he? Shannon cleared her throat and battled a cocktail of emotions. Sure, she desired him, but he was a weekend guest from another state. How likely would it be that she’d see him again? Not very. And his whole ultra-polished, International-Man-of-Mystery air was slightly on the intimidating side…and, also, a little intriguing.
Okay, a lot intriguing.
Still, he wasn’t proposing marriage. Just a dance. Only a three- or four-minute dance.
She cleared her throat again. “I’d be delighted to dance with you, Mr. Hartwick.”
He smiled. “Bram,” he said, reaching for her hand.
“Bram,” she repeated. “And, please, call me Shannon.”
His smile broadened. “I will.”
He led her onto the dance floor as the next slow song began to play. And while Barbra Streisand belted out “My Heart Belongs to Me,” Bram caressed her shoulder with his palm and drew her a few inches closer to him. Shannon knew her heart may well belong to her alone but, goodness, her body cast its vote for the dashing Bram Hartwick.
As her skin tingled from his firm but soothing touch, conversation between them ground to a stop. She mentally sifted through their two prior meetings for some clue as to what to ask him. At first, all she could come up with was When did you learn to speak Italian? And How many hours do you spend on the phone every day? But then she remembered.
“Your friends, the Wainwrights,” she began. “Are they enjoying their weekend getaway? I’ll confess, I haven’t seen them once since they registered.”
He laughed. “Well, no, you wouldn’t, would you? Not unless you tried to spy on them from their balcony window. They warned me about their plans before we left Minnesota.” He leaned in close and whispered in her ear. “They’re doing a Lennon-and-Yoko-like ‘Love In’ this weekend.”
Now it was Shannon’s turn to laugh. “I believe I like your friends, Bram.”
“Yeah, me, too. They can sure be—”
“Excuse me, Shannon, I need your help.” Jake stood just to their left, his jaw tight and his eyes narrow. Something must really be wrong.
She broke away from Bram’s grasp. “What is it?” she asked Jake. “Is there a problem with a guest?”
He pursed his lips. “I should speak with you privately. If you’ll excuse us, Mr., um…”
“Hartwick,” Bram supplied. “And, of course. Perhaps I’ll have the pleasure of another dance with you later in the evening, Shannon?”
“I’d like that,” she told Bram before Jake dragged her away. She’d really like that.
“What’s going on?” she asked him when they were in the backroom.
“The chocolate hearts aren’t here,” he informed her. “I checked the kitchen twice, and the candy platters are nowhere to be found.”
She squinted at him. “Is that all this is about?”
He gave her a grim look tinged with anger.
Oops. Now she’d offended him. “I mean, there’s nothing to worry about, Jake. I thought I told you this, but maybe it slipped my mind. We’re doing the candy distribution differently this year and giving out the chocolate hearts at the Valentine’s Morning-After Breakfast instead of at the dance. Margaret hired a special chocolatier at The Ashland, and she’s bringing over a batch for us at seven a.m. tomorrow. Everything’s under control.”
Jake shrugged. “Oh. Okay then.” He gave her another odd look. “Are you all right, Shannon?”
She laughed. “Yeah, I’m doing great. No problem. How about you?”
“Fine, of course,” he said stiffly.
“Well, that’s…good to hear. So, I’m going to head back into the dance now. If anything important comes up, please let me know.”
“Oh, I will,” he said, his voice weirdly serious. Jake was in a mighty strange mood tonight.
“Super.” And, with that, she dashed back out to the dance to see if Bram was still there.
And the disappointment she felt surprised her with its potency. She’d wanted that second dance, and not just because it was Valentine’s Day. Not just because she was lonely. But because, in spite of herself, she kind of liked him.
Her imagination had always been stronger than her nerve. Time for that to change.
Bram watched Shannon scurry after that assistant of hers—that man with the shrewd eyes and the pesky manners—and he wanted to throttle the guy.
Jake Whatever-The-Hell-His-Last-Name-Was lusted after Shannon—that much was clear. Shannon’s feelings toward the assistant were more difficult to ascertain, but Bram would figure it out. He always did.
Why? Because she’d caught his interest. Even if anything beyond tonight was an exercise in futility.
He marched around the perimeter of the dance floor, trying to imagine his ex-girlfriend at a weekend affair like this. Angie would’ve wanted to hit every activity. Not miss a single second of excitement, whatever the latest thrill might be. She absolutely exhausted him when they were together, but not because he couldn’t handle the events she threw his way.
No. He could handle anything.
But her insatiable need for diversion drained him. It felt like a reflection on him. Made him fear his inability to keep her entertained. And he’d hated that.
Pretty-faced women dotted the dance floor. Several looked at him with those eyes filled with feverish anticipation, an expectation that a love match might be imminent. Well, Bram knew better. Relationships were fine as long as they were kept in their proper place. Something hot. Something short-term. Something with boundaries. Try to make them your top priority and everything else in your life would get shot to hell.
He shuddered, flooded by a need to get away from the hopeful expressions etched on the faces of those single women.
So he strode out into the hallway and lingered by a display cabinet featuring, among other things, a curvy stained-glass vase. It was European. Mid-Twentieth Century. Delicate yet intricate. Colorful but in a tasteful, not discordant style.
Funny. In an odd way it reminded him of Shannon.
Now there was a woman whose company he’d admit to enjoying. But, let’s face it, she wasn’t exactly available to him. If he were being honest with himself—and he’d made a habit out of doing just that—perhaps this was part of his fascination.
She was lovely, but she wouldn’t be capable of making demands on him during his hectic workweek. She represented everything that spelled relaxation in his book: Home and hearth, an out-of-the-way locale, feminine cozy comfort nestled in a charming, rustic environment. She was smart, responsible and in full charge of her own career path.
He could almost convince himself his attraction to her was “wholesome.” Almost…because he still loved the allure of her most curvaceous assets. And, after a mere twenty seconds of remembering her in his arms as they danced, he knew their potential physical chemistry played no small part in her appeal.
He stared at the vase again, mesmerized by the swirl of colors whenever a stained-glass chip reflected the light. He squinted at it, and the magnificent rainbow was no longer distinct. The hues bled together like silken watercolors, as if, by a mere change in perspective, all the disparate elements of life could join together as one.
“Well, hello again, Bram.”
Shannon. Her voice made him open his eyes fully and drink in the vision of her standing before him.
“Crisis averted?” he asked her.
She smiled. “For the time being.” She pointed to the display cabinet. “See anything that intrigues you.”
He looked right at her. “Yes.” He stared into her blue eyes until she blushed. After another moment he added, “And the vase is nice, too.”
“Um…well, that’s one of my favorites also. My parents took a trip to New York about ten years ago, and they found it in an Old World antique shop there.”
“It’s pretty,” he said, reaching for her hand and entwining her fingers with his. “But I think it belongs elsewhere. In a private home. Atop a fireplace, maybe. It seems too personal for a hallway, even in an inn this cozy.”
She let him continue to hold her hand and even took a step closer to him, but her gaze was focused on the vase. Or maybe on something—a memory—further away. “I guess I’d never thought of that way, particularly since I grew up living here at Holiday Quinn. The entire inn was our house, but, I’ll admit, it was never especially private.”
Bram brought her soft hand toward his face, looked at her for a long moment and then pressed his lips against that smooth skin.
“So, what does a man have to do to get some privacy in this place?”
A flash of passion ignited within her at these words. He could sense it, feel it burning just beneath the surface. What did he want to have happen here?
A night with her? Yes.
A part of tomorrow? Maybe, maybe not. Goodbyes were difficult…and indefinite. But he’d take his chances on their flame blazing steadily until the morning.
“Bram.” His name rolled off her lips in a whisper. He could feel her interest. Her questions. Her deliberation. But he sensed, despite whatever internal battles she waged, she was as curiously enchanted as he.
“Shannon!” Jake called.
And the spell was broken.
Jake jogged up to them. “Excuse me, Shannon, I hate to interrupt,” he said with frozen, insincere syllables, “but we have another problem.”
Shannon sighed and pulled her hand away. Bram’s fingers felt the chill of her departure.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Hartwick,” she said with a formality that would have offended him if he hadn’t noticed the flicker of disappointment in her eyes. “I’m afraid I have additional business to attend to tonight.”
“Perhaps we’ll be able to continue our conversation another time,” he found himself saying, though he had no immediate plans to return to the inn.
“Perhaps,” she replied. Then added, “I hope so.”