The series readers are calling, "Hot, steamy, and deliciously complicated."
Echoing Hearts The Echo Series Book 1
by C.R. Alam
Genre: Contemporary Romance
From the series readers are calling, "Hot, steamy, and deliciously complicated."
The harder they resist, the louder their hearts echo each other.
Rae Allen doesn't believe in the happily-ever-after. After watching her mother deteriorate from a broken heart into a full depression, she vowed never to fall in love. She is living her dream, traveling the world, and getting paid for it. She does not need a man.
Dean Rowland has no complaints. He has a thriving business, more money than he'll ever need, and supportive family and friends. Even after his fiancée ditched him at the altar, he kept going like nothing had happened. Swearing off women and affairs was his best decision.
One spring afternoon in Georgia, their lives collide. Rae's first impression of Dean is that he's hot; her second is he's an ass. Dean isn't expecting a sassy redhead trespassing into his property, let alone having to play host to her. Unknown to them, this unexpected weekend is only the beginning that will change their lives forever.
Until Rae's rockstar best friend, Brandon, comes into the picture, stirring up jealousy and doubt between them. Struggling with unexpected passion, longing, and distrust in this emotional rollercoaster ride, will they recognize and embrace love when being in love is their biggest fear?
The annoyance level on the handsome face seemed to elevate instead of dissipating with her every word. Without responding to Rae, he pushed himself off to the other side of the pool. He pulled himself out in one smooth move. Taken aback by the unwelcoming attitude, Rae could only follow his lithe movements. She got a good look at his swimmer’s lean muscled upper body, a defined stomach that narrowed down to strong-looking hips, and a fine behind. She couldn’t help but appreciate his well-toned long legs in clinging black swimming trunks before he grabbed a large white towel to dry himself off. Realizing she was gawking, Rae averted her gaze to the sky and tried to fill the silence.“I rang the doorbell several times. When nobody answered, I thought I’d go—”
“Snoop around a private property?” he interrupted without even giving her a glance. Sensing the quiet hostility in his otherwise intriguingly even voice, Rae was lost for words for a few seconds. The thought that Mrs. Hamilton was lucky to have both a beautiful home and a sexy husband evaporated from her mind. She didn’t just drive four hours for some man to accuse her of breaking and entering. She took several quick steps to confront him but stopped once he turned to her as if he had some invisible power to freeze her. But he didn’t manage to suppress her rising temper.
“I’ve actually been requested to snoop around this property this weekend.” Rae used her sweet-as-honey voice with a hint of a sting.“Mrs. Hamilton arranged it withHomesmagazine. She must’ve forgotten to cc you on the memo.”
This time, he merely raised his eyebrow at her. One eyebrow. Rae stifled a groan of irritation as she watched him pick up a cellphone and walk away to make a call. She pulled out her own phone and dialed Susan.
“Hi, you’ve reached Susan Adler’s phone. Please leave a message,” the automated reply came on.
“Susan, I’m here at the property, but there’s no Katherine Hamilton to meet me.” Rae hissed into the phone.“Instead, there’s a guy here who looks ready to chop my head off for trespassing. Call me back. Or better yet, please fix this.” She then tried calling the number for Katherine Hamilton once more. Another voicemail. Rae sighed and tried to clamp down on her growing frustration. She reminded herself she was good at going with the flow and finding her way out of a jam. It was just a mix-up. Nothing she hadn’t handled before. But boy, that Mr. Hamilton really got her goat without even trying. She swept her gaze to the lake’s calm surface and took a deep breath. A spring afternoon in the south could get a bit toasty. But after spending her childhood in Minnesota, Rae would savor a sunny warm day in early April anytime. But then a cool breeze blew in, and her nose tickled.“Haa…choo!” The sneeze didn’t stop with one. Another two followed consecutively.
“Pollen,” the deep voice came from behind her and surprised Rae’s sneezing to a stop. Snatching a tissue from her purse, Rae quickly cleaned her nose as she muttered,“No shit.” Apparently, she misjudged the volume of her voice because when she turned, Mr. Hamilton’s questioning raised eyebrow indicated he’d heard her. But at least he looked somewhat amused. Perhaps, she could still clear up any misunderstanding. She could swallow her pride for the sake of professionalism.
“Look, I’d like to apologize again. Obviously, you weren’t informed of my arrival. There was a last-minute change, but I am supposed to be here,” Rae started.“But if this weekend has become inconvenient, I’m sureHomescan arrange a new time.” Rae studied the infuriating man—still distractingly bare-chested, she noted—trying to gauge his reaction. But his mouth didn’t even twitch to indicate that he’d accepted her explanation. Fine. I don’t need to take this crap. I tried. Rae turned up her smile.“I will go. Thank you for your…” she paused before injecting a trace of venom into her voice, “…hospitality.” She spun around and was already halfway down the steps when his voice stopped her in her tracks.
“Kat is on her way,” he said.“She asked if you’d wait.” Rae rolled her eyes and exhaled slowly to release her exasperation. He couldn’t tell her that before she stomped away? Turning toward the man yet again, Rae said through gritted teeth,“I really don’t want to bother—”
“Too late,” he deadpanned.“Have a seat. Kat will be here soon.” Without another word, he walked away to the far side of the house and vanished through a set of French doors.Rae was left alone where she stood with her mouth open.
His Forever Muse The Echo Series Book 2
From the series readers are calling, "Hot, steamy, and deliciously complicated."
What if you've known the love of your life since he was six years old and happens to be your little brother's best friend? But the man whom Callie runs into in the middle of the desert in Morocco isn't the little Brandon Rossi she once knew. He is a work of art.
Brandon Rossi is the boy-next-door in a rock star package. As the front man of the rock band Canis Major, a visual artist, and an avid stargazer, he expresses his thoughts and feelings through his music, arts, and tattoos. When he hits an invisible wall that hinders his ability to create, he starts on a quest to find inspiration. Who knew Brandon's ultimate inspiration comes in the form of an unconventional beauty with golden eyes? He did. He always knew because she was the one who got away.
Calliope Chen-Bisset is a hard-working Parisian art gallerist who has gone through many hurdles in life. She was once broken, but she has tried her best to put herself back together—piece by piece. She doesn't think she'll be whole again until a blast from the past reminds her of who she is. The years haven't dulled their connection. They've intensified it.
Brandon is willing to lay down everything for her, but will Calliope open up to him like she once did? Will she let a little fact that he is her little brother's best friend stop her? Or will it be her past that cast a shadow on their future?
This book has mature situations and some domestic violence themes, though without graphic depiction, which may be considered triggers for some. However, it is also a story of rising from the ashes stronger. Reader discretion is advised.
Brandon hurried into the main courtyard, brushing his damp hair back with his fingers for some semblance of order. A mosaic-tiled fountain stood at its center, surrounded by green plants, giving the courtyard an oasis vibe. On the other side of it, a woman stood talking to Chris.
Facing away from him, Brandon could see that she was of medium height, slender, and dressed in a breezy linen shirt in the color of young leaves paired with wide-legged cream pants. She wore her straight dark hair in a sleek chin-length bob. The woman looked well put together, yet casual and comfortable. It was a refreshing change from the usual head-to-toe black that gallery people usually favored.
As he approached them, the woman laughed at something Chris said. The melodic sound of her laughter froze Brandon and sent him suddenly through memories of innocent youth. Hot summer days, band sessions in his parents’ garage, that familiar laugh filling the air, the fresh fragrance of citrus filling his randy teenage senses, sketches of a dark-haired girl with golden eyes scattered on the floor of his childhood bedroom, and heartache. His heart ached inside his chest now as Brandon breathed out.“Calliope.” The woman slowly turned to the sound of Brandon’s voice, or did the slow-motion effect only occur in his mind? Most likely, but the stunned look on her face was genuine. Brandon was still in a daze as she stood before him.“Space Cadet Brandon Rossi.” The childhood moniker snapped his brain back to the present.“Wow, haven’t heard that nickname for years.”
“And I still cringe every time someone calls me Calliope.” Brandon studied the sophisticated woman staring back at him. She wasn’t the girl who had worn pigtails in grade school or carried a heavy backpack full of books in middle school, or even the girl who had juggled advanced classes with volleyball practices and games throughout high school. But he’d recognize that inviting laugh and those amazing eyes no matter how much she’d changed.
“It’s been a while, Callie.” Brandon moved to hug her but was shocked at how awkward he felt giving her the simple greeting. Their bodies touched just a moment, but the familiar citrus fragrance from his memory enveloped him and lingered even as they pulled apart.
“You know each other. What a small world.” Chris observed the interaction between his two guests with interest.
“We go way back.” Brandon couldn’t take his eyes off Callie. Like he’d said, it’d been a while. Too long.
“Brandon is a friend of my brother’s.” Callie turned a professional smile to Chris. Brandon’s brows shot up at Callie’s explanation of their connection. It was true--Callie’s brother was one of his best friends and bandmates—but he and Callie had had their own history.
“Callie is Curtis’ sister,” Brandon explained“We’ve known each other since Curtis and I were six years old and she was seven.”
“Seven and a half,” Callie corrected. Chris studied Callie’s face with new recognition.“I didn’t know Curtis had a sister. I see it now. I should’ve put it together when I saw your last name--Chen-Bisset. Curtis Bisset.
“Chen-Bisset?” Brandon questioned the new hyphenated last name.
“I added my family’s Chinese surname that my mother tried hard to forget.”
“Right,” Brandon remembered.“It suits you.” Callie smiled but was quick to change the subject.“How do you know each other?”
“Long story, but basically mutual good friends,” Brandon answered. Chris checked his watch.“Why don’t we get on with business now and swap stories over dinner later? I hope you don’t mind Brandon joining us for the meeting. I’d like to have his perspective as an artist.”
“Of course.” Callie nodded and walked with Chris to where she’d left her things. Still rooted to where he stood, Brandon followed Callie with his eyes. He’d expected to experience all kinds of surprises on this trip. A blast from the past in the form of Calliope Chen-Bisset wasn’t one of them. One would think fifteen years would dull Callie’s effect on him, but apparently not. Judging from how his blood rushed through his body at double time, his adolescent self had reemerged after seeing the woman Callie had become.
Unexpected Entanglement The Echo Series Book 3
From the series readers are calling, "Hot, steamy, and deliciously complicated."
When a simple favor turns into an unexpected entanglement.
Rowan Kelly has one goal for the next two weeks: throw the most beautiful wedding for her cousin. So what if the inn she inherited isn’t quite ready or staffed? She’s resourceful and scrappy enough to make it happen all by herself. She doesn’t need some nosy, charming stranger with smiles that both irritate her and make her woman’s bits tingle to swoop in to save the day.
World-renowned hotelier Chris Sullens only planned on spending twenty-four hours in Vinalhaven. So why the hell did he sacrifice his well earned vacation and offer to help the fiery gorgeous innkeeper plan a wedding instead? He tries to keep things professional, but his self-control has its limits, especially when he suddenly has to play the role of the stubborn woman’s doting fiance.
As strange occurrences threaten the wedding, the inn’s future, and Rowan’s safety, can they work together to keep things from blowing up in their faces? Or will their unbridled passion entangle them into something more than they bargained for?
Chris sat on one of the few seats in the small coffee shop he’d seen earlier. He’d walked the entire rows of businesses on Vinalhaven’s little down town, gone into every store, checked the menu of every food establishment.
He sipped his coffee and nodded his approval. He loved his cup of joe dark with a full body, and the girl behind the counter served him a potent brew. Chris checked his emails on his phone. He was supposedly on vacation, but he always had difficulty disconnecting. After working to establish three resorts in five years, he could use the rest. Maybe he’d stay a day or two longer to relax. He’s got a feeling there was more to Vinalhaven than what he’d seen.
He looked up from his phone when the door to the coffee shop opened. Two women walked in having a discussion. The contrast between the two ladies caught his interest. The taller one was dressed in a white shirt tucked into a pair of loose blue jeans that looked more comfortable than fashionable. Her braided black hair and almond-shaped brown eyes indicated she was of Asian descent. She listened to the more petite one in cutoff jean shorts and a rust-colored T-shirt that flaunted her curves, with her hair wound and tucked under a trucker’s hat. The cap’s bill shadowed her eyes. He overheard the tall one say,“I have a couple of new recruits I’ve been training. They’re new to the island—starting over, you can say.”
“Are they trustworthy?” Petite asked with a slight frown. Chris’ ears perked at the rich alto timbre coming out of Petite. Not what he expected at all.
“They’ve been vetted.”
“All right.” Petite shrugged.“I’ll see you at Bright Head at nine, then?”
“I’ll be there.” The other lady smiled.“Can I buy you coffee before you go?”
“Thanks, maybe another time. I have to pick up the chefs at the ferry and then head back.” Petite winked and flashed a toothy grin.“Until tomorrow.” Did the sexy-voiced-petite say Bright Head? Before Chris could gather his cup and stand, the petite woman had already disappeared out the door. He rushed out and spotted her walking around the red truck he’d seen earlier.
“Excuse me, miss,” Chris called out as he approached. The woman stopped, turned her head toward his direction, then looked up at his face as he smiled at her.“Yes?”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but do you work at the Bright Head Farm & Inn at Long Cove?” Chris asked.” Her gaze behind her sunglasses went slowly to the truck’s door as if saying duh.“Why do you ask?”
“I’m heading up there to see the owners.” Chris turned up the wattage in his smile to look as harmless as possible.“I was wondering if you could give me—” Her eyes narrowed as she cut him off,“Do you have an appointment? I wasn’t informed to pick up anyone besides our chefs from the ferry.”
“I want to surprise them,” Chris casually answered. He bluffed his way through conversations with or about people he should’ve“known” all the time.
“How are they, anyhow? Rowan and Kieran?” Dropping first names always helped gain trust. She finally smiled.“Oh, you’re a friend of the Kellys?”
“Uh…” Chris didn’t want to lie outright, so he just shrugged while maintaining an amiableexpression.
“I’m sorry, what’s your name again?” she asked.
“I tell you what, Chris,” she said as she retreated.“I won’t spoil your surprise, but unfortunately, I can’t give you a ride. Not enough room in the cab, you see. Two people are waiting for me at the ferry terminal with their luggage. You understand?”
“A shuttle from the hotel down the street runs past us.” She didn’t listen to his answer as she walked to the driver’s side door.“I’m sure they’ll be willing to drop you off.”
“Don’t you have a shuttle for your guests?” Chris questioned, a little miffed by her brusque dismissal. But he might as well try to get some information.
“Currently, I’m all there is,” she flashed him a cheeky grin.“I’m sorry, I can’t accommodate you unless you’d be willing to ride on the…”
She gestured to the bed of her truck, which was already filled with cans of paint and what looked like maintenance supplies.
“It won’t be comfortable, though.” She added,“Can I suggest a bicycle? It’s a great day for it.”
“I have a bike,” Chris answered.“But—”
“Perfect! I’m sorry, but I have to go.” She opened her door.“Maybe I’ll see you up there later?”
She hopped behind the steering wheel and started the truck.
“Count on it.” Chris stepped onto the curb by the passenger door and watched her check her side mirror. The leggy Asian woman from earlier suddenly came running to her friend in the truck.“I forgot to tell you I’ll have to print out a new contract. I’ll bring it with me in the morning.
“Great,” Petite replied.
“All right. See you tomorrow, Rowan.” Legs waved as she walked away. Rowan. Chris’ rounded eyes flew to Petite’s face. She grinned and pulled out of the parking spot, leaving him standing at the curb like a deer caught in a headlights.
C. R. Alam loves to write heartfelt and steamy love stories with strong yet vulnerable characters readers would root for. There hasn't been a main character she's written about whom she didn't fall in love with despite their shortcomings. She'll laugh with her characters, cry along with them, then laugh again in the end. When she's not reading or writing, you'll most likely find her in the kitchen, cooking, baking, or eating while wearing her trusted Birks, sweatpants, and "I'm emotionally attached to fictional characters" T-shirt. After a whirlwind decade of living abroad, C. R. now lives in Durham, NC, with her husband, daughter, and cat.