WHISKEY SECRETS by Carrie Ann Ryan, the first book in her new WHISEY & LIES series, is available today!
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(Whiskey and Lies #1)
Sparks fly between a former cop-turned-bartender and his new innkeeper in the first installment of a Montgomery Ink spin-off series from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan.
Dare Collins is a man who knows his whiskey and women—or at least that’s what he tells himself. When his family decides to hire on a new innkeeper for the inn above his bar and restaurant, he’s more than reluctant. Especially when he meets the new hire. But he’ll soon find that he has no choice but to work with this city girl and accept her new ideas and the burning attraction between them.
Kenzie Owens left her old life and an abusive relationship behind her—or so she thought. She figures she’ll be safe in Whiskey, Pennsylvania but after one look at her new boss, Dare Collins, she might still be in danger, or at least her heart. And when her past catches up with her despite her attempts to avoid it, it’s more than her heart on the line. This time, it might mean her life.
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Once again, Kenzie had no idea if she was making the smartest of moves, but she wasn’t about to back down now. Though it was September, the weather fluctuated between stifling humid and hot to downright chilly. Right now, it was a pleasant day where she didn’t feel like she was walking through a wall of humidity, nor did she need a jacket. Between that and the bright sun and tiny dots of clouds above her, it was a pretty nice afternoon.
“This is the main drag for the town.” Dare gestured at the street. “It’s pretty much a straight line except for one part where it curves over the bridge. The creek below that only starts pumping real good after a storm or right when the run-off from the mountains begins to melt. Other than that, it’s a decent trickle that tourists like for selfies.”
As Kenzie herself had taken a selfie in front of the creek for her personal album of memories, she ignored the humor in his voice at the comment. She’d told herself she would start taking more photos and enjoy where she was and who she was now that she was free of everything that had held her back for so long.
“It’s a beautiful town,” she said simply, and she was being honest about that. Everyone took great care of their buildings and businesses. There were coffee shops, teahouses, bakeries, restaurants, antique shops, clothing stores, and a couple dozen other shops that catered to practically every need. Everything was unique and could only be found in Whiskey.
And now, she was part of it.
“It’s home.” Apparently, Dare wasn’t a man of many words today.
They walked another block in easy silence, and Kenzie sighed. She hated feeling awkward.
“So, have you always lived here?”
He looked down at her and studied her face as they waited at the crosswalk. “No. I lived in Philly for a few years.”
“Big city,” she said dryly then immediately regretted it. Weren’t they supposed to be friends now? Or at least friendly?
He snorted before stuffing his hands into his pockets. She couldn’t help but notice the way his forearms tightened at the movement. She shouldn’t be noticing the man’s arms, damn it. Nor should she think forearms were sexy.
She’d come to Whiskey for herself, and had sworn off men and relationships. That meant no more looking at Dare Collins’ arms and the way he filled out his jeans.
“Sorry about that. Like I said, I had a rough night and took it out on you.”
“You already apologized. Let’s get back to the bar. I know you have to work, and I have paperwork to go over.”
His jaw tightened as he studied her. “Starting already?”
She raised her chin and then cursed herself for doing so yet again in front of this man. He set her on edge, and she wasn’t sure if it was because they kept bumping heads or because she found him attractive when she didn’t want to.
“I’m here to help your parents, Dare, and to do a job.”
“I know you are.” He turned away from her, giving her his profile. “And I’m glad my parents are taking a step back to actually try and relax. I’m just not a fan of change. Hell, I hate it, and I hate surprises even more.”
That, she could totally understand. “I hate surprises, too. As for change? Well, sometimes, change is good.” She was living proof of that, wasn’t she?
“That’s true enough, but it doesn’t mean I’m quick to like it.” He stared at her, and she blinked at the intensity. There was something there, she thought, some heat she couldn’t quite name, and it worried her. Was he attracted to her? Or was that flare because she represented that change he wasn’t ready for?
Either way, it didn’t matter; thinking too hard along those lines when it came to Dare wasn’t something she could do.
“But I guess it doesn’t matter, does it?” Dare continued. “As for your new job? I’ll be around if you need help. I don’t know everything about the inn since I have my own two business to handle, but I can probably at least point you in the right direction. And if you’re looking for upgrades like you mentioned? Talk to Loch. I know he’s family, but he’s damn good at handyman work and carpentry when he puts his mind to it. He hasn’t done much on the inn since our parents weren’t ready to update yet, but Loch’s good at what he does.”
Surprised, she found herself nodding. She’d already heard from her new employers about Loch and how he could help, and she was glad to know that the family stood together no matter what. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You do that, Red.”
She rolled her eyes. “My name’s Kenzie.”
“I know. I like Red too, though. Plus, it’s fun to see you get all rattled when I call you that.”
And she found this man attractive? She was seriously losing it. It must just be the nonexistent heat talking. Once she was fully immersed in her new job and life, she wouldn’t be thinking about Dare and those sexy forearms of his again.
At least, she hoped.
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Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.
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