When we last saw Gwen Carter, she had caught her lousy husband Liam O’Leary in bed with his girlfriend, given birth to their daughter Kaitlyn in the middle of a storm (without him) and decided to divorce the bum as well as tossing his last name for her and her child. It’s almost six months later and Gwen’s divorce set her back financially as she bargained for sole custody of her child. She’s starting a new career as interior design assistant in her mother’s company, struggling to rebuild her coffers and be self sufficient. And, she’s vowed to stay single, completely burned and done with romance. But then she didn’t bargain on Cade Paxton, the Aussie billionaire CEO who recently bought the Carter Island airline and who’s contracted her design services.
I’ve looked forward to my return to Carter Island before this book was announced. My love for this series is certainly no secret and I was hoping this would be about Gwen and am thrilled she was center stage. Cade was introduced in the last book when he purchased the airline and airport but not much was known about him. I loved his backstory, the tragic event that reshaped his outlook and had him being such a loner. Both he and Gwen were committed to leading solo lives but their mutual attraction was hard for them to ignore. Cade takes the lead in being willing to pursue a relationship but the perfectionist Gwen is focused on building a secure life for her and her daughter and being independent. The emotional bruises left from her miserable marriage are vivid and still visible so Cade takes his time, staying in the friend zone as they create a lovely and nurturing one.
Gwen is also still part of the small business partnership with her sister Molly and sister-in-law Callie. One of the best aspects of this story (and series) is the friendship and bond between these three women. They support each other fiercely but never overstep their boundaries. However, they don’t miss opportunities to give Gwen the nudges she needs to give a relationship with Cade a chance. And Cade? I fell for this man who loved Gwen’s daughter as passionately as her mother. Their interactions will melt your heart. I was so happy being in this story I didn’t want it to end. It was a beautiful conclusion to one of my most favorite series, one of the best romances I’ve read this year.
- Release Date: June 22, 2021
- Series: Carter Island #3
- Page Numbers: 310
- Publisher: Self
Kaitlyn dropped the rattle and started fussing.
Gwen reached for it at the same time as Cade did, but his long arm allowed him to grab the toy first. “Here you go, sweetheart.” He tried handing it to her, but she wanted nothing to do with it.
Gwen took the toy instead, setting it on the table. “Thanks, but she’s hungry.”
“Do you want to cut this short? I’m here on your time.”
She shrugged. “I guess that depends on how comfortable you are with me feeding her while we work.” Her chin jutted out ever so slightly as her eyes held his.
What was this quiet fierceness—a dare of sorts for him to say that feeding Kaitlyn wasn’t okay? He casually shrugged, even when he’d never been in the presence of anyone nursing their baby. His sisters had bottle-fed their little ones. “Go for it. Everyone’s got to eat.”
“All right.” She turned away, lifting her shirt, settling Kaitlyn at her breast. Seconds later, she turned back, glancing at him before she looked at the boards again. “Is there anything you see here that you don’t like?”
He listened to Kaitlyn’s greedy swallows as he breathed in the scent of Gwen’s shampoo, finding the moment appealingly cozy while all three of them sat close together. Right now, he liked everything he saw just fine, but that wasn’t what she spoke of. “I’m not a fan of this lighter shade of blue. I like this darker one here. It seems more on-brand.”
She nodded, taking the marker, crossing out the lighter shade, then put a check mark next to the darker blue. “I want to hear everything that doesn’t work just as much as I need to know what does. Tell me what you don’t like. I’m also interested in why.”
He nodded, pointing to one of the pictures with a forest-like feel. “I want to be sure we’re not going too rustic. I don’t want the space to feel like a cabin.”
She nodded again, making an X through the image. “Does anything else come to mind—anything I’ve missed?”
“I want the fireplace. Gas, and more upscale than what’s in the picture with the couple—something you’d see in a city apartment.”
He frowned. “You don’t like it?”
“No, it’s not that I don’t like the idea. But gas makes things complicated. We’re doing a face-lift—making things pretty. Structurally, everything we’re tackling is already in place and up to code, which keeps this easy and allows us to get started right away. As soon as gas enters the picture, we’re talking gas lines, venting pipes, getting the town involved, dealing with code and inspectors—maybe even calling in my mom and Jeremy, depending on where you want the install. You’re adding serious dollar signs to your bottom line.”
He shook his head. “I’m not worried about the money. I want it.”
She set down the marker. “All right. I’ll make some calls.”
He held her gaze. “But you still think this is a mistake.”
She nodded. “Frankly, yes, I do. Money may be no object to you, but this is going to cost you in time.”
He clenched his jaw, not liking what he heard—that Gwen had made several perfectly practical points. Gas sounded like a pain in the ass, and he wanted to get the ball rolling. “So, what are my other options?”
“We can explore electric—flat-screen wall-mounts.”
He scrubbed at his chin. “I don’t want it looking cheap.”
Her left eyebrow winged up. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear you say that.”
He couldn’t help but grin.
She smiled. “For your price point, we can order in gorgeous units for each seating area. I can also make you mantles for displaying seasonal décor. Every gate will look like a living room, which will only add to the home-away-from-home vibe. Plus, electric will be safer than real flames, which will keep kids safe and your insurance company happy.”
And this was why he liked Gwen Carter. She’d held her ground as few would have. He’d demanded, and she’d countered with something better. “Okay. But I want to see what we’re talking about before you place the order.”
She nodded, jotting down notes on the side of the board. “Now that we’re on the same page, I’ll pull what samples I can from Mini’s design center—a couple of colors for the flooring options. But I’m already planning several trips to the mainland, which means endless variety.”
“I want in on those trips.”
She stopped writing as her gaze flew to his. “You do?”
He nodded, biting his cheek, fighting not to smile, because she was so damn easy to read. Gwen wasn’t loving the idea. “I intend to be hands-on during this entire process.”
“But you’re so busy. I’m more than happy to collect what I think you’ll like—several options—so accompanying me to Boston really isn’t necessary.”
The hell it wasn’t. He’d spent a handful of hours in Gwen’s company and knew without a doubt that he wanted to spend several more. There was something about her that intrigued him in a way he’d never been before. Life was still screaming at him, and he hadn’t stopped listening. “The airport’s my top priority. I can fly us over whenever you want.”
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About the Author
Cate Beauman is the multi-award-winning, international bestselling author of The Bodyguards of L.A. County series and the Carter Island Novels. She is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense and contemporary stories.
Cate’s novels have been named Readers’ Favorite Five Star books and have won the Booksellers’ Best Award, Maggie Award for Excellence, the Holt Medallion Award, two-time Aspen Gold Medal, two-time Readers’ Favorite International Gold Medal, three-time Readers’ Favorite International Silver Medal, and the Readers’ Crown Award.
Cate makes her home in New Hampshire with her family and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack.
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