Sweet on Peggy

Sweet on Peggy

Stella MacLean

Contemporary / Suspense / Self Help

Risking it all for love She doesn't believe in love at first sight. But Rory MacPherson could change Peggy's mind. The instant spark between them is undeniable. He's funny, charming and a single touch from him makes her weak in the knees. But Rory's humanitarian aid work in Haiti has taught him to live life to the fullest, and his impulsive nature is at odds with the stability Peggy loves in Eden Harbor. When Peggy's confronted with her past, having an outlook like Rory's seems impossible. But so does letting go of the perfect man...
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The Christmas Inn

The Christmas Inn

Stella MacLean

Contemporary / Suspense / Self Help

As a favor to her brother, Marnie McLaughlan has agreed to spend Christmas at the lovely Mirabel Inn—as a mystery guest. But Marnie knows this favor is bound to be complicated because the owners need a confidential report immediately. Marnie's impressions could affect their decision to sell.From the outset, the inn is not what she expects…and neither is the manager, Luke Harrison. She quickly develops a rapport with this very attractive widower and his adorable little boy. He knows something is up, yet she can't tell him that the inn—which is home to Luke and his son—is in danger. Marnie's torn between her obligation to her brother and her growing love for Luke. Fortunately, things have a way of working out at Christmas!About the AuthorStella MacLean takes great delight in creating contemporary stories with characters willing to risk everything in their search for love and happiness. Stella MacLean's books all seek to explore the idea that love brings out the best in us, that laughter is the balm that soothes the inevitable detours in life. As a nurse, Stella has experienced the power of love on healing and on happiness first hand. Stella can be reached through her website: www.stellamaclean.com Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.Eleven days until Christmas and Marnie McLaughlan hadn't finished her shopping, but that was the least of her worries. She eased open the back door of the salon. The only sounds were the comforting hum of the refrigerator in the staff room and the clacking of a keyboard in the office to her right. She waited for the familiar click telling her the door had locked behind her before she headed for the office.This was the day she'd wished for and worried over.She was about to sell her half interest in Total Elegance, the hair-and-aesthetics salon she and her partner, Shane Walker, had co-owned for the past ten years. Her brothers, the superachiever foursome, would jump out of their jock straps if they knew she was in the process of selling her part of the business without their input. She had come in today to get her copy of the agreement to go over with her lawyer before signing. She was quite proud of the fact that her brothers wouldn't be involved. Their best-before date as inquisitive overseers had long since passed.At the door of the office she had shared with Shane through all the growing pains of their business she hesitated. This was it. She would read the agreement one more time, then take it to her lawyer. She took a deep breath and tapped lightly. He glanced up, his spiked mullet bobbing like a rooster's comb as he stood to greet her. "Hey, great to see you," he said, all brightness and light. Marnie had only one wish where her soon-to-be-ex-partner was concerned. She'd like him to change his hairstyle. When she first met him he'd styled his dark hair to frame his face, softening his angular features, and now the vertical spike of hair only made his nose appear longer, his chin more pointed. Worst of all, his haircut made him look dated.It was a word that everyone who was anyone in the beauty industry hated to hear, and Marnie didn't have the heart to tell him. Then again, maybe he knew and just didn't care. But why should she worry about it, anyway? In mere weeks, she'd be able to put Shane's hair, and all the other issues that came with running a salon, out of her mind. "Freedom thirty-five," she'd dubbed her decision."It's great to see you, too," she said, crossing the narrow space and sitting down in what passed for the guest chair—a warped, plastic lawn chair she'd pilfered from her parents' garage."So, are we ready to sign?" he inquired, his eyebrows doing an odd dance over his forehead, a rather peculiar move for a man, and one that had left questions in the minds of some of their patrons as to his sexual orientation. But those in doubt didn't know Shane's history where women were concerned. He was a consummate professional at work and a regular tomcat at night—that is until a particularly clever feline had put an end to his roaming ways.Her name was Gina, and Shane planned to marry her, which was why he'd offered to buy Marnie's half of the business. Gina, it turned out, was also a hairdresser and she and Shane were working on more than marriage plans."Slow down, Shane. Like I told you yesterday, I want my lawyer to read it before I sign." She reached for the document, intending to pop it into her oversized bag."Sorry. It's just that I'm so anxious, you know. God!" He sandwiched his head between his hands. "I've never felt like this before! We'll be celebrating our three-month anniversary in a week, can you believe that?" he asked, giving her the same wide-eyed look she'd seen at least a dozen times a day for the past few months.If he launched into yet another of his long-winded sagas about the wonders of love at first sight, about his plans for marriage and a future with the soon-to-be Gina Walker, she was going to have to slap him. She'd never slapped anyone except her brother Scott for telling Andy Capson she wanted to go out with him. But if Shane didn't stop talking about how great love felt, how happy he was… As far as Marnie was concerned, love was nothing more than a word in the dictionary somewhere between lovat—a tweed of muted green—and low—inferior or depressed.All the boyfriends she'd had to date could be slotted into one of two categories: they either had issues around commitment, or they bordered on being illiterate. And if that wasn't bad enough, they'd all turned out to be liars. Every man with whom she'd had a relationship had been dishonest in one way or another."Your three-month anniversary?" she repeated idly, as she skimmed the opening paragraphs of the sales agreement, glad to see the main terms of the agreement in writing, especially the financial ones. There was a non-competition clause, restricting her from opening a salon in the city, which was fine with her.Shane put his hand on her shoulder. "Look, take your time and read through carefully, but I would like to have it all settled before Christmas. Is that possible?"She looked up from the document as she considered what he'd said. As much as she loved the business, she'd often wished for something more. She was a good manager, and she wanted a bigger challenge in her life, but he hadn't considered acting on her discontent until Gina had started at the salon. The unfortunate truth was that she couldn't work with the woman. She was bossy and overbearing.Marnie hadn't busted her butt for ten years to end up taking orders from a woman whose only qualification, other than that of hairdresser, was that she had snagged the other owner. And with the cash from the buyout Marnie would be able to start a different business. She didn't know what yet, but she'd figure it out. All she needed was a little time."Before Christmas? I don't see why that should be a problem," she said."Great. I'll go out and put the coffee on so we can have a cup to celebrate. I brought a bag of these special beans Gina loves. They're from Costa Rica. I'll go grind them and be right back. Do you want a cappuccino? Or just regular?""Why don't we splurge and have a cappuccino?"He winked at her and smiled the goofy smile he'd recently acquired. "You got it."After he left, Marnie skipped through the legalese to the important parts of the agreement, and made sure they said what Shane had promised.She sat back and let her gaze move around the office, remembering the long hours she'd spent there, the worries she and Shane had had over the finances, whether they'd be able to grow their client list and hire the best hairdressers. But most of all she remembered the sense of accomplishment she'd felt when she and Shane had been written up in one of the local magazines, commended for their successful partnership. And now, as she faced the fact that this would all be over in a few weeks, she felt a sudden pang of longing.For ten years she'd lived and breathed Total Elegance. She'd borrowed her share of the start-up money, and then prayed that the salon would be enough of a success to pay off her loan. It was and she had. She'd proven to her family that she could succeed on her own terms, and it felt so good.Marnie swallowed against the hard lump in her throat. This was not the time for tears. She and Shane had had a good ride, but it would be fun to spend a few weeks considering her next venture, sleeping in until noon, shopping when she felt like it.Shane reappeared with two mugs in his hands, and with what had become his signature wide-body smile, only to come to a dead halt. "Hey, Marnie, is something wrong?"His words startled her. "no. Nothing. Why?"He passed her a cup with her usual two teaspoons of sugar and went to sit behind the desk, placing his mug on a coaster Marnie's mother had crocheted for the office—to give it a homey touch, as she'd put it. "For a minute, I thought I'd left something out of the agreement," he said, hefting his size-twelve shoes up onto the corner of the desk."Not at all." She took a sip of her coffee, letting the aroma infiltrate her nostrils while the caffeine hot-wired her mind."Well, what do you think? Is it all right?""I'm sure it is…. I'll miss this place."12 the christmas inn"I know you will, honey. If you'd like to work in the salon until you decide on a new career, that's fine by me," he offered, his words holding the nuance of a man who just realized that he should run the idea past his woman."Thanks. I appreciate it," she said. "But I think I'm going to concentrate on what I want to do next.""Have you considered going back to university?"Having flunked her first year, she didn't intend on repeating the experience. Besides, she didn't want to waste her hard-earned cash on learning things she'd never use. She was far too practical. Of course, not having made up her mind about her future would mean she'd have to sit through the next dozen or so family dinners, and be subjected to all sorts of unwanted advice."School isn't for me, at least not right—" A loud banging sound interrupted her."Someone's at the back door at this hour of the morning?" Shane asked, a frown on his face."I'll go and see," Marnie said, hopping up from her chair and heading out back. Deliveries didn't start until 9:00 a.m., and there was little chance that any of the staff would appear ahead of their shift. She peeked through the little hole in the middle of the door."No!" she moaned. Turning, she braced her back against the hard surface. She would unlock the door and let her nuisance of a brother into the salon when pigs wore roller skates. Scott couldn't be certain she was there, and besides, even if he persisted in banging on the door, she wasn't going to answer."Marnie. I know you're in there, and we need to talk."Luke Harrison ...
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Unexpected Attraction

Unexpected Attraction

Stella MacLean

Contemporary / Suspense / Self Help

She swore never to trust him... Hardworking single mom Andrea Taylor thought she knew everything about her teenage daughter. She doesn't. Her teen is being bullied, and the school has brought in Jake Polegato to help. But the charming psychologist is the last man Andrea wants meddling in her family affairs. Andrea has good reason to despise Jake, but her daughter comes first. Yet as Andrea and Jake work together, she begins to see the man he really is. As tensions turn into undeniable attraction, Andrea finds herself in dangerously unfamiliar territory. Because now she doesn't just need Jake's help...she needs him.
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The Doctor Returns

The Doctor Returns

Stella MacLean

Contemporary / Suspense / Self Help

Secrets and second chances Sherri Lawson seems to be the only person not welcoming Dr. Neill Brandon back to Eden Harbor, Maine. She has moved on from their shared past. Yet a part of her has never quite gotten over Neill--or the baby she lost. The baby he didn't even know about.... She can't imagine a new relationship with Neill, much as she might want it. But it turns out that Neill wants it, too, and he believes they can make it happen. And to Sherri's surprise, so does his daughter, Morgan!
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To Protect Her Son

To Protect Her Son

Stella MacLean

Contemporary / Suspense / Self Help

Keeping the past where it belongs! Moving to Eden Harbor is a dream for single mom Gayle Sawyer. A beautiful home. Friends. But this life and the carefully crafted lie she constructed years ago are threatened when her teenage son starts acting out. With few options, Gayle is forced to turn to counselor Nate Garrison for help. And Nate seems determined to dig into her past. Worse, Gayle feels an attraction to Nate that she can't deny. No matter how tempting Nate is, Gayle can't reveal the truth. Doing so would mean risking everything--her home, the promise of a romance with Nate...and her son.
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Bringing Emma Home

Bringing Emma Home

Stella MacLean

Contemporary / Suspense / Self Help

The family she's always wanted...Becoming a mother means everything to Grace Fellowes. She and her husband, Aidan, are ready to adopt when they learn that Aidan is a father already. A tragic accident has left five-year-old Emma motherless and Grace with the devastating knowledge that her husband had an affair. Her heart and her trust are broken.Smart, loving and full of life, redheaded Emma is perfectly charming. She's everything Grace has longed for—and a constant reminder of Aidan's infidelity. But Emma needs a family and Aidan can't abandon his daughter. This child could be the best thing that ever happened to her marriage—if Grace can learn to forgive.
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