Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Showcase Slow Dancing at Sunrise by Jo McNally

Welcome, today I'm showcasing Jo McNalley's Slow Dancing at Sunrise book one in her new Rendezvous Falls series. Now Jo is no stranger to Harlequin but this is her first full length novel.  Congrats Jo!

Publisher: Harlequin

Release Date: 6-25-2019

Rendezvous Falls #1



Welcome to Rendezvous Falls, New York, where love is where you least expect it…

When accountant Whitney Foster’s carefully calculated life blows up, she escapes to the one place that’s always felt like home. But Rendezvous Falls has changed since she’s been away. Her aunt Helen’s winery is in trouble. And she doesn’t trust the sexy, surly stranger working the vineyard as far as she can throw him.

Luke Rutledge would do anything for Helen, who’s been like a mother to him. Revive the winery? Sure. Repair her property? No problem. Tolerate Helen’s infuriating, big-shot niece? Well…maybe. But as he and Whitney are forced to work together to rebuild the business, her chilly facade reveals a woman as complex and intoxicating as a fine merlot. Throw in a matchmaking book club hell-bent on happily-ever-after and it’s a potent cocktail.

Love should never be calculated. But it doesn’t take Whitney’s math skills to see that this is adding to up to one tantalizing adventure…

Read an excerpt:

Whitney recognized the rise in the road ahead, and her heart jumped a little. Right around that curve was the reason this was called Lakeview Road. She didn’t bother stopping at the scenic overlook that jutted out alongside the road, knowing she was less than a mile from Aunt Helen’s. Uncle Tony used to walk down here with her from the house, her soft little hand held in his huge, rough one. He’d tell her of the moonlit night he brought Aunt Helen to that very overlook to propose to her.
At the time, Whitney had hung on every word, star­ing into her uncle’s warm, dark eyes and wishing she would grow up to live in a place just like this, with a love just like theirs. But she was an adult now, and she knew the odds of that happening were approximately a million to one. No, wait. Her brain spun through the numbers quickly. With six billion people on earth, a million to one chance actually meant something was likely to happen. That’s not what she was going for. A billion to one was more accurate, although people rarely said that…
She was so busy running the calculations, she al­most missed the driveway. It didn’t help that the grass was so high it nearly covered the faded wooden sign for Falls Legend Winery. A hand-lettered board had been nailed across the bottom, reading Open Saturdays Only.
Saturdays only? That was…strange. Tony had always opened the wine-tasting room every day, because “You never know who might stop by, Whitney-girl. Maybe some nice person will drive through town on a Tuesday and buy five cases. You just never know.”
The driveway was bumpier than she remembered. Whitney frowned. Tony had done most of the physical work around the place, but Helen told her they’d had some guy working for them who’d stayed on after Tony died. She vaguely remembered seeing a dark-haired teen following Tony around the vineyard when she’d come here as a girl. Obviously, Tony could never be replaced, but…she still didn’t expect to see this level of neglect. Maybe the hired man had left?
At the crest of the knoll, the driveway opened into a large level parking area. Thin weeds grew up through the gravel in spots. She parked her car in front of the carriage house to the right that functioned as a tasting room and wine shop. It had the same gingerbread trim and rounded turret as the main house, but in miniature. The only variance on the Victorian styling were the limestone porch pillars, a nod to Uncle Tony’s beloved Italy. The paint, once bright and cheerful, was peeling. Sections of siding were missing. A pile of lumber was off to the side, showing the small promise of intended improvement.
Whitney exchanged her practical driving flats for her favorite navy pumps and got out of the car. Look­ing up at the main house across the lot, she swallowed hard, feeling like a stone was lodged in her throat. It was still a life-sized dollhouse, painted dark green with burgundy and ivory trim as Tony’s way of honoring the Italian flag. But now it was…tired. Forgotten. The paint wasn’t peeling as badly as the carriage house, but there was no life to the place. The curtains were drawn tight on all the windows. Flower boxes still lined the porch railing, but they sat empty. The big rocking chairs that were always on the porch were gone. When she was little, this had been her own special Secret Garden, but even Aunt Helen’s precious roses were an over­grown mess.
Why hadn’t Helen told her things had fallen apart like this? She dug the toe of her shoe into the loose soil. Helen had been sad and withdrawn when they spoke re­cently, but that was normal for a woman who’d lost the love of her life, right? Whitney had, as usual, been busy and rushed on those calls. But she had asked how things were going at the winery. Helen always said things were fine. Whitney hadn’t realized “I’m fine” was the age-old cry for help.
A movement caught her eye near the corner of the long fermentation barn farther up the hill. A man came out of the smaller door, a worn leather bag slung over his shoulder, and a brown dog trotting at his side. His head was down and his strides were long and sure—a man on a mission. She could see the shadow of a dark beard along a strong jawline. He ran his hand through his longish hair, then rubbed the back of his neck as he walked, as if trying to solve some complex equation. Cargo shorts hung low on his hips and a dark T-shirt clung to sweaty skin. Was he some super-hot vagrant just wandering through? Was he looking to rob the place? What had he been doing in Aunt Helen’s barn?
The dog saw her first, and let out a sharp bark. The man looked up and spotted her car parked by the car­riage house. He came to such an abrupt halt the canvas bag swung forward and smacked him in the elbow. He grimaced in its direction, his scowl deepening when he spotted her. Whitney returned the expression, plus tax.
“We’re closed.” He lobbed the words at her from across the parking lot. Didn’t even bother walking to­ward her. We’re closed. We?
“And who,” she asked, crisply, “might ‘we’ be?”
The man cocked his head toward the Falls Legend Winery sign above the door.
“We,” he replied, as if speaking to a small child, “are the proprietors of this winery, and we are not currently accepting customers.” Whitney couldn’t help wonder­ing how many customers showed up here wearing Ar­mani, with a car full of luggage. He glanced at her car, then back at her, towing his eyes up and down her body. “No wine for sale here today. No drinks to be had. That is what ‘we’ mean by ‘closed.’”
Her fingers twitched. Whitney had dealt with men like this for years. Coasters. Lurking losers who stayed under the radar and collected a paycheck for basically just showing up. They acted as though their lack of ac­complishment somehow meant they were smarter than the rest of the world. As if the fact they were pulling one over on their bosses made them more worthy.
Whitney propped one hand on her hip and gestured around the property with her other.
“Yes, I can see how you may be put off by unex­pected visitors. Are you actually expecting any custom­ers, at any point in the near future?” She said, matching his condescending tone.
“Excuse me?” He let the battered leather bag slide off his shoulder, catching the strap in his hand at the last second. The dog, with white and tan trim on its face and legs, sat at his side, watching them curiously. “Look, I don’t know what your issue is, but you’re going to want to take your Random Thursday Day Drinking somewhere else. This is a family-owned place, and I’ve got things to do.”
At the mention of family, Whitney bristled, break­ing her own ‘stay cool’ rule.
“Wow, that is…quite the customer service approach.” She started across the parking lot, struggling to walk on heels that weren’t meant for crushed stone. “For­tunately for the actual proprietor, I’m not here to buy wine. But I can’t help wondering how many customers you’ve chased away with that attitude.”
As she got closer, his jawline hardened. Already square beneath the scruffy beard, it was now set firmly in anger. If she had to guess, she’d say he was only a few years older than her. His dark hair was long enough to show thick, sweat-soaked curls. His skin was tanned and ruddy from the sun, and the layer of grime on his neck almost made her recoil in disgust. But she didn’t stop walking until she heard a low growl coming from the dog at his side.
“Molly, hush.” His voice was low and even, at odds with the muscle she could see ticking dangerously in his cheek. “This ‘lady’ isn’t a threat.”
He set the bag on the ground with a heavy thud. Metal clanked against metal…and a memory surfaced. That was Uncle Tony’s old tool bag. She’d often watched Tony trudge between the house and wine barn with that same bag, always fixing something. He’d taken the time to explain what each tool was for and what he was doing. As a little girl craving attention, having someone talk to her like a grown-up was beyond special. Handed down through generations of Russos, those tools had built half the structures on this property.
What was this man doing, handling something so precious with so little regard? Was this…was this jerk stealing from Helen as well as taking advantage of her? Whitney’s fingers curled into fists.
Ignoring her started objection, he continued, “Look, if you’re not here for wine, you’ll have to go. We’re not buying whatever you might be selling. If you’re look­ing for Mrs. Russo, she’s not home.” He stared hard at her to make sure she got his point. “And she’s not buy­ing anything, either.”
At that, he reached down to lift the tool bag, dis­missing her.
Before the thought had even fully formed in her mind, Whitney was reaching for the strap on the tool bag. As the man went to throw it back over his shoul­der, she pulled, setting the weight off balance, which caused him to let go. The bag was much heavier than she anticipated, and as it came swinging toward her hip, she braced herself. This was going to leave one hell of a bruise. But at the last second, the bag jerked, tools clanking loudly as it jostled between them. He’d caught it just in time, but Whitney didn’t feel grateful. And he clearly wasn’t feeling chivalrous.
“What the hell are you doing, lady?” Anger turned to incredulity, his brown eyes widening in surprise, be­fore quickly morphing back to anger. “Are you insane? Let go of my tool bag!”
“It’s not your bag,” Whitney corrected him, still clutching the strap. “And I don’t appreciate you act­ing like you have the authority to tell me—or anyone, for that matter—who can or cannot do business with this company. As you said, it’s family-owned, and I happen—”
Before Whitney could continue her lecture, which wasn’t at all as articulate as she wanted, the crunch of gravel stole the attention of them both.
A dusty blue Subaru rolled up and parked beside the house. Was Aunt Helen still driving that old thing? Whitney’s nervousness about facing her aunt after being away so long evaporated as soon as the short—and just a little round—woman got out of the car. Whit­ney needed an Aunt Helen hug in the worst way. She turned toward her, temporarily forgetting she was in the middle of a tug-of-war with a hired hand who smelled like a wild moose. His hand landing firmly on her arm was a sharp reminder.
Whitney snapped her attention back in his direc­tion, realizing she was still clutching the tool bag. They were closer than she’d thought. So close she could al­most make out her own reflection in his dark eyes. His voice took on a new tone, hard and urgent.
“Listen, Crazy. Whatever your problem is, take it somewhere else. I’m not gonna let you hassle that woman. You need to go. Now.”
It took all of Whitney’s self-control not to slap him right in the face. Despite her spectacular downfall re­cently at the hands of arrogant men, she’d never been tempted toward physical violence. But this man’s touch sparked something new and dangerous inside her. Not flight, but fight. Her voice went ice-cold.
“Take your hands. Off of me.”
He did so immediately Now on firmer mental ground, she faced him again, barely registering the sound of the car door closing behind her. For a few seconds, their eyes locked in a silent battle of wills. He didn’t back away, or let go of the bag. Neither did she. She gave it a tug. He tugged back with a smirk. It was the smirk that did it. She leaned forward and hissed at him.
“If I have anything to say about it, and I’m guess­ing I will, you’re about to be fired.” She knew it was foolish, but she tried again to yank the bag away. “And when you pack up to leave this place, this bag will not be among the things you take.”
Amusement flashed briefly in his eyes, and he opened his mouth to reply. She braced herself, wary of the grim set of his jaw.
“Whitney! You’re early! What a wonderful surprise! Come here and let me look at you!” Aunt Helen’s words caused a sudden and violent shift in his expression. For the first time, Whitney saw a shadow of discomfort. Even, perhaps, a bit of dread. Finally releasing the bag, Whitney shot him a smile of victory before turning into her aunt’s warm embrace. The clank of the tools hitting his leg made her smile turn into laughter.“Aunt Helen, I’m so glad to see you!”
Book 2 due out 11-2019

Meet Jo:
I write the same kind of romances I like to read – stories about characters facing real-life challenges with real-life consequences. The stories are emotional, but still have humor, and love always finds a way to pull the characters through together.
I live in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – my slice of the bed is very small. When I’m not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed…), I can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends while listening to an eclectic playlist. If the weather is absolutely perfect, I might join my husband on the golf course, where I always feel far more competitive than my actual skill-level would suggest. https://jomcnallyromance.com/about/


  1. Definitely looks like a cute summer read!

  2. That sounds like it'll be a good read.

  3. A full length novel is something to celebrate for sure and looks very cute indeed.

  4. This sounds like a fun story Debbie. I enjoy the enemies to lovers trope and like the idea behind a match making book club. Thanks for sharing! I hope everything is better with your home.

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape