Suddenly in Love
Lake Haven #1
Mia Lassiter is thrilled to finally put her artistic skills to use working for her aunt’s interior design shop in her hometown of East Beach. While renovating an old mansion overlooking stunning Lake Haven, she encounters a scruffy but attractive man named Brennan—the owner’s son. She doesn’t realize this sexy recluse is actually Everett Alden, the world-famous rock star in hiding who’s nursing his own artistic and personal crises.
As their personalities clash, tension simmers between the struggling artist and jaded musician, and their time spent alone together in the gorgeous old house only serves to turn up the heat. Soon, Mia and Brennan’s creative passions boil over to inspire passions of another kind…
But reality comes crashing in when Mia’s celeb-obsessed cousin discovers Brennan’s true identity—and reveals it to the world. As paparazzi swarm the mansion, Brennan is thrust back into his rock star lifestyle. Will Mia lose her soul mate just when she’s finally found him? Can their love survive the glaring spotlight?
This was one big ship of hope—otherwise known as the 6 train—bobbing along on a sea of lollipop dreams. Otherwise known as the bowels of Manhattan. But even the stale air and the snores of the man next to her couldn’t keep Mia Lassiter from believing that things were turning around for her, that the cosmos had at last opened and shined its glorious light on her.
It wasn’t every day a perfect opportunity fell in her lap. Lately, it had been just the opposite. She’d recently lost her job (not the greatest, but at least something in her field), and her boyfriend (not the greatest, but at least she’d gotten some average sex out of it), and was on the verge of losing her apartment (yes, it was a pit—but a pit in a great location). So to have something so unexpected and so clearly meant for her fall into her lap filled Mia with optimism, and she was practically sailing uptown with the wind at her back and her portfolio tucked up under her arm.
When at last she emerged from the Big Hope Ship onto Lexington Avenue, she began striding purposefully across the street. Move out of my way, people!
Sure, she noticed some looks in her direction from well-heeled women with small children and dogs in designer carriers. Because Mia Julia London was wearing a dress she’d made from white muslin and had stained with Earl Grey tea, a vest she had knitted from thrift store sweatshirts, a pair of ankle boots, graphic tights, and a cloche hat she’d made from a piece of felt she’d found at a sidewalk sale. Her father accused her of liv-ing in an episode of Project Runway, and he most certainly would have advised her against this outfit for a job interview. He generally advised her against this sort of outfit, period.
But this was different. Mia’s father didn’t know August Brockway. August Brockway was one of America’s most important artists and he was hiring an intern. When one of Mia’s former instructors from Pratt Institute had called her out of the blue to tell her about it, Mia had shrieked with excitement into the phone. She’d studied his leg-endary work. She loved the ethereal quality of his landscapes, the use of light and shadows in his still-life paintings. He was the artist she wanted to be.
It was a dream come true to have an opportunity to intern for him. It was the sort of opportunity Mia had assumed she’d get after she graduated from college. She had not dreamed of being a textile designer, but that’s what she’d been the last few years.
The perfect jobs she’d assumed would come her way after graduation hadn’t materialized. She’d been unable to find a job in a gallery with her fresh, never-used fine arts degree. So she’d taken the textile design job, creating fabrics for furniture. At the very least, it was creative. And it was definitely a way to pay rent until she could establish herself as an artist.
Which was now! At last, at long last, she was getting the break she needed, the chance to follow her dreams.
She arrived at the address where her interview would be conducted.
The building had a doorman. A doorman! It would be weird and excit-ing to come here to work every day. Mia would make friends with the doorman, she decided. She’d bring him a muffin from the corner bakery near her apartment. He would tell her what the weather was going to do that day and she would suggest a tie or shirt he could wear for a weekend party.
This was going to happen. Mia had a sixth sense about these things, and could feel it tingling in her bones. She was confident that August Brockway would see her work, would see that it was obviously inspired by his, and he would be bowled over by it. He would give her the job, and she would clean his paintbrushes and change out his drop cloths and lis-ten to every word he said as he taught her everything he knew. It was fate.
She checked her vintage watch; she was ten minutes early. She took the opportunity to put down the heavy portfolio and straighten the dress she’d made. She loved this dress. Obviously, designing textiles wasn’t her first career choice, but Mia had turned out to be pretty darn good at it, if she did say so herself. She was so good, in fact, that when her boss had invited her out to lunch a few weeks ago, Mia had been sure she was finally getting the raise he’d been promising her for over a year.
Don was an overweight, lumbering man with oily black hair and wire-rimmed glasses that never sat straight on his face. He took her to lunch at a fast-food chain. That should have been her first clue, but ever hopeful, like a too-stupid-to-live princess in a fairy tale, Mia hadn’t caught on. And then, between big bites of burger, punctuated by the shoveling of fries, Don said, “We’re closing shop.”
“What?” Mia had cried, loud enough that the ladies next to them had turned to look at her. “I thought I was getting a raise!”
“A raise!” Don had chuckled as he stuffed another fry into his mouth. “We’re barely paying the rent.” He dragged a paper napkin across his thick lips. “So look, we lost that contract in North Carolina. Something about the percentage of natural fibers in our fabrics wasn’t meeting their standard—well, whatever, that’s way over your head,” he said with a wave of his meaty fist, ignoring her look of indignation.
“It was a big contract, obviously, so corporate is going to have to con-solidate some things and this shop is sitting in the most expensive real estate, so . . .” He’d shrugged and munched on another fry. “We’re shut-ting down.”
“But . . . but what happens to everyone?”
“Well, I’m moving to Scranton. And the rest of you will have to find new jobs.”
He’d said it so matter-of-factly, as if it were nothing for the little group of misfits who designed couch fabrics to find new jobs. Mia thought of Charles with his brown bag lunches and e-reader. And Maureen, the obese diabetic who baked cookies every weekend and brought them to the shop on Mondays. Maureen designed the most intricate, beautiful patterns. And what about David and Jean and Asmara? Where would they go? The injustice had left Mia speechless.
“Look on the bright side,” Don had said, pausing to stifle a belch.
“You’re getting two weeks’ severance.”
“You’re kidding. Considering my paltry hourly wage, that’s not a bright side, Don.”
He’d shrugged. “Take it or leave it.”
Yeah, well, Mia had had no choice but to take it. And then she’d spent every day searching for a job that was even remotely artistic. She’d applied to teach a weaving class, to be a gallery receptionist, a graphic designer, and even a bookbinder . . . but no one wanted her. No one cared about her art portfolio. Employers cared only about her experience answering phones or designing websites.
Well, Mia didn’t have that sort of experience. She didn’t have any experience other than art school and textile design. No, wait, that wasn’t fair—she was pretty good at busing tables. Her brother Derek had pointed that out. “You can wait tables for Mom and Dad at the bistro. You know how to do that.”
As Mia had spent all her teenage years doing exactly that, it was absolutely the last thing she wanted to do.
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Born in Canyon, Texas, and raised on a ranch, Julia London didn’t have her eye on writing romance right away. After graduating with a degree in political science from the University of Texas in Austin, she moved out to Washington, DC, eventually working in the White House. She later decided to take a break from government work and start writing. Today, she is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty novels. She writes historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction, and her most popular series include the Secrets of Hadley Green series, the Cabot Sisters series, the Desperate Debutantes series, the Lear Sisters series, and the Pine River series. She is a recipient of the RT Book Reviews Best Regency Historical Romance award for The Dangerous Gentleman, and a six-time finalist for the renowned RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction. She resides in Austin, Texas.