Release date: June 22, 2015
Isabella Rodriguez put her life on hold to return to Portland and take care of her ailing parents, but now they’re gone. When her four overbearing brothers confront her insisting it’s time for her to move on with her life and that they’re selling the house, it might just be Bella’s worst birthday ever. Luckily, an unexpected promotion and a transfer to Seattle might mean a bright new future awaits.
Tech consultant Taylor Jordan’s career is on a huge upswing and he’s sure to make partner soon. He has no time and little interest in a personal life, especially after an embarrassing breakup with his last girlfriend. But when he meets the gorgeous Bella at a business mixer, he can’t help but be intrigued.
Sparks fly between them immediately, but when Taylor discovers Bella was behind one of the most humiliating experiences of his life, will they be able to find a future together?
by Peggy Bird
Peggy Bird lives in the Pacific Northwest where she sets most of her novels. To stay out of trouble—and the rain—she writes stories about smart women and sexy men and creates the occasional piece of glass art.
An excerpt from The Gift of Love:
The last thing Isabella Rodriguez wanted for her birthday was a book on how to find herself. The accompanying condescending remark from her oldest brother Luis about how she was wasting her life and needed to read the book, and the nods of agreement from her three other brothers, made it worse. She wanted to throw them—and their gift—out of the house.
She tried to lower her blood pressure and calm her anger by taking a few cleansing breaths. Unfortunately, what was effective in her yoga class didn’t seem to work anyplace else, so she gave up the attempt and let her emotions win. “I don’t need anyone’s advice on how to live my life, Luis. Especially not yours.” She was sure steam was coming out of her ears.
Luis continued as if he hadn’t noticed anything—the words, the tone, or the steam. “Look, Izzy, it’s not just me. All four of us agree. We love you. But you’ve been living for free in Dad’s house ever since he died while the rest of us cover the taxes and the cost of keeping it maintained. The house was left to all of us, not only to you. Those of us with families would rather support our kids, not our sister. I don’t know if we’re more frustrated or worried that you seem hell bent on living like some trust fund kid on our mutual inheritance but—”
“My name is Isabella,” she interrupted. “Bella, if you must shorten it. Never Izzy, in spite of your continued use of the horrible sounding name. And I’m twenty-seven, not a kid.”
“Okay, whatever, Bella,” Luis said, his hand slicing the air in an impatient gesture. “But your name was all I got wrong. The rest is dead on. You haven’t had a serious job since you left California. It’s like you just stopped living when you moved to Portland.” He ran his fingers through his mop of curls, one of the few traits Bella and all her brothers shared. “God knows we’ve tried to help. How many contacts did we give you in the real estate business here? Contacts who might have had a job for you.”
“I didn’t realize pressuring me to take the jobs in the family business no one else wanted was help. Or trying to set me up with a job I didn’t want. I thought it was just interference. As this is.”
Luis ignored her comment and went on with his lecture. “You shouldn’t bear all the blame for where you are in life. Mom and Dad indulged you because you were their baby girl. But Mom and Dad are gone. It’s time to get over being spoiled by them.”
The mention of her parents punched her in the gut. As the only girl, the youngest in the family, and a late in life surprise for her parents, she’d had a special closeness with them both. And taking care of them in the last years of their lives had only strengthened an already strong relationship. Especially with her father, who’d had a particular soft spot for her. The empty space left by his death the year before was a lot smaller now than it had been right after he died, but it was still there. She missed him. Badly. No more so than today, her birthday.
If he’d been alive, this would have been a joyous celebration. He loved throwing parties for his kids, even when they were grown up. When her four brothers had said they’d all be bringing their families up from California for her birthday, Bella had visions of a family reunion and a party close to what her father would have arranged. It was serendipitous her birthday fell on a Friday this year, making it possible for them to all make it to Portland in time for dinner and, she had hoped, a weekend together. Friday the thirteenth of July would be her lucky day, she thought.
Except it hadn’t turned out at all as she’d expected. Her celebration, it seemed, had merely provided an excuse to call a meeting to handle a crisis—her.