Release date: June 9, 2014
Mona Smith’s plans to finish her culinary education are on hold and replaced with the need to economize and work hard. A warning from her brother — a local drug kingpin intends to collect money she doesn’t have — prompts her to flee Minneapolis with only the possessions she can fit into a backpack. At the airport baggage claim she begs a ride with a stranger, willing to risk time with an outsider over the drug dealer’s certain reputation.
Yesterday, Linc Dray was rejected by the final prospect on his list. Unless he’s legally married within thirteen days, he can’t inherit his grandfather’s farm. Years of work and dreams, including expanding a tiny apple orchard to commercial size, will be lost. When Mona sprints into his life pleading for protection and transportation, he hesitates. Is she a clever con artist or the solution to his dilemma?
Mona sees how Linc’s location and occupation offer her advantages … if only they didn’t come with a marriage proposal. A public marriage, he insists, for legalities and show. She requests two days to consider the deal.
The budding trust between Mona and Linc is tested when a renter on the farm is murdered. The obvious clues point to Linc. Can they prove the real killer framed him? And what are they going to do about the inconvenient emotions invading the marriage of convenience?
by Ellen Parker
“She was seeking safety. He needed security. Neither thought to protect themselves from falling in love. I’m a sucker for marriage of convenience stories, and Ellen Parker has crafted a keeper In Hiding Places.” – Lynn Cahoon, author of The Bull Rider’s Keeper
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
Ellen Parker, a daughter of Wisconsin, currently lives in St. Louis. When not guiding characters to their “happily ever after,” she can be found walking in her neighborhood or working in her tiny garden. Find Ellen at www.ellenparkerwrites.wordpress.com or on Facebook.
An excerpt from Hiding Places:
Linc Dray ignored the airport overhead speakers and merged onto the escalator.
Wanted: single female, age 21-30. He reviewed the first line of the ad overdue to be posted on the regional Craigslist. Desire quick marriage? Seeking long-term relationship? No, he discarded the second line as tacky. The truth in the mental discard file mattered less as the days counted down. Today left thirteen. Less than two weeks to find a woman, convince her he wasn’t a pervert or serial killer, and legally marry.
If he failed, his grandfather’s farm would be sold to strangers. Last year, when he’d discovered his grandparents wrote the will so that he could only inherit if married within a year of his grandmother’s death, he hadn’t panicked. He and Tami were a steady couple. She accepted his ring a month later and set a date.
And blindsided me three weeks before the wedding. He reached up and rubbed at the tension in his neck.
“You’re here.” A young woman called out the words an instant before her head collided with his chest. Her arms wrapped around his waist, pulling them together.
Linc’s body automatically began a retreat, and managed half a step with her following every inch. He tipped his face down and discovered smooth, youthful features half concealed by a blue cap decorated with the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Pickpocket?
“Help me. Act like we’re friends.” She clung tight and dropped her voice to keep the words private.
“Because?” He glanced around, not sure what he was looking for. His fellow passengers from the flight ignored them in favor of their own baggage and family reunions. A trio of business travelers walked past.
“There’s a man, black T-shirt and tattooed arms, following me. He’s a criminal.” She eased away half a step without breaking the circle around him.
Linc reached back and separated her hands, retained a grip on one, and brought it forward. Her dainty fingers clung to him, sending a dual message of desperation and warmth into his arm. “There’s uniformed security by door number three.”
He laughed one syllable. “Story of my life.”
“Please. I won’t be trouble.”
He looked over his shoulder and spotted a man fitting her hurried description. Did she tell the truth? Or was the muscular man on the phone her partner in an illegal scheme? He tightened his grip on her with one hand and jerked out his suitcase handle with the other before taking one long step. “Let’s walk. Who are you?”
“Call me …” She swallowed. “Mona.”