The Truth About Lilly
by Christy McKee
Lilly Talbot never imagined she would be starting her life over again. Losing her good name for something she didn’t do has driven her to move into an old lake house she inherited in Vermont. Upon arrival, she is shocked. Half the roof is about to slide into Lake Champlain. Even more upsetting, the man who can fix it will only agree if she trades him room and board for his labor. What will the good people of Haley think of her sharing a house with the handsome bachelor?
A man with a past…
Connor “Mac” McQueen, once one of the infamous Whiz Kids of Wall Street, spent three years in prison for insider trading. Only one thing sustained him during his time inside, the thought of owning Point Cottage, a home he’d fallen in love with years ago. He plans to turn the house into a stunning showcase for his eco-friendly home construction business.
Secrets and lies…
Now someone’s trying to drive Lilly from her home. Is it someone from her past? Mac has secrets of his own-- that could ruin lives if revealed. But if Lilly and Mac are to have a future together they must first delve into the past for answers and accept some difficult truths about each other. Only then, will they know if true love is in their hearts.
Sweet Jesus. Someone was in her house. Lilly froze, thinking if she didn't move perhaps the intruder wouldn't notice her. Each breath she took came in a short, painful pant, struggling to squeeze past the ice cold fear lodged in her throat. Beneath her pink knit hat, her scalp tingled with rising panic. She scanned the wall of French doors opening onto the wide screened back porch overlooking the glistening lake. The closest exit to the backyard was through the porch door, a good twenty feet away. Her cell phone was behind her, in her tote on the floor next to the recliner. Should she bolt for her car or make a dive for her phone to call the police? She jammed her hand into her right pocket...no keys. Almost like a battle of good versus evil, fear and logic warred inside her.
This house was her last stand and nobody had the right to be here but her. She closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath, drawing on her dwindling store of courage. Pulse pounding, she silently chanted, "Oh God, oh God," and forced herself to turn around to confront the intruder. A giant of a man, brandishing a baseball bat, stood in her kitchen, buck naked, squinting fiercely. Her gut reaction was to scream, so she did. "Get out of my house!"
She made a dash for her tote, frantically digging for her cell. "Stay right where you are, buster. I'm calling the police." Her heart thudded so loudly she doubted she would be able to hear them when they answered her call.
With an irritated look that clearly indicated he didn't consider the police a threat, the man tossed his bat onto the avocado green Formica island and picked up the red landline. His cool blue eyes flashed. "Sheriff's a friend of mine."
He put the phone to his ear. "Morning, Lucas. It's Mac. I've got a lady out here at Point Cottage who seems to be lost." His gaze swept over her. "She needs a place to stay. Think they've got a spot open at the woman's shelter?"
What? Did this intruder think she was homeless? She straightened and pushed her shoulders back in a show of righteous indignation, but when she tried to fold her arms across her chest, her bulky sweaters, two UGA sweatshirts, a trench coat and a full length faux mink coat, made it impossible.
"See you soon." The man returned the phone to the center of the avocado green island. Lilly thought it looked like a pimento stuck in the center of a humongous green olive. To make sure this arrogant man wasn't trying to play her, she grabbed the phone and punched redial.
"Haley police department. May I help you?"
Relief washed through her. "Sorry wrong number." Lilly turned to confront the man in her kitchen. "Mac, is it? I'd be more comfortable if you waited outside, until your friend the sheriff arrives."
One dark, arrogantly arched brow clearly indicated he wasn't going anywhere. "You're dressed for it more than I am." He gave her the once over. "Why don't you wait outside?"
Like she would leave this guy alone in her house. That’s not happening. Lilly stalked to the front door. As she stuffed her feet into her mud caked Nikes she'd left by the door last night, she glanced sideways at the man and realized he only looked naked. Standing behind the kitchen island, the lower part of his body had been obscured. Now she could see he wore snug fitting blue jeans, impudently unbuttoned at the top. Relief pulsed through her. Half clothed was just like a glass half full.
She noticed a man's leather jacket on the hall tree, grabbed it and tossed it to him. "After you." She waited for the hulk to precede her out the door.
He gave her a huff of disdain as he pulled on a pair of work boots and shrugged into the worn bomber jacket. Lilly followed close behind him onto the wide front porch.
She went down the steps and groaned when she saw her ancient station wagon resting in a sea of mud. Last night's storm made it almost impossible to see anything. She'd missed the driveway altogether and also succeeded in mutilating a row of shrubs planted alongside the house.
Mac frowned at the damage and shook his head in disgust, which set her off. "Don't know what you're so bent out of shape about. They're my damned bushes not yours."
"Excuse me?" He glared down at her, a generous swath of his naked chest and powerful middle exposed beneath his unzipped jacket.
She opened her mouth to let him have it with both barrels only to be drowned out by the toot tooting of an insistent car horn. The blaring nuisance came from a candy apple red VW bug bouncing along the rutted circular drive in front of the house. Mac grinned as the car door opened, revealing an elderly elf wearing a blazing purple beret.
"Oh, isn't this nice," the blue haired lady chirped as she emerged from the red bug. "You two have met."
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Christy McKee began her career in TV news and eventually found her way into advertising and finally fiction. She believes a good story should be about characters who win your heart, sometimes move you to tears and occasionally make you laugh. As a reader, Christy hopes you'll be swept into her characters' lives enjoy getting to know them, experience the challenges they endure and be with them when they come out on the other side.
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4.25 out of 5 stars
The Truth About Lilly by Christy McKee is the first novel in "The Shores of Lake Champlain" series. The story follows Lilly Talbot as she tries to rebuild her life after a series of blows. Her relocation to the town of Haley, Vermont is a culture shock to her Southern sensibilities, but even more shocking is the man she finds in the home that she is moving into. Connor 'Mac' MacQueen has his own agenda and, just like Lilly, a painful history to overcome. They each must find a way to get past family issues and go on, the question is whether it will be alone or together.
This fun and exciting contemporary romance has elements of suspense to add to the excellent storyline that explores the parameters and repercussions of guilt and forgiveness. I love the gradual exposition of details and the way the main characters slowly grow into a relationship. The unexpected roommate scenario is a commonly used device but it was so much fun to watch the sparks fly as the apparently diametrically opposed personalities interact, and the north vs. south divide is bridged through food, family, and manners.
The emotional wounds that each character has suffered gives texture to their respective personalities and the deft depiction of their family ties and interactions provide a great contrast to the sensual and sizzling connection that evolves between Lilly and Mac. There are intriguing twists that give glimpses of some of the secondary characters who I suspect will have their own time in the spotlight, and although some seem a little farfetched, they do provide an interesting storyline.
I like the way humor, passion, small-town life, and mystery are combined in this story and I look forward to getting to know more about some of the yummy secondary characters as the series continues. Be forewarned, one may develop a craving for fried chicken or something else to eat while reading this story because the author does such a great job of creating a vivid word portrait that one can almost smell the meals being served!
A copy of this title was provided in exchange for an honest review