- Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Superromance; Original edition (May 8, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0373717784
- ISBN-13: 978-0373717781
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,933,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Like One of the Family Mass Market Paperback – May 8, 2012
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About the Author
Kimberly Van Meter started her writing career at the age of 16 when she finished her first novel, typing late nights and early mornings, on her mother’s old portable typewriter. She received The Call in March 2006 with Harlequin Superromance and hasn't looked back since. She currently writes for Harlequin Blaze and Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
Kimberly, her husband and their three children make their home in the Central Valley of California.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The warm, salty breeze lifted Lora Bell's hair from her damp neck as she stepped from the ferry platform after docking in Cruz Bay, St. John. She knew the fierce humidity would wreak havoc on her carefully maintained cut and color so that by the time she reached Larimar, which was only a short drive out of town, the curl she fought to tame would spring to life with a vengeance.
Home sweet home, she thought sourly, pausing to quickly wrap her shoulder-length hair into a messy knot at the back of her head. Everywhere she looked paradise stared backcalm, azure water lapping at spun-sugar beaches, vibrant green foliage rimming the shorelinesbut Lora really saw something different. She saw obligation, poverty, decaying infrastructure, greed and corruption leaking through the cracks in the cement and stinking up the air like the open-air Dump-sters that everyone used to dispose of their trash. And she was angry as hell that situations beyond her control had dragged her home against her will.
Although quieter and more low-key than St. Thomas, St. John still saw its share of tourists and Lora was reminded of this fact as she navigated the throng of people walking by with their coconut-rum concoctions, clutching at wide, floppy straw hats in an attempt to shield their skin from the tropical sun. Unlike them, Lora wasn't here on a pleasure cruise.
She jerked her Louis Vuitton rolling luggage over the worn plank dock and continued, her steps quick and purposeful, toward the man awaiting her by the Jeep Wrangler her family had purchased many years ago and that had begun to wear its age like an embattled war veteran. She didn't bother hiding her frown when she saw the Jeep but Lora knew it was pointless to complain. Island cars were a special breed. The more banged up, the more street cred they acquired. But it'd been quite a while since she'd lived on the island and she much preferred a smoother ride nowadays, such as her company's sleek Lincoln Town Car, which had always been at her disposal when she'd been the company darling.
How the mighty have fallen. She gritted her teeth against the unexpected sting of moisture in her eyes and focused again on the problems facing her in the here and now. The long flight had been excruciating enough with nothing but her rapidly deteriorating sense of self to keep her company; who was she without her punishing work schedule to keep her busy? Who was she if she wasn't out there making mincemeat of anyone who stood in her way? Just as she discovered that the answer was not to be found at the bottom of a Chardon-nay bottle, it was not here, either. All that awaited her in St. John was more problems. She could only hope her problems in Chicago would waitthe ones greeting her in St. John would not.
Her gaze searched and settled on the one man she'd hoped she wouldn't see. Given that her luck had been somewhere in the toilet region, she shouldn't have been surprised that Heath Cannon would be the one to pick her up from the ferry.
Coincidentally, he wore the same expression of put-upon pique as she felt. Great. So they were both pissed. This ought to make for an uncomfortable ride to the resort. She met his hard stare with one of her ownintimidation was a tactic she had perfected. "I still don't understand why you couldn't take care of this situation until I could get here when my schedule allowed," she said to Heath who neither offered to take her bag nor cracked a welcoming smile in spite of being her ride. Not that she'd expected or needed such niceties, of course. "I can't imagine that Lilah couldn't handle whatever is going on."
Lilah, the younger of her fraternal twin sisters, had moved back home three months ago with the intent to help their grandfather with the resort, but apparently the job was too much for her flighty little sis and all hell was breaking loose with some sort of calamity. She swore under her breath when the wheel of her luggage snagged again. When Heath still hadn't said a word, she gave him an irritated look. "Are you even listening to me? Why'd you come, anyway? Why couldn't Lilah pick me up?" she grumbled, mostly to herself. She hated feeling as if she were to blame for this mess simply because she'd failed to jump at the slightest mention of a shadow on the horizon. But Heath was making it quite clear that he blamed her. The knowledge pinched and in turn, angered her further. She wasn't to blame and she certainly wouldn't accept the burden just because others were incompetent. "Well?"
"Lilah had things to do," came his curt reply as he rounded the Jeep to the driver's side. "So that left me holding the short straw."
As in, neither had wanted to pick her up. Nice. They were in an all-fired hurry to get her here but now that they'd succeeded they wanted to avoid her like the plague? Real mature. And just like Lilah. The spoiled brat. Everyone made allowances for the twins but when it came to Lora, she was expected to be the iron maiden, impervious to every slung arrow. She bit back a sarcastic reply and instead ignored his statement. She wasn't going to waste her energy sniping at Heath. She had precious little of it after the exhausting travel day. It was too hot and humid and she wanted nothing more than to stand under a very cold shower for at least five minutes.
Heath, fit as a surfer with nothing better to do than ride the waves and pick up bikini-clad chicks, remained silent, which suited her perfectly. The less they interacted, the better. He looked as she remembered from her childhood and subsequent sporadic visits home, though she didn't quite recall the muscle cording his shoulders and the way his broad chest tapered to slim hips. She yanked her carry-on, lifting it onto the backseat of the Jeep before climbing in, still angry over the entire situation and the wretchedly bad timing in regards to her career.
Oh, wait, what career? She winced inwardly at the recollection of what had gone down only a handful of days ago when her boss had not-so-gently fired her after losing a major, multimillion-dollar account to a competitor. The memory, fresh and humiliatingly devastating, caused a sick roiling in her stomach that completely soured the airline-issue ham sandwich she'd choked down during her flight. And now this? Family issues were the last thing she wanted to deal with, but Lilah and her grandfather had made a right mess of the family business and she had to clean it up or else lose everything.
Reversing her decision to remain quiet for the drive, she said, "I know it's difficult for you to comprehend but this is the absolute worst timing for me." She needed to be doing damage control to find another job before news of her untimely and involuntary exit rippled through the grapevine. Marketing was such an incestuous little circle with everyone knowing everyone else's business because oftentimes, the person sharing the hotel bed was the same person you were trying to seduce information from about the competitor. Once word spread about her firing, one of two things would happen: either her former company's competitors would start sniffing around, making offers becauseprior to her unfortunate lapse in judgmentshe'd been the best in town; or they'd treat her like the plague because, in this economy, no one could afford to hire someone who lost accounts. Period. Thus the need for damage control. Closing her eyes for the briefest of moments to recollect herself, she opened them when she realized Heath was talking.
"He's your grandfather and he needs you," Heath said, his voice a strong yet low timbre that hinted at the temper he was holding back.
She glared even as a slight shudder, undetectable to anyone aside from herself, danced along her backbone. Since when was it okay for Heath Cannon to reprimand her like an errant child? Damn him for being so self-righteous. He had no idea what she'd been through in the past week. She was tempted to tell him to zip it but she held the impulse in check by the smallest grace.
"I've been trying to get you to come for months and you've ignored every call, every email, every letter. Until now."
"Well, excuse me for misplacing a little faith in my sister to handle what was happening here," she shot back, reaching up to hold on while Heath took the Jeep out of town and up the winding road to the resort. "How was I supposed to know that little Miss Butterfly Brain would flake when it mattered most?"
"Don't call her that."
"Why not? It seems to fit. You forget I've known her her entire life," she said drily.
"Oh, then should we start calling you by what you've been known for?"
She cast a sharp glance his way, knowing full well how she was perceived both on the island and elsewhere. For lack of a better word: the Bitch. She wasn't naive and she wasn't sensitive about it, either. She firmly believed that strong women were often labeled out of insecurity. She lifted her chin. "Yes, well, I'm here now."
"There you go being dramatic again," she muttered, adjusting the thin band of her watch against her skin, hating that every square inch of her skin was damp. She could already feel sand in all sorts of places it didn't belong. "You said Pops was about to lose the resort. Something about back taxes and a lien against the property, which honestly isn't something I'm going to freak out about until I've had my lawyers take a look." Oh, damn. She no longer had lawyers. The company had a vast stable of lawyers at its disposal, something she'd learned to take for granted, which is why the statement had rolled so blithely from her tongue. But why admit that to Heath, she thought churlishly, the heat and the situation leaching away the last vestige of grace available to her. "I'm sure it's not as bad as you...
Top customer reviews
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- This author did an excellent job fleshing out the book's location. The island and the island community- native and expat- were treated with respect, only one character leaned a bit too strongly into stereotype-land and she did a brilliant job transcribing patois for those who don't speak it (I do, and her transcriptions were close enough to how folks on my island speak for me to get into the book- this is rare and impressive).
- The family and situation presented in the book were full of interesting dilemmas, strong family dynamics and interest. This was *just* unique enough to really get me engaged, and I read literally hundreds of books like this in a given year.
- The hero was sweet, smart, interesting, creative and a perfect non-Alpha lead
- There is really only one con but it is a doozy. The heroine of this book is a mean, awful person from the beginning straight through to the end. Usually in romance novels "mean and awful" is really just "socially awkward and misunderstood", but that is not the case here. She is actually horrifying in her arrogance and treats her loved ones like garbage- the fact that this never changes and she never apologizes and acknowledges that her actions hurt them was inexcusable and just killed the book for me. I kept looking for the change, hoping for the point where she would grow into someone I'd ever root for, but it flat out didn't happen. I was hoping right up through 89% of the book, then realized that if there was no change at that point there never would be.
That said, there are some clear signs of character growth in the book- she seems to be acknowledging that she is a rotten b for most of it, but there is little if any change. I can't understand (AT ALL) why the hero would give her the time of day after the way she treated him, her grandfather, or her sisters. I assume that her 'change' is supposed top be drawn out in subsequent books in the series, but I highly doubt that I'll pick those up. I can not be happy for the heroine getting a HEA when I don't think she deserves it, and I am really not interested in reading about her anymore. It really is a shame, because I really enjoyed everything else about this book!
Note: Stands alone read. 1st book in Family in Paradise Series
GOOD READ! Skillfully written, strong characters, feisty dialogue, great descriptive imagery, heart touching storyline with realistic depiction of dementia and flawed family interactions, and some quirky supporting cast as well.
THE STORY revolves around, marvelously prickly, high-powered, self sufficient, marketing exec, Lora Bell, and layback, resort handyman/artist, Heath Cannon. They are reunited when she is figuratively "forced" to return home to St. John Island because her grandfather's dementia, mismanagement, and tax debt, threaten the family owned resort. Heath, abandoned by his parents and taken in by Lora's family when he was 10 years old, is now caring for her grandfather and the resort, which puts him on a collision course with "swoop in, fixed it, and get back to my real life" Lora.
THE CHARACTERS are all wonderfully complex. YES, Lora is outrageously obnoxious, dismissive, judgmental, and doesn't see the best in people, even family. And YES, she can't seem to censor her mouth. But, Lora is a unique heroine who says things the rest of us only think about saying. The intense romance develops between Heath and Lora because she has a good heart and finally comes to grips with her past, and Heath truly loves her, and is patient and forgiving.
OVERALL, wonderful storytelling with lots of misunderstandings, huffs, and angst. Enjoy.
FAMILY IN PARADISE series: Like One of the Family, Playing the Part, & Something to Believe In.
You may also enjoy the complex characters and storytelling of N. Bruhns, A. Stuart, R. C. Ryan, E. Palfey, or L. Wilde. For sweet, funny, heart touching romances with great descriptive imagery, try Susan Fox or Cara Colter.
Heath Cannon's childhood was the complete opposite of Lora's until her grandparents unofficially adopted him. The Bell family became his family but Lora, who was kind to him at first, seemed to grow to resent Heath and had little to do with him. So it was no surprise when she was called home to help with the family emergency, that Lora still looked on Heath as the handyman and not part of the family. Heath, on the other hand, still struggles with his infatuation for Lora.
RITA nominated author Kimberly Van Meter diligently researched the local for LIKE ONE OF THE FAMILY, bringing the tropical setting to life for her readers as she introduces us to likable characters in her new A Family in Paradise series. What fun to see the tightly wound Lora react to the calm easy-going Heath with fireworks inside and outside the bedroom. Their prickly dialogue, sexual tension and ultimate surrender thoroughly captivates. Van Meter has tackled the timely problem of dementia, as many readers can identify with their own family members, making LIKE ONE OF THE FAMILY not only entertaining but relevant. A compelling beginning to a new series, leaving readers eager for more from the talented pen of Kimberly Van Meter.