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An Officer, a Baby and a Bride Mass Market Paperback – May 22, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Foster Brothers Series

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Children's voices, bright and happy, punctuated the late afternoon. Several houses down, a lawn mower rumbled its distinctive hum. The breeze carried the light perfume of flowers along with the appetizing scents of charcoal and grilled burgers. Cars drove by, leaves rustled and birds chirped. In all ways, the street was alive with the normal sounds and smells of spring.

Normalcy, Captain Seth Foster thought, was a type of heaven that most folks never really considered. Well, most civilians. He, on the other hand, had given the idea of normalcy a great deal of thought throughout his deployment in Afghanistan.

He'd returned to the States less than a week ago, and today, Seth had driven to his parents' house in Portland, Oregon, for an extended leave. Four weeks of rest lay in front of him. His plan for every day of those four weeks was to engage in completely normal activities.

Activities such as eating a home-cooked meal with his family, verbally sparring with his two older brothers, reconnecting with his parents and now, sitting on the front porch of the Victorian home he'd grown up in, enjoying a beer with the company of his brothers.

Seth had anticipated this moment, this exact second in time, when life would—for a little while, at least—become ordinary again.

Of course, he hadn't anticipated that his lamebrained brother had been keeping a secret for months. Or that Jace would choose this moment to reveal that secret, and in doing so, dispel all of Seth's plans for a normal visit home.

Seth took a long draw from his beer before settling his gaze on Jace, the middle brother in the Foster clan. Their older brother, Grady, seemed as shocked by Jace's disclosure as Seth was but had wisely kept his mouth shut—though he hadn't left his brothers alone to battle it out. Nah, he'd stay put and watch over them, ready to jump in if what followed took a nasty turn.

Keeping his attention on Jace, Seth said, "I'm not going to kill him, Grady. Even if I was so inclined, the Air Force doesn't take kindly to fratricide."

"I figured that much." Grady stretched out his long legs. "Still, think I'll sit right here for a while. Enjoy my beer."

"I'm not going to hit him, either."

"I would." Grady's tenor was flat. "If he kept that type of news away from me."

Jace cleared his throat. "If either of you want to clock me across the jaw, go for it. But you should know I'd make the same choice today under the same circumstances."

The temper that Seth had managed to contain flared into being. "Watch it, bro, or I might take you up on that." God, he still couldn't wrap his mind around Jace's announcement.

"You're one hundred percent in this? There is zero doubt that Rebecca is pregnant?"

"I'm certain." Jace raked his fingers through his shaggy black hair. "I wasn't when I originally met with her. Which is partly why I didn't tell you then."

Seth remembered asking Jace to look in on Rebecca Carmichael, a woman he'd corresponded with for nearly a year before their meeting the prior October. He'd been given a short leave from active duty to recoup from an ill-fated mission. After attending a funeral, he spent his time here, in Portland. It had taken several phone conversations, but Rebecca had finally agreed to meet for coffee.

Closing his eyes for a millisecond, Seth savored the taste of the icy-cold microbrew. Coffee became dinner, which turned into drinks, which then became a weekend Seth would never forget. When he returned to duty, his goals for the future—which had always been absolute—shifted into something different than he'd ever seen for himself. A future he hoped might include Rebecca. He'd been all set to take it slow, to keep their relationship on the easy and familiar ground on which it had started, when Rebecca stopped writing. Concerned, he tried reaching her by phone, only to find her number disconnected.

This remained the status quo until sometime in January, when Seth emailed Jace and asked him to ascertain that Rebecca was okay. Jace's response that Rebecca was fine, that her life had been busy but she would get in touch when she could, eased Seth's worry. When another month passed without a peep, Seth figured that was Rebecca's way of saying goodbye.

He'd written her once more, wished her well and focused on the day to day. Every now and then his thoughts would return to her, to the future he'd barely glimpsed before it dissolved into dust. For the most part, though, Seth had pushed Rebecca out of his mind.

Until now. Until faced with the possibility that she was pregnant with his child.

"How do you know for certain?" Seth asked, picking up the conversation where Jace had left off. "Have you talked to her again? Seen her?"

"I haven't, but…a friend kept tabs on her." Jace spoke quickly, as if worried Seth would interrupt him. "I know she's pregnant. What I don't know is who the father is."

"What friend? You didn't involve Olivia or Melanie in this, did you?" Grady asked, speaking of his wife and Jace's fiancée.

"If I'd told Olivia, I might as well have told you," Jace shot back. "And you'd have gone to Seth right away, which is what I was trying to avoid. Nor did I tell Melanie. She wouldn't have approved of what she would describe as my…ah…kinglike attitude."

Grady chuckled. "She's called you out on that a few times already, hasn't she?"

"You're one to talk." Jace glowered at Grady. "Because talking Olivia into dating you instead of giving her the divorce she wanted was so unkinglike."

Grady shrugged, apparently not bothered by Jace's statement. "We didn't get divorced, so I'd say my methods worked fine. Besides, what happens between."

Frustration roared through Seth's blood. On a different day, he'd love to hear every detail of his brother and sister-in-law's reconciliation. The couple had separated after their five-year-old son Cody had died in a tragic car accident. A drunk driver had lost control of his vehicle and smashed into Grady's, killing the boy almost instantly.

It had been a horrible time for all of them. Seth hadn't believed that Grady and Olivia would be able to move beyond such an allencompassing pain. Somehow, though, they had. He was happy for them. And when he learned Olivia was expecting a baby in August, now only a few months away, he'd been even happier.

Now, though, he wanted to hear about Rebecca and the baby she carried.

"How did your friend keep tabs on Rebecca, Jace?" Seth asked, dragging his brother's attention back to the current topic of conversation.

"It's like this… I hired an investigator friend of mine to—"

"You hired a P.I. to spy on Rebecca?" Seth was three seconds away from leaping out of his chair and strangling his brother. "A little overkill, don't you think?"

"All he did was employ Rebecca as his accountant and set up monthly appointments to see how she was doing. He didn't spy on her." Jace pulled in a breath. "Look, if she needed something, I wanted to know. But no one followed her around or snapped pictures of her."

"So you hired a P.I. to spy on her," Seth repeated, his anger growing by the second. "Whether he saw her once a month or sat in front of her house every damn night, his goal was to retrieve information in a covert manner. Is that correct?"

"Okay, yes." Jace planted his elbows on his knees. "I know it was wrong, but I wanted to be in a position to help if she needed anything. I swear, Seth, my intentions were honorable."

Seth gave a short nod, hearing the truth in his brother's words. "You realize that you wouldn't have had to go to such lengths if you'd shared your suspicions up front? Dammit, Jace! If she is carrying my baby, I had a right to know the second you thought that was a possibility."

"Why?" Jace countered, his eyes unflinching. "She wasn't responding to your emails or letters. You couldn't reach her by phone. There was nothing you could do."

"I would've liked the opportunity to try." Seth swore again. "I'm working real hard here to keep my temper in check, but you're making that difficult. We're brothers. We're supposed to look out for each other, so for the life of me, I cannot comprehend—"

"What do you think I was doing? I knew you'd be ticked." Jace gave a tired shake of his head. "But I was looking out for you. My goal was to protect you."

"Protect me?" Seth said, his voice dangerously soft as he deduced what Jace was getting at. "You believed I wouldn't be able to do my job safely if I knew Rebecca might be pregnant with my child? Am I getting this right?"

Seth's job, as a pilot in the Air Force, typically didn't carry that much risk. And while his deployment to Afghanistan, where he was part of a planning cell, had placed him in a few precarious situations, his role there had also been relatively safe. Even so, his family worried.

"I wanted you to come home safe." Jace's jaw set in the stubborn line all Foster men were known for. "So yeah, bro, I decided to wait until you were here to tell you. So you could focus on facts and not what-ifs. Why is that so wrong?"

"Because it was an idiotic move," Grady said without rancor. "Imagine if I knew something about Melanie that involved you and I kept that away from you?"

"That's an idiotic statement," Jace retorted, also without rancor. "I'm here. I have the ability to go to Melanie and deal with whatever you might have discovered. Seth wasn't here. Seth was in Afghanistan, doing God k...

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780373656776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373656776
  • ASIN: 0373656777
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,604,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By The eBook Investigator VINE VOICE on October 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was fantastic. I could not put it down and read in one sitting.

Rebecca Carmichael steered clear of military men. One had left her heart shattered beyond repair when he was killed by friendly fire. Since she lost the love of her life, she wanted to support our troops and begins a pen pal relationship with an Air Force Captain. On an unexpected leave, they meet face to face and the heat is sizzling. They spend a glorious weekend together and then he must return to base. They continue to correspond for a while but suddenly she stops writing and has her cell number changed.

Seth Foster wants to know why the woman he spent the best weekend of his life with has stopped writing and taking his calls and he shows up on Becca's doorstep seven months later with an engagement ring...during her baby shower! Convincing her to marry him will be the toughest mission he has ever undertaken but he wants her and the baby.

I highly recommend this book. It was beyond great!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it had good strong characters and was believable, I would recommend this to anyone looking for a holiday read. I particularly liked the fact it had a beginning, middle and a satisfactory ending.
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By Rivers on November 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book seemed to drag on and on. I have enjoyed reading many Harlequin Romance novels but found this book to be very predictable and boring.
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I actually checked to book out from the library, then just had to buy it. I loved it. It had a great story, with great characters. This is a great one.
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