Return to USA TODAY bestselling author Christie Ridgway's Crescent Cove, California, where the magic of summer can last forever…
Combat medic Vance Smith made a promise to a fallen officer: to treat the man's young daughter to an idyllic vacation at Beach House No. 9. One month, some sun and surf, a "helmet list" of activities to check off and Vance will move on. But the "little girl" he's expecting turns out to be a full-grown woman. With silky hair, big brown eyes and smelling sweetly of the cupcakes she makes for her mobile bakery, Layla Parker is irresistible. And Vance shouldn't lay a finger on her. Honor—and one heck of a scarred heart—says so.
To Layla, Vance is a hero who was injured trying to save her father's life. She intends to spend their month of lazy days and warm nights taking very good care of the gorgeous soldier—inside and out….
Ridgway's emotional and powerful second beach-themed contemporary (after Beach House No. 9) is exemplary in its slow exploration of desire. Col. Samuel Parker, dying in battle, made combat medic Vance Smith promise that he'd take Samuel's daughter, Layla, on a series of sweet father-daughter outings in Samuel's stead. Vance dutifully invites Layla to a month-long vacation at a California beach house and is taken aback to discover she's a fully grown woman. Vance is still determined to fulfill his vow in an upright fashion, even if he has trouble resisting Layla's charms. As the pair watches sunsets and rides a Ferris wheel, Layla falls for the injured veteran and gently encourages him to reunite with his estranged family. The smoldering chemistry, a wonderfully evocative Californian setting of orange groves and avocado orchards, and a well-earned resolution to Layla's grief and Vance's family angst make this tender story everything a romance reader could hope for.