Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Thankful Heart by Melissa McClone Excerpt


Barnes & Noble

Chocolate is better than men, and so are dogs. At least, that’s what Dakota Parker tells herself as she mends her broken heart and finds forever homes for rescue animals. So far, so good. She can indulge her love of chocolate where she works while her foster dogs provide her with the unconditional love she craves. What more does she need?

Seattle architect Bryce Grayson is counting the days until he can return home to the big city with his father in tow. That is if he can convince his dad to leave Montana. Bryce’s escape plan, however, goes astray when he meets Dakota. Her sweet kisses put the chocolate she sells to shame. Maybe he should be the one to move to Marietta, but could he be happy living in such a small town?

He has until Thanksgiving to decide.

Love at the Chocolate Shop series
Book 1: Melt My Heart, Cowboy by C.J. Carmichael
Book 2: A Thankful Heart by Melissa McClone
Book 3: Montana Secret Santa by Debra Salonen
Book 4: The Chocolate Cure by Roxanne Snopek
More books coming soon


The bell above the door rang.
So much for free time. She set the pen on the counter.
A man walked in. Another burst of cold air came into the shop and brought goose bumps, but he quickly closed the door.
Welcome to Copper Mountain Chocolates,” she greeted as she always did.
His shoulders were angled toward the opposite side of the shop, so she couldn’t see his face. Not everyone came right to the counter. Sometimes, people entered out of curiosity or to window shop. Others wanted a free sample or to warm up from the cold.
Dakota stirred the pot but found herself watching him.
He brushed a gloved hand through his sandy-blond hair. The short, messy style appealed to her more than the way he dressed.
An expensive-looking leather jacket showed off wide shoulders. A white collar peeked out the top. His khakis were creased. That amused her since she didn’t own an iron. A pair of polished loafers completed his outfit.
His attire screamed big city.
Definitely not from around here.
No tie, but he reminded her more of the men she’d dated who worked inside, often behind desks in offices, and wore ties. She preferred men who worked outdoors.
A man who faced the elements every day, had a strong work ethic, appreciated animals, and knew how to treat a woman appealed to her at a gut level. The boots and jeans they wore were an added bonus. Not that she’d dated a cowboy or wanted to date one now.
She focused on the man, letting her curiosity and imagination run wild.
Maybe he was a tourist from the east eager for a taste of the west.
Maybe he was a CEO needing to escape a high-pressure job by escaping to a small town that moved at a snail’s pace.
Maybe he was a witness in a big case for the FBI and hiding out until it was time to testify at the trial.
Or maybe, and most likely, he was here because he liked chocolate.
Would you like to try a champagne truffle?” She readied the tongs. “That’s what we’re sampling today.”
He turned.
Her gaze collided with a pair of killer baby blues that made her breath catch and birds sing. Well, birds would be singing if there were any in the shop. A good thing she hadn’t lifted the tray or the truffles would be all over the counter.
He was, in a word, stunning.
Dakota hoped she wasn’t staring openmouthed or drooling, but she found him as appealing as her favorite Sage creation—dark chocolate with almond and cherry bits.
His slightly crooked nose gave him character, making his handsome face more interesting and rugged. A nice contrast to his smooth skin. Dakota was a fan of the razor-stubble look, but perhaps there was something to be said for clean-shaven.
He stared at Dakota. “What?”
She held the tray and used the silver tongs to offer him a piece. Thankfully, her hands were steady. “Would you like to try a sample?”
Or me.
Whoops. Where had that come from?
No, thank you,” he said.
She must be more tired than she realized, but that was what happened after a sleepless night worrying about her proposal and the animals. “The chocolate is processed here by our shop’s owner. The best in Montana.”
No, thanks.”
His full lips—how had she missed those?—parted. So sexy.
Dakota stared, mesmerized. She would love to see how he ate a piece of chocolate. Would he nibble on one edge, take a bite, or chomp the piece in half?
Are you sure you wouldn’t want a taste?” she asked.
I don’t like chocolate.”
Huh? Dakota knew better than to be annoyed by a customer, but that was exactly how she felt. Don’t react. She kept a practiced smile on her face. “Copper Mountain Chocolates are special. Everybody likes them.”
He shrugged. “Guess I’m not everybody. Sell anything else?”
Who was this guy? And why was he here if he didn’t like chocolate? “Hot chocolate.”
That’s not so bad, but I don’t have time. I have a list of what I’d like to buy.” He thumbed the screen on his phone. “Two fudge truffles, two milk chocolate salted caramels, and a piece of the dark chocolate cherry hazelnut bark.”
He might not be from around here or like chocolate, but his order contained top-selling items. Strange.
Dakota placed the candy in a bag and rang up his order. She told him the amount.
He pulled out a leather billfold that was as fancy and polished as his shoes.
Anticipation built. He could be anyone passing through town, but she would soon know his name from his credit card.
He scanned the shop with a cursory glance, pulled out a twenty, and handed it to her.
So much for finding out who he was.
Strangely disappointed, she gave him the change and his bag of chocolates. “Enjoy the rest of your day.”
You, too.” He opened the door and looked back at her. “Nice shop.”
With that, he walked out onto Main Street and passed in front of the big window.
She watched him.
Did the guy have a better-than-you attitude or was he merely distracted? Maybe a combination of both?
Either way, Dakota found him interesting. A little…intriguing.
Warning bells sounded.
No. No. No.
Dakota would not allow herself to be intrigued by any man, let alone a stranger. She had no idea who the guy was. For all she knew, he could be the worst possible Mr. Wrong, a combination of those who’d come before and allergic to pet dander. He could be a psycho stalker. Or worse.

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