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Contemporary Adult Romance
No one ever warns you how fine the line is between love and madness…
When Gabrielle “Bree” Valentine awoke in a hospital bed with a newborn baby, she centered herself and rebuilt. Bree didn’t think about her mental breakdown, lost memories, or the features of a stranger emerging daily in the face of the son she is raising alone. Five years later, on a weekend in the Hamptons, a chance encounter with a man unlike any other jars her—bone deep. Daniel Hawthorne Baird II, wealthy, dangerous, British aristocrat, gravitates to Bree like caviar on crustinis. In his relentless obsession with Bree, their lives entwine despite Bree’s resistance. With the unconditional support of friends she calls ‘family’, Bree confronts the most difficult questions of her life. Unearthing the painful mysteries behind: who fathered her child, who the real Daniel Baird is, and the irrepressible desire driving her towards a man destined to be the end of them both.
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“Who was that?” I jumped out of my skin and bumped in to something solid right behind and then leapt away, the train of my gown swishing around me as I faced a very suspicious Daniel.
“Jesus Christ, how do you do that?” I gasped, clutching my chest.
“You didn’t answer my question,” he replied firmly, folding his arms.
“Are you stalking me?” I peered at him.
He peered back. “Was it another man?” He said it like, ‘you naughty girl’, and then there was that glimmer in his eye again.
“I’m feeling very stalked right now.” I shook my head and walked to pass him, but he blocked me.
“Excuse me,” I said indignantly.
“You’re not excused.”
“That’s not up to you,” I countered.
“Oh, I think it is,” he replied confidently and his lip twitched upward, but he resisted the smile.
“No. It isn’t, and I don’t like being deceived,” I challenged, lifting a brow. He unfolded his arms, letting them rest at his sides.
“I didn’t deceive you.” He arched one brow back. “You perceived.”
“And you did nothing to stop it. That is called deception.”
“Is it?” he replied, his eyes searching mine like he knew I thought differently.
“The distinction is obvious,” I retorted, eluding a judgement just shy of an edict. August and I were currently perpetrating a deception much bigger than his, but he couldn’t know that…
“I am not a man of many words,” Daniel replied laconically, in the tone of one who doesn’t explain himself to anyone, and didn’t intend to start tonight.
“More the “speak softly, and carry a big stick” type? The only reason you talked to me was to use me. You were just fishing for intel,” I accused, but gulped down hard admitting my words were etched into the club that he’d used to swat down Mr. Fitch.
It looked like his patience had snapped. I may have said too much, but the self-doubt he’d created in me triggered my defenses.
“That’s not why I talked to you,” he explained finally. I narrowed my eyes.
“Then why did you?”
He just stared at me for a while. I don’t know what was running through his mind—lots of things it seemed—but most of all it looked like he was deciding something. And after moments of consideration, I watched resolve form in his tightened jaw.
“We should be friends,” he said in decision, not offer—but that’s not what surprised me.
“Friends?” I repeated back dumbly. Then I thought of his cohort with the ring on his finger handing out his number to help “shave her legs”, and the unsurprised look on Daniel’s face, the compliment about my appearance, the slow kiss to my hand. I realized this banter he’d suddenly decided to engage me in could be interpreted as a caveman form of flirtation. Men like this always had women on the side… I was appalled.
“I don’t believe I’m the type of ‘friend’ you’re looking for,” I replied tartly, trying to pass him again, but he captured my wrist.
“Just friends.” He bit out each word, as if he disliked the taste of them, and slowly raised his eyes to mine. He wore the same look as Ian, that first day at lunch when he asked me not to leave. I still wasn’t convinced, but pragmatism tipped the scales. I needed to play along, for August’s sake.
“Just friends,” I repeated firmly, drilling it into his eyes.
“Excellent,” Daniel said satisfactorily, releasing me. I clasped my hand around the wrist he’d released, not because it hurt, because it had stirred something. My face flushed.
“And next time you want my attention, call me by name,” I instructed.
He wasn’t insulted. “Accept my apology. It’s not my habit to touch a lady who doesn’t want to be touched.”
Needing to get away, I nodded. I began walking off and he took one stride and caught my ear.
“But I wouldn’t waste one morsel, either,” he whispered to me. I watched him stride forward, disappearing through the doors, and my heart pounding in my chest.
About the Author:
Nell E. S. Douglas has possessed a deep, abiding love for written words since childhood. The transition from reader, to writer, was a natural one. Her first stories, penned on the lined pages of class notebooks, were inspired by her mother’s poetry and epic tales of travel, and a professorial inquisitiveness inherited from her father. Following college in Florida, Nell exited the world of pure imagination, and entered the one of business, successfully establishing a career in sales, and developing a cup-a-day habit (of coffee) that has served her well in the road she didn’t know lie ahead. Today, Nell writes during the spaces in-between domestic goddessing, and contributing as a managing partner to a thriving small business. Nell resides in Florida, with her husband and their children, passing on the traditions of her mother, and sinking her feet in the sand whenever possible.
Her favorite books are Pride and Prejudice, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Her favorite movies are Gladiator, The Outsiders, Pride and Prejudice, and Bridesmaids.
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What is In the Land of Milk and Honey about?
It’s a love story, at its heart. But there are mysteries to be solved, first. It takes off from there—that question—who fathered Bree’s son? True to life, answers aren’t always answers.
What is your writing background?
For all relevant intents and purposes, this book. I’ve done minor copy work, previously. And before that, loads of poetry and short stories in my youth.
Why would someone want to read In the Land of Milk and Honey?
The characters. The ‘family’ surrounding Bree, as she struggles to solve her life’s riddle. August, Jill, and Violet. Who wouldn’t want friends like that? The mysteries (more than one). And then there is Daniel Baird, of course. Just typing his name give me chills! Not all bad ones. Daniel’s character emerges in a visceral way. The son of a British Lord has that effect.
Who will like your book?
I think non-readers will enjoy it. I think readers of romance, adult and new, will enjoy it, and people who enjoy mystery, intrigue. It’s an escape. If you’ve read both Gillian Flynn and E. L. James, I hope I’m not being too fearless when I say: swipe right—it’s a match.
Where can In the Land of Milk and Honey be purchased?
It will be released exclusively on Amazon (EBook) this January 31st. You can follow on Instagram (@nellesdouglas), or Twitter (@nellesdouglas), for forthcoming updates on print, Barnes and Noble, Google, and iBooks.
What was your experience like writing In the Land of Milk and Honey?
Haha. Well. Like… purging myself of Bree’s life story, as though she were a real person whom I had all this empathy for. Crazy. I’ll add this quote:
No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing.
– E. B. White
I am extremely confident of the people who read in our genre—the women who read stories about love. Easy love, hard love, sexy love, complex love—and in Bree’s case, a mother’s love. I’m one of these readers. At no turn do I underestimate them. Reversing E. B.’s statement, I hope the conclusion is that I have written it decently, for them.