Rock Solid


Cover: Rock Solid - an Avalon Career Romance by Cheryl Cooke Harrington & Anne Norman
An Avalon Career Romance
from Montlake Publishing
in hardcover and on Kindle


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Cinderella . . . in work boots?

When landscape architect Rachel Jennings-Porter lost a nearly-new boot escaping the stranger at Quarry Lake, she counted herself lucky to get away. Once Riverdale's favorite swimming hole, it was Wellman land now—private property—destined to become an exclusive resort. Like it or not, Rachel was part of the team that would make it all happen.

The place was deserted, or should have been. Only nature had kept her company as she'd inventoried the site—rare and delicate orchids, soaring osprey, a sleepy brown turtle, sunning himself on the beach—until the mysterious and all-too-human stranger appeared in the water. Miles from town, Rachel had no intention of confronting the man alone. The Wellmans could chase their own trespassers.

When that same stranger showed up at her office, wearing a winsome smile and carrying her lost boot, Rachel faced an uneasy decision. Save Quarry Lake, or save her job? Her 'trespasser' was none other than Street Wellman himself—millionaire CEO of Wellman Enterprises and the firm's most important client. But he was no Prince Charming. And when that boot hit the table, her plans to make a good first impression flew right out the window.

Rock Solid © by Cheryl Cooke Harrington & Anne Norman

"Fast-paced" with "great characterizations." ~ Rendezvous






Rock Solid

Excerpt from Chapter One

     The gentle summer breeze suddenly vanished, leaving the air still and heavy with humidity. Puffing slightly from the exertion of the last few hours, Rachel leaned wearily against an old beech tree. It was hard work, trudging through the woods, painstakingly chronicling every interesting little plant, every group of trees, every animal. But she was finally finished, hot and sweaty, and ready for her swim.

     Ladies don't sweat, she remembered her mother telling her. Horses sweat. Gentlemen perspire. Ladies get all aglow. "Huh, I'm certainly glowing today, Mom," she muttered, and imagining she could hear the blue waters of Quarry Lake calling, Rachel made her way down the hill.

     The lake's azure blue water never failed to surprise her, even though she knew the simple cause. Such a brilliant colour, Caribbean swimming pool blue, and all because of the fine limestone dust, left behind by the quarrying so long ago. It hung suspended in the water, bending the light, fooling the eye. She felt better already, itchy to take off her shoes, to cool her feet in the refreshingly cold waters. Funny how she could almost hear splashing and childish laughter, an echo of happy times long past.

Wellman's Quarry Lake
Afternoon at Quarry Lake

     Sudden motion and a gentle splash drew her eye, and she followed the line of ripples a little farther along the shore. A big old turtle, his chestnut brown shell at least ten inches across, stared back at her from the shallows. She'd probably disturbed his siesta, she thought, delighted to discover he'd led her right to the orchids she'd hoped to find.

     Dropping to her knees, she touched a fragile bloom with one finger. She'd heard they grew here but had never seen one until today. And Wellman wanted to destroy it all. This was the very spot he'd proposed for the new marina. Hard steel and concrete to obliterate nature's gentle wonders. On the height of land overlooking the quarry, where the osprey now made its home, the lavish main house of Wellman's Riverdale Resort would stand and, ringing the lake, luxury condos, bringing the rich and famous to little Riverdale. But at what cost? So much would be lost, forever. She would have to make them listen. Somehow.

     Rachel reached for her camera. Old man turtle and the lady's-slippers. It was the perfect shot to finish her roll of film. He seemed indifferent, blinking sleepy eyes in her direction, flashing his bright yellow neck patch just as the shutter snapped. Perfect.

     How long had he lived in this peaceful place? she wondered, watching the turtle haul himself onto a sandy hummock. Probably longer than she'd been coming to swim, and that was a very long time. "I won't let you down, old man," she said, as he sleepily closed his eyes. "I promise."

     Backing slowly away, she left him to finish his afternoon nap. It was her turn for a bit of relaxation now, and she dropped to the ground, eagerly stripping off her shirt with a sigh of relief that the day's chores were done at last. The blue tank top clung to her flesh like a second skin in the heat. She was almost tempted to pull it off as well, but good sense prevailed. Tearing at the stubborn boot laces, she freed her feet, peeled off her sweaty socks (sorry, Mom, but that's sweat!), and plunged her burning feet into the cool comfort of the sparkling blue water.

     She stretched, arching her back to release all her pent-up tension, and dreamily closing her eyes. Reaching a lazy hand to adjust the brim of her cap, Rachel let it linger there for a moment, tracing the words 'Riverdale Raiders' with her finger. Peter's team. Peter's cap, now her trusty companion on every field trip, protecting her from sun and rain, and reminding her of him. Not that she needed any reminders.

     She smiled to recall the carefree summer days they'd spent here together, and wondered what he'd think of the part she'd been asked to play in its destruction. She wished she could ask his advice, talk it all over with him. If only...sometimes it was so hard to be alone.

     Rachel sighed, rolled her head again to loosen the tightness in her neck, tried to think of nothing but the cool, blue lake. Suddenly something flashed across the water, a burst of light that warned she was not alone. She grabbed her shirt, shoved her arms into the sleeves. It was inside-out, but she hardly noticed, mesmerized as she was by the flawless physical specimen emerging from the depths.


Excerpt from ROCK SOLID
© Cheryl Cooke Harrington & Anne Norman
Originally published in hardcover by Avalon Books
Now in hardcover and on Kindle from Montlake Publishing

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