His Heart's Desire

Loving Hearts #1

June 3, 2014 - eBook & Print; November 4, 2016 - Audiobook

Two best friends find a fairy-tale love in this emotional and sweetly sensual contemporary romance.

Rebecca Anderson always dreamed of happily-ever-afters, but those dreams were shaken when she had to leave vet school to nurse her dying mother. They were completely shattered when her boyfriend betrayed her in the cruelest possible way. Crushed and lonely, Becca seeks out the one person she knows she can trust–her best friend, Ethan.

Successful CEO Ethan Montgomery has loved Becca since the day he met her while volunteering at a local animal shelter. Seeing her emotionally broken on his doorstep stirs his protective instincts. He tenderly cares for her, but knows that Becca will need time and space to heal her battered heart.

When Becca realizes that the white knight of her fantasies has been right in front of her this whole time, she begins to dream again of her future–one that includes Ethan. But their undeclared love is put to the test when Ethan's wealth and power, as well as a woman from his past, threaten to tear them apart. Will a surprise invitation from Ethan finally fulfill all of Becca's romantic fantasies and prove that only she is... His Heart's Desire?

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Your purchase of His Heart's Desire benefits Best Friends Animal Society, the largest no-kill animal shelter in the US. For more information, please visit my charities page.

Meet the Characters

Hero: Ethan Montgomery

Heroine: Rebecca "Becca" Anderson

Key Supporting Characters: Alexis Montgomery, Ryan Fielding, Nathan Montgomery, Edna Moffat, Todd Davis

Villains: Lindsay Harris, Jay Cavanaugh

Pets: Buddy, Miss Kitty

Book Excerpt

Follow Julianna's board His Heart's Desire on Pinterest.

Chapter 1

It was the worst day of Rebecca Anderson's life.

She sat in the dry shelter of her little Honda Civic, weeping uncontrollably. She doubled over to rest her head on the steering wheel as the painful memories of what had happened that day sliced through her like a knife. Her arms were crossed tightly over her chest, as though protecting that most vulnerable part of herself, while violent sobs wracked her body. Having descended into the depths of despair over an hour ago, she couldn't seem to turn off the anguished voices in her head.

What was she going to do without her mom? Why did she leave Ethan this afternoon? How could she ever have thought that a guy like Jay would make a good boyfriend? She shouldn't have trusted him for a minute, much less months. She'd been a fool!

Now she was faced with the harsh truth. Her mother was gone. Her virginity was gone. And her boyfriend had been nothing but an illusion.

All she had left was her friendship with Ethan, though her stupid choice would probably make her look foolish even to him. She wanted nothing more than to seek the comfort of his arms. But wasn't it the desire for human contact that had gotten her into this mess in the first place? The logical part of her brain reasoned that Ethan could never be as cruel as Jay had been tonight. The mere thought of Jay's betrayal sent her into another round of gut-wrenching sobs, making it impossible for her to contemplate it further.

Finally, the sorrow subsided enough for her to lift her head. She stared sightlessly into the bleak night. Around midnight, the gray clouds that had blanketed Phoenix all day finally released their burden in a rare torrential downpour. Between the rain cascading over Becca's windshield and the tears obscuring her vision, Ethan's house was nothing more than an indistinct blur despite being only a few yards away. A war of indecision raged in her mind over whether to go to Ethan or go home. As she reached for the ignition, a memory of the last conversation they'd had before parting ways late this afternoon came roaring back to her with vivid clarity.

Ethan started toward the front door of her apartment, grabbing his suit jacket from the back of the sofa on the way. He reached for the doorknob, but instead of opening it, he turned and covered the distance between them in a two long strides. He grabbed her hands, squeezing them tightly, his green eyes holding hers with a startling intensity. “Promise me something, Becca.”

She stared back, puzzled by his bizarre behavior. “What, Ethan?”

He loosened his grip on her hands, but still held her gaze with compelling force. “Promise me that you'll either come to me or call me anytime, day or night, if you need anything. Anything at all.”

She nodded, feeling moisture in her eyes. “I promise,” she replied softly.

Ethan leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on her forehead. He then released her hands, opened the door, and stepped out into early evening air thick with the scent of rain.

Becca couldn't believe she'd forgotten his words. It was almost like he'd had a bad premonition. If only she'd had the same gut feeling, she wouldn't be in this predicament now.

As she continued to contemplate her situation, the irrational, negative voices in her head warned that she might lose Ethan's friendship for being such an idiot, but she pushed them away. Instead, she replayed their conversation again and again until she finally convinced herself that he was indeed the one person she could trust. Eventually, the need to share her pain won out over her feelings of embarrassment and despondency, compelling Becca to leave the dry confines of her car.

Since she had no umbrella and no jacket, the huge drops of rain pelted her skin, sending an instant chill through her body. Even with the deluge pouring over her, instantly soaking her clothes and hair, she couldn't seem to make her feet move quickly. They felt like massive weights, which had to be dragged along one plodding step at a time.

After what seemed like an eternity, she finally reached Ethan's front porch. Her legs, weak from exhaustion, were no longer able to bear the heaviness of her heart. She leaned against the front door and then promptly slumped to the porch floor in a sodden heap.

Deleted Scene - Becca's Nightmare

Where was it?: It was originally the beginning of Chapter 3.

Why I wrote it: I wanted to show how affected Becca had been by the day's events and how scary her dream actually was.

Why it didn't work: After giving it a lot of thought, I realized it was slowing the pace of the story and didn't really add anything crucial to the plot.

She was wandering alone in the desolate desert near nightfall. Her thin blouse offered scant protection against the chill permeating the air. Storm clouds roiled above, threatening to unleash a torrent of rain at any moment. She desperately searched for any sign of civilization, but there was none. Lost, she trudged on, not knowing if she was going in the right direction or not. As the final fingers of twilight disappeared beyond the cloud-streaked horizon, the unfamiliar sounds of the night reached her ears in a deafening cacophony. They frightened her. One noise rose above the discordant symphony of all the others – a hiss accompanied by a “kshhh, kshhh” that reminded her of maracas she'd heard in a mariachi band. Startled, her head quickly swung to the right. A rattlesnake coiled at the base of a scrub bush only a few feet from her, poised to strike.

Petrified, she whispered, “Please, go away. Go find something else to bite. You don't want me.” Why was she was talking to a snake? Perhaps she was losing her mind from hunger, thirst and cold. The snake stared into her eyes; its forked tongue probed the air between them. Suddenly it hissed, “You're right. I don't want you.” The voice sounded like Jay with a lisp. “I had fun toying with you though. You're so gullible. A movie here, a nice word there, and I got you right where I wanted you, ripe for the picking. Your mom dying just made it a whole lot easier.” The snake thew its head back, laughing in short hissing bursts. Taking advantage of the serpent's momentary distraction, she quickly seized a rock from the ground and threw it at the snake, then ran as fast as she could in the other direction.

She ran until her leg muscles ached, only to trip and tumble down a rocky embankment. Bruised, scraped and sore, she sat up. She couldn't see well in the murky darkness, but there appeared to be dry, stony earth beneath her. Just then, a violent wind whipped through her miniature valley, taking her breath away and chilling her to the bone. The rain began to patter, first in large drops and then with torrential fury, soaking her inadequate clothing in seconds. She desperately needed help, but there was no one. She knew she needed to keep going. She tried to get up, but loneliness, grief and terror weighed so heavily upon her, she couldn't move. Tears streamed down her face.

In the midst of her sobbing, a roar of rushing water met her ears, but before she could react a flash flood swept through the desert wash and carried her away. She fought against the rushing water for what seemed like hours, but the powerful current kept pulling her under. Too exhausted to continue her struggle, she was about to give in to the siren song of death when a bright light illuminated her watery prison. The gentle, ethereal voice of her mother broke through the crashing noise of the raging river. “Hold on, Becca. It's not time for you to join me yet. You still have many years of living to do, with much happiness ahead. I've sent someone to help you. Just hold on...,” the voice slowly faded along with the soft glow, momentarily leaving her feeling even more alone.

Her mother's words continued to flow through her mind, giving her strength. In that moment, her flailing arm was grabbed from above by a firm, strong hand. Her head finally broke the surface, and she found herself hauled back onto dry land. She coughed up water and gasped for breath, as two muscular arms wrapped her against a warm chest. She raised her head to see her savior, but dark shadows shrouded his face. Even though she couldn't identify the stranger, she knew he was the one her mother had spoken of. He whispered in her ear. The words were indiscernible, as though they were coming from far away, but it didn't matter. They comforted her, and she no longer felt afraid...or lonely. Peace washed over her as the nightmare faded from her mind.

Credits

Editor: Jillian Leigh @ First Look for Authors

Cover Designer: Jaycee DeLorenzo @ Sweet 'n' Spicy Designs

Cover Images: Jimmy Thomas @ Romance Novel Covers

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