She’s guarding a secret…one that, if it’s discovered, will destroy everything she’s worked so hard to gain.
In order to claim her inheritance, Jordan Shaw is forced to return to her hometown. She changes her name and opens a flower shop, praying no one will ever learn the truth about her past. But when she meets Luke Kincaid, her carefully-constructed walls come tumbling down…even though she’s convinced he’s married.
He’s in love with two women at the same time…one of whom he’s never even seen.
When Luke wanders into Jordan’s flower shop to buy a gift for his mother’s birthday, Jordan falls off a ladder and into his arms. But this encouraging beginning quickly turns to anger and accusations. What could he have possibly done to make Jordan hate him? And how can he have such strong feelings for her when he also finds himself falling for MJ—a troubled young woman he has met only through her long-lost diary?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: The Journey to Jordan by Debbie Lee is a contemporary romance. The story revolves around Jordan, who returns to her hometown many years after her father fled town with his secretary and absconded with some of the local bank’s money. Jordan and her mother, brother, and grandmother moved away after the scandal broke, but now her grandmother has died, and if Jordan wants her inheritance, she has to return home and start a small business.
Jordan opens a flower shop, hoping no one will connect her with her past, and meets Luke, who comes in to buy his mother flowers for her birthday. But the way he phrases the card makes Jordan think he’s married, which of course leads to all kinds of misunderstandings when Luke shows an interest in Jordan. Not wanting to be the other woman, Jordan tries to resist the gorgeous hunk and almost succeeds. Almost.
Add in a little suspense when her no-account father shows up to recover his stolen money from the old house where they used to live, and you have a lighthearted and interesting story that’s fun to read. There’s no sex, but I guess sometimes you just can have everything. The plot is strong and the characters well-developed.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: I like my romances with some action and suspense, and while The Journey to Jordan by Debbie Lee doesn’t have quite as much as I’d like, I enjoyed it nonetheless. I will admit that I had a few questions about the plot, such as why Jordan was so worried that people in her hometown would find out about her past. Since it was her father that stole the money and not Jordan, I wasn’t convinced it would ruin Jordan’s future if the townspeople found out. That said, however, it was clear that Jordan believed it wholeheartedly. And since I have never really lived in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business, perhaps she had some valid concerns.
I enjoyed the characters and found them, especially Luke, well-developed and complex. I didn’t mind the lack of sex, since holding off until marriage to have sex seemed to fit Jordan’s way of thinking, even though it is a little outmoded and old fashioned. There are some people who still think that way. Aren’t there? There was lots of sexual tension, though, and that worked for me. I also thought the plot was strong, with some nice twists and turns. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the bad guy, or even having Jordan in some serious danger, but that is just the kind of books I like. As it was, The Journey to Jordan was entertaining and enjoyable.
“Sold it! What do you mean you sold it?” the young woman demanded, her voice filled with despair. She glared at the bank manager. “But Mr. Armbrewster, you knew I’ve been working as hard as I could to save the down payment. I only needed a few more months.”
“I’m sorry, but we held it as long as we could. I’m sure you can find another place around here to purchase.”
“My grandfather built that house. I was raised in it. How could you sell it without contacting me first?”
“The bank was under no obligation to notify you. We received an offer from someone else, and the deal closed about two weeks ago,” the pudgy, balding man responded. He blinked at her from behind his large, oak desk and added, “That’s business. Besides Miss, it’s just a house.”
“Not to me it isn’t.” The shimmer of unshed tears in her eyes had no effect on the manager’s heart of stone.
She couldn’t believe she’d lost the chance to purchase her childhood home. Needing to see it one more time, she drove to the edge of town. Her stomach fluttered nervously as she turned onto the gravel road and eased her car down the long driveway. Tears rolled slowly over her bottom lashes as she stared at the house through her windshield. Memories…that’s all she had left.
Luke Kincaid leaned his back against the rear quarter panel of the faded green pickup wondering if he’d made a huge mistake. With his legs crossed at the ankles, he slid his thumbs into the front pockets of his worn jeans. His well-trained eyes surveyed the weather-beaten exterior of the old house. The building sat back off the paved street down a long, gravel road, visible only to people traveling west out of town and then only for a short time.
It was a white, two-story Craftsman with a sweeping driveway that curved in front of the spacious porch. On the other side of the driveway, there was a section of ground edged with large stones, and in the center stood the remnants of a crumbling water fountain. His mind’s eye imagined the lush, green grass that had once covered the area, but now there were only tangled patches of dead, overgrown weeds.
Luke had passed by this place hundreds of times and had always wondered about the story behind it. Who used to live here? Why didn’t anybody seem to care about it anymore? Why had it been abandoned and left to deteriorate in the sun and the snow and the rain?
Peeling paint exposed small sections of bare wood peeking out here and there, and a few of the blue shingles were missing. Yet as his eyes scanned the outside of the house, all Luke thought was how grand it must have been in its day. And how he’d planned to remodel it into something new and fresh, while doing his best to keep the true character of the home intact. I hope you know what you’ve gotten yourself into. His inner voice of reason challenged the impulsive side of him, the one that had made the decision to buy this “fixer-upper.”
Luke’s plan was to renovate the old house then sell it to somebody who wanted to open a bed and breakfast. They seemed to be popular nowadays in Oregon, at least that’s what he’d heard at the last contractor’s convention. No matter how successful his construction company was, it never hurt to have a little cushion, considering the ups and downs of the housing market. He had just signed the papers at the bank two weeks ago, buying the property for next to nothing. Luke hoped he could make a sizable profit, especially since he’d be doing most of the work himself.
This afternoon, he wanted to take some measurements and make a list of the supplies he’d need to get started. The rickety, wooden steps leading to the porch sagged and complained under his weight. “That’s the first thing I need to take care of after it warms up a bit,” he said aloud before drawing a quick sketch, noting the dimensions.
He turned the antique doorknob and, with a bump of his hip, entered the house. There was no need for a key; after all, there was nothing of value left to steal. The rusty hinges squeaked their protest at being asked to work after all this time.
Gutting the kitchen would be his first project inside the house. Luke measured the space for new cabinets and countertops then drafted a rough diagram of the layout on his clipboard, adding the specifications for new appliances. The next step would be deciding whether to put in ceramic tile or restore the wood floors in this room. As the late afternoon daylight started to fade, a chill filled the house. He knew he’d have to inspect the rest of the interior and the surrounding property another day.
Pulling the front door firmly shut, he walked to his truck and threw his notes onto the passenger seat before brushing the dust off his denim work shirt and jeans. He was anxious to get home so he could start working on his plans for the house. Patches of snow dotted the ground, but the driveway had absorbed the spring sunshine, and it was dry. Luke was thankful he wouldn’t have to deal with mud getting tracked in during the renovation. With one last glance in the rearview mirror, a warmth spread through his heart and made him smile. The outline of the house faded, barely visible now, obscured by the dust kicked up by the truck tires on the gravel road. Wondering about the consequences of his impulsive decision once again, Luke shook his head before pulling out onto the paved road and heading for town.
He was almost home when he remembered that tomorrow was his mom’s birthday and he’d forgotten to order her flowers. Swear words shot from his mouth as he hit the steering wheel with the heel of his hand. Most of the time he ordered them online, but he’d been too busy with work and trying to get everything settled to buy the old house these last few weeks.
Glancing at his watch, he realized he’d have to hurry and find a flower shop before they closed. He was sure he’d seen a florist sign at the mall where he’d gotten his haircut last Wednesday. As a rule, he didn’t pay much attention to places like that. It had been a long time since there had been a special woman in his life to buy flowers for, except his mother.
Driving around the crowded lot, he scanned the names of the businesses and, to his relief, there it was. The Petal Pusher. Odd name, he thought, but as long as they could deliver his order tomorrow, he didn’t care what words were painted on the front window. He parked his truck in front of the quaint little shop. A bell chimed as he entered through the bright yellow door. Even though the store was small, the displays were colorful and creative, the owner had maximized the space without it looking overcrowded. Fragrances from all the different types of flowers filled the air. It smelled sweet and fresh, like a woman.
“I’ll be right with you,” a feminine voice called from out of sight on the other side of the shop.
“No problem,” Luke responded. He went in search of the female employee, but paused for a moment to notice the different shades of roses in the glass display case.
When he rounded the corner he found a woman standing on her tiptoes at the top of a stepladder. She was reaching for a box high on a shelf. He noticed that her body was slender and fit, like an athlete’s. Her hair was light brown, pulled back into a loose ponytail. She was wearing jeans and a pink t-shirt that hugged her feminine shape. Her small, round behind was about eye-level with him and he wondered if she would be embarrassed by his assessment. Luke liked what he saw.
“Do you need some help?” he offered.
“No, I’ve got it, thanks.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, she stretched a little too far to the right and lost her balance. Luke rushed forward, catching her in his arms. She let out a scream the same time the cardboard box and its contents of glass bowls crashed to the floor.
Suddenly, Luke was face to face with an attractive young woman cradled in his arms. She stared up at him wide-eyed, obviously shocked that she hadn’t landed among the glass shards. As they gazed at each other, his heart began to pound. He’d never encountered eyes like hers before; they were a blue-green color, the same shade he’d seen in pictures of water off the Hawaiian coast. “Are you ok?”
Jordan Shaw couldn’t speak. Heat raced through her veins. She was looking into the face of one of the most handsome men she’d seen in a long time. His arms were strong, but gentle, as he held her against his warm, masculine body.
Luke helped her stand and then steadied her while she regained her balance. Without warning, and for reasons he couldn’t explain, he wished he didn’t have to let go of this beautiful woman. A strong desire to pull her back into his arms washed over him.
Embarrassed by the fact that a customer had saved her from falling to the floor, Jordan cleared her throat, self-consciously tucking a few wayward strands of hair behind one ear. “Um, yes. I’m fine. Thank you.” Her mind reeled as she fought against the sensations her body experienced while being held in his muscular arms. The face of another handsome man from her past flashed through her mind along with the gut-wrenching memories he’d left behind.
“You can let go now,” she instructed, re-adjusting the hard exterior she’d built around her heart to protect her from the pain good-looking men like him always seemed to bring with them. Those tingles and flutters were a trap to draw you in and make you vulnerable. Jordan refused to be sucked into that game again. She’d played before—and lost. Pulling her thoughts together, she straightened her clothes.
“Excuse me while I get a broom to clean up this mess.” When she returned from the back room, she began sweeping up the glass fragments. As she reached for the dustpan she’d set on the counter, her fingers came into contact with the man’s hand.
His gaze met hers, “Here let me help you with that.” His dark eyes flashed with electricity. Jordan felt it surge up her arm and come to rest in her heart.
She was just about to protest, but her voice was nowhere to be found. When the last pieces of glass were safely deposited in the trash, she brought out a hand-held vacuum to make sure all the tiny slivers were removed from the floor. Setting the appliance aside after making several swipes over the tile, she finally stepped behind the counter. “How may I help you?”
Luke wasn’t sure what had just happened. One minute, the captivating eyes of this woman were soft as they stared into his, the next, they were cold and distant. But there was no denying that something powerful and real had passed between them in those few seconds—something he wasn’t prepared for.
“I need to order some flowers to be delivered tomorrow. Sorry for the short notice.” A sheepish grin lifted the corners of his lips. “But it’s very important and I’ll pay extra if I need to.”
“It shouldn’t be a problem as long as I have the flowers in stock. Do you know what you would like or do you need to look through one of the sample books?” Her voice’s blunt tone was all business.
“I know what I want.” He paused while Jordan took out an order form. “I’d like a dozen each red, pink, purple, and yellow roses. Could you please put them in a tall silver vase like the one in that picture over there?” He motioned to a poster on the wall by the display of artificial plants.
After Jordan noted his choice of container, he added, “Could you please add baby’s breath and some greenery, too?”
“Of course, sir.” She glanced up at him, wondering how a guy dressed in a dirty pair of jeans and work shirt could afford such an expensive arrangement. This wasn’t a bouquet for a casual affair. The person he was sending these flowers to was obviously someone very special to him. “What’s the address where you’d like these to be delivered?”
She repeated the address to make sure she’d written it correctly then raised her head again and looked at him. Jordan was met by a sexy smile, made even more devastating as deep dimples danced on each cheek. She tried to ignore the sudden and unwanted sparks surging through her.
“Do you have a card you’d like to send along with the flowers?” Her voice cracked slightly after the brief encounter with his charming brown eyes, dotted with flecks of gold. “If not, we have some small ones you can choose from.” She pointed toward the end of the counter with her pen.
He reached over and selected a blank card with a feminine border. Taking just a moment to jot down a few words, he gave it to her.
Happy Birthday Beautiful!
I love you!
After sneaking a quick glance at the card, she clipped it to the order form, totaling the cost for the flowers, including the delivery charge. “How would you like to pay for this today?”
She certainly didn’t seem very friendly, Luke thought as he handed her a credit card. She ran it through the machine, and when the transaction was completed, she looked up at him.
“Here’s your card and a copy of the invoice, Mr. Kincaid. They will be delivered tomorrow before three o’clock.”
“Please, call me Luke,” he said. A small, terra cotta flowerpot full of business cards sat next to the cash register…THE PETAL PUSHER – Jordan Shaw, owner. “It’s been a pleasure, Jordan.” Seeing the look of confusion on her face, he raised the embossed card wedged between his thumb and index finger, answering the mystery of how he knew her name. “Thank you for your help.”
Just as his hand wrapped around the doorknob to leave, she stopped him. “Oh, Mr. Kincaid—”
He turned to face her. “It’s Luke, remember?” he said with a wink.
Jordan stiffened. He’d just ordered an expensive bouquet of flowers for another woman, signing the card “I love you!” and now he was standing there flirting with her. What a jerk! Still, she should say something about what happened with the ladder. After all, she could have been seriously hurt. “I just wanted to thank you…you know, for earlier.”
The way Luke’s eyes danced when he looked at her caused sensations she’d buried long ago to rush through her again, and she didn’t like it. Well…she shouldn’t like it.
He could tell by the tone of her voice that she was still a little embarrassed. “You’re very welcome, Jordan. It was my pleasure. I’m always willing to help a beautiful damsel in distress,” he said, adding a theatrical bow and a playful wave of his hand.
He headed home to work on his plans for renovating the old house. A new project always excited him, the step-by-step process of taking something worn and turning it into something new. Every now and then, he would find his mind wandering to the incident that afternoon with the pretty florist. He liked the way she’d felt in his arms and the look she’d given him. But then her demeanor had changed, confusing him. Not that he had the time, or the inclination, to concern himself with her, or any other female for that matter.
Shaking Jordan’s face from his head, Luke once again turned his attention to the plans in front of him. But his efforts didn’t last very long. Soon he caught himself smiling at the way her eyes had locked with his, and how for a split second he’d had the overwhelming desire to kiss her. And that would’ve been a crazy thing to do, more than likely resulting in a swift slap across his face. Realizing he wasn’t going to get any more work done tonight, he switched off the desk lamp and went to bed.
Even after Luke left her shop, Jordan felt confused by the unexpected feelings their brief encounter had stirred up in her. Why do I always have to tangle with losers like that? All the way home, his handsome face wouldn’t fade from her thoughts.
Pulling into the garage, she could hear the familiar barking sound that welcomed her home every evening.
“Odie! Be quiet!” Jordan shouted as she walked into the house. “Yeah, I missed you, too.”
Her voice was more gentle now as she reached down to ruffle his fur. The little tan and white terrier mix, who resembled Hollywood’s Benji, was jumping up and down and running in circles. He was always so excited to see her at the end of the day. Laughing at his silly antics, she remembered the day she’d adopted him from the local humane society. He was quite a little character. He’d been the last puppy left from his litter and when Jordan walked by him, he tipped his head, emitting a low whine. Her heart had melted into a puddle on the concrete floor of the kennel. He’d been the “man” of the house ever since.
As Jordan fell asleep that night, Luke Kincaid’s rugged face crept uninvited and unwelcomed into her dreams. She struggled to push aside the image of his sexy smile and masculine embrace, and kept reminding herself that she had no business thinking about him. He had a “someone special”—and that made him off limits.
Besides, Odie kept her from getting too lonely. He was her most loyal of confidants. The only male in her life she could trust without question.