Date Published: September 21, 2015
Some people run for exercise while others run for fun. Abby Stone spends most days running for her life.
After Abby Stone’s ex-boyfriend shows up at her new hideout and she uses a bottle of wine as an impromptu weapon, calling the police is out of the question. His family has a knack for erasing charges and pesky restraining orders. Desperate, she prays for help. A magical suitcase appears and she’s compelled to play an unsettling game involving a sexy, kind stranger while staying one breath ahead of her stalker.
Dylan Reece has overcome tragedy and enjoys life as a single Key West handyman and fisherman. Yet Abby’s sad, wary eyes hold secrets and a chance for his redemption, if not more…
Will the magic of their love be enough to save them?
His mouth was so kissable. All she had to do was lean forward, and their lips would meet. “Whatever. Sounds great.”
He smiled at her, a glint in his eyes. “I knew you’d choose open water.” He indicated her tote bag. “Take only what you need. Your stuff will be safe here.” He slid the sunglasses on and returned to his side of the truck.
Abby shook her head to clear the sexual fog before opening her door and stepping out of the truck. Boats of all sizes, from little motor boats to sailboats and yachts, bobbed in the crystal blue waters just beyond the boardwalk. White gulls perched on pilings like mini bird statues, and the floating docks below creaked in time to the rhythm of the rolling waves. Her shoulders relaxed as she sucked in the ocean air.
Dylan joined her. “No matter how long I live here, I’ll never be immune to the island’s beauty.” He took her hand. “C’mon. It’s over here.”
They strolled onto the boardwalk, past shops, around a corner along the water’s edge where mouthwatering aromas of surf and turf spilled from seaside restaurants and tourists posed for photos or headed for fun on the water like them. She stopped to snap a photo for a happy couple on their honeymoon while Dylan walked ahead of her around another bend.
The couple thanked her, and she turned to catch up with Dylan. She was just about there when she heard him call out to someone.
Had this all been some elaborate trap? Abby clapped a hand over her mouth and ducked between two tour booths next to the boardwalk before peeking out.
Dylan greeted a short, dark-haired guy with a pat on the shoulder.
She scanned the boardwalk. It was empty aside from the two men.
She released a breath and stepped back onto the boardwalk. Heat rose to her cheeks, and she smoothed her hair before continuing toward them.
The shorter man glanced at Abby as she approached and turned to Dylan with a grin. “Now I understand why I haven’t seen you the past couple weeks.”
Dylan shrugged, not bothering to correct him. “This is my friend, Abby.” He took her hand in his. “Abby, this is my buddy, Kyle.”
“Friend, huh?” Kyle glanced at their clasped hands. “I’ve never seen you hold hands with any woman before, man. I think there’s way more going on here than friendliness.” He chuckled.
Dylan ignored the guy’s good-natured ribbing. “So, where are those wave runners we talked about?”
Kyle smirked. “Well, I was worried you’d be upset, man, ‘cause right after you called I found out the last two single riders were booked, but lucky for you, I’ve got a two-rider available.” He winked at Dylan and shot Abby a smile.
Dylan turned to her. “Still want to go? You can drive.”
She pictured herself snuggled against his back, the wind in their hair and sun on their faces as they floated around the lush, green island. She nodded. “Why don’t you drive first and then I’ll take a turn once I get the hang of it.”
Kyle grabbed a clipboard from a nearby booth. “Sounds like a plan, man. Just sign here, and the baby’s yours for the afternoon.”
They signed the waivers stating the wave runner company wasn’t responsible for potential loss of life and limb. Maybe she should have brought that ace bandage for its intended purpose.
Dylan nudged her shoulder. “It’s just a form. No worries, remember?”
He traded Kyle the clipboard for a key. “Thanks. See you in a few.” Dylan slipped his hand back into hers to help her navigate a narrow metal dock. “Watch your step. These can be tricky.” They wobbled about a third of the way before stopping at a smaller, attached floating dock with assorted watercraft.
Dylan pointed to a Jet Ski that appeared big enough for three people. “You sure you want me to drive?”
It would be easier to tell him the rest of her tale if she didn’t have to concentrate on driving. “Yes.” She stepped onto the smaller dock and straddled the back of the machine.
“You forgot your vest.”
Dylan tossed her a vest from the selection on the railing next to the floating dock and moved to help her buckle the straps. He was all business until he finished. Then he just stood there, looking down at her from behind his sunglasses, a goofy smile plastered across his face.
He cleared his throat and turned to put on his vest, the moment between them ending.
Abby half listened to his water safety instructions—until he straddled the seat in front of her and she was lost in the wonder of his body close to hers. Her thoughts of how to tell him about her Kyle, her past, and fears for the future melted away. Giving into surging hormones, her hands slid along his vest and lower, touching his flat stomach. She relished the feel of taut muscles through his tee shirt.
His breath hitched and he moved her hands back onto his vest. “Hold onto the straps. Tight.”
“Okay.” She heard the smile in her voice. Focus, Abby, or else you may regret leaving the ace bandage behind.
He pushed the wave runner back from the dock, and they slid into the water, floating in a half circle to face the marina’s waterway through the harbor. He started the engine and glanced back at her. His mouth moved, but the machine drowned his words.
She smiled and nodded. Did it matter what he said? She trusted him. I trust him? She tilted her head back, closed her eyes, and soaked in the sun.
Abby Stone has an ex that won’t leave her alone. It doesn’t help that she blames herself for ever getting involved with the joker that possesses an uncanny ability to find her wherever she goes. And surprise! He’s done it again. While she has no allies in this ongoing war, she finds that a bottle of wine smashed over his noggin does the trick. Unfortunately, Kyle won’t stay knocked out forever. (Darn!) He’ll be recovering consciousness in no time and using his brain power to track her down again. She scrambles to devise a plan of escape to a location where she remain hidden, but the arrival of a red suitcase interrupts her scheming, and changes the course of her destiny.
ONE MORE SUNSET by Jolyse Barnett was a fabulous book that I really enjoyed. It had a great storyline and I was hooked from the word go. The protagonist, Abby Stone, was a sympathetic character and she had me rooting for her to prevail and overcome the horrible situation she was stuck in. The writing was excellent and made the story very readable and go quick, quick, quick, like a bunny. The pacing was outstanding and I very much liked the touch of magic that was introduced. The element of fantasy gave the story a sense of whimsy, and also hope, which is exactly what Abby needed. I should add that the two purveyors of magic, Elpida and Lysis, were just plain delightful. In fact, I was really, really into this book for three-quarters of the way. It’s at the point I ran into some problems.
If you’ve read my other reviews, you know I hate dumb characters, and I’m not talking when they make a mistake or bad decision. In fact, I think including those types of missteps only adds realism. What I detest is when a supposedly smart character is just plain stupid. That’s the case here. Without giving any spoilers away, Abby knew what she was dealing with, and she still chose to make the most ridiculous, foolish moves someone in her situation could possibly make. What I really resented was that she not only put herself in danger, but endangered the life of someone she loved by being such a stubborn jerk. I also did not like her response to someone (again, no spoilers) helping out a woman in a similar situation. What she said was uncalled for and she never did apologize. The combination completely sucked all sympathy for this character out of me, and at that point, I didn’t care what happened to her, but that’s me. I would have so much preferred for her to act smartly and be outfoxed through no fault of her own. Overcoming a situation she didn’t put herself in would have been much more satisfying and kept my sympathy for her intact.
Even so, I definitely can recommend ONE MORE SUNSET. It’s exceedingly well-written by an author that I will read again. Ms. Barnett knows how to write and keep our interest. Plus the story was unique, the plot clever and the characters memorable. It’s a taut suspense thriller that will have you turning pages, but because of the problems mentioned above, I’m giving this a 4.0 instead of a 5.0.
Author Jolyse Barnett writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. As a little girl growing up in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Champlain, she enjoyed chasing fireflies, riding her ten-speed bike on winding country roads, and playing horseshoes at family picnics through endless summers. Winter was another kind of adventure for an active kid, with skiing in the Adirondack Mountains, trips to the local public library to feed a voracious reading habit, and ice skating with her siblings on a frozen pond near her childhood home. Much to the confusion of her peers, she discovered the thrill of storytelling at a young age, often forgetting to differentiate between fact and fantasy. Thankfully her fifth grade teacher encouraged her to memorize poems and create her own—unleashing her inner writer. After graduating from high school, she developed a more practical side. She earned a degree in Writing, fell in love with her best friend, and now lives her happily-ever-after in Long Island suburbia. Who knew the dream home would include a leaky kitchen faucet, piles of laundry, and a too-hairy cat? But with love, it's all good. She enjoys a fulfilling day job where she shares her love of language and explores the world one vacation at a time with her two children and real-life hero. Jolyse loves to connect with her readers. You can find her social media links and book news at http://jolysebarnett.com