Book Three of the Rosewood Trilogy
Ballantine Books (March 2012)
TROUBLE ISN'T THE ONLY THING ON HER MIND
The youngest and wildest of the Radcliffe sisters, Jade is the last to return home to her family's sprawling Virginia horse farm and its unsettling memories. She never planned on a night of passion with a stranger before starting her new life as a teacher and riding instructor--or the shock of recognizing the man who gave her so much pleasure standing in her classroom.
Officer Rob Cooper is stunned. Not only is the woman who rocked his world his daughter's second grade teacher, she's the troubled teen whom he blames for his wife's death years ago. Worse, he wants her more than ever in the light of day. Time has softened Jade's hard, rebellious edge--she's spirited, honest, and sexy to distraction. But will the feelings ignited in the heat of desire be enough to heal a past that needs forgiving?
Read the Reviews
"I really enjoyed the mature nature of this relationship, even when they let anger get in their way. I like Rob Cooper, a father with a lot of compassion and a man with a lot of sex appeal. I liked Jade who is more mature than her years due to the many issues she had to deal with. When her past returns to cause issues, it is fun to see how Rob, her sisters and her community rally around her. This is done in a way that seems realistic and not overly sentimental. Trouble Me is a good ending to the series and definitely will have me looking for more stories by Laura Moore, including the first two books in this series."/p>
The Romance Reader
"...Laura Moore tells a compelling story of how two people who were once bitter enemies with nothing in common can overcome their pasts to create an incredible future. Jade and Rob heat up the pages of Trouble Me from start to finish and in between the steamy scenes, we are once again treated to a glimpse in to the world of horses and training and showing them. Plus we finally get to the bottom of Jade's mom's diary and who the elusive TM is."
Romancing the Book
"Can two lost souls find even ground to have a chance at a future together?
Jade and Rob have an interesting dynamic. Both struggle with their pasts and are trying to move on with their lives. Although there's an instant attraction, there's also a dark history. The conflicts are well done, as are emotionally heartrending scenes that call for Kleenex. A minor complaint would be that some of Jade’s actions are rash and portions of the story are predictable due to them. However, the book is still a treat and Jade and Rob are wonderful together. Ms. Moore doesn’t simply pull a reader into her stories; she keeps them there, living in the moment, until they’re swept away by the experience. The chemistry between Jade and Rob is deliciously hot. They don’t heat up the pages, they make them sizzle and burn. Returning characters are also a welcome treat, as the reader learns what has happened to heroes and heroines from the past.
Fans of contemporary romance will love Trouble Me. Don’t miss this wonderful series..."
The Long and Short of It
"I really enjoyed this third and final book in the Rosewood trilogy. Ms. Moore has a way with words that immediately grabs your heartstrings and takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride while you turn each page. I loved her storyline and thought her characters were well-rounded individuals that I could very easily relate to. They had their flaws which made them realistic and easy to like because they were human in every way possible.
I loved the friction that Jade and Rob first had together and I loved seeing them come full circle in the end...If you’re in the market for a feel-good story with wonderful characters set on a beautiful Virginia horse farm, [then] look no further. This trilogy is definitely worth adding to your library and re-reading over and over again."
Night Owl Reviews
"...The third Rosewood contemporary romance is a wonderful tale starring two fascinating protagonists and a strong support cast..."
Genre Go Round Rreviews
"Moore fuses a love story with a tale of two people finally growing up and letting go of the past. The story is not rushed and the characters, who will be familiar to readers of Moore's other novels, are well rounded. There are no slow moments in this novel and despite the hefty page count, readers will be able to breeze through this story and maybe learn a thing or two about love and forgiveness along the way."
P. Nakia Garner
4 Stars - Hot
Jade Radcliffe had her iPod plugged in and cranked. But while the Black Eyed Peas were doing a fine job of keeping her awake after so many hours on the road, her Porsche’s windshield wipers weren’t doing squat. Even set to high, they couldn’t compete with the rain that was coming down in buckets. Route 95 had become a regular Slip-n-Slide. While sliding over water-slickened surfaces was a favorite summer amusement of her nieces and nephews, Jade had been driving too many hours. Her initial “Whheees” whenever the Porsche lost traction had turned into tired “Oh, shits.”
The traffic had slowed to a crawl, making the driving marginally safer. But at this speed there was no way she was going to reach Rosewood tonight. When she left Ocala, Florida, before dawn, she was confident that she would reach Rosewood, her family’s home in Virginia, by dinner time. She badly wanted to see them all, Margot and Travis and their kids, Georgiana, four, and Will, six months old now and thus starting to get interesting—-Margot was so besotted she sent Jade daily email updates with photo attachments chronicling Will’s achievements. Just as she’d done for Georgie. Jade was probably the only college student whose computer kept running out of storage space because she had so many e-photo albums of babies staring up at brightly colored mobiles or giving toothless grins in their high chairs.
The cute munchkins populating Rosewood didn’t stop there. Now there was also Jordan and Owen’s baby boy, Edward, nicknamed Neddy, who had been named after Ned Connolly. Having worked his entire life at Rosewood Farm, Ned was like family to Jade and her sisters; Owen and Jordan’s gesture had made the old man nearly burst with pride and joy.
And when it came to being completely gaga over their new baby, Jordan and Owen rivaled Travis and Margot.
Earlier in the spring, Jade got a video of Neddy taking his first steps, with Owen filming and narrating the clip. Owen was a pretty cool guy. Suave and sophisticated. But from the excitement in his voice, Neddy could as well have been Neil Armstrong, taking his first step on the moon for mankind, rather than tottering toward his big half-sister Olivia’s outstretched arms, while the rest of the Rosewood clan cheered him on.
Neddy would probably be fairly steady on his sneakers by now, she thought, and Kate, the oldest of the bunch from Jordan’s first marriage, was showing in children’s hunter classes and doing a really fine job on Doc Holliday. Yeah, Jade definitely wanted to be back in the Radcliffe-Maher-Gage fold, insane though her sisters were sometimes. She’d missed everyone this summer while she was down in Ocala, but now in addition to her brand-spanking-new college dual degree in anthropology and education, her training session in Florida had given her the right to boast when she began spreading the word about the riding program she was starting at Rosewood, that she was certified as a hunter/jumper trainer by the United States Hunter Jumper Association.
Through the swish of her windshield wipers Jade saw the sudden bright flare of brake lights as the cars ahead of her went from a crawl to a stop, turning the highway into a long, thin, rain-drenched parking lot.
She sat, drumming her hands to Phoenix’s ‘1901’ and jiggling her legs against the leather bucket seat so that at least something was moving. Damn and double damn. The dashboard clock read nine-thirty p.m. and she hadn’t even reached Norfolk yet. There was no way she’d make it to Rosewood tonight. It wouldn’t be right to show up on the doorstep at one a.m. and wake Margot and Travis. Moreover, if Margot heard she wanted to push on through in a storm this bad, she’d freak.
Perhaps she’d show Margot--and Jordan, as Jade knew Margot would get on the horn to her within seconds--how much she’d matured. Leagues removed from the Jade of yesteryear. And it was even all right to pick up her cell and speed dial since the car hadn’t moved an inch since she’d made her decision
Margot answered on the second ring. “Jade? Where are you? God, it’s pouring and the wind is picking up.”
“It’s pouring here, too. I’m stuck on 95 somewhere south of Norfolk--”
“Norfolk! That means you still have a good four hours of driving.”
More than that, Jade thought, since every car around her was going nowhere fast. A flash of lights in her rear view mirror alerted her to an ambulance coming up the breakdown lane. “There must be an accident up ahead. An ambulance just drove past. Listen, Margot, I’m going to get off at the next exit and find a place for the night. But I’ll hit the road first thing, so make sure somebody does a Braverman’s run. I’ve been dreaming of their cinnamon raisin bagels for the past two nights.”
“Stopping for the night is a very good idea.” Surprisingly, Margot didn’t sound stunned speechless by Jade’s announcement. “But, Jade, make sure it’s a nice place and well-lit.”
“Got it. No Bates motel for me.”
“Ha. Very funny. You’ll call as soon as you’ve checked in?”
“It might not be for a while yet.”
“That’s fine. And use the credit card on my account, sweetie. I want you to have a nice night.”
“Norfolk Ritz, here I come.”
“No need to get carried away,” Margot replied with a laugh. “But you’ll remember to call, right? I won’t be able to sleep until I know you’ve found a place and are safe and sound.”
“I’ll call,” she promised before hanging up.
As her legal guardian, Margot had probably passed a lot of sleepless nights while Jade was off at college. She’d have passed a lot more of them if she’d known some of the things Jade got up to on the weekends when she wasn’t competing with the collegiate equestrian team. A good acre of wild oats had been sown.
That was the old Jade, the one who sometimes felt the need to step right up to the edge, and do something crazy with a wild, fiery lick of danger. But though she’d had her share of parties and experiences, it hadn’t prevented her from getting straight A’s, being the top scorer on her riding team, writing a very popular advice column for the school paper, and receiving highest honors on her B.A. thesis. Her topic: horse dependent societies.
The four years of college parties and serial relationships—-she liked the sex just fine, but her life was way too busy to bother with the guys afterwards—-were over. She was coming home with a plan she intended to execute with the precision of a military campaign. She was going to dispel her hometown’s less than fond memories of her by being the most model of model citizens. Her activities would be restricted to teaching at Warburg’s elementary school, training Rosewood’s horses, and concentrating on building a young riders’ program. With the possible exception of a detective to uncover the identity of her mother’s lover, Jade was going to live a life of complete respectability.
Obviously, the campaign to present a blemish-free image would be easier if she didn’t have hiring a detective down on her to-do list. Unfortunately, discovering who the ‘TM’ was her mother had gushed about in her diary was an imperative. The need had sprung full blown inside Jade the second she’d accidentally stumbled upon her mother’s private journal in her half-sister Jordan’s closet.
Like curious Pandora with her box, she’d opened the gaudy pink diary and, recognizing her mother’s handwriting, started reading. Having entered Jordan’s closet simply to borrow a sleeveless ratcatcher for an upcoming horse show, she left it with her perception of her mother forever altered. Damningly so.
She’d not only learned that her mother had been having an affair with someone she called ‘TM’, she’d also learned in entry after entry the depths of her mother’s resentment and dislike for her only child. According to her mother, she was endlessly spoiled and obnoxious, a drain that sucked all the energy out of her.
If Jade was the black hole in her life, this TM was her sun, the frigging life-affirming center of her universe.
It must have utterly destroyed Dad to read those words. And he had read them. Her sister Margot had been the one to stumble upon the diary first, finding it in a drawer in his office desk. Jade knew her Dad well enough to realize that he’d have read the journal as obsessively as she, feeling more and more betrayed with each reading.
Jade despised whoever this TM was for getting involved with her mother. And since she now had access to the money her mother had left her, she saw no reason why she shouldn’t use it to hire a private eye. Dad would approve, even if Margot and Jordan didn’t. So the trick would be to make sure they never found out…
Thank God, the traffic ahead had begun to move. She was actually going to get to shift into first gear and leave these dark thoughts behind.
Jade found a hotel outside of Norfolk. The place was ablaze with lights. No Motel Bates-like feature about it. It occurred to her as she drove into the crammed parking lot that it might possibly be a bit too busy and, as she grabbed her duffel bag from the Porsche’s trunk, she hoped there was a free room.
The rain was still coming down in heavy sheets. In the few minutes it took to shoulder her bag, double check her car was locked and sprint across the parking lot, she was soaked. Stepping into the lobby, she blinked, disoriented by the bright lights and colors after staring into silvery blackness for so long.
Several guests were huddled around the reception desk, asking questions about breakfast and airport shuttles and what might entertain the kids if it was too wet to go to the beach tomorrow, and God-knows what else while she shivered slightly in the chill of the air-conditioning and left wet footprints on the plush maroon carpeting. Finally the last guest ambled happily toward the bank of elevators and she stepped up to the counter. Dropping her duffel bag and placing her ultra sweet Prada hobo bag (a graduation present from Margot) on top of the wooden counter, she smiled at the black-jacketed man behind the counter.
“May I help you?”
The receptionist was in his mid-thirties and looked as if he’d been on duty for a while, in other words, tired and harassed. He also wore a wedding ring. Deciding that he didn’t look the type to hit on her, she gave him a friendly smile. “Yes, please. I’d like a room for the night.”
“Do you have a reservation?”
“I’m afraid not.”
He expelled a breath. “I’ll have to check whether anything’s available. We’ve had a crazy week with two conferences going on. One ended yesterday, but we’ve just had a large wedding party arrive today.”
“I really hope you have something. I’ve been on the road all day driving up from Florida.”
He looked up, his brows raised. “From Florida?”
Jade nodded. “From Ocala. I’m heading to Warburg. The rainstorm started somewhere in North Carolina and then there was a pretty bad accident about twenty miles south of here. That’s when I realized it might be smart to call it a night. I Googled hotels in the area and yours had the best reviews. I’d like to avoid getting back in the car if at all possible.” Dragging her soaked hair from her face, she gave him another cheerful smile as if she had no doubt that he’d do everything in his power to help her avoid that as well.
Margot and Jordan would never guess how much she’d picked up from them when it came to the art of sweet-talking. It definitely had its uses. Like now.
“Well, you’re in luck. We do have a room. It has a king-sized bed, water views.”
She didn’t give a fig about the view since she’d be on her way to Rosewood at first light but a big bed would be heaven after the lumpy twin bunk bed she’d been assigned in Ocala.
“That sounds perfect.” Jade was already reaching into her bag. “Let me give you my credit card. Do you need my driver’s license, too?”
“Yes, and the license plate number of your car, please.”
As Jade waited for him to take down her information, the notes of a Rob Thomas song reached her. Turning her head toward the source, she saw couples wandering into a softly lit area.
“The bar looks nice.”
The clerk nodded, his eyes still fixed on the computer. “It’s got a dance floor and Ray, our DJ, plays good music. On a night like this, the guests really appreciate having a night spot they don’t have to drive to. Plenty of Norfolk residents like to come here for a night of dancing. Here you go, Miss Radcliffe.” He handed back her ID and credit card. “This is your electronic key. Your room number is 412. Take the elevator to the fourth floor and turn right down the hallway. The room will be on your right. Do you need help with your luggage?”
“No, thanks, I’ve got it.”
He smiled. “Then have a good night.”
“After nearly thirteen hours on the road, I’m going to sleep like a baby.”