Opposites attract, but will their differences derail their relationship? #12booksforChristmas @Sharon_Cooper1 #AARomance

We've picked some of our favourite romantic reads to keep you warm this festive season in our #12booksforChristmas

Title: Love at Last
Author: Sharon C. Cooper
Genre: Contemporary Romance

❤❤❤❤❤  "This was a warm and wonderful story that showed that you can find love and happiness at any age." ~ Maya πŸ˜˜


Carolyn Jenkins has never had a problem getting a man, but keeping one is another story. After two failed marriages and numerous short-term relationships, she’s ready to wave the white flag and give up on love. Yet, with Christmas quickly approaching, she dreads spending the holiday alone. Will a chance encounter with a handsome stranger make all of her Christmas wishes come true?

After thirty years of a nearly perfect marriage, widower Lincoln Richwood struggles to move on with his life. The idea of dating at his age seems daunting … until he meets the vivacious Carolyn Jenkins. Normally a straitlaced kind of guy, there’s just something about the woman that tempts him to walk on the wild side.

Opposites attract, but will their differences derail their relationship and keep them from embracing the love they both desire?

A Jenkins Family Novella

“Can I get a bone-dry martini?”
“Coming right up.”Carolyn Jenkins grabbed a cocktail glass from the rack above her head that held stemware, as well as a bottle of gin and vermouth from the wall of alcohol bottles behind her.
Getting the bartender gig at her son-in-law’s restaurant, Kendricks’Seafood & Steak House, was a stroke of luck since she’d been between jobs. Paul Kendricks had opened the five-star establishment nearly nine months ago and immediately the place became the talk of the city. With the after-work rush in full swing, the bar area—as well as every table and booth—overflowed with friends and family committed to having a good time. Carolyn loved the energy buzzing around her.
She moved down to the end of the bar where her daughter and one of her nieces was sitting.
“All I know is, I refuse to make Santa Claus shaped cookies for Christmas this year. The holiday isn’t even about his fat ass,” Carolyn heard her daughter, Martina, say to her cousin, Jada, just as she approached. Jada fell out laughing and Carolyn just shook her head.
“Pretty soon Janay will be talking and repeating everything that comes out of your mouth,” Carolyn stated, referring to her six-month-old granddaughter. She had never dreamt of being a grandmother, especially since Martina had vowed never to get married. Thanks to Paul’s patience and fortitude, he had worn her daughter down and they’d married almost a year ago.
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Martina grumbled, and finished off her virgin strawberry daiquiri. “Gramma said the same thing this morning when I dropped Janay at their house. Which is also when she told me that she wanted us all to come over next Saturday. She hopes to do something different for Christmas and expects us to plan it.”
Carolyn had been told the same thing via voicemail, and when her mother, Katherine Jenkins, summoned, you showed up.
“I can’t believe Gramma wants us to plan for Christmas when I haven’t even decided if I’m going to be an angel or a witch for Halloween,”Jada grumbled.
“Angel,” Martina said without hesitation. “You’re already a witch, so I doubt you can top your current costume.”
“You know what? That’s why I can’t stand you.”Jada nudged her playfully in the shoulder, almost knocking her off the bar stool.
Carolyn laughed as they argued good naturedly the way they used to do as kids. The two of them—as well as her other three nieces—were closer than most sisters, always having each other’s back.
“What can I get you, sweetie?”Carolyn asked one of the regulars who sat on the stool next to Martina. She placed a napkin on the bar in front him.
“Well, since I can’t have you …”He paused, an eyebrow lifted as if hoping she’d finally change her mind about going out with him. She leveled him with a “not interested” glare and tapped her fingers against the cherry wood bar top. “Oh all right. I’ll take a Black Russian.”
“That’s pretty strong. Rough day?”
“No rougher than usual.”He shook out of his wool coat and shivered, probably still feeling the effects of the thirty-degree outside temperature. Winter had arrived early and with a vengeance in Cincinnati, and it was still three days before Halloween. “But you know, if I had someone like you to go home to, I’m sure my days would be better.”
Carolyn ignored the giggling she heard from Martina and Jada. This kid didn’t quit. They had a similar conversation whenever he came in. Despite typically dating men younger, there was no way she was going out with him. She guessed him to be younger than Martina, who was thirty-two.
“Man, you’re barely old enough to drink. Besides, Carolyn is way too much woman for you.”Lance, another regular, winked at her and snagged the barstool next to the kid. She and Lance had gone out a couple of times, only to discover that their differences weren’t conducive to anything serious.
Carolyn blew Lance a kiss before setting his usual, a bottle of Guinness, in front of him and strolled away.
Rocking to the instrumental of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” she wiped down the bar, bobbing her head as she refreshed drinks and exchanged smiles with the patrons. Soon Christmas music would be sifting through the overhead speakers, reminding her that the holiday season was quickly approaching. Which also reminded her that this would be the first time in a long time that she didn’t have a man in her life. If there was one thing she hated, it was being alone. Sure, she had her huge family around—with six brothers and sisters, as well as a ton of nieces and nephews, it was impossible to feel lonely. But lately that’s exactly how she felt. Having all of them nearby wasn’t the same as having a man to come home to and snuggle up with on cold winter nights.
Carolyn saw Jada stand and gather her belongings. As usual, she looked as if she’d stepped off the cover of Vogue. Her long, off-white coat was unbuttoned, revealing a sweater in the same color, a navy-blue peplum skirt, and off-white stiletto boots. Though she and Carolyn had similar taste in clothes, Jada’s budget was much bigger thanks to her husband, a former NFL running back. Zack lived to keep his wife happy and shopping made Jada very happy.
“So, is he too old for you?”Jada asked Carolyn and nodded toward the front entrance. Despite the number of people near the hostess stand, she didn’t have to ask who her niece was referring to. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Fine looked as if he should be on Wall Street instead of hanging out in downtown Cincinnati.
Dressed in a dark, three-piece suit with a crisp white shirt and patterned tie, he stood out from all of the other businessmen in the place. A black fedora pulled low over his eyes, obstructed her complete view of his face. He stood over six feet tall with a solid build and broad shoulders. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but there was something else that made him stand out from the after-work clientele. Maybe his confident stance and air of authority set him apart. Whatever the reason, he had Carolyn’s undivided attention. And unlike everyone else, he didn’t come in shivering. Apparently, his coolness extended beyond the way he was dressed.
“So I’ll take your silence and appreciative gaze as a no, he’s not too old for me.”Jada laughed. “Good to know a mature gentleman can capture your attention just like the young bucks who normally fall at your feet.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha.”Carolyn continued studying the stranger. "Clearly, I need to start working this shift more often if he’s an example of the eye-candy that hangs out here.”
Jada giggled. “Okay, I’m going out the back. Tell Martina I’ll meet her at the door.”
Carolyn said good-bye, unable to take her attention from the attractive man as he stepped up to the hostess stand. Removing the hat, he ran his hand over his low-cut hair as he spoke to the hostess. Unfortunately, from her vantage point, she still couldn’t get a good look at his face.
“Hey, sugar.”A customer at the end of the bar interrupted her daydreaming. “Can I get another one of these down here?”he asked, lifting his beer bottle.  
“Coming right up.”
Carolyn appreciated the distraction. The last thing she needed was to drool over a man …a good-looking man, but a man nonetheless. She had recently been in a long-term relationship with her latest ex-boyfriend, Daniel. Well, long term for her. Ten months with him, and she actually thought he was The One. Yet when she mentioned marriage, he suddenly needed space. Following Daniel, there was Flex. His name alone should have warned her that he was only out to have a good time.
After two failed marriages and too many dead-end romances to count, she was more than ready to step back and take stock of her life. The days of floating in and out of men’s lives were over. She wanted what her parents had—a passionate love that had grown stronger over the years.
Carolyn set another beer in front of the customer. “What about you? Can I get you anything else?”she asked the man sitting next to him.
“How about your telephone number?”
Carolyn grabbed a nearby towel and gripped it tightly before wiping down a section of the bar, disgust swirling in her gut. One thing she didn’t do was married men and the platinum band on this guy’s ring finger said someone was waiting for him at home. Nothing burned her up more than a jerk like him flirting with a woman who wasn’t his spouse.
“I’m sure your wife wouldn’t appreciate you coming home with another woman’s number.”
He laughed the comment off. “She wouldn’t know.”
“She’d know after I told her.”Tempted to toss a drink in his face, she turned away before she did something stupid and lost her job.
Leaning on the bar, she glanced over the heads of a couple of customers and her gaze landed on Mr. Wall Street. The name seemed to fit him even better than Mr. Tall, Dark, and Fine as he smiled and chatted with the hostess while she led him toward the back of the restaurant. A rush of warmth spread through Carolyn’s veins, realizing her assessment was correct. The man was fine. His plump, kissable lips were topped with a mustache, and a slight scruff littered his cheek and chin. Add that to his incredible body and stylish dress and he had her drooling all over again.
Just look away, Carolyn. Just look away.
As if sensing her attention on him, the stranger turned his head slightly and their gazes collided. Air stilled in Carolyn’s chest. Piercing dark eyes stared back at her, sending a blast of heated lust shooting through her body. For a second, it was as if they were the only two people in the large space.
With a slight nod of his head in her direction, he continued following the hostess. Even once he broke eye contact she continued to stare after him, appreciating the back view as much as the side view.
Whew. She blew out another breath and patted her chest as if that would slow her rapidly beating heart. She’d been with her share of men, but it had been a long time since a look alone stirred her feminine juices.
Moving back down the bar, Carolyn approached Lance as he stood and tossed a few bills on the bar. “Leaving so soon?”
“Yeah, been a long day. Time for me to get outta here.”He reached for her hand and pulled her close, kissing her on the cheek. “I’ll catch you on Friday.”
“I’ll be here.”
Less than a minute after Lance left, a couple of guys claimed his seat and the one next to it.
“What can I get you fellas?”Carolyn took their orders. As she prepared their drinks her mind drifted back to the handsome stranger. If his personality matched his impressive exterior, he was the type of guy she wanted to get to know. She tended to attract the attention of men who were younger than her, but maybe it was time to consider dating someone her own age.
She shook her head. Nah. The guys her age were boring and rarely wanted to leave the house. No, she needed a man who was outgoing and wanted to have a little fun.
Carolyn sighed. Who was she kidding? Staying away from the male species, as she’d planned, for the next couple of months was going to be impossible. She loved men too much.


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Sharon C Cooper

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