Every author has a book of their heart, and this, Hide Your Heart, is mine.
Hide Your Heart’s roots lie in that story, growing and maturing over the years, but never really burgeoning to life until one day in either 2010 or 2011, when Lauren and Nate refused to be shut up any longer. It wasn’t the first full length book I’d written (the first will likely never see the light of day) but it was one I was proud of. One I still fall in love with over and over. It carries a taste of my husband’s beautiful Māori heritage, a taste of the best parts of my adorable kids, and a taste of what it finally means to find home—both with a place and that one special person.
I hope you’ll travel with me to New Zealand’s subtropical Far North, and spend some time getting to know Lauren, Nate, and little Drew.
Hide Your Heart (Far North Book 1)
By Tracey Alvarez
Cover by Book Cover By Design
Love will bring them together. Distrust will tear them apart…
Alexandra Lauren Knight has reinvented herself in the safety of her rural New Zealand hometown to become Lauren Taylor. She’s cut all ties with her past as a former model whose ex-husband turned out to be ruthless in both the boardroom and the bedroom. While Alexandra allowed other’s expectations to propel her into the spotlight, Lauren prefers the safety of anonymity; restoring classic cars with her brother, and snuggling with her four-year-old son.
Nate Fraser, a burned-out photojournalist, plans to fix up the property next door to Lauren and sell it as a celebrity retreat. Always on the move, Nate is only comfortable with short-term assignments and even shorter-term relationships. But it’s not just his buyer’s tight deadline or that the restoration is far beyond his expertise which turns a short-term project into an ordeal. Nate’s plan of travelling the globe is in jeopardy—created by the intensity of his growing feelings for Lauren and her little boy.
As the sparks of passion ignite between them it reawakens Nate’s long forgotten dream of having a home and family. Lauren must find a way to trust Nate not only with her secrets, but with her heart—before her safe haven is exposed and she can no longer hide in the shadows.
Excerpt from Hide Your Heart (Far North Book 1)
With Drew in preschool and her ear buds blaring Lady Antebellum at a teeth-rattling volume, Lauren tightened mounting bolts in the Impala’s engine bay. She couldn’t carry a tune if her life was in jeopardy, but that didn’t stop her shaking her tail feather as she attempted to harmonize with Charles Kelley’s sex-on-a-stick voice.
The tap on her shoulder catapulted her heart past her vocal chords, and she narrowly missed clunking her head on the hood as she whirled around. Nate stood in sawdust-speckled blue jeans with one hand still raised, green eyes twinkling.
“Sorry.” The flash of white teeth behind his firm lips translated the word as Lady A. continued to blare.
Tugging out the ear buds, she sucked in a deep breath and tried to slow her heartbeat by shoving a fist against her chest.
“Sorry,” he repeated. “I did knock, but you were, ah, kind of engrossed under there.”
His gaze flicked to her coveralls. Her unsexy, grease-smeared coveralls that sometimes rode up her rear end when she bent over.
Heat speared through her, and she half turned aside, switching off the music and stuffing the ear buds into her pocket. “Not your fault; I was in the zone, and I didn’t hear you arrive.”
Nate moved to stand next to her, ducking a little to peer under the Impala’s hood. Chrome gleamed, the V-8 engine so clean she’d bet a month’s wages Nate couldn’t find a speck of dirt on it—or anywhere else in her workshop.
“Nice car. Are you almost done?”
She swiped a finger across her lips, hoping she didn’t have the remains of this morning’s muesli bar snack smeared around her mouth. “Todd’s mostly finished the bodywork and I’m just working on the last of the mechanical stuff.”
Hands well away from her handiwork, Nate stepped back, glancing toward the organized benches loaded with her dad’s tools, then looking across to the small, sectioned-off area with a fold-out futon couch where Drew often played with his toy cars while she worked.
“You’ve got quite a setup here. Your dad must be proud of the work you’re both doing. Does he live nearby too?”
“No.” And because she didn’t want to field any more awkward questions, she added, “He died when I was a teenager.”
“I’m sorry. Todd mentioned the Caddy was yours and your dad’s…” His voice trailed off.
“It’s okay,” she said, even though it wasn’t. How different might her life be if David Taylor, her biggest supporter and cheerleader when it came to her following her own path, hadn’t collapsed in his workshop?
Nate’s gaze skimmed over her, warm and sympathetic. Most people broke eye contact when faced with another’s grief, but not him. He studied each line of her face as though through his camera lens. Very unsettling.
She ducked back under the hood and picked up her dropped socket wrench. “How’s Todd working out?”
Nate cleared his throat and leaned against the side of her station wagon. “He’s doing great. We’ve made a plan of attack, and tomorrow morning we’re ripping off the roof.”
“Yeah, which is why I stopped by—Todd said you have a chainsaw I could hire instead of mucking around with getting one from town.”
Her fingers tightened around the socket wrench. “You need a chainsaw?”
“I’ve got to clear the road back before I get the new roofing iron and timber shipped up. It’s crazy overgrown.”
“And you’ve used a chainsaw before?”
“Nope, but I’ve used a skill-saw, so how hard can it be?”
That startled a laugh out of her, and she cut him a glance, drinking in the tee shirt taut against his chest but a little loose over his flat stomach, and his long legs crossed at the ankles, the only parts of him she could see. “Such a guy thing to say, usually right before someone hacks off a limb.”
One hand disappeared from view followed by a raspy sound she identified as fingertips scratching stubble.
“Hadn’t thought of that.”
“No offence, but you don’t look like the chain-sawing type.”
“Not much call for chainsaw skills in my usual working day. My Auckland apartment only has a balcony, so the last time I even used a lawn-mower was as a teenager, when I helped pay my way through university by doing yard work.”
With the last radiator bolt tightened, Lauren backed out from under the hood. “Mac’s place must feel strange to you.”
He flashed a crooked grin. “So much solitude and fresh air, it’s kind of spooky when you’re used to the city or being around crowds of people living in third-world conditions.”
“It does take some getting used to.”
“But you enjoy it?” Pushing away from her station wagon, he shoved his hands into his pockets and wandered over.
“It’s home.” As soon as he moved into her little hemisphere of safe space, her skin started to prickle, so she grabbed the first rubber radiator hose off the bench. This was an opening, a chance to put her change-Nate’s-mind-by-being-nice plan into action. “Listen, since you were kind enough to help with the whole stuck car thing, I’ll chainsaw for you a couple of mornings to clear the road.”
“You know how to chainsaw?”
She shot a glance at his incredulous tone, found him shaking his head, fists on his hips. “Don’t look so stunned—you’ve already witnessed how I can outdrive you in your own car.”
“Going to make me eat humble pie?”
“Double helping, now that you’ve called my chain-sawing skills into question.”
She returned with the radiator hose and he moved aside, but leaned over the Impala to watch her work. Having him this close made her fingers function like ten fat sausages, and she nearly dropped the hose as she ducked under the hood.
“You sure you can spare the time?”
“I can spare it. The Impala can wait until the afternoons. Besides, I don’t want to feel responsible if you accidentally amputate something.”
He chuckled, low and husky. “I appreciate your concern for my body parts remaining intact.”
Underneath the baggy cotton coveralls, the fine hairs on her arms stood to attention, but she managed a droll tone as she said, “It’s the neighborly thing to do.”
“We’re not big on neighbors and community in the suburb where I live—not that I’m there much.”
“Well, it’s a little different up here. When a neighbor needs help, we pitch in and get the job done.” Lauren popped each end of the radiator hose in the clamps and wriggled them into place. “Can you pass me the screwdriver from my tool-box before you go?” Rude, but his concentrated focus propelled her blood pressure higher and higher.
“I’m happy to be your tool bitch if you need me.” Metal clanked as he rummaged through her tool-box.
She didn’t dare look up from the hose clenched in her hands. “You’ve got more than enough work to do.” A screwdriver, held in long, tanned fingers, appeared in front of her face, and she grasped the metal shank and slid it from his grasp so their hands wouldn’t touch. “Thanks. I’ll see you at about half nine tomorrow morning.”
“Okay then, Lauren.”
The sound of her name, so rich and deep in his sinfully smooth voice, sent a shiver down her spine as he left the garage.
She held tight to the screwdriver. In only a matter of days, her new neighbor had gate-crashed her safe little world, turning everything topsy-turvy. She had to take control and remember who he was—before it was too late.
©2015 Tracey Alvarez
3 Day only special price of $2.99
~ New Zealand design Paua tea towel (not sure what you’d call it overseas. Used to dry dishes if you’re so inclined…). Gorgeous colours in this, photo doesn’t do it justice.
~ New Zealand printed tote bag with super-cute kiwis!
~ Oh So Pretty soap. A luxurious handmade soap infused with the goodness of goat’s milk, cocoa butter, aloe vera, and kaolin clay, and is fragranced with notes of sea salt, ocean mist, fresh air, and soft musk. Pacific Breeze’s clean ocean scent will remind you of a day at a wind swept beach.
~ Hand-crafted Hide Your Heart bead bookmark with camera & heart charm.
~ Gorgeous hand-crafted for the Far North series pewter Koru pendant with Pounamu – Greenstone (nephrite jade) beads.
~ Hand-crafted for the Far North series pewter and jade earrings.
~ Author magnet.
~ Author pen.
Note: Treasured, valuable and with spiritual significance, Pounamu is used by Māori to show status and authority, for adornment, and for making peace. The Koru shape is based on a new unfurling silver fern frond and symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace.
To Enter: Just click on the below Rafflecopter giveaway link.
To qualify for the bonus 5 entries, you’ll need to purchase Hide Your Heart and answer this question in the space provided in the rafflecopter. The question is: Tell me the first sentence from the Chapter 1 excerpt of Book 2, Know Your Heart. (Excerpt is found at the very end of the Hide Your Heart e-book.) Please note – this is not the excerpt from Book 1 shown above in this blog post, or the first line of Book 2’s blurb.
* Prizes are not exchangeable for cash or anything else.
* All due care will be made in ensuring the prize arrives at the winner’s address, but I am unable to refund prize value in any way should it not arrive due to postal disaster.
* Entries close on April 25th and winner will receive a direct e-mail from me soon after – so please ensure my e-mail address is added to your safe/contacts list. If I haven’t had a reply from the winner in 48 hours, I will redraw a new winner.