SHHHH! Don’t tell any of my other books that FIRST IMPRESSIONS is my favorite! This was my first – and to date only – book where the hero came to me fully formed and first, before my heroine. I lovelovelove Pat Cleary so much I can’t even begin to tell you. He’s a bit of a playa, but once he sets his sights – and his heart – on Clarissa Rogers, all bets are now and forever off.
Here’s a little about the book first:
Family Practice Doctor Clarissa Rogers’ first impression of Padric Cleary is biased and based on gossip. The handsome, charming veterinarian is considered a serial dater and commitment-phobic by his family and most of the town. Relationship shy, Clarissa refuses to lose her heart to a man who can’t pledge himself to her forever.
Pat Cleary, despite his reputation, is actually looking for “The One.” When he does give his heart away, he wants it to be for life. With his parent’s marriage as his guidebook, he wants a woman who will be his equal and soul mate in every way.
Can Pat convince everyone – including Clarissa – she’s the only woman for him?
When she looked back to him, she could see a question in his eyes. “Pat?”
“Hear me out,” he said, putting his hands on her upper arms. Like a bolt of lightning striking, his touch zoomed all the way through her. “The kittens are too young right now to adopt. We need to get them hydrated, nourished and neutered. My guess is they’re about three weeks old. Four, tops. Without a mother to socialize them, they need extra care here first. Then they’ll need to be acclimated. This is where I’m hoping you’ll come in.” He removed his hands and stroked a finger down the cat’s neck.
“What do you mean?”
“When they’re ready to go, I’m hoping you’ll take this one to foster. You don’t need to adopt her, and I’m not asking you to. But we’ve found when animals are placed in good homes during developing periods, they adapt better when they’re adopted out. I can’t think of a better person to socialize and foster a kitten then you, Clarissa.”
Touched more than she could ever have thought to be by a statement with such thoughtfulness, Clarissa found herself tightening her hold on the kitten and loosening the grip on her heart.
Without a thought to what it would entail by having a new kitten in her life, the time consumption, the routine kitten messes she’d need to clean, Clarissa followed her heart and said, “Yes.”
Pat’s smile widened. “I was really hoping you’d agree.”
“How can I not?” She pulled the kitten to face level and planted a sweet kiss to its nose. Striking gray-blue eyes, peered at her from barely-opened lids. A tiny yowl burst from her and morphed into a wide, mouth- broadening yawn. The kitten shook its head back and forth a few times, its entire body going with the motion and then stretched its front and back paws wide. Clarissa laughed, looked up at Pat and her heart stopped. His pupils had dilated to the point where she could barely make out the ripe color in the irises. His mouth was slightly parted, and she could see his chest rising underneath his lab coat. With his fingers still scratching at the kitten’s neck, he bent his head toward her.
Every nerve in her body went on high alert. She knew he was going to kiss her and all she could think was: Yes, please.
With the kitten buffering their bodies, Pat brought his head down, stopping for the merest of moments to gaze across her face. She didn’t know what he was looking for, but whatever it was, must have pleased him because he put his lips to hers. It was the briefest of touches, his mouth sliding along hers in a gentle caress. His breath, moist and warm, drifted over her as he let it out. Neither closed their eyes, as if not to miss a moment of the encounter. On a whisper, he said her name. His hands rose up her arms, wound around her neck and rested on either side of her face. Cupping her cheeks, he rubbed her mouth with the pad of his thumb. Clarissa’s tongue grazed across it and his breath whistled out between his lips. In the next second his mouth came back to hers and took it again. This time there was no hesitation.
His fingers gently turned her head. With a tiny tug on her chin he swiped at her bottom lip with his tongue, waiting for her response. She needed no further request. Her own lips parted, and when his tongue entered her mouth she tilted her head backward giving him free access.
He tasted like nothing she’d ever tasted before. Spicy. Bold. Vibrant. His tongue pulled hers into his mouth as he expertly twined it with his own. If she hadn’t been leaning up against him, Clarissa knew she would have dropped to her knees from the jolt pounding through her at his touch.
His lips pressed against hers, the tantalizing way his fingers rubbed across her cheeks, the sound of his breathing as it grew more rapid and coarse when he deepened the kiss, was almost too much for her to wrap her analytical mind around.
So she didn’t. She simply kissed him back. With everything she had.
And the man knew how to kiss. Boy, did he know how. The thought shouldn’t have surprised her, given what she knew of his reputation.
His hands continued to hold her head in place, but when one of them dipped below her shoulders to trail down her back and settle above her waist, pulling her closer, she felt the kitten begin to squirm.
A hot blast of reality exploded in her head at the same time she heard the murmur of voices coming closer.
Pat must have heard them too because he pulled back and stared down at her. The confusion across his face came and went so fast she wasn’t even sure she’d seen it.
He tore his gaze from her and smiled when he turned to the younger man standing in the doorway.
“You guys get some food?” Pat asked. She was amazed his voice sounded as calm as it did. He moved from Clarissa and pulled another kitten from the box as she cuddled the now squirming one in her hands.
“We’re all set. Hi, Dr. Rogers.”
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Read a preview of FIRST IMPRESSIONS