On Tour with Prism Book Tours.
Can opposites really attract?
A robbery followed by the discovery of a forgery at a respected art gallery thrusts Chelsea Owens into the center of an investigation headed by Detective Sam Eldridge. The instant chemistry between the high-spirited aspiring curator and the tall, dark, brooding cop is a classic case of opposites attract.
Complications arise when Chelsea uncovers a connection to an unsolved art heist. Teaming up with Sam to find the stolen paintings ignites feelings that could lead to lasting love. But Sam isn’t ready to move beyond the tragedy in his past, no matter how promising his future with Chelsea could be…
The gallery’s showroom looked perfect. Chelsea had worked darn hard to make sure it did. The annual exhibit and auction tended to draw a big crowd and was an important event for them. The gallery itself was a dominant presence on Willowbrook Avenue and in the community. It had been ever since Mrs. Sinclair established it when she’d moved to Camden Falls from Cambridge. She was already widowed at the time. Her son and daughter-in-law had died in the same tragic accident as her husband, so she was also Joel’s guardian. Mrs. Sinclair was a bit of a celebrity in Camden Falls, and the gallery’s annual gala was on many townspeople’s social calendars, but it also attracted patrons from Boston, Cambridge and well beyond.
The event was a big deal, and Chelsea had nagged Mr. Hadley until he’d agreed to let her handle it mostly on her own. Joel had coordinated the media, public relations and advertising, but the showroom was all hers!
It was another test she’d set for herself. Despite being her own worst critic, she was pleased with how everything looked.
The hors d’oeuvre stations had been set up and the members of the wait staff were finishing final preparations in the kitchen. The area where the auction would be held was ready and cordoned off. Nothing seemed out of place.
Chelsea relished these quiet moments before the guests started to arrive and she could be alone to take pleasure in her work.
Mr. Hadley was in his office, changing into his tuxedo, and Joel had gone to his apartment to get ready. He’d pick up his grandmother on his way back. Tina, the gallery’s administrative assistant, and Deborah, the gallery’s other full-time sales associate, had already changed into their dresses. The event was advertised as black-tie optional, but Mrs. Sinclair expected the gallery team to dress up, as did most of their regular patrons. Mrs. Sinclair might be a sweet old lady, but she had exacting standards for herself and the people who worked for her. And her resolve, once she’d set her sights on something, was unwavering.
No, there was no room for Chelsea to make a mistake.
She moved to where she’d positioned a wingback chair for Mrs. Sinclair. Vital and youthful though she looked, she was nearing eighty and—as much as Chelsea knew she hated her own weakness—she could no longer be on her feet all evening. She needed short rests whenever time allowed.
After taking one last look around the room, it was time for Chelsea to get ready, too. In the women’s washroom, she changed into the black cocktail dress she’d bought for the occasion. It was plain other than a sheer-lace panel across the shoulders, and some lace at the hemline just below her knees. Chelsea removed the two jewelry boxes from the case she’d brought with her. She opened the long slender one and carefully pulled out the beautiful single-strand pearl necklace. Admiring it first, she secured it around her neck. Next, she took the matching earrings out of their box and fastened them to her earlobes. The set had been her beloved grandmother’s, who’d passed it on to her mother. Chelsea’s mother had given it to her on her twenty-first birthday. Chelsea treasured it, because it reminded her of her grandmother, who’d died a few years back and whom she missed dearly.
Chelsea missed her mom and dad, too, but at least they were only a phone call or an hour-and-a-half’s drive away in Fitchburg.
To complete her attire for the evening, she’d decided on black stockings and—although she knew she’d regret it by the end of the evening—stiletto-heeled black pumps. Rather than using mousse to get her favored spikey look, she’d styled her hair straight and sleek that morning, parted on the side and tucked behind her ears. Because she opted for a lighter shade than she usually wore, her lips were a more natural-looking shimmery rose.
She studied herself in the washroom mirror with a critical eye, much as she’d assessed the showroom earlier.
Elegant wasn’t a word she usually associated with herself nor, frankly, was it something she normally strived for. But tonight? She thought she’d hit the mark.
It was important to her to set the right tone. Not just because she’d put so much personal effort into the event, but because of her goal to be the next curator. She wanted to ensure that Mrs. Sinclair found absolutely no fault with the evening…or her.
Soon after she reentered the showroom, the guests started to trickle in. By seven thirty, the gallery was packed. There were so many people, Chelsea worried that they’d run out of hors d’oeuvres. Or even more concerning, champagne.
Finding a moment to herself, she hurried to the kitchen to see how the supplies were holding up and passed several reporters along the way. She’d hoped there’d be a strong media presence, even though that fell in Joel’s area of responsibility. Getting excellent earned-media coverage was an important side benefit of the event. In her wildest dreams, she wouldn’t have imagined that arts reporters for two Boston media outlets and one from Cambridge would be there, along with all the locals.
Assuring herself that everything was fine in the food and beverages area, she circulated through the room, much like a conscientious hostess. She engaged guests while leaving the media to Mr. Hadley until Mrs. Sinclair and Joel arrived. When she noticed Mr. and Mrs. Rochester, from All That Glitters and Shines, she excused herself from the couple she’d been speaking with and went to greet them. Placing kisses on their cheeks, she stepped back to scrutinize Mr. Rochester. Although they’d spoken on the phone, she hadn’t seen him since the robbery, because the store was closed while repairs were being made under Adam’s supervision.
Chelsea was relieved that the only indication of the trauma Mr. Rochester had suffered was the small bandage he sported on his temple. “How are you feeling?” she asked him with genuine concern.
“I’m fine. As well as can be expected, at my age.” He looked at his wife lovingly. “Between Carla’s fussing and Adam’s, I can hardly wait for the store to open so I can feel useful again.”
“Now, Arnold, don’t start complaining. We have every right to worry about you. It’s part of our job descriptions,” his wife said with a smile, slipping her arm through his.
He patted her hand. “I know, dear, but I really am okay. And speaking of Adam…” He turned back to Chelsea. “He’s here somewhere if you’d like to say hello. I’m afraid Carla and I won’t be staying long. I need my rest.”
“I understand perfectly, and I’m grateful all three of you could make it, especially under the circumstances.” She glanced around the room and saw Adam in conversation with someone in front of a Jose Royo painting. “Can I get you anything before I go see Adam? A glass of champagne?”
“Oh, we’re fine, thank you,” Mrs. Rochester replied.
“Well, then, I hope you’ll enjoy yourselves,” Chelsea added, before wishing them a good night.
She kept working the room and waited until Adam was alone before going to him. She’d known him for as long as she’d been at the Sinclair Gallery. They got on well enough, but with him she’d never felt the mutual affection she did with his aunt and uncle. She’d gotten to know him a little better while she and Joel had dated. Joel and Adam had been friends since they’d gone to school together. Although not as close as they used to be, they were still on good terms. Considering the hardships Adam had endured as a child, she understood why he was reserved. She told herself she should be more accepting, but their personalities were so different—Adam, being more of a loner and introspective—they’d never gotten close. Maybe part of it was that Adam didn’t seem to show an appreciation for art, one of her great loves.
No matter. He was a guest, and she’d make sure he was having a nice time.
“Are you enjoying yourself?” she asked, walking up to him.
“Yeah.” Adam motioned to the crowd behind them. “Impressive turnout. With deep pockets, I’ll bet,” he added.
“We have a good mix of people who appreciate art,” was Chelsea’s diplomatic response.
“As an example, how much is this piece?” he asked, turning back to the painting.
For the higher-valued works, they didn’t display the asking prices. They wanted to have the opportunity to discuss the paintings with anyone who might be interested, rather than immediately scaring them off with the price. Chelsea studied the Royo, too. “It’s a classic example of a contemporary artist whose work is favorably compared to old masters. The best we’ve had in some time. It’s valued at a hundred and thirty thousand dollars.”
“That’s a substantial amount of money, even for the wealthy. We don’t have anything in that price range at All That Glitters and Shines.”
“Trust me. We don’t sell many pieces in this price range, either,” she said and left as soon as she felt she could do so politely.
* * *
Other Books in the Series
There’s a stranger at the door on Christmas Day…
Single mother Paige Summerville wants to give her seven-year-old son the Christmas of his dreams. Jason needs surgery to beat the illness that’s plagued his young life, leaving Paige desperate to make ends meet. So she turns to a charity that grants the wishes of sick children…
Then a stranger arrives bearing gifts for Jason—and for her. He’s Daniel Kinsley, a lawyer who’s grown cynical about family. But his kindness in making Jason’s wishes come true offers him more than he ever imagined. Is there room in Paige’s heart for a man who could fulfill all their dreams? And not just at Christmas!
About the Author
Kate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word.
Kate’s goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories featuring strong, likable characters. Kate has been honored with numerous awards for her writing. She and her husband, Ken, enjoy traveling and the outdoors, with their beloved Labrador Retrievers, Harley and Logan.
Hearts & Scribbles
It’s All About the Romance
Thoughts of a Blonde
Reviews by Crystal
Getting Your Read On
Janices Book Reviews
Zerina Blossom’s Books
Deal Sharing Aunt
Katie’s Clean Book Collection
Rockin’ Book Reviews
Slice of Life
Jorie Loves A Story
Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
Teatime and Books
underneath the covers
Reading Is My SuperPower
Inside the Mind of an Avid Reader
October 7th: Grand Finale
– The prize pack includes:
· Aqua over-the shoulder tasseled bag
· San Diego K-9 Unit mouse pad
· Signed copy of Sanctuary Cove
· Signed copy of The Truth About Hope
· Singed copy of When the Right One Comes Along, first book in the San Diego K-9 Unit series
· A pack of three metallic page markers with an inspirational quote on each
· Pair of heart-shaped earrings embellished with ruby-colored stones
· Assortment of signed bookplates
· $20 Amazon gift card
– Prize pack available for Canadian and US residents. Should the winner be international, e-books will be substituted.
– Ends October 11th