New York Times Bestselling Author Virna DePaul is excited to introduce readers to her latest heroes, the five Irish O’Neill brothers! What Love Can Do begins the Home to Green Valley series with eldest son Quinn O’Neill traveling to California’s wine country to learn more about his mother’s past. The last thing Quinn expects to find is Love! The trouble may be holding on to the woman of his dreams. Find out if this sexy Irish hero can save his happily-ever-after in What Love Can Do.
Ireland has always been home for the five O’Neill brothers, but several tragedies, including the recent death of their mother, have them feeling lost. After making an unexpected discovery, eldest son and former rugby player Quinn O’Neill heads to Forestville, California, in the enchanted river valley where his mother grew up. There, he hopes to learn more about his family and explore the possibility of settling someplace new.
Traveling the world before opening her own bakery is Lillian Parker’s dream, and she’s one step closer to achieving it after winning an internship with a world-famous pastry chef in Miami. Unfortunately, Lillian’s mother is pressuring her to stay in Forestville and help run the family B&B. Then a handsome Irishman blows through the door with charm and sex appeal to spare, and suddenly Lillian’s not sure what she wants.
Sparks instantly fly, and Lillian finds herself agreeing to show Quinn around the area. Soon their building feelings have them wishing for more time together. But Quinn’s just beginning to explore the magic of Green Valley wine country, and Lillian needs to stretch her wings. Even worse, exposed secrets pit Lillian’s family against Quinn’s, creating thorns in their blooming love.
Can passion survive conflicting family loyalties? And can love bond Quinn and Lillian together forever when dreams of adventure versus home and hearth threaten to keep them apart?
After an eleven-hour flight from Dublin to New York City, a layover, then another six-hour flight to San Francisco, plus car rental and driving time, the last thing Quinn expected was for his balls to tighten upon seeing the blond American woman working in the dining room of the Russian River House. She was quite possibly the most gorgeous girl he’d ever seen. Holy shite.
But damn, he was bushed and desperately needed a bed.
The last ten days had taken a huge toll on him. From the moment his mother had died to the day he’d called Richard Phillips, his maternal grandfather, to inform him that his daughter, Maggie Phillips O’Neill had passed away suddenly, only to get a hostile, “I don’t have a daughter named Maggie, nor do I have a grandson. Only two daughters here in Forestville,” Quinn had been doing his best to keep his spirits up. Old man Phillips might have kept his mam away with his belligerent attitude, but it wasn’t going to work on him. He had the right to know where Mam had grown up, see the sidewalks she had walked, the river she had loved, and the valley she’d adored.
Con had been a bit less eager to make the trip, saying Mam had made her choice to leave Green Valley and had been all the better for it, but Quinn had pestered Con into coming with him for a few reasons. One, to try and snap him out of his funk. Two, to get him out of Brady’s hair—they’d been bickering like chickens the last ten days, more than usual. And finally, to help him find closure over Mam’s death. Of course, that was something all his brothers needed, but Brady, Sean and Riley had obligations that needed tending. After they’d all agreed to cremate Mam’s body (despite his initial belief that Mam should be buried, Con, after reading Mam’s journal, had changed his mind), Brady, Sean and Riley agreed that Quinn and Con should journey to America first. If they still felt at the end of one week that it was what Mam would have wanted, they’d call the others, who’d then join them to spread her ashes.
Quinn felt optimistic it would all work out as it should. And while he hadn’t shared this with his brothers, he’d decided that if he liked it here, he’d extend his trip. If he didn’t, he’d return to Ireland like a good Irish boy ought to do.
So far, he was liking what he saw right in the dining room.
Once again, Quinn glanced at the hot blond American, an amazing gazelle of a woman, even as the innkeeper droned on about things to do in the area, the bookstore down the street, the diner around the corner with the homemade cherry pie, and the winery next door. The blonde—she was tall and a bit curvy, just the way he liked—kept stealing glances at him while the older woman talked. Her hair was up in a messy bun like she’d just run circles. She had a smooth, angular face with high cheekbones that gave her the look of an old-fashioned pin up with a naughty side. Then again, maybe his imagination was running wild. After all, she wore a pink and black apron that read: Life is Short—Lick the Bowl.
“I’d be happy to. Just show me where it is,” Con said, deepening his voice, as he stared straight at her chest.
Quinn smacked his arm. “You going to start right away, are you?”
The innkeeper with the sunken cheekbones gave him dour looks. And they said Americans were friendly.
“I apologize for my brother. He’s shattered and in dire need of a nap. That was completely uncalled for,” he stage-whispered.
“No offense taken.” The young woman smiled cheekily then turned and walked into a small alcove through the dining room. From where Quinn stood, it appeared she was sorting a variety of breakfast quick breads into plastic storage bags. What he would give to try her muffins.
“Your room is Number 5,” the older woman said and fake-smiled. She placed a room key on the desk. “It’s the last one down the hall on the left. Breakfast begins at six-thirty and runs until ten-thirty every morning. Obviously, you’re late for today, but we have coffee out all day, unless you gentlemen prefer tea? We can get you some tea.”
“Ah, sure, tea would be grand, if it isn’t too much trouble,” Quinn said, thinking how he hadn’t had a nice cuppa black tea with milk in over a week. Such a thing would hit the spot right about now.
“Lillian?” the innkeeper called.
The blonde turned her head toward them again. “Yes, Mom?” Her arms were full of muffins, and her gaze flitted to him, to his brother, then back to Quinn again. The tiny gesture made him dance a little jig in his brain, even though he hadn’t just crossed the Atlantic and all the continental U.S. just to act like a complete bowser.
“Can you get Mr., uh…” The older woman checked the register for his name. “O’Neill and Mr. O’Neill some tea in their room, please? They’ve had a long trip from…Dublin, is it?” She read the register again, as though double, triple-checking her facts.
“Yes! Yes.” Quinn slid the room key toward him and folded his papers back into his bag. “All the way from Ireland. Please, don’t ask if I know any leprechauns or Bono. I actually prefer the leprechauns.” He chuckled.
“Who?” The woman squinted her eyes.
Quinn needed to learn when to keep his mouth shut. “Eh, nothing. Just, eh…a dumb joke.”
Still visible in her little alcove, the young woman with the breakfast muffins shook with quiet laughter. She covered her mouth with one hand and disappeared into what Quinn suspected was the kitchen. Quinn smiled to himself.
“Well, such a long way just to visit Forestville. You boys must be going to San Fran and L.A. as well, I would imagine,” the older woman said, tapping her pencil on her desk. The way she still squinted her eyes slightly, as though trying to thoroughly inspect them, worried him. Did she know who they were, or was she just having a bit of indigestion?
“Most likely,” Quinn said, just to let it go. He may have hailed from a large city, but he knew that people from small towns were all the same—they all got to talking if you gave them even the smallest amount of information. He didn’t want anyone to know that the sons of Maggie Phillips were here, but then again, after the call with his grandfather, word may have already spread. “Anyway, thanks so much. We’ll be off then.”
“Call us if you need anything.” The innkeeper took her seat again and shuffled papers around as they collected their bags.
What should I call you? Quinn wondered briefly then realized she meant he should ring if he needed anything. The new vernacular would take a bit of getting used to, and a nap would prove useful right now.
Their room was spacious and comfortable with a king-sized bed. He would have much preferred to have his own bed, but at this point, he didn’t care about sharing. He threw his bags into a chair and closed the door, as Con threw his stuff on the floor. Their heads hit the mattress at the exact same time, which made them snort with laughter.
“Shite. I’m going to sleep ‘til tomorrow, if that’s all right with you,” Con groaned, spreading his arms out wide, inhaling the spaciousness of the large bed.
“Brother, you need the rest. That’s why I brought you.” Quinn was bushed too, but he was also wired, like a child who’d seen too many exciting new things after a long day and couldn’t close his eyes. Well, here they were in Forestville, California, America—his mother’s hometown. Finally. Sometime today or tomorrow, he’d set out to see the town a bit closer and try to get a sense for who his mother might have been before she moved to Ireland.
Though he had no idea where to begin. He supposed he could start by re-reading Mam’s journal and making notes on places to visit, but two important spots—at least for him—would be the house she grew up in and Mulligan’s Tavern, the pub where she and Dad met in the Irish part of town.
A noise like that of a chainsaw ripping apart a giant oak tree sounded next to him, and Quinn noticed that Con had already passed out right on top of the bed’s comforter, snoring away like a freight train. Quinn sighed, envying his brother’s ability to just lay back and fall asleep like that. It’d always taken Quinn a while, especially when his brain was overloaded with a thousand thoughts.
He was only older than Con by three years, but sometimes, he felt like Con was the baby of them all and felt compelled to take care of him as such. Getting up, Quinn reached for the folded blanket at the end of the bed and stretched it out over his brother. “It’s way past your bed time, wee one.” He laughed then headed out, closing the door gently behind him.
The establishment had a lovely living room area with couches, a fireplace, and some reading chairs. He could sit out here for a while and hope that the muffin gazelle would come by again. That is, if her mam wasn’t around to keep her in line. He’d seen the way she looked at her daughter—Lillian, her name was—as if she needed an eye kept on her.
On a couch next to a window with a view of the country road, a pumpkin patch out on the lawn, and the rain about to come down, Quinn had just spread his knees out, getting comfortable, when Lillian appeared, brandishing a tray with a tea kettle and two ceramic cups. She didn’t see him and was headed down the hall, clearly for their room. “Miss?” Quinn called.
She slowed down. “Oh, you’re out here. I was taking it to your room.”
Quinn stood to help her, or at least make his willingness known. “My brother fell asleep. Much appreciated. I feel bad you made it after your mam told you. When she offered, I assumed she’d be the one to do it.”
Lillian rounded the couch and set the tray down on the table before him. “I didn’t know which type of tea you liked, so I just made chamomile. There’s cream, sugar, and honey here,” she said, pushing her hair behind her ears. She didn’t make eye contact with him, and she kept pointing at the tea and talking about it without looking directly at him.
“I usually just pour some milk in it, but no worries.” He smiled, hoping she’d brave a look at him.
“Wow, milk—the one thing you needed was the one thing I didn’t bring.” She snapped her fingers. “I’m sorry. I’ll go get some. Be right back.”
“No, honestly, it’s fine. Lillian, please. I don’t need it,” Quinn said, shooting out a hand to stop her. “I’m sure it’s grand just the way it is.” He poured himself a cup and raised it, letting the tepid liquid touch his lips. It wasn’t his mam’s strong black tea with milk. It was the worst, blandest tea he’d ever had in his life, but he sipped it and made mm-mmm noises just so she would think it was fantastic. “Thanks. This really hit the spot.”
“Whew! I’m so glad. Here I was thinking I was making it all wrong. My name’s Lilly, by the way. Only my mom ever calls me Lillian. So what brings you all the way out from Ireland? Do you have family here?” She folded her arms over her good-sized chest, offering up a sweet, pretty smile. She didn’t have the biggest or the smallest breasts. They were a perfect size for her frame.
He forced his gaze on hers. “Please, sit.” He gestured for her to have a seat and watched her think about it.
Slowly, she sat, folding her hands in her lap. “Actually, I will sit a minute. I’ve been on my feet for five hours.” She sank back against the seat’s cushion and moaned slightly. Quinn tried not to imagine that same moan in another context. “Yeah, that feels good.”
He swallowed, shaking off the erotic images creeping into his mind. “See? No more foosterin’ for you, young lady,” Quinn laughed.
“What?” Lillian—no, Lilly—raised an eyebrow.
“Er…wasting time. I was being facetious. Of course you’re working hard. Anyone can tell just from looking at ya.” Quinn caught Lilly’s mother’s eye as she passed by the living room, not missing how the woman’s stride slowed slightly before she disappeared from view. Quinn cleared his throat. “I get the feeling your mam doesn’t like me for some reason.”
Lilly’s eyes widened. “Don’t be silly. Why wouldn’t she like you? No, everyone always assumes she’s pissed off, but that’s just her normal face.” She laughed. “So you’re a fan of wine and wineries? Is that why you’re in town? I would imagine. I mean, it’s really the only reason anyone ever comes through here.” When she spoke, her voice was soft and melodious, and if he closed his eyes and gave into his exhaustion, it would send him straight to heaven.
Quinn considered telling her about his mother’s death. He liked her already, and she seemed the type of girl who would understand his mission, but he wasn’t ready for the questions that would come, nor the condolences. She would want to know more about Maggie Phillips, and then her mother might overhear, and God, no—he just wanted to drink his bland tea, and share a few words with this beautiful woman a bit more before retiring to his room. “We heard it’s nice out here. Wanted to see it for ourselves. Yes, we love wine and wineries.” He coughed.
“Irish guys who like wine instead of beer and whiskey, huh?” Lilly clucked her tongue. “Never saw that coming.”
“Go way outta that! Stereotyping, are you?” Quinn feigned being offended, but secretly, he loved that she was spot on. He never drank wine, hated the stuff. “I happen to be a huge champion of glorified grape juice.”
Lilly’s mouth twisted. “Well, you came to the right place. Definitely lots of glorified grape juice factories around here.”
“Hey,” he said. “I was just pullin’ your leg, you know. Not disrespecting wine country or anything.” He detected a wistfulness in her eyes. There was something about them, like something brewing just underneath the surface of a clear, glassy lake. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-two or three with tight skin like that, but she was yearning and had been for some time. “Are you not fond of wine, Lilly?” Or was it the town or something else she longed to be free of?
The light in her eyes seemed to switch on, as if realizing, as hostess, she needed to smile and make her guests comfortable at all times, never let them into any pervasive sadness she might be feeling. “Me? Oh, I like wine fine. And it’s beautiful here. The people are wonderful. It’s just that I’ve lived here my whole life, so I’ve seen everything there is to see…here…anyway. More wineries and vineyards than one person would ever care to see in one lifetime, Mr. O’Neill, so I apologize if my attitude is a bit blasé.”
“Quinn. Mr. O’Neill was my father.” He reached a hand out to her. Lilly stared at it a moment then slowly slipped hers into it, shaking softly. Warm and smooth. “And I see nothing wrong with your attitude.”
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High finance and a sizzling office affair raise desire and passion to the boiling point in Virna DePaul’s seductive new contemporary romance—perfect for fans of Carly Phillips, Lori Foster, and Molly O’Keefe.
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