Ribbon Ridge #6
By: Darcy Burke
Releasing April 5, 2016
USA Today bestseller Darcy Burke concludes her Archer family saga with a second chance at first love…
Everyone thought college sweethearts Bex Holmgren and Hayden Archer were headed for the altar… until a tragic accident sent young Bex running from a future she wasn’t ready to claim. But when she’s offered her dream job at Archer Brewing, Bex can’t pass up the chance to reconnect with the big, crazy family that once welcomed her with open arms—and the one man she’s never stopped loving.
When he returns home after a year in France, Hayden is less than thrilled to find his ex-girlfriend working for his family’s company. He’s finally moved on, and being around her rekindles long-buried feelings he’d rather ignore. But Bex isn’t the same girl he knew—she’s more mature, more beautiful, more tempting than ever—and he can’t resist the pull of the intense passion he’s only ever shared with her.
Have five years changed them enough, or are they doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? The only thing Bex knows for sure is that for her, Hayden is still the one.
“Your family is tough.”
He tipped his head up to look at her. “Tough?”
“It’s just . . . big. Complicated. Competitive.”
His brow furrowed. “Is that how you see us?”
“That’s how I see them. How do you see them?”
He smiled. “Complicated. Competitive.” He looked at her with appreciation in his gaze, which wasn’t helping her campaign to shelve her feelings for him. “It feels off being back now. I’ve always been the one to be here—you know that.”
He’d felt it was his responsibility to stay. Except maybe responsibility wasn’t what he’d felt. Maybe it was the desire to be the one who was necessary. Not martyrdom—nothing that self-serving—but a true need to feel . . . needed. Why had she never seen that before?
“I did know that, but I don’t think I really understood it until now. I shouldn’t have asked you to leave.”
He sat up and pivoted the stool so he was facing her. His knee brushed hers as he turned, and she felt the connection everywhere. He, on the other hand, didn’t seem to notice.
“Whoa,” he said. “This is a total one-eighty. I’m not sure I can wrap my head around this.” There were lines of humor around his eyes, so she knew he was at least half-joking.
“I know, right?” She brought the whiskey to her lips and drank.
“What happened?” he asked softly, his gaze intense. “Why do you say that now?”
Oh, this was dangerous territory. This intimate conversation, the dimness of the room, the familiarity and its pull—at least for her. “You seem out of sorts now, like you maybe can’t find your place, whereas before you knew what it was. You were Hayden the Dependable, the one everyone counted on.”
His stare pierced her. There was a bit of admiration there. She fidgeted with her glass, unsure where this was going.
“You get it. No one gets it.”
She wasn’t sure that was true, but maybe it was just that he hadn’t talked to them about it. And maybe he didn’t want to. Maybe his place wasn’t here. “I get it now,” she said, smiling. “But I didn’t before. And I’m sorry.”
“You said you shouldn’t have asked me to leave. Do you . . . do you regret leaving?”
Damn, that was the worst question ever. Yes and no. “Until I’d come back here, I would’ve said no. Now . . . I’m not sure. It’s hard to regret things, isn’t it? Because we are who we are today because of the choices we made. And I like who I am.” For the most part.
He hadn’t broken eye contact with her the entire time she’d spoken, and she wondered if he felt this connection, this bone-deep longing that she’d truly never experienced before. Then he leaned in, and she did the same. Did he realize how close they were? If they both leaned just a bit more, their lips would touch.
“Maybe that’s it.” His voice was soft, sexy, but dark, too. “Maybe I don’t like who I am.”
Whether you’re new to Ribbon Ridge (welcome!) or you’re all caught up with the Archers, you may find yourself trying to track all of the characters in the novels. That will happen when you’re dealing with a family with seven kids! Let me introduce you to the kids first. There are sextuplets, all named with two syllables and four letters. In birth order, they are: Liam, Alex (they are identical twins), Kyle, Tori, Evan, and Sara. The non-sextuplet, also known as the “oops” kid since he was conceived rather surprisingly after years of infertility (extensive fertility treatments resulted in the multiple birth), is Hayden. Because multiple births are tricky and always happen early, half of them were born with a disability or special need of some kind. Alex’s lungs suffered from a lack of development, and he struggled with issues surrounding that his whole life. He also battled bipolar disorder, which he kept from most of the family. He committed suicide at the beginning of the first book, ONLY IN MY DREAMS. If you’d like to meet Alex, pick up the prequel novella, WHERE THE HEART IS.
The other two siblings who were born with challenges are Sara, who has sensory processing disorder, and Evan, who has Asperger syndrome, or what is now just called Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kyle has an addiction (read YOURS TO HOLD to find out more!), Tori likes to manage everyone and jockeys for the “leadership” position with Liam, and Liam is the alpha dog—or so he likes to think. All of them left Ribbon Ridge to find their place, with the exception of Hayden. As the youngest, he was left at home, along with Alex, and felt the need to support his ailing brother as well as support the family business. But, of course, after Alex dies, everything changes.
Rounding out the Archer family are their parents—Rob and Emily. They met in college and had an interesting love affair. You can read about it in WHEN LOVE HAPPENS. They have their ups and downs during the series, and they are by no means perfect parents. They do, however, love their children unconditionally and want what’s best for them. Rob has a younger brother who left Ribbon Ridge, and he has three kids. You’ll meet one of them in YOU’RE STILL THE ONE and all of them in future Ribbon Ridge novels!
Other folks who pop up include the Westcott brothers. You meet the eldest, Dylan, in ONLY IN MY DREAMS since he’s the hero. He has three younger half-brothers: Cameron, Luke, and Jamie. You spend some time with Cameron in book one and then with all three in YOU’RE STILL THE ONE. If you think you’ll be reading about them very soon, you’d be right!
Another recurring character is George Wilson, the bartender at the Archer’s flagship pub in Ribbon Ridge, The Arch and Vine. George makes an appearance in several books and he’s a fun fatherly-type to the Archer kids. He’s never been married, and I’m pretty sure there’s a story there!
Whew! That’s a lot of people, and there are plenty more—some of whom you’ll meet again. Is there anyone you’re looking forward to seeing?
Rafflecopter Giveaway (a signed set of Ribbon Ridge Series (Bks 1-5), a custom pint glass, coaster, and other Ribbon Ridge Swag. (U.S. Only). Additionally Avon Books will be giving away Three sets of Only In My Dreams and Yours to Hold (books #1 and #2) in digital downloads.)
DARCY BURKE is the USA Today best-selling author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional, contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age eleven, a happily-ever-after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan that loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations.
A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. In her “spare” time, Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a twelve-step program where one learns to say “no,” but she keeps having to start over. She’s also a fair-weather runner, and her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge.