Can’t Help Falling in Love…quotes that make me smile

CHFiLI spent a lot of time this weekend pulling excerpts for blog posts (got some upcoming guest posts with giveaways…woo hoo! look for more info on that Wednesday) and I made this list of my favorites:

1. What Tony thinks of Randa:

He just didn’t need anything bringing the hotel’s newest guest to mind.

But it was too late. Randa Whitmore.

In the Marines, he’d spent a lot of time with sand in really uncomfortable places.

He had a feeling she’d be a lot like that. Irritating and impossible to ignore.

2. What Randa thinks of Tony:

“What kind of dog is she?” Randa asked as she stared into the dog’s eyes. She kissed the flat spot right between the green bows before straightening up.

Tony’s face had thawed slightly, she was happy to see. When their eyes locked, Randa had to remind herself to breathe slowly and evenly. She caught her breath when he looked back at the computer and said, “Bloodhound. And pampered princess.”

For a minute, she got the feeling he was talking about her with the last part, but his face was back to normal. Hard to read.

3. But then this happens:

Out of the Hawaiian shirt and khakis, Tony was perfectly imperfect. His olive skin was lightly tan. Black ink swirled up his left arm. This close she could make out the words “Semper Fi” and then what looked like names, all in a simple script. She wanted to touch his tattoo, to trace her fingers up his arm. She wanted to feel his skin. Black curls covered his pecs and trickled to a thin line down his abdomen to disappear into . . .

God, help me.

4. And then this happens:

Tony wanted to see her in a swimsuit. Badly. He wanted to burn the image of her in a bikini somewhere safe and sound that he could savor later to his heart’s content.

“Oh, right. You, on the swim team.” Tony watched her bright red lips tighten.

“I just don’t feel like swimming, that’s all.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

“So you’re out here by the pool instead of . . . I don’t know, touring Graceland? Or doing your nails? Or bathing in unicorn blood to stave off wrinkles? You must have a long list of other things to do.”

Randa dismissed that idea with a wave. “Unicorn blood? Do you know how expensive that stuff is?”

Tony laughed. He couldn’t help it. It was rusty and harsh to his ears, but the feeling of letting go of some of the tension and fear that he might not ever laugh again, especially while sitting next to a beautiful woman, was so good.

5. And things get real…

Willodean stared at a small gold statue of Elvis for a minute before she shook her head. “Don’t think we’re the competition, Tony. They build those tall, boxy monstrosities with zero personality.” She smiled slyly. “My Rock’n’Rolla’s got plenty of personality.”

He chuckled. She was right. And she was cute as she said it too.

“Pretty girl?”

Tony glanced away and squinted at the light pouring in through the window. Finally he exhaled loud and long. “Prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.”

Willodean clasped her hands together. “Oh, thank you, Lord, for answering the prayers of a sinner like me.”

I could go on because I do love Tony, the bookworm ex-Marine. Here’s the book info:

The staff of Cheryl Harper’s Elvis-themed Rock’n’Rolla Hotel are back with a funny, fresh romance that goes undercover—under the covers! As a former Marine, hotel manager Tony Ortega has plenty of experience assessing threats, and the hotel’s newest guest, Randa Whitmore, is a code red. Tall, blonde, and with legs for miles, she may look like his every fantasy, but he knows she’s not really visiting for the famed Elvis Week. Though dangerously drawn to his new guest, Tony will do anything to protect his job . . . especially if it means sleeping with the enemy.  Business strategist Randa Whitmore never meant to be undercover in Memphis. In August. Sweating her expensive spa treatments away. But snagging another perfect hotel location for her father’s empire means using all the tricks in her designer arsenal. And even though the sexy, tattooed manager seems oblivious to her charms, Randa’s prepared to bring out the big guns—just so long as she can stay objective and out of Tony’s muscled arms. After all, it’s just business, right?

Can’t Help Falling in Love Excerpt: The Bookstore Kiss

His face was determined as he leaned towards her, and she lost her breath because it looked like he was going to kiss her.

Then he did, his lips a warm shock against hers.

This kiss was a sweet hello. His lips settled on hers in an easy slide. When she gripped his shoulders and tried to pull him closer, he smiled against her lips and his tongue was a quick tease over her bottom lip before he rested his forehead against hers. Randa didn’t move. She was afraid to. He was going to step back, and she didn’t want him to. She wanted to stay right here with him. Finally he took a deep breath and leaned back just enough to look her in the eyes. “There’s this one other thing I’ve been dying to do.”

“Yes.” Randa nodded her head. She had no idea what it was, but she was ready.

Tony squeezed his eyes shut for just a second. The sound he made when he opened them again was somewhere between a laugh and a moan. Maybe it was both. Randa understood exactly what that felt like.

He pressed forward to kiss her again, his hand a hot support against the back of her head and his lips aggressively seductive. This time he coaxed her lips open and teased her tongue with his. Each tentative touch sent a shiver of awareness through her. She wanted to press her breasts against his chest, get closer, so much closer, but the seat belt pinned her down. Her breath was long gone when Tony ended the kiss, his breath coming in quiet pants as he stared into her eyes, but when his hand rested on her knee she tried to gasp. And when he touched her thigh, lightly rubbing his hand on bare skin, she lost her mind.

She actually bit her lip to keep from moaning like a porn star. Because a man touched her thigh. It was a little like she was back in high school but so much hotter.

Seduced in front of a bookstore. Did it get any better? More private, certainly. But better, no way. Tony’s eyes were hot as he stared down at her.

Randa squeezed the hand on her thigh and said, “Satisfied?”

The look in his eyes was predatory. Tony shook his head. “No way. Not even close.”

Randa licked her lips. “Good. Me either.”

Can’t Help Falling in Love Excerpt: The Pool

She hadn’t slept well. First she’d had a nightmare about a homeless Misty who wandered the busy Memphis streets because her hotel was gone. And then when she’d started awake to see that it was only midnight, she’d fought the urge to sneak out to the lobby to make sure Misty was safe and sound. Telling herself it was crazy to worry about a dog that wasn’t even hers, she forced herself to stretch out and think of something else.

After she’d finished the hardcover she’d carried on the plane, she put it and her drugstore reading glasses on the nightstand. Still too restless to sleep, she had plenty of time left to think about Misty. And Tony. Misty would never be homeless. Willodean would take her . . . somewhere. And Tony would land on his feet in another job. Of course he would. Unless he was related to Willodean Jackson somehow. Maybe he was manager here because he couldn’t get a job anywhere else. Maybe he was on parole and lucky to have family to call on, a situation that she was just about to put an end to, possibly plunging him into despair and God knew what else and dooming him to roaming the streets instead of Misty.

She’d slapped her own forehead then and she repeated it now by the pool. She really shouldn’t read in bed. Clearly it made her imagination run wild. He was a grown man. He’d find another job.

Randa was the one with a potentially bigger problem. Her runaway brain would have her shooting herself in the acquisition foot if she didn’t watch it.

All because of a dog. Or a man she didn’t even know and had no business worrying over. She had plenty on her own plate to worry about.

“Was that an a-ha moment or a mosquito?”

Randa took a deep breath and opened her eyes to see Tony standing next to the lounger.

Then she forgot every worry she’d ever had and most of everything she knew.

Because if Tony lost his job running the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel, he had a future in underwear modeling. His swim trunks rode low on his hips and even though she’d seen swimsuits that showed a whole lot more of what a man was working with, she’d never seen another man with a body like his.

In her experience, handsome men were either gym rats or couch potatoes. She’d seen a lot of manscaping in her time too: hairless chests, spray tans, and even hair plugs once upon a time.

Out of the Hawaiian shirt and khakis, Tony was perfectly imperfect. His olive skin was lightly tan. Black ink swirled up his left arm. This close she could make out the words “Semper Fi” and then what looked like names, all in a simple script. She wanted to touch his tattoo, to trace her fingers up his arm. She wanted to feel his skin. Black curls covered his pecs and trickled to a thin line down his abdomen to disappear into . . .

God, help me. Randa felt the need to fan her face or stick her tongue out to pant. August in Memphis might camouflage her reaction, but she hadn’t known heat until Tony stood in front of her with no shirt on.