Far From Home, by Lorelie Brown
A Belladonna Ink Novel
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 1, 2016
Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly: The slow blossoming of Rachel and Pari’s relationship is hot and delicious, and the romance is excellently seasoned…
My name is Rachel. I’m straight . . . I think. I also have a mountain of student loans and a smart mouth. I wasn’t serious when I told Pari Sadashiv I’d marry her. It was only party banter! Except Pari needs a green card, and she’s willing to give me a breather from drowning in debt.
My off-the-cuff idea might not be so terrible. We get along as friends. She’s really romantically cautious, which I find heartbreaking. She deserves someone to laugh with. She’s kind. And calm. And gorgeous. A couple of years with her actually sounds pretty good. If some of Pari’s kindness and calm rubs off on me, that’d be a bonus, because I’m a mess—anorexia is not a pretty word—and my little ways of keeping control of myself, of the world, aren’t working anymore.
And if I slip up, Pari will see my cracks. Then I’ll crack. Which means I gotta get out, quick, before I fall in love with my wife.
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“Thank you for saying you’d marry me.”
I yelp and spin. Because I’m graceful like that. I try to clap my hand to my chest, but cold wine splashes over my knuckles instead. “Jesus.”
“I’m sorry to startle you.” Pari’s standing in the doorway. Even though her dress looks like silk, she doesn’t seem to mind that the flared skirt brushes against the doorjamb. Her dark brown hair spills around her shoulders, turning the dark-blue boatneck into a bejeweled setting.
I shrug. “Awkward is my personal brand. I probably shouldn’t have said that. About marrying you. I’m sorry if it was weird.”
“It wasn’t weird. I promise.” Pari tips her head enough that long hair slides over her shoulder. “I’m the one who was crass enough to talk about my visa difficulties.”
I love her voice. It isn’t only the lilting cadence of her native India mixed with crisp Britishness, it’s the sweet kindness that is absolutely letting me off the hook.
I lift the wine bottle I’m still holding, only to realize there’s some on my fingers. I transfer the bottle to my other hand and lick my knuckles. “Would you like some? I’ll let you pour so I don’t make any more of an ass of myself.”
“I’ll take some, but not for that reason.” Her charm flashes as she moves, like she carries a bubble of rarified air.
As Pari stands next to me at the slate counter and reaches for one of the hanging glasses above us, my breath catches. Pari has the elegance that I have always lacked and always admired.
“So are you bisexual?” Even the question that would have been unbelievably rude from someone else seems mildly curious from her gentle tone.
“Oh! Um, no. Sorry?” My heartbeat drowns all my other senses out.
“You certainly don’t have to apologize for that. Though I have to admit I’m a little disappointed.”
The tips of my ears tingle, and my stomach takes a funny swoop. “Disappointed? Why?”
Pari glances sideways at me. Her throat is long and lovely. “I’m sorry if this is forward, but Krissy said you have large bills and a job that doesn’t keep up.”
“They’re student loans.” The swoop of my stomach turns into the hot coals of embarrassment that Krissy has implied I’ve been recklessly spending. “I have a master’s. I didn’t have any family to help.”
“A master’s,” Pari echoes. She nods. “A master’s is excellent.”
“Not when it’s an MFA in film. Even with a job, I can’t afford to make my minimum payments.” I try to make my smile wry, but based on how awkward I feel, it’s probably somewhere on the pitiful spectrum.
“Which makes me wonder if we could come to a mutual understanding after all.”
It’s my turn to echo Pari. “Mutual understanding?”
“You see, I’m not rich per se,” Pari says as if those words make perfect sense in that combination. “But I’m comfortable. I wouldn’t be considering entering consulting and giving up my work visa if I didn’t have a cushion.”
“Uh-huh.” I nod as if I have even a slight hint where this is heading.
“And I am a lesbian.” Pari turns and leans a hip against the counter. “A gold-star lesbian, as a matter of fact.”
“It works for me.” Her pale-green eyes glow with amusement. Especially against the rich, clear brown of her skin, they’re magical. “No one would be surprised if I marry a woman.”
“I’m not sure what you’re . . .” Except I do know. I have an idea I know exactly where this is going in that split-second way where I could shut it all down or maybe change the entire course of my life with one conversation.
After a seminomadic childhood throughout California, Lorelie Brown spent high school in Orange County before joining the US Army. After traveling the world from South Korea to Italy, she now lives north of Chicago. She writes her Pacific Blue series of hot surfers in order to channel some warmth.
Lorelie has three active sons, two yappy dogs, and a cat who cusses her out on a regular basis for not petting him enough.
In her immense free time (hah!) Lorelie cowrites award-winning contemporary erotic romance under the name Katie Porter. You can find out more about the Vegas Top Guns and Command Force Alpha series at www.KatiePorterBooks.com or at @MsKatiePorter. You can also contact Lorelie on Twitter @LorelieBrown.
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To celebrate the release of Far From Home, Lorelie is giving away a ring!
That’s right, a size 7 ring, similar to the one Pari buys for Rachel in the book. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 6, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!