A secret life is the best protection against love…

    Men love Rose Badger, and if the other inhabitants of dead-end Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Isn’t life for fun? Doesn’t a stable relationship always mean predictability and boredom? Well… perhaps things might be different with Jonah Livingstone, but he is off-limits for anything other than friendship. He’s still entangled in a complicated past relationship. And Rose has another secret life—one that she’ll never give up for any man.

  The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is Rose Badger. She’s easy-going, delightfully spontaneous, and Jonah is certain their attraction is mutual. But Rose is always surrounded by a crowd of admirers and doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. And, isn't he too independent to settle into a permanent relationship again? He’s leading his own very private life…and secrets are excellent protection against love.

Romance Book

Desert Rose
Published by Fire Star Press

   When the bell above the shop door tinkled, Rose’s well-practiced welcome smile was almost in place. Almost…then it stopped in mid-stretch. Stunned, she stared, blinked, stared some more. My goodness: wasn’t he gorgeous. Her interest increased, and her heart did a pitter-patter tippy-toe dance as she took him in: tallish—but anyone would be tall when compared to her tiny size—rangy, with tousled hair so black it appeared blue under the lights, an explorer’s bone structure and weather-honed skin, deep brown eyes. And here she was, acting like a complete idiot, frozen into place, gawking at him as if he were of another species, or something totally new-fangled dropped down from a distant stretch of the Milky Way.

   Not that he seemed to be faring any better, not moving, staring at her, his gaze unwavering, the wide-open door letting in frosty air and plump snowflakes. What was that gaze of his telling her? That he was surprised? Pleased? Oh yes. He liked what he saw, all right—and men did like her, she knew that. She was used to their admiration. They liked naturally golden curls, slanting blue eyes, and the broad, flat cheekbones of the Russian steppe. But wasn’t it especially nice to be admired by such a gorgeous specimen? Yes, indeed.
   Mentally, Rose shook herself, forced herself out of her stupor—somebody had to do something. This was a store, a business, not a blind date. If a man suddenly showed up in a ladies’ dress shop, that meant there was already a woman in his life. Unless he was a cross-dresser. Or was lost and needed directions out of this half-a-horse hellhole.

   “Hello.” She forced the formerly incomplete smile into something more fulsome and professional.
   “Hello,” he answered. Smiled back. Not a forced smile, though. A wonderful one that softened the craggy angles of his face, crinkled into deep lines around his mouth and eyes.
   Rose swallowed. Stared for another few seconds, then ordered herself to stop thinking about his smile, his lips, the soft, bristly, salty way his skin would taste if she licked it, right there, at the corner of his mouth. The thought made her knees tremble. A bad case of lust at first sight? With a great effort of willpower, she corralled the lusty thoughts until they were more manageable, somewhat closer to normality. Heard her own voice, calm practical: “Can I help you with something?”

   He shook his head, once, twice, as if waking from a trance. Then, laugh lines and crinkles disappeared, gave way to a more business-like expression. “Yes, of course.” Stepping into what was left of the warmth in the shop, he turned, closed the door behind him. Looked over at her again. Cleared his throat. “I’m looking for a present.”
   “For your wife?” Rose held her breath.
   His mouth tightened. “Not quite.”
   “Ah.” Hope faded. Not quite a wife wasn’t nearly as bad as a snuggled-in official wife, but it was close enough.       “Your fiancée.” She was fishing, she knew it too, but hoped he didn’t. Not that she was being subtle.
   “No, not that either.” His hand rose, then dropped: a confused gesture. “The woman I’m…ah…well…we live together. In the same apartment, that is.”
   “Ah.” Okay. The woman he was living with. Hope skittered out of the picture with all the clang of a badly tuned wedding bell. Unless she’d detected—no, intuited—another note, one hinting that all wasn’t entirely perfect.

   She tucked that thought into the back of her mind, ready for perusal at some later moment. For now, though, he was a potential customer, nothing more, she scolded herself…aside from that first blinding moment when he’d opened the door and seen her. A moment that had been nothing less than a spontaneous gut-deep call of male to female, female to male. A call now quashed with the message of “too late, already taken.”

What people are saying about Desert Rose:

A story of mature love, gender respect, with classic storytelling absent in so many books today. Kudos to J.  Arlene Culiner!”  Lisa McCombs, Readers’ Favorite 

 Desert Rose is a delightful, charming read with bold characters that easily draw readers into their story. The author brings Blake’s Folly and its inhabitants to life and manages to be both entertaining and emotional. 
E.L. Hurley InD’tale Magazine

 I loved the depth of the characters, the quirky nature of the nearly abandoned town, and learning about fossils, rocks, and desert creatures. But mostly I enjoyed the slow-building romance. 
Romance Fan 

Nothing is ever straightforward, otherwise, life would be too predictable. Deliciously hot and steamy love scenes complete the picture.
Jeanne Livingstone

Despite their attraction to each other, their independent ways stand in the way of a quick developing romance. But oh what a great romantic novel it is—and without the use of erotica. 
Whispering Stories
Desert Rose:  BOOK TRAILER

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