TRUE NORTH by Aria Wyatt – Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Release Date: February 1, 2021
Cover Design: MadHat Studios
Photographer: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: Kaz van der Waard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I’m a woman in exile.
Well . . . okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. My boss called it a temporary leave of absence, right before he offered me a promotion on my way out the door.
What does one do with two weeks to kill and big life decisions to make? If you’re me, you hop a plane to Alaska for a solitary retreat.
I wanted silence and tranquility. The time and space to think. I wasn’t prepared for what I got: THE Wes Emerson.
The Australian actor is too gorgeous—and too irresistible—for his own good. An infuriating mix of cocky and charismatic, he’s made it his mission to antagonize me.
But no matter how much I want to believe his flirting is genuine, I’m not stupid. Let’s be real, Wes is way out of my league, and I’ll be an afterthought as soon as this vacation is over.
It was supposed to be a guys’ trip.
Just me and my best mates at a remote lodge in Alaska’s Far North. They promised a breather from the stifling attention. Nature. Seclusion. Two weeks with no cameras, no autographs, and definitely no women.
Tell that to the snarky New York nurse who snagged the resort’s last vacancy.
Lena Hamilton is the wildcard I never expected to be dealt.
She’s got a dirty mind and a smart mouth. She doesn’t just rattle my cage, she bites back, pushing buttons I didn’t know I had. Her soft heart and fiery spirit make me ache for things I’ve sworn off for years. Something more. Something deeper.
Lena doesn’t believe I truly want her, but when we find ourselves at the mercy of the Alaskan wilderness, she has no choice but to trust me.
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“Lena Hamilton’s a nurse,” Wes announces, before I can even open my mouth.
My head jerks in his direction. “I never told you my last name. How’d—”
“My crystal ball’s always ready, and my clairvoyance kicks in at the half-hour mark.” He glances at his watch and flashes a cocky grin. “I’m ahead of schedule this morning. Must be on top of my game.”
You can be on top of my game. Or under it . . . inside it.
I flush at the conjured visuals. “How do you know I’m a nurse?”
He taps his head and winks.
“You’d do a lot more than wink if you could read my mind.” The statement leaves my lips before I can stop it.
Me thinks I need a muzzle.
Heat spreads from my cheeks, to my neck, to the cleavage my red V-neck displays. My unflappable hospital persona drains my ability to keep up the no-nonsense demeanor outside of work. In fact, any trace of professional behavior evaporates into thin air the moment I leave through those double doors. Courtesy of my lack of filter, real life Lena rules supreme in the land of flushed skin and blurted statements.
“It’s refreshing to meet a woman who speaks her mind, but you didn’t intend for that one to slip, did ya?” Wes raises a brow.
This time, I’m too flustered to respond. And that pisses me right off.
“That’s all right, we’ll skip this question since I already know your answer. You’ve got your pink cheeks to thank for that. Hell, I could’ve left my ball in ’Straya.”
I’ve seen many interviews with Wes on TV, and I’ve always found his pronunciation of Australia incredibly sexy. Turns out, it’s even hotter in person. I have half a mind to ask him to repeat himself.
Jake snorts. “No one’s interested in any of your balls, bro.”
“Are ya sure about that, Bennett?” Wes winks at me.
You smug bastard.
I cock my head and reach for my bag. “Got something in your eye? I have a mirror in my purse.” I make a show of rummaging through and discover my hospital badge is missing. I thrust my hand in his face. “Give it to me.”
“I’ve heard that one before.” Wes grins and hands over my lanyard.
I shove the badge in my purse. I’d forgotten about the hospital’s decision to update their personnel files. As typical, the universe dealt me a low blow, with the mandatory retake of my employee photo on the day after I called off my engagement to Marc. The hideous picture features my puffy, red-rimmed eyes, dark circles, and a resting bitch face that could freeze lava.
I glare at Wes.
He smirks like the smug bastard he is. “Wow. Your smile’s brighter than the sunrise. Bet they call ya sunshine.”
Jake smacks Wes on the head. “C’mon, man. Stop antagonizing her.”
“I’m making an observation, mate. Antagonizing her would be pointing out that’s now the third time she’s blushed in the last ten minutes.” Wes flashes a self-satisfied grin and winks again.
Never breaking eye contact, I scratch the side of my nose with a not-so-discreet middle finger.
Wes’s brows shoot up. He opens his mouth to speak. Then closes it. He pins his gaze to mine, with the hint of a smile playing at his lips.
I flash a sultry wink of my own and watch in amusement as his pupils dilate and his smile widens. Relieved to feel my old sass returning, I settle deeper into my seat.
Take that, Wesley Emerson.
Did I goad Wes with the wink? Absolutely. But I wasn’t prepared for his unyielding attention. Now, his gaze becomes a physical weight that freezes my lungs, making it impossible to breathe.
“Got an answer for my riddle yet?”
I shake my head. “No, you told me to think about it and get back to you.”
He purses his lips. “Time’s up.”
“Oh? I wasn’t aware of a deadline.”
“Well, I’m tired of waitin’ for ya.”
“Then perhaps you should’ve made the parameters clear from the start.”
“Perhaps.” He chuckles. “But where’s the fun in that?”
Every time he speaks, my heart speeds up and my brain short-circuits. Then he smiles, and my overworked neurons go on strike. Yep, in a few short minutes, he reduced me to fried synapses and a thundering pulse. I’d feel more comfortable in a room full of surgeons and that dick anesthesiologist from the OR.
My book shield flies back up.
“Must be an interesting story,” he says.
Actually, the book sucks, but there’s no way in hell I’ll admit that he’s more interesting.
“It’s fascinating,” I reply without looking at him.
Wes snatches my romance novel and reads it aloud, “Hands knotting in her hair, his kiss was fire—”
“Give it back.” I reach for my shield, but he yanks it away.
“I’d imagine a fiery kiss would burn.” Wes cocks his head. “I mean, hot coffee to the lips is bad enough, but flames—”
“You’re gonna burn in a minute.”
“Is that a promise?”
“Keep pushing me and you’ll find out.”
“Maybe I’m waiting for ya to say ‘please.’ ”
I clench my jaw. “Give. It. To. Me.”
“Now, that’s even better than please.” Wes grins and hands me back my book. “Knew I could make you say it again.”
Heat spreads from my cheeks to my neck and lower. The fucking bonfire is out of control and everyone tossed their marshmallows into the flames. I draw a shaky breath and return to my book. But it doesn’t matter—it’s not like I can focus on the words.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a community pharmacist for over a decade, Aria Wyatt spends the inhumane predawn hours with a cup of coffee and her laptop, gleefully indulging in her passion. A lover of love, Aria’s novels range in heat from steamy to scorching, and she gets off on fanning the flames.
Aria resides with her husband and two children in New York’s picturesque Hudson Valley, near the Catskills and iconic Woodstock. The avid reader balances marriage, motherhood, her career, and her dream. When not writing, she dabbles in photography, using the natural beauty of the region to her advantage. She cannot live without coffee, chocolate, music & books.
Author of True North and the Compass Series, Aria has a soft spot for those who are searching, yearning, and ultimately, finding. Whether on a mission to find themselves, find love, find forgiveness or solace, she believes the answer is out there somewhere.
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