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February 26, 2020

Eternity Springs: Tucker by Emily March ~ a Review & Excerpt

by MK French


Gillian Thacker owns Bliss Bridal Salon, and works with wedding parties in Redemption, Texas. Her own wedding plans are a bust, so she decided to try learning survival skills. Tucker McBride, former military, decided to open a wilderness training school. It happens to be right next to the Bliss Bridal Salon, and suddenly he couldn't help but start thinking of weddings himself.

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Tucker
February 2020; St. Martin's; 978-1250314932
audio; ebook, print (336 pages); romance
Emily March wrote a series of novels taking place in Eternity Springs, and this offshoot trilogy features the McBride cousins in Texas. The first one, Jackson, I've already reviewed but it isn't necessary to be fully versed in that book or in any of the Eternity Springs novels. (They're really cute contemporary romances, so if you like that kind of novel, definitely check them out.) References are made to characters from past novels, but we're told the important pieces that are necessary to know for this one.

The novel begins a little slowly, because Gillian is still in her relationship with Jeremy, though there are warning signs that it isn't as solid as she thought it was. I do like the fact that they had made attempts at premarital counseling because it is always a good idea to work on communication. Jeremy missed that memo, lying to Gillian about several very important things. Tucker, who was isolating himself until he could find a direction, is infatuated from the start, but willing to give her the space she needs. As a result, the real romantic connection between the two of them doesn't even start until nearly halfway through the book. They get along well and both enjoy the notion of family, but Gillian is a planner at heart and Tucker is more spontaneous. Of course, that means they fit perfectly, and all it takes is time for Gillian to realize it. The novel ends on a sweet note, with everyone together right where they should be.

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Read an excerpt

Chapter Two

Tucker was a sixth-generation Texan, small-town born and bred. Certain behaviors were stamped into his DNA. A real man tipped his hat to the ladies, opened doors for females of any age, and never, ever failed to stop and assist a woman in distress.
So, of course, he had to turn around.
That this particular woman in distress was a total smoke show dressed in fire-engine red only made playing the role of Texas gentleman that much sweeter. He wondered how she’d managed to find herself out here in the middle of nowhere, no car in sight, not a house anywhere around, and the closest town a good ten miles away. Unfortunately, hot looks and a bright mind didn’t always go together.
He pulled to a stop beside her and flipped up the visor of his helmet. His assessing stare met a wary gaze shining from big, periwinkle-blue eyes that were swollen and red-rimmed with tears. She had an abrasion on her cheek just above her chin. Had someone hit her? When his quick visual sweep of her body revealed additional redness on both of her arms, he reconsidered. Airbag deployment, most likely. “Do you need some help, ma’am?”
  He watched her intently and saw her quietly repeat the word ma’am. After a moment’s hesitation, she licked her lips, swallowed hard, and said, “Well, um, I, um. May I borrow your phone?”
Her voice was smooth as Tennessee whiskey with just enough Texas in her drawl to sound like home to ears too far away for too long. “Yes, ma’am.”
She took a small step backward as he set his kick- stand and climbed off his bike. She’s scared of me.
It was a perfectly natural reaction and showed some sense, but Tucker didn’t like scaring women, so when he pulled off his helmet, he was scowling. Her eyes widened, she took another step back, and he realized he’d made the situation worse. Well, hell.
He reached deep inside him for the charm that had grown rusty with disuse, made a stab at a reassuring smile, and addressed the elephant in the cotton field. “Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you. I came back to see if I could help. That’s all. I give you my word, and a McBride’s word is his bond.”
“That’s so old-fashioned,” she said.
“Yes, well, that’s how we roll. Now, I’m going to reach into my pocket and pull out my phone.”
Her gaze dropped to his hand, and she gave a nervous little laugh. “No gun?”
“No gun.” That was in a different pocket.
Tucker unzipped his jacket and reached into an inner pouch for his phone while trying his best to look unthreatening. Their fingers brushed as he handed it over. Her fingernail color matched her dress.
“Thank you,” she said.
“You’re welcome. My name is Tucker.”
“I’m Gillian.” Her teeth tugged on her bottom lip as she stared at the phone. “Do you have Google maps? I need to send a pin of my location to my—”
  She broke off abruptly, and her head came up. Those glittering blue eyes—puffy and swollen from tears and framed by long, thick lashes—went round and big. Distracted, he fell into them. “Tucker Mc- Bride? Your name is Tucker McBride?”
He blinked and pulled slightly away. Now it was his turn to be wary. “Yes.”
She gave him a once-over, and some of the stiff- ness melted from her spine. “I know Jackson. Boone too. You’re the third cousin, aren’t you?”
Well, this was unexpected. “Yes, Boone and Jack- son are cousins of mine. Have we met?” He didn’t think so. He’d damned sure remember her.
“No.”
“I’m surprised you’d connect me to them. We’re a long way from Redemption.”
“Are we?” She gave a short, strained laugh. “I wouldn’t know. I’m lost. But you look just like them, and Tucker McBride is an unusual name. Plus, I re- member when the three of you arrived in Redemption the first time. You all rode motorcycles. My friend Maisy laughed that you had your own little McBride gang, so you were perfect for Ruin.”
Tucker grinned. “If you only knew.” He extended his hand toward her for a handshake. “Nice to meet you, Gillian . . . ?”
“Thacker. Gillian Thacker.” Her grip was firm, her smile filled with relief. “I’m a friend of Caroline Carruthers. Are you on your way to visit Redemption?”
Caroline was the woman Jackson was seeing, Tucker knew. He nodded. “Yes, I am. So now that you know I’m not a serial killer, want to tell me what you’re doing standing in a cotton field in a sundress and stilettos? Not exactly apparel for farming.”
She glanced down at her feet. “Technically, I’m not in the field but on the shoulder of a road. A narrow, two-lane, never-ending road. And no, cotton is not my thing. I’m all about satin and lace.”
Satin and lace? A vision of Gillian in lingerie the same shade of red as her dress flashed in Tucker’s mind as she continued, “I sell wedding gowns at a bridal shop in Redemption. Bliss Bridal Salon on Main Street.”
He tore his thoughts from the fantasy and listened when she began babbling about a pig and a pecan and a purse without a phone charger. When she finally wound down, she left Tucker shaking his head at her foolishness. He held up his hand. “Let me get this straight. You weren’t joking about being lost? You literally don’t know where you are?”
“No. Not exactly.” She lifted her chin, and her voice sharpened defensively. “I know I’m still in Central Texas. I’m somewhere between I-35 and I-45. I’m north of Austin. I think.”
He slowly shook his head. “Where is your car?
How far have you walked?”
“That way.” She hooked her thumb over her shoul- der. “Maybe two or three miles. I’ve been walking a while.”
“In those shoes?”
She gave a rueful smile.

Copyright © 2020 by Geralyn Dawson Williams.


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and three young children. 

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