(Ludzecky Sisters #1)
by Kathryn Shay
BEGIN AGAIN tells the story of Paulina Ludzecky who, since her husband died three years ago, runs a contracting business with her twin, Antonia. She’s ready to dip her toes in romance, when she meets Adam Armstrong, the architect on the new music hall her company is building.
For Adam, opposites attract and he’s drawn to this no-nonsense, down-to-earth girl next door. She’s equally interested in him though he’s too different from her to settle down with. But alpha male Adam has other plans for Paulina and isn’t about to let her go, even when Paulina has trouble with committing to him. Sex, yes! Love, no! This second chance at love story will tug on your heartstrings.
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From the way Adam looked at her when they were seated on the bench, Paulina knew he was going to kiss her, so she tried to leave the backyard. But once he’d stopped her, there was no escaping—because she didn’t want to be anywhere else. His mouth touched hers lightly, brushed over her lips, and she savored his taste—coffee and a hint of peppermint, which was soon eclipsed by the essence of him filling her head. After a few seconds, he slid his arms around her and drew her close. She went easily, willingly and fell deeper into the kiss. His tongue explored her mouth, and she allowed it,welcomed it, returned it. His body aligned perfectly with hers, and he pressed his hips in close. He was hard, and she was going damp, and she wanted to weep with the sensation. She missed the scent of a man, his flesh and bones, his unyielding frame. She inhaled him, crooked her head so he could get better access.
She had no idea how long the embrace went on. All she knew was that at some point, they were both stepping back, breathing hard, staring at each other.
“Well!” he said, raking his hand through his hair. She took pleasure in his loss of composure and consequently wasn’t embarrassed by hers. “That was unexpected.” “Really? You started it.”
“That’s not what I mean.” He arched a brow. “Besides, you wanted it.”
“I’m not denying that.”
“What I meant was, the contact was intense. Right away, without warning. I’m shocked by my reaction.”
Her hand touched her lips as she savored his taste, still on her. “I enjoyed it. But if you didn’t, that’s okay.” Once more, she started away. She didn’t have time for games, and if he was rebuffing her again, she didn’t want to stick around and get her feelings hurt.
“Hold on!” This time he caught her hand, pulled her around and didn’t let go. “Why do you keep running away?”
She took in a deep breath. “I guess because I can’t read you. You flirted, asked in an email if we should meet, then said never mind.”
No hedging. No denial. She liked that. “Why?”
“Because I wasn’t sure we should…do anything like this.”
“Adam, it was only a kiss.”
His expression said it was much more than that.
“But I liked it,” she continued. “Still, don’t worry. I’m not asking you for anything.”
Jamming his hands in his pockets, he rocked back on his heels. “What if I want something?”
“Damn it, Adam, just say what you mean. What you want. I don’t have time for or interest in being coy.”
“Let’s go out.”
She watched him.
“You’ve dated since your husband died, right?”
“No, but recently I made a decision that I wanted to get into the…the swing of things.
I’m seeing someone tonight for supper and a movie.”
His brows knit together. “Is it serious?”
“I met him on first base.”
She laughed at her expression. “At a softball game. I got a hit, and he…never mind all that.”
“So, you’re a free agent, so to speak.”
And would probably stay one. But she’d like to see this man. “I am, but I’m not interested in anything serious. Just some fun.” Some hot sex. She didn’t say that aloud, thank God. Though she knew one thing: she was attracted to him big-time.
“Have dinner with me this weekend.”
“Sofia’s taking the boys on Sunday for the day. I could do an early dinner.”
“All right. I’ll pick you up at five.” He added, “Wear something nice, but no ball gowns.”
Did he think he had to tell her what to wear? What was all that about? Maybe it was nothing. She just wasn’t used to this dating scene. Had never really been in it. He was probably being thoughtful.
“Hey, Paulie, you back here?” Frank’s voice came from the end of the yard.
She said, “I have to go.”
He grasped her arm again. “Would you wear your hair down Sunday?”
“Maybe. Let’s wait and see.”
(Ludzecky Sisters Series, #2)
by Kathryn Shay
In PRIMARY COLORS, Nia Ludzecky Pettrone is stuck in her grief and can’t find a way out of her sorrow over the untimely death of her beloved husband. Then she meets famous modern artist Rafe Castle, and she’s intrigued by his gentle demeanor and lack of arrogance. When he shows interest in giving her son the confidence and skills to nurture his budding art talent, she starts falling for him. Still, she finds it hard to leave the past behind and embrace love after loss.
Rafe is definitely interested in a relationship with Nia. If he has his way, she’ll come to love him and he vows to be patient. But when she rejects him in the most elemental of ways, can he control the comparison to past hurts she resurrects for him?
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“I remember.” When he didn’t say more, she batted her eyes like Elizabeita did when she flirted. “Mr. Castle, are you asking me to come up and see your etchings?” The old line for seduction.
“Well, Ms. Pettrone, my intention was more honorable until you said that, but I’m up for anything.”
Was she? Right now, Nia felt like she was.
He watched her. When she didn’t move, he took her hand. “Come up to my place. I do want to show you something.”
They walked faster down the two blocks, still holding hands. Once inside his building, they took the elevator in silence and Rafe unlocked the door to his loft.
Nia entered first. “I’m still stunned by how big this place is.”
“I don’t need all this space, but Jonas loved the openness.”
“It suits you, Rafe.”
He turned to her. “Why is that?”
“You’re larger than life and not because you’re famous. It’s your personality. You’re joie de vivre. You live in primary colors.” And her tones ran from cream to beige and often times gray.
“What a nice way to put it. Jonas said I take pleasure in everything.”
“After a difficult childhood, that’s amazing.” He was amazing.
“Now I’m embarrassed.”
Taking her hand, he tugged her to the studio. Several easels stood guard around the room. Two canvases were started. Another was covered with a cloth, and he crossed to it. “Stand about five feet away. Face the other side of the room.”
“I’m going to show you something I did the night you were at my loft. But I want to see your face when you first get a look at it.”
Nia turned to the collection on the opposite wall. The easels there sported scarlets and yellows, peacock blue and pinks.
Rustling, scraping. Then, “Okay, turn around.”
Pivoting back, Nia gasped. Oh, my God. She almost couldn’t take it in. Slowly, she walked closer to the canvas. Studied the way the sky gave way to her image—which was…unbelievable. Every feature was right. And every feature was wrong. He’d drawn her as a sensual siren, floating out of the clouds. The glint in her eyes was unfamiliar.
“I don’t understand. This isn’t me, in so many ways.”
“It’s how I see you, I guess.”
“Rafe, this woman is so…sensual. Sexy. So not me.”
“I think it is. Or had been. Or might be.” He stepped closer, cupped her jaw. “Let me prove that to you, Nia.”
Nia’s first instinct was to run. Fast and far away. Her heart raced, and her palms began to sweat. But she glanced at the painting again, and suddenly, she knew she wasn’t going to leave. So she moved closer and said, “Take me to bed, Rafael.”
(Ludzecky Sisters Series #3)
by Kathryn Shay
Magdalena Ludzecky is a career woman extraordinaire. A child prodigy, she’s worked her way into a successful private equity firm by the time she was twenty-four. Seven years later, she’s still the gentle, good-hearted sister who hasn’t forgotten her roots, but in business she’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s a woman who has everything, including Logan Price, her coworker and her best friend outside of the family. They support each other through tragedy and loss, vacation together and make million dollar deals together.
But suddenly, they find attraction growing between them. And no, they both think, this can’t happen! They like the status quo. An office romance is unthinkable. It doesn’t seem to be up to them, though, as fate intervenes and brings them together as lovers. Yet fate can be cruel, too, and pulls them apart when Logan’s circumstances change dramatically. Does this friends to lovers romance have a chance or are Logan and Magdalena going to lose each other forever?
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“I think we have what we need for our due diligence, Mr. Holland.” Magdalena smiled graciously at the owner of The Natural Life stores. “I hope you’re as excited as we are about the potential investment in your company by Price and Associates.” Magdalena had joined the private-equity after graduate school.
The owner held her gaze. “Mostly, it feels like I’m handing my first born off to someone else to raise.”
She gave him a sympathetic look. “Most of the companies we do business with have that initial reaction. Maybe you could look at it as sending your child off to school, where others can invest their time, energy and money into him.”
Carter Holland nodded. “So, where do we go from here?”
“Price and Associates analyze all the documents and visit more stores.”
Logan sat forward. “Ms. Ludzecky and I are both operational analysts.” The Power Team, they’d been called by the media. “We’ll analyze your strengths and weaknesses to make sure we want to invest, but we don’t get to this phase without being fairly certain we do.”
“And you’ll complete a management assessment, correct?”
“Yes.” This was Logan’s baby. “We’ll evaluate your staff and see if there’s any overlap or duplication of effort within the stores or in upper management.” There most likely would be layoffs, which Holland had to know.
Once again, Magdalena admired her colleague and friend for being able to handle the personnel task with emotional aplomb. She was glad she didn’t have to do that part of the assessment, though she’d be consulted.
After answering a few more questions, Logan stood. “We’ll be in touch about our decision. Before that, if we need anything else from you. One promise I can make is that we’ll be fair and save as many jobs as we can.”
“Which is why I want to work with your firm.” He stood and so did Magdalena.
She offered her hand first. “Thank you for your time. I’m sure we can take that baby of yours to greater heights than you could alone.”
“I hope so.”
“You won’t be sorry, Mr. Holland,” Logan told him.
Together, they left the office and soon stood on the streets of New York’s Financial District. Magdalena didn’t live too far from here. Early January sported one of its sunny winter days, so she and Logan stopped to talk. “He’s nervous,” she said, glancing back at the building.
“All owners are when they want to grow their business and go with private-equity investment. But Price wouldn’t be pursuing the company if we didn’t think it was good for all of us.”
She squeezed his arm. “Of course we wouldn’t. And I know you’re not crazy about the layoffs.”
Pointedly, he took a bead on her. “Then why don’t you do this part?”
“Because you got your undergrad in human resources. Mine’s in finance.” Checking her watch, she saw it was 1:00 p.m. “Want to get something to eat with me and Ana?”
“No thanks. I have a lunch date.”
Having worked with him for seven years, Magdalena rolled her eyes. “I know what that means. Shall I bring a sandwich back to the office for you?”
“I’ll have you know, Teresa and I are eating this time. She has to be at the theater early to go over some dances with the choreographer.” Logan dated the current star of All of Me, the hottest ticket on Broadway. Magdalena liked the woman, though from what he said about her, she could be mercurial in her moods. Logan called it artistic temperament.
“You’re good at finding time for other business,” she teased.
“Stop.” Though he liked a variety of women in his life, Logan was good-hearted and never duped any of them into thinking the relationship would last forever. He also didn’t give that heart of his to anyone. Often, Magdalena wondered why.
They both crossed to the curb. “Why’s Ana in town?”
Her older sister was the Dean of Admissions at Mount Mary’s in Brooklyn and was often in the city for her job. She still lived in the other borough, in the same house she once shared with Jared the Jerk.
“A recruiting fair.”
“How is she, Mags? I know you worry about her.”
“Because she’s bitter and still very sad, even after more than two years. Why wouldn’t I worry?”
“It’s never what it appears on the surface, why people break up.”
Because she loved Logan in many ways, she listened to him. “You’re right. Have a good lunch.”
He hailed a cab and she took out her phone. As she watched him get into the taxi, which always seemed to come right away for him, she could see why women flocked to him. Six three, all muscles with sky blue eyes, he was a stunner. For the hundredth time, she was grateful she was immune to his charms. She much rather preferred to have him in her life as a friend she could count on.
And she could. In every way.
The Way We Were
(Ludzecky Sisters Series #4)
by Kathryn Shay
Ana Ludzecky had it all—a sexy husband, a beautiful daughter, her dream house and the best extended family in the world. Then, tragedy strikes them and her life turns upside down. Unable to bear the suffering of her sisters, she makes some bad choices that eventually lead to the dissolution of her marriage.
Dr. Jared Creswell, a professor at Mount Mary College, always believed he and Ana would last forever. He’s never loved anybody like he loved her. But a year after the tragedy, she’s still suffering because of the horrific events her family suffered. Jared weakens and makes the biggest mistake of his life.
When their daughter is stricken with a rare kidney disorder, both Ana and Jared must come together to see her through this difficult time. Will his and Ana’s past love be rekindled or have they put it out forever? You’ll root for these two who’ve been dealt a bad hand in life and are trying to find their second chance at love.
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Handle with Care
(Ludzecky Sisters Series #5)
by Kathryn Shay
Of all the Ludzecky sisters, Sofia is the calmest one. She’s had to be. Diagnosed with leukemia at sixteen, the disease has affected her entire life. When bad things have happened to her—her father’s death, her Secret Service sister and brother getting shot, the deaths of her brothers-in-law–Sofia has gone into herself and found the strength to help them out and also take care of herself. The easy going, laid back lifestyle suits her and she likes it. Her chosen profession is as a yoga instructor and owner of Serenity Yoga, which enhances this way of living.
Football Coach Max Walker doesn’t know what to make of this sweet, demure and pretty woman who is hired by his high school to teach yoga to students. But he’s part of the Physical Education department and has to deal with her every day. Soon he comes to learn how special she is, and though he steered clear of romance with another teacher, he’s drawn to her. But she shies away from him—big time. Why? Women usually flock to Max.
Little does he know that his outgoing personality, his rabid bent for competition and his boisterous athletic family upset her. Opposites attract is not true in her case. But Max wants her, and he’s always gotten what he wants.
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Sofia practically danced up the stairs to her place over the studio. Behind her, Max’s steps sounded light, too. He’d said, rather implacably, at the end of the night, I’m gonna follow you home.
I’d like that.
They crossed the threshold and she closed the door. “So, I guess it went good?”
“It did.” She leaned against the wood. “They were darling.”
“They’re not the only ones.” He advanced toward her, his dark eyes gleaming like hot coals. “You were a real trouper. I can’t tell you how much your reaction meant to me.”
Staring up at him, she bit her lip. “I wanted it to go well.”
“Because I like you a lot, Max. When I was put off by their mannerisms, I was disappointed in myself. Though I still worry you and I are so diff—”
He cut her off with a kiss. A hard one that set her head spinning. Lifting her off the floor, he braced her against the wood and moved in. Their bodies met, and her hips pressed into his. She hadn’t meant to do that. Her action was spontaneous, like this kiss.
He growled, and responded in kind.
Pure hot pleasure rose in her as he continued to kiss her. Then one hand went to her breast. She jerked.
“Is this okay?” he asked against her cheek.
“Yes, more than okay. It feels so good.” The sensation of a man’s intimate touch was wonderful. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt it. And never so strongly.
He massaged her. Let his lips travel to her neck and kissed her there. Heat rose from him, from her, and Sofia stopped thinking.
She didn’t know how much later he drew back. She reached for him again, but he took her hand and let her slide to the floor. “No, not this way. Not mindless.”
“Mindless feels pretty good to me right now.”
“It won’t tomorrow. We got a plan, baby, and we should stick to it.”
Sofia tossed her head back. And straightened her shoulders. She remembered lying in bed right after the surgery, at sixteen, vowing to live her life without hesitation. And every single year after that when she went to have a checkup, as she waited on the examining table in one of those skimpy robes, she promised herself she’d embrace each day. So far, she had. Or at least she thought she had, until right this moment, when Max resurrected all the feelings of sexual arousal and attraction that had been buried deep inside her. There hadn’t been a man in her life in a long time. How awful.
“Sofia? Where did you go?”
“Backwards in time.”
“I don’t understand. Don’t you think we should stick with the plan? Get to know each other better, take this slow?”
She pushed herself off the wall and into him, looping her arms around his neck. “No. I say, screw the plan.”
(Ludzecky Sisters Series #6)
by Kathryn Shay
Elizabeita Ludzecky is two different women: one the risk-taking, hip, wild child in the Ludzecky family. Her other side is the Rhodes Scholar and businesswoman who works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The problem is she doesn’t know which is the real her. But what she does understand is the secret she carries inside her, and how it’s helped her survive a family fraught with tragedy.
Hardened cop Nick Casella decides to leave the NYPD because of his distaste for anti-police sentiment that developed after several high profile shootings were not prosecuted in the courts. But he’s asked to be part of a task force for the NYPD, an undercover unit specializing in unique crimes. He’s sent to the Met, ostensibly as a new employee do to set ups and other odd jobs. The famous museum has been besieged by odd emails, hackers and maybe even a stalker.
Nick works with Elizabeita when they put up a new exhibit and, at first, is not at all charmed by her winsomeness, her upbeat attitude about life or her sexy charisma. She’s a baby anyway, as he has more than a decade on her. But she’s getting the emails, too, and might be a victim, so he has to spend time with her. When she sets her sights on him, his first instinct is to run in the other direction. Soon, that changes dramatically. With secret and lies as the basis of a relationship, especially an older man/younger woman romance, does it have any chance of surviving?
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Elizabeita entered one of the conference rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and took a seat in the back. Most of the Contemporary Art staff had already gathered, and she noticed a workman touching up some paint on the side wall. Its scent was strong but not unpleasant
“How’s everybody today?” Delores Martin, the head curator in charge of the division, asked. In addition to Dee, three assistant curators, three collections managers, one research associate and a variety of technicians completed their department. Sometimes, Elizabeita had to pinch herself to believe she’d actually gotten an assistant curatorship at this renowned museum three years ago.
Mumbles of good or okay or tired abounded. Elizabeita liked the people she worked with, including the two interns from the School of Art in Manhattan.
After some announcements, Delores zeroed in on her. “Elizabeita, I’ve got good news for you.”
“Seriously? We’re getting it?” She’d been working on bringing a touring exhibit of a comparison between Dali and Picasso to the Met.
“Yes, we are. A gallery in Chicago had to drop out because of a fire. We’ve gotten their slot at the beginning of November.”
“Hallelujah!” Success meant a lot to her.
“We don’t have much time to prepare for this, but I’m sure it will sell out in days. Publicity is already underway. You can expect the setup to begin as soon as the Matisse exhibit ends and is broken down.”
“Great. Will I still be going to the conference in California the week after next?”
“I don’t see why not.” She transferred her gaze to the person next to Elizabeita. “Ellen, about your project. We didn’t receive a grant we expected from the city. It’s impossible to finance your exhibit before the end of the year.”
Also an assistant curator, Ellen Pratt frowned. “But you said it was on track to be accepted.”
“I thought it would be. I didn’t plan on the cut.”
Elizabeita knew how Ellen must feel. She’d experienced rejection at work, too. Then again, everybody did.
“Make an appointment to see me and we’ll talk.”
They covered other business, then Dee took off her glasses and leaned forward. “We’ll end with something we need to discuss—the emails our department has been getting.”
For a while now, the staff at the Met had been receiving emails which consisted of a line or two about modern art. The missives had gone from innocuous statements about its lack of relevance, its nonsensical presentation to branding the style as pagan, blasphemous and sacrilegious. After studying the history of art at Oxford, Elizabeita knew about art fanatics.
“There might be cause for concern,” Delores went on.
“Why?” Ellen asked. “We have the best security of any art museum in the world here. And Director Davidson is top-notch.”
“We do. Physically.” The museum sported the requisite cameras, guards in every room, motion sensors on each work of art, and vigilant overnight security. “But we may need assistance in dealing with computer issues.”
The collections manager offered, “These emails have been coming periodically for a while now. Aren’t they just from some kook who doesn’t understand genius or wants attention?”
“At first, we thought so. Then the frequency increased. And the tenor of the messages has become aggressive. Also, a few employees have noticed lurkers around the quietest spaces in the museum. When security was called, they vanished.”
“A lot of people lurk in museums.” This from the research associate. “We call it browsing.”
Elizabeita agreed about the lurkers. Her favorite patron of the museum, a little old Polish man who took the train in from Brooklyn every week, could be considered one. And he was as harmless as a kitten.
“All I can say is the director wants you to be on the lookout for anything unusual. And be sure to send your emails to him as soon as you receive them so his team can analyze the data.”
Elizabeita’s gaze strayed to the man painting in the corner. He hadn’t gotten much done. Right now, he was on his haunches doing something she couldn’t see. It was unusual to have a workman in a room during a staff meeting.
When the group broke up, Elizabeita took out her phone. As she walked into the hallway, she checked for messages. Three texts had come in, and she moved to the side to read them. One from a professor she had taken classes from—and more—who lived in London. One from Ana. Another from a guy she’d dated once and didn’t plan to see again. She answered them and then pushed herself off the wall. Right as the workman came out. They collided.
A gallon can went flying. When it hit the wall, the top came off and beige paint spattered everywhere. ““What the hell?” he muttered and whirled around. “You ran into me.”
“I wasn’t looking where I was going. I’m sorry.”
“Do you have any idea how long that’s going to take me to clean up?”
She frowned. “Quite a while.”
He glanced back to the wall. “Damn it,” he said under his breath.
“Listen, I can help you. It was my fault.”
“Damn right it was.” He raked her up and down with a disgusted gaze. “Never mind. I can’t see you mopping up paint in those heels and the suit.”
Hmm. Must be he didn’t know who she was. Not a big shot at the museum, for sure, but she’d started working here after she got her second degree in art and had interned in galleries in London and Paris. She planned to climb the art ladder fast. Now, at twenty-six, she was recommending exhibits and had gotten one approved. She could, if she wanted to, get him in trouble.
Sofia would kill her. Sweetie, she’d say. Be forgiving of people. You never know if their cat died, if they were up all night at a second job, or if they’d lost everything they’d worked for.
So she backed up a few steps. “You’re right. I was only trying to help.” Stung, she started to walk away.
And heard behind her, “I could probably leave the paint on the wall, and people would think it was just another piece of that damned modern art.”
Hmm. He had a sense of humor. Who would have guessed?
About the Author
A NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author, Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. She has written dozens of self-published original romance titles, print books with the Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Enterprises and mainstream women’s fiction with Bold Strokes Books. She has won five RT Book Reviews awards, four Golden Quills, four Holt Medallions, the Bookseller’s Best Award, Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year and several “Starred Reviews.” Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. There are over five million copies of her books in print, along with hundreds of thousands downloaded online. Reviewers have call her work “emotional and heart-wrenching.”
You can find Kathryn at