Settling down isn't high on Xavier Eaton's list--he's having too much fun playing the field, sharing his bed but never his heart. All that changes when the high-ranking military man and longtime bachelor comes back to South Carolina and walks into Selena Yates's tantalizing patisserie....
Charleston is a long way from Selena's West Virginia mining hometown. And the gorgeous Eaton war hero isn't like anyone the wary chocolatier has ever met. Xavier's kisses spark desire...and a powerful yearning to belong to him. As his kisses heat up the sultry Southern nights, Selena is tempted to say "I do" to a lifetime of passion. But is she ready to take her rightful place among the Eaton women as Xavier's beloved and adored bride?
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June 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Sweet Persuasions by Rochelle Alers
Xavier Philip Eaton maneuvered into the empty parking space on King Street. The owner of one of the antiques shops lining the street had called him the day before to let him know that she'd been able to acquire some crystal and silver serving pieces from an estate sale, which he was thinking of giving his sister as a wedding gift. In less than three months, his sister Denise would be getting married and changing her last name from Eaton to Fennell.
He'd been as surprised as his parents were when Denise announced that she'd reconciled with her college sweetheart-- after a six-year separation--and was marrying the successful Washington, D.C. businessman Garrett Fennell on New Year's Eve. When Xavier had asked his mother Paulette Eaton about a wedding gift, she'd suggested giving the couple something in keeping with the late-nineteenth-century architecture of their D.C. town house. His future brother-in-law, Garrett, had purchased a four-story town house just blocks from the city's trendy, upscale Dupont Circle, renovating the first three floors for his various holding companies and the fourth floor as their personal residence. The renovations were scheduled to be completed before the end of the year, and Denise had decided to decorate the town house with period antiques and reproductions. Besides the wedding gift, he also had to buy something for his sister's upcoming birthday.
As the brother of the bride, Xavier was not only part of the ceremony, but he would have the honor of walking his sister down the aisle, since their father Judge Boaz Eaton had agreed to officiate. For the moment Denise's wedding had taken the pressure off of him, since his mother was obsessed with having her children get married and giving her grandchildren. It seemed Paulette Eaton was competing with her sister-in-law, Roberta Eaton, whose children had all married and made her a grandmother many times over.
Xavier wasn't against marriage, per se. It was just that he hadn't met a woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Considering his former girlfriends, he could honestly say there hadn't been "one that got away." He'd been forthcoming with the women he'd dated, admitting that he wasn't ready to settle down and become a husband and father. And at the time, he wasn't certain where he'd wanted to go with his military career. Most of the women respected his honesty, and many of them had remained friends even after their relationship ended. Those who wanted marriage opted for a more permanent break.
In the past year, he had undergone major changes in his life. A combat injury had ended his military career, and he had moved back to Charleston, South Carolina for the second time in more than a decade. In college, he'd been a student at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where he'd graduated with distinction. He'd subsequently enrolled in The Citadel's graduate school, earning a degree in U.S. History and then went on to earn another degree at the Marine Corps War College. This time, he was back in Charleston not as a student, but as a teacher at a small, elite military prep school, teaching U.S. Military History. Just when he'd thought his days of wearing a uniform were over, he found out he still had to wear one whenever he was on campus.
It was late September, and the sultry heat of summer had not yet subsided. After growing up in Pennsylvania, he'd come to appreciate the relatively mild Southern seasons. Walking along King Street, he slowed his pace when he peered into the window of a pastry shop that displayed desserts and sweets reminiscent of a Parisian patisserie.
He smiled when he read the white lettering on the dark blue awning: Sweet...