Deborah Grace Staley

July 2014 $14.95
ISBN; 978-1-61194-375-7


Book 1 of The Wilde Dunes Series

The days are hot, but the nights are hotter.


Our PriceUS$14.95
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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

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Fantasies come true on this sultry Georgia island.


Emma Vance is the serious sister, happiest running her family’s Wilde Dunes Resort from behind the scenes. She leaves the parties and the host duties to her sister, Sara. But when Sara takes off for unknown adventures, Emma is thrust into Sara’s role—and finds herself face to face with a sinfully sexy guest. It isn’t long before Emma begins considering mixing business with pleasure.


Liam Anderson is rich, worldly, and gorgeous . . . but not at peace. At Solomon’s Island, where his family once summered, he finds himself fantasizing about spending the week relaxing with Emma on the beach . . . and in his bed.


Emma tells herself she’s not his type, that this is just a fling, but the attraction between her and Liam is hotter than a Georgia summer. When trouble arrives and Liam appears to have come there with ulterior motives, she’ll find out just how high the price may be when a fantasy is swept out with the tide.

Deborah Grace Staley, originally from East Tennessee, now calls Southern Florida home. Married to her college sweetheart, she lives in a 1925 Mission-Style Bungalow near the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to being an award winning and bestselling author, Deborah loves spending time with her family and playing with her two rescued dachshunds. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and a Bachelor’s degree from King College. She writes full-time and teaches. Deborah loves to hear from readers! Please visit her website, where you can find links to her Facebook and Twitter (@debgstaley) pages. Email her at



Coming soon!



To Our Guests:

Invitation to Vacate Your Life

Wilde Dunes Resort sits on one expansive mile of beach on Solomon’s Island, Georgia’s southernmost barrier island. This full-service, inclusive resort consists of a central, gracious, white-columned, beachfront mansion, which houses the resort offices, a restaurant, full-service spa, accommodations for spa guests, pool, and beach bar. Ten villas, surrounded by palm trees and natural sea oats, fan out on either side of the mansion providing privacy, decadently comfortable king size beds, waterfall showers, Jacuzzi tubs, and sumptuous indoor seating. Outdoor beachside terraces provide chaise lounges, hammocks, and thick white towels, while lush vegetation provides privacy.

A short path to the beach opens onto a private beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Explore the island, hike, canoe, surf. Take a ferry ride to Couper’s Pointe and see the lighthouse or experience local color in one of the town’s businesses which includes two taverns, McTeer’s and McIntire’s, Miss Amy’s Sweet Shop, and Dog Eared, a new and used book shop. If you’d like to attend Sunday services, the town has the Methodist and Episcopal variety of churches. Or just relax on the island, swim in the ocean and soak in the quiet serenity. The villas have no television, phone or Internet service. Leave your laptop and mobile devices at the front desk upon check-in and enjoy perfect peace and relaxation during your stay while our staff caters to your every need.

The Staff of Wilde Dunes

Charlie, Claire, Sara and Emma Vance



Chapter 1

EMMA VANCE READ her sister’s note again, then wadded it up and threw it across the room. It landed behind her couch. Damn it. She dove over the couch, retrieved it, then sat at her desk, smoothing out the wrinkles.


It’s the middle of the night. It’s so hot I can’t breathe. I have to get off the island for a while. I’m taking your boat to Couper’s Pointe. I’m borrowing your car, too. I need a few weeks away.

I’ll call you soon.


Lots of "I’s” in her note, but that was Sara. Everything had always been about her. How she felt, what she needed. Sara had always soared and dipped like a kite riding a wind current. And Emma had always stood, feet planted squarely on the ground, holding the string. When Sara crashed, Emma picked her up, brushed her off, and watched her take flight again. But this time, Sara had cut the string. And Emma would have to deal with the fallout, whatever it was. Whenever Sara was ready to talk about it.

Right now, it was Emma who’d have to step into her sister’s role as hostess at Wilde Dunes, their family’s beachfront resort. Emma worked behind the scenes because she didn’t like being out front. She was comfortable handling the business of running the resort. Her sister was more beautiful, more outgoing, more personable, more... well, more everything Emma wasn’t. So naturally, their aunt and uncle had put Sara in charge of customer service. She was the face of Wilde Dunes Resort. She supervised and trained the staff, appeared in all the media ads, and provided a virtual tour on the resort’s website. Sara greeted guests at check-in and hosted all resort events scheduled throughout the week.

It was a lot of responsibility, but Sara thrived when she was the center of attention. She’d complained so often about being burned out and needing a break that everyone had stopped listening. Ever dramatic, Sara made this pronouncement to remind everyone of how much work she did, as if everyone else on staff sat around playing computer games and eating chocolate.

At the thought of her favorite guilty pleasure, Emma opened the jar of M&M’s on her desk and shoved a handful of the plain variety into her mouth.

She looked in the mirror and sighed. She removed her glasses and then the band holding her ponytail in place. Her thick brown hair dropped to her shoulders. Sara had long, sleek blonde hair, kept that way with keratin treatments. Emma never bothered. No one saw her holed away in the back of the mansion, the centerpiece of the resort. She tried smoothing her hair with both hands, but the humidity already had it frizzing and curling.

Sara made the resort uniform of white polos, bearing the resort’s logo, and dark shorts look sexy. Emma just felt frumpy and rumpled. Like a bad fit for the job. She tugged at the hem of the shirt. The last set of shirts and shorts her sister had ordered didn’t work for Emma. The shorts sat too low on her hips and the shirts weren’t quite long enough. But then, Emma was taller than Sara. So for Emma, the shirt and shorts didn’t quite meet in the middle. Not a big deal, since Emma didn’t usually have to be out front. Maybe she should run up to her room to get one of the old shirts.

A knock at the door had her swallowing the rest of her candy. She didn’t have time for anyone right now.

Her aunt opened the door and leaned in. "Emmy, you ready? Everyone’s waiting to begin.”

"I know.” Emma pushed back her unruly hair and turned to the mirror again.

Aunt Claire looked at Emma, frowning. "Is that what you’re wearing?”

"I’ll go change.”

Aunt Claire stopped her with a hand on her arm. "There’s no time, sweetie. And I wasn’t thinking you should change.” Her aunt touched Emma’s hair, then tapped her chin. "You’re beautiful. No wonder we keep you locked away in the back of the building. Otherwise, we might have a riot on our hands from the male guests.”

Emma looked up at the ceiling. "Alert security,” she said, sarcasm dripping from the statement. "Let’s go,” Emma said morosely, dread pulling at her feet as they walked to the foyer. Her aunt fell in step with her. "And please, don’t call me Emmy. It makes me sound like a little girl.”

"You’ll always be my little Emmy,” her aunt said.

Emma shook her head, more annoyed as each step brought her closer to the guests. "Let’s just get this over with.”

"Hmm... maybe you should have changed your shoes,” Aunt Claire said.

Emma stopped. "What’s wrong with my shoes?” She looked down at her Sperry’s, frowning.

"They’re not very flattering.”

Sara usually wore strappy, sexy heels. "They’ll have to do,” Emma said, and started walking again. "I can’t believe Sara just left like that.”

"Well, she did say she needed a break,” Aunt Claire pointed out.

"If we had a dollar for every time she’d said that, we’d all be rich.”

"I suppose she meant it this time.”

When they reached the lobby, Andrea Smith, the hotel manager, joined Emma and her aunt. "Emma, the chef wanted to alert you that Guest Three has a shellfish allergy, and he’ll need you to approve an alternate menu. Also, Guest Six got a heat rash already. We’ve called the doctor to come have a look. Oh, and Guest Seven missed his connecting flight and will be arriving late.”

"Fine.” She eyed the people milling around the foyer with trepidation.

"I always tell Sara everything about the guests. She approves anything that isn’t pre-planned,” Andrea explained.

"You’re the resort manager. I trust your judgment.”

Andrea stammered out an uneasy, "Okay...”

Emma stopped, and both the women trailing her skidded to a halt just before ramming into her. "Look, both of you need to understand that I’m out of my depth here. There’s a reason I keep to my office. I speak plainly, I have no idea how to smooth things over with pretty words, and I’m not good at making people feel at ease.” Hell, she didn’t feel at ease with people most of the time. "But I do know that no matter what comes up, you two can handle it. I’ve seen you do it a million times behind the scenes while Sara took the credit. She did it so often that, apparently, even you thought she’d done the work.”

Emma took a deep breath and tried smoothing sweaty palms down her shorts, but too soon found the tops of her thighs. Damn it. She tugged at the legs, but that only revealed more skin at her waist. Tomorrow she’d wear the old polo shirts instead of Sara’s new ones.

"We’re all professionals here,” she said more to herself than to the women in front of her. "Let’s all just put on our big girl panties and try to get through this.

"Andrea, you’re brilliant at what you do. Aunt Claire, you’ve lived here most of your adult life, seen countless guests come and go. You have a gift for anticipating our guests’ needs. Uncle Charlie can, and has, fixed anything that breaks, leaks, or falls apart. With you all doing your jobs, I just might get through this.”

Emma then turned and faced the guests milling around the lobby, looking at them as if they all held guns poised for her execution. She had a role to play. With a smile on her face, she took a step forward, right into the line of fire. She’d never had a drama class, but she’d watched her sister perform for years. How hard could it be?

WHEN LIAM ANDERSON stepped out of the black Lincoln, heat and humidity greeted him. He undid several shirt buttons as a sheen of sweat instantly covered his skin. A transatlantic flight, two missed connections, and he was finally here—an island off the coast of Georgia. No flashy sign declared the name of his destination: a resort that promised to help guests unplug and achieve total relaxation. That was a skill Liam had never cultivated. He’d be interested to see if it could actually happen.

The driver had retrieved Liam’s small suitcase and now swept a hand toward the entrance. "After you, sir.”

Shells crunched beneath his leather dress shoes as he walked down a narrow path that led from a circular drive lined by tall palm trees. Two old magnolia trees stood in the front lawn flanking the mansion’s portico. Pale moonlight filtered through the hazy heat, but floodlights lit up an impressive bright white facade of the Greek revival mansion rising two stories into the night sky. A central portico with four tall Corinthian columns jutted out from the structure with a wide, bricked porch that extended across the front of the home. Arched windows marked the first floor, while tall, rectangular windows lined the second story.

Solomon’s Island was dotted with several lavish properties like this, built at the turn of the century by rich industrialists as vacation homes. After the boom of the Industrial Revolution, many had gone into foreclosure or had been abandoned. This property had been occupied by the Wilde family up until the last Wilde to live here had deeded it over to his caretakers—the Vances—before his death. They now ran it as an exclusive resort. The information was all on the resort’s website, but Liam already knew the story.

A bellman opened heavy, double wooden doors and said, "Welcome, Mr. Anderson.”

He nodded and walked into the grand two-story foyer. A dark, petite woman approached to greet him. She offered her hand, which he took. "Welcome, Mr. Anderson. I’m Andrea Smith, the resort manager. I’m so sorry your arrival was delayed. But now that you’re with us, we’ll do everything possible to ensure that the remainder of your trip will go as planned.”

That would be wonderful. As Liam looked around the foyer, he wondered if any of the items had belonged to the previous owner. A mahogany table with a large vase containing a tropical bouquet of blooms stood at its center. To the left was a library, and to the right was an empty dining room. He checked his watch, but it was set to a different time zone.

At the back of the foyer, a few steps led down to a large fireplace flanked by two benches. To the left, a dark wood staircase took several turns, but extended to the second floor. Tall multi-paned windows filled the space above the stairs soaring to the crown molding and ornate ceiling. Electric sconces lined the walls providing soft lighting.

The large fireplace drew his attention. In this heat, who could ever need such a fireplace? "Does it get cold enough for a fire that big?”

"It does get chilly in the winter,” the resort manager said.

"And the benches? Can you really sit that close when there’s a fire going?”

"Actually, those benches were for guests. A butler would ask them to sit there while he alerted the family of their presence. The family could look down to this seating area, unnoticed from their rooms upstairs, to see who had come to call.”

"And if they didn’t want to see them?”

"The butler would let the guests know that the family was not receiving guests. They’d offer the people refreshments and send them on their way. But don’t worry,” the woman laughed. "Here at Wilde Dunes, we don’t send guests away.”

"Good to know,” Liam said.

Liam wondered if the Vances would welcome him into their home if they knew who he was.

He tipped his head from side to side, stretching the tight muscles in his neck. The jetlag and day and a half of being cramped inside airplanes, eating tasteless food and drinking way too many of those tiny bottles of liquor, had caught up with him.

"Ms. Vance has already welcomed the other guests. She asked me to alert her of your arrival so she can greet you.”

An uneasy feeling raced down Liam’s spine and radiated into his limbs, making them heavy. He felt the irrational urge to bolt. He ran a hand around the back of his damp neck, despite the coolness of the air-conditioned foyer. Maybe this had been a mistake.

"That’s not necessary. If you could just—”

"All guests are welcomed personally by Ms. Vance.”

Liam smiled, trying to fall back on the charm he’d always relied on to get him exactly what he wanted. Lately, it had failed him. He’d seen this particular member of the Vance family on the resort website. The leggy blonde was every man’s fantasy. Normally, he’d be interested in her personal welcome, but right now, all he could think of was a shower and a comfortable bed.

"If you’ll follow me?”

The resort manager turned, and with no other choice, Liam followed her to the cold fireplace. All thoughts, uncomfortable or otherwise, were hijacked when a woman approached from a hallway at the back of the foyer and walked down the steps to the fireplace. She folded her hands in front of her as she watched him approach. His steps faltered and he stopped on the top step. From somewhere he heard the ocean break against the beach, and looking at this tall woman with a riot of long, light brown hair framing her face, he was reminded of the mythical Sirens who’d lured men to their deaths against rocky shores with the promise of unimaginable pleasure. She was earthy and sensuous and sexy as hell.

Liam’s skin felt tight and his breath hung in his chest. Dear God, he’d never had such an immediate, visceral reaction to a woman. He was acutely aware of her, but at the same time, the uneasiness he’d felt before had vanished the moment he’d seen her. In its place, an unfamiliar feeling he didn’t recognize filled him. He drew in the first steady breath he’d taken since arriving, then let it out slowly. What was happening to him?

"Mr. Anderson?” The hotel manager, who was two steps ahead of him, turned with a questioning look on her face. "Is something wrong?”

He needed to pull it together. Two more steps and one long stride brought him alongside... what was the manager’s name? He couldn’t remember, couldn’t think beyond the pull of the other woman who stood only a few feet away. The manager closed the distance between them and the Siren until Liam stood only an arm’s length from her. His gaze swept her from head to toe and back again, lingering at points of interest in between.

She had brown eyes that sparkled with golden flecks, and a long, lithe, athletic body. He was six two, but she had to be only three or four inches shorter than him. A white, collared V-neck displayed just enough skin to make him want to see more. A sliver of skin above black shorts that sat just below her waist caught his attention and held it before his gaze continued to take in nicely toned thighs. And dear Lord, great thighs always made him stupid.

Too late, Liam noticed that the Siren had extended a hand to him. He braced himself for the shock of contact as he took her hand in his. When her palm connected with his, he imagined that hand on other parts of his body.

"Welcome to Wilde Dunes, Mr. Anderson. I’m your hostess, Emma Vance.”

Her voice was low and breathy, laced with the slow drawl characteristic of Southern Georgia, and it fired his blood like smooth whiskey. Because he couldn’t help himself, Liam held her hand longer than necessary, trailing his thumb from the back of her hand to her wrist. Her pulse raced. She felt it too.

"We’re, um... we’re honored that you chose to spend your vacation at Wilde Dunes Resort, where we tailor your stay so you can achieve total relaxation. You’ll find a menu in your room, as well as here in the lobby, that contains a variety of activities. We have customized food menus, complete spa services, water sports, island and town tours, canoeing, twenty-four hour room service...”

Liam zoned out. At some point during her speech, she’d retrieved her hand and now rubbed it against her bare thigh. Knowing her hand must still be warm from his touch, he could almost feel his hand moving there instead.

"If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Here at Wilde Dunes, we will do everything in our power to meet your needs.”

Sweet heaven. The unintentional double entendre had his imagination running wild with all sorts of needs she could meet for him. She looked every bit as flushed and warm as he felt... and like she expected him to say something. He was an attorney. He’d always had a gift for crafting words to achieve desired outcomes, but lately, words had failed him, as they did now.

"You’re not the woman on the website,” he blurted out.

She dipped her chin, a slight smile teasing her lips. "That’s my sister, Sara, on the website. She’s away. So, I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for me this week.” When he didn’t comment further, because he couldn’t get his words past his malfunctioning lips, she continued. "Would you care to eat in our dining room, or would you prefer to have a meal delivered to your villa?”

"I think I’d rather have something delivered. I’m exhausted from my trip,” he said more brusquely than he’d intended. God, he hated this growing list of inabilities he’d developed over the past weeks. The inability to say what he wanted. The inability to focus or concentrate. And at the moment, the inability to charm a beautiful woman.

"Of course. Ms. Smith will check you in at reception. After you’re settled, call to give us your dining preference, and we’ll deliver your choices right away. As you know, there is no phone service in your villa, but there is an extension that rings the mansion. Since cell service on the island is unreliable, they’ll also take your phone to keep it safe until you check out. We have no Internet service here either. So, if you brought a laptop, we can take that for safekeeping as well. Once you’ve registered, a bellman will show you to your villa.”

Emma gestured toward a long counter built into a back alcove off the foyer, but Liam didn’t move. He hadn’t noticed the manager leaving, but now that she had, he was glad. He wasn’t ready to walk away from Emma Vance. Not yet. "I do have one request, Ms. Vance.”

"Please, call me Emma.”

"Emma,” Liam repeated, liking the sound of her name on his lips too damn much. "I’d prefer to have you escort me to my villa.”

Good Lord. Emma felt singed by the heat in this man’s gray-green eyes. She could only imagine what would happen if she were alone with him. No. She definitely should not imagine that.

They got a lot of burned out businessmen at the resort. Their cell phones and laptops had to be pried from their fingers at check-in. Once free of technology, they made perfect, zoned-out beach bums for the duration of their stay. But this man was intense, and all of his shimmering heat seemed directed at her.

He didn’t look anything like a businessman either. Longish, straight, spiky, black hair stuck out in all directions and fell across his forehead, but it was cut close on the sides and in back. More than a day’s worth of whiskers darkened his jaw. God, she’d always had a thing for men with strong jaws.

He’d undone several buttons on his tailored white dress shirt. He shimmied out of his pale gray suit coat, revealing broad shoulders, nice pecs, and a flat abdomen that tapered to a narrow waist and lean hips over muscled thighs.

"Emma?” He said her name in a low, soft voice, sending chills racing up and down her spine despite the heat.

Emma looked toward reception, but Andrea was focused on the computer. No help there. Emma shifted her gaze back to Mr. Anderson, belatedly trying to regain some measure of control over this situation. "I’m sorry, but I’m due...” What could she say? "Somewhere else.” The words rang false given the hour. "I’m sorry,” she offered, hoping to soften her denial of his request.

He took a step forward, stopping close. Too close. "Please.”

Something dark and tortured in his eyes, that should have sent her running back to her office, grabbed her and wouldn’t let go. He looked troubled and out of sorts. Emma doubted he was the kind of man familiar with the feeling. As if belatedly realizing he was in her space, he took a step back. The movement away from her served as a reminder. Liam Anderson was one of the most blatantly sexy men she’d ever met. And not unlike another sexy outsider she’d fallen for when she’d been young and naïve. She wasn’t that girl anymore.

"I apologize,” he said. "I’m sure my late arrival has inconvenienced you and your staff.”

Something in that quietly spoken apology softened her. So he was a hot, sexy, attractive man. He was also a guest, and his request wasn’t unreasonable. Her reaction to him aside, handsome men came to the resort alone all the time. She just didn’t usually have to deal with them one-on-one. She processed their transactions from the comfort and safety of her office.

Anyway, she wasn’t about to go and do anything stupid. She was a professional. A reluctant hostess, but this was her job. "I’d be happy to see you to your villa.”

"That’s not necessary. I’m sorry I troubled you.”

"It’s no trouble. If you’ll see Andrea at reception, I’ll meet you back here when you’ve finished.”

A slow, crooked smile made Emma’s heart flip inside her chest. Okay. So she hadn’t handled the exchange as smoothly as Sara would have. She’d see Liam Anderson to his villa, get him settled for the night, and that would be the end of it. Just part of her duties as hostess. No big deal.

So, why was her heart pounding as she watched him walk away from her?



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