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Jennifer Youngblood

A Love that Lasts - Ebook Collection of 4 Contemporary Romances

A Love that Lasts - Ebook Collection of 4 Contemporary Romances

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📚Read an Excerpt

She reached for her phone on the nightstand to check the time. Her stomach clutched. Ten a.m. What the freak?! Zoe couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept this late. Were the kids okay? Had they come in and tried to wake her? Daddy must think she was a total louse. Crap! She stood, her body feeling slightly shaky as she wheeled herself into motion.

She heard a cry from outside. She went to the window and peered out through the panes at the muted gray of the overcast day. At least it was no longer raining. Zoe saw movement, heard another scream. Milo’s scream! Her heart missed a beat as her eyes processed what she was seeing—Milo was on a runaway horse, holding onto the horn of the saddle for dear life.

Zoe’s feet seemed to have a mind of their own as she ran out of the room and down the stairs to get to him. She threw open the front door and flew across the porch, hardly noticing the cold, wet wood against her bare feet until a sharp stab of pain shot through the ball of her foot. She doubled over, realizing she’d gotten a splinter.

“Pull on the reins,” she heard Daddy yell. “Show ‘em who’s boss.”

Tears sprang to Zoe’s eyes as she held up her foot for inspection. The splinter was wedged deep into her flesh. No time to worry about that now. Shivers of pain rattled through her as she hobbled down the steps and across the freshly mowed wet grass, which clung like matted eyelashes to her feet. By the time Zoe got to the far edge of the yard, Milo managed to get the horse turned around and was now coming back. Instinct took over as Zoe ran out into the dirt road, which went alongside the house and led to the stables.

“Get out of the way!” she heard Daddy yell. Too late, Zoe realized she was on a collision course with the horse, which had no intention of stopping. She saw the terror in Milo’s eyes as her body froze, her hands instinctively going up for protection as she braced for the impact. Then, she saw a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye as she was knocked out of the way the instant before the horse went barreling by.

She felt the blunt force of her back hitting the ground as her mind tried to wrestle with what was happening. A heavy weight pressed on Zoe’s chest, and then she heard Daddy’s voice. “Whoa! I got ya. You’re alright.”

A heady relief rushed over Zoe. Milo was okay. Now her, on the other hand … She took an assessment. Her back was pressed flat to the ground, wet gooey mud seeping into her clothes, skin, and hair. Then, the synapses of her brain fired enough to truly realize what was happening. Her eyes bugged as she looked up and found herself starting into two very blue, very recognizable eyes that had become the fabric of her dreams. “Briggs?” she gasped. It registered in her brain that he’d saved her from getting mowed over by the horse.

He crooked a smile, the edges of his eyes crinkling. “Hey Z.”

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of love and tenderness with this enchanting collection of 4 heartwarming contemporary romances by USA Today Bestselling Author, Jennifer Youngblood.

Experience the magic of sweet and clean romance that's guaranteed to melt your heart, leaving you with a blissful sigh.

The collection includes:

✅Her Lost Chance Boss

Two best friends with hearts on the line and the long-kept secret that stands between them. 

One Perfect Day

She wasn’t looking for love, but one day with the right person might change everything ...

One Way Home

Can this single mother of two get a second chance at life and love? Plenty of twists and turns in this fast-paced romance about family ties and the yearnings the heart wants most.

Recipe for Love

Roxie Fisher must fight to save her bakery from the greedy clutches of her lifelong nemesis while trying to finagle a way to keep the love of her life from falling for her spoiled and beautiful designer friend.

❤️If you're a lover of sweet contemporary romance with a healthy dose of sass and lots of heart, this collection is tailor-made for you.

🔥Download your copy of A Love that Lasts today and let your heart soar on the wings of sweet romance!


Read the First Chapter

📚 One Way Home
“Give me back my paper,” Madison demanded, her dark eyes flashing.

“Make me,” her older brother Milo taunted.

“Give it now!” Madison shouted, her voice going squeaky like she was near tears. “Mo—om,” she shrieked.

With a heavy sigh, Zoe stepped away from the pancakes she was making, switching from her role as resident chef to referee. “Milo,” she ordered, “give Mads back her paper.”

She pinned her oldest child with a steely look as her hand went to her hip. “Now!”

He rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he huffed, tossing the paper across the room as Madison scrambled to retrieve it.

“You’re so mean!” Madison whined.

“And you’re annoying,” Milo shot back, sticking out his tongue.

Zoe felt a wave of frustration and disappointment over her oldest child’s behavior. “Was that really necessary? You’re eleven years old, but acting like you’re five.”

Milo hunched his shoulders. “Sorry,” he mumbled contritely.

“I’m almost seven,” Madison piped in, flashing a large grin that revealed two missing front teeth.

“Yes, you are,” Zoe said, giving her daughter an affectionate grin. Maddie’s birthday was a week away, and it was all she could talk about.

The stench of something burning invaded Zoe’s nostrils.

“Crap!” Reflexively, she reached for the handle to move the skillet off the gas burner but accidentally touched the hot rim. She yelped drawing back her hand as she flicked her wrist.

“Are you okay?” Milo asked with a note of genuine concern.

“I’m fine,” Zoe responded in the capable, motherly tone she always used when she didn’t want her children to worry.

She went to the sink and ran cold water over the burn. She looked up as her husband Carl strode into the kitchen. He looked exceptionally nice today in a crisp white, button-down dress shirt, red silk tie, and black trousers. His wavy chestnut hair was gelled to perfection and clear, intelligent cocoa-brown eyes shone behind his stylish glasses. Some days he wore contacts and others he wore his glasses. Either way, he was an impressive figure who commanded respect wherever he went.

With his patrician features and impeccable grooming, he fit the part of the business owner that he was. Not only was Carl good with numbers, but he was an amazing public speaker and coach. The realtors that he mentored absolutely loved him. She’d often heard it said of Carl that he was always willing to take time out of his schedule to give plenty of one-on-one attention to those who needed it.

Too bad he isn’t as solicitous to his wife and children. Zoe immediately felt guilty for the renegade thought. She and Carl were going through a rough spot, like countless other couples. Carl’s business commanded the bulk of his attention, and Zoe often felt she and the kids got the leftovers. The demands of raising kids and the doldrum of marriage could take its toll on any couple. Zoe felt sure that they’d work through it. They had so much to be grateful for, after all. The top of the list being their two amazing children and each other. Carl stopped in his tracks, making a face.

“What’s burning?”

“Mom’s hand,” Madison announced practically as she skipped over, pulled out a kitchen chair, and sat back down next to Milo. Even though the siblings often fought like cats and dogs, they were super close. Zoe thought of her relationship with her five brothers. Yep, pretty much the same.

Carl furrowed his brows as he looked at Zoe. “Your hand?”

She turned off the faucet and reached for a paper towel. “I burned a pancake,” she explained. Her finger was stinging, but Zoe knew from experience, having burned herself plenty of times before on hot pans and the stove, that the pain would soon subside.

“You should turn on the fan,” Carl suggested.

She did as he instructed.

Carl stepped up beside her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. His cologne smelled of cedar and cloves. “Are there any pancakes that aren’t burned?”

It irked her a bit that he didn’t even ask about her finger. She looked at the strip of red across her skin. She’d need to put some burn ointment on it soon. But right now, she had a husband and children to take care of. “Nope,” Zoe responded, forcing her voice to sound more cheerful than she felt, “but I can certainly make more.” She pointed to the bowl of batter.

A smile split his lips, lightening his features. Even though Carl’s jaw was starting to collect a little flesh, he was still an attractive man. “Thanks, hon, that would be great.” He went to the cupboard, retrieved a glass, and then pulled the container of orange juice from the fridge.

Zoe dumped the burned pancake in the garbage and went to work cooking up the rest of the batter.

“Dad, are you coming to my soccer game this afternoon?” Milo asked eagerly.

Milo played indoor soccer and lived for the times when his dad would come and watch him. Unfortunately, the times when Carl had been able to go were few and far between.

“What time’s the game?” Carl asked.

“Six thirty.”

“Oh … sorry, bud, I have a dinner meeting at six.”

Zoe spun around, her eyes zooming in on Carl. “What? We talked about this, remember?” Carl knew how important this was to Milo.

Carl grimaced. “I’m sorry, hon. The Breckenridge Brokerage Group is coming in today from San Diego. I have to take them to dinner tonight.”

Milo looked down at his plate, his forlorn expression stabbed at Zoe’s heart. “You didn’t tell me you had out-of-town clients coming in today.” There was a time, when Carl first started his business, that Zoe knew all the ins and outs. However, with her getting more involved with the kids and the PTA, well, there was only so much time in the day, and she had only so much available head space. “We talked about Milo’s game,” she reiterated, trying to convey to Carl through her eyes how important the soccer game was.

Carl ran a hand over his forehead. “I know, hon. I’m sorry. This just came up. It’s a fantastic opportunity. If I can get this group to sign up for my coaching package, it will open the door for other brokerages in San Diego and then all over California.” He offered Milo a placating smile. “I’ll go to the next one.”

Milo nodded glumly, but Zoe could tell that he didn’t believe his dad.

Carl’s business and finances were a constant source of contention. Carl had grown up poor and was determined to become successful at all costs, even if it meant neglecting his family.

Whenever Zoe tried to encourage Carl to take a break from work, he would argue that Zoe had grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth and didn’t understand what it was like to struggle and make it on her own. Zoe would then remind Carl that while she’d come from money, she’d grown up on a ranch, learning to work hard. She could have also pointed out that it was her money that Carl used to start his coaching and mentoring business, but she refrained.

“Zoe, the pancakes,” Carl prompted.

“What?” she fired back, eyes narrowing slightly.

There was a hint of exasperation in his tone as he motioned. “You don’t want to burn that one too.”

“I’m not burning it,” she insisted, turning her attention back to the stove. She thrust the spatula underneath it and flipped it over. It was a little too brown. Oh, well.

“Give me the syrup,” Madison demanded.

“No, I’m using it right now,” Milo countered.

When the pancake was done, Zoe slipped it onto a plate.

As she was taking it to Carl, a scuffle broke out between Milo and Madison. Zoe watched it all in slow motion.

Madison attempting to grab the syrup out of Milo’s hand … Milo jerking it out of her reach … his elbow hitting Carl’s glass of orange juice.

The glass toppled and sloshed juice all over the newspaper Carl was reading before spilling onto his pants. He swore as he scooted back his chair and threw his hands into the air.
“Milo!” he roared. “Look what you did!”

Zoe jerked as the air got sucked out of the room. Milo’s face turned chalky while. “I—I’m sorry, Dad.” His lower lip began to tremble.

Madison touched Milo’s arm. “It’s okay,” she soothed in a grown-up voice.

“No, it’s not okay!” Carl threw Milo a blistering look.

Milo’s lower lip began to tremble, tears bubbling in his eyes. Madison gave her mom a stricken look.

The mother bear in Zoe came out full force as she threw back her head, nostrils flaring. It was one thing for Carl to jump on her case but quite another for him to jump all over the children. “It was an accident.” She glared at Carl, daring him to disagree.

“If these two hadn’t been horsing around, it wouldn’t have happened.” Swearing under his breath, Carl looked down. “I don’t have time for this,” he growled, shaking his head. “I don’t even know if I have any other black pants. You forgot to pick up the dry cleaning yesterday.”

The plate Zoe was holding felt heavier than lead as her insides bristled. When she spoke, her voice was carefully controlled. “I beg your pardon! Are you blaming this on me?”

He squared his jaw. “You did forget to pick up the dry cleaning.”

“Yes, I did, and I apologized. I told you I’d pick it up today.” Her tongue enunciated every word in hard thrusts like rocks pinging metal.

Carl’s face went red, lips flattening. “Well, that doesn’t help me right now, does it?”

At a loss for words, Zoe felt the blood drain from her face. What was happening to them? She was mad enough to spit nails, and she felt so dang helpless. This wall between her and Carl was getting so high that she could no longer scale it.

He grunted as he turned on his heel and stalked off.

Zoe’s heart felt like it was squeezing to the size of a golf ball as she went over to the table and put down the plate. Milo and Madison were both crying. Zoe felt like crying too. She pulled out a chair and slumped down.

“I—I’m sorry,” Milo sniffed.

She touched his arm. “It’s okay.” Her gaze went to the orange juice. Most of the liquid was on the floor, but there were a still a few intermittent drips rolling off the table. Zoe felt sick at heart. She could understand Carl’s frustration over the accident, but he’d been so hateful to the kids and so caustic to her.

He’d been frustrated yesterday when she forgot to pick up his dry cleaning. She thought he’d gotten over it when she apologized. Obviously not!

For a few minutes, she sat frozen, her mind running in circles. Then, she looked at her children and realized that she couldn’t sit here like a knot on a log all day. She needed to clean up this mess and get the kids to school. She and Carl would have a long talk when he came home tonight. When he cooled off, he’d realize the error of his ways … hopefully.

She took in a long, cleansing breath, her voice practical. “Dad didn’t mean to act ugly. He’s just stressed about work.”

Zoe was losing count of the number of times she’d had to cover for Carl, especially during the past year. Should they consider marriage counseling?

“Maybe Dad needs to go to timeout?” Madison suggested timidly, her head ducked into her shoulders.

Zoe blinked before laughter gurgled in her throat. She put a hand to her mouth to stifle it. She and Milo shared a look before he started sniggering, his shoulders shaking from his laughter. Madison smiled broadly, pleased that she’d said something funny.

“Okay, kiddos, we need to get you to school,” Zoe said as she stood and shifted into mother mode, trying to push aside her wounded feelings. Her angst at Carl would just have to wait until tonight.

Several hours later, Zoe was leaving the dry cleaners and headed to the grocery store when her phone rang. She fished it out of her purse. “Hello?”

“Zoe Stevens?” a woman began.


“My name is Judith Henley, and I represent the Gads Art Gallery in San Francisco.”

Zoe halted in her tracks, her pulse picking up its beat. The Gads Art Gallery was one of the most prestigious in the nation. Before Zoe had put aside her sculpting to become a full-time wife and mother, she’d tried hard to get her work into Gads, but nothing ever came of it.

“We’re doing a special exhibit in August and would like to commission you to do a piece for it.”

Her heart leapt with anticipation. “Really?” It was all she could do not to punch a victory fist in the air and shout hallelujah. Noah, her younger brother, who happened to be a world-renown photographer, was constantly trying to talk Zoe into opening a gallery and resuming her work as a sculptor.

While Zoe was sorely tempted, she didn’t want to do anything that would take time away from her family. With Carl dumping all of his energy and their money into his company, someone needed to hang back and be with the children. The kids would only be young once, and Zoe didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity of being their mom.

Still, getting commissioned to do a piece for the Gads Art Gallery was huge. August was far enough away that Zoe could possibly juggle the demands of motherhood and the duties of PTA President and still have time to sculpt a piece.

“How did you get my name?”

“You came highly recommended by Nolan Vant, one of our most popular photographers.”

Gratitude welled inside Zoe’s chest. Nolan Vant was her younger brother Noah’s pseudonym. He was such a rock star! She owed him one for this.

“Is this something that you would be interested in doing?” Judith asked.

“It sounds like a great opportunity,” Zoe exclaimed exuberantly.

“It is,” Judith answered matter-of-factly.

“What type of piece are you looking for?”

“The theme is Taking Flight. We would want the piece to be in the same vein as your other work.”

“Abstract or traditional?” Zoe had done a lot of what she considered more traditional bronze sculptures, but she also did abstract pieces where she would find seemingly random items and meld them together to make a single, cohesive piece.


A smile tipped her lips. “Those are my favorites.”

“Does that mean that you’ll take the commission? If so, I can have my assistant send you over the paperwork with the requirements and other details.”

Zoe swallowed, her feet coming back down to earth. As much as she wanted to say yes this very minute, she needed to talk to Carl first. If she did this, it would require a large portion of her attention, and she’d need his help with the house and the kids. “When do I have to give you my final answer?”

“We’re moving on the plans for this quickly. I’ll need your answer by tomorrow. You’re at the top of our list, but if for some reason you can’t do it, we have several other sculptors that we can call.”

Zoe could tell that Judith wasn’t pleased with her not accepting the commission right then and there. She was letting Zoe know in no uncertain terms that the deal was on the table for a short period of time. “I understand.” Zoe pulled at her coat as the wind picked up, catching hold of an empty potato chip bag and swirling it into the air where it tumbled and danced haphazardly across the parking lot.

“I’ll be in touch with you tomorrow. Thank you for the opportunity.”

“You bet. Have a nice day.”

“Thanks,” Zoe said as she ended the call, practically skipping to her car. She called Carl first, but it went to voicemail.

She left Carl a quick message, asking him to call her back. Although, she didn’t say what she wanted to talk to him about. Next, she tried calling Noah, but it also went to voicemail. No surprise there. Noah and Piper were on a shoot in Africa, and their service was patchy. She called her best friend Kate.


“Kate,” she began in a singsong, breathless voice. “You won’t believe what just happened!”

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