After a summer fling six years ago, Marla and Carson went their separate ways. Yet Carson Blackwell still has feelings for Marla. Desperate to rid himself of his infatuation, he offers Marla a deal she can't refuse. In exchange for a week in Hawaii as his "pretend girlfriend," the billionaire promises a generous yearly donation to Marla's community clinic. Will he finally free himself of unrequited love?

Dr. Marla Grant must navigate a high-stakes game of love and deception when she agrees to be Carson's fake girlfriend. As old passions resurface and the past returns to haunt her, she fears what will happen if Carson finds out he's the unsuspecting father of her little girl. Will she make it back home to Lafayette Falls unscathed? Or will one week in paradise destroy her regardless?

One Week in Your Arms Content Advisory: 75k-word traditional mainstream romance. Spicy/Slow-Burn with Heat Level: 3. Love Scenes contain sensual details, no explicit content. Some cursing. No on-page violence or abusive behavior

Chapter 1 Excerpt:

MARLA WISHED THE letter on her desk would vanish. That, somehow, it would sprout little legs and go running all the way back to California. But she was not going to be that lucky.

Today her luck had run out.

She shifted in the old executive desk chair that squeaked every time she moved. Her desk was a vintage monstrosity made of dark cherry wood and built to last forever. A variety of modern items covered the desk, including her new smartphone and a touchscreen tablet. The latest editions of Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary and Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine were on her desk, along with a solid brass desk nameplate engraved with her name, Marla E. Grant, MD.

The idealistic country girl who had made her family proud. Of course, that wasn’t engraved on the nameplate, although she often thought it should be.

A funny figurine of a frazzled female physician, given to Marla by her staff, stood next to a wire basket that held a variety of notes and reports. Near the basket was a jumbled stack of mail. Most of the mail was the typical stuff from pharmaceutical companies, consulting physicians, and medical associations. She had not been expecting anything out of the ordinary as she thumbed through the envelopes.

Then she had gotten the shock of her life.

She leaned forward and contemplated the stylish envelope on her desk. It haunted her in the way that only an unresolved past can haunt you. Especially a past of well-kept secrets. What did this envelope conceal? She managed to touch it. Barely.

The stationery was exceptional. Expensive, of course. Buff linen paper. The return address featured raised letters in a bold font, black and outlined with gold. No surprise there.

Blackwell Enterprises.

She stared at those two words and tried not to tremble as she thought of a pair of tall, ornate gates that led to an imposing mansion and a world so different from hers. Those gates only opened for a select few in Carson Blackwell’s elite circles.

Lifting her gaze from the envelope to the wall, she looked at the portraits of her little girl, Sophie. Dark-haired and blue-eyed, Sophie smiled back at her. There were pictures of Sophie when she was a baby, a toddler, and the most recent was a picture of Sophie and Marla together, taken on Sophie’s fifth birthday.

Plus, there was one old portrait of Marla with her former husband, Dr. Ben Archer, and one-year-old Sophie. The family that never was.

Marla closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, the letter was still there. It would not disappear on its own.

It will not open by itself either.

Put on your big girl panties and do it.

No, No. Just stick it in the shredder and hope for the best.

She picked up the letter opener. Her heart palpitated in sheer terror as she slid the opener under the flap of the envelope. With the envelope open, she peeped inside to see one folded sheet of stationery.

After six years, what could he possibly have to say?

She pictured him standing beside a black truck in the drive of Mayfair Place, a turn-of-the-century estate belonging to his grandmother. It was time to say goodbye to the only man who had ever swept her off her feet.

She recalled the date. June twenty-eighth. The day had been a warm, blustery day in Tennessee. A summer storm was heading toward the rolling hills near Nashville.

The wind made a mess of Carson’s unruly dark hair. His blue eyes were hidden by a pair of mirrored lens aviators, and his alpha-male physique tested the seams of his polo shirt. He always made her pulse flutter.

“If I’m ever back in town, I’ll look you up,” he promised as their casual affair came to a predestined end.

For three weeks, they had been together, and finally, the time had come for them to go their separate ways. She had known this moment was inevitable, but she hadn’t realized it would be so difficult or painful. She told herself the feeling would pass.

She forced a smile of goodwill. After all, they weren’t parting in anger, or in love, for that matter. And it was unlikely that she would ever see him again.

“I had a great time,” she confessed boldly. She’d loved every minute of their brief, steamy affair. Besides being a passionate lover, he was intelligent and fun. Talk about a summer break to remember.

He gave her cheek a stroke, and she inhaled at his touch. “You’ll make a great doctor.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah.” He grinned. “You certainly know all there is to know about male anatomy.”

“Yours, at least.” She laughed. Then she hopped up on her toes and kissed him quickly, keeping her passion and sorrow under control. “Goodbye, Carson Blackwell.”

She stepped away from him. Now was the time to face what was ahead. A grueling three-year residency. There would be no more time for long summer nights, tangled sheets, and sighs of pleasure. She walked toward her small, sturdy hatchback. Before she opened the driver’s door, she looked up and met his gaze as he looked back at her.

“Goodbye,” he called before he boarded his truck.

At that moment, she had an odd sensation in her chest that her life would never be the same. She chewed on her bottom lip. Then she laughed at her silliness.

A summer fling with a guy just passing through was not something that changed your life. For her, completing her residency would be the life-changer.

She had watched Carson drive off into the sunset, with her heart breaking a little as he disappeared. . .

Never to be seen or heard from again until now.

Why now? She glanced at the calendar. June 6th. Almost six years to the day they had met. Her gaze moved to Sophie’s pictures. Her daughter looked so much like Carson. She had his blue eyes, his wavy dark hair, his smile, and sometimes, his arrogance.

Fate could play dirty tricks even when you didn’t deserve it.

Maybe somehow Carson had found out he had a daughter. Marla had been living on the outskirts of that nightmare ever since Sophie was born. She knew Carson had the kind of wealth that made it possible for him to have whatever he wanted, including Sophie.

That was the secret he’d kept from her that summer at Mayfair Place.

If he wanted custody of Sophie, he could make that happen. Marla was sure of it.

For a moment, she fanned herself with the envelope. It’s not possible.

No one knew the truth except her. Everyone else, all her friends and family, thought Sophie was Ben Archer’s daughter. Not even Ben knew who Sophie’s biological father was.

Dear, sweet Ben had never asked. He had simply accepted Sophie as his child even though he knew she wasn’t, and Marla had kept the truth buried so deep in her heart that it would have taken the best surgeon in the world to excise it.

She withdrew Carson’s letter and unfolded it slowly. The way you’d open a death warrant. The paper trembled in her hands.

A high-quality laser printer produced a perfect, professional copy. Bold and easy to read.

Dear Dr. Grant:

I am writing regarding the John and Eva Richardson Foundation, which provides a monthly stipend to the Lafayette Falls Community Clinic. Samuel Clayton, who has been the director of the foundation since my grandmother’s death, has retired. Due to his retirement, I am assuming control of the foundation.

This letter shall serve as a sixty-day notice of the discontinuation of grant money from the Richardson Foundation to the clinic, effective September first.

This notification should give you ample time to find other benefactors. If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact my office.

Yours truly,

Carson Blackwell

Short and to the point. That was his style. She slumped in the chair as the breath she’d been holding rushed out as if it had been pent up for decades. Sweet relief poured through her soul. She smiled at Sophie’s picture.

We’re safe, angel. He doesn’t know. He will never know.

She tucked the letter back into the envelope. All that stressing and sweating for nothing. She rubbed her chest as her tense heart muscles finally relaxed.

It was all about money.

The Lafayette Falls Community Clinic provided general medical care to adults and children. The clinic offered reduced rates to non-insured and low-income patients and free wellness services. Grants, sponsors, and government assistance subsidized the nonprofit portion of the clinic.

Without the grant, the clinic finances would need to be adjusted, and that was Nolana’s job. Nolana Sullivan was the clinic’s manager, and she kept up with all the money matters.

At the door of her office, Marla roped her stethoscope around her neck and called to her nurse, “Christy, is Mr. Taylor’s X-ray ready?”

Christy answered, “His X-ray is on the viewer. Also, I have a seven-year-old in Room One with a spider bite.”

“Okay. Run this letter upstairs to Nolana.” She handed the envelope to Christy.

Before she left her office, Marla took a moment as Carson invaded her thoughts again. They had been taking a stroll in the gardens at Mayfair Place.

“You can admit it,” he said with a sexy grin as he stood before her, his hands spread.

“Admit what?”

“That I swept you off your feet.”

That was true, but she wasn’t gonna be that easy. “I believe it’s the other way around. I swept you off your feet.”

“Really?” He gave her a merry gaze. “I think this may require comprise, which we can discuss over dinner someplace special.”

“What about Cherokee Sam’s? Their Cajun hamburger with fried pickles on the side is awesome!”

“Fried pickles.” Carson chuckled. “You’re one of a kind, Marla. Different,” he had added without explanation.

Unfortunately, she had not known at the time how “different” she was, no more than she had truly known who Carson Blackwell really was.

It had been too late when she found out.

4.5 Stars!

By LJT, NetGalley Reviewer

Wow, what an impassioned read from "new to me" author Patricia Preston. One Week in Your Arms is a reunion romance with twists and turns that will keep you entertained from beginning to end...The chemistry between them is hot and sexy, so pretending to be in love is not difficult. However, their respective pasts must be unveiled in order for them to form a family. . .
I really liked both Marla and Carson, and there was never a moment that I did not want them to work out their past and forge a future together. The secondary characters add depth and personality to an already engaging storyline. I especially liked Marla's best friend Kayla, because of her chutzpah and positive attitude. Overall, this is a well-written book with a happy ending that will leave a smile on your face.