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Excerpt: Skirting the Ice by Jennie Marts

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About the Book

"The Bannister Brothers series has everything I, humor, and heart!" - Kristin Miller- New York Times Bestselling author 

Buttoned-up accountant Jack Bannister lives an uncomplicated life until his teenage crush moves back into the house next door…all grown up and sexy as hell. Murphy Ryan is still wild and reckless, and danger has followed her to Colorado.  Jack will do whatever it takes to protect her, even it means letting her go…again.

Murphy Ryan is focused on building a new NHL women’s hockey team. But staying on her game is hard with the distraction, and the memories, of the hot nerd in the house next door. Jack Bannister had been her first kiss, and she wants him to be her last. With his dry humor and sexy glasses, being smart never looked so good.

Jack’s been given a chance to win back the one that got away, but worries this gorgeous hockey player is still out of his league. He’s kept his heart on ice, but now that Murphy’s back, she might be the one to finally thaw it.


The sound of a screen door banged behind him, and he heard a woman’s voice shout, “What the hell do you think you’re doing with my dog?”

He froze, his chest contracting as he lost his breath.

He knew that voice.

But it couldn’t be.

He turned around, facing the back porch of the house and the tall angry blond standing on it. Her long hair was pulled up in a ponytail, she held a baseball bat in her hands, and her eyes flashed with a mix of anger and fear.

He may not have seen her in years, but he knew it was her.

She looked different, older, but he recognized that tight set of her mouth, the flash of annoyance in her narrowed eyes, the way she held her shoulders in a posture of pride mixed with attitude.


She took a step closer, her eyes widening as her expression changed from anger to surprise. “Jack, is that you?”

He couldn’t believe it—couldn’t believe she was standing in front of him. He’d dreamed of this moment so many times, imagined running into her on the street or in a crowded airport. But he’d never imagined he’d see her again while he was standing amidst a yard full of weeds, shirtless and sweaty, his arms full of his squirming dog.

Although this was exactly where he should see her—in the same spot he’d stood when he’d first met her all those years before.

A stray hockey puck had flown into John’s yard, and he’d hopped the fence to get it. She’d come out on the porch then too, with the same prideful stance, a huge chip evident on her shoulder, and looking just as gorgeous as she did now.

Except she was a girl then.

She was a woman now, in a pair of black shorts and a snug white T-shirt, her body a mix of hard and soft. Her legs were toned hard with muscle, but the thin cotton T-shirt clung to soft curves that she didn’t have when she was a teenager.  

His lungs tightened, and he struggled to wheeze in a breath. He couldn’t breathe.

No, seriously, he couldn’t breathe.

Shifting the dog under his arm, he used his free hand to pull his inhaler from his pocket as he fought to get enough air. Inhaling as he took a puff, the spray filled his lungs, opening his airway.

“Jack! It is you!” She dropped the bat and ran down the steps of the porch. The bat rolled off the porch as she crossed the yard then stopped short, as if unsure if she should hug him or shake his hand.

A happy grin covered her face, lighting her eyes, and sending a swirl of butterflies careening around his stomach. “Jack Bannister. What are you doing here? Besides trying to steal my dog?”

He shook his head, still stunned to see her.

Murphy Ryan.

“Um, I’m not, I mean…” he stuttered, falling back into the role of the shy teenager that he’d been when he’d last seen her. “I’m not stealing your dog. This is my dog.”

She smirked and gestured to the fence behind him. “Yeah? Then whose dog is that?”

He turned to see another Sheltie standing on the other side of the chain link.

His sheltie.


“Sorry,” he mumbled, handing her the dog in his arms. A dart of heat raced down his spine as her fingers brushed against the skin of his bare chest. “I saw her running around in the yard, and I just thought she was mine.”

Murphy took the dog then set it on the ground to run over to greet the other sheltie. “Except she is actually a he. But I can see why you made a mistake. They do look a lot alike. Almost identical.”

He took off his glasses and cleaned them with the end of his shorts. “My dog’s always breaking out of our yard, and my glasses were foggy, and I just assumed it was my dog. I usually wear contacts, but tore one this morning.” He didn’t know why he felt like he had to explain why he was wearing his glasses. Or why he felt like he was babbling.

He should just stop talking now. He swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry.

He couldn’t stop staring at her. She looked amazing. He scrambled for something to say—anything that might sound halfway intelligent.

“Holy crap—your dog is peeing on my shoe.”

About the Author

Jennie Marts is the USA Today Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and the “perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam.” Fic Central claimed one of her books was “the most fun I’ve had reading in years.”

She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.

Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances. 


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