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Book 3 in the Alaska Dream Romances

Two men are interested. She picked the wrong man once. Will she choose the right one now?

As a single mother and a real estate agent, Holly works hard. Climb a roof? Check. Work with her former, difficult professor? Maybe. She wants a husband who can love her and her twin girls. When other men run because she has kids, they become her secret.

College professor Adam enjoys his work, his dog . . . and his secret life. After his home burns, he needs to find a house in a hurry. Oh-so-appealing former student Holly is perfect for the job—and his heart. Adam has to win her before the other man does. When secrets are revealed, will love grow or die?

Crazy About Alaska is the third book in the sweet and clean Alaska Dream Romance series. If you like wild destinations, adorable kids, and happy endings, then you’ll love Shannon L. Brown’s final book in this heartwarming series.

Buy Crazy About Alaska to wrap-up—or begin—the series today!

FREE Crossword Puzzle

In honor of my Aunt Jean who enjoys crossword puzzles (and who this book is dedicated to), I created a crossword puzzle about Crazy About Alaska. Enjoy!

(Click for printable PDF.)

Chapter One

Holly Harris grabbed the edge of the porch’s roof as her foot slipped off her makeshift stool. She tried to lower herself back to the window ledge she’d used as the last step in her mighty plan to climb onto the roof. Her foot missed the ledge and hit the high back of the chair she’d stacked on top of a trunk—her first and second steps—instead. The heavy chair moved and, a moment later, hit the lawn with a dull thud.

Grabbing onto a rib on the metal roof, she held on for dear life. Using every one of the mom-muscles she’d developed while carrying twins in her arms, she wrestled herself inch by inch onto the porch roof.

“Be a real estate agent.” Holly pulled harder. “You’ll,” she gasped, “like it.” She dragged herself onto the forest-green roof, wincing as the textured steel dug into her right side. One slip-on shoe slipped off, landing soundlessly on the grass below, confirming the fact that she would too if she loosened her grip. A fierce tug later, she’d managed to get her upper body on the roof, but her lower half still dangled off the eight-or-nine-foot drop. Breath coming in gasps, she rested and waited for her heart rate to slow to something that didn’t signal an imminent call for paramedics.

“Sure. I love my work,” she muttered.

When she’d sucked in enough oxygen for her brain to kick in again, she realized she had a couple of problems. Her cell phone sat directly beneath her on the porch itself, and—like it or not—she couldn’t return the way she’d come. If the window that overlooked the roof wasn’t unlocked, she’d have to shout for help. Jemma and Bree always said she was the boldest of the three sisters. She’d gotten in trouble many times for leaping before she looked as a kid, and still hadn’t learned the lesson.

Pulling with her remaining strength, she brought all but her lower legs onto the roof. “Chocolate. I need chocolate.” With none dropping from heaven, she continued, reached for another metal rib on the roof and kicked her legs, sending her other shoe flying.

“Ouch!” a male voice said.

Holly tugged herself up the rest of the way and perched on the nearly flat roof. She caught a glimpse of a blond-headed man rubbing the top of his head while he darted onto the porch.

“You must be the world’s worst burglar. Broad daylight. I will say in your favor that most houses in this neighborhood are empty in the middle of a weekday.” The voice sounded familiar.

“I’ll have you know that I’m a real estate agent.” She paused. That didn’t explain a moment of her crazy morning. “I have the owner’s permission.”

“To scale their porch?”

“Actually, yes. The owners listed the house with me, and accidentally locked the key inside before leaving town.”

Silence greeted her. The man, with nicely trimmed hair, leaned over the porch railing to admire her now defunct step stool—the box and chair. “You could have been injured.” Each word he spoke made him sound more familiar, but the twinge of memory didn’t bring a happy sensation.

“This has occurred to me. Listen, I may need your help getting back down if this window isn’t unlocked.” Holly crawled over to it and kneeled with one knee on either side of a metal roof rib. She tugged upward on the window sill, but nothing happened. With her heart rate ramping up again and a rescue with sirens blaring feeling all too close, she held onto the window frame and rose to her feet to get better leverage. This time when she pulled, the window slid up a few inches. Working it upward bit by bit, she was soon rewarded with an opening large enough to squeeze through.

“The window’s open, so I can get inside. You don’t need to stay any longer. Thank you!”

Holly slid through headfirst. Utter chaos stretched in front of her—something she’d never allowed with her five-year-old twins, but not unexpected in what she knew to be a ten-year-old boy’s room. After rising to her feet, she brushed herself off, pleased she didn’t find any clothing damage. Then she picked her way through a demolition derby of toy trucks and cars along with other boys’ toys, being careful not to step on anything in her stocking feet.

She followed the mess out the door to discover that it continued down the hall. Pink and purple toys suitable for a girl two years younger than the boy littered the space, along with clothing and a wadded-up set of bed sheets. The whole family must have set things to the side in their rush to leave. Holly walked to the top of the stairs, which overlooked the open living area below.

More toys and other bits of daily life were scattered about. She felt a scream rise in her throat. Hands on her chest, she willed herself to stay in control, so only a whimper escaped. “I’m a real estate professional. I can handle this. Think about the day you’ll close on this house and the check they’ll hand you.” She stood tall. “Holly Harris, you aren’t a quitter.” Dreading what she’d uncover downstairs, she added, “Or a screamer. Remember that.”

Nodding once, she took the first of the steps down, then another, the mess on the ground level growing closer with each second. A plate with bread still on it sat on the table; what appeared to be tomato sauce splashed the pots on the stove; cupboards stood open. She knew she’d find a sink full of dishes; that’s how her day had gone, and she really didn’t like to do dishes. She’d have to clear it all out to sell the house.

The lockbox with the key inside sat on the dining room table, right where the owners thought they’d left it. If they’d hung it on the doorknob before they’d driven away, her tryout for the circus high-wire act wouldn’t have been necessary. She gleefully unlocked the front door and went out the easy way. As she latched it around the outside knob, she smiled. One problem solved. Now, she could use the combination lock—numbers she knew because she’d provided the device—to get inside at any time.

“I guess you really are a real estate agent.”

She jerked her head up, staring into sky-blue eyes she recognized from two tortuous college English classes. “Professor O’Connell?” She’d had trouble keeping her focus on the lecture and off the handsome lecturer during the first week of class. How could you take notes when your heart raced, and silly grins kept popping onto your face? Any positive emotions had ceased when she’d received her first graded assignment—one that had stomped all over her dreams of writing books.

“Holly Harris? I thought you were an elementary education major. Why this?” He pointed at the porch roof.

Standing, she sighed. “When I didn’t get a teaching position right away, I became a real estate agent. I liked the idea of paying my bills.”

“I hadn’t realized you’d graduated already.” He held out his hands, a navy-blue shoe in each. “It’s quite a change from teaching. Has this profession worked out well?”

Not today, she thought as she took the shoes and bent over to put them back on her feet. She’d chosen her footwear this morning to coordinate with navy pants and a red sweater, not knowing any of them would be worn during an adventure. “I’ve closed on quite a few properties, so it’s become steady income.” Except for the lull she was experiencing right now, but she had no plans to share that tidbit with him. Straightening, she gave him her best professional smile, the one she’d used in the photo on her business cards.

He leaned to his left to see around her and through the front door. “I’ve never heard of a need to break into a house in order to sell it. Is that a test the homeowners needed you to perform before signing?” A grin lit up his face, making him seem like a normal guy, not an uptight professor, reminding her that he couldn’t have been more than five or six years older than her.

“They weren’t supposed to leave until after I’d arrived. The family fell on hard times when Mr. Jackson lost his job late last year, but he found one in Colorado. They needed to sell their house—”

“And that’s where you, with your unique climbing skills, came in.”

She smiled slowly. “Yes. A friend of a friend recommended me to them. I got a wake-up call from Beaver Creek this morning telling me that they’d finished packing the car last night, so they decided to leave early. That makes them a day’s drive from Palmer—or, I guess, a night’s drive—by now.”

“So you almost killed yourself for the sale.”

“Pretty much sums it up.” She noticed that the driveway held only her car, and no vehicle was parked in front of the house. “Do you live nearby?”

“Yes and no. I’m temporarily staying with a colleague. Very temporarily.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “This house is going to be a hard sell. The owners left what looks like a crime scene.”

Holly laughed. “I know. I’m pretty sure that the paint, carpet, and other flooring are in decent shape, though. The family just gave up and left a mess. I’ll drag my two sisters over here along with one’s husband and the other’s fiancé tomorrow, and we’ll get it cleaned up. I hope to finish by the end of that day.”

Her words met a long pause. Just as it started to become uncomfortable, Dr. O’Connell said, “Nice to see you.” His gaze lingered on her longer than she expected. Then he gave a small wave and cut across the lawn to the street.

There went the toughest professor she’d ever had. When she’d talked to him after class one day, and he’d stiffly answered her question, she’d also determined him to be one of the most boring individuals who’d ever walked the earth.

She couldn’t come up with a single thing he and Matt, the man she was dating, had in common—other than the fact that they were males of the same species. An Alaska State Trooper, Matt treated her well and never criticized. Now if he’d just consistently answer calls or texts.

Eyeing the weighty chair she’d dragged off the porch and had somehow managed to lift onto the wooden trunk, she decided to wait for one of her sisters to help move them. Her muscles had had their workout for the day.

She grabbed her phone, punched in first Jemma’s then Bree’s numbers, and set up a time with each of them to help her the next day. Bree’s fiancé was working on a business project, but Jemma’s husband Nathaniel could come and handle the heavy lifting, and he offered to have his brother come for a short time too. Thank goodness for family. She’d put the men on garage duty after they’d cleared out the furniture in the house. If they had time and energy left.

With her phone halfway to her purse, she stopped. It didn’t seem fair to let her family become involved in this disaster of a house without a heads-up. She snapped a photo with her phone and sent it off to each sister.

As she stood in the doorway, working out a plan of attack, a siren in the distance broke the morning’s hush. She knew Matt wouldn’t be involved in the event since he’d been sent to a village in the Bush—remote Alaska, unconnected by roads. A motorcycle came to life a block or two away and drove off. Then, silence. Now, she’d have a quiet day to herself. Too bad she couldn’t spend it with her girls or writing.

She spun on her heels. Work called.

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