Tag Archives: #Contemporaryromance

#backlistThursday 5.6.2021

When I wrote my WILL COOK FOR LOVE series, there was one character who popped into two of the books that I absolutely loved, Private Eye Rick Bannerman. Cocky, self-deprecating, of course handsome, and with a very dark past, I wanted to give him an HEA of his own and a woman who could stand toe to toe with him in every circumstance. A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: RICK, was born from that premise. It was my first ROMANTIC SUSPENSE and the next book in the series, AIDEN, is coming out soon, so I figured today would be a good day to give Rick and Abby Laine some blog time.

Elite bodyguard and P.I. Rick Bannerman’s job is to protect. He doesn’t get emotional with his clients, but when a woman from his past is threatened, his next job becomes personal.

Family lawyer Abigail Laine is the target of a client’s vengeful husband, but refuses Rick’s offer of protection. He walked away from her four years ago, and she swore to forget him.

Now her reluctance to accept his help could cost Abby her life.

Excerpt:

When had her life turned into this stressful jumble?

Abby grabbed the bottle of extra-strength pain reliever she kept in her kitchen junk drawer, shook out three tablets, and swallowed them with a small glass of tap water.

“Head that bad?” Rick asked from behind her.

“I let it go too long.” She rolled her neck, massaged a muscle where it connected with her shoulder. “I should have gotten in front of it right when it started in court. But I don’t like to take anything when I’m working. The pills make me fuzzyheaded.“

Rick reached around her and grabbed the bottle from the counter. “These are plain over-the-counter tablets. I’d think you’d have something stronger, something prescribed, for when the pain gets this bad. I can see the headache all over your face and shoulders. You’re wearing the pain like you’d wear makeup.”

“You can’t know what a boost to my fragile ego having you here is, Bannerman.”

“Your ego is fine,” he said, moving a step closer.

Her kitchen was huge by Manhattan standards. She could have four people stand in it and still have room to cook around them. Not so when Rick was with her. Sure, he was tall, but so were her brothers-in-law. They never made her feel like her personal space was so congested when they were visiting, though.

“Turn around,” he said.


“What?”


“You heard me. Turn around, Abigail.”

“Bossy, much?”

The low, deep rumble of his chuckle sent the tiny hairs on her neck up to attention.

“When I have to be,” he said. “Believe me, for once you’ll be glad you listened.”

“Doubtful,” she murmured. Reluctantly, she presented him with her back.

“Take a breath,” he told her. “A deep one. And hold it for a few seconds.”

She did.

“Now let it out, slowly. Count to five in your head while you do.”

“What is this, Bannerman? Some Vulcan mind- trick cure for a headache? Because if it is, it’s not—oh! Oh…my.” The last word scattered out in one long exhale.

“Told you you’d be glad you listened.”

The pressure of his thumbs on either side of her shoulders, a hair below the collar of her blouse as they kneaded, pressed, and drew little circles around her constricted muscles, shot a wave of intense pleasure straight down the length of her spine.

Abby closed her eyes and sighed. “Oh, good Lord. Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop.”

“Your neck is so tight, I’m surprised your spine doesn’t snap when you walk in those stilts you love so much. It’s a wonder you can move at all with any kind of flexibility.”

“Practice.” She all but purred like her cat when his thumbs sank into her flesh. “And motivation. That feels…amazeballs.”

She swore she could hear his grin. He replaced his thumbs with the pads of his first and second fingers, pressed in deep, released, and then did it again.

“Amazeballs, Abigail? How old are you?”

“Oh! I’ll be any age you want me to be, but don’t stop…please.”

His chuckle turned to a laugh. “I can’t tell you how much I like hearing you beg. Take another deep breath.”

Obediently, since she now knew the benefits of being so, she did. “Oh. My. God.

He’d wound his long, strong fingers up under her hairline. While he flexed them, massaging every bit of her skull, a thousand jolts of electricity bounded down her back. Her legs turned liquid. She needed to sit down before she fell flat to the floor.

“Stop wiggling. Try to hold still,” he said, dangerously close to her ear. The warmth of his breath as it whispered over her neck delightfully singed her skin. “There’s one pressure point I haven’t gotten to yet.”

“I can’t feel my feet.” Good Lord. Did that moan come from her?

“Good. Then this is working. Give me another minute.”

“You can have all night, Bannerman. As long as you want. Just don’t stop.”

For the briefest of moments, so brief she might have imagined it, he stopped kneading, a swift inhale ringing around her. Then, in a heartbeat, he started his ministrations again. For the first time Abby noticed their bodies were touching, the middle of her back pressed along his torso.

While his fingers skimmed up to her temples, she tilted backward, bumping her head against his chest. He was as solid as a block of concrete.

Rick inhaled a jagged breath when the rest of her body pressed into him.

He had the pads of three fingers against her temples now, the concentric circles he pressed and released over them drawing out little mewing noises from the back of her throat. When his pinkies joined their brothers, all four fingers of each hand now splayed along her skin, feathered into her hairline, Abby rolled her neck back and opened her eyes a fraction. Upside down, she saw the edge of Rick’s jaw, watched— fascinated—as his throat bobbed up and down while he continued attending to her.

“I’m almost done. Hold on for another sec.”

She let her eyes drift closed again. Rick moved his hands so they cupped the back of her neck, then, slowly, he brought her head away from his chest to an upright position, leaving his palms flattened across her shoulder blades.

“Take a breath and lift your shoulders,” he commanded.

Abby did, then rolled her head front to back.

“How’s the headache now?”


She opened her eyes and blinked. “Gone.” She whirled around to face him. “Completely gone.”


He nodded and flexed his fingers as if working out his own kinks. “Good. I’m glad it worked.”


“Where did you learn how to do that?” She slid a hand along one side of her neck, tilted her head, then moved it in the opposite direction. “I don’t think my shoulders have been this loose since, well, fourth grade.”


“You spend a lot of time hunched over.” He opened her fridge and pulled out two bottled waters. “Computer. Legal briefs. It’s no wonder your shoulders are tight and you’re susceptible to migraines.”

“How did you know I had migraines?” She took a swig of the water. “I mean, as opposed to regular bad headaches?”

“You wear the pain on your face. It’s obvious to anyone who knows what to look for.”

“And you do?”

He nodded. “Drink the whole bottle and then you need to eat. You haven’t had anything all day. It’s a wonder you aren’t dropping.”

He bent and peeked into the refrigerator. Sipping her water, she took the opportunity to stare at his butt.

Intrigued? I hope so, and if so, you can get your own copy here: A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: RICK

And don’t forget to check back her on June 1, 2021 when I’ll be having my official COVER REVEAL for A PRIDE OF BROTHER: AIDEN. You won’t want to miss this cover because it is perfection!!!

Enjoy your day, kids. Until next time ~ Peg

And remember, if you’re looking for me, I’m always here:

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InD’Tale Rone Award Nominee – wk 1: 4/12-18 Steamy Contemporary Category!

I am so over the moon. THIS IS MY VERY FIRST RONE NOMINATION!!! to make it to the finals, though, people have to vote for the book. Here’s the letter with the instructions of voting from the Rone Committee:

It is extremely important that you let all your readers and fans know! ( THAT’S WHY I’M PUTTING IT IN A BLOG POST! LOL) We would hate to think a superior quality book lost only because people were unaware of the time limit. Also, make sure that they understand they MUST be registered on our website at www.indtale.com in order to vote. ( IT COSTS NOTHING TO REGISTER!)

*****Once you are registered, you will be required to click the verification link sent to you via email. If you do not verify you registration with this link, you will be unable to vote. This is very important to help ensure that the voting is fair and maintains the high-quality standards required for this top-tier award.

Once the voting is final and the winning books announced, the finalists in each genre will then be read and judged by a group of professionals in the industry to determine the very best book in the indie and small published world!  The winners will then be announced and awarded the prestigious RONE Award at the formal ceremony at the InD’Scribe Conference, October 7th, 2021. An announcement with all the information will be coming soon! Be sure to check out our website and Facebook Page! http://www.indscribe.com.

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Writing

#SundaySnippet 3.21.2021

Recently, my indie published RomCom IT’S A TRUST THING went wide, meaning it’s now available across all digital devices. Here’s the link : IATT.

Today’s snippet is from the book.

A few “’Night, professors,” reached my ears and when I lifted my gaze to the entranceway, Charlie was standing there again, much the way he’d been before the class started: one shoulder relaxed against the doorjamb, his briefcase in one hand, his other in his pants pocket.
Lord, the man could have popped off the cover of a fashionable menswear magazine. No one should look that delectable in real life.
When the last of the students exited, he entered. My pulse rate tripled the closer he came. With a smile I can only describe as irresistible and devastatingly sensual, he leaned down once he reached the podium, those lips twitching at the corners, and said, “Looks like I’m not the only one who’s smitten with you.”
And then he pressed that gorgeous mouth right to mine.
I inhaled him as he smiled against my lips, and just like that, without a word or a notion of a warning, my heart turned over.
Was it possible to fall in love in an instant? To know the person you were with was the one; the true one? The one meant for you, destined to be yours for eternity?
In the time it took me to consider how dumb it all sounded in this day and age, I countered with the ferocity of the emotions coursing through me.
Was this love? Was this what the poets clamored on about and romance writers swore truly did exist?
I didn’t have an answer, since I’d never felt this way before. No other man had ever caused such a commotion and chaos inside my mind and heart as this one did.
The thought was terrifying, enlightening, and hopeful all at once.
But even if what I was experiencing was love it didn’t mean Charlie felt the same. Smitten wasn’t exactly an I’ll love you forevermore declaration, maybe more just a pronouncement of intent. We’d gotten past my third date rule, so the question of exploring one another on a more intimate basis was definitely on the table.
But sex didn’t equate with love, this I knew for fact.
No, my feelings were my own and since they were new and raw and unfamiliar, I didn’t want them revealed, so when he pulled back from the kiss I reverted to type.
“Are you sure you don’t teach English Lit? Because ‘smitten’ simply screams Jane Austen.”
His grin grew to a wicked cheek-wide smirk that had my insides going bonkers again.
“They’re considered classics for a reason,” he said as he reached over and grabbed my briefcase. “Come on. I’m hungry and I’ve been looking forward all day to spending some time alone with you.”
Awww. Forget flutter. My tummy muscles moved into disco dance mode.
Intrigued? I hope so. Heehee

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WOKE is FREE on Kindle for a limited time

So, I’m doing something for the first time EVER!!! From Saturday, August 1 until Wednesday, August 5, the ebook version of WOKE, my Sleeping Beauty redux, will be freefreefree on Kindle.

To download your copy and read it – if you haven’t yet – here’s the link: WOKE

And I’ll ask just one favor – if you do download it and happen to like it ( which I hope you will) please consider writing a review for Amazon. It can be short or long, I don’t care. But the more reviews I garner, the more Amazon will help promote the book and in this day and age, that is HUGE for an author.

Thanks, peeps.

Waking up each day is a gift….

On her 21st birthday, someone slipped a potent drug combination into socialite Aurora Brightwell’s champagne putting her in a coma for the next ten years. It’s been a long road back, and it’s time to reclaim the life she lost and find out exactly what happened on that fateful night.

Financier Kincade Enright has his own reason for helping Aurora discover who poisoned her, but for the time being he’s keeping that – and his true identity – to himself. What he can’t keep hidden though, are his growing feelings for the one-time paparazzi darling and party-girl.

When this prince of finance joins forces with the former sleeping beauty, nothing can stop them from finding the answers they seek…or prevent the powerful emotions developing between them as they search for the truth.

 

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#teasertuesday 7.14.2020

I’m on track to get my first edits back today for the third book in my MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN series, BAKED WITH LOVE, so I figured this was a good time to put out a little something from that for today’s Teaser Tuesday.

Book 3 is Maureen’s Story, the inn keeper, baker, youngest sister, and the moral compass of the family.

Oh, my God, Maureen.” My sister Colleen’s voice rose a good two octaves from its normal sultry timbre. “Are those…penis pops?”

“Lower your voice,” I told her as I continued to pipe buttercream roses on the cupcakes I’d made for tomorrow’s wedding. “My entire inn doesn’t need to know I’ve got those”—I grinned—“hardening in my kitchen.”

“Why, in the name of all that’s holy are there”—she counted out loud—“seven chocolate candies in the shape of male genitalia on your counter?”

“Because your bride’s maid of honor special ordered them for the attendants. I tried to talk her out of it, but she paid me triple to make them and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Be happy there are only seven. She wanted one for each of the thirty females on the guest list. I was able to talk her out of it by promising to make those”—I pointed my chin toward the candy—“for the bridesmaids. She’s going to present them tonight after the rehearsal. Thinks they’ll be, quote, a scream, unquote.”

My wedding planner and getting-bigger-by-the-second pregnant sister plopped down onto one of my kitchen chairs and sighed. Heavily.

“Oh, good Lord. Thanks for the head’s up. I’ll make sure the moms are nowhere in sight when she gives them out. I don’t relish having to listen to one more complaint about this wedding. I’ve had enough for the past week to last me until Princess here”—she patted her round tummy—“is off to college.”

I flicked her a glance and said, “Put your feet up, Coll. I can see how swollen they are from here.”

With more effort than was probably warranted – she is after all, related to our grandmother, who corners the market on theatricality – she hefted her feet onto an opposing kitchen chair then extended and flexed her toes a few times. This time her sigh was thick with fatigue, and if I wasn’t mistaken, pain.

“I can’t believe you’re still wearing those ridiculous heels when you’re almost nine months along,” I chided. “Standing in them all day can’t be good for the baby. Or your back.”

“Stop scolding me.” It was impossible not to miss the whine in her voice. “I refuse to take advice from someone who thinks flipflops are the greatest invention known to the shoe wearing population of the world. For the record, my back is fine and my feet don’t hurt.”

“No, they just look like flesh colored water balloons.”

“When did you turn so mean? You’re usually the supportive, quiet sister.”

In ordinary circumstances this was true. But with my ready-to-pop and three-inch heel wearing sister, I was more than willing to make an exception.

I piped the last rose on the final cupcake, laid my pastry bag down on the counter, and took a good look at her. Camera ready face with her professionally polished outfit perfect and not a tendril of red hair out of place, the middle of my three sisters looked something she rarely did: tired. With her hands folded over her protruding belly, she’d dropped her chin to her chest and closed her eyes.

The snarky remark I was going to make about the benefits of wearing flats died before I gave it breath.

Since lunch service had finished a half hour ago and my serving staff was done with cleanup, Colleen and I were alone in my kitchen. I put the kettle on for tea and asked, “Did you have lunch?”

When she lifted her head her eyes took a moment to clear before they focused on me, lending credence to the fact she was tired. And maybe more than simply tired.

“There’s a salad waiting for me at the office. Charity got one for me while I was with the florist.”

“Text her back and tell her to put it in the fridge. I’ll make you something to eat.”

While she contacted her assistant, I plated the luncheon salad I’d concocted for today’s menu, then put half a ham and cheese sandwich into my Panini maker.

“Eat this until the sandwich is done.” I handed her the salad and a bottled water.

“What is it?”

“Spinach, cranberries, walnuts, raisins and carrots with a light pomegranate dressing and shaved Parmesan.”

Colleen shoved a forkful in and groaned. “Oh. My. God. Honestly, Maureen, you should have your own cooking show. This is insane.”

“Everything she makes is insane,” a male voice said from the doorway.

It was a voice I knew well, since its owner was a frequent inhabitant of my dreams. Husky and deep, with a dash of just woken gravel, it could cajole a lover into seduction or cut off a criminal at the knees.

Fortunately, I’d never been the latter. But I’d fantasized about being the former for years.

“Truth,” Colleen said around a mouthful of salad. “Why are you here?” she asked Heaven’s Chief of Police, Lucas Alexander before I could. “Somebody call a cop?”

Lucas flicked his moss green, heavily hooded eyes from my sister to me, one corner of his mouth tilting up. I actually had to contract my pelvic floor muscles whenever he looked at me so I wouldn’t melt to the floor in a pool of want. My ninety-three year old grandmother, Nanny Fee, calls this girding your loins. As far as a descriptive phrase for the maneuver, it’s a good one.

“You got a minute?” he asked me.

“A few. Then I have to get the dining room reading for tonight’s rehearsal dinner.” I pulled Colleen’s sandwich from the press when the bell tinged. Lucas, always comfortable in my kitchen, moved to lean a hip against the counter and then halted mid stride.

I knew the cause of his sudden stop and bit down on the inside of my cheek while I handed Colleen her plate. She caught my eye, and my stifled grin, and realized the cause. Her lips lifted in a wicked grin.

Lucas cleared his throat. “Are those–? Wait. What, what are those? Are they…?”

“Are they what?” Colleen asked, innocence dripping from her voice, at the same time I asked, “Want one?”

Lucas spun around to find the two of us staring at him, expressions blanked, and waiting for him to continue.

He huffed out a breath and dragged a hand through his hair. “Never mind,” he said, with a nervous shake of his head and shoulders.

Colleen glanced up at me, winked, and then took a huge bite of her Panini. “Oh, good Lord, Mo.”

I smiled and told her, “You’re welcome,” before I said to Lucas, “What’s up?”

He cocked his head in a come-with-me move.

In the breezeway separating my private kitchen from the commercial one I used for the inn I own and cook in, Lucas stopped, bit down on a corner of his mouth, and twirled his hat in his hands. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was nervous, but nerves weren’t an emotion common to this man. His army training had taught him how to remain calm in any crisis, cool under the most volatile of situations. I’d never even heard him raise his voice in all the years I’d known him.

I repeated my question.

“I need a favor.”

I rolled my hand in a go on gesture.

“Cathy might have mentioned Robert’s coming to spend a few weeks with me. Nora’s getting remarried this weekend and then leaving on a long honeymoon.”

I nodded. “I’d heard that, but not from Cathy.” To the question in his eyes I said, “Nanny told me the other day when I dropped off her scone delivery at the nursing home. She heard it from Tillie Carlisle who got it from Maeve Capshaw, whose granddaughter, Olivia, told her. Nanny said Olivia was the one who introduced Nora to her intended at a divorced-and-looking event she’d hosted.”

“Jesus.” Lucas shook his head again. “Small towns.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “A curse and a blessing, as Cathy is fond of saying.”

Intrigued? Hee hee, me too. Here’s a mockup of the cover. I don’t know what it’s really gonna be yet, but this is one I use while I’m writing.

And did you know that book 2, TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS has some exciting news? Not only is it a finalist in the GRDWA contest in the Long Contemporary category,

But it’s also just been named a 2020 RECOMMENDED READ from AuthorShout

Exciting times, peeps.

Until next time ~ Peg

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Voting is open…no, not for President! For me – and a whole bunch of fabulous authors!

Hey – exciting news, peeps. Voting is open now for the SEMI-FINALISTS in the RAVEN AWARDS and DIRTY DAMSELS is up in two categories: Favorite Cover and then in the Contemporary category, so you can vote twice for me ( if you want to!)

Many of my Wild Rose Sisters are also in the running, but luckily none of them are in the contemporary category with me!!! So I don’t feel disloyal, cuz I voted for them in their categories.

Here’s the link: RAVEN AWARDS

I’m in the first 2 categories. Just scroll down until you see this:

Click the bubble next to my title and then scroll down and hit VOTE!!!

This is the cover up for the award:

 


Bless you all!!! I’ll let you know how the voting goes. You can vote daily until 7.12.2020!! And again, bless you!

~ Peg

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#TeaserThursday 6.18.2020

Since this book comes out in 13 days, I figured a few lines from its pages would be a good teaser for today.

Here’s the blurb so you know what’s what:

Waking up each day is a gift….

On her 21st birthday, someone slipped a potent drug combination into socialite Aurora Brightwell’s champagne putting her in a coma for the next ten years. It’s been a long road back, and it’s time to reclaim the life she lost and find out exactly what happened on that fateful night.

Financier Kincade Enright has his own reason for helping Aurora discover who poisoned her, but for the time being he’s keeping that – and his true identity – to himself. What he can’t keep hidden though, are his growing feelings for the one-time paparazzi darling and party-girl.

When this prince of finance joins forces with the former sleeping beauty, nothing can stop them from finding the answers they seek…or prevent the powerful emotions developing between them as they search for the truth.

And here’s the teaser:

“Sorry I’m late,” I said when I met Cade at The Smith on Friday evening. “Traffic was ridiculous. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”

“I offered to pick you up,” Cade said, rising from his seat. He took one of my hands in his and bussed my cheek. “But you insisted we meet here.”

“It just made sense from a travel standpoint.”

The waiter held my chair for me to sit; a server immediately filled a water glass.

“I took the liberty of ordering a bottle of wine,” Cade took his own seat across from me. “I hope you don’t mind.”

I flittered my hand at him. “Not at all. A glass of wine sounds great about now.”

While the sommelier appeared instantly at his side, I took stock of Cade.

Or more accurately, Cade in a tuxedo.

A well fitted, expensive-as-sin, double breasted, midnight black tuxedo, complete with a bow tie I knew without a doubt wasn’t a clip on.

The man had been a walking advertisement for yummy in the suit he wore to the auction. But a tuxedo increased his hot and sexy quotient to a level I don’t think I’d ever graded a man on before.

He wore it as if he’d been born to it.

He wore it as if he’d been born in it.

The deep, inky color set-off the green in his eyes, deepening them to an unrefined, natural jade.

While he lifted his glass and sampled the wine, diamond cufflinks on his wrists winked in the dim, mood lighting around us.

This man oozed class and wealth from every pore.

He gave a quick nod of acceptance then waited while our glasses were seen to.

“Alone at last,” Cade said, the corners of his lips lifting. We clinked glasses, sipped.

“Oh that’s nice,” I said, the dry, slight citrus flavor dancing over my palette and making my taste buds hum. “Good choice.”

“I’m glad you like it.” He lowered his glass then leaned in closer across the small table and took my free hand. “You look lovely tonight.”

Something warm settled in me and I don’t think it was the wine. Flirty Rory showed herself as I cocked an eyebrow and asked, “Only tonight?”

His smile was quick and devastating. “More so tonight than usual.”

Intrigued? Or should I asked, teased? Hee hee.

Here’s the buy link if you’re so inclined to read more:  Amazon

Until next time ~ Peg

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A #99cent #ebooksale, a kiss, and Christmas – what could be better?

So my first San Valentino Christmas book is on sale now for 99cents! A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS tells the story of Gia San Valentino and her quest for a life of her own.

Can a kiss under the Christmas lights lead to a forever love?

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind.

Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.

Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

Available at Amazon // Nook // ibooks for just 99 cents!

Get a copy for the romance lover on your Holiday gift list this year!

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Fall in Love with New England 2019…

I’m so happy today has finally come!! the first FILNE reader and writer conference in 2 years starts today. We have a boatload of wonderful workshops for our readers, a costume party dinner and then trickortreating this evening. Who says kids get to have all the fun!

Last night was an epic swag bag stuffing with over 20 authors and readers helping to stuff this year’s good bag with over 3o items and print copies of fabulous romance books.

If you’re attending, hope to see you around the hotel. I’m sponsoring a romcom table at lunch! Come and join me. 9 Lucky lunchers will get lovely prizes and the chance to win a basket filled with romcom movies, adult beverages and candy for a girl’s night romcom marathon.

I love my life.

Until next time ~ peg

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#SundaySnippet 9.8.19

I don’t have a cover yet for my next A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN book, just a title: TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS. This is oldest O’Dowd sister CATHLEEN’S story. Widowed, lonely, and bit of a workaholic, Cathy is despairing she will ever find another man to warm her bed at night and one she can love forever. She agrees to attend a speed dating night, organized by her high school friend, Olivia, a local matchmaker. This little scene is after the event:

The lights were still on inside the house when Olivia dropped me back home three hours later.

“I don’t want you to be discouraged, Cathy,” she said as I unbuckled my seatbelt. “This was just your first event.”

And if I had anything to say about it, it was my last.

“Tonight was a mish-mash of personality types and age groups. I’d invited you so you could get a feel for what’s involved in the process. I didn’t expect you to meet or connect with anyone. We need to get together privately so I can figure out the type of man you’re interested in. Then, I can set up something in the future more to your taste level.”

My taste level? Good Lord. If tonight was any indication, there were no men out there who even came close to an appetizer much less a main course.

“Liv, I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I’m busy with the practice, handling Nanny’s affairs.” I swiped my gloved hand in the air. “I’m not sure I have the energy to be involved at the moment.”

She smiled and nodded. “Going out to dinner or a movie with a nice guy doesn’t mean you have to sign a marriage contract, Cath. According to Fiona all you do is work.”

“Well, yeah. Because I’m busy.”

Duh.

“I get that. But you can take a break every now and again, you know. Just think about it,” she added when I opened my mouth again, ready to protest.

Resigned, I nodded.

“I’ll call you in a few days and we can grab some lunch, okay?”

“Sure,” I said.

The house was lit and warm when I walked through the front door. I’d thought Frayne had left the lights on so I wouldn’t come home to a dark, empty house. The moment I closed the door behind me I realized I was wrong, because the house wasn’t empty at all.

Mac Frayne was seated at my dining room table, a laptop opened in front of him.

“You’re still here.”

Why that blue-eyed and befuddled stare meeting me through those thick lenses was such a turn on is a mystery I don’t think I’ll ever solve, but the moment his dazed gaze zeroed in on me and then cleared, his eyes widening, then narrowing, my legs got a little wobbly and my pulse jumped.

He tugged the glasses off and tossed them onto the table, his gaze never wavering my face.

“And you’re back early,” he said, rising.

I draped my coat over my forearm, kicked off my shoes, and shrugged. “It wasn’t supposed to be a long, drawn-out evening.”

Frayne took a few steps toward me, the lines in his forehead grooving deeper. “How was it?”

“Horrible,” I said, before I could stop myself. I shook my head as I moved towards the hall closet. “That’s unfair,” I added, as I hung up my coat. “It wasn’t horrible, as much as something not for me.”

I turned and barreled into Frayne.

Jesus.” His hands shot out and braced my upper arms. “You don’t make a sound when you move.”

“A lifetime of apartment living,” he said. Once I was sure footed and guaranteed not to fall into him again, he lowered his hands.

If I’d had any nerve I would have asked him to put them back. Instead, I swallowed, turned, and walked toward the kitchen, as he asked, “Why wasn’t it something for you?”

I ignored the question. “I’m starving. Have you had anything to eat?”

I wasn’t surprised when he followed me.

“Not since lunch at the Inn. Maureen had soup and sandwiches today, which, like everything else she’s served since I’ve been here, were delicious.”

“Mo only knows how to do delicious.” I peeked inside my fridge. “And speaking of,” I pulled out a glass container. “This is fried chicken she gave me this morning. Want some?”

He leaned a hip against the counter and cocked his head.

“You don’t mind sharing?”

“We both have to eat.”

I put the mashed sweet potatoes she’d sent along in a microwave bowl, then set the timer.

“I hope you like your chicken cold because I’m in no mood to wait for the oven to heat.”

That darling little curl popped up in the corner of his mouth.

“Cold is fine.”

“Did you read any more of Josiah’s diaries?” I asked while I pulled plates from the cabinet.

When he didn’t answer I looked over at him. His quizzical head cock was in place again.

“What?”

“I’m curious why you won’t answer my question.”

I stared at the microwave, taking a moment to formulate my answer.

“The whole concept of dating is alien to me. I knew Danny since the second grade and we got married when we were eighteen. He was the only guy I ever went out with, and it wasn’t even what anyone would consider dating, since we’d been together forever. Having to start all over at this age is”—I lifted one shoulder—“mentally exhausting.”

“Why did you agree to go, then?”

“Because, as my grandmother succinctly put it, it’s time to move on.”

“And you thought hiring a matchmaker was the way to meet someone?”

“I didn’t seek Olivia out. I kind of got railroaded into it.”

I explained how the situation came about while I put the food on the kitchen table. Once seated, I continued.

“Before I knew it, I’d agreed to go to tonight’s”—I waved my hand in the air—“thing.”

“So, again, why wasn’t it for you? I don’t know a lot about speed dating, but from what I’ve read it’s popular among millennials. Along with right-swipe hookups.” The jagged shake of his head told me all I needed to know how he felt about the way people met these days.

“And that’s the problem.” I pointed my sweet potato-laden fork at him. “I’m in the wrong age bracket. Call me old fashioned but I prefer to meet someone and get to know them organically and over time, not try and stuff the story of my life into three minutes before an egg timer beeps. Even though I didn’t participate I was tense and stressed watching the others who were. It all seemed…desperate to me.”

I stopped, mortified I’d admitted it, because in truth, that’s what I’d been feeling watching the group tonight.

From the moment we’d arrived at the restaurant I could tell I’d made a big mistake. The women were all older than me, had hungry, hopeful gleams in their eyes and when they caught sight of me, a few of their stares turned hostile. I was all set to beat a hasty retreat when Olivia’s hand at the small of my back propelled me forward.

Part of the restaurant had been cordoned off, a half dozen tables for two set-up in a semi-circle. Six women, six men, I assumed.

What’s that saying about what happens when you assume something?

A quick glance back at the hostility bowling my way and I realized it wasn’t because of my outfit or my age, but the fact I had the wrong chromosomes.

With me included, there were eight women. I’m better at words than math, but even a five year old knew that left a smaller number of men.

With a gentle prod, Olivia shoved me towards the gaggle of women. For the first time in my life I understood any sympathized with how Daniel must felt walking into the lion’s den.

“Ladies,” I said, with head bob and a tremulous smile.

Silence came back at me. I could stare down the most antagonistic of witnesses in a courtroom without even a thought, but for some reason all my courage flew south as these women glared at me through overly made-up, amateurly applied smoky eyes.

I swallowed the golf ball of fear in my throat.

“How’s everyone doing tonight?” I asked.

Lame, I know, but I was truly out of my element.

“You’re new,” a voice said. “Haven’t seen you before.”

“Y-yes. I’m a…friend…of Olivia’s.” If they thought I posed no dating threat, I figured they wouldn’t disembowel me.

“You joining in tonight, then?”

“Just an observer,” I assured her.

“Hey, aren’t you Fintan O’Dowd’s oldest?” One of them asked. Well, accused would be more the appropriate word choice.

Another quirk of living in a small community, especially with a well-known parent: everyone knows who you are and who you’re related to whether you know them or not. Since I didn’t recognize the woman asking, I nodded.

“Thought you was married.” Yup, accused was the correct word.

“I was. I’m a widow. My husband died…was killed. In Afghanistan.”

Immediately, their collective animosity flew right out the restaurant’s front door. They approached me in a cluster, cooing, and clicking their tongues in sad support of my plight.

If I’d known that was all it took to get them to put their invisible pitchforks and blunderbusses away I’d have led with it.

And yes, I know that’s dramatic, but their facial expressions up until then were fifty shades of scary.

A few moments later Olivia clapped her hands and called us to order.

I stood with her off at the side while she read the rules and held a stopwatch. A small bell sat on the table in front of her. At the first ding, the room went into motion.

The seven women all took their seats while the five men inspected them like hunters evaluating prey, and then made their way to the tables of their choice. I felt bad for the two women who sat solo.

“Don’t worry about them,” Olivia said, when I voiced my concern. “Everyone will have a chance to meet. You want to sit down at one of the tables and give this a go?”

Having a root canal without anesthesia while simultaneously getting my fingernails removed had more appeal. I declined, nicely, and said I just wanted to watch.

Intrigued? I’ll be posting soon on the cover and the release date, so stay tuned.

And don’t forget, book 1 DEARLY BELOVED is available now: Amazon // Kobo  // Barnes and Nobel  //Apple // Google Play//

 

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Contemporary Romance, Dearly Beloved, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor