RSS Feed

Category Archives: 3.5 Stars

Review: Lead Me Back by C.D. Reiss

Posted on

A twist of fate proves wildly explosive in New York Times bestselling author CD Reiss’s smart and sexy Hollywood romance about the cost of running from your past to get to your dreams.

Cutting all ties, Kayla Montgomery drives cross-country to Los Angeles. New start. New life. And an unexpected new job: assistant to Justin Beckett.

The Justin Beckett.

The boy band rebel with the cocky attitude and dreamy bed head who casts a spell over his fans and tests the patience of his handlers.

Now at the peak of Mount Adulthood, he has to build a clean-cut, movie star image. It’s in his contract. No partying. No attitude. No groupies.

To tie it together, he needs a normal girl.

Suddenly, Kayla’s swept up in Justin’s glamorous world, and his arms. But the most dizzying thing is Justin himself. Sweet, generous, reliable, and as eager to shed his past as Kayla is hers.

About that…

Those ties she thought she’d cut? They’ve followed her across the country with her secrets in tow, and they’re about to test Kayla’s courage, Justin’s loyalty, and a love that wasn’t part of the deal.


“You already own me,” I said. “So you might as well just take me.”

Lead Me Back follows the story of Kayla and Justin. When we first meet up with Kayla, she’s moved out to LA for a fresh start. Kayla even went as far as to change her cell phone number. She had no idea that changing her number would turn her whole world upside down. You see, her new number used to belong to The Justin Beckett. Justin is a former musician, turned actor. He’s had a lot of bad press and is looking to reinvent his image. Fate throws Justin and Kayla together in the most unexpected way. Soon Kayla finds herself swept up in Justin’s glamours world. Will Kayla get the fresh start that she’s looking for or will her past catch up with her? There’s only one way to find out…

I thought this book was an ok read. I was hooked on Justin and Kayla’s story from the very beginning. I really liked how the two of them were brought together and how they stayed a part of each other’s life. Justin needed Kayla’s help to deliver messages that she might receive on her phone, so he offers her a job to help her get her feet off of the ground. I liked the banter between the two of them. Kayla was a no nonsense type girl and wasn’t afraid to tell Justin no. I really appreciated the way the author dealt with Kayla’s past. She made her very real and easy to relate to. And while Justin was cocky and annoying at times, he was really a good guy. Together I thought these two made a nice couple. They had some great banter and interactions. They had a good friendly foundation and a slow burn type of romance. The two of them definitely steamed up the pages together. That being said, I did wish that there was a little more romance and chemistry between Justin and Kayla. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them together, I just wanted more feels and to feel more of a connection to them.

Overall, Lead Me Back was a quick and easy read. I was able to finish it in just a single sitting. Even though I wanted a little more from Justin and Kayla in the romance department, I still enjoyed getting swept up in their story.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Desolation Road (Torpedo Ink #4) by Christine Feehan

Posted on

Torpedo Ink is Aleksei “Absinthe” Solokov’s whole life. They’re his brothers, his family—his everything. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting something that only belongs to him. That’s why the tough biker has spent the last six weeks at the library, reading every book he can get his hands on and watching the prim and proper librarian who makes his blood rush.

For the past six weeks, Scarlet Foley has been fantasizing about the handsome, tattooed man whose eyes follow her every move. She senses he’s dangerous. She wants him to get close enough to touch. She wishes she could let him know the real woman, not the one she pretends to be. But Scarlet has a plan to carry out, and she can’t afford any distractions.

Absinthe is well aware that Scarlet is hiding something. She’s a puzzle he intends to solve, piece by intoxicating piece….

Add to Goodreads

Purchase on Amazon


“Torpedo Ink was his identity. His life. His family–brothers and sisters–and their lives were woven together like an old tapestry, and nothing could take them apart…..”

Desolation Road is the fourth book in the Torpedo Ink Series and it follows the story of Absinthe & Scarlet. Absinthe’s life revolves around Torpedo Ink and nothing means more to him than his biker family. But, that doesn’t stop him from wanting a love of his own. So, when he stumbles upon Scarlet at the library, he is hooked. There is just something about her that pulls him in and now he’ll do anything to make her his….

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I was pulled in from the beginning and was intrigued by Scarlet and Absinthe’s story. There was more to Absinthe than meets the eye. He’s not just your typical biker. He’s a huge fan of books and the written word. He’s fiercely protective and isn’t afraid to do the work when he wants something. And then there is Scarlet. Scarlet’s past has forever changed her and she’s not the kind of want to forgive and forget. And while she may seem like a prim and proper librarian, she’s got a thirst for vengeance. Together these two made a really interesting couple. I thought they had really great chemistry and they certainly steamed up the pages together.

While Desolation Road is the fourth book in the Torpedo Ink Series, this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel. Desolation Road is filled with intrigue, action and romance. I thought Desolation Road was an ok read and even though it’s not my favorite in this series, I still had a great time getting swept up Absinthe & Scarlet’s story…

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

Exclusive Excerpt 

Absinthe opened the door to the restaurant for her, scanning the room quickly for potential trouble before allowing her to do the same thing while he turned back toward the street and gave that another quick once-over. Certain no one was paying attention to either of them, he closed the door and followed his librarian’s amazing ass. She was in a black skirt with small white polka dots scattered over it. The material clung to her curves. He appreciated that particular skirt very much.

Absinthe held the back of her chair for her, ignoring the waiter who looked as if he might conk him on the head and abscond with the girl. She looked regal as she took the seat, smiling up at Absinthe, nearly taking his breath away. Whatever it was that she had affected him like some kind of aphrodisiac. Her small teeth. That mouth with her full, pouty lips that were made for a man’s dirtiest fantasies. He hadn’t had them until she came along. Not like this. Mostly he’d had nightmares. The erotic, very graphic dreams were a welcome change.

“Are you a wine drinker?” Absinthe didn’t know the first thing about wine. He could make her any kind of drink she wanted, or talk beer, but wine eluded him. If she loved wine, he was going to be taking a crash course. It wouldn’t take him long to catch up.

She shook her head. “I actually don’t drink very much. Once in a while, if it’s really hot out, I’ll have an ice-cold beer. But other than that, it’s a very occasional drink and usually I go for something girly like a cosmopolitan.”

“I don’t drink wine,” Absinthe admitted. “Like you I’m not a big drinker, but mostly that stems from wanting to be alert all the time.”

“You don’t put your feet up, relax and have tons to drink?” There was the merest hint of amusement in her voice. Mostly she was serious.

He loved the look on her face when she gave him her full attention. He focused completely on her once he was certain the few couples already eating or waiting to be served weren’t interested in them in the least.

“No, that wouldn’t work for me. I do like to put my feet up though,” he admitted. “I’m going to be very up-front with you.” It was confession time. If he didn’t say it straight up, she’d find out anyway. “I’m not good at this. I never know what to say and I come off stilted and awkward, but I don’t want to be that way with you.”

Her green eyes were hard to stay still under. She seemed to see right through his skull into his mind where chaos reigned—thanks to her.

“I’m not so great at this either,” she declared. “I guess we’re going to have to learn. I’m very competitive and I have a fast learning curve. Very fast. Wait.” She frowned at him. “You weren’t reading a help book on dating, were you?”

“Do they have those in the library?”

Her lashes swept down and then back up. A small smile teased the curve of her mouth, causing his heart to accelerate. He found himself staring. Shit. He was going to lose before he got started because he couldn’t stop staring at her.

She laughed. “I’m not telling you. I’ll read them and turn into a scintillating conversationalist in minutes, leaving you in the dust.”

He instantly learned three things. There were multiple self-help books on dating, she read extremely fast, and she really was competitive. He flashed a small grin, looking at her with hawk-like eyes, giving her the predator look just for a moment. Just to see the shiver that crept down her spine.

“I’ll have to be there first thing in the morning before your shift.”

“You know my shifts?” The smile faded, and she sounded uneasy.

He shrugged. “How was I going to ask you out? I went multiple times without seeing you, so clearly you had a shift and only came into the library during those times. I kept having to trade work with friends, and drive here from the coast, so, I found out when you worked. I came as often as I could, and just waited until we’d established a very tentative woman can charm the socks right off a shy man any day of the week.”

“Is that what we established?”

Her laughter got him every time. He found himself actually relaxing. The waiter hovered, and both guiltily studied the menu. She ordered a pasta dish and he ordered a steak. Fresh-baked bread was put on the table, and he suddenly realized he was very hungry.

Review: Otterly Scorched by Tara Sivec

Posted on

It’s been a lot of years and another lifetime since Dax Trevino was a playboy detective for the Franklin Police Department. He’s been through hell and back, and now he just wants to be left alone, so he can cuddle his otters.

When two of his babies are kidnapped in the middle of the night, and Claws and Effect Pet Detectives are called to the rescue, quiet, broody Dax never expects to be tackled and handcuffed by the only woman he ever regretted being a douchebag to all those years ago.

Harley Blake has spent her entire life taking care of her accident-prone father with a fondness for dead animals, and her forty-year-old brother who refuses to grow up. The last thing she needs is another complication in her life, and Detective Douchebag is at the top of the list.

Dax might not be a cop anymore, and he might have outgrown his one-and-done player status, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to get burned a second time and fall for his charms. The infuriating man already branded a mark on her heart years ago, making sure she’d never forget him. Besides, she has a case to solve for the guy, and this is just business.

But the sarcasm starts flying, there are a gaggle of adorable otters who need to be cuddled, a Bandit Von Trash Panda who just wants to play poker, pot brownies, and squirrels dressed for a wedding… at a funeral. Things are heating up—and not just from the small tree fire after the grenade went off—and this man is suddenly simplifying her life instead of making it worse.

Harley knows she won’t escape this time without being Otterly Scorched.

Purchase Links: 








“A gentleman should be polite and courteous on a date, while being firm and manly by listening to what his date would like to eat and then ordering it for her,” Dax informs me, holding his pointer finger up to the waiter while he grabs his water glass and chugs half of it before setting it back down on the table.

“Why are you talking like this?”

“Like what?”

“Like… you’re Google, and I just asked you how to go on a first date. In 1952.”

Dax quickly picks his menu back up and looks down at it.

“Chicken parm sounds good.”

A few more previously dead brain cells join the smart living one, and I tell the waiter to give us a couple minutes. The confused young man walks away, and I lean forward to rest my elbows on the table, take the menu out of Dax’s hands, and set it down on the table off to the side.

“Dax Trevino. Did you google how to go on a date?” I ask softly, never knowing before this moment that my heart could actually feel like it’s melting in my chest.

Dax sighs, leaning forward in his chair to cross his arms and rest them on the table with me until our faces are a few inches apart.

“You’re goddamn right I did.” He nods with conviction, all of the nervousness finally gone from his face now that the truth is out. “Harley, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here either. I’ve never dated anyone. I’ve never wanted to date anyone, or make them feel special or like a princess on a date. I know you’re not really the princess type, but I want to do this right, and I’m fifteen steps into Twenty-Five Ways to Date Like a Gentleman. I’ve had my car detailed, I’ve taken extra time to properly groom myself, I’m wearing an outfit that gives me confidence, I’m maintaining eye contact, and I’ve prepared a list of topics for us to discuss in case there’s an uncomfortable lull in dinner conversation.”

Dax reaches over, grabs my fingers, and tugs my hand to his mouth, kissing the top of it.

“Now, let me order dinner for you without you stabbing me, and then just sit there like a good girl and let the nice man I paid play the violin right next to our table and make it super awkward while we eat the main course.”


Otterly Scorched follows the story of Dax and Harley. Dax has changed a lot since he worked for the Franklin Police Department. There was a time when he was a tough, playboy detective, but now Dax is happy just being alone and chillin with his otters. When two of his otters get kidnapped in the middle of the night, Dax is left with no choice, but to call Claws and Effect Pet Detectives. What he didn’t plan on was having to be face to face with the one woman, he feels bad for being a jerk to. Dax might be a changed man, but that doesn’t mean that Harley is going to let him get close. While Harley is used to dealing with difficult men, she doesn’t need another complication…

Overall, I thought this book was a cute and easy read. This is the kind of book that you can definitely read in a single sitting. I thought that Dax and Harley made for an interesting match. Their banter was enjoyable and I thought they had good chemistry. Otterly Scorched had a lot of funny moments that left me laughing out loud. I enjoyed the mystery of the story and couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the otters.

If you’re looking for a cute and funny romantic comedy that is sure to keep you entertained, look no further and give Utterly Scorched a try.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*


Review: Yours in Scandal by Lauren Layne

Posted on

A political golden boy and the woman of his dreams take the risk of their lives in a sexy romantic comedy of strange bedfellows and second chances by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Fresh off being named Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, New York City’s youngest mayor, Robert Davenport, decides it’s time to strategize. Next move: a bid for the governor’s seat. In his way: an incumbent with a flawless reputation. He also has an Achilles’ heel: an estranged wild-child daughter with a past so scandalous it could be Robert’s ticket to victory. And a charm so irresistible it could be Robert’s downfall.

Rebellion is a thing of the past for Adeline Blake. As New York’s premier event planner, she’s all about reform and respectability. Then she’s approached by Robert to organize the party of the season. Curious, considering he’s her father’s most formidable opponent. And alarming, too. Because Addie can’t help but fall for the righteously popular candidate with the movie-star smile.

Now it’s Robert’s choice. Does he pursue a future that holds his legacy? Or the woman who holds his heart


Yours in Scandal is the first book in the Man of the Year Series by Lauren Layne and it follows the story of Robert & Adeline. As New York City’s youngest mayor, Robert is at the height of his game. He’s got his sights set on bigger and better things. The only thing standing in his way is an incumbent with a squeaky clean reputation. All’s fair in love and politics, and Robert isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He knows his opponent has a skeleton in his closet, that he wouldn’t like exposed. So, with the advice of his campaign manager, Robert decides to go after his opponent’s estranged daughter. She might be exactly what Robert needs to win the prize…….Adeline Blake is no stranger to scandal. Her younger days were wild, out of control and just filled with rebellion. However, all of those qualities are a thing of the past. Adeline has completely reinvented herself and is a far cry from the wild child she used to be. So, when she’s approached to plan a party for her father’s biggest opponent, she can’t help but be curious. Will Adeline fall prey to Robert’s charm? Will Robert claim the victory he is seeking? There’s only one way to find out….

Yours in Scandal is a quick and easy read. It’s definitely a book that you can read in just one sitting. I thought the plot was fun and original. I loved the mix of politics and romance. I thought the characters were intriguing and they kept me entertained. I enjoyed Adeline & Robert together and couldn’t wait to see their story unfold. Overall, I think this book is a great start to this series. The characters are great and their story is written well. I loved the politics and the banter and everything in between. There was some drama, but nothing too over the top. All in all, this book was a really cute read. I look forward to checking out the next book in this series.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: A Highlander in a Pickup (Highland, Georgia #2) by Laura Trentham

A Highlander in a Pickup is the second book in award-winning author Laura Trentham’s romantic comedy Highland Georgia series, full of love, laughs…and highlanders!

When a gorgeous new man—in a kilt—comes to town, life in Highland, Georgia will never be the same…

Iain Connors is the poster boy for the strong and silent type. Growing up a loner at Cairndow Castle in Scotland with only the cliffs and moors for company, it’s understood Iain will assume the mantle of Cairndow groundskeeper when his father is ready to relinquish it. But his stint in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces has opened up a whole new world—and now, rather than settle down, he accepts an invitation to travel to the States to take charge of the Highland Games. After all, he’s led men into battle, how hard can planning a party be?

Anna Maitland is ready to step up for her best friend Isabel Blackmoor, who can’t run the Games in their hometown this year. Surely Anna, a dance instructor with boundless energy, spirit, and charm, is up for the challenge? What she doesn’t anticipate is a man in a kilt who turns up claiming he’s the one in charge. What’s worse about this Iain? He’s so infuriatingly handsome that she can’t help but fantasize about him whispering sweet-nothings in her ear in his rumbly, sexy brogue. . .


A Highlander in a Pickup is the second book in the Highland Georgia Series and it follows the story of Iain & Anna. When Anna’s best friend Isabel is unable to run the Highland Games this year, Anna steps up to the challenge. However, Anna quickly discovers that she might just be in over her head. And when Iain shows up to give her hand, he knocks her world off its axis…..

Overall, I thought this book was a quick and easy read. I had a fun time returning to the Highland Georgia Series and couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us this time. Anna is a strong and independent woman. You can count on her to help a friend who is need. And Iain is the strong, silent type. He’s very loyal and takes his duties seriously. Together these two are very similar and can’t help but butt heads. And the sizzling sexual tension doesn’t help the situation either. I loved watching these two butt heads and deny the feelings they had for one another. I knew it would lead to something pretty special and couldn’t wait to see how it would all play out.

A Highlander in a Pickup is a fun and entertaining read. You can easily finish it in a single sitting. The characters are fun and easy to connect with. The story was easy to read and written well. It had good humor, light angst and steamy moments. All in all, a nice read to spend your day getting swept up in.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1) by Rebecca Crunden

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.


Rebecca Crunden is a new to me author. When I heard about A Touch of Death, I couldn’t wait to dive into it. I mean, I LOVE a good dystopian novel and this book sounded like it would be right up my alley…

A Touch of Death starts off 1000 years into the future and follows the story of Catherine and Nate. The last of humanity lives inside the walls of Cutta, The rich are sheltered from the famine and disease that ravage the rest of the community. But, money and power can only get you so far. Life is complicated for both Nate and Catherine. There are some things that have happened that can never be forgotten. When Nate disappears, it will be 2 years before he comes back home. If you thought things were complicated with Nate and Catherine before, you’ve got no idea how things will be now. One moment. One move will change the course of everything. Their lives will be turned upside down and they will be tested in ways the never expected….

A Touch of Death is an exciting and thrilling read that will take you on one heck of a roller-coaster ride. Now, I will be first to admit, it did take me a bit to get into the story. I felt a little confused at times, and there were some instances where the pacing was off, but once I got into the story, I couldn’t put it down.

A Touch of Death is filled with mystery and great twists & turns. I was kept guessing and left wanting more. The more I got to know Nate and Catherine, the more I had to devour their story. Their story left me on the edge my seat and I couldn’t wait to see how things would play out. As far as the ending goes, I would say it definitely felt open-ended. I’ve got a lot of questions and look forward to finding my answers.

All in all, I enjoyed A Touch of Death. This author is new to me, and I think she’s got a ton of great potential. I look forward to checking out more from her in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Release Blitz with Review: Princess Ballot (Royals of Arbon Academy) by Jaymin Eve & Tate James

Posted on


PRINCESS BALLOT: A Dark College Romance (Royals of Arbon Academy Book 1) by Jaymin Eve – Author and Tate James is LIVE!! #OneClickNow


You have been chosen.

Those four words change Violet Spencer’s whole life, when against staggering odds, she’s selected in the “princess ballot.”

Arbon Academy is affectionately known as the school for Royals. Only the rich, powerful, or heir to a throne gain entry … except for the one scholarship student accepted every five years. It’s a worldwide lottery, and one that Violet entered without giving it any serious thought.

But the media got it wrong and Arbon Academy is much more than a simple college for future leaders.

It’s a dark world of politics, intrigue, and dangerous guys who will stop at nothing to get their own way. Despite her best efforts at remaining off the radar, Violet finds herself a pawn between two of the most powerful monarchies in the world.

Prince Rafe of the Switzerlands and Prince Alex of the Australasias are bitter enemies both on the soccer field and in the political arena. Monarchies rule the world now, and every waking breath is a competition for the princes.

Control the ball.

Control the world.

Control Violet.

Whether it’s through love or hate, someone will ultimately win.

*This is book one in a dark college romance. It includes a-hole princes, nasty princesses, and one chick who will take none of their sh!t, all the while doing her best to make it out alive. HEA guaranteed. Eventually. 17+.

Add to your Goodreads TBR:


Amazon Universal:


The Princess Ballot is the first book in the Royals of Arbon Academy Series and follows the story of Violet Spencer. Violet Spencer’s life is turned upside down when she discovers that she has won the Princess Ballot. You see, Violet is a ward of the state and has a tough life. When she turned 18, she couldn’t wait to be out on her own and make some better luck for herself. So, when she finds out that she’s won the Princess Ballot, Violet thinks her luck is beginning to change….Only she couldn’t have been more wrong. You see, there is so much more to Arbon Academy than meets the eyes. It’s a total sink or swim situation and you definitely have to watch your back. Despite Violets best efforts at trying to remain below the radar, she catches the eyes of Prince Alex and soon finds herself a pawn in a game she never wanted part of……

Overall, I thought this book was a quick and easy read. The story-line pulled me in from the very beginning and definitely left me wanting more. I thought Violet was an interesting character. Despite her upbringing, she was tough and could handle her own when it came to the royals who wanted her gone. I was intrigued by both Prince Rafe and Prince Alex. There is a lot of suspicion that surrounds Alex. He appears to be this sweet, honest guy, but I totally didn’t get the warm and fuzzies from him. I don’t know. There’s just something about him that makes me think his agenda may not be on the up and up. And then we’ve got Prince Rafe. Prince Rafe appears to be a total jerk, but then he’s got these moments where he is sweet and looking out for Violet. I don’t know what to think of him yet and I hope that he will prove to more than just a rich, entitled jerk.

The Princess Ballot sets this series off to a good start. The characters have been introduced and the story-line set. There’s mystery. There’s intrigue. There’s danger around every corner. There’s steam and just a touch of romance. And if that wasn’t enough, this book has a pretty spectacular twist that will just leave your head spinning.

The Princess Ballot is my first book by this writing duo and I look forward to reading more from the two of them in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*




Jaymin Eve is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and sci-fi novels filled with epic love stories, great adventure, and plenty of laughs. She lives in Australia with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and a couple of crazy pets. To date, she has sold close to two million ebooks, and still can’t believe that she gets to create fantasy worlds as a job.

Tate James is a USA Today Bestselling Author of Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy and sometimes dabbles in Romantic Suspense. She was born and raised in the Land of the Long White Cloud (New Zealand) but now lives in Australia with her husband, babies and furbaby.

She is a lover of books, red wine, cats and coffee and is most definitely not a morning person. She is a bit too sarcastic and swears too much for polite society and definitely tells too many dirty jokes.


Jaymin Eve Social Media:

Reader Group:


Facebook Author Page:



Tate James Social Media:

Reader Group:


Facebook Author Page:




Review: Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

In this charming, feel-good debut novel, a cynical assistant at a screenwriting agency must reenact the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedy movies in order to help her #1 client get his scriptwriting mojo back–but can a real-life meet-cute be in store for someone who doesn’t believe in happily ever after?

After seven years as an assistant, 29-year-old Evie Summers is ready to finally get the promotion she deserves. But now the TV and film agency she’s been running behind the scenes is in trouble, and Evie will lose her job unless she can convince the agency’s biggest and most arrogant client, Ezra Chester, to finish writing the script for a Hollywood romantic comedy.

The catch? Ezra is suffering from writer’s block–and he’ll only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. With the future of the agency in jeopardy, Evie embarks on a mission to meet a man the way Sally met Harry or Hugh Grant met Julia Roberts.

But in the course of testing out the meet-cute scenes from classic romantic comedies IRL, not only will Evie encounter one humiliating situation after another, but she’ll have to confront the romantic past that soured her on love. In a novel as hilarious as it is heartwarming, debut author Rachel Winters proves that sometimes real life is better than the movies–and that the best kind of meet-cutes happen when you least expect them.


Would Like to Meet is the super cute debut novel from author Rachel Winters. Would Like to Meet follows the story of Evie Summers. Evie is dying to get the promotion that she deserves, however, in order for that to happen, Evie is going to have to save the day. You see the company she works for is in trouble and unless she can get Ezra to finish his latest script, she’s going to be out of a job. The problem with Ezra though is that he’s got major writer’s block. He strikes a deal with Evie. He’ll finish the script if Evie can prove that you can fall in love just like people do in the movies. With her future in jeopardy, Evie will do whatever it takes; even if that means subjecting herself to meet-cute situations over and over again. Will Evie save the day and her job? Will Evie finally have her own meet-cute and fall in love? There’s just one way to find out….

Overall, I thought this was a super cute and enjoyable read. As far as debut novels go, I thought this was a pretty good one. It had a lot of really great romcom elements. I found the story line to be fun, entertaining and totally unique. I loved the play on some very familiar romcom movies and all of the disastrous meet-cutes. The meet-cute situations were downright funny and super entertaining. They definitely kept me on my toes and had me wondering what Evie would get herself into next.

However, I did have a couple of issues with this story. I did find the plot to be a bit predicable at times and there were some instances where the pacing would lag. Those issues I can easily overlook as long as I’m having fun with the story. My biggest issue though was the romance or lack there of. We have two potential love interests for Evie and while there definitely is a pull towards one character more than the other, I would have liked to have seen more chemistry. I definitely felt like the potential was there with one of the characters, it just needed to be built up a bit more. I needed to feel their chemistry and be given a reason to want them to end up together instead of it just happening with no build up. So, the romance factor definitely left me wanting more.

Despite the issues that I had with this story, I’m still glad to have checked it out. Like as I said, as far as debut novels go, this one was very entertaining. I think this writer has a ton of really good potential and I’d definitely be in to checking out more from her in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day

Posted on
About the Book
Title: Butterfly in Frost
Author: Sylvia Day
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance

From #1 New York Times bestselling phenomenon Sylvia Day comes a hotly anticipated and passionate new love story.

Once, I would never have imagined myself here. But I’m settled now. In a place I love, in a home I renovated, spending time with new friends I adore, and working a job that fulfills me. I am reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.

Then Garrett Frost moves in next door.

He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging force of nature that disrupts the careful order of my life. I recognize the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. I fear I’m too fragile for the storm raging inside him, too delicate to withstand the pain that buffets him. But he’s too determined…and too tempting.

And sometimes hope soars above even the iciest desolation.

Emotional and heartrending, Butterfly in Frost marks a brilliant return by global sensation Sylvia Day, the #1 international multimillion bestselling author of the Crossfire saga.

Add to Goodreads

Purchase on Amazon


Butterfly in Frost is the hotly aniticpated and exciting new release from author Sylvia Day. Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I have been waiting and I mean waiting for some new deliciousness from this author. And I gotta tell you, I couldn’t have been more excited to dive into Butterfly in Frost.

Butterfly in Frost is a quick, sexy and passionate read. The characters are intriguing and will suck you into their story right away. Teagan intrigued me and I wanted to know more. And when Garrett enters the picutre, all bets are off. Garrett challenges Teagan in ways that she is wholly unprepared for. He is everything she shouldn’t want and he totally knocks her world off its axis. Even with all of that, there is just something about Garrett that calls to her. Their connection is deep and intense. Garrett’s ghosts call to her, almost like a siren song. It is just too hopeless for Teagan to stay away…

Overall, I thought this book was a quick and enjoyable read. I really enjoyed getting to know Garrett and Teagan. I liked their chemistry and enjoyed seeing them go through the paces. I will say that while this book was a short read, I didn’t really like the pacing of the story. I did feel like it dragged at times, and that might just be me. The only other issue I had was the ending. Now, don’t get me wrong, the ending threw me for a total loop. I mean, I DID NOT SEE THIS COMING. I was totally shocked and surprised. However, I was quickly disappointed because there was like only 4% of the book left. I feel like while the story did come to end, there is still a lot that needs to be resolved. I have a ton of questions that I want answered and I have no clue if there will be another book or not!! I mean, the ending of this story took off at light speed and I am just dying/hoping that there will be more. I know I’m being totally vague here, but ugh! The only thing I can say is read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Butterfly in Frost will take you emotions on a whirlwind adventure. This is a story that readers are either going to love or going to hate. For me, I thought it was a solid story, I just had a couple of issues with it. In the end, this story nailed the sexy factor and left me wanting more.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review*


Roxy bounces on her feet with excitement. “Les and Marge sold their house.”

I blink. “I didn’t know they were selling.”

She laughs and heads toward the front door. “That’s the thing. They weren’t.”

“Wait, what?” I hurry after her as she steps outside.

I look to the right at my home, a lovingly restored butterfly-roofed midcentury, then on to the traditional house just beyond it that belongs—belonged—to Les and Marge. Including Roxy’s, all three of our homes have unique lots set between the homes that line the street and the Sound, affording us unhindered views of the water as well as exceptional privacy—all within a twenty-minute drive of the airport.

Roxy shortens the length of her stride to allow me to catch up, then glances over at me. “The day after you flew to New York, a Range Rover pulled into their driveway, and the guy inside offered them cash to close—and move out—in fourteen days.”

My step falters, and Minnie gets momentarily tangled in her leash. The dog shoots me what I would describe as an irritated look, then keeps trotting forward. “That’s crazy.”

“Isn’t it? Les wouldn’t say how much the offer was, but I’m thinking it was huge.”

We march up the inclined driveway, my head tilted back to take in the houses scaling the hillside. Designed with big windows to maximize the view, the homes have a look of wide-eyed wonder. Our little stretch of the Sound used to be a secret, but with the housing boom taking over Seattle and Tacoma, we’ve been discovered. Many residences are undergoing major renovation to suit the tastes of new owners.

Reaching the road, we turn left. To the right is a dead end.

“Well, if they’re happy,” I say, “I’m happy for them.”

“They’re overwhelmed. It was a lot to happen all at once, but I think they’re happy with their decision.” Roxanne stops when Bella does, and we wait as the two dogs mark one of their usual spots on the gravel edging the asphalt. There are no curbs on the streets in our neighborhood and no sidewalks. Just beautiful lawns and a profusion of flowering shrubs.

“We all tried prying information out of them,” she goes on, “but they weren’t sharing anything about the sale.” She gives me a sidelong glance. “But they did share a bit about the buyer.”

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because Mike and I both think the buyer is someone famous. A film director maybe. Or an artist. Can you imagine? First Emily, a bestselling author. Then you, a reality-TV surgeon. Now this guy! Maybe we’re sitting on the new Malibu—beachside living without wildfires or state income tax!”

The mention of Roxy’s husband, Mike, coaxes an inner smile. A New York transplant like me, he adds a welcome touch of the life I left behind to the reality I’ve since created for myself—a reality that’s just been rocked by the loss of neighbors I like.

“What are the clues you’re working with?” I ask, deciding to play along. If I’ve learned anything the past year, it’s to accept the things I cannot change. A tough task for a control freak like me.

“Les pointed out to this guy that he hadn’t even seen the inside of the house. The guy said he didn’t need to. He knew already that ‘the light is perfect.’ I mean, who would say that? Gotta be someone who’s in visual arts, right?”

“Maybe,” I agree tentatively, disquieted by the unexpected conversation. The road rises sharply before us, the incline steep enough to put a little burn in my thighs. “Doesn’t mean he’s famous, though.”

“That’s the thing.” Her words carry a note of breathlessness. “Les wouldn’t give numbers, but he did say it was crazy the guy didn’t just buy that huge compound at the end of the street. That house is listed for three and a half million!”

My mind staggers at the thought. Les and Marge have—had—a beautiful home, but it’s not worth anywhere near that much.

“I think I saw the buyer once through that big arched window in the living room,” Roxy goes on. “The blonde with him was a looker. Supermodel skinny with legs for days.”

I’m panting when we reach the top; Roxy, who hits a gym most days of the week, is not.

A quarter mile farther, there’s a street to the right leading to Dash Point. Beyond that and straight ahead, the road slopes back down and around until it’s at water level. Redondo Beach is there, as is Salty’s, a restaurant on stilts in the water with expansive views of Poverty Bay and beyond. I’m about to wax poetic about Salty’s seafood chowder when a runner dashes around the corner at a full sprint. His sudden appearance rattles me. A closer look makes me freeze midstride. My breath locks in my lungs.

There are too many things to register at once, so my mind attempts to absorb the whole man. Dressed only in black shorts and shoes, he is a visual feast of deeply tanned skin, intricate sleeves of tattooed art, and sweat-slicked, flexing musculature.

And his face. Sculpted. Square-jawed. Brutally, breathlessly handsome.

Roxy, now a few feet in front of me, gives a low whistle. “Hot damn.”

Rafflecopter Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: On the Corner of Love and Hate (Hopeless Romantics #1) by Nina Bocci

Posted on

For fans of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne comes a delightfully sassy and sexy romance about a campaign manager who reluctantly works with the local Lothario to help revamp his image for the upcoming mayoral elections, only to discover that he’s hiding something that can turn both their lives upside down.

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

A perfect blend of humor and heart, On the Corner of Love and Hate is the first in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci.

Add to Goodreads


“In a lot of ways, Cooper was like the sun: you couldn’t fly close to it, or him, without getting burned.”

On The Corner of Love and Hate was on my most anticipated reads of 2019. I fell in love with Nina Bocci’s writing when she co-wrote Roman Crazy with Alice Clayton. So, when I heard that Nina was venturing out on her own, I couldn’t wait to see what she would bring to the table.

On The Corner of Love and Hate is a small town enemies to lovers romance that will leave you begging for more. If you are a fan of a super slow burn, this book is totally for you.

On The Corner of Love and Hate follows the story of Cooper and Emma. Cooper is well on his way to being the town’s next mayor. The only problem? He doesn’t take much seriously and his imagine is in desperate need of a makeover. And who better to help him out, but Emma. Emma wants nothing more to say no to Cooper, but their past and family connections keep her from turning him down. This new position will test Emma in ways she’s unprepared for. Cooper will do whatever it takes to clean up his image and land the job of a lifetime….

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. I thought the story-line was fun and refreshing. I love small town romances and enjoyed the politics of the story. I thought this story had a really good enemies to lovers vibe. We have Cooper who is the town’s golden boy and total ladies man. He’s too charming for his own good. And then we have Emma. Emma is hardworking, stubborn and takes life far too seriously. Cooper certainly knew what buttons to push and just how to get under Emma’s skin. And while these two get on each others nerves, it was nice to see that they were actually pretty solid friends and have known one another for a long, long time. There weren’t a ton of steamy moments between our two main characters, but the ones that we did get were satisfying.

However, I did have a couple of issues with this story. The first being the slow burn. Now slow burning romances are something that I struggle with from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fleshed out romance that just oozes tension. But, I found this one to be lacking. Sure I think that Cooper and Emma could have just been great friends and I could be ok with that. But, I think the story could have benefited with some chapters from their past, showing us the connection and chemistry between the characters. Also, I think it would have been nice to get inside of Cooper’s head. See what made him tick and show his feelings for Emma. As a reader, I felt like I needed more from Cooper and Emma. I needed more steam, more chemistry, more will they/won’t they moments, that sexual tension that just builds and builds until you want to explode. I needed to see why these two should be together and why I should be rooting for their happily ever after. For me, I found the romance to be lacking–almost like a women’s fiction story instead of a contemporary romance. I personally didn’t get a real romancey vibe until almost the end of the story. Like it took both of these characters FOREVER to come to terms with their feelings. And that might work great for some, but for me, I needed more.

Overall, I thought this book was an ok read. It was fun and entertaining. It was filled with politics and drama. The characters were easy to connect with and fun to get to know. I thought the story was written well and has some really great potential. And while this story wasn’t a 100% hit for me, I’m still glad to have checked it out and given it a chance. I think this series has great potential and I do look forward to seeing where it will go from here.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

EXCERPT-Chapter One

Thud. Whoosh. Slap.
Thud. Whoosh. Slap.
The trio of irksome sounds repeated another half-dozen times.
My eyes darted upward, a silent prayer falling from my lips.
Dear God, please give me the strength not to shove that tennis
ball somewhere that would require surgery. Amen.
My coworker casually leaned back in his chair, his long legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles on the shiny surface of the conference room table. Beneath his brown leather loafers sat a report.
His unfinished-yet-due-tomorrow report.
I marveled at his ability to multitask. It would have been more
appropriate if he had been, say, working. Instead, he was tossing a
ball against the conference room wall with one hand while texting
with the other. Even though he didn’t take his eyes off his phone
screen, he caught the ball every single time. If I hadn’t been so
annoyed, I would have actually been impressed.
The clock ticked against the pale yellow wall above his head.
With each passing tick, the ball struck with a thwack to its right.
“Cooper, could you please stop?” I finally said, rubbing my
temples to ease the headache that was forming.
Thud. Whoosh. Slap.
“Cooper,” I repeated, glancing up from my laptop. “Hello?”
Thud, whoosh, slap was the only response I got.
Sliding back my chair, I stood up and walked around the long
maple conference table. It was only when I got close enough to
see the scantily clad woman in his text window that I noticed the
wireless earbuds that were blasting music into his ears. As the
ball left his hand, I touched his shoulder.
Startled, he lost his grip on the ball, sending it sailing behind
him. “What’s up?” he sputtered, quickly pulling his earbuds out. I
didn’t miss his hand sliding his phone into his pocket. He looked
every bit like a teenager caught red-handed by the principal.
“Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. “You’ve had music on this
entire time? I read nearly two pages of the brewery expansion
proposal out loud to you twenty minutes ago!”
At least he had the decency to look remorseful. “I thought you
were talking to yourself, so I”—he motioned to the black Beats—
“figured I’d give you your privacy while I caught up on work.”
My eyebrows must have reached my hairline, because with a
mildly guilty expression he pulled his legs down from the table.
I snorted. “Yes, I start all sentences with, ‘Cooper, what do you
think about’ when I’m talking to myself. Were you just smiling
and nodding for my health?” Shifting in his seat, he straightened.
I huffed.
The small laugh lines around his mouth became more pronounced, an indication that he was fighting back a smile. “Emmanuelle,” he purred smoothly.
“Don’t Emmanuelle me,” I clapped back. “That tone may work
on your fan club, but not me.”
He held his arms up in a defensive position. “Okay, okay, I’m
sorry. What did I miss?” He grabbed for the papers in my hand.
Holding them back against my chest, I scowled. “Hope Lake
Brewing Company. Expansion. Asking for input before it goes to
the town council for approval.”
He whistled and rocked back in his chair. “Council is going to reject anything that comes across their desk from them. They
hate the ‘vibe’ the brew house brings, and the addition would
make the council’s heads explode.”
I nodded. “Yep, which is why the guys asked us for help. To
try and edit the proposal to appeal to them. It’s also why I booked
us the conference room for this meeting that you just Tindered
your way through.”
“That’s not a word, and I wasn’t—” he began, patting his pocket
absently. Probably making sure the evidence was tucked away
I held up my hand. “Save it. I don’t care what or who you’re
doing. Just that you’re not paying attention. Again.”
When the owners of HLBC, Drew and Luke Griffin, first
came to our department, Cooper and I had championed their
proposal to build a brewing company, tasting room, and outdoor
entertainment space just along the lakefront. It was one of the
first projects Cooper and I had worked on together, and it was just
what we’d needed in town back then—a fun, innovative business
that catered to every age. Now, six years later, HLBC was one of
Hope Lake’s most popular spots, and the brothers were looking to
expand their space to include rooms for private events and a small
restaurant. Cooper and I were supposed to be discussing how to
approach the town council about it.
Looked like I’d just been talking to myself instead. “I’m going
back to my office, where I can work in peace,” I said. Exasperated,
I started gathering up my stuff.
After a few seconds of awkward silence, he cleared his throat.
“You’re right. I’m sorry. Let’s go over it. Again.”
I stacked my files, feeling my blood starting to boil. Having
to repeat myself irked me, but I needed his input whether I liked
it or not.
Glancing up, I noticed Cooper readying to say something else
when our shared assistant, Nancy, hurried in with the main office
calendar and a fistful of Sharpies clutched in her hand.“I’ve been searching for you two everywhere,” she said, looking
wide-eyed at each of us in turn. The conference table, at least on
my side, was covered in charts, graphs, and photos of the lakefront. On Cooper’s side—well, there was a lot of polished maple
“Did you discuss the project?” she asked hopefully, her face
falling when I shook my head. “Okay, well, I guess you’ll handle
that, uh, later. I’m sure.” She gave me a look. “I hope,” she mouthed,
then cleared her throat and pulled out the head chair of the conference table and sat down with the main office calendar in front of
her. “It’s time for the afternoon rundown—are you ready?”
Cooper groaned. Not at Nancy but at the calendar she had
opened. It had been on my desk this morning when I’d filled it with
upcoming appointments and meetings. By the looks of it, Nancy
had managed to fill almost every empty space that remained.
We kept it old school at our office. Instead of using Google
calendar or iCal, we used a large paper desk calendar with a
color-coded legend, labels, and tabs to keep our government office running like clockwork. It’s not as though we hadn’t tried to
modernize, but some of the, ahem, older department staff were
frosty toward change.
Nancy, Cooper, and I worked at the Hope Lake Community
Development Office on the top floor of Borough Building. In a
small town like Hope Lake, my department was sort of the home
base for everything. From simple things such as parade permits to
more detailed ventures—for example, helping to secure funding
for business owners like HLBC—the CDO, as we tended to call
it, had its hand in pretty much everything. It wasn’t big, but what
we lacked in size and staff we made up for in energy and results.
“The upcoming week is brutal,” Nancy apologized, looking at
Cooper, who, not surprisingly, was on his phone again. “Emma,
I’m afraid you’re a bit overscheduled.” She tapped a Sharpie on
the table.
I waved a dismissive hand. “It can’t be any worse than that week the staff came down with the flu.” I had practically run the
office that week even though I was heavily medicated myself.
“It’s close.” She held up two fingers barely an inch apart.
“You’re back-to-back Monday. There is a pocket of time during
the event this weekend with the future Mr. Mayor here and his
Cooper perked up then. He knocked twice on the wooden
table. “Don’t jinx me.”
Oh, sure, you’re paying attention now.
“You’re a shoo-in. People love you, Cooper. And with the mayor
already behind you, how can you not be?” Nancy assured him.
Nancy wasn’t blowing smoke. Cooper had decided to run for
office this year, and his magnetic personality made him the perfect political candidate. He was brilliant, liked by the majority
of the town, and had confidence to spare because he knew he
was the best choice for the job. Even I could admit that, and we
were often at odds.
“Emma, I know you wanted to have a sit-down with Drew and
Luke from the brewing company about the proposed expansion
before they go to the council, but I don’t see how it’s going to
Nancy jotted a note onto the calendar. Over the years, we’d
gotten our system down to a science: orange for me, blue for
Cooper, hot pink for our department administrative assistant,
green for Nancy, and red for the mayor, because red was my
dad’s favorite color. Blue, not surprisingly, was the color least visible on the entire calendar. It was sporadically used, even from
my vantage point, which meant that Cooper had a light schedule
this week.
I chewed the pen cap, irritated. Nancy continued reading off
meeting after meeting throughout the week.
“These two on Thursday—I can probably sit in on them to
give you a break, Emma,” she offered.
Looking over Nancy’s shoulder, I marveled at the Technicolor
scheduling system. It might have been old-fashioned, but at least
it looked good.
Shaking my head, I pointed at the partially torn yellow Post-it
stuck on the edge of the frame. That was how my father added
mayoral meetings to the calendar. Stickies. He was nothing if not
professional. “No can do, my friend. You’re going to be at a ribbon
cutting with Mayor Dad.”
She looked up, her lips a thin, flat line. “I am? He didn’t tell me.”
Sighing, she jotted the information down. “I wish he’d told me
I was supposed to go, too!”
She took her calendar duties very seriously. I for one appreciated it, and I knew my father did, too, even if he did use his own
odd system to add to it. It kept all of us in line.
Together, Nancy and I figured out the rest of the week, Cooper staying silent and, surprise surprise, on his phone. We looked
over the days, pointing and crossing out, trying in vain to find
somewhere to squeeze in a last sit-down. “It’s not going to work,”
I lamented, sinking into the chair beside her.
“Well, someone from the department needs to at least show
their face at the city events meeting,” she urged, looking pointedly at Cooper. A notebook was now on his lap, his hand moving
swiftly over the page. He didn’t look up when she said his name
or when she repeated it a few seconds later. He was too deeply
invested in whatever he was doing.
At least he’s off the phone.
Tearing the Post-it off the calendar and balling it up in her
fist, Nancy lobbed it at him. “Cooper!” she shouted, snapping her
fingers as if she were telling a dog to sit.
He smiled at her. “I’m listening.”
“Uh-huh, we need you to take a meeting or two on Thursday
so Emma can head down to the lake to meet Drew and Luke.
Unless you’d rather take the HLBC meeting.”
“Thursday?” he repeated, sliding his phone out from behind
the notebook.
When did he take that out? He was stealthy like a teen texting
in class.
With a shrug, he shook his head. “Sorry, I’m booked all day
and I’ve got a campaign publicity debrief at noon. That’s taking
up most of the afternoon.”
“Doesn’t that just mean you and Henry are meeting at the
diner to play on Facebook and Twitter together?” I scoffed, feeling
the blood rushing to my face.
Henry was one of my and Cooper’s oldest friends. As a teacher,
he had limited time to meet up with Cooper, so I understood
Cooper’s reticence to reschedule, but—
Then it hit me. “Wait . . . why are you having mayoral meetings during work and school? How’s Henry getting out of class to
meet you?”
Setting his phone down, he stood and straightened his tie. “I’ll
have you know, I’m meeting him at the high school. I wish I could
help, but alas—”
“You can’t,” I finished, sliding out of my chair to stand myself.
With Cooper running for mayor of Hope Lake, the brunt of
his work at the CDO was taking a backseat. I noticed, the staff
noticed, and the mayor noticed. If it had been anyone else, they
probably would have been fired, but Cooper was Hope Lake’s
golden boy. Once he was elected, we could hire someone new
to replace him. But until that happened, it fell to us to pick up
his slack.
Cooper walked toward the door, leaving his phone—aka
his most prized possession—on the conference table. Surely he
would be back in for it the second he realized it wasn’t attached
to his hand.
“Wait, you can’t leave!” Nancy called after him. “I need the
theater proposal paperwork. You guys have that meeting with the
council on Monday and the mayor wants the weekend to review the specs. Cooper, it has to be before end of day since you have the
debate tomorrow! Everything is done, right? Please tell me it’s done.”
“It’s handled,” Cooper said smoothly over his shoulder, tapping his temple. “And it’s not a debate. It’s a photo op, remember?
Pose, smile, shake hands. You know, the usual.”
“Thank God. I don’t have time today to do it if you didn’t,” she
said, pretend wiping her brow.
Smiling broadly, he clapped his hands together. “Oh, come on,
Nance. Have I ever left you hanging?”
Her silence spoke volumes. If she’d had the time, and the
inclination, she could have created a depressing list of how often
that had happened.
Looking uncomfortable at Nancy’s lack of response, Cooper
disappeared through the door, only to reappear two seconds later.
“That would have been bad!” he said with a tight smile, jogging
in to grab the iPhone.
“Cooper, are you sure you can’t reschedule your Thursday
plans with Henry until after work so Emma isn’t pulled in nineteen directions?” Nancy said quickly. “It’s just about the local
sports participation in the Thanksgiving parade. They’re looking
for guidance with the floats and theming—it won’t exactly take
up all your brain space. The other is an initial meeting to see if
the CDO can finally purchase the old bank.” Nancy already had
a blue Sharpie at the ready, clutched between her fingers. “Or if
you wanted to switch with Emma, you could meet with Drew and
Luke and Emma could handle the parade instead. You’d probably
get some free beer out of it.”
For a moment, he looked like he was going to agree. His
jawline ticked anxiously, a habit he’d had since we were kids. It
appeared whenever he struggled with a decision. Reluctantly, I
admitted to myself that it was happening more often than not.
“I’m really sorry, I can’t,” he finally said. “You know how important these meetings are for the core of my campaign. I’ve got
to run. I’m late.”
I glanced at the clock. “It’s barely four.”
“I have a thing.”
“You came in at ten because of a ‘thing.’” I air-quoted it because although he said those things were for the mayoral campaign, I didn’t believe him. Call it years of experience or just a
gut feeling. “Cooper, I need you to focus. You’re all over the place,
and things are going to start falling through the cracks here. We
can’t afford any missteps. Not when we’re under a microscope.
The council is looking for any reason to put the screws in this
Cooper’s opponent, Kirby Rogers, had been on the town council for the past few years. He had made it his mission to strip the
CDO—funding, staff, all of it gone.
With nothing but a grimace, Cooper left, leaving no opening
for discussion. I shook my head at his retreating form.
“Forget him, I’ll figure it out,” I said, glancing between the calendar with the work appointments and my nearly empty personal
calendar. “I can pop over to the brewery and see Drew and Luke
on my way home Tuesday or Friday night. They owe me dinner,
anyway,” I said with a weak laugh, an attempt at loosening the
anxiety-ridden ball in my stomach. How am I going to accomplish all of this? “Just see when they’re free.” I tapped away on my
phone. Making a note, I double-checked my iPhone’s calendar as
Nancy read off the rest of the upcoming schedule.
“Emma,” she said with a heavy sigh, “I don’t want you to overwork yourself.”
“I’m fine. It’s an adjustment we’re going to have to get used to
since we’re going to be picking up all the Cooper slack,” I insisted,
knowing that she was always worried about me in a big-sisterly
sort of way. “Promise,” I said after seeing her frown.
Months ago, before he had decided to run for mayor and before
he had become so distracted by the election, Cooper had been an
asset. I longed for those days. He had a gift, an ability to coax the
very best of ideas out of you, and he transformed them into solid plans that we then presented to Mayor Dad and the town council.
His undivided input would have been valuable here.
That part of Cooper I respected and enjoyed working with.
Pre-candidate Cooper. Except lately, so much had changed. I
missed the focused Cooper. The guy who would pull together a
presentation in just a few hours. The guy I could count on to bring
the best ideas out of me when I thought I had hit a wall. Or even
the guy who got his work done on time. I hated myself a little bit
because I was missing that coworking partnership. We did make
a good team when we weren’t arguing.
“Not for anything, but you’d think he’d want to head over to
Hope Lake Brewing Company to see the guys.”
“His head was so buried in his phone, he probably didn’t hear
you mention them.”
Nancy nodded. “What do you think? Is this going to get better
or worse as the campaign progresses?” She packed up her Sharpies and hoisted the large calendar off the table, mindful not to
drop any of the Post-its and papers tacked to it.
I slung my arm over her shoulder. “Worse. So much worse.”