Excerpt Reveal: Not Pretending Anymore by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

Title: Not Pretending Anymore
Authors: Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 12, 2021
Excited about Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, Not Pretending Anymore?
Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER ONE
Molly
“So, what do you do for a living?”
The woman drummed her fingers on her thigh. “I’m a musician.”
I glanced down at the renter’s application in my hand. Lyric Chords was the name listed at the top.
I bit my tongue and tried to keep an open mind. This was the twelfth woman I’d interviewed as a prospective roommate. Just because she had a few safety pins in her eyebrow and what looked like a dog collar around her neck didn’t mean I should rule her out.
“Oh. That’s nice. Are you a singer?”
Lyric shook her head. “Drummer. Do you know the dimensions of the bedroom I’ll be sleeping in? I have two sets of drums I need to fit.”
“Umm… I think it’s fourteen by fourteen. But you don’t practice at home, right? I wrote in my ad that I’m looking for a quiet roommate because I work nights.”
“I do. But no worries. I’ll practice in my room.”
My bedroom and my potential roommate’s bedroom shared a wall, so that was the end of interview number twelve. I sighed and forced a smile. “Thank you for coming. I have a few other people left to meet with before I decide. I’ll let you know.”
“Great.” The woman stood. “Also, I know your ad said two months’ rent up front, but I’m running a little short right now. Would one be okay?”
I smiled. “Sure, no problem.” Since you’re not going to be living here.
After Drummergirl, I interviewed two more candidates. One wanted her boyfriend to move into the room with her, even though my ad had specified I was only looking for a single. And the other arrived twenty minutes late, reeked of alcohol, and slurred her words…at three thirty in the afternoon.
Why in the hell was it so difficult to find a roommate in a city of almost three-million people? I needed my last interview of the day to be a miracle, or I was going to have to shell out money for another ad and start the entire process all over. And I definitely didn’t have the time or the funds for that. Rent was due in two weeks. If I got stuck paying the full amount on this place myself again, I’d be eating cat food for a month.
When my last appointment knocked right on time, I took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, and asked the big guy in the sky for a little assistance.
Opening the door, I blinked a few times.
Uhhh. I think you answered the wrong prayer, God.
A man stood in my hallway—and not just any man, an absolutely gorgeous one with a perfect, straight nose, cheekbones to die for, a masculine, square jaw, full lips, tanned skin, and the sexiest chocolate brown, almond-shaped eyes I’d ever seen in my life.
“Uh. Can I help you?”
He flashed a killer smile, one that I immediately suspected had made countless women remove their panties.
“Hi. I have a four-thirty appointment with Molly Corrigan.”
“You do?” I had the last application in my hand and looked down at the name on the top. “I don’t think so. My appointment is with a D. Tate?”
He extended a hand. “That’s me. Declan Tate.”
“But…you’re…not a woman.”
He smiled again. “You’re correct. Very observant. I am most definitely not a woman. But my last roommate told me I should’ve been because I use moisturizer at night and cried at the end of Marley and Me. And if I’m being honest, I also got a little watery at the end of Toy Story, so maybe I’m a bit of a wuss. Either way, I think you should consider those my positive feminine qualities.”
I was thoroughly confused. “Umm… I’m sorry. You must’ve missed that my ad said female only.”
“Actually, I didn’t. But if you’ll give me just five minutes, I think I can convince you I would be a better roommate than a woman.”
I chuckled. “Let me get this straight… You hid your first name—what did you say it was again?”
“Declan.”
“Right. Declan. Anyway, you applied to an ad for a female roommate, intentionally deceiving the person who is going to decide if you get the room by leaving your first name off. And your strategy is to convince me I don’t really know what I want in less than five minutes? Do I have that right?”
He flashed that boyish charm again. “You sure do.”
I debated how to handle the situation. On one hand, he was going to waste my time, and I had done enough of that today. But on the other, my curiosity was definitely piqued. Something about his grin told me this could be amusing. Screw it. I had nothing better to do anyway.
I opened the door wider and stepped aside, holding my hand out for him to enter. “I’m setting the timer on my phone, and I’m getting a glass of wine before you start. I like a drink while I’m being entertained.”
Declan smirked and strolled into my apartment.
I motioned to the couch. “Have a seat. I’ll just be a minute.”
When I got to the kitchen, he called after me, “Hey, Mollz?”
I turned back. “Yes?”
“How about you make that two glasses of wine?”
I chuckled. “Sure. Why not, Decs.”
I poured a couple of glasses of pinot grigio and returned to the living room.
“Here you go. Hope you like white.”
“You see? We’re perfect together already. I prefer white over red.”
I brought my wine to my lips. “Yes, perfect. A match made in heaven. I think we might even be soul mates.”
Declan showed me his pearly whites once again. He really did have a great smile, nice teeth, too. Too bad he also had a penis. I knocked back half the contents of my glass and placed it on the coffee table. Picking up my cell, I swiped to the timer app and set it for five minutes.
I showed him the screen. “You ready?”
“I’m always ready.”
I pressed start, placed the phone face up on the coffee table between us, and folded my hands. “Go.”
“Okay. Well…what’s your favorite color?”
“My favorite color?”
Declan pointed to the timer. “Time’s a ticking, Molly. I’m going to need you to not repeat questions.”
I laughed. “Fine. My favorite color is pink.”
Declan reached into one of his pant pockets and pulled out a set of keys. The keychain had a bunch of pink beads with white letters between each one. The letters spelled out his name. “Mine too.”
I arched a brow. “Did you make that yourself?”
“No. My niece, Arianna, made it for me.”
“So how do I know that isn’t just Arianna’s favorite color?”
“Good point. Let’s move on. Your ad said you work nights.”
“That’s right. I’m a nurse. I work the night shift on the maternity ward.”
“So you sleep during the day, then?”
“I get off at seven, and I try to get to sleep as soon as I get home.”
He held his hand to his chest. “I work days. I leave for the gym by six and usually don’t get home until after seven at night. So the apartment will be quiet when you need it to be.”
I nodded. “Okay. I’ll give you that that would make you a good roommate. But most people work days, so it’s not really something that makes you too special.”
“Do you cook?” he said.
“Does macaroni and cheese count?”
“I grew up in a multigenerational Italian home. My nonna taught me how to make sauce from scratch.”
“So you’re going to cook for me?”
“If that’s what it takes to get this apartment, yes.”
“As tempting as that might be, there’s an Italian restaurant around the corner that makes great food. Funny enough, it’s called Nonna’s Place, and an actual nonna makes most of my meals. Not a knockoff.”
Declan took an exaggerated breath and blew it out. He glanced at the cell on the table. “Three minutes and thirty-eight seconds. I can see you’re not going to make this easy. How about you tell me why you can’t have a male roommate so I can address that head-on. Is it because of the toilet-seat thing? Because I have four older sisters, so I’m appropriately trained. When I was eight, I made the mistake of leaving it up once, and my sister sat down where I’d accidentally left a little pee. She dunked my head in the toilet bowl before she flushed. That was the last time I left the seat up.” He held up three fingers. “Scout’s honor. It won’t be an issue.”
I smiled. “It’s not because of the toilet thing.”
“Alright. So why don’t you want a male roommate, then?”
I’d actually never given much thought to why my roommate had to be female. It just seemed natural to have another woman sharing the apartment. “Well…I don’t really have a specific reason. I would just be more comfortable living with another woman. For example, I sleep in a T-shirt and underwear. When I get up to start the coffee, I don’t get dressed. It would be weird to do that in front of a man.”
“Why?”
“Why would it be weird to walk around with my ass cheeks on display in front of a man and not a woman?”
“Yes.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It just would. I guess because the women I’ve lived with aren’t attracted to other women, so it doesn’t feel sexual in any way.”
“Ah. Now we’re getting to the crux of your issue. So you’re afraid of some sexual tension going on between you and me? Is it because I’m so handsome?”
“What? No! And aren’t you full of yourself, assuming I think you’re handsome, and I’m worried I won’t be able to control myself.”
“Just keeping it real, Mollz. You’re only giving me five minutes, so I’m trying to get to the heart of the reason.”
“I guess I just don’t want to feel like I have to cover up to come out of my bedroom. When I dry my hair, I wear a towel or a bra and underwear—that type of thing.”
“Would you feel you had to cover up if I told you I was gay?”
That question gave me pause. Would I? I wasn’t sure. “Are you?”
“Fuck, no. I was just trying to pinpoint your issue. Is it the fact that I’m a man, or the fact that I might admire your ass if it were on display? Sounds like it’s the latter. So let me put your mind at ease: I won’t.”
I felt oddly offended. “What’s wrong with my ass?”
He chuckled. “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t looked. You know why?”
“Why?”
“Because I’m in love with someone else.”
As insane as it was, I felt a pang of jealousy. “Oh. Well, why aren’t you moving in with her?”
“Because she doesn’t return the feelings…yet. So basically, if your concern about having a guy for a roommate is that he’s going to be checking you out, you have nothing to worry about with me. I’m a one-woman man. If you want, I can give you the numbers of some of my exes for references. I’m no cheater.”
Hmmm… “I don’t know…”
Declan looked down at the clock. Thirty-one seconds were left. “We’re running out of time, so we need to speed things up. How about if I just give you the facts you need to know?”
“That would be good.”
“I’m twenty-eight years old. I make six figures. My credit score is eight hundred and ten, and I have references from previous landlords. I’m neat and clean up after myself. I’m not home a lot, but when I am, I’m pretty quiet. I’m also damn good with a hammer.” He glanced around my apartment and pointed at a hole I’d accidentally made in the wall when I flung the closet door open too hard. “I can spackle that and put on a door stopper so it won’t happen again.” He pointed to the kitchen. “And those cabinets are pretty tall. I’m six foot one. No more having to stand on a chair to reach something on the top shelf. And—”
The timer on the stopwatch buzzed.
“Can I just say one last thing?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“I’ll share my Hulu and Netflix passwords. I have the premium Hulu account.”
I laughed. “Well, those are some pretty enticing qualities for a roommate.”
He smiled. “So I’m in?”
I sighed. “I’m sorry. While I appreciate your tenacity, unfortunately, you’re not. Though I interviewed fourteen other people today, and I have to say, you do seem like you’ll make some other lucky person a fantastic roomie.”
Declan frowned, but nodded. “I figured it was worth a shot. This is a great building, and I work right around the corner. It’s hard to find an apartment where it’s only a six-month commitment.”
“My lease is up then, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to extend or not.”
“See? That’s another reason I’d be perfect. I’m only in town for six more months.”
“I’m sorry. This is definitely a case of it’s me and not you.”
He picked up his wine and guzzled it down before standing and extending his hand. “I appreciate you giving me your time. And thanks for the pinot.”
We shook. “It was nice to meet you, Declan.”
After I walked him out, I shut the door and leaned back against it. What a shame; he really seemed like a nice guy and the best candidate I’d met by a mile. I was just about to go wallow in another glass of alcohol when there was a knock at my door. Checking the peephole before opening, I found Declan standing there.
“I forgot something important,” he said.
“Oh? What’s that?”
He took out his wallet and produced a photo of a nun. “This is my sister Catherine, and it’s not a costume from Halloween. She’s a legit nun. How bad can a person be if his sister is a nun?”
I laughed. “Is this the sister who dunked your head in the toilet?”
He grinned. “It is, actually.”
“Well, I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation between your sister deciding to dedicate her life to the church and you being a good person. Though, even if I take your word for it, it still doesn’t change my answer.”
Declan’s shoulders drooped. “Had to try. She tells me her being a nun won’t get me into heaven. Thought maybe it was good for something.”
“Goodbye, Declan.”
“Later, Mollz.”
***
“So…how’s the roommate search going?” Emma poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the small table in our break room.
I sighed. “Why is it so hard to find a normal person these days? I’ve interviewed more than a dozen people, and not one suitable candidate.”
“Did you post an ad on the employee bulletin board, like I suggested?”
I shook my head. “I don’t want another nurse or tech. It makes it weird at work if things don’t work out.”
“Maybe Dr. Dandy will apply.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “I heard he’s sleeping on Dr. Cohen’s couch until he finds a place.”
That information certainly perked me up. “Really? Will and whatshername broke up?”
“Yup. Lisa in X-ray told me Dr. Cohen told her he’s staying with him. Apparently he and the wannabe actress are finito.”
“Wow.”
Emma smiled. “Yup. And fair warning, my friend… I’m allowing a ten-day grace period for him to grieve the end of a year-long relationship. But after that, I’m going to be up your butt making sure you let the man know you’re interested. He’s not going to be on the market for long, and you missed your opportunity last time he was single. You can’t keep pining for the guy.”
Of course she was right. And while I felt elated that Will was back on the market, the thought of coming clean to him about my feelings made me want to throw up. Will Daniels—or as Emma called him, Dr. Dandy, because of his last name and uncanny resemblance to a male model named David Gandy—and I had been good friends for four years now. We’d started on the very same day at the hospital and had gone through orientation together. I’d had a boyfriend back then, and he’d been seeing a girl from med school at the time, so even though I’d always thought he was insanely handsome, things didn’t bloom until two years ago. And most of the time since then, he’d been seeing one woman or another. Emma was right that the man never seemed to stay single for long.
“He’s going to be at happy hour this Friday night,” I said. “A few of the crew from CCU are meeting up over at McBride’s. I’m curious to hear what he says about the breakup.”
“Does he know you’re looking for a roommate?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Well, he needs a place to sleep, and you need a roomie.” Emma shrugged. “Timing is everything. Maybe it’s fate and he’ll move in and take care of two of your needs.”
“I think your imagination might be getting ahead of itself. Why don’t we start by seeing if things are really over with him and whatshername? They’ve split up a few times, but he always winds up going back.”
“Okay. But I have a good feeling about you two.”
“Could you possibly have a good feeling about me finding a roommate instead? I just had to pay for another damn ad.”
Emma shook her head. “I can’t believe you didn’t find one decent candidate.”
Remembering my last interview, I said, “Actually there was one who would’ve been perfect—great credit score, neat, cooks, leaves early in the morning, and works long days.”
“So why didn’t you take her?”
“Because she was a he.”
★★★
 
Excited? We are too!
RELEASING APRIL 12th!
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PENELOPE WARD
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
VI KEELAND
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

New Release: Changing Lanes by A. Marie

Title: Changing Lanes
Series: Creekwood #2
Author: A. Marie
Genre: New Adult Romance

Release Date: January 21, 2021

BLURB
This is Creekwood… 
Beckett
My home. A place to shine just bright enough. Where my makeshift family and I not only strengthened our bond but readjusted it to fit another.
I’ve been coasting in this lane for years, biding my time, and making myself…easily accessible. I don’t move for others—ever. I don’t have to. They go around me, hopefully without chancing too good a look on their way past.
After all, people can’t see what you keep hidden.
Until she showed up.
Paige
My new apartment. Somewhere for me to lay my head between chasing what really matters. Who really matters.
I’ve brought enough baggage to fill every inch of this place but I’m not the only one. Someone else’s closet has skeletons too. Skeletons that only come out at night, when nobody’s watching. Nobody but me.
And my new roommate, the one with the arctic blue eyes that see more than he lets on, thinks him suddenly being in my path is all fun and games, but I’m not the one afraid of changing lanes, and when I do, he’ll be the one working to keep up.
If he even can.
Read My FIVE STAR REVIEW HERE: HERE
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AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
ALSO AVAILABLE
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
AUTHOR BIO
A. Marie likes to paint her characters’ voices onto the blank canvas of a page using her own blend of quick wit and playfulness. She strives to bring readers entertaining yet powerful stories they’ll fall for time and time again. Born and raised in Washington State, she now resides in upstate New York with her husband and three kids.
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New Release: The Invitation by Vi Keeland

Title: The Invitation
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 18, 2021
BLURB
The first time I met Hudson Rothschild was at a wedding. I’d received an unexpected invitation to one of the swankiest venues in the city. 

Hudson was a groomsman and quite possibly the most gorgeous man I’d ever laid eyes on. He asked me to dance, and our chemistry was off the charts. 
I knew it wasn’t a good idea to get involved with him, considering the wedding I was at. But our connection was intense, and I was having a great time. 
Though the fun came to a screeching halt when Hudson figured out I wasn’t who I’d said I was. You see, that unexpected invitation I received? Well, it hadn’t actually been addressed to me—it was sent to my ex-roommate who’d bounced a check for two months’ rent and moved out in the middle of the night. I figured she owed me an expensive night out, but I guess, technically, I was crashing the wedding. 
Once caught, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. As I bolted for the door, I might’ve plucked a few bottles of expensive champagne off the tables I passed, all while the gorgeous, angry groomsman was hot on my tail. 
Outside, I jumped into a taxi. My heart ricocheted against my ribs as we drove down the block—but at least I’d escaped unscathed. 
Or so I thought. 
Until I realized I’d left my cell phone behind at the table. 
Take one guess who found it? 
This is the crazy story of how Hudson Rothschild and I met. But trust me, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
PURCHASE LINKS
AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
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Chapter Reveal: The Invitation by Vi Keeland

Title: The Invitation
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 18, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, The Invitation? Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER 1 

Stella 
“I can’t do this…” I stopped halfway up the marble staircase. 
Fisher paused a few steps ahead of me. He walked back down to where I stood. “Sure you can. Remember the time we were in sixth grade and you had to make that presentation about your favorite president? You were a nervous wreck. You thought you were going to forget everything you’d memorized and be standing there with everyone staring at you.” 
“Yes, what about it?” 
“Well, this is no different. You got through that, didn’t you?” 
Fisher had lost his mind. “My fears all came true that day. I got up in front of the blackboard and started to sweat. I couldn’t remember a single word I’d written. Everyone in the class stared, and then you heckled me.” 
Fisher nodded. “Exactly. Your worst fear came true, and yet you lived to see another day. In fact, that day turned out to be the best day of your life.” 
I shook my head, bewildered. “How so?” 
“That was the first time we’d ever been in the same class. I thought you were just another annoying girl like the rest of them. But after school that day, you ripped into me for teasing you while you were trying to do your presentation. That made me realize you weren’t like the other girls. And that very day I decided we were going to be best friends.” 
I shook my head. “I didn’t speak to you for the rest of the school year.” 
Fisher shrugged. “Yeah, but I won you over the next year, didn’t I? And right now you feel a little calmer than you did two minutes ago, don’t you?” 
I sighed. “I guess I do.” 
He held out his tuxedo-clad elbow. “Shall we go in?” 
I swallowed. As terrified as I was of what we were about to do, I also couldn’t wait to see what the inside of the library looked like all done up for a wedding. I’d spent countless hours sitting on these steps, wondering about the people walking by. 
Fisher waited patiently with his elbow out while I debated another minute. Finally, with another loud sigh, I took his arm. “If we wind up in jail, you’re going to have to come up with the bail money for both of us. I’m way too broke.” 
He flashed his movie-star smile. “Deal.” 
As we climbed the remaining steps to the doors of the New York Public Library, I went over all of the details we’d discussed in the Uber on the way here. Our names for the evening were Evelyn Whitley and Maximilian Reynard. Max was in real estate—his family owned Reynard Properties—and I’d gotten my MBA at Wharton and recently moved back to the City. We both lived on the Upper East Side—at least that part was true. 
Two uniformed waiters wearing white gloves stood at the towering entrance doors. One held a tray of champagne flutes, and the other a clipboard. Though my legs somehow kept going, my heart felt like it was trying to escape from my chest and take off in the opposite direction. 
“Good evening.” The waiter with the clipboard nodded. “May I have your names, please?” 
Fisher didn’t flinch as he doled out the first of what would be a night full of lies. 
The man, who I noticed had an earpiece in, scanned his list and nodded. He held a hand out for us to enter, and his partner handed us each bubbly. “Welcome. The ceremony will take place in the rotunda. Seating for the bride is on your left.” 
“Thank you,” Fisher said. As soon as we were out of earshot, he leaned close. “See? Easy peasy.” He sipped his champagne. “Oooh, this is good.” 
I had no idea how he was so calm. Then again, I also had no idea how he’d managed to talk me into this insanity. Two months ago, I’d come home from work to find Fisher, who was also my neighbor, raiding my refrigerator for leftovers—a common occurrence. As he ate two-day-old chicken Milanese, I’d sat at the kitchen table sorting through my mail and having a glass of wine. While we talked, I’d sliced open the back of an oversized envelope without checking the address on the front. The most stunning wedding invitation had been inside—black and white with raised gold leaf. It was like a gilded work of art. And the wedding was at the New York Public Library, of all places—right near my old office and where I’d often sat and had my lunch on the iconic stairs. I hadn’t visited in at least a year, so I was seriously pumped to get to go to a wedding there. 
Though I’d had no idea whose wedding it was—a distant relative I’d forgotten, maybe? The names weren’t even vaguely familiar. When I turned the envelope over, I quickly realized why. I’d opened my ex-roommate’s mail. Ugh. That figured. It wasn’t me who was invited to a fairytale wedding at one of my favorite places in the world. 
But after a couple of glasses of wine, Fisher had convinced me it should be me going, and not Evelyn. It was the least my deadbeat ex-roommate could do for me, he’d said. After all, she’d snuck out in the middle of the night, taken some of my favorite shoes with her, and the check she’d left behind for the two months of back rent she owed had bounced. At a minimum, I ought to get to attend a ritzy, thousand-dollars-a-plate wedding, rather than her. Lord knew none of my friends were ever getting married at a venue like that. By the time we’d polished off the second bottle of merlot, Fisher had decided we would go in Evelyn’s place—crash the wedding for a fun night out, compliments of my no-good former roomie. Fisher had even filled out the response card, writing that two guests would attend, and slipped it into his back pocket to mail the next day. 
I’d honestly forgotten all about our drunken plans until two weeks ago when Fisher came home with a tuxedo he’d borrowed from a friend for the upcoming nuptials. I’d balked and told him I wasn’t going to crash some expensive wedding for people I didn’t know, and he’d done what he always did: gotten me to think his bad idea wasn’t really that bad. 
Until now. I stood in the middle of the sprawling lobby of what was probably a two-hundred-thousand-dollar wedding and felt like I might literally pee my pants. 
“Drink your champagne,” Fisher said. “It’ll help you relax a bit and put some color back in your cheeks. You look like you’re about to attempt to tell the class why you like John Quincy Adams so much.” 
I squinted at Fisher, though he smiled back, undeterred. I was certain nothing was going to help me loosen up. But nevertheless, I gulped back the contents of my glass. 
Fisher tucked one hand casually into his trouser pocket and looked around with his head held high, like he didn’t have a fear in the world. “I haven’t seen my old friend party animal Stella in a long time,” he said. “Might she come out to play tonight?” 
I handed him my empty champagne flute. “Shut up and go find me another glass before I bolt.” 
He chuckled. “No problem, Evelyn. You just sit tight and try not to blow our cover before we even get to see the beautiful bride.” 
“Beautiful? You don’t even know what she looks like.” 
“All brides look beautiful. That’s why they wear a veil—so you can’t see the ugly ones, and everything is magical on their special day.” 
“That’s so romantic.” 
Fisher winked. “Not everyone can be as pretty as me.” 
Three glasses of champagne helped calm me enough to sit through the wedding ceremony. And the bride definitely didn’t need a veil. Olivia Rothschild—or Olivia Royce, as she would be now—was gorgeous. I got a little teary eyed watching the groom say his vows. It was a shame the happy couple weren’t really my friends, because one of their groomsmen was insanely attractive. I might’ve daydreamed that Livi—that’s what I called her in my head—would fix me up with her new hubby’s buddy. But alas, tonight was a ruse, and I was no Cinderella story. 
The cocktail hour took place in a beautiful room I’d never been in. I studied the artwork on the ceiling as I waited at the bar for my drink. Fisher had told me he needed to use the restroom, but I had a feeling he’d really snuck off to talk to the handsome waiter who had been eyeing him since we’d walked in. 
“Here you go, miss.” The bartender slid a drink over to me. 
“Thank you.” I took a quick look around to see if anyone was paying attention before dipping my nose inside the glass and taking a deep sniff. Definitely not what I ordered. 
“Ummm, excuse me. Is it possible you made this with Beefeater gin and not Hendricks?” 
The bartender frowned. “I don’t think so.” 
I sniffed a second time, now certain he’d made it wrong. 
A man’s voice to my left caught me off guard. “You didn’t even taste it, yet you think he poured the wrong gin?” 
I smiled politely. “Beefeater is made with juniper, orange peels, bitter almond, and blended teas, which produces a licorice taste. Hendricks is made of juniper, rose, and cucumber. There’s a different smell to each.” 
“Are you drinking it straight or on the rocks?” 
“Neither. It’s a gin martini, so it has vermouth.” 
“But you think you can smell that he used the wrong gin, without even tasting it?” The guy’s voice made it clear he didn’t think I could. 
“I have a very good sense of smell.” 
The man looked over my shoulder. “Hey, Hudson, I got a hundred bucks that says she can’t tell the difference between the two gins if we line them up.” 
A second man’s voice came from my right, this one behind my shoulder a bit. The sound was deep, yet velvety and smooth—sort of like the gin the bartender should’ve used to make my drink. 
“Make it two hundred, and you’re on.” 
Turning to get a look at the man willing to wager on my abilities, I felt my eyes widen. 
Oh. Wow. The gorgeous guy from the bridal party. I’d stared at him during most of the wedding. He was handsome from afar, but up close he was breathtaking in a way that made my belly flutter—dark hair, tanned skin, a chiseled jawline, and luscious, full lips. The way his hair was styled—slicked back and parted to the side—reminded me of an old-time movie star. What I hadn’t been able to see from the back row during the ceremony was the intensity of his ocean blue eyes. Those were currently scanning my face like I was a book. 
I cleared my throat. “You’re going to bet two-hundred dollars that I can identify gin?” 
The gorgeous man stepped forward, and my olfactory sense perked up. Now that smells better than any gin. I wasn’t sure if it was his cologne or some sort of a body wash, but whatever it was, it took everything in my power to not lean toward him and take a deep whiff. The sinfully sexy man smelled as good as he looked. That pairing was my kryptonite. 
There was a hint of amusement in his voice. “Are you telling me it’s a bad bet?” 
I shook my head and turned back to speak to his friend. “I’ll play along with your little bet, but I’m in for two hundred, too.” 
When my eyes returned to the handsome man on my right, the corner of his lip twitched just slightly. “Nice.” He lifted his chin to his friend. “Tell the bartender to pour a shot of Beefeater and a shot of Hendricks. Line ’em up in front of her, and don’t let us know which is which.” 
A minute later, I lifted the first shot glass and sniffed. It honestly wasn’t even necessary for me to smell the other, though I did it anyway, just to be safe. Damn… I should’ve bet more. This was too easy, like taking candy from a baby. I slid one shot glass forward and spoke to the waiting bartender. “This one is the Hendricks.” 
The bartender looked impressed. “She’s right.” 
“Damn it,” the guy who had started this game huffed. He dug into his front pocket, pulled out an impressive billfold, and peeled off four hundred-dollar bills. Tossing them in our direction on top of the bar, he shook his head. “I’ll win it back by Monday.” 
Gorgeous Guy smiled at me as he collected his cash. Once I took mine, he lowered his head to whisper in my ear. 
“Nice job.” 
Oh myHis hot breath sent a shiver down my spine. It had been way too long since I’d had contact with a man. Sadly, my knees felt a little weak. But I forced myself to ignore it. “Thank you.” 
He reached around me to the bar and lifted one of the shots. Bringing it to his nose, he sniffed before setting it back down and smelling the other. 
“I don’t smell anything different.” 
“That just means you have a normal sense of smell.” 
“Ah, I see. And yours is…extraordinary?” 
I smiled. “Why yes, it is.” 
He looked amused as he passed me one of the shots and held the other up in toast. “To being extraordinary,” he said. 
I wasn’t generally a shot drinker, but what the hell? I clinked my glass with his before knocking it back. Maybe the alcohol would help settle the nerves this man seemed to have jolted awake. 
I set my empty shot glass on the bar next to his. “I take it this is something the two of you do on a regular basis, since your friend plans to win it back by Monday?” 
“Jack’s family and mine have been friends since we were kids. But the betting started when we went to the same college. I’m a Notre Dame fan, and he’s a USC fan. We were broke back then, so we used to bet a Taser zap on games.” 
“A Taser zap?” 
“His father was a cop. He gave him a Taser to keep under his car seat just in case. But I don’t think he envisioned his son taking hits of fifty-thousand volts when a last-minute interception made his team lose.” 
I shook my head. “That’s a little crazy.” 
“Definitely not our wisest decision. At least I won a lot more than he did. A little brain damage might help explain some of his choices in college.” 
I laughed. “So today was just a continuation of that pattern, then?” 
“Pretty much.” He smiled and extended his hand. “I’m Hudson, by the way.” 
“Nice to meet you. I’m St—” I caught myself in the nick of time. “I’m Evelyn.” 
“So are you a gin aficionado, Evelyn? Is that why I didn’t smell anything different between the two?” 
I smiled. “I wouldn’t consider myself an aficionado of gin, no. To be honest, I mostly drink wine. But did I mention my occupation? I’m a fragrance chemist—a perfumist.” 
“You make perfume?” 
I nodded. “Among other things. I developed scents for a cosmetics and fragrance company for six years. Sometimes it was a new perfume, other times it was the scent for a wipe that removes makeup, or maybe a cosmetic that needs a more pleasant smell.” 
“Pretty sure I never met a perfumist before.” 
I smiled. “Is it as exciting as you’d hoped?” 
He chuckled. “What exactly is the training for a job like that?” 
“Well, I have a chemistry degree. But you can have all the education you want, and you still won’t be able to do the job unless you also have hyperosmia.” 
“And that is…” 
“An enhanced ability to smell odors, an increased olfactory acuity.” 
“So you’re good at smelling shit?” 
I laughed. “Exactly.” 
A lot of people think they have a good sense of smell, but they don’t really understand how heightened the sense is for someone with hyperosmia. Demonstrating always worked best. Plus, I really wanted to know what cologne he was wearing. So, I leaned in and took a deep inhale of Hudson. 
Exhaling, I said, “Dove soap.” 
He didn’t look completely sold. “Yes, but that’s a pretty common soap choice.” 
I smiled. “You didn’t let me finish. Dove Cool Moisture. It’s got cucumber and green tea in it—also a common ingredient in gins, by the way. And you use L’Oreal Elvive shampoo, same as me. I can smell gardenia tahitensis flower extract, rosa canina flower extract, and a slight hint of coconut oil. Oh, and you use Irish Spring deodorant. I don’t think you’re wearing any cologne, actually.” 
Hudson’s brows rose. “Now that’s impressive. The wedding party stayed in a hotel last night, and I forgot to pack my cologne.” 
“Which one do you normally wear?” 
“Ah… I can’t tell you that. What will we do on our second date for entertainment if we don’t play the sniff test?” 
“Our second date? I didn’t realize we were going to have a first.” 
Hudson smiled and held out his hand. “The night’s young, Evelyn. Dance with me?” 
A knot in the pit of my stomach warned me it was a bad idea. Fisher and I were supposed to stick together and limit contact with other people to minimize our chances of getting caught. But glancing around, my date was nowhere in sight. Plus, this man was seriously magnetic. Somehow, before my brain even finished debating the pros and cons, I found myself putting my hand in his. He led me to the dance floor and wrapped one arm around my waist, leading with the other. Not surprisingly, he knew how to dance. 
“So, Evelyn with the extraordinary sense of smell, I’ve never seen you before. Are you a guest or a plus one?” He looked around the room. “Is some guy giving me the evil eye behind my back right now? Am I going to need to get Jack’s Taser from the car to ward off a jealous boyfriend?” 
I laughed. “I am here with someone, but he’s just a friend.” 
“The poor guy…” 
I smiled. Hudson’s flirting was over the top, yet I gobbled it up. “Fisher is more interested in the guy who was passing out champagne than me.” 
Hudson held me a little closer. “I like your date much better than I did thirty seconds ago.” 
Goose bumps prickled my arms as he lowered his head, and his nose briefly brushed against my neck. 
“You smell incredible. Are you wearing one of the perfumes you make?” 
“I am. But it’s not one that can be ordered. I like the idea of having a true signature scent that someone can remember me by.” 
“I don’t think you need the perfume to be remembered.” 
He led me around the dance floor with such grace, I wondered if he had taken professional lessons. Most men his age thought slow dancing meant rocking back and forth and grinding an erection against you. 
“You’re a good dancer,” I said. 
Hudson responded by twirling us around. “My mother was a professional ballroom dancer. Learning wasn’t an option; it was a requirement if I wanted to be fed.” 
I laughed. “That’s really cool. Did you ever consider following in her footsteps?” 
“Absolutely not. I grew up watching her suffer with hip bursitis, stress fractures, torn ligaments—it’s definitely not the glamorous profession they make it out to be on all those dance-contest TV shows. You gotta love what you do for a job like that.” 
“I think you have to love what you do for any job.” 
“That’s a very good point.” 
The song came to an end, and the emcee told everyone to take their seats. 
“Where are you sitting?” Hudson asked. 
I pointed to the side of the room where Fisher and I had been seated. “Somewhere over there. Table Sixteen.” 
He nodded. “I’ll walk you.” 
We approached the table at the same moment as Fisher, who was coming from the other direction. He looked between Hudson and me, and his face asked the question he didn’t say aloud. 
“Umm…this is my friend Fisher. Fisher, this is Hudson.” 
Hudson extended his hand. “Nice to meet you.” 
After shaking with a silent Fisher, who seemed to have forgotten how to speak, he turned to me and took my hand once again. “I should get back to my table with the rest of the wedding party.” 
“Okay.” 
“Save a dance for me later?” 
I smiled. “I’d love to.” 
Hudson turned to walk away and then turned back. As he walked backwards, he called, “In case you pull a Cinderella on me and disappear, what’s your last name, Evelyn?” 
Thankfully, him using my fake name reminded me not to give him my real one as I’d almost done the first time. “It’s Whitley.” 
“Whitley?” 
Oh GodDid he know Evelyn? 
His eyes swept over my face. “Beautiful name. I’ll see you later.” 
“Uhh…okay, sure.” 
When Hudson was barely out of earshot, Fisher leaned close to me. “My name’s supposed to be Maximilian, sweetheart.” 
“Oh my God, Fisher. We have to leave.” 
“Nah.” He shrugged. “It’s no big deal. We made up Maximilian anyway. I’m your plus one. No one knows the name of the person Evelyn brought. Though I still want to play a real estate tycoon.” 
“No, it’s not that.” 
“Then what is it?” 
“We have to leave because he knows…” 
★★★ 

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AUTHOR BIO
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
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Cover Reveal: Changing Lanes by A. Marie

Title: Changing Lanes
Series: Creekwood #2
Author: A. Marie
Genre: New Adult Romance
Cover Design: Murphy Rae
Model: Quinn Biddle

Release Date: January 21, 2021

BLURB
This is Creekwood… 

Beckett 
My home. A place to shine just bright enough. Where my makeshift family and I not only strengthened our bond but readjusted it to fit another. 
I’ve been coasting in this lane for years, biding my time, and making myself…easily accessible. I don’t move for others—ever. I don’t have to. They go around me, hopefully without chancing too good a look on their way past. 
After all, people can’t see what you keep hidden. 
Until she showed up. 
Paige 
My new apartment. Somewhere for me to lay my head between chasing what really matters. Who really matters. 
I’ve brought enough baggage to fill every inch of this place but I’m not the only one. Someone else’s closet has skeletons too. Skeletons that only come out at night, when nobody’s watching. Nobody but me. 
And my new roommate, the one with the arctic blue eyes that see more than he lets on, thinks him suddenly being in my path is all fun and games, but I’m not the one afraid of changing lanes, and when I do, he’ll be the one working to keep up. 
If he even can. 
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AUTHOR BIO
A. Marie likes to paint her characters’ voices onto the blank canvas of a page using her own blend of quick wit and playfulness. She strives to bring readers entertaining yet powerful stories they’ll fall for time and time again. Born and raised in Washington State, she now resides in upstate New York with her husband and three kids.
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Cover Reveal: The Crush by Penelope Ward

Title: The Crush
Author: Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs
Photo: Harol Baez
Model: Jeremy Santucci
Release Date: February 22, 2021
BLURB

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone, second-chance story of forbidden love… 

It’s natural to want the one you can’t have. And for as long as I could remember, I’d secretly wanted my brother’s best friend, Jace. 
He was six years older and always treated me like the sister he never had. 
Fast forward a decade. 
We were all in our twenties now. Jace had moved in with my brother, Nathan, and me to help us make ends meet after our parents died. 
It was just the three of us—an odd family dynamic. 
Living under our roof, Jace was as bossy and protective as ever. 
But he certainly didn’t look at me like a sister anymore. That was what made things so complicated. 
I was pretty much hot and bothered twenty-four-seven. 
And he was torn. 
The signs were subtle, at first. Like on movie night, I’d casually rest my leg against his, and he wouldn’t exactly shift away. 
Still, I assumed he would never…go there. 
Nathan would kill us. 
The knowledge of that wasn’t enough to stop the inevitable, though. 
Eventually our slow burn exploded. 
But more than the physical attraction, we’d developed a strong connection. 
We just couldn’t get caught, right? 
That sounded simple. 
Until it wasn’t. 
This is a story of forbidden love, broken trust, and an unexpected second chance.

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Penelope
Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling
author of contemporary romance.

She grew up
in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a
television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son,
and beautiful daughter with autism.

With over two
million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author
of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen
languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
AUTHOR LINKS
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Cover Reveal: British Bachelor by K.K. Allen

Title: British Bachelor
A Cocky Hero Club Novel
Author: K.K. Allen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: BookCoverKingdom
Photo: CJC Photography
Release Date: January 24, 2021
BLURB
Dear Chelsea, 
I know what you must think of me now that my secret is out, and I can’t say I’m not disappointed. I bloody loved that you saw me as someone other than the bloke my entire country has deemed unworthy of love. Maybe I am, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting you as desperately as I do.
Before you toss this letter in the rubbish bin, just hear me out.
Soon, I’ll need to return home to face the critics—the harsh reminder of the man they all believe me to be, the Forever Bachelor—and you’ll continue to live out your dreams here while nannying the twins. Simon and Bridget are so very lucky to have you.
All I ask is for one night with you, one night to remove the facade we’ve exhibited for the past two weeks to mask our true feelings.
Because I want you, Chelsea Banks, more than I’ve wanted any woman in my entire life, and I dare to imagine that you might just want me too.
Even if just for one night.
Liam
EXCERPT
I opened the door and stepped out onto the patio to find Liam swimming laps across the water. He reached the opposite end, flipped around, kicked off the wall, and swam toward me. I stepped around the patio table and chairs to walk toward the edge of the pool. I waited for him to come up for air—to introduce myself and to kindly ask that he turn down the volume. Simon had mentioned this Liam guy was someone’s little brother—but when my eyes registered the body that swam past the underwater pool lights, I realized I wasn’t dealing with anyone little at all. Simon’s friend’s little brother, Liam, was very much a man. 
Liam hadn’t seen me, but I saw enough to know he was tall, lean, and sculpted. He cut through the water like an experienced swimmer, only popping his head up to sip the air before twisting back below the surface.
A knot twisted in my chest when my eyes skimmed the man’s taut muscles as he pushed against the water with one fluid stroke then another. Every ridge and line of his back, arms, shoulders, and calves perfectly defined his strength. He swam another two laps, keeping his pace and taking sips of air so effortlessly I questioned if he had gills for lungs.
The man was an athlete, a beast underwater, and for the second time that day, I found myself transfixed by a stranger.
I stepped back slowly, suddenly anxious about interrupting his intense workout, but on my next step backward, I failed to remember the round table and chairs I’d skirted around to get to the pool. The back of my leg hit a chair, making it scrape across the travertine. When I reached back to catch my fall, I could find nothing to grip.
I landed hard on my ass, my palms slamming into the surface behind me. I howled at the pain that shot up my wrist. Of course, that caught Liam’s attention. His head popped out from the water, and he swam toward the edge. He shot out of the pool so fast, I didn’t even have time to react.
“Who’s there?” he boomed like I was the one who’d just intruded on his peaceful night.
My defenses were on alert. I pushed my shoulders back as the pain in my wrist faded, and my chin tilted up as I prepared to let him have it. But then my eyes caught on the man’s face, now illuminated in the dim orange patio lighting. It only took a second to realize we’d met before.
He was shirtless, dripping wet, with tattoos fully covering both arms, and his eyes were free of the dark shades that had hid them earlier—but I knew he was the same arrogant man who had passed me at Spill the Tea.
“Well, hello again, love.” Liam flashed me a beaming smile, a wicked gleam in his beautiful green eyes. “Heading out for that proper shag I hope.”
Shit.
AUTHOR BIO
K.K. Allen is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author who writes heartfelt and inspirational contemporary romance stories. K.K. graduated from the University of Washington with an Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences degree and currently resides in central Florida with her ridiculously handsome little dude who owns her heart.
K.K. published her first contemporary romance, Up in the Treehouse, in 2016 which went on to win the Romantic Times 2016 Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best New Adult Book of the Year.
With K.K.’s love for inspirational and coming of age stories involving heartfelt narratives and honest emotions, you can be assured to always be surprised by what K.K. releases next.

New Release: Happily Letter After by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Title: Happily Letter After
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Publisher: Montlake
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 20, 2020
BLURB
From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes a love story about taking chances and the surprises that come with them. 

My love story all started with a letter. 
Only it wasn’t from the man I’d eventually fall in love with. It was from his daughter. A sweet little girl named Birdie Maxwell who’d written to the magazine that I worked for. 
You see, once a year my employer fulfilled a few wishes for readers. Only that column didn’t start up again for months. 
So I fulfilled some of her wishes myself. It was harmless…so I thought. Until one day I took things too far. 
While anonymously granting yet another of Birdie’s wishes, I got a look at her father. Her devastatingly handsome, single dad father. 
I should have stopped playing fairy godmother then. I should have left well enough alone. But I just couldn’t help myself. I had a connection to this girl. One that had me acting irrationally. 
Like when I showed up on their doorstep.
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VI KEELAND
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
PENELOPE WARD
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism. 
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
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New Release: My Darling Arrow by Saffron A. Kent

Title: My Darling Arrow
Author: Saffron A. Kent
Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: September 17, 2020
Blurb
Darling Arrow,
I shouldn’t be
writing this. 
It’s not as if I’m
ever going to send you this letter, and there are a million reasons why.
First of all, I was
sent to this reform school as a punishment for a petty, totally inconsequential
crime. Not to ogle the principal’s hot son around the campus.
Second of all,
you’re a giant jerk. You’re arrogant and moody and so cold. Sometimes I think I
shouldn’t even like you.
But strangely your
coldness sets me on fire. 
The way your
athletic body moves on the soccer field, and the way your powerful thighs
sprawl across that motorcycle of yours, make me go inappropriately
breathless. 
But that’s not the
worst part. 
The worst part is
that you, Arrow Carlisle, are not only the principal’s hot son. 
You also happen to
be the love of my sister’s life. 
And I really shouldn’t
be thinking about my sister’s boyfriend, or rather fiancé (I overheard a
conversation about the ring that I shouldn’t have).
Now if I can only
stop writing you these meaningless letters that I’ll never send and you’ll
never read…
Never yours,
Salem
NOTE: This book
is a standalone and DOES NOT contain cheating. 

Read my Five Star Review HERE

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Author Bio
Saffron A. Kent is a Top 100 Amazon Bestselling author of Contemporary and New Adult romance. More often than not, her love stories are edgy, forbidden and passionate. Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After.
She lives in New York City with her nerdy and supportive husband, and a million and one books.
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New Release: The Anti-Boyfriend by Penelope Ward

Title: The Anti-Boyfriend
Author: Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2020
Blurb

From New York Times bestselling author
Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone novel.
At first,
my neighbor Deacon frustrated me.
Sure, he
was great-looking and friendly.
But our
walls were thin, and on occasion, he’d bring women to his place and keep me
awake while he “entertained” them.
As a single
mother to an infant, I didn’t appreciate it.
So, finally
it was my turn.
When my
daughter wouldn’t stop wailing one night, Mr. Manwhore came knocking on my
door.

Miraculously,
at the sound of his voice, Sunny stopped crying. And when he held her…she
eventually fell asleep in his arms.
Deacon was
rough on the exterior, but apparently on the inside? Mr.
Single-and-Ready-to-Mingle was a baby whisperer.
After that
night, we became friends.
He’d go for
coffee runs. Come over to chat. Normal friend stuff.
But over
time, our conversations ran deeper. We got closer.
Until one
night we crossed the line.
Our
friendship turned into a complicated mess.
I’d gone
and fallen for a guy who’d sworn off commitment and kids.
I knew
Deacon was starting to care for me too, even though Sunny and I didn’t fit into
any plan he’d ever imagined for himself.
He was
wrong for me—so wrong that I’d dubbed him the “anti-boyfriend.”
Then why
did I wish more than anything that I could be the one woman to change him?

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Author Bio
Penelope
Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling
author of contemporary romance.
She grew up
in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a
television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son,
and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two
million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author
of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen
languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
Author Links

Other Books by Penelope Ward

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SEE MORE BOOKS HERE