Cover Reveal: The Boss Project by Vi Keeland

Title: The Boss Project
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear Creative
Photographer: Wander Aguiar
Model: Daniel Harris
Release Date: July 11, 2022
BLURB
The first time I met Merrick Crawford was during my job interview.

Well, technically, I’d met him twenty minutes earlier when he’d barged into a fitting room a few doors down from my appointment.
I yelled. He yelled. After an argument while standing in my bra, I proceeded to smash the door into the gorgeous jerk, trying to yank it shut.
As you might imagine, I was freaked out when I discovered that the rude guy was my potential new boss.
Yet he didn’t seem to recognize me. Or so I thought… Until we wound up bickering again during my interview and he told me to go sniff my armpit.
Okay, so maybe I hadn’t exactly been changing when he walked in on me. In my defense, I’d been stuck on a hot train for two hours and wanted to make sure I didn’t smell.
I obviously didn’t expect to get the job. But somehow an invitation to a second interview arrived in my inbox.
Before I left, I asked to see Merrick. I needed to know why I was even in consideration after our disastrous start.
Turned out, Merrick only wanted to hire me because I was the least competent candidate. It seemed his board was making him fill the position, against his wishes.
I didn’t really want to work in a place where my boss expected me to fail. But I figured maybe I’d enjoy proving him wrong. It was a little thing I dubbed the boss project.
What I wasn’t prepared for was that there would be other things I’d enjoy doing to Merrick Crawford.
Getting involved with the boss wasn’t the smartest choice.
But you know what they say about choices: Some we regret, some we are proud of. I just had no idea where this one was going to land.
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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 are currently translated in twenty-seven languages and have appeared on bestseller lists in the US, Germany, Brazil, Bulgaria and Hungary. Three of her short stories have been turned into films by Passionflix, and two of her books are currently optioned for movies. 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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New Release: The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland

Title: The Summer Proposal
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 10, 2022
BLURB
The first time I met Max Yearwood was on a blind date.

Max was insanely gorgeous, funny, and our chemistry was off the charts. He also had the biggest dimples I’d ever laid eyes on.
Exactly what I needed after my breakup.

Or so I thought…

Until my real date arrived.
Turned out, Max wasn’t who I was there to meet. He only pretended to be until my real date showed up.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
Before he left, he slipped me a ticket to a hockey game a few blocks away, in case things didn’t work out on my actual date.
I tossed the ticket into my purse and went about trying to enjoy the man I was supposed to meet.
But my real blind date and I had no connection.
So on my way home, I decided to take a chance and stop by the game.
When I arrived, the seat next to me was empty.
Disappointed again, I decided to leave at the end of the period.
Just before the buzzer, one of the teams scored, and the entire arena went crazy.
A player’s face flashed up on the Jumbotron. He was wearing a helmet, but I froze when he smiled.
You guessed it: Dimples.
Apparently, my fake blind date hadn’t invited me to watch hockey with him, he’d invited me to watch him play.
And so began my adventure with Max Yearwood.
He was everything I needed at the time—fun, sexy, up for anything, and only around for a few months since he’d signed with a new team three-thousand miles away.
Max proposed we spend the summer helping me forget my ex. It sounded like a good plan. Things couldn’t get too serious when we had an expiration date. Right?
Though, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.
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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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Excerpt Reveal: The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland

Title: The Summer Proposal
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 10, 2022
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, 
The Summer Proposal? 
Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER 1

Georgia
“What can I get you?” The bartender set a napkin down in front of me.

“Ummm… I’m meeting someone, so maybe I should wait.”
He rapped his knuckles against the bar. “Good enough. I’ll keep my eye out and stop back over when I see someone join you.”
But as he started to walk away, I reconsidered. “Actually!” I raised my hand like I was in school.
He turned around with a smile and arched a brow. “Change your mind?”
I nodded. “I’m about to meet a blind date, so I wanted to be polite, but I think I could use something to take the edge off.”
“Probably a good idea. What are you drinking?”
“A pinot grigio would be great. Thank you.”
He came back a few minutes later with a hefty pour and leaned his elbow on the bar. “So, blind date, huh?”
I sipped my wine and let out a sigh as I nodded. “I let my mom’s seventy-four-year-old friend Frannie set me up with her grandnephew to make my mom happy. She described him as ‘a smidge ordinary, but nice’. We’re supposed to meet here at five thirty. I’m a few minutes early.”
“First time letting someone fix you up?”
“Second, actually. The first was seven years ago. It took me this long to recover from it, if that tells you anything.”
The bartender laughed. “That bad?”
“I was told he was a comedian. So I figured, how terrible could it be going out with someone who makes people laugh for a living? The guy showed up with a puppet. Apparently his comedy act was as a ventriloquist. He refused to speak to me directly—wanted me to talk only to his dummy. Who, by the way, was named Dirty Dave, and every other comment out of its mouth was obscene. Oh, and my date’s mouth moved the entire time, so he wasn’t even a very good ventriloquist.”
“Damn.” The bartender chuckled. “Not sure I’d give another blind date a chance after that, even after a few years.”
I sighed. “I’m sort of regretting it already.”
“Well, if anyone comes in with a puppet, I got you covered.” He gestured toward a hallway behind him. “I know where all the emergency exits are, and I can sneak you out.”
I smiled. “Thanks.”
A couple sat down on the other end of the bar, so the bartender went to help them while I continued to stare at the entrance. I’d purposely taken a seat in the back corner so I could watch the front door, hoping to get a look at my date before he saw me. Not that I planned to ditch if he wasn’t handsome, but I didn’t want him to read disappointment on my face if I felt any. I’d always been terrible at masking my feelings.
A few minutes later, the restaurant’s door opened and a drop-dead gorgeous guy walked in. He looked like he belonged on a men’s cologne ad, probably emerging from crystal blue Caribbean water. I got excited, until I realized he couldn’t be my date.
Frannie had described Adam as a computer nerd. And pretty much any question I’d asked her about him, she’d answered, “About average.”

How tall is he? About average.
Is he handsome? About average.
Body type? About average.

This guy was tall, with broad shoulders, big, blue bedroom eyes, a chiseled jawline, dark hair that was sort of messy, but totally worked for him, and even though he was wearing a simple dress shirt and slacks, I could tell he was buff underneath. Frannie would have to be crazy to think anything about him was average.
Oh.

Oh!

Well, she was a little…different. Last time I went to Florida to see Mom, we went to lunch with Frannie, and she’d glowed orange from an excessive amount of self-tanner she’d bought on the Home Shopping Network. She also spent all afternoon telling us about her recent road trip to New Mexico to attend a UFO convention in Roswell.
But even with that factored in, this guy didn’t look like a computer nerd. Nevertheless, his eyes scanned the room, and when they met mine, he smiled.

Dimples.

Deep ones.
Oh, Lord. My heart did a little pitter-patter.

Could I be this lucky?

Apparently it was possible. Because the guy headed right toward me. I probably should’ve played it cool and looked away, but it was impossible not to stare.
“Adam?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
I thought that was a bit of an odd response, but his smile widened, and those cavernous dimples seemed to turn my brain to mush.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Frannie. My mom is friends with Georgia.” I shook my head. “Sorry. I mean, I’m Georgia. My mom is friends with Frannie.”
“Nice to meet you, Georgia.”
He extended his hand, and when I placed mine in it, mine felt really…small.
“I have to say, you are definitely not what I was expecting. Frannie didn’t describe you very accurately.”
“Better or worse?”
Was he joking? “She may have described you as a nerd.”
He sat down on the stool next to me. “I usually don’t admit this when I first meet a woman, but I do have a Star Wars action figure collection.” He reached into his pocket and pulled something out. “In fact, I almost always have one on me. I’m a bit superstitious, and they bring me luck.”
Adam unfolded his big hand to reveal a tiny Yoda. He leaned over and set it on the bar in front of me, and a hint of cologne wafted through the air. Smells as good as he looks. There had to be something majorly wrong with him.
“Women tend to not like Star Wars for some reason,” he said. “Or a grown man carrying around an action figure.”
“I actually like Star Wars.”
He put his hand over his heart. “A beautiful woman who likes Star Wars? Should we skip the formalities and just grab a flight to Vegas to get married?”
I laughed. “Maybe, but first promise me you aren’t into ventriloquism.”
He crossed his heart. “Star Wars is as bad as it gets.”
The bartender came over to take Adam’s drink order. I was surprised when he asked for a Diet Coke.
“You’re not going to join me for a cocktail or a glass of wine?”
He shook his head. “Wish I could, but I have to work later.”
“Tonight?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I wish I didn’t. But I actually need to get out of here in a little while.”
I’d thought we were meeting for drinks and dinner, but perhaps Frannie had gotten that wrong.
“Oh, okay.” I forced a smile.
Apparently Adam saw right through it.
“I swear I’m not making that up. I do have to work. But I definitely would love to stay. Since I can’t, is it too early to say I’d love to see you again?”
I sipped my wine. “Hmmm… I’m not sure about that. Normally, I get to know someone on a first date, so I can weed out the serial killers and nutjobs. How am I supposed to know you’re not the next Ted Bundy if you’re running out of here?”
Adam stroked the scruff on his chin and looked at his watch. “I have about fifteen minutes. Why don’t we cut the small talk and you can ask me anything?”
“Anything?”
He shrugged. “I’m an open book. Take your best shot.”
I gulped my wine and turned in my seat to face him. “Alright. But I want to watch your face as I grill you. I’m terrible at hiding lies on mine but great at reading others.”
He smiled and turned, giving me his full attention. “Go for it.”
“Okay. Do you live with your mother?”
“No, ma’am. She doesn’t even live in the same state. But I do call home every Sunday.”
“Have you ever been arrested?”
“Public indecency in college. I was pledging a fraternity, and me and a bunch of other guys had to walk through the center of town naked. A group of girls stopped us and asked if any of us could hula hoop. Everyone else kept walking. I figured they were all too chicken, so I stopped. Apparently, the guys weren’t afraid; I was just the only one who didn’t see the cop coming out of a store a couple of doors down.”
I laughed. “Can you actually hula hoop?”
He winked. “Only naked. You wanna see?”
The smile on my face widened. “I’ll take your word for it.”
“Shame.”
“When was the last time you had sex?”
For the first time, the smile on his face wilted. “Two weeks ago. Are you gonna hold that against me?”
I shook my head. “Not necessarily. I appreciate the honesty. You could have lied and said a while ago.”
“Okay, good. What else you got?”
“Have you ever been in a relationship?”
“Twice. Once in college for a year, and then I dated a woman for eighteen months, and that ended two years ago.”
“Why did they end?”
“College, because I was twenty and…it was a crazy time in my life. And the woman I dated a few years back, because she wanted to get married and start a family, and I wasn’t ready.”
I tapped my pointer to my bottom lip. “Hmm… Yet you just asked me to go to Vegas and marry you.”
He grinned. “She didn’t like Star Wars.”
We were both too busy laughing to notice a guy walk up to us. I figured he must have known Adam, so I politely smiled and looked to him. But the guy spoke to me.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but are you Georgia Delaney?”
“Yes?”
He smiled. “I’m Adam Foster. Frannie showed me a picture of you, but it was from a costume party.” He motioned to the side of his head, twirling his hand around in a circle. “You were dressed as Princess Leia, with your hair all pinned up on the sides, so you looked a little different than you do now.”
I furrowed my brow. “You’re…Adam?”
The guy seemed just as confused as I was. “Yes.”
Now this man looked like what I’d been expecting: worn, brown tweed jacket, cropped hair parted to one side—sort of the average Joe that worked in the IT department at your office. But…
If he was Adam, then who was this?
I looked at the guy sitting next to me for an answer. Though that’s not what I got.
“Did you really dress as Princess Leia for a Halloween party?”
“Yes, but…”
Adam, or whoever the hell the guy sitting next to me was, put his finger over my lips and turned to the man who was apparently my date. “Can you just give us a minute?” he asked.
“Umm…sure.”
As soon as average Adam walked away, I laid into hot Adam. “Who the hell are you?”
“Sorry. My name is Max.”
“Do you make a habit of pretending to be someone else?”
He shook his head. “I just…I saw you sitting at the bar through the window when I was passing by, and you had such a pretty smile. I came over to introduce myself, and it was clear you were here to meet someone else. I guess I sort of panicked that you weren’t going to talk to me since I wasn’t Adam. So I went with it.”
“And what if my date hadn’t showed up? Would you have pretended to be Adam on a second date?”
Max dragged a hand through his hair. “I didn’t think that far ahead.”
Normally catching a date in a lie would make me angry, but finding out Max wasn’t Adam was more disappointing than anything. We’d had great chemistry, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed so much meeting someone new.
“Was every answer a lie? Do you even like Star Wars?”
He held up both hands. “I swear. The only thing that wasn’t the truth was my name.”
I sighed. “Well, Max, thanks for the entertainment. But I don’t want to keep my real date waiting.”
He frowned, but nodded and stood. “It was nice meeting you. I guess asking for your number would be stupid right about now?”
I gave him a look. “Yes, it would. Have a good night, Max.”
He looked at me for a few seconds, then slipped a bill out of his wallet and tossed a hundred on the counter. “You, too, Georgia. I really enjoyed meeting you.”
Max took a few steps away, but then stopped and walked back. He again took out his billfold, only this time he peeled off what looked like a ticket of some sort and placed it on the bar in front of me. “I’d really love to see you again. If your real date turns out to be a dud or you change your mind, I promise I will never tell you another lie.” He pointed to the ticket. “I’ll be at the hockey game over at the Garden at seven thirty, if you would consider giving me another shot.”
What he said seemed heartfelt, but I was here to meet another man. Not to mention, I was really disappointed. I shook my head. “I don’t think so.”
With a sullen face, Max nodded one last time before walking away. I didn’t have time to process everything, but I felt a strange sense of loss when I watched him walk out the door. Though as soon as he disappeared from sight, my real date was next to me.
I had to force a smile. “Sorry about that. We, um, just had some business to wrap up.”
“No problem.” He smiled. “I’m just glad that guy wasn’t hitting on you, and I didn’t have to defend your honor. He was a tank.” Real Adam sat down. “Can I order you another wine?”
“That would be great. Thank you.”
“So…I take it you’re a big Star Wars fan?”
“Hmm? Oh, because of the costume.”
Adam pointed to the bar. “And the little Yoda.”
I looked down. Max had left his Yoda figurine behind. I guess he hadn’t been lying about being a Star Wars fan, considering he carried an action figure in his pocket. At least I hoped it wasn’t just a prop he used when he told strangers tall tales at bars and lied about his name.
***

Real Adam talked about artificial intelligence—a lot.
I tried to get my head back in the game after the Max letdown, but I knew before my actual date and I had finished a drink at the bar that this would be our only date. Adam was a nice-enough guy; there was just no connection, physical or mental. I wasn’t into computers or Bitcoin, which seemed to be a big thing for him, and he wasn’t into any of my hobbies, such as hiking, traveling, and watching old black-and-white movies. He didn’t even enjoy going to the movies. Who doesn’t love bingeing on popcorn and a gallon of soda while watching a big screen? Not to mention, when I told him about my work, he said he was allergic to flowers.
So when the waitress came by with a dessert menu, I politely declined.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a coffee or something?” Adam asked.
I shook my head. “I have to work in the morning. Having caffeine after noon keeps me up all night. But thank you.”
He nodded, though I could tell he was disappointed.
Outside the restaurant, he offered to share a cab, but I only lived eight blocks away. So I extended my hand to set the tone for the end of the evening.
“It was very nice to meet you, Adam.”
“You, too. Maybe we can…do this again sometime?”
It was so much easier to be upfront and tell a guy there wouldn’t be a second date when he was a jerk. But I always struggled with the nice ones. I shrugged. “Yeah, maybe. Take care, Adam.”
It was late April, but the cold weather just wouldn’t relent and allow spring to start this year, and a gust of wind blew while I waited at the intersection at the corner of the restaurant. I shoved my hands into my pockets for some warmth, and inside, something pointy pricked at my fingers. I slipped it out to see what it was.
Yoda.
His plastic ears were tapered to points, and there was a tiny chip on the left one. I’d forgotten I’d stuck him in my pocket when Adam and I had moved from the bar to a table. Looking down at him, I sighed. God, why couldn’t your owner have been my actual date tonight?
It had been a very long time since a man gave me the warm fuzzies in the pit of my belly—not since the day I’d met Gabriel. So maybe finding Yoda in my pocket was a sign? The light changed, and I walked a few more blocks, lost in thought.
Did it really matter that he’d pretended to be Adam? I mean, if he was telling the truth, he only did it so I’d talk to him. Let’s face it, if he had walked over and introduced himself as Max, I wouldn’t have invited him to sit down. I would have been polite and told him I was waiting for my date, no matter how gorgeous the man was. So, I couldn’t really say I blamed him…I guess.
I stopped for another red light at the crosswalk on 29th Street, this time at the corner of 7th as I made my way down to 2nd Avenue where I lived. While I waited, I looked to my right, and the neon lights of a sign hit me. Madison Square Garden. Now that was definitely a sign—quite literally. Between Yoda and walking right past the place Fake Adam had said he’d be…perhaps it was more than that.
I checked the time on my phone. Twenty after eight. He’d said he would be there at seven thirty, but I was sure the game took a few hours. Should I?
I nibbled on my lip as the light in front of me turned green. People on both sides of me started to walk…but I just stood there, staring down at Yoda.

Screw it.
Why not?
What do I have to lose?

The worst that could happen was that our initial connection fizzled or it turned out lying was one of Fake Adam’s hobbies. Or…the spark we’d had might lead to just the distraction I was looking for. I wouldn’t know unless I tried.
For the most part, I was pretty conservative with my choices in men. And look where that had gotten me. I was a twenty-eight-year-old workaholic, going on blind dates with my mom’s friend’s relatives. So screw it—I was going.
Once I made the decision, I couldn’t wait to get there. I practically jogged to Madison Square Garden, even in my heels from work. Inside, I showed my ticket to an usher standing at the entrance to the section listed, and he showed me to my seat.
As I walked down the stadium stairs, I looked around and noticed I was pretty overdressed. Most of the people had on jerseys and jeans. There were even a few shirtless guys with their bodies painted, and here I was wearing a cream silk blouse, red pencil skirt, and my favorite Valentino pumps. At least Max had been pretty dressed up.
I hadn’t noticed the row number on the ticket before handing it over to the usher, but the seats must’ve been decent because we just kept walking down toward the ice. When we hit the very first row, the usher extended his hand. “Here you go. Seat two is the second one in.”
“Wow, first row, directly in the middle on the fifty-yard line.”
The guy smiled. “In hockey we call it center ice.”
“Oh…okay.” But the seat next to the one he’d shown me to was empty, and Max was nowhere in sight. “Did you happen to see the person sitting in the seat at the end?” I asked.
The usher shrugged. “I’m not positive, but I don’t think they’ve arrived yet. Enjoy the game, miss.”
After he walked away, I stood looking down at the two empty seats. This was one outcome I hadn’t thought about: I might get stood up. Actually, would it even be considered standing someone up if the other person didn’t know you were coming? I wasn’t sure. But I was here, so I might as well take a seat and see if Max showed. He’d said he had to work, so perhaps he was running late. Or maybe he was already here, just in the men’s room or in line for a beer.
A woman sat on the other side of me. She smiled as I settled in. “Hi. Are you here to watch Yearwood? He’s on fire tonight, already slashed two in the net. Too bad they’re probably not going to be able to hold onto him for next season.”
I shook my head. “Oh. No, I’m actually meeting someone. I’ve never been to a live hockey game before.” Just as I said it, two guys slammed into the glass wall directly in front of me. I jumped, and the woman next to me laughed as they skated away.
“That happens a lot. You’ll get used to it.” She reached out her hand. “I’m Jenna, by the way. I’m married to Tomasso.” She pointed to the rink. “Number twelve.”
“Oh, wow. I guess I’m sitting next to the right person for my first game.” I put my hand to my chest. “I’m Georgia.”
“Anything you want explained, Georgia, you just let me know.”
For the next twenty minutes, I tried to watch the game. But I kept looking around to see if Max was coming down the stairs. Unfortunately, he never did. By nine o’clock, it was pretty clear I’d wasted my time. Since I had early meetings tomorrow morning, I decided to call it a night. The game clock showed less than a minute until the end of the second period, so I figured I’d wait until then so I wouldn’t be blocking people’s views as I climbed the stairs back up to the exit. These hockey fans seemed pretty into the game.
When the clock hit nine seconds, one of the guys scored a goal, and the place went crazy again. Everyone jumped up, so I did the same, only I used it as an opportunity to slip on my jacket. I leaned to the woman next to me and yelled. “I don’t think my date’s coming, so I’m going to head out. Have a good night.”
But as I turned to leave, something caught my attention on the Jumbotron. The player who’d scored held his stick up in the air celebrating, and a bunch of the guys on his team were whacking him on the head. His helmet covered most of his face, but those eyes… I know those eyes. The player took out his mouth guard, waved it in the air, and smiled right at the camera.

Dimples.

Big ones.
My eyes went wide.
No…it couldn’t be.
I continued to stare at the screen with my mouth hanging open until the guy’s face was no longer on it.
The woman next to me finished cheering. “See? I told you he was on fire. If this is your first game, you’ve picked a good one to watch. You don’t see a lot of hat tricks in a single period. Yearwood is having his best season ever. Too bad the rest of his team isn’t.”
“Yearwood? That’s the name of the guy who just scored?”
Jenna laughed at my question. “Yup. Team captain and arguably the best player in the NHL these days. They call him Pretty Boy for obvious reasons.”
“What’s his first name?”
“Max. I figured you knew him, since those are his seats you’re sitting in.”

★★★ 


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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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New Release: Well Played by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Title: Well Played
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 25, 2021
BLURB
It all started with a bet.

When my young son inherited half of his great grandfather’s historic inn, I decided to move us both to the place where I grew up.
Notice I said half of the Inn. The other half now belonged to Levi Miller, the famous quarterback who had other ideas about what we should do with the property.
We won’t mention that I accidentally injured him during our first meeting, causing him to get eight stitches.
You could say we got off on the wrong foot.
We bickered a lot as we both moved into the property while we figured things out.
He wanted to unload the rundown place which, admittedly, needed a lot of work.
I wanted to restore The Palm Inn to its original beauty and re-open it as a bed and breakfast.
We couldn’t agree on anything. So Levi made me a proposal. One he thought I would surely lose. If I could sell out the place by the time he had to leave for training at the end of summer, he would back off and let me run it.
But in the weeks that followed, we got more than we bargained for while we were living under the same roof.
Levi and I got closer, and before I knew it, my nightly fantasies about the brawny Adonis became a reality. Not to mention, he was so great with my son.
We were in over our heads in more ways than one.
Because not only was he the last man on Earth I should be falling for because of our deal, but Levi was also my ex’s older brother.
And now the inn was the least of my problems.
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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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Cover Reveal: Well Played by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Title: Well Played
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear Creative
Photo: Celso Colaco
Model: Gonçalo Teixeira
Release Date: October 25, 2021
BLURB
It all started with a bet.

When my young son inherited half of his great grandfather’s historic inn, I decided to move us both to the place where I grew up.
Notice I said half of the Inn. The other half now belonged to Levi Miller, the famous quarterback who had other ideas about what we should do with the property.
We won’t mention that I accidentally injured him during our first meeting, causing him to get eight stitches.
You could say we got off on the wrong foot.
We bickered a lot as we both moved into the property while we figured things out.
He wanted to unload the rundown place which, admittedly, needed a lot of work.
I wanted to restore The Palm Inn to its original beauty and re-open it as a bed and breakfast.
We couldn’t agree on anything. So Levi made me a proposal. One he thought I would surely lose. If I could sell out the place by the time he had to leave for training at the end of summer, he would back off and let me run it.
But in the weeks that followed, we got more than we bargained for while we were living under the same roof.
Levi and I got closer, and before I knew it, my nightly fantasies about the brawny Adonis became a reality. Not to mention, he was so great with my son.
We were in over our heads in more ways than one.
Because not only was he the last man on Earth I should be falling for because of our deal, but Levi was also my ex’s older brother.
And now the inn was the least of my problems.

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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AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
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AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
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New Release: The Spark by Vi Keeland

Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2021
BLURB
Before I even met Donovan Decker, I knew his shoe size.

You see, I’d gone away for a few days, and in my haste to get out of the airport, I’d grabbed the wrong suitcase.
After checking out the expensive footwear and tailored clothes, I dialed the number on the luggage tag hoping maybe Mister Big Spender might have my bag.
A deep, velvety voice answered, and as luck would have it, he had my suitcase, too.
Donovan and I met at a coffee shop to do the exchange.
Turned out, it wasn’t just his voice that was sexy. The man holding my luggage was absolutely gorgeous, and we had an immediate spark.
He got me to admit that I’d snooped in his bag and then convinced me to make it up to him by letting him buy me coffee.
Coffee led to dinner, dinner led to dessert, and dessert led to spending an entire weekend together. Donovan wasn’t just handsome with a panty-dropping voice. He was also funny, smart, and surprisingly down to earth for a man who wore seven-hundred-dollar shoes.
Did I mention he also did my laundry while I slept?
Definitely too good to be true.
So what did I do to repay him for his kindness?
I waited until he was in the shower, then ghosted him.
My life was too complicated for such a great guy.
In the months that passed, I thought about Donovan often. But New York City had eight-million people, so what were the chances I’d run into him?
Then again, what were the chances I’d run into him a year later…when I’d just started dating his boss?
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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Excerpt Reveal: The Spark by Vi Keeland

Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2021
Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, The Spark? Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!
CHAPTER 1
Autumn
I’m definitely getting too old for this.
I tossed a pile of mail on the couch and plopped down beside it. It was barely six o’clock, and I wouldn’t have minded climbing into bed and calling it a day. I needed a vacation from my four-day mini vacation. Thank goodness I’d scheduled myself a weekend to recover. My girls’ trip/early bachelorette party in Vegas for my friend Anna—the one where we were all going to relax by the pool and get spa treatments—had turned into all-night clubbing and almost missing my flight home earlier today because I’d overslept. It had definitely been a while since I drank more than two glasses of wine in the span of a week, and I was feeling my ripe old age of twenty-eight before the sun had even set this Friday night. Thank God I didn’t have to work tomorrow.
I briefly considered going the hair-of-the-dog route and sucking back a vodka cran while zoning out on Netflix, but then my phone rang, crashing me back to reality.
Ugh…
Dad flashed on the screen. I should’ve just gotten it over with and spoken to him, but I didn’t have the energy. Nonetheless, allowing myself to avoid the stress speaking to my father would inevitably cause reminded me of the other thing I needed to do that I’d been avoiding all afternoon. Laundry. One of my least-favorite tasks—mostly because it required me to sit downstairs in my building’s dingy basement laundry room. Up until a few months ago, I would start my laundry and come back forty-five minutes later to make the switch to the dryer. But that practice had come to a halt after one of my loads went missing—an entire load of wet bras and underwear. Who the hell stole wet clothes? At least nab dry ones. Nevertheless, it was an expensive lesson, and now I didn’t leave the basement until my clothes were washed and dried.
Sighing, I begrudgingly went to the bedroom, where my suitcase still sat on the bed, and unzipped it. I’d packed a linen skirt on top that I hadn’t wound up wearing, and I figured I’d hang it in the bathroom and hope the wrinkles worked themselves out over the course of a couple of steamy showers. I hated ironing almost as much as I hated doing laundry downstairs.
But when I flipped open the top of the suitcase, my linen skirt wasn’t on top. At first I thought my bag must’ve been selected for search, and things hadn’t been put back in order… Though the wingtip shoe I lifted was most definitely not mine.
Shit.
I rummaged through the suitcase in a panic.
Slacks, running clothes, a men’s dress shirt… A sickening feeling washed over me, and I scrambled to look at the luggage tag. I’d never filled out the identification card inside, but the leather had my initials embossed on the outside.
And this one…had no initials.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
I’d grabbed the wrong bag off the luggage carousel. I started to sweat. All of my makeup was in that bag! Not to mention a week’s worth of my best outfits and shoes. I needed to get it back. Rushing to the kitchen, I grabbed my cell from the charger on the counter and Googled the number for the airline. After wading through a half-dozen prompts, I reached a recording.
“Thank you for calling American Airlines. Due to unprecedented call volume, your estimated wait time is approximately forty-one minutes.”
Forty-one minutes! I blew out a rush of air. Great. Just great.
In the meantime, while I waited on hold on speakerphone, listening to staticky music, it hit me that whoever’s luggage I had might very well have mine. I hadn’t even checked the luggage tag to see if, unlike mine, the identification information was filled in.
I zipped back down the hall to my bedroom.
Bingo!
Donovan Deckerkind of a cool name. And he lived here in the city! Thankfully, Donovan even had his phone number listed. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? I doubted it, but considering I still had forty minutes before I could speak to someone at the airline, I wasn’t losing much for trying. So I swiped to end my call. I started to punch in the numbers on the tag, and then decided to hit *67 first to make my number private. With my luck, the guy wouldn’t have my luggage, but he’d be a total creeper.
I was caught off guard when a man’s deep voice answered on the first ring. I hadn’t yet figured out what I was going to say.
“Uhhh. Hi. My name is Autumn, and I think I might have your luggage.”
“That was quick. I just hung up with you guys two minutes ago.”
He must’ve thought I was calling from the airline. “Oh, no. I don’t work for American. I traveled home this morning and must’ve grabbed the wrong bag at JFK.”
“What are your initials?”
“My initials?”
“Yeah, you know, the first letter of your first name and the first letter of your last name.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know what initials are. I just don’t understand why you would ask—Oh! Does that mean you have my luggage? I have my initials embossed on the luggage tag.”
“That depends on what your initials are, Autumn. The first letter matches.”
“My initials are AW.”
“Well, then it seems you are indeed the thief who clipped my luggage.”
Sure, I hadn’t checked my luggage tag, but it offended me that he was calling me a thief. “Wouldn’t we both be thieves? Since you’re in possession of my luggage?”
“I only took yours because it was the last one left rotating around the carousel. You see, unlike you, I checked the luggage tag the first time it passed, and when I saw it wasn’t mine, I left it for the rightful owner to claim. But the line at baggage customer service was twenty deep, and I had a meeting I was already late for. So I took the one I have hostage until the airline could sort it out.”
My shoulders slumped. “Oh. Sorry.”
“It’s fine. Are you here in the City?”
“I am. Could we possibly meet to swap bags?”
“Sure. When and where? I’m out now, but I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
The tag had an address on the Upper East Side, but I lived on the West Side, farther downtown. “Could we meet at the Starbucks on 80th and Lex?” That was closer to him, but at least I’d only have to drag the suitcase onto one subway.
“I can’t think of any excuse not to. What time?”
That was sort of a weird way to phrase a yes, and the way he emphasized the word excuse seemed odd. But hey, I was getting my bag back. So what if he turned out to be a little strange? At least I’d hidden my phone number, and we were meeting in a public place.
“How about eight?”
“I’ll see you then.”
It sounded like he was about to hang up. “Wait…” I said. “How will I know it’s you?”
“I’ll be the one holding your luggage, Autumn W.”
I chuckled. “Oh, yeah. Sorry…long week in Vegas.”
I bent and lifted the shoe from the top of the bag. Ferragamo. Expensive. And big, too. A quick peek revealed it was a size thirteen. The inner teenager in me couldn’t help but think big feet, big…. Plus, the guy had a deep, sexy voice. I would definitely be exploring more of the dude’s luggage after we hung up.
“I’ll meet you at eight,” he said.
“See you then.” I was just about to swipe my phone off when something hit me. Oh God! “Hello? Wait…are you still there?”
It took a heartbeat or two, but the sexy voice came back on the line. “What’s up?”
“Ummm… Did you…open my bag?”
“I unzipped it at the airport to make sure it wasn’t mine when I noticed the luggage tag initials.”
“Did you…see anything?”
“There was a pink thong on top, so that pretty much sealed the deal that it didn’t belong to me. But I didn’t rummage through, if that’s what you’re asking.”
I forgot I’d shoved that thong in at the last minute. It had been at the back of a drawer when I’d checked the hotel room one last time on my way out. But I’d take him seeing my underwear over the other stuff inside my bag. I blew out a sigh of relief. “Okay, that’s great. Thank you. I’ll see you at eight at Starbucks.”
“Whoa. Hang on a second—not so fast. You sounded pretty nervous that I might’ve gone through your bag. Are you hiding something sinister in there? I’m not going to be walking around with a suitcase full of drugs or something, am I?”
I cracked a smile. “No, definitely not. I just…I’d prefer if you didn’t go through it.”
“Did you rummage through mine?”
I glanced at the shoe in my hand. Taking out one measly piece of footwear wouldn’t be considered rummaging, right? Nah. “No, I didn’t.”
“Are you planning on it?” he asked.
I had no idea what the man looked like, yet I could tell by his voice that he was smiling now.
“Nope,” I lied.
“Alright. Then we have a deal. I won’t go through your bag, and you won’t go through mine.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Do I have your word on that, Autumn W? I might have some things I’d prefer you didn’t see in there.”
“Like what?”
He chuckled. “See you at eight.”
After we hung up, I tossed the shoe back into the suitcase and bent to close it. But as I reached for the zipper, my curiosity got the best of me. Was he just screwing with me, or did he really have something in here he didn’t want me to see? Of course, I knew what I had in mine, which made me extra curious.
I shook my head and started to pull the zipper closed. About halfway, I laughed out loud. Who was I kidding? Now that I didn’t have laundry to do, I had almost a full two hours to kill before I met Mr. Bigfoot. This suitcase would taunt me all that time. I’d most certainly give in eventually, so why not put myself out of that misery and just take a little look-see inside now? Then I’d be able to relax. He’d never know I hadn’t lived up to my end of the bargain. Not to mention, for all I knew, he was elbow deep in my suitcase right now. In that case, it would only be fair that I got to go through his, right?
I nibbled my lip for a few seconds as a wave of guilt washed over me. But I quickly forced that out of my mind. Of course I’m right.
Feeling justified now, I unzipped the suitcase and took a minute to mentally note how everything was packed: a white dress shirt was folded on top, and two shoes were set on either side, heels facing up. I carefully unpacked those and placed them on the bed next to the suitcase in the same order. The next layer had more folded clothes: two expensive dress shirts, a pair of sweats, boxer briefs, and a few T-shirts, one of which had something emblazoned on the front—familiar lettering that began HA—so I unfolded it to see what it said. Harvard Law.
Ugh. One of those. No wonder he could afford Ferragamo shoes.
Underneath the pile of clothes was a white laundry bag—the kind a hotel gives you to put your dry cleaning in, but most people used it to separate their dirty clothes. With no desire to sort through smelly socks, I started to fold the clothes back into the suitcase, feeling a twinge of disappointment. But when I smoothed out the layers of the pile, I felt something lumpy and hard underneath in the plastic laundry bag. So I took the clothes back out and looked inside, hoping to find…I’m not sure what. Though what I found was definitely not what I expected.
The bag was filled with at least twenty or thirty of those little shampoo bottles hotels give out. Actually, a closer inspection revealed some were conditioner and a few were moisturizer. Buried on the very bottom were also three little sewing kits and half-a-dozen toothbrushes wrapped in plastic—the kind you could get at the front desk of a hotel when you forgot yours.
What the heck had Mr. Bigfoot done? Rob a housekeeping cart? This kind of stuff, though a lesser quantity, is what you’d usually find in my suitcase since I was broke all the time. But it wasn’t the type of thing you’d expect in the suitcase of a man who had gone to Harvard and wore seven-hundred-dollar dress shoes.
Now I was even more curious to meet Donovan Decker.
***
I arrived at Starbucks almost twenty minutes early, so I went online to treat myself to a flat white with honey almond milk. Even ordering it had me salivating, thinking about the sweet, creamy drink. Expensive coffee was my indulgence, but it didn’t happen too often with the five-dollar price tag and my skimpy budget.
I stood at the end of the counter, waiting for my drink and mindlessly scrolling on my phone, when a man walking through the front door caught my attention.
Oh, wow.
Now that was one good-looking man. Describing him as merely tall, dark, and handsome didn’t cut it, not by a mile. Jet-black hair framed a magnificent face with a chiseled, masculine bone structure, full lips, and a Romanesque nose. I wasn’t the only one to notice, either. I watched as the Adonis took a step back outside to hold the door open for a woman exiting the store, and the poor lady caught one glimpse of him and literally tripped over her own feet.
Seemingly oblivious that he’d caused the incident, he extended a hand to help her up, flashed a killer smile, and strolled inside. His bright blue eyes scanned the room, stopping right on my ogling ones. Embarrassed at being caught, I quickly diverted my attention back to my phone. A few seconds later, I was still pretending to be enraptured by my screen when footsteps came to a halt in front of me. I glanced up and blinked a few times. The guy from the door flashed a crooked smile.
“Were you able to control yourself?”
My forehead wrinkled. “Excuse me?”
His eyes danced with mirth, and his voice lowered. “I bet you couldn’t.”
I stared at him for an awkward moment before finally shaking my head. “What on Earth are you talking about?”
The man’s brows furrowed. “We made a deal, remember? I wouldn’t go through yours, if you didn’t touch mine?”
I’d watched the man walk in, stood right in front of him staring for at least a solid minute, and it took until now for me to notice he had something in his hand.
“Oh my God. You have my suitcase!”
He laughed but still looked perplexed. “What did you think I was talking about?”
“I…I don’t know. I was thoroughly confused.”
“I thought you saw me walk in.”
I did. But I hadn’t made it past your face. “No, I hadn’t noticed. Sorry. I guess I was just zoning out.”
The barista behind the counter yelled my name. I was glad for an excuse to put some distance between this guy and me. I needed a moment to gather my wits. Though when I returned, I still felt a little off-kilter.
“Thank you for meeting me to swap suitcases,” I said. “I’m really sorry I took the wrong one.”
“No problem.”
I rolled his case forward and released the handle. But the Adonis didn’t do the same. In fact, he pulled my bag closer to his side.
“Before we switch…” He tilted his head and studied my face. “I’m curious to know if you kept your word.”
I mimicked his pose and tilted my head. “What if I say I didn’t?”
“Well, then you’d have to pay a penalty for violating the terms of our deal.”
I raised a brow, intrigued. “A penalty?”
He nodded. “That’s right. There’s a penalty.”
I laughed as I lifted my coffee for a sip. “I just got back from a girls’ weekend in Vegas. Pretty sure this overpriced drink just used up the last five dollars in my bank account.”
“I wasn’t referring to a monetary penalty.”
“What kind of a penalty, then?”
He stroked the stubble on his chin for a moment. “You’d have to have coffee with me.”
Did this guy really think that would be a hardship? I debated how to answer. If I told the truth, it would be embarrassing. I mean, I went through the man’s personal belongings. But the flipside was I’d get to check him out some more over coffee. Then again, I’d be agreeing to spend time with a complete stranger. Though…whenever I met a guy online, I usually met him at a coffeehouse, and I probably knew more about this guy after going through his suitcase than I would from an online chat. Not to mention, none of my online dates had looked like Donovan Decker lately. In fact, none had made it further than coffee in a while.
Adonis had been watching my face as I debated my answer. His smirk made me think he already knew I’d checked out his bag. So, what the hell?
I stood tall and met his stare. “Was the lady from housekeeping harmed in the robbery?”
His eyes narrowed for a heartbeat, but then a giant smile spread across his face. He held his hand out toward the seating area. “After you, Autumn W.”
★★★ 
 
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RELEASING
JULY 12th!
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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: The Spark by Vi Keeland

Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear Creative
Photo: Jakub Koziel
Model: Alessandro Dellisola
Release Date: July 12, 2021
BLURB
Before I even met Donovan Decker, I knew his shoe size.

You see, I’d gone away for a few days, and in my haste to get out of the airport, I’d grabbed the wrong suitcase.
After checking out the expensive footwear and tailored clothes, I dialed the number on the luggage tag hoping maybe Mister Big Spender might have my bag.
A deep, velvety voice answered, and as luck would have it, he had my suitcase, too.
Donovan and I met at a coffee shop to do the exchange.
Turned out, it wasn’t just his voice that was sexy. The man holding my luggage was absolutely gorgeous, and we had an immediate spark.
He got me to admit that I’d snooped in his bag and then convinced me to make it up to him by letting him buy me coffee.
Coffee led to dinner, dinner led to dessert, and dessert led to spending an entire weekend together. Donovan wasn’t just handsome with a panty-dropping voice. He was also funny, smart, and surprisingly down to earth for a man who wore seven-hundred-dollar shoes.
Did I mention he also did my laundry while I slept?
Definitely too good to be true.
So what did I do to repay him for his kindness?
I waited until he was in the shower, then ghosted him.
My life was too complicated for such a great guy.
In the months that passed, I thought about Donovan often. But New York City had eight-million people, so what were the chances I’d run into him?
Then again, what were the chances I’d run into him a year later…when I’d just started dating his boss?
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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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New Release: Not Pretending Anymore by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Title: Not Pretending Anymore
Authors: Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 12, 2021
BLURB
Finding a good roommate through a classified ad isn’t as easy as it sounds.

I was starting to lose hope.
Until a knock at my door came and God answered my prayers.
Except…uh…wrong prayer, God.
I’d definitely requested the big guy find me a drop-dead gorgeous man on more than one occasion…just not as my roommate.
Declan Tate talked me into interviewing him anyway.
While he was amusing and charismatic, I wouldn’t have been comfortable living with a man, so I regretfully declined.
Then cupcakes showed up at my door—freshly baked by Declan and just as sinfully delicious as he was.
You could say he was persistent.
I eventually folded. It wasn’t like I had another viable candidate anyway.
Plus, I was interested in someone else. And Declan was into another woman. So it wasn’t like anything would happen romantically.
After he moved in, the two of us became the best of friends. We even started to give each other advice on getting our crushes to notice us.
Eventually, Declan concocted an idea: we should pretend to be a couple to make our love interests jealous.
I was hesitant, but went along with it anyway. To my utter shock, his crazy plan worked.
Now I was dating the supposed man of my dreams, and my best friend had the woman of his.
But there was one problem.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Declan.
Those feelings we were trying to fake?
Yeah…I wasn’t pretending anymore.
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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.
OTHER BOOKS BY PENELOPE & VI
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
ALSO AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & AUDIO
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited
ALSO AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & AUDIO
OTHER BOOKS BY PENELOPE
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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.”
★★★
 
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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.