8.16.2017

Blog Tour: Q&A with Molly E. Lee





What was the hardest part of writing Love in the Friend Zone?
The most difficult part of writing Love in the Friend Zone was definitely the time-frame. In this series, all the character’s storylines take place either right before or during the epic grad night party. That is a huge challenge in creating an entire backstory, as well as an entertaining enough plot to fill an entire book. Ultimately, I found a balance and rhythm with the characters, and discovered it was quite fun attending this crazy party with them!
How many rewrites do you go through before you get to the final draft?
The first draft always comes out the fastest for me because I just let the story out. I don’t worry about pacing or editing or the mechanics. I let the characters dictate where we go. Then in the subsequent drafts, I add and cut and shape and mold it until it meets its much shinier end product. That can take anywhere between three to four takes depending on the book.
What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
This is always such a hard question! SO many books have influenced my writing style, and it never ends. Each book I read—whether it is young adult fantasy, contemporary, or adult paranormal—I learn something from it. That is one of the best things about being an author, there is always room for improving your craft. Of course, the books that I re-read constantly—J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, anything by Kimberly Derting or Molly McAdams, and most recently Sarah J Maas’ books—are always pushing me to be better. Being inspired by great works is what keeps me fighting to take what I know and push it to the next level.
If you could introduce Braylen to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

I’m so in love with this question! I would love for her to meet Kate from the wickedly talented Cindi Madsen’s OPERATION PROM DATE. I think Braylen and Kate would totally get along, shipping couples and obsessing over fandoms together. In my mind, they end up sharing a dorm together freshman year of college and Cooper and Fynn are fast friends because of the love they have for their girls! :)
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Fynn?
Fynn was such a fun character to write because his one flaw is being haplessly blind to what he really wants. I think that can be super relatable, even to those of us outside of high school. Sometimes it’s easier to let our desires, or what we think we want, be manipulated by what is expected of us. Watching Fynn slowly come to terms with what his heart was screaming at him all along was a great process, and just like in real life, having that moment of revelation in his self-discovery was a rush!
Other than writing what are you passionate about?
My family, of course, is my first response. I have two toddlers that keep me hopping from sunup to sundown. My husband is an amazing supporter of my author aspirations, so he’s in there, too! My bulldog, just because she’s the coolest dog ever, lol. But if we’re talking outside the family, I’m totally obsessed with the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Deadpool. Friends of mine might say I get a little too passionate when discussing theories in these fandoms!  
When you walk into a book store, where do you head to first?
Lately it’s been the children’s book section because I never feel guilty about getting my babies more books! After that I’ll head straight for young adult fantasy and soak up all the awesome. Then I’ll pop over to contemporary romance, wave to all the friends I know, and grab some knew ones :) Then I usually take a gander at the journals…because you can’t ever have TOO many of those, right?
You're hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite? ( alive or dead)
This is so incredibly hard. Just five? Can’t this dinner party turn into like an event where we rent out an entire restaurant? No? Okay, well...
J.K Rowling. I’m not sure if I need to explain why she’s the first on the list but to sum it up…she’s brilliant and the intricacies in her writing never cease to amaze and inspire me.
Edgar Allan Poe, because the first time I read The Tell-Tale Heart as a young child it stuck with me. I devoured more of his works because of that and I remembered thinking how awesome it was that a story could still tickle your brain days, months, even years later. Plus, I think he’d be wicked cool to have a chat with.
Stephan King, because his novel, On Writing, is one of the best craft books I’ve ever read. I tend to flip back through its pages when in need of a little motivation. It’s simple, direct, and engaging. I’d like to thank him for taking the time out of an incredibly busy schedule to pen those tips down for hopefuls like me!
Beatrix Potter, because Peter Rabbit was the first book I ever remember being read to me. And it’s one I remember reading myself once I learned. It was the book that made me fall in love with reading. I’ve read all her books to my children as well, so her work has a very special place in my heart. I’d seat her next to Poe in the hopes that together they’d come up with a dark yet fun Ravenesque picture book.
William Shakespeare, because it would be wonderful for him to settle all the debates that were never agreed upon in my Shakespeare class in college LOL. Plus, I’d love to pick his brain about how he created some of the most memorable villains ever, and ask him how he made creating works that dealt with such universal yet intricate topics look so easy.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you. I know that is a given but I’m constantly in awe of this wonderful book community! Readers are seriously the best, and I know I’ll never be able to thank you all enough. You are what breathes life into my characters. You are the lifeblood of my stories. I couldn’t do what I love without you, and that’s why I always thank you first and last and always.




LOVE IN THE FRIEND ZONE 
by Molly E. Lee 
Release Date 8/14 

Published by Entangled Teen 
YA Contemporary 
Barnes and Noble /  Amazon / Goodreads

The only thing worse than not being able to tell your best friend you’re head over heels in love with him? Having to smile and nod when he enlists your help to ensnare the girl of his dreams. Braylen didn’t even want to go to Lennon Pryor’s epic graduation-night party, but when Fynn begs her to be his “wingwoman,” she can’t deny him. Talking up her BFF—how he’s magic behind a camera, with a killer sense of humor and eyelashes that frame the most gorgeous blue eyes in the history of forever—is easy. Supporting his efforts to woo someone so completely wrong for him? Not so much. Fynn knows that grad night is his last shot before leaving for college to find true love. And thanks to Bray, he gets his chance with the beautiful Katy Evans. But over the course of the coolest party of their high school careers, he starts to see that perhaps what he really wants has been in front of him all along. Bray’s been his best friend since kindergarten, though, and he’d rather have her in his life as a friend than not at all.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two best friends whose sexual chemistry is off the charts…if only they’d succumb to it. 


About the Author: Molly E. Lee is an author best known for her debut novel EDGE OF CHAOS, and as a fourth year mentor at Pitch Wars – a program which connects promising writers to established authors in the community. Molly writes New Adult and Young Adult Contemporary featuring strong female heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts, yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. In addition to being a military spouse and mother of two + one stubborn English Bulldog, Molly loves watching storms from her back porch at her Midwest home, and digging for treasures in antique stores.

Website:http://www.mollyelee.com   Twitter: @MollyELee

8.14.2017

Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

  • Pub. Date: September 12, 2017
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Pages:496
  • Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
  • Rating:3/5
  • Goodreads/Amazon


Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

Review:  Mira Minkoba had the fortunate or unfortunate fate (depending on how you look at it) by having a treaty named after her signed by all the islands, which makes her the face of the treaty and therefore she is deemed important by many as well as hated. Mira has a way with Dragons and that's all I'm saying because that's all I know. Clearly, she really is special but we get maybe a glimpse of what it could be in the entire novel.

I loved the dragons in the story, I just wish there was more time spent on them. There are various types of dragons and I really wanted to learn more about them but most of the story was spent with Mira in prison and when the chapters alternated to the past we got bits of dragons but not much. It wasn't till the end we saw more of them but still nothing to what I expected. I'm hoping the next book will focus more on the dragons because they are the reason I even picked up Before She Ignites.

Okay, so I'm pretty sure most of you can agree that a book about dragons if there is going to be romance in it, it better be epic because dragons are epic right? Well, the romance that is developing is lackluster and the guy is not someone I even cared for he was just mind-numbingly boring. Is it wrong to say that when I realized he was the guy Mira was going to fall for I was secretly wishing the author would kill him off (I know harsh, sorry) because I just didn't get it and I still don't. I never like to wish death upon characters except for the evil ones of course but even those I sometimes love and want them to be kept around anyways I don't see myself picking up the next book if he continues to stay the love interest because it kind of killed it for me in this first book already as it was.

Mira was the only real complex character in the novel. She suffers from severe anxiety and has OCD where she has to count everything due to an incident that occurred to her when she was younger. It was impossible not to like her I just wish there was more character development with her along the way. Throughout the whole book she is so focused on her appearance, how must everyone see her, she isn't pretty anymore etc. and I get that it had to do with her upbringing and how she was constantly reminded that it was her beauty which was most important but I wish she would have grown out of that mind set. I didn't understand how anyone could still be so worried about their looks in life and death situations. Mira also had the habit of putting herself down, that she wasn't smart enough or good enough and I really felt for her, I was really hoping she would eventually realize how amazing of a person she really is and how capable she is. I really hope she develops more in the next book I think it will be interesting to see her transformation throughout the series and how she deals with her anxiety.

Mira also had two best friends, Hristo who was also her bodyguard and a girl named Ilina. I can't say much about them though because of no real character development, they were in the "before" chapters and in present day when they do finally pop up we still don't get to know them. The only thing I really know is they are loyal to Mira. There was one other character who really caught my attention and that was Gerel, she was imprisoned in the Pit as well and has been there for quite some time, she is still a bit of a mystery but what I did learn about her I loved. Gerel was a total badass, I really hope to see more of her in the future books. Then there was the villain Altan, I expected more. Not sure how else to say it but he was supposed to be Mira's torturer in the Pit which is made to be this horrific underground prison but he never really physically put his hands on her, he did make her suffer once greatly when he wanted information but not in the way I would have thought. Now that I think about it, Altan I would say was another complex character. Still, don't know much about him or his motives but you can tell there is more to him.

I do give credit to the author for going out of the norm though, usually books in this genre you expect a kick-ass fear nothing type of heroine, instead of one who suffers from anxiety, has self-esteem issues and doesn't have a clue how to fight. So I can see some becoming a little frustrated with that and others admiring the deeply flawed character.

Overall Before She Ignites was a fast read for me, I had my issues with it and I am still conflicted on whether I will be continuing the series or not. If I do it will be for the dragons the mythical creature lover in me needs to know how things turn out for them.

8.09.2017

Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

  • Pub. Date: July 23, 2013
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Pages:391
  • Rating:5/5
  • Goodreads/Amazon

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Review:  If there is one retelling that I am to be the most critical with it would have to be any book that claims to be a retelling of my most beloved fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. I have had the chance of reading Stacey Jays Princess of Thorns which was a retelling of Sleeping Beauty and I liked it but didn't love it, so I was a little skeptical going into this one and kept putting it off because I would be fuming if it wasn't anything but stellar. Needless to say, Stacey Jay has written a retelling which will be forever cherished by me. She took the tale of Beauty and the Beast and made it her own. 

The world was fantastical, there were the smooth skins who lived under the dome where the earth still thrived as long as the queen was sacrificed every so many year's thanks to the curse. On the outside of the dome lived the Monstrous people who had scales and claws who were wasting away in a land where nothing grew. The curse was the most interesting part of the tale, it was definitely different and a lot more depth to it than I had expected. I know the monstrous are supposed to be deemed as the"beast" and the smooth skins as "beauty" but honestly, I didn't feel that was the case. At times I was a bit confused on who was playing what role. The smooth skins are powerful and cruel while the monstrous are only fighting for survival, they wouldn't do half the horrible things that go on inside the dome to their people. Oh, by the way, quite a bit of court politics as well which kept things fast paced.

Now on to the two main reasons why I fell in love with Of Beast and Beauty, Isra our smooth skin queen and  Gem our swoon worthy monstrous. There was point of views from both characters and I honestly think that is what took this book to a whole another level. Of Beast and Beauty would not have been the same without Gem's view we got a real look into his world and what his people go through and believe me when I tell you it is heartbreaking, his story alone was gut wrenching and I loved him even more than Isra so that's saying something especially when I couldn't help but fall in love with Isra's struggle. It may have been her kingdom but she might as well have been a  noble servant because that's how people under her treated her. No one cared about what she had to say, she didn't even have control of her own military, no one respected their blind ruler. 

The character development was done very well, we saw both Isra and Gem grow as people and get past their prejudices for each other. I also loved some of the side characters they were all exceptionally written and complex.

Overall if there is one retelling you decide to pick up Of Beast and Beauty should be it.

Memorable Quotes:

"I am efficient in my darkness but how I crave the moonlight!"

7.25.2017

Review: Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne

Blurred Lines by Lauren Layne

  • Pub. Date: August 25, 2015
  • Publisher: Loveswept
  • Pages:221
  • Rating:4/5
  • Series: Love Unexpectedly #1
  • Goodreads/Amazon


In a novel that's perfect for fans of Abbi Glines and Jessica Sorensen, USA Today bestselling author Lauren Layne delivers a sexy take on the timeless question: Can a guy and a girl really be “just friends”?

When Parker Blanton meets Ben Olsen during her freshman year of college, the connection is immediate—and platonic. Six years later, they're still best friends, sharing an apartment in Portland's trendy Northwest District as they happily settle into adult life. But when Parker's boyfriend dumps her out of the blue, she starts to wonder about Ben's no-strings-attached approach to dating. The trouble is, even with Ben as her wingman, Parker can't seem to get the hang of casual sex—until she tries it with him.

The arrangement works perfectly . . . at first. The sex is mind-blowing, and their friendship remains as solid as ever, without any of the usual messy romantic entanglements. But when Parker's ex decides he wants her back, Ben is shocked by a fierce stab of possessiveness. And when Ben starts seeing a girl from work, Parker finds herself plagued by unfamiliar jealousy. With their friendship on the rocks for the first time, Parker and Ben face an alarming truth: Maybe they can't go back. And maybe, deep down, they never want to. 

Review: Blurred Lines couldn't have been a more perfect title for this book. Parker and Ben have been friends for well over six years and everything is great until they decide to mix casual sex into their relationship then you add feelings to the mix and things became a lot more complicated real fast between the two. Blurred Lines is your cliche friends to lovers story but seriously I can't get enough of them they are always so fun to read.

Parker and Ben couldn't be any more different. Parker has a long term boyfriend who she is very serious about and Ben, on the other hand, is your typical player. If it wasn't for Ben's point of views I will admit I might not have cared for him as much because I'm really not a fan of the hit it and quit it type of guys but we get to see how much he really cares for Parker and how great of a guy he really is, he just doesn't care for commitment. 

I loved the two of them together they were freaking all sorts of cuteness and this is before the hookup. As friends they were perfect and then not to mention they are also roommates which led to a lot of banter and bickering between the two about house rules, chores etc. which was fun and cute and then when the two finally started hooking up I just wanted them to get over the whole friends with benefits crap and figure out their feelings for each other and just get together already.

Overall if you're looking for a great light fluff book I definitely recommend Blurred Lines and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series, which is about another couple.



7.21.2017

The Beauty of Us by Kristen Proby - Excerpt Reveal

                               




From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes a sexy, new standalone contemporary romance in her Fusion Series, THE BEAUTY OF US, releasing August 22, 2017! Check out the chapter below and get to know Trevor and Riley!

 
About THE BEAUTY OF US:

New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby delivers another sizzling novel in her delectable and sexy Fusion series.

Riley Gibson is over the moon at the prospect of having her restaurant, Seduction, on the Best Bites TV network. This could be the big break she’s been waiting for. But the idea of having an in-house show on a regular basis is a whole other matter. Their lives would be turned upside down, and convincing Mia, her best friend and head chef of Seduction, that having cameras in her kitchen every day is a good idea is daunting. Still, Riley knows it’s an opportunity she can’t afford to pass on. And when she meets Trevor Cooper, the show’s executive producer, she’s stunned by their intense chemistry.

Trevor’s sole intention is to persuade Riley to allow Best Bites TV to do a show on her restaurant. But when he walks into Riley’s office, he stops dead in his tracks. The professional, aloof woman on the phone is incredibly beautiful and funny. But can he convince her that he’s interested in Riley for himself? Or is he using the undeniable pull between them to persuade her to agree to his offer?

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo


Add to your Goodreads


And Don’t Miss the First Three Novels in the Fusion Series

LISTEN TO ME, CLOSE TO YOU, and BLUSH FOR ME!

                           

 Excerpt::: Chapter Two::::

~Trevor~
I didn’t sleep worth shit last night. I waited for a response to my e-mail from Riley for a while; I’m not exactly sure why. I just don’t like the thought of her being embarrassed.
Because she has no reason to be. She didn’t know who I was, and it was closing time. She was venting to her friends.
It’s really no big deal.
But I could see the mortification in her big blue eyes when she realized who I was, and that doesn’t sit well with me.
When no response came, and for all I know she hasn’t even read the e-mail yet, I sat down for a game on the PS4. I don’t travel anywhere without it. Some people read to unwind. Some go to the gym, and there are times I do the same. But to truly relax, I enjoy gaming. I have since I was a kid.
So I settled in the apartment the network has rented for me this month and played online with my friends, talking about our days and shooting the enemy.
We played well past midnight, and I usually would have gone right to bed afterward, but my mind was still turning, making falling asleep impossible. The restaurant is better than I imagined through my research on their website and customer reviews. It’s visually stunning, the food is fantastic, and they’ve hit the mark on the sexy factor.
But added to that, the five women who own the place are all beautiful, smart, and will make for great TV. Viewers will eat this show up, pun intended.
I lean over the sink and wash my face, not bothering to shave today, and as I dry off, I reach for my phone.
I have several new e-mails.
The most recent is from Riley Gibson.
Trevor,
Thank you for your kind email. I apologize again for the conversation last night. I would like to promise that we don’t always talk like that at work, but that would be a lie. At least we keep it to closing time over a glass of wine.
Enjoy Portland,
Riley
I grin and sling the towel over my bare shoulders. Riley isn’t what I had pictured in my head before I got here. I knew that she was pretty because their photos are on their website, but she’s much prettier in person.
And animated.
Working with her will be fun.
And a test to my libido. Because Riley is fucking sexy. I’ve never mixed business and sex before, and I don’t plan to start now, but keeping my hands off her will be a test of wills.
And that too should be fun.
After my run this morning, I stopped by a bagel place to eat and read a newspaper, came back to the apartment for a shower, and I think I’ll go to Seduction for lunch. I hadn’t planned to go back there until my meeting with Riley tomorrow, but I also haven’t had lunch there yet.
I dress quickly in jeans and a red T-shirt and walk the six or so blocks to the restaurant.
They’ve just opened, so they’re not busy yet. The atmosphere is calm, the lighting a bit brighter than last night, making it a fun spot to meet with colleagues or friends for lunch.
I’m seated on the far side of the restaurant, where it meets the bar, and I can see Riley and the other women sitting around a high table, talking.
Loud enough for me to hear.
“So, he’ll be here tomorrow. Filming doesn’t start for another week, unless the timetable has been moved up,” Riley says, studying her iPad and checking things off a list. “It would be great if we could watch our language.”
“Right,” Mia says, rolling her eyes. “Because that’s gonna happen.”
“Just watch the F-bombs then,” Riley says with a grin. “And I’ll do my best not to vent to him about my horrible dating experiences. Not that I’ll be having any more of those.”
“I wish I’d been here for that,” Addie says with a smile. “It’s hilarious.”
“No, it’s not,” Riley says, but smiles and covers her lips with her fingers. “Okay, it’s a little funny. I’ll be working from home today.”
“Why?” The blonde speaking, I presume Cami, asks.
“Because I have a roofer coming today,” Riley says. “But if you need me, just call. I can come back after he leaves.”
“Go.” Mia waves her off. “We’ve got this.”
The girls all stand, about to go their own ways to get their day started. They’re clearly good friends, which will come across well on film.
Riley walks out of the bar and glances up, spotting me.
“Hi.” I offer her a smile and motion for her to join me. She sits, sets her iPad aside, and squares her shoulders.
I love a woman with grit.
“Why are you here?” she asks.
“I’m having lunch,” I reply, and gesture to the salad sitting in front of me. “It’s delicious. Adding the brussels sprouts is smart.”
“I’ll pass that along to Mia,” she says, and then laughs. “I guess you heard the part where I asked the girls to not swear.”
“I did,” I reply, and patiently butter a piece of warm bread. “Don’t worry about that stuff. They’re adults.”
“With potty mouths,” she says.
“And we can bleep stuff out, or ask them to rephrase. You’ve already got the gig, Riley. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This isn’t an audition.”
“I know.” She sighs and reaches over to take a piece of my bread, surprising and delighting me. “I just want things to go smoothly.”
“Perhaps you should order lunch too.”
“I don’t have time,” she says, and then her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she just did. “I’m so sorry. I eat when I’m stressed out, and I didn’t—”
“No.” I hold my hand up to stop her. “It’s fine. I like that you’re relaxed with me. I think you need to relax more often.”
“What are you, my life coach now?”
“If you like. Did you cancel those dating sites like I suggested?”
She bites her lip and looks to the side, then nods. “I did.”
“Good.” I take a bite of salad and nod. “Are you sure you don’t want some food?”
“I rarely have time to eat,” Riley says, and checks the time on her phone. “In fact, I should go. I have to meet the roofer at my house.”
“What’s wrong with your roof?”
“It’s old,” she says with a shrug. “That’s what happens when you buy an old house. I’m fixing it up a little at a time.”
I nod, and find that I don’t want her to go quite yet. I want to talk more, to learn more about her.
“Why don’t you come to my apartment tonight and I’ll cook you dinner?”
She pauses and stares at me for a moment. “Why?”
I laugh and set my fork down. “Because I asked you to. We’re going to be working closely over the next few weeks, we might as well get to know each other a little better. Also, we can discuss my new duties as your life coach.”
“Well.” Her lips twitch as she thinks it over for a moment, a myriad of emotions moving across her beautiful face, and finally she says, “Okay. Do you mind texting me the address and the time?”
“Not at all,” I reply, and immediately pass her my phone. “Plug in your number and I’ll text you this afternoon.”
She complies, passes it back, and smiles. “Okay, see you later.”
And with that, she’s off. Her ass swaying enticingly in her tight skirt, calves flexing from the height of her heels, and the food I’m currently chewing immediately tastes like cardboard.
Jesus.
And I just voluntarily offered to spend time with her. Alone.
I’m a fucking glutton for punishment.
[no ornament]
“I’m starving,” Riley immediately says as I open the door. She’s in jeans and a well-loved University of Oregon sweatshirt, her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, and she looks like she could be a co-ed herself. “I forgot to eat today.”
“Does that happen every day?” I ask as I gesture for her to come inside and close the door behind her.
“Most days,” she admits. “Is this one of those bad choices that you’re gonna coach me through?”
“Yes,” I reply, and lead her into the kitchen. “You have to eat.”
“I know, I just get focused on other things, and the next thing I know, the day is gone and I’m starving.” She passes me two bottles of wine. “I didn’t know what we were having, so I brought red and white.”
“Thanks.” I grin and set them both on the counter. “I made salmon and asparagus with baby red potatoes. What goes best with that?”
Her eyes light up. “The white. Holy shit, are you a chef yourself?”
“I went to culinary school,” I reply, and squeeze some lemon on the salmon before plating it. “But I discovered I was better at a desk job.”
“That’s unusual,” she says, her head tilted to the side as she listens. “Most people fight to get out of a desk job.”
“Not me. I have a ton of respect for Mia, because being a chef isn’t easy, and pleasing people sucks.”
“True.” Riley nods. “She doesn’t get many plates sent back to her, but there are a few. Can I pour you a glass?”
“No thanks,” I reply, and reach in the fridge for a bottle of water. “I don’t drink alcohol.”
“Oh.” She frowns. “I’m sorry. I can drink water too.”
“It’s fine,” I reply, and pat her shoulder. “I don’t mind if you drink. I just don’t.”
“But last night, you were drinking Jack and Coke.”
“Nope, just Coke.”
She sits at the table, still frowning. “I’m sorry.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” I set our plates down. “I’ve been sober for ten years. I’m not the kind of alcoholic who can’t be around others having a drink. It was never that bad for me. I’m just a better person if I don’t drink.”
“Good for you for knowing that,” she says, holding her glass out to clink against my water. “This looks delicious.”
“You sound surprised.”
“I expected pizza or Chinese takeout,” she says. “Honestly, that’s probably what you would have gotten from me. I’m also surprised that you’re not staying in a hotel.”
“I’m here long enough that the network sprung for the apartment. They usually do when I’m somewhere longer than a week or so.”
“You must travel a lot for this job,” she says, eating her food like a starving child. I don’t know if she even tastes it, she’s eating so fast.
“I travel often,” I reply, and grin when she takes the last bite. “Are you going to lick the plate?”
“Maybe,” she says with a grin. “I’m not even embarrassed that I ate that so fast. It was delicious.”
“I’m glad you liked it. There’s more.”
“No, I’m good,” she says, and reaches in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “You can eat while I interview you.”
“For what?”
“For the position of life coach,” she says with a sassy grin. I want to kiss that grin right off her face, but instead I take a bite of potato and gesture for her to begin.
“Okay, first question: What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?”
“Well, I have a few years on you, so I would say wisdom with age.”
She tilts her head to the side, the way she does when she’s turning something over in her head. “You can’t be that much older than me.”
“I’m thirty-seven.”
“Seven years,” she says, rolling her eyes.
“A lot can happen in seven years,” I reply, and sip my water.
“Okay, I’ll give you that.” She checks something off on her paper.
“Did you really write down questions?”
“Of course. I’m the queen of lists and the roofer was at my house forever.” She bites her lip as she looks at her list. “How many women have you life-coached in the past?”
“Well, I didn’t have an official job title, but I have two younger sisters, and an ex-wife, so I would say three.”
“But the wife is an ex, so maybe that did go well?” Riley asks. “And are your sisters productive members of society?”
“As opposed to being in jail?” I ask, laughing. “You’re hilarious, Riley.”
“You didn’t answer the question.”
“My sisters are great. The older one is married, a stay-at-home mom with two kids, and the younger one is a waitress.”
“But the ex-wife thing didn’t work out.”
“She’s not a mess, we just both decided that she shouldn’t be my wife anymore.”
“Why?”
I sit back in my chair and wipe my mouth on my napkin. “Because she thought it was a good idea to have sex with other men.”
Her eyebrows climb on her forehead and she blinks twice. “That’s a good reason.”
“I thought so.”
“Okay, next question.” She checks something on her paper and looks up at me with a smile. “How do you intend to be compensated for your work?”
“I’m working pro bono,” I reply with a wink.
“Why?”
“Because I’m going to be here anyway, and why not.” I shrug and finish the food on my plate. “What else do you want to know?”
“Is my coming to a virtual stranger’s apartment by myself one of the bad decisions you should have coached me on?”
I smile and set my plate aside so I can lean on the table. “Did the girls tell you that coming here by yourself was a bad idea?”
“I only talked to Cami and she thought I should come. Plus, I have a concealed carry, so I feel pretty confident that I’m safe.”
I raise a brow and cross my arms over my chest. “You carry a gun with you?”
“Hell to the yes,” she replies, and offers me a sweet smile. “I’ve been meeting strange men on the Internet. You bet your ass I’ve been armed.”
“Good idea,” I reply with a nod. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”
“Yes. But I think that if you’re gonna meet a crazy, it could be anywhere. Online, in a bar, at the gas station. They’re everywhere.”
“That’s true too,” I reply, and nod. “Well, I’m glad you’re being cautious.”
“I’m nobody’s victim,” she says, as casually as if she’s telling me her shoe size.
That’s fucking sexy.
“Do you have any other questions?”
“Not really,” she says, and shrugs. “I didn’t really write anything down. But it was fun to interrogate you a bit.”
“Now I have questions,” I reply, and smile when she cocks her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think you need a life coach?”
“No, I have my shit together,” she says with a grin.
“Why were you really on all of those sites?”
She shrugs. “Because it’s not easy meeting people. And sometimes a girl wants to go out on a date.”
“You don’t need me,” I reply, and smile. “But I’ll be around for a while, just in case.”
“Just in case I slip and fall back into the online dating?”
“That, or if you just want to have dinner, or chat. And I think we should watch a marathon of Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge is cause for concern.”
“It’s kind of a guy thing,” she says.
“I know many women who like Star Wars.”
“Well, I would watch one or two.”
“You need to see them all to understand what’s happening.”
“That’s a lot of hours of my life that I’ll never get back,” she says with a frown. “Aren’t there CliffsNotes somewhere? A speedy way to get caught up?”
“No,” I reply, and fist my hands in my lap so I don’t reach out and tuck her hair behind her ear.
Or yank her against me so I can kiss the fuck out of her.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“Are you always this observant?”
“I’m an overthinker,” she says. “So yeah, I’m an observer.”
“I’ve been labeled an overthinker too,” I say with a grin.
“Would you say it’s an accurate assessment?”
“Oh yeah,” I say with a nod, and stand to clear our plates away. She stands to help. “I’ve got this.”
“No way, you cooked, so I’ll help clean.”
She walks ahead of me, her empty glass in one hand and her plate in the other. “Do you use the dishwasher, or do you wash by hand?”
“There are people who still wash by hand?”
“I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them in the wild,” she says, and smiles up at me when I join her. “So I guess that means we use the dishwasher?”
“Yes.” She rinses and I load, and a few short minutes later, we’re done.
“Well, I suppose I should go,” she says, and checks the time on her phone. “Oh, Cami texted. I guess I should reply so she doesn’t think you killed me after the entrĂ©e.”
She smirks and types on her phone, then turns it off and looks up at me.
“Thanks for dinner.”
“You’re welcome.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
Unfortunately, it won’t be in my bed.
“You will.”
“Okay.” She gathers her bag, notepad and pen, and walks to the door. “Sleep well tonight.”
I grin and congratulate myself for not dragging my fingertips down her cheek.
You sleep well tonight, Riley.”
“Okay. Bye.”
She leaves and I close the door, letting out a slow breath. Jesus, she’s sexy and funny and smart as fuck.
And I’m not going to touch her while I’m here.
How the fuck am I going to do that?


Don’t miss the first chapter of THE BEAUTY OF US! You can read it here!




    About Kristen Proby: New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.   Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

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