Nothing like an unconscious doppelgänger to ruin a perfectly good day at the Mystery Spot.
Robyn Craine has two loves: her Harley and the Mystery Spot, the Black Hills tourist attraction she bought with funds from her late mother’s estate, an inheritance that included a generous gift from billionaire Harold Hopewell. With a chance-of-a-lifetime expansion in the works, Robyn doesn’t have time to babysit the handsome Sentinel Passtime actor who shows up to do “research”–especially when she figures out his connection to the wealthy businessman/politician trying to sabotage her new project.
Liam Temple has no intention of falling for a Black Hills local. His agent has Liam’s breakout, big budget movie deal lined up. Even though Liam likes his current Sentinel Passtime gig, he promised his late sister he’d win a Golden Globe by thirty-five. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a feisty, Harley-riding tourist trap owner caught in Liam’s father’s crosshairs for buying a hunk of land Richard Marston thinks belongs to him. But when Robyn’s lookalike stunt double is attacked, Liam recognizes his father’s MO and Liam makes keeping Robyn safe his first priority.
Her grin brought her face to life in a way that grabbed him by the heart. Her lips, reddened from the cold and from licking a dab of chocolate from the raisins, were totally kissable. Inviting. His mouth watered and his fingers tingled from wanting to touch her.
Uh-oh. Not cool. No kissing.
He got up and brushed off the seat of his pants with far more theater than needed. Feeling her puzzled gaze on him, he grabbed the first distraction he could find. “Sun’s out. Wow. That was fast.”
She pulled out her phone. “Do you want me to take a shot of you?”
“Let’s do a selfie.”
She made a face. “I’m really bad at those.”
“I’ve done a million. Give me your phone.”
He took his time positioning her to give them the best backdrop then sidled up close and put his free arm around her shoulders. He liked the way she fit against him. He liked the strong, firm muscles he felt tense beneath his arm. She wasn’t completely comfortable with this closeness, he could tell, but he liked it a lot. Too much.
He extended his right arm, camera ready to go. “Okay. Smile for the masses.”
He pictured her rolling her eyes at that so he snapped a couple of extra. When she started to move away, he tightened his grip. “Wait. One more for me, only.”
He turned his head, leaned down and kissed her obviously unsuspecting lips. The electric spark that connected the instant their lips touched nearly made him drop the phone, but somehow he remembered to click the exposure before she pushed him away.
“What was that for? Blackmail?”
“How can I blackmail you? It’s your phone.”
“Oh. Right.” Her cheeks flushed red and he fell a little deeper in love. Not real love, but the real in-this-moment sort. The kind he manufactured effortlessly for the big and small screen.
“But I’d really appreciate it if you’d send me a copy. Will you?”
She grabbed the phone and stuffed it in her pocket. “Maybe. I’m not comfortable kissing strangers.”
“We’re not strangers. We know each other’s life stories. I told you about my sister and I never talk about her in interviews.”
Billionaire Harold Hopewell traveled the world, encountering people and letting their stories touch him. In death, he is giving back, leaving an unusual will filled with life-altering bequests to the people he met along the way. Read the Inheritance Series, and let their stories touch you.
I hope you love this story as much as I do. And thank you, thank you, thank you, for remembering to leave a review!
Award-winning author Lois Winston’s fabulous recipe today appears in her new book, Hooking Mr. Right.
Lois writes romance, romantic suspense, mystery, chick lit, women’s fiction, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.”
Now, here’s the recipe that Lois’s heroine Thea actually cooks in the snippet that follows. Enjoy!
Thea’s Veal Parmesan with Mushrooms and Baby Spinach
Recipe Type: main dish
Author: Lois Winston
In Hooking Mr. Right, Thea finds solace in cooking. Here’s one of the recipes from the book:
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh tomato
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1-1/2 pounds veal cutlets
1 cup marinara sauce
freshly grated parmesan cheese
Mix mushrooms, spinach, tomato, onion and garlic together. Fold in ricotta cheese. Set aside.
Place veal between sheets of wax paper and pound lightly to flatten. Lay cutlets on flat surface. Sprinkle with olive oil. Spoon vegetable-ricotta mixture onto center of each cutlet. Roll cutlets and secure with toothpicks. Brown in oil on all sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Spoon a small amount of marinara sauce in bottom of baking dish. Arrange cutlet rolls in dish. Remove toothpicks. Pour remaining sauce over cutlets. Sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes.
Hooking Mr. Right
Thea Chandler, a total failure when it comes to relationships, is secretly bestselling romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy. Much to his dismay, Luke Bennett has been dubbed NY’s most eligible bachelor, and hordes of women throughout New York are using Thea’s books to try to snare him. When Luke and Thea accidentally meet, he believes he’s finally found an honest woman, but Thea’s got more secrets than the CIA and a desperate gossip columnist out to expose her. Can a butt-ugly alley cat named Cupid bring together two people driven apart by secrets and lies?
She owed Luke an apology. He wasn’t at fault here. Steve was. And Madeline. She couldn’t even place any blame on Grace for her collusion with Hedda or for trying to renege on their deal. The bean counters had blackmailed Grace into a corner. No. As far as Trulee was concerned, she had no one to blame but herself. After all, she opted to compromise her ethics and take the easy way out. Grace dangled the gold coins under her nose, but no one had forced Thea to grab the bag.
Thea had noticed the way Luke’s gaze had kept darting toward the kitchen. He had practically drooled on his rumpled pinstripe. She suspected Melvin the doorman heard his grumbling stomach twelve floors below.
She checked the contents of the oven. Sauce bubbling, cheese browned to a golden perfection, her veal parmesan with mushrooms and baby spinach set off a loud protest in her own stomach. Tom, Dick, and Harry, connoisseurs of Italian cuisine, were demanding their dinner. With their propensity toward red sauce and pasta maybe she should have named them Tomasso, Federico, and…what was the Italian form of Harry? Enrico? Thea shrugged. She had a more pressing problem at the moment. Adjusting the light under a pot of linguini, she turned her attention to the dilemma.
Her sprained wrist had healed well enough to prepare the meal with only a bit of minor inconvenience. She had compensated. Besides, at the time she’d been more concerned with doing something to take her mind off her troubles, and cooking always worked as a panacea for whatever troubled her.
As a child, she had constantly gravitated to the kitchen whenever her loneliness consumed her or her unladylike behavior triggered a reproachful lecture from her mother. A deep bond developed between her and Yolanda Marie, her family’s French-Italian cook. While her parents ignored her and fussed over Madeline, Thea received the attention she craved from Yolanda Marie—along with cooking lessons from the master Cordon Blue chef.
Years later, she still sought and found solace in the kitchen, the only place where she had complete control over her world. The only place where she could truly be herself.
Thea had placed the food in a small casserole which proved easy to slip into the oven single handed. Removing the piping hot dish was an entirely different problem. She opened the oven door, pulled out the wire rack containing her dinner, and bit down on her lower lip while she mulled over her limited options.
The most sensible course of action was to knock on Luke’s door, invite him to dinner, then have him lift the baking dish onto the counter. Sensible, but smacking of ulterior motive. He’d think she only invited him because she couldn’t remove the dish herself. Strike that idea. She wasn’t about to offer him an apology with strings attached.
Thea plopped into a kitchen chair, propped her elbow on her knee, and cupped her chin in the palm of her good hand. She stared at the veal parmesan. She frowned at her bandaged wrist. The seconds ticked away.
Three minutes later she was still scowling alternately between her wrist and the meal. “Oh, the hell with it!” She rose to her feet. “It’s not going to grow legs and walk out of the oven.” She slipped her arm from the sling and donned a couple of oven mitts. Holding her breath and gritting her teeth, she lifted the dish out of the oven. The pain proved bearable. Barely.
Ten minutes later, after downing a couple of aspirin to offset the renewed ache in her wrist, she stood in front of Luke’s door. Balanced between her hip and good arm, she held a large wicker basket complete with main course, a plastic container in which she had placed the drained linguini, another filled with Caesar salad, a small loaf of Italian bread, and a bottle of chilled Asti Spumanti.
…in Finding Mr. Right, a mini-sequel to Hooking Mr. Right. Editor Grace Wainwright has taken over the role of bestselling author and romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy. Thea Chandler, the original Trulee, is now married to her Mr. Right and is a successful cookbook author. She and Grace host the top-rated Love Recipes cooking show. When producer Becket Delaney announces the first two shows in February will have a Valentine’s Day theme, Grace freaks out. The worst day of her life occurred on Valentine’s Day ten years ago, and she wants no reminders of it. Beck has his own reasons for hating the holiday, but the show must go on, and he absolutely refuses to deal with an uncooperative prima donna. When a citywide blackout traps him and Grace in his thirty-fourth floor office, their adversarial relationship really begins to heat up.
Finding Mr. Right is available as part of the Love, Valentine Style anthology of six Valentine-themed romance novellas by six award-winning and Amazon bestselling authors. For a limited time this collection is available only from Amazon and for a mere .99 cents.