Luke Bradford is a chocolatier on a mission. After moving his chocolate shop, and newly single life, to the quirky town of Cactus Creek, Luke wants nothing more than to devote all his energy into making his business a success—by taking the romance market by storm. But his grand plans get thrown for a loop when he locks horns with the feisty beer-brewing beauty next door who calls his ‘romantic idealism’ a load of fairytale bull. Soon, driving the woman sparking nuts becomes another wickedly fun priority he simply can’t get enough of.
In his defense, she’s addictively easy to incite…and plain impossible to resist.
Beloved local brewmaster Dani Dobson is beyond riled up. It’s bad enough the new shop owner in town comes locked and loaded with both a distractingly rugged charm and sexy flashing dimples, but the whole only-in-the-movies variety of romance he’s selling—the kind her world has been crushed by before—is really doing a number on her allergy to unrealistic clichés. What’s worse, he’s created an annoyingly clever ad campaign that dubs ‘beer joints’ like hers as the “cave where romance goes to hibernate.” The nerve of that man.
Combustible chemistry or not, damn it, this means war. The stakes…very likely, her heart.
“HEY, DANI. Why isn’t the coffee started? Breakfast is getting—OH!” Xoey dropped the box of bakery fresh doughnuts in shock at the foot of Dani’s bed.
Dani estimated the level of Xoey’s shock was pretty high up there. Not just because she was still in bed this late in the morning, but more so because she wasn’t in said bed alone.
“Get out!” Dani launched a pillow at her.
Xoey shot out of the bedroom. “I’m so sorry!” she shouted as she closed the door behind her. “I figured it was safe! I thought you two were waiting till your fifth date to…hey, wait a sec, did I count wrong?”
“Just stop talking and go wait outside! Or better yet, wait down in the brewpub!” Dani jumped out of bed, and instantly dropped flat as a pancake onto the carpet.
Good lord, she was naked.
And, criminy, she totally just gave herself a carpet burn on her belly.
Where the heck did her towel from last night go?
At the soft whoosh of falling terry cloth landing inches from her face, she muttered, “Thanks.”
“No problem,” came Luke’s amused reply.
Dani tucked the now dry bath towel around herself securely before peeking just her eyes and the bridge of her nose up from behind the tangle of goose down comforter lined-up like a trench barricade on her edge of the bed.
“Good morning, beautiful.”
She popped her head up fully like a prairie dog, and asked the first burning question that swirled around in her head. “Did we—ˮ
The heated look he blasted her stopped her from finishing that sentence.
“Honey, if we had, the trench barricade my soldier is failing to hide behind wouldn’t be taller than yours right now.”
Oh my. A quick glance toward the center of her bed had her rising to her feet quicker than the sound of the national anthem had ever inspired. Furthermore, she wasn’t the one saluting the flag in this case.
Before she could do so much as gape, however, he dragged the comforter over himself, and pulled her back up onto the bed beside him in one easy swoop.
With a sleepy morning growl, he gathered her into his arms and laid warm, rumbly kisses down the side of her neck. “Believe me Dani, the next time you wake up next to me in bed, you won’t be wondering if we did, you’ll damn well know it, remember it, and want more of it.”
All evidence in front of her would certainly suggest so.
He nipped at her earlobe. “I can practically see your thoughts, sweetheart. Before you slaughter my control even more than you already have, put some clothes back on me in that pretty little head of yours and go take care of Xoey. I’m going to see how cold I can get your shower to run.”
As she rushed out of the room to go demand her spare key back from Xoey, it registered belatedly that Luke had spent the entire night lying next to her, fully clothed and on top of her bed spread, just holding her hand.
A total gentleman.
With whom she fully intended to renegotiate the intolerable terms of their pesky five-date waiting period. Seriously, whose crazy-ass idea had that been anyhow?
About This Literary Chef:
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels. When she’s not arguing with her story characters or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, Violet enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools, trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, and cooking ‘special edition’ dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. She lives in Hawai’i with her two cute kids and similarly adorable husband.
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