Mila I never thought I’d have a real-life meet cute, but the minute Crossland Parker walks into my life, it starts feeling like I’m living in the pages of a romance novel.
He sweeps me off my feet, and I find myself falling fast and hard for the rough around the edges mechanic. He’s a troubled bad boy with a heart of gold.
Cross fits into my life effortlessly, even sharing my love of books. He’s everything I didn’t know I wanted in a man. Attentive, sweet, a little bit possessive. He’s also my biggest source of support when I decide I want to buy the building next door so I can expand my business. So what if he has a criminal record? No one is perfect.
Unless you ask my stepfather. He expects nothing less than perfection, but not even I could ever come close.
Cross After spending too many years wandering when I was released from prison, I came back to Abbott Ridge to start over.
I wasn’t expecting Mila Santos to fall into my arms, but I’m irrevocably drawn to the curvy little beauty who owns the bookstore. She’s a good girl, too good for a guy like me.
Our relationship develops faster than most, but I spent too many years of my life locked up. Now that I’m out, I refuse to waste a single second. I’m still not sure I deserve someone as sweet as Mila, but if she accepts me and all my faults, there’s no way I’m letting her go. Only a fucking fool would do that.
My past is no secret, and I knew the day would come when someone would try to use it against me. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
Is happily ever after possible when a good girl falls for the guy from the wrong side of the tracks?
Escape with the Meet Cute Book Club, where meet cutes don’t happen only between the pages of romance novels, and one by one, all the members find their own happily ever afters.
Mila is still standing in the spot where I left her when I pass by the bookstore’s front window.
Grinning, I toss her a wink and keep walking, picturing the beautiful blush that stains her skin when she’s flustered.
I love how affected she is by me.
I knew Mila was gorgeous when I saw her from across the street yesterday, but up close… damn.
She’s a stunner.
Easily the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.
And I get to see her again on Friday.
I came to the bookstore today hoping to see her even though I knew there was a good chance that she wasn’t available, but I had to shoot my shot. I’m fucking relieved she isn’t with somebody. It would have sucked if I put myself out there only to find out I didn’t stand a chance. I’ll admit, part of me can’t believe she agreed to go out with me, but I’m happy she did.
Halfway back to the garage, reality sets in.
What was I even thinking going in there?
Mila is sweet as hell, far too good for a roughneck like me.
I’m a felon for fuck’s sake.
No. Fuck that.
My criminal record doesn’t define me.
I have to stop letting my past rule my life. I’m more than some guy who got locked up for trying to defend someone who didn’t deserve it. I paid the price for my mistakes. I did my time and now I need to move on.
I deserve happiness as much as anyone else.
As long as I’m honest and don’t try to hide it, Mila doesn’t seem like the type that would hold my past against me. I’ll be up front with her about it and let the chips fall where they may.
I’ve got a good feeling about her.
“Who’s the girl?” Bishop asks as I walk into the garage.
My brows dip low in confusion and I look around the bay, not seeing anyone. “What girl?”
“The girl that put that goofy ass smile on your face,” he says with a knowing look. “Only a woman can make a man smile like that.”
I hadn’t realized I was smiling when I came in, but I feel one stretch across my face now.
“Her name is Mila.”
“From the bookstore?”
“You know her?” I ask, closing the distance between us.
“I know of her.”
At my look of surprise, Bishop rolls his eyes. “You said it yourself yesterday, Cross. Abbott Ridge is a small town.” He turns his attention back to the engine he’s working on. “Pass me that wrench.”
Knowing which one he wants without asking, I grab it and hand it over.
“The real question is…” He pauses to look at me. “How do you know her?”
Reaching behind me, I pull the book out of my back pocket.
Chuckling, Bishop shakes his head. “Should have known. Can’t believe you read that girly shit.”
“Don’t hate,” I tell him. “This girly shit just got me a date with perfection on Friday night.”
He eyes the book. “Well, hell. Maybe I need to pick up a new hobby. Mila’s a pretty girl.”
“Find your own pretty girl, Bish,” I say, popping him on the back of the head with the book. “Mila is mine.”
Fucker laughs. “It’s like that?”
“Damn right it’s like that.” I drop the book on top of the tool cabinet and grab a beer from the fridge. “I saw her yesterday when I was leaving the tattoo shop.”
“No doubt a gorgeous girl like that grabbed your attention.”
“Hell yeah. Would have talked to her yesterday, but she was on her way out. Almost got discouraged when I watched her drop into the passenger seat of a sweet ass ride, but decided to take a chance anyway.”
“Black Chevelle?” he asks, glancing up.
He nods. “Her younger brother, Mateo.”
“Damn, Bish,” I say, dropping my ass onto a stool. “You really do know everyone in this town. Bet you got all the good gossip.”
Bishop snorts. “I ain’t got shit. Mateo spent a lot of time here. Rented one of the bays so he could restore that beauty of his. He had the know-how, but needed somewhere to do the work.”
“I’d love to get my hands on that car.”
“Good luck with that. He won’t let anyone else work on it. Not even me.”
That makes me chuckle. “I respect that. Nothing more important to a man than his car.”
“And his girl,” he says, no so subtly turning the conversation back to Mila. “Where are you taking her?”
Copyright 2022 @ Kate Stacy
Such a fun story! A bookstore owner and the guy from the wrong side of the tracks who reads (and loves to discuss) romance books? (LOL, he really IS the perfect book boyfriend!) Yes, please!
I really enjoyed Mila and Cross’s book, from their meet cute through the epilogue. It’s swoony and sexy and a lot of fun to read. It’s fairly low angst–the only real conflict in their romance is caused by someone else, and since Cross knows how to resolve conflict like the excellent BBF (book boyfriend, of course) he is, we’re not kept worrying too long about the state of their relationship.
Though this is the 8th book in the series, it worked just fine as a standalone. It definitely does its job, though, because if all of the rest of the Meet Cute Book Club members have such fun journeys to their own HEAs, you’re probably going to want to add them to your TBR too!
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Kate Stacy:
Author of emotionally-gripping, contemporary romance, Kate Stacy’s novels feature sassy heroines, swoony heroes, life, love, friendship, and all the angst. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family and friends in small-town North Carolina, Kate can most likely be found nose deep in her Kindle. She stays up too late, swears too much, and loves too hard.
Escape with the Meet Cute Book Club where meet-cutes don’t only happen between the pages of romance novels and members find their own happily ever afters.
Eight single women bound by their love of books take a monthly break from real life to lose themselves in the chapters of romantic fiction. From friends to lovers to fake relationships and more, each story features a brand new couple and their journey to find love from an amazing lineup of authors including Louise Lennox, Tracy Broemmer, A.M. Williams, Mel Walker, RJ Gray, Rebecca Wilder, Julie Archer, and Kate Stacy.
These eight standalone romances are packed with meet-cutes, heat, and of course a happily ever after!
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