A steamy and fun friends-to-lovers story!
The Wedding Gift
Save The Date #3.5
By Cara Connelly
Releasing May 5, 2015
What’s the New-Jan-Plan? Discover the answer in Cara Connelly’s newest Save The Date Novella, and see how mousey Jan Marone gives herself the gift of living, laughing, and finally loving … all under the hot Key West sun.
She’d come to Key West for a wedding, only to discover the hotel had messed up her reservation. So although Jan Marone has to share a tiny room with sexy Mick McKenna, it shouldn’t really be a problem. Mick’s her best friend, and he doesn’t think of her “that way” … or does he?
Mick McKenna loves hard and plays hard. His thick black hair, chiseled jaw, and hard, muscled body make him irresistible. But when once-innocent Jan walks into his hotel room, Mick can’t believe his eyes. Now she’s wearing a sexy bikini and telling him it’s time for her to “get lucky,” making him protective and tantalized at the same time.
Worried she might be in over her head, he decides never to leave her side … and suddenly their hotel room seems smaller—and hotter—than ever. Mick’s always been hands-off with Jan—but has the right woman been under his nose the whole time?
The Wedding Gift is an adorable read–quick and fun, perfect to put you in a summer-y mood. I loved the “New Jan” plan–and especially loved how it drove poor Mick crazy…
“Gotta shower. We’ve got dinner in a couple of hours.”
She grinned. “Seriously? You need two hours to primp?”
He tried a smile. It felt plastic. “You know how punctual Julie is.”
She cocked her head. “You look a little pasty. Are you feeling okay?” She climbed the steps, water sluicing off her smooth skin.
“I’m”–losing my shit–“fine. I just want to”–jump you–“take a shower before you use up all the hot water.” His smile was partly genuine this time. She was famous for long showers.
“Har har.” She–finally–wrapped herself in her towel and plunked down on her lounger.
Seriously–the poor guy never stood a chance, especially since he’s been secretly in love with her for approximately–well, pretty much forever…
Not having read the first three books in the series yet, Jan’s introducing Mick to the wedding photographer didn’t really have the impact it probably would have otherwise (she’s supposed to have a “gift” for introducing couples who later end up getting married–hence the title), but other than that this one worked just fine as a standalone. If you have read the others, you’ll no doubt appreciate the chance to see those characters again here.
If you haven’t read them yet, well, speaking from experience, I can definitely say that after reading this novella you’ll be tempted to see just how the whole gift thing works in books 1-3…
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, there’s nothing I can do.”
Jan Marone wrung her hands. “But I have a reservation.”
“I know, I’m looking at it right here.” The pretty blond at the desk tapped her screen sympathetically. “I’ll refund your deposit immediately.”
“I don’t want my deposit. I want a room. My cousin’s getting married tomorrow, and I’m in the wedding.”
The girl spread her hands. “The problem is, when one of the upstairs tubs overflowed this morning, the ceiling collapsed on your room. It’s out of service for the weekend, and we’re booked solid.”
“I understand,” Jan said, struggling to remain polite. Hearing the same excuse three times didn’t make it easier to swallow. “How about a sister hotel?”
“We’re independently owned. Paradise Inn is the oldest hotel on the island—”
Jan held up a hand. She knew the spiel. The large, rambling guesthouse was unique, and very Old Key West. Which was exactly why she’d booked it.
“Can you at least help me find a room somewhere else?”
“It’s spring break. I’ll make some calls, but …” A discouraging shrug and a gesture toward the coffeepot.
The girl didn’t seem very concerned, but Jan smiled at her anyway. “Thanks, I appreciate you trying.”
Parking her suitcase beside the coffee table, she surveyed the lobby wistfully. The windows and doors stood open, the wicker furniture and abundant potted plants blurring the line between indoors and out. The warm, humid breeze drifted through the airy space. Her parched Boston skin soaked it up like a sponge.
To a woman who’d never left New England before, it spelled tropical vacation. And it was slipping through her fingers like sand.
Growing ever gloomier, she wandered out through a side door and into a lush tropical garden—palm trees, hibiscus, a babbling waterfall.
And at its heart, a glittering pool, where six gorgeous feet of lean muscle and tanned skin drifted lazily on a float.
Ignoring everything else, Jan studied the man. Thick black hair, chiseled jaw, half smile curving full lips. And arms, perfect arms, draped over the sides, fingers trailing in the water.
He seemed utterly relaxed, the image of sensual decadence. Put him in an ad for Paradise Inn, and women would flock. Gay men would swarm.
As if sensing her attention, the hunk lifted his head and broke into a smile. “Hey Jan, getcha ass in the water!”
Mick McKenna. Her best and oldest friend.
He rolled off the float and jacked himself out of the pool. Water streamed from gray board shorts as he crossed the flagstones.
Stopping in front of her, he shook his hair like a Labrador.
“Geez! Don’t you ever get tired of that?” She brushed droplets off her white cotton blouse.
He laughed his big happy laugh. “Never have, never will. Get your suit on. The water’s a perfect eighty-six degrees.”
“I can’t. They don’t have a room for me.”
The grin fell off his face. “What the hell?”
“Water damage.” She shrugged like it wasn’t tragic. Like she hadn’t been anticipating this weekend for months.
“They must have another room.” Mick started to go around her, no doubt to raise hell at the desk, McKenna-style.
She stopped him with a hand on his arm. “I tried everything. They’re digging up a room for me somewhere else on the island.”
He tunneled long fingers through his hair. “Take my room,” he said. “You found this place, and it’s great. You should stay here.”
“Forget it. I’m not taking your room.” She wasn’t that pathetic. Mick would give her the shirt off his back, which he’d literally done more than once since they were kids, but she wasn’t taking his room out from under him.
He knew better than to argue with her. Disappointment slumped his shoulders, but he buttoned his lips, looking down at her from troubled eyes bluer than the pool gleaming behind him.
She mustered a smile. “Can I use your bathroom?”
She followed him inside, down a short hallway, and into a room that was eighty percent bed.
“Yikes. The reviews said the rooms were tiny, but sheesh.”
Mick shrugged. “Who comes to Key West to sit in their room?”
That was Mick. Mr. Brightside.
CARA CONNELLY is an award-winning author of contemporary romances. Her smart and sexy stories have won high praise, earning Cara several awards including the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart, the Valley Forge Romance Writers’ Sheila, and the Music City Romance Writers’ Melody of Love. Cara, who lives in rural upstate New York, works as appellate court attorney when she’s not crafting steamy novels of love and romance.
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