Authors: Beth Kendrick
Tags: #Animals, #Contemporary Women, #Nature, #General, #Pets, #Fiction, #Dogs
Beth Kendrick’s Novels
“With her usual literary flair, Kendrick delivers a scrumptious literary confection expertly spiced with humor and seasoned with just the right dash of romance.”
“A warm, winning story about the complications of sisterhood—and the unexpected rewards.”—Sarah Pekkanen, author of
Skipping a Beat
“A sweet, fun, and entertaining look at family, love, and the perfect pastry. . . . Fans of women’s fiction, foodie fiction, and novels about sisters will delight in Kendrick’s descriptions, vivid characters, and fast-paced, hilarious dialogue. A book that often had me laughing aloud—and wiping away a tear at points. Recommended.”—Write Meg!
“I absolutely loved this book. It is laugh-out-loud funny and you can’t help but love both sisters. Don’t be surprised if you want to try out the yummy-sounding recipes the author includes.”—Chicklit Club
“A fun story of two estranged sisters who enter a baking competition together. . . . The characters are well written and if you have sisters or even siblings, you’ll definitely be able to relate to the sibling rivalry.”
—Just Short of Crazy
“This story is sweet like a great dessert—just the right amount of sugar and spice. It’s a story that celebrates both sisters and the therapeutic benefits of baking. . . . [Amy and Linnie’s] adventures in baking will make you laugh and [will] warm your heart.”
—News and Sentinel
“Wonderful! Kendrick manages to cook up a tender, touching, and very funny story about the complicated relationship of two sisters torn apart by their own stubbornness and brought back together by love and pastry. With a fresh plot and richly layered characters,
is a winner.”
—Ellen Meister, author of The Other Life
Second Time Around
“Kendrick deftly blends exceptionally clever writing, subtly nuanced characters, and a generous dash of romance into a flawlessly written story about the importance of female friendships and second chances.”
“Smart and fun, this is my favorite book this year.”
—Jane Porter, author of She’s Gone Country
“A touching and humorous look at love, loss, and literature.”
“Extremely engaging. . . . [Kendrick’s] characters were easy to fall in love with.”
Night Owl Reviews
“Kendrick is an undeniably practiced hand at depicting female bonds.”
“A funny, charming story about the power of female friendship, and a must-read for all English majors, past and present.”
—Kim Gruenenfelder, author of Wedding Fever
“In the exceptionally entertaining and wonderfully original
, Kendrick writes with a wicked sense of humor and great wisdom about the power of friendship, the importance of true love, and the very real satisfaction of romantic revenge done right.”
“The three female leads all captivate.”
“[A] highly entertaining story.”
“[Kendrick’s] heroines are easy to like.”
“Clever, wise, and wonderful,
is Beth Kendrick at her best.”
“Witty, juicy, and lots of fun! Say ‘I do’ to
—Susan Mallery, New York Times bestselling author of Only His
“A smart, funny spin on happily-ever-after!”
—Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of Always Something There to Remind Me
“A fun and funny look at marriage, commitment, and figuring out what your next best step is . . . whether it be down the aisle or not.”
—Alison Pace, author of A Pug’s Tale
Carole Matthews, author of
The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet
“Kendrick’s keen sense of humor and pitch-perfect gift for dialogue are excellent accessories to this fun and frothy tale.”
Also by Beth Kendrick
Second Time Around
Exes and Ohs
My Favorite Mistake
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY
Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
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First published by New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Beth Lavin, 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content
I’m so lucky to have you in my life
“I’m short, I’m balding, and I’ve put on twenty pounds since my fiancée left me for her personal trainer. You’re my last hope for love.”
Lara Madigan froze in the drugstore parking lot, one hand on the door handle of her Oldsmobile station wagon. She didn’t recognize the wheezy male voice behind her and so she hoped, for a moment, that perhaps he was addressing someone else.
But the guy made a deep, phlegmy noise in his throat and persisted: “You’re the matchmaker, right?”
Lara turned around slowly, pulling up the collar of her coat to shield her neck from the chilly winter wind. “Yes, I am. Pleased to meet you.” She offered her right hand, and the man grabbed it like a lifeguard’s buoy, both of his sweaty palms engulfing her fingers.
“Peter Hoffstead. You have to help me.” He tightened his grip. “I’m desperate.”
Lara’s mind automatically whirred into assessment mode. The first thing she noticed about Peter was that his outfit didn’t match his personality. Though his complexion looked pasty and his remaining hair was graying, he was attired in visible designer labels: Cartier watch, Rock & Republic jeans, Burberry belt. From the neck up, he was Bill Gates, but from the neck down, he was P. Diddy. Someone else had clearly picked out his wardrobe—someone who wanted him to be more of a debonair playboy and less of a middle-aged homebody.
She gently but firmly pulled away from his grasp and rummaged through her shoulder bag for her business card. As she handed it to him, she cautioned, “I’m always looking for promising prospects, but you have to understand that I can’t match just anyone. All my prospective clients undergo a rigorous screening process, and my standards are very high. I have to consider the long-term happiness of everyone involved.”
“One of your previous clients can vouch for me.” Peter rubbed at his nose with a clean but wrinkled handkerchief. “Mark Heston—he’s my neighbor. He said you hooked him up with Amelia.”
“Amelia!” Lara softened at the name. “What a sweetheart. How’s she doing these days?”
Peter shrugged. “Great, I guess. Mark never shuts up about her. I need you to do for me what you did for him.” He stuffed his hand into the pocket of his black leather jacket and offered up a stack of cash. “I’ll pay whatever you ask. I’ll double your usual fee.”
Lara made no move to accept the folded green bills. “What I do isn’t about money. It’s about finding a true soul connection. I want all my pairings to last a lifetime, so I need to figure out exactly what your needs are and who best meets them.”
Peter nodded, and as he stuffed the money back into his pocket, he sighed with resignation. He stopped the posturing and name-dropping and gave her a glimpse of the raw loneliness festering beneath all those designer labels. “Look.” He spread out his hands. “I know I’m not the most appealing guy, physically. My fiancée made that very clear before she left me. But I’ve got a lot to offer: love, stability, all that stuff.”
Lara tilted her head and took in his body language. Years of trial and error had taught her that it didn’t really matter what a prospective client said. People used words to manipulate and evade, to justify their mistakes and prejudices. The truth was in the tone of their voices and the light in their eyes.
“When I make a commitment, I keep it,” Peter continued. “I own my own business, I work at home. . . .”
“You do?” Lara’s eyebrows shot up. “Do you have a yard?”
“Half an acre,” Peter assured her, puffing up with pride. “Fenced. Backs up to a nature preserve.” He beckoned her closer. “With hiking trails. I’ve started jogging four days a week. Well, I do a fifteen-minute mile, which I guess doesn’t really qualify as jogging. But I’m trying. And it’s easier to get motivated to exercise when you have a partner, you know?” He looked at her with a mixture of hope and chagrin. Clearly, he was bracing himself for her refusal.
She started compiling a profile in her head:
attentive, outdoorsy, willing to learn . . .
“I’ll do whatever you tell me. You won’t be sorry. I just need help meeting women. I’ve tried going to bars, signing up for Internet dating sites, but nothing’s working. I need a wingman—someone to break the ice. Will you help me? Please?”
He gazed at her through his smudged, crooked glasses, and she started to smile. This was a good man, with a good heart, who just needed a little boost to his confidence. A carefully chosen companion to help him rediscover his sense of self-worth without flaunting pricey logos or stacks of cash.
“I think I have the perfect match for you.”
His whole body tensed with anticipation. “You do?”
Lara nodded. “Cute, charismatic, and virtually irresistible. Guaranteed to draw a crowd wherever you go.” She brought up a photo on her cell phone and showed Peter the snapshot of a scrappy, scruffy yellow terrier. “Meet Murphy.”