Spotlight & Giveaway: Fortune’s Surprise Engagement by Nancy Robards Thompson

Posted May 5th, 2017 by in Blog, Spotlight / 38 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Nancy Robards Thompson to HJ!
Spotlight&Giveaway

Hi Nancy and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Fortune’s Surprise Engagement!

 
Hi, Sara and all! Thanks for letting me hang out with you here on Harlequin Junkies.
 

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

FORTUNE’S SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT is an engagement of convenience story. When Olivia Fortune Robinson’s cynicism about love and marriage causes her sister to call off her wedding, she enlists the help of Alejandro Mendoza to change her sister Sophie’s mind. If skepticism caused the mess, the only way to fix it will be to convince Sophie that Olivia has fallen head-over-heals in love. Who could be better for the job than sexy Alejandro Mendoza, A.K.A the last single Mendoza? However, the only ones fooled by Liv and Alejandro’s pretend engagement is Liv and Alejandro. In the end, they realize that the single life they each valued pales after you meet your soulmate.
 

Please share the opening lines of this book:

“It’s time to break out the Fuzzy Handcuffs, Mike.” Olivia Fortune Robinson gave the sexy bartender her most flirtatious smile.
He cocked a brow and grinned. “It’s my pleasure to hook you ladies up.”
“Excuse me?” Her sister Sophie frowned at him and then her eyes went wide. “Oh, no.” Sophie held up her hands as if to ward off Mike. “Please tell me you are not a stripper.”

 

Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

 

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

Olivia Fortune Robinson, 28, is a computer programmer at Robinson Tech. She is 5’6” and has long dark hair and big brown eyes with long lashes. She is pragmatic and not inclined to romantic flights of fancy. Some think she’s a control freak. She lives in a luxury condo and dresses in classics like Calvin Klein and Eileen Fisher. Olivia resembles Selena Gomez. What surprised me about her is even though she tries to act like a bad ass, underneath she has a very tender heart.

Alejandro Mendoza, 34, entrepreneur. He is six feet one inch, with a lanky build. He has a Miami tan and favors linen shirts over Texas denim. He has dark brown hair and brown eyes and he oozes sex appeal. He is always looking for the next business deal and (until now) his next conquest. Alejandro looks like actor Adam Rodriguez (Empire). What surprised me about him is that has quite a reputation for being a ladies man, but Olivia brought out his more traditional side.

 

If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

This conversation happens on the night they first meet and it shows the chemistry between them:

He lifted a drink off the tray and handed it to her, then he took one for himself and raised it to hers. She looked him square in the eyes as they clinked glasses.

“You know, they say you’ll have seven years of bad sex if you don’t look the person you’re toasting in the eyes as you say cheers,” she said.

“I guess that means we’ll have good sex,” he said, still holding her gaze.

“Will we?” She sipped her drink.

He knew she was baiting him and he also knew she was probably drunker than she realized. The drinks were more powerful than they looked. The kind that went down easily and, before you knew it, knocked you flat on your ass. Probably not so dissimilar from the effect that Olivia Fortune Robinson had on men.

“Are you hungry?” Olivia asked.

“For food? Or did you have something else in mind?”

She tilted her head to the side. “You’re a naughty boy, aren’t you, Alejandro?”

He shrugged.

“I made a dinner reservation for four at the Driskill Grill,” she said. “It seems my sisters can’t make it. The only thing worse than drinking alone is dining alone in a fancy restaurant. What do you say, Alejandro? Will you let me take you to dinner?”

“That depends on what you expect in return,” he said. “Are you going to feed me and then try to take advantage of me?”

“Absolutely.”

 

What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

This book is about the importance of believing in love and opening yourself to the possibility of it. It’s not easy to let down your guard. Olivia and Alejandro prove that it’s important to be yourself with the one you love and not let someone else’s bad example/bad experience with love taint love for you.

 

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?

I’ll have two more Special Editions out in 2017 (for a total of four this year). The next one is out on June 20, and it’s called A BRIDE, A BARN AND A BABY. THE COWBOY WHO GOT AWAY will hit the shelves in late September. I’m currently working on book five in the 2018 Fortunes of Texas series. Olivia and Alejandro (from FORTUNE’S SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT) will make a cameo appearance in the 2018 Fortunes book.
 

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

 

Giveaway: I’ll give away a copy of my January book, THE COWBOY’S RUNAWAY BRIDE, to two winners. Winners who reside in the continental US may choose either paperback or e-book. Winners who reside outside the US will win an e-book.

 

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: In FORTUNE’S SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT, Alejandro gives Olivia a fire opal ring for her birthday. What’s your favorite gemstone?

 
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Excerpt from Fortune’s Surprise Engagement:

Chapter One
“It’s time to break out the Fuzzy Handcuffs, Mike.” Olivia Fortune Robinson gave the sexy bartender her most flirtatious smile.
He cocked a brow and grinned. “It’s my pleasure to hook you ladies up.”
“Excuse me?” Her sister Sophie frowned at him and then her eyes went wide as realization seemed to dawn. “Oh, no.” Sophie held up her hands as if to ward off Mike. “Please tell me you are not a stripper.” She pinned her panicked gaze on her sister. “Olivia, Dana and I specifically told you we didn’t want strippers at our bachelorette party. No offense, Mike. I’m sure you’re very good at what you do. You just can’t do it here. Not tonight. Not for us.”
She looked at her sister-in-law-to-be, Dana Trevino, and the other Fortune Robinson sisters seated on the plush love seats and overstuffed armchairs grouped around a glass cocktail table in a cozy corner of the Driskill Hotel bar.
Sophie’s brown eyes were huge and color blazed high on her cheekbones. By contrast, Dana seemed to have gone pale as she perched hesitantly on the edge of her seat, as if weighing whether or not to bolt. Watching the pair of them squirm was worth all the effort Olivia had put into planning this sisters’ weekend. Olivia almost hated to burst their horrified balloons.
“Unfortunately, Mike is not a stripper,” she said, pausing to let them sit with thoughts of what they would be missing.
Her sister Rachel sighed. “Aw, that’s too bad. For one glorious moment, I thought we had our very own Magic Mike.”
Zoe, another sister, nodded in agreement.
Mike laughed. “Sorry, ladies. It’s true, I’m not a stripper. Although I will be tending to your every need tonight.”
The innuendo was thick.
“Does that mean you’re a gigolo then?” Rachel asked, her eyes sparkling with mischief.
Mike laughed. “No, not a gigolo, either. I am your personal bartender and I am happy to be at your service.”
Sophie’s mouth formed a perfect O before her brows knit together. “And exactly what were you planning to do with the fuzzy handcuffs?”
Olivia and Mike exchanged a conspiratorial look.
“Forgive them,” she said. “They don’t get out much.”
“There is nothing to forgive,” he said. “Would you like to tell her about the Fuzzy Handcuffs or shall I?”
“Please, do the honors,” Olivia said.
“Your sister commissioned me to create a signature cocktail for your bachelorette party.” He stopped and looked at Sophie. “I’m guessing you are one of the brides.”
“Yes, I’m Sophie.”
He took her hand and lifted it to his lips before he asked, “Which one of you is Dana?”
“That would be me.” The pretty redhead gave a hesitant wave before she tucked her hands into the fabric of her flowing gypsy skirt. Mike winked at her. Rachel and Zoe promptly introduced themselves, laughing as they made a dramatic show of extending their hands for a kiss. Mike didn’t disappoint them.
Mike was a very good sport. As Olivia made a mental note to tell the manager how he’d gone above and beyond, her gaze was snared by a tall, dark, good-looking man walking into the bar. Though she only caught his profile before he turned and sat down with his back to her, he reminded her of someone. Who, she couldn’t place, but Olivia hadn’t gotten a very good look at him.
“Congratulations, ladies,” Mike said. “I’m honored to serve you on your special night. I understand you’re staying at the Driskill?”
“We are,” Sophie said. “We checked in this afternoon. Olivia has planned a fabulous weekend for us.”
“Nothing but the best for my sisters,” Olivia said.
“When is the wedding?” he asked.
“Next weekend,” Dana said. “Right here in this hotel in the ballroom. But there will be a full week of events leading up to the ceremony. This girls’ get-together is a nice way to kick off the festivities.”
“Well, don’t let me hold up the party,” Mike said. “One round of Fuzzy Handcuffs coming right up.”
“Fuzzy Handcuffs.” Rachel shook her head. “Only you would come up with a name like that, Olivia. Only you.”
They all laughed.
“Originally, Mike wanted to call the drink the Bride’s First Blush, but that was boring.”
“No it’s not,” Sophie said. “It’s pretty.”
Olivia resisted the urge to roll her eyes. The name Bride’s First Blush was too sweet for such a potent cocktail. The drink itself was perfect. It was festive and fizzy, but it also had just the right amount of something stronger to pack a pop. It needed a name that was just as strong, not one that sounded like a virgin cocktail. Fuzzy Handcuffs was perfect.
Olivia had gone to the ends of the earth to ensure that every single detail of this sisters’ weekend was perfect. And of course, it had been perfect so far. She may have been a computer programmer by trade, but if she ever found herself in need of a career change, she did have a knack for event planning.
Sophie and Dana weren’t party girls, so they’d been ecstatic with the plan of a weekend of pampering. After they’d checked into the suite at the Driskill, a limousine had whisked them away to the spa where they’d enjoyed hot stone massages, facials, seaweed wraps, special conditioners that had brought out the shine in their tresses and luxurious aromatherapy soaks in jetted tubs. At noon, they’d taken a break from the pampering to enjoy a light lunch complete with mimosas. Afterward, they’d returned to the spa for mani-pedis before adjourning to the pool to sip fruit-infused reverse-osmosis water while they relaxed and soaked up just enough sun so not to burn, but to give them a healthy glow.
“I wanted my sister and sister-to-be’s last weekend of freedom to be something you two will never forget. Since you nixed the strippers, I had to sneak in something edgy somewhere else. Voila—Fuzzy Handcuffs. At least I didn’t call it the Ol’ Ball and Chain.”
“No, that’ll be the name of the drink we serve at your bachelorette party,” Zoe quipped.
“Hell Froze Over might be a more apt name for my bridal cocktail, since that’s what would happen if I ever got married.”
“Don’t be so cynical,” Zoe said. “You reap what you sow.”
“I beg your pardon?” Olivia knew exactly what her sister meant, but she wasn’t going to give in that easily. Zoe was the consummate Pollyanna when it came to love and romance—despite every bad example their parents’ screwed-up relationship and sham of a marriage had set for them.
“You know exactly what I mean.” Zoe sighed and looked at Olivia as if she was hopeless. “You draw to you exactly what you put out into the world.”
Olivia blanched, but now wasn’t the time to get into a philosophical discussion about the realities of love and happily-ever-after. Besides the fact that this was supposed to be a happy occasion celebrating Sophie and Dana’s imminent wedding, her other two sisters were newly married. Zoe was still in the honeymoon phase of her own marriage, having just wed Joaquin Mendoza last year. Rachel was married to Joaquin’s brother Matteo.
Wait a minute—
Olivia’s gaze found the tall guy at the bar. Was that the other Mendoza? The single one—what was his name?
She turned to her sisters. “See that guy over there? Isn’t that your brother-in-law?”
They turned in unison and looked.
“Is that Alejandro?” Rachel said.
“I think it is,” Zoe said.
“I didn’t realize he was coming to town early,” Sophie said. “We should say hi and invite him to join us for a drink.” She started across the bar toward him and the next thing they knew, she was walking back arm-in-arm with him.
“Look who I found,” Sophie said, triumphantly. “Alejandro, I’m sure you remember my sisters, Olivia, Rachel and Zoe. And this is Dana, the other bride-to-be.”
They exchanged hellos.
“When did you get in?” Rachel asked.
“A couples of hours ago. I came in early to take care of some business before the wedding.”
All of the Mendoza men had been blessed by the tall, dark and handsome Latin gene, but Alejandro seemed to have gotten an extra helping of good looks. Olivia wondered how she’d failed to notice that before now. Of course, she’d only seen him on two other occasions: Rachel’s and Zoe’s weddings. She’d brought dates both times, so she hadn’t exactly been looking.
“You came in from Miami, right?” Olivia asked. She did remember that much.
He turned his sultry gaze on her.
“I did.”
“I didn’t realize you had business ties to Austin,” Sophie asked. “What do you do, Alejandro?”
“I’m in the wine business,” he said. “I’m a wine sales rep, but I’m in town because I’m in the process of buying a small vineyard about twenty miles west of here.”
Zoe’s mouth fell open. “Your very own vineyard? That’s so cool. Why hasn’t Joaquin mentioned it?”
Alejandro shrugged. “Until last week, it was still up in the air, but everything finally fell into place. I’m going to meet with the owners tomorrow and do one last walk-through before we finalize the deal.”
“Which winery?” Rachel asked.
“It’s called Hummingbird Ridge.” He kept stealing glances at Olivia.
“I’ve never known anyone who’s actually owned a winery,” Sophie mused. “I’d love to see it. Can you give us a tour?”
Alejandro’s brows shot up as he considered the possibility. “I’m sure I can arrange a tasting for you. Is there time this week?”
Everyone looked at Olivia as if she was the keeper of the schedule. There were events and outings scheduled for every day of wedding week—tours of Austin for those from out of town, rounds of golf, tennis matches, couples’ massages, luncheons, teas and dinners. But with a guest list close to five hundred people, the only activity they would all be doing as a group was watching the couples exchange their vows and celebrating at the reception afterward.
“How many people could you accommodate?” Olivia asked him.
“I’d say about two dozen,” he told her. “Of course, I’ll have to check with the winery and see how their availability looks. But this is their slow time of year when they don’t get many large groups. It shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe you can start organizing on your end and we can touch base and coordinate. Give me your number.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Olivia saw Sophie elbow Zoe. The only reason she didn’t make a face at them was because she didn’t want to draw Alejandro’s attention to their antics.
Olivia rattled off her cell number and Alejandro put it in his phone, calling her to make sure he’d input the right digits. When her phone rang, Olivia entered his name.
“There,” she said. “We should be all set.”
Mike reappeared with a tray full of hot-pink cocktails. True to the drink’s name, a pink-and-black fuzzy handcuff graced the stem of each frosted martini glass. A drink stirrer that seemed to be exploding silver tinsel decorated the top. The tray looked like a mini Fourth of July fireworks display.
As the five women expresses their delight, Mike looked pleased, but Alejandro took a step back.
“Why don’t you join us for a drink, Alejandro?” Rachel said.
“Actually, he’s welcome to mine,” said Dana. “As much as I hate to leave this fabulous soiree, I have to go pick up my maid of honor from the airport. It’s a pretty long haul out there. I really shouldn’t drink and drive. I’m so eager to hug Monica. It’s been ages. And she’s bringing my wedding dress. She’s letting me borrow an antique dress that belonged to her grandmother. I’ve seen pictures, but I haven’t had a chance to try it on yet. I’m a little anxious about it. That’s one of the reasons I need to go. I hope you understand.”
Their future sister-in-law’s early departure wasn’t a surprise. Monica had made her reservations nearly simultaneously with Olivia finalizing the plans for the bachelorette party. While they wanted her to stay, they understood. Monica was like family to Dana, who had lost her parents in an accident when she was twelve and had grown up in foster care. While the guardianship had been adequate, it hadn’t been warm enough to warrant keeping in touch or inviting them to the wedding.
The redhead, whose style was more boho-vintage than traditional, would look perfect in an antique gown. She twirled a long strand of copper hair around her index finger and drew in an audible breath.
“Wow. My maid of honor is arriving and I finally get to try on my dress. I guess that means this wedding is really happening.” She put a hand on her heart. “I can’t believe it’s finally here.”
The look of love was so evident in Dana’s sparkling blue eyes that for the briefest moment, a pang of envy stabbed at Olivia’s insides. It was an odd feeling. If given the chance, she wouldn’t change places with her sisters. She cherished her independence. Even though the thought of tying herself to one man for the rest of her life made her feel claustrophobic, she was happy for her sisters. It was the happiness that she envied.
“I know.” Sophie swooned. Feeling like an outsider, Olivia watched Rachel and Zoe coo right along with Dana and Sophie.
Her little sister, Sophie, and Mason Montgomery had gotten engaged in February, and just last month her brother, Kieran, had asked Dana to be his wife. Her siblings were certainly falling like flies bitten by the love bug. Olivia was the only one who hadn’t succumbed. Even so, just because she didn’t believe in the institution of marriage, it didn’t mean she couldn’t be happy for them.
That’s precisely why she’d decided to go all out for Sophie and Dana’s bachelorette party. Olivia couldn’t resist a good party, especially when the guests of honor were women she adored and it gave her a chance to get together with her sisters Zoe and Rachel. Who, other than herself, could she trust to make sure that every detail was perfect?
“I’m so sorry you can’t stay,” said Sophie. “Why don’t you pick up Monica and bring her back here? She could join us for dinner. As far as we’re concerned, the more the merrier. Right?”
The sisters nodded. But Dana’s left shoulder rose and fell. “As much as I’d love to, I can’t. Monica is bound to be exhausted. But we will definitely come for brunch tomorrow, if that’s still okay.”
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Rachel said. “I’m sure you want a chance to catch up with Monica before everyone gets swept away by the festivities leading up to the wedding. It’s going to be a busy week. And I know you want to try on your dress. I wish we could be there for that.”
Sophie reached out and squeezed Dana’s hand. “Of course, we completely understand. Monica needs to be rested up for the wedding. This really is the calm before the storm hits.”
Something that sounded like a cross between a squeak and a squeal escaped from Sophie and she covered her mouth with both hands. She shook her head and wrung her jittery hands, excitement rolling off her in waves. “Oh, my gosh. You’re right. It just got officially real. This time next week we will be married and dancing at our wedding reception. Maybe I should make my next Fuzzy Handcuffs a double.”
“Good, that means you can have one for me,” Dana said. “On that note, I’d better say good-night.”
As the four Fortune Robinson sisters took turns hugging Dana, Alejandro, who had been silent since all the wedding talk started, spoke up. “I have some work to catch up on. I, too, will leave you ladies to your festivities.”
His gaze caught Olivia’s and lingered long enough to cause a slight shift in the room’s temperature. It was like wading into a warmer current of water.
“Have fun,” he said. “Olivia, I’ll be in touch.”
In reverent silence, the sisters watched Alejandro walk away.
“Gotta love those Mendoza genes,” Rachel said under her breath.
“Oh, yeah. Highly recommended,” Zoe said and sipped her drink. “Olivia, I think Alejandro is into you. You should go for him this week. Isn’t it a lovely coincidence that he’s Joaquin’s last single brother and you’re my last single sister?”
Sophie squealed. “I think Alejandro would be a perfect match for Olivia.”
Olivia could think of many worse things than “going for” Alejandro Mendoza. A wedding fling with a gorgeous Latin man? Hell, yeah. It didn’t get much better than that. Especially since he lived in Miami and she lived in Austin. That was just enough distance for a no-strings-attached fling.
A slow heat burned deep in her belly. She threw back her drink to cool herself off. The Fuzzy Handcuffs went down way too easily.
Yeah…but, no. Hooking up with Alejandro wasn’t a good idea. He was family. Sort of. But not really. There was no blood relation. Her sisters were married to his brothers. That in itself was a problem. If she didn’t handle the fling just right, it could get awkward at future family gatherings. And really, when was the last time she’d had a fling? Olivia liked to talk a good game, but she wasn’t into casual sex. Anyway—
She plucked another drink from the tray and took a healthy sip.
“This night is not about me,” she said. “It’s about our sister and her happiness.” She raised her glass high before she threw the drink back.
“Hear, hear,” said Zoe. “I have an idea. Rather than a traditional toast, I think we should each take turns offering sweet Sophie our best words of sisterly advice for a long and happy marriage.”
“Olivia, you go first,” Zoe said.
Olivia frowned, already feeling the effects of the alcohol. “Marital advice is not exactly my department.”
Zoe batted her words away. “Don’t be a killjoy, Liv. You know what I mean. Give her your best sisterly advice.”
Run! Run for your life. Get out now while you can still save yourself.
She chuckled at the thought. It was what she wanted to say, but even as tipsy as she was, she had enough good sense to know the reaction that comment would inspire in her sisters. Then she really would be the killjoy that Zoe had accused her of being. That wouldn’t do. She’d have to dig deep to come up with something.
Of course, Zoe and Rachel and their husbands could be the poster couples for happy marriage. “You two go first. Come back to me.”
As Rachel and Zoe spouted pearls of matrimonial wisdom, Olivia searched her soul to find something to offer—anything—that didn’t sound jaded or bitter. But her head was spinning. Either she was a lightweight or these Fuzzy Handcuffs really did pack an über potent punch.
That’s when she realized three sets of sisterly eyes were focused on her, waiting expectantly.
“Guys, come on.” Was she slurring her words? Nah, she was just thirsty. Water, she needed water. She looked over and signaled for Mike to come over. He gave her a thumbs-up, which Olivia took to mean he would be there as soon as he was free. He had a couple of customers at the bar, including Alejandro Mendoza. God, he was one sexy Texan—no, wait, he was from Miami. With a vineyard in Texas. So he was sort of an honorary Texy sexan…uhh, a sexy Texan. Whatever. He certainly was the best of both worlds: a head for business and a body for sin.
A body she really wouldn’t mind taking for a test drive, she thought as she watched him sitting at the bar sipping his beer and doing something on his phone.
“Olivia!” Zoe demanded. “Earth to Olivia. We’re waiting for you.”
“Come on, Zo. You know I’m the worst person to ask about this. I don’t believe in love.”
She tried to wave them away, but realized that gesture probably looked as sloppy as she felt right now.
“How can you not believe in love?” Sophie pressed. Her voice went up an octave at the end of the sentence. “Everyone believes in love. I mean, what kind of a world would this be if people didn’t believe in love?”
Rachel, who was still holding her first drink, shot Olivia a look. “You might want to slow down a bit, too. You’re starting to be a bit of a buzzkill, Liv.”
Oh, first she was a killjoy. Now she was a buzzkill?
“You want a buzzkill? I’ll give you a buzzkill. I’m happy for the three of you, that you think you’ve found your soul mates. How fabulous for you. But just because it works for you, doesn’t mean love and marriage are for me.”
“It’s because you’re too guarded,” Zoe said. “Of course you’re not going to find love with that attitude. You have to open your heart before love can find you.”
Rachel and Sophie nodded earnestly.
Olivia snorted. “Please tell me you’re not going to start singing “Kumbaya” in three-part harmony.”
She rolled her eyes and when she did, she saw Alejandro looking in her direction. She looked away fast.
“I just don’t understand why you feel that way,” Sophie said in a small voice.
Olivia should’ve left it alone. She should’ve just made up something that sounded warm and fuzzy. Grabbed the first thing off the top of her head, something about love being the merging of two souls and blah, blah, blah, and tossed it at her sisters.
But they kept pressing her about why.
Why? Why? Why?
“You want to know why I don’t believe in love? I’ll tell you. Love is a crock. Every single guy I’ve dated has had some ulterior motive for dating me. They’ve wanted money or wanted a job or thought our father could make them rich by buying the app they’ve designed. They didn’t want me as much as they wanted a piece of Robinson Enterprises.”
“Sounds like you’ve been dating the wrong guys,” Rachel said.
It was probably true, but there was something in Rachel’s tone that sounded so judgmental. It was the last straw.
“And that’s only half of it.” Olivia leaned in and set her empty glass on the cocktail table. “The other reason is our parents. Their marriage is a mess. It’s a phony sham of a relationship. I don’t know why they stay together, because they hate each other. They are slowly but steadily eating each other alive. Anyone with good sense would take a clue from them and realize all relationships are doomed.”
“But they’re still together,” Sophie said.
Olivia shrugged. “Why are they still together? They don’t love each other. Even if they did, what about the general state of society? Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce and the other fifty percent—like our parents—make each other so miserable that divorce probably seems like a preferable option. And that’s why I can see no reason to yearn for a doomed institution. On that note, why don’t we go get something to eat?”
Her sisters sat stock still, silently staring at her. Rachel looked irritated. Zoe looked shell-shocked and Sophie looked like she was about to burst into tears.
Uh-oh. Obviously she’d gone too far.
“Look, you asked.” She softened her tone. “That’s why I didn’t want to get into it.”
All three were still frozen in their seats. The only thing that moved was the tears meandering down Sophie’s cheeks.
Crap.
“Okay. I’m sorry. I understand that y’all are newlyweds—even you, Rach. So your relationships are still shiny and new—”
Now Sophie was shaking her head.
Sometimes it was as if she was the only one in her family who didn’t have their head in the clouds. Maybe being the one with a clear head and common sense was her burden. If so, she could deal with it more easily than she could deal with a broken heart. She was a realist when it came to love—it never lasted. Her parents were living proof. Why should she fool herself into believing it would turn out otherwise for herself? Nope. She would save herself the heartache and focus on her career, which was in her control.
“I’m really sorry,” Olivia said. “I didn’t mean it the way it came out.”
“Yes, you did.” Sophie’s voice broke and she stood up abruptly. “I’m tired and I want to go to bed.”
“No, Soph. Come on. We need to get something to eat. I’ve made us a reservation at the Driskill Grill. I’m sure they can seat us early. Come on—”
“No.” Sophie took off.
Her sister had barely cleared the bar when Zoe said, “I’ll go check on her.”
“I’ll come with you,” Olivia offered.
“No,” Zoe and Rachel said in unison.
“Stay here,” Zoe said.
“Bring her back,” Olivia said. “It’s Saturday night. It’s her bachelorette party. We’re supposed to have dinner. And then right after dinner, we’re supposed to have fun.”
“And clearly not a minute sooner,” Rachel said under her breath, but Olivia heard her loud and clear.
“That wasn’t very nice,” she said.
Rachel shrugged. “Look, Olivia, I know you mean well, but why did you do that?”
“What?”
“Your down-with-marriage campaign was harsh. Even you have to admit it wasn’t your best moment.”
She covered her eyes with both palms. “I know. I already said I’m sorry. These Fuzzy Handcuffs are stronger than I realized. I think I’m a little drunk.”
“Ya think?”
As if right on cue, Mike delivered another round of five Fuzzy Handcuffs.
“Who ordered these?” Olivia asked.
“I thought you wanted another round when you signaled me a few minutes ago.”
“No, I need water.”
“Oh, sorry,” he said. “Well, these are on the house. I’ll bring you some water.”
Rachel stood.
“Where are you going?” Olivia asked.
“I’m going to go check on Sophie and Zoe.”
“I’ll go with you.”
“No, stay here and drink some water.”
“Will you please bring them back so we can go to dinner? I think we’re all hungry. That’s probably why the drinks hit us so hard.”
Rachel sighed. “I’ll try. I’ll text you and let you know what Sophie is up for. Okay?”
As her sister walked away, Olivia sat down on the love seat. She’d already said too much tonight. The best thing she could do was give her sisters some space.
Fifteen minutes later, Rachel texted:

Sophie’s asleep. Zoe is on the phone with Joaquin and frankly, I’m exhausted. I think it would be best if we call it a night and start fresh with the brunch tomorrow morning.

I’m sorry I ruined the night. I feel so bad.

Not your fault. I think the reality of the wedding is finally hitting Sophie. She’ll be fine tomorrow. .

Olivia wasn’t mad; she was frustrated. This wasn’t the way tonight was supposed to turn out—her sister in tears and the evening going up in flames.
Okay, maybe she was a little bit irritated. Why had they pushed her? Why had she been so weak as to give in? Sophie’d get over it. They’d be fine, but she needed to stay away until they all cooled off.
Olivia texted her again:

I’ll be up after I get something to eat. Want me to bring you something?

Thanks, but no. I’m going to talk to Matteo and then I’ll call it a night. Are you okay? Do you just want to come up to the suite and order room service?

It dawned on Olivia that her married sisters missed their husbands. Melancholy pushed at Olivia’s heart. As she looked up from her phone, thinking about how to answer, she caught Alejandro Mendoza looking at her. This time she didn’t look away.
She had plenty of drinks in front of her and a reservation for dinner for four that was about to become dinner for two. Olivia texted: I’m fine.
And she was about to get a whole lot better.
*
Alejandro couldn’t hear what the Fortune Robinson sisters were talking about on the other side of the bar, but one minute they’d been toasting, raising their Fuzzy Handcuffs high, and the next it looked like they were arguing.
He shouldn’t have been watching them. They were out for a girls’ night, which appeared innocent enough, but what man in his right mind could’ve kept his eyes off such a collection of beauties? They were like magnets. He couldn’t help but steal glances their way. His brothers were lucky men. Sophie would soon be married. What about Olivia? No doubt he’d meet the fortunate dude who’d claimed her heart at the wedding.
They’d seemed oblivious to him even as one by one they’d gotten up and left the party. First, Sophie left looking upset, followed by Zoe looking concerned. And finally Rachel, looking like a mother hen.
Olivia was the only one who remained. She’d been sitting alone for a solid five minutes staring at the tray of drinks the bartender had delivered shortly before the mass exodus. Maybe her sisters were coming back? Maybe she could use some company until they did. Alejandro stood, slid his phone into his shirt pocket and went over to Olivia.
“Is the party over already?” he asked.
She blinked up at him as if he’d startled her out of deep thought—or deep, stubborn brooding, based on her irritated expression. That full bottom lip of hers stuck out a little more than he remembered from when he saw her at his brothers’ weddings.
As she gazed up at him, she pulled it between her teeth for a pensive moment before she spoke.
“May I ask you a question, Alejandro?” She slurred her words ever so slightly.
“Sure.”
“Do you believe in love?”
“Is that a trick question?” He laughed and cocked his right brow in a way that always seemed to get him out of tight spots and trick questions like this one.
Answering questions about love qualified as a very tight spot, because the last thing he wanted to do right now was get into a debate about affairs of the heart with a woman who’d had too many Fuzzy Handcuffs. In his experience, drunk women pondering love were usually vulnerable women, especially when their sisters were all married or in the process of getting hitched.
“No, it’s not a trick question,” Olivia said. “In fact, it’s a fairly straightforward yes-or-no query. You either believe in love or you don’t. So what’s it going to be, Alejandro? Yes or no?”
Wow. Olivia Fortune Robinson was a force. An intense force. And he could see that she wasn’t going to let him off the hook without a satisfactory answer. The problem was, he didn’t want to talk about love.
He’d been a believer once—but that was a long time ago. Another lifetime ago, when things were a lot simpler. So simple, in fact, that he’d never had to ponder love’s existence. He’d just had to feel; he’d simply had to be.
He hadn’t thought about love for a very long time. It had been even longer since he’d felt any emotion even remotely resembling it. In fact, these days he didn’t feel anything. But he definitely didn’t want to conjure ghosts from the past, because they haunted him randomly even without an invitation.
“You’re not going to answer me, are you?” Olivia said.
He smiled to lighten the mood. “That’s some heavy pondering for such a festive occasion. Where did everybody go? And more important, are you going to drink all those Fuzzy Handcuffs all by yourself? Because if your sisters left you to your own devices, what kind of gentleman would I be to let you drink alone?”
She gestured with an unsteady wave of her hand.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m used to drinking alone.” She grimaced. “And even though I might be a little tipsy, I’m not so drunk that I don’t realize how pathetic that just sounded. Please, sit down and save me from myself.”
“If you insist,” he said and lowered himself onto the cowhide-patterned love seat that was set perpendicular to her chair. As he made himself comfortable, she shifted her body so that she was angled in his direction and crossed one long, lean, tanned leg over the other.
Damn.
If he’d been a weaker man he might have reached out and run a hand up the tempting expanse, past where skin disappeared under that sexy little black slip of a thing that was riding a little too high on her toned thighs—not in a trashy way, because there wasn’t a trashy thing about her. Olivia Fortune Robinson seemed to have mastered the art of classy-sexy, which was a very beautiful fine line to walk.
And he was also treading a very fine line, because Olivia Fortune Robinson was so very off-limits, since she was practically family.
He lifted a drink off the tray and handed it to her, then he took one for himself and raised it to hers. She looked him square in the eyes as they clinked glasses.
“You know, they say you’ll have seven years of bad sex if you don’t look the person you’re toasting in the eyes as you say cheers,” she said.
“I guess that means we’ll have good sex,” he said, still holding her gaze.
“Will we?” She sipped her drink.
He knew she was baiting him and he also knew she was probably drunker than she realized. The drinks were more powerful than they looked. The kind that went down easily and, before you knew it, knocked you flat on your ass. Probably not so dissimilar from the effect that Olivia Fortune Robinson had on men.
“Are you hungry?” Olivia asked.
“For food? Or did you have something else in mind?”
She tilted her head to the side. “You’re a naughty boy, aren’t you, Alejandro?”
Her words were unwavering and unabashed.
He shrugged.
“I made a dinner reservation for four at the Driskill Grill,” she said. “It seems my sisters can’t make it. The only thing worse than drinking alone is dining alone in a fancy restaurant. What do you say, Alejandro? Will you let me take you to dinner?”
“That depends on what you expect in return,” he said. “Are you going to feed me and then try to take advantage of me?”
“Absolutely.”
This was fun. Much more fun than poring over facts and figures of the Hummingbird Ridge purchase.
When he was fresh out of college, would he have found bantering with a clever woman preferable to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the details that would make his hard-won business dream a reality? Then again, he hadn’t eaten and he was starving.
“In that case,” he said, “how can I refuse?”
He knocked back the last of his drink. It was a lot stronger that it appeared.
“Good,” Olivia said, handing him another drink from the tray. “The reservation isn’t until eight o’clock. We have time to finish our cocktails.”
They clinked glasses, locking gazes again before they sipped and settled into an uncomfortable silence. Alejandro was way too aware of how damn sexy she looked in that black dress, too intent on that full mouth that kept commanding his attention, speaking to the most primal needs in him.
He didn’t do well with silence.
“Is this your favorite kind of drink?” he asked.
“Me? No. I’m all about champagne. This drink was made especially for the brides-to-be.”
“I don’t mean to be nosy, but is everything okay with your sisters?”
She shrugged. “I’m sure they’re fine. That reminds me. You didn’t answer my question. Do you believe in love? I’m guessing you do. Because what else would possess you to tattoo a woman’s name on your arm? Who is Anna?”
Reflexively, his right hand found his left forearm, covered the ornate script.
“Anna was someone who made me know that love is very real. But I also learned that love can be a total SOB, too.”
Olivia leaned in. “You said ‘was.’ So I’m guessing that Anna is no longer in the picture?”
The curtain of dread that always closed around him when he remembered Anna started falling. “No, she is no longer in the picture.”
That’s all he was going to say. He was opening his mouth to change the subject when Olivia got up from her chair and sat down next to him on the love seat.
“That’s what I was hoping you’d say,” she slurred. “People accuse me of a lot of things, but no one can ever say I go after another woman’s man. You don’t have a girlfriend who isn’t named Anna, do you, Alejandro?”
He shook his head. His gaze fell to her lips. She was sitting enticingly close to him. Suddenly, the room temperature seemed to spike.
“Good,” she slurred again as she slid her arms around his neck. “Because I’m going to kiss you. You don’t mind if I kiss you, do you, Alejandro?”
Before the words hell no could pass his lips, her lips closed over his and smothered the reply.
At first, the kiss was surprisingly gentle, tentative. She tasted like the cocktails they’d been drinking and fresh summer berries and something else he hadn’t realized he’d been craving for a very long time. When she opened her mouth wider, inviting him in, passion took over and the gentle kiss morphed into wild, ravenous need, feeding a hunger that he didn’t realize was consuming him. He reveled in it, wallowed in it, until it blocked out everything else.
She moved against him, sliding her hands over his shoulders and down his back.
A rush of hot need surged through him. His hands followed the outline of her curves until he cupped her bottom and pulled her closer. Damn. She felt good. Keeping one hand on her, he found the hem of her dress with his other and dipped his fingertips beneath the silky barrier that stood between them.
When she moaned into their kiss, he wanted to pull her onto his lap.
But she was drunk and they were in the bar of the hotel where her sister was getting married next weekend. He had enough of his wits about him to know that if she wasn’t in the shackles of too many Fuzzy Handcuffs, she probably wouldn’t be doing this. She’d probably be mortified tomorrow.
“Alejandro, takhttp://pinterest.com/e me to your room.” Her words were hot on his neck and his body was saying Let’s go. Now.
But he couldn’t. And not for lack of want or interest. It just wasn’t right. Not when she was like this.
He stood up and gently tugged her to her feet.
“What’s your room number?”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
 

Book Info:

MY BIG FAKE BOYFRIEND

Olivia Fortune Robinson has done some crazy things in her life, but this has to be one of the craziest. She has just propositioned sexy Alejandro Mendoza to be her pretend boyfriend for a week. What’s even crazier? He said yes!

They’re doing it all for Sophie—or so they think. Liv’s cynical view of marriage accidentally convinced her little sister to call off her own wedding, and Liv has to fix things and quick. What better way than to “fall in love” herself? Tall, dark and alpha, Alejandro doesn’t seem to mind having Liv on his arm—or in his bed. But when the two commitment-phobes suddenly become faux fiancés, Liv’s traitorous heart starts to fall for real… Is Alejandro’s far behind?
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Meet the Author:

National bestselling author Nancy Robards Thompson lives and writes in Florida, but her imagination transports her all over the world. She has found Nirvana doing what she loves most – writing romance and women’s fiction full-time. After hanging up her press pass, this two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart struck gold in July 2002 when she won the award. Since then, she’s gone on to sell nearly 40 books, which critics have deemed, “…funny, smart and observant.” You can connect with her at NancyRobardsThompson.com; on Facebook at Nancy Robards Thompson Books – www.facebook.com/nancyrobardsthompsonbooks; and follow her on Twitter at @NRTWrites .
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38 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Fortune’s Surprise Engagement by Nancy Robards Thompson”

  1. Patricia B.

    I like them all, but guess it would have to be sapphire or emeralds that I liked the most.

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