Spotlight & Giveaway: Hedging Your Bets by Jayne Denker

Posted January 8th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 26 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Jayne Denker to HJ!

Hi Jayne and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Hedging Your Bets!

Hi, Harlequin Junkie and romance lovers! Thanks for having me!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Hedging Your Bets is the followup to my last romance The Rom-Com Agenda that came out in February of 2023. Hedging Your Bets is an enemies-to-lovers, small-town, closed-door romance about Gillian Pritchard (a member of The Rom-Com Agenda’s friend group) and her new hottie neighbor, Noah West. Gillian, a lovely, confident, plus-size woman, has been happily divorced for five years. Her friends have convinced her to sign up on some dating apps, but she’s been unimpressed with the Willow Cove dating scene so far. And besides, her life is full with her friends, her career as a pharmacist, and now that it’s summer, preparing for Willow Cove’s cutthroat garden competition. Then Noah moves in next door. Noah is coming off a bad breakup and, desperate to make a fresh start, has (rather impulsively) bought a house and a business in Willow Cove, a town he used to visit every summer as a teen. Even though there’s a (brief) mutual physical attraction, when Noah ruins Gillian’s garden design by unapologetically yanking out a hedge on their common property line, the neighbors go to war.

Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:

“Let’s cut to the chase, because I don’t have all day. Do you want me, Noah?” Gillian demanded. “Did you want to kiss me that day?”
Noah’s stomach clutched. This woman certainly didn’t mince words. He wanted a lot of things, most of which he couldn’t have or shouldn’t have. Which was she? Probably both.

“Why’d you hold my hand and let Mick think we were together?” Noah asked.
Gillian’s stomach leapt at his frank question. “I needed a little bit of reassurance at that moment. I’m sorry if it upset you.” She paused. “Were you upset?”
Noah’s voice was soft when he said, “Only when you let go.”

“Listen up,” Noah snapped. “I want no part of this. I do not want—any part—of you.”
Gillian actually smiled, but it was more like she was showing her fangs. “Liar.”


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • Hedging Your Bets is set in a fictional town in the North Country of my home state of New York, in the Thousand Islands region on the Canadian border. It’s a gorgeous area, and I was excited to set a story there in summer, with lots of outdoor events and the influx of tourists the Thousand Islands sees every summer.
  • I am the world’s worst gardener! I had to do a LOT of research to make sure Gillian sounded knowledgeable.
  • A rogue garden gnome plays a large part in the story. Gotta watch out for those gnomes.


What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

Gillian’s and Noah’s attraction to each other is unequivocally physical, at least in the beginning. When Gillian catches a glimpse of Noah when he first arrives at his new house, she doesn’t deny that he’s good looking, even if she doesn’t go over and introduce herself. Moments later Noah accidentally catches a glimpse of Gillian in her bedroom, dancing in her underwear. When Gillian sees him staring, instead of running and hiding (or dropping the shade), she keeps dancing defiantly. Aside from finding her beautiful, Noah is attracted to the confidence Gillian exudes, and once he gets to know her he continues to admire that trait.


Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?

Usually the blush moments turn up when my characters go rogue and decide to take matters into their own hands (so to speak). Those blush moments usually turn into blush/laugh combos, like this one, with Gillian and Noah flirting from their bedrooms:

She was captivated by the sight of a shirtless Noah and the mystery of what he intended to do next. She didn’t have to wonder for long; her breath caught when, still holding her gaze, he let his hands drift to the waistband of his jeans, his fingers toying with the button. Popping the button. Gillian squirmed. His hand moved to the zipper.

And then he shifted away from the window again.

The song was still playing, the raunchy growl of the music contrasting with sentimental words about winning a special girl.

Gillian craned her neck as if she could get a better angle to see into his room. Where did he go? Why did he do that? Should she—

And then he reappeared, facing away from the window. The jeans were gone. So was any hint of underwear.

Gillian was pretty certain she was going to faint. If the sight of Noah West’s bare ass, rocking side to side to the beat of the music, didn’t knock her over, what in the world would?

Noah turning around, that’s what.

And then she nearly fell out of her own window laughing. He was holding the gnome in front of him, in a very strategic location, the gnome’s cheery little face smiling away at her. Evidently she was laughing loud enough that Noah could hear her as well as see her, and his smile brightened.

She pushed up her window screen and leaned out. “I don’t think the gnome signed up for that.”

To her dismay, Noah crouched down and disappeared. The music cut off. When he came back up again, he was on his knees. He rested his forearms on the windowsill. “You rejected him. He has to get work any way he can now.”

“Is this a pity ploy to get me to put him in my garden?”


“Give me the gnome.”

Noah’s calculated pause made her breath catch. Then he growled, “Come and get him.”


Readers should read this book….

  • If you like the enemies-to-lovers, slow burn, and/or nextdoor neighbors trope
  • If you like snarky and slightly goofy humor
  • If you like small-town romances
  • If you prefer fade-to-black closed-door romances more than on-the-page “spice”
  • If you’ve ever endured bad dates and need a good laugh about it
  • If you like plus-size heroines who are very comfortable in their skin
  • If you’ve read The Rom-Com Agenda and want to spend more time with the group of friends from Willow Cove (but if you haven’t read RCA, Hedging Your Bets can be read as a standalone)


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?

I’m actually working on three very different stories at the same time! Another small-town romance (which may or may not be another book set in Willow Cove…I can say no more), a paranormal romance, and a young adult postapocalyptic paranormal (phew!)

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: A print copy of HEDGING YOUR BETS by Jayne Denker


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Did you ever have a romance with a hottie from your neighborhood? If so, how did it go? (Is there a “Reader, I married him!” out there?)

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Excerpt from Hedging Your Bets:

Gillian decided to make this quick. Once she decided on a nice spot—her stone bench in a remote corner, with a lovely flowering dogwood behind it—she made a valiant effort to smile cheerily into her phone’s camera lens. The first few attempts—okay, first dozen—weren’t great, but really, it couldn’t be so hard to figure out, could it? If she just…shifted her shoulder, maybe…or raised the phone higher…

“By the way, are you going to give me my shovel back or what? And what are you doing?”

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Noah standing nearby, rocking back on his heels, his hands stuffed in his pockets.

“Brokering world peace with the leaders of the free world. Macron says you’re blocking my light.”

“I never took you for the selfie type,” he said.

“You don’t know anything about me at all. Or hadn’t you noticed?”

There was a pause. Gillian continued to ignore him and adjust her posture, raising the phone once more.

“You sure you want to do it that way?”

She stifled a sigh. “If I give you your shovel back, will you get back to digging your tunnel to Australia and leave me alone?”

“I’m just saying—”

Gillian lowered the phone and glared at him. “Did I ask for your input?”

“No, but you should. Here.”

Noah stretched out his hand for her phone. Gillian yanked it out of his reach. He actually growled, a dangerous rumble low in his throat. She knew he was expressing frustration, but it communicated a different thing entirely, at least to her ears. She told her ears to knock it off.

“Are you kidding?” he snapped, with a touch of incredulity. “What do you think I’m going to do with it, throw it in your fountain? Give it here.”

Reluctantly, she handed it over. “What do you want with it?”

Noah let loose a labored, irritated sigh. “I’m going to take your picture. You don’t exactly look comfortable doing the whole selfie thing.”

“I admit I don’t spend hours a day on social media.”

“Good for you. But it means you don’t know your angles—that was obvious from the way you tried to take your own picture just now. I, on the other hand, happen to know a little bit about photography.” When she didn’t express any interest in his comment, he held up the phone, peered at the screen, and asked, “I assume this is for your dating profile?”

Gillian shifted on the stone bench. “Maybe.”

“It’s a simple yes-or-no question.”

Fidget. “…Yes.”

“Kinda scraping the bottom of the barrel with Birdman yesterday.”

Gillian sniffed disdainfully.

“I thought I’d at least get a thank-you.”

“For what?”

“I sacrificed my blueberry muffin for you.”

“Nobody asked you to.”

“Bet you were glad I did, though.” When she didn’t answer, Noah said, “So Birdman didn’t turn out to be your Prince Charming?”


“At least warn a girl before you take a photo,” she protested.

“Answer the question.”

“Maybe I don’t want to.”


“Why don’t you want to talk about it?” Noah pressed as the phone whir-clicked several times in succession. “You stayed there a lot longer than you looked like you wanted to.”

Gillian gaped. “You were studying me?”

“Don’t flatter yourself. I finished the book I was reading and had nowhere else to look.”

She narrowed her eyes. “You didn’t have a book with you.”

“You were studying me?” he parroted. “You’d think you’d have spent more time paying attention to your date. Or was he so boring you nodded off every time you tried?”

Wow. Her approval of Noah West had lasted all of about two minutes, and now here he was annoying her again. If her temper was timed like an explosive device, the little digital numbers’ countdown speed would have been blinding. Who did he think he was, judging her date? Even if he was right.

“Okay,” Noah said, “you need to look more—”

“Accessible. I’ve heard.”

“I was going to say look more to the left of the camera.” Noah lowered the phone to frown at her. “And don’t look too accessible. Unless you want to end up dead in a ditch somewhere.”

“Apparently you don’t have a very high opinion of dating apps.”

“I have a brain.”

“You’re implying I don’t?”

“I didn’t mean it like that. In fact, I’m surprised you’re doing this. You don’t seem the type. Too smart, I mean,” he was quick to explain, before she went off on him. “Seems you could find someone to date without the need for all this nonsense.”

“It’s not as easy to meet people as you’d think.”

“Why not? You seem…personable. When you want to be.”

“Gee, thanks. Let’s just say a particular man in my past might have given me the gift of a few trust issues before I used a crowbar to get him out of my life.”

Noah grunted in a commiserating tone. “Is he buried in this flower bed here or the one on the other side of the yard?”

“I just mean it was a bad relationship and an even worse breakup.”

Gillian stopped herself. The last thing she wanted to do was share details of her personal life with Noah West.

“What are you doing over there?” she huffed. “Reading my text messages?”

“Couldn’t be less curious, don’t worry. Just trying to…okay, look this way a little.” He held his right hand out, and she did her best to focus there. “Look friendly, but like you could kick the guy’s ass if he tried anything.”

“You’re paranoid.”

“You’re a sucker. Smile.”

“How can I, when I’m looking at you?”

“Pretend I’m Ryan Gosling.”

“Now you’re just asking for miracles.”

The whir-click of the camera sounded, and Noah examined the result. “Ugh. No.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“It’s not your looks. You’re too stiff. Try again.”

Gillian shook out her hair and tried to relax. Whir-click.

“Meh. Again,” he ordered.

“You’re not as good a photographer as you think you are.”

“You’re not making this easy. Relax. Think of something else.”

“Like strangling you?”

“Whatever floats your boat.”


“Better,” Noah muttered. “Your hatred of me at least brightens your eyes a bit. But I don’t think it’s really the look you want to go for in an online dating profile pic.”

“What look?”



Noah glanced around. “What’s that leafy thing over there?”

“What do you care?”


“Yep,” Noah confirmed. “Madness in the eye. Try again.”

“Shut up. Give me my phone back. I’ll do it myself.”

“Not a chance. This is a challenge now.”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

Opposites attract in this enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy of feuding neighbors and dueling hearts from Jayne Denker, the author of The Rom-Com Agenda.

When small-town neighbors go head-to-head, better start Hedging Your Bets.

Gillian has been happily divorced for several years and, after trying a few dating apps, prefers to stay that way. Navigating her way through dates with fat shamers and lackluster men has left her with no desire to do anything other than work in her garden in her spare time. Who needs rude comments and awkward first-date conversation when soft roses and vibrant tulips are so much better?

Noah West has just moved to Willow Cove. After a rough breakup that leaves him looking to get far away, he relocates to the same small town he spent summers in as a teen—and moves right next door to Gillian. A big believer in minimalist design and that the best kind of plants are non-flowering, he knows as soon as he meets his neighbor that they are going to clash on just about everything. Now if only he could keep his eyes off her too. That might be helpful.

When a gardening contest brings out the competition in Gillian and Noah, dueling plant arrangements and fiery banter ensues. But is it possible that beneath all their differences, they might just be perfect for each other?
Book Links:  Amazon | B&N | kobo | Google |

Meet the Author:

Jayne Denker is the author of closed-door romantic comedies, including The Rom-Com Agenda and the Welcome to Marsden series. When she’s not hard at work on another novel (or, rather, when she should be hard at work on another novel), she can usually be found frittering away stupid amounts of time on social media.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |

26 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Hedging Your Bets by Jayne Denker”

  1. Nora-Adrienne Deret

    I’m not a very social type person. I’m the one at the party who sits in the corner listening to the conversations and just enjoys the company.

  2. Banana cake

    No I have not. I did have a crush on one of my neighbors as a kid.

  3. Crystal

    Sort of… We both were in the same grade in high school he lived a few miles from me but it all started when he tried to use his flirtation to bully me but that sure didn’t work out because his facial expressions and body language told me a different story like he was getting feelings for me and when nothing happened I decided enough and asked him out and that’s when I got confirmation because he protested so much by yelling and screaming it was inaudible and he continued to flirt and let me know how he felt but he never said one word to me. Been almost 40 years now now but I will always love him since technically he was my first love even though we never dated and we were only passing acquaintances..

  4. Patricia Barraclough

    We lived out in the country with few neighbors. I didn’t have any crushes in high school, although I did marry a classmate 8 years later.