- N. N. Light
dibs by @AFictionalHubb1 is a Beach Reads Event pick #romcom #romance #beachreads #giveaway
Title: dibs Author: Allison Martine Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romcom Book Blurb: Not tonight, Olivia. Olivia’s ex-husband shut her down so many times before the cheating bastard left her that Olivia lost count. She didn’t realize she’d also lost the ability to banter, interpret body language, or accept that a man could find her desirable. None of that should matter when she leaves for a two-week training for her new job with the Ranchers, an outdoorsy nonprofit, but when her co-worker adds ‘halter top’ and ‘bikini’ to the official pack list, she has no idea what to expect on this trip. It certainly wasn’t a perky blonde roommate who thinks their training is like spring break, but with a paycheck. It wasn’t the after-hours hot tub. It absolutely wasn’t the man with a rumble for a laugh who shows up on her flight and introduces himself as the colleague she didn’t know would be her companion for the next two weeks. When blondie calls dibs on that same colleague, Olivia just wants to stay out of her way, but her colleague has ideas of his own. Ideas which involve Olivia, the hot tub, and shared sips of bourbon. Excerpt: A cup was placed in her hands. Fizzy. Coke, with what? She sniffed it. Coke. She looked up to see Adam grabbing another red cup for himself. She felt stupid but had to ask. “What did you just hand me?” He poured himself a generous bit of bourbon before answering. “Just coke.” She frowned. “You don’t mix good bourbon with anything,” he said, as if that cleared things up. He cocked his head towards the hot tub. She took a sip of her coke and followed him. There was no room for them, not technically, but Lorrie waved them over—waved at Adam, Olivia corrected— and told Eddie to make room for them. Eddie obliged as much as possible, but there was no way they’d fit. Adam shook his head. “It’s all good. It’s too hot to get in all the way. How are you all not boiling?” And with that, several people—starting with Lorrie—hoisted themselves out of the tub to sit on the deck, to just dangle their feet in, instantly making more room for Adam and Olivia to sit. Adam stepped in next to Lorrie, then looked up expectantly at Olivia. She stared at him blankly, as if she forgot how hot tubs worked. Or her feet. Bourbon in one hand, he reached up to take hers with the other, guiding her down between himself and Eddie. Her legs were thigh to thigh with both of them, just as Adam was with both Olivia and her roommate, but only Olivia seemed to be aware of it. What was she doing? Sitting in a hot tub with a bunch of kids fresh out of college, thighs pressed to two strange men. Well Eddie wasn’t that strange. She realized quickly that if Adam wasn’t there, and she were sitting by Eddie and Lorrie, or even Eddie and either of the Chris-es, she wouldn’t think twice. Why was she so thrown by this? She sipped her coke and tried to get out of her head, enjoy the moment. But not too much. Her neurons were telling her exactly how her skin cells felt pressed to his, even though most of his thigh was covered by his trunks, with just an inch or so above the knee exposed, and suggesting more of her skin cells do likewise. Stupid neurons. She tried to focus on the conversation, such that it was, and not on her roommate putting her hand on Adam’sknee. Dibs, she reminded herself, and sipped her coke, and tried not to flinch at the sight. She had no right to complain. Lorrie’dasked her straight out if they were together. She’d said no. She hadn’t exactly offered to renounce the dibs if Olivia would rather take a shot at her own co-worker but had offered to get her laid if she wanted. Looking around the hot tub, most of the eyes were on Lorrie, even the other women. Smooth motion caught her eye and she realized Adam was leaning toward her. “Livi,” he said, rumbling close to her ear. “Try this,” he offered, handing her his cup. She could already smell it on his breath, and for a moment she was overwhelmed with desire, wanting to taste it straight from his lips. He’d twisted his body towards hers, turning his back on Lorrie in the process. Lorrie’s hand slipped off his knee as he’d angled closer to Olivia with the drink. She took the cup, sampling the bourbon.
Caramel, smoke. She could see why he wouldn’t mix it with anything. She started to hand him back the cup with a touch of reluctance, but he instead took the coke she was still holding in her other hand, and, leaning back away from the hot tub, set her coke behind them on the pool deck, out of her reach. She was left with his bourbon and decided to take another sip. She realized he was watching her, studying her as she put the cup to her mouth. She closed her eyes under his gaze, letting her sense of taste take over. She’d stopped trusting her other senses.
“Do you like it?” he asked, his voice close to her ear again. She felt his presence even with her eyes closed, felt the heat of his body as he leaned over to whisper, his words just for her. With her eyes shut, she could almost pretend all the other voices were far away; that it was just the two of them and the bourbon. She opened her eyes to dispel the illusion. He’d only been leaning close to be heard above the squeals and laughter of the young execs already getting drunk. He’d given her a sample of his drink because she’d never tried it before. Simple as that. Any other messages she was getting were lies told by her affection-starved brain.
Shit. She hated how she had become wired. She knew she didn’t start like this. Used to be able to banter with confidence and a dash of naughtiness without a second thought. Used to be able to read intentions. Read men. She’d been stripped of all of it. She set the cup down, resting it on her thigh. She was tempted to down the rest of it. It wasn’t even her drink.
With his left, he reached for his cup, hand grazing over her thigh, fingers touching hers. She pulled away too quickly, as if shocked. If he noticed he gave no indication. He took the bourbon, helped himself to another taste, then put the cup back on her thigh. But didn’t let go of the cup. He rested his huge hand, clasped around the cup, on her thigh as if it was the side table in his living room, casually settling closer to her as he did.
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WINNER, 2021 N.N. Light Award, Best Romcom
Finalist, Kindle Book Review Awards, Best Romance
Readers’ Choice Category Leader, Kindle Book Review Awards, Best Romance
“Smart, sexy romance…with a bit of bourbon and banter”
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Allison Martine is a multi-genre novelist, focusing on literary and speculative fiction, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. Her debut novel, dibs, was named a Finalist and Reader’s Choice Category Leader for Romance in the 2020 Kindle Book Awards, and won Best RomCom in the 2021 N.N. Light Book Awards. Her newest release, Climb the Salmon Ladder, launched May 23, 2022. She hosts the literary podcasts, TO THE MOON, ALLISON, and co-hosts VOX VOMITUS. Replays for both shows can be found on most platforms including YouTube and Spotify. An Orange County, California (almost) native, Allison studied at the University of California, San Diego, and obtained her Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law.
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