Title: Love at the Flower Cafe
Author: Monique Brasher
Genre: Sweet Romance (PG)
Getting a job providing flowers for a smash hit reality dating show was the plan. Falling for the bachelor, my brother's best friend, wasn't.
When I was offered the opportunity for my flower cafe to be the go-to for the florals on the set of Love in a Small Town, I jumped at the chance for life-changing exposure for my small business. I just never expected to be cast as a contestant at the last minute, competing for the heart of Flynn Jackson, the person I’d always wanted but could never have.
It should’ve been simple: play the part for a little while, get sent home, and reap the benefits. Yet from the moment I fall out of the sleigh and into his arms, it’s anything but. I’m a small town florist, he’s a famous snowboarding athlete. We’re from two different worlds, obvious from the moment I walk into the Inn on the first night.
But old feelings resurface, and he’s always everywhere with that charm and sexy smolder. I can’t escape him. The more time we spend together, the harder it is to keep the secrets that could cost me everything I’ve worked for.
Especially after he pulls me aside, and tells me the one thing I never expected: he’s got feelings for me too.
She stood as the sleigh came to a stop, tossing the blanket she’d had over her lap off to the side. My mouth went dry as I took her in, dressed from head to toe in a deep sapphire blue. Unlike many of the women before her, she wore a long-sleeved top that seemed to cling to her waist before a long skirt spilled down to her feet. She reminded me of a snow princess, elegant but still unique.
Completely and totally Harper.
“Hey.” She waved, her smile a bit unsure. She took a step toward the opening in the sleigh.
A brief second before she stepped down to exit, my eyes fell on the spot of ice on the sleigh’s step.
In a somewhat panicked move, I lunged toward her, hoping to spare her the embarrassment of landing on her rear in front of the cameras. I barely made it as her boot slid, and she fell against me in a tangle of limbs and fabric.
“Thanks,” she breathed out, her fingers clutching my shoulders. She was close enough for her hair to blow against my skin, as free and untamed as Harper herself.
“You just won the most memorable entrance of the night.” I grinned as her eyes flicked up to mine.
“Is there a trophy?” Snowflakes caught in her eyelashes, the blue beyond them even brighter from her dress. “You’re just a regular knight in shining armor, aren’t you?”
My heart rate kicked up a few beats as I peered down at her, exactly the type of familiar I craved. “You’re wearing boots with a really fancy dress.”
“This dress is hardly practical on its own. I couldn’t wear fancy shoes to match.” Her gaze never wavered from mine, though she offered me a half smile.
“A cheater and a rule breaker,” I murmured.
“You know me.”
“Always needing someone to protect you from yourself, just like tonight.”
A fuller smile played around her lips, and I wondered if the cameras picked up on the underlying current running between us. Harper was the last person I’d expected to see, but it suddenly made my night much more intriguing.
And infinitely more complicated. Nothing changed the fact that she was still my best friend’s sister.
“I can protect myself just fine.”
She lowered her legs to step down, the emotional shield I recognized too well sliding up between us. Tentatively, she removed her hands from my shoulders, then smoothed the fabric she’d wrinkled under her grip.
“That you can.”
“Am I supposed to introduce myself?”
“It feels a little silly, don’t you think?”
“Yes, go ahead!” One of the guys from behind the camera yelled. “Everyone else has so far. Just go with it.”
“This is strange,” she replied, wrinkling her nose.
“You don’t have to tell me twice.”
“Still rolling, go ahead!” he called out.
“I’m Harper Evans.” She shoved her hand out awkwardly.
“Flynn Jackson,” I replied, surprising myself by taking her hand and kissing the top of it. Her skin was chilled, with a hint of spiced apple floating on it.
“You really are playing up this knight in shining armor thing.”
If I hadn’t stood so close to her, I’d never have heard her say it. “I suddenly feel like I need to be one.”
Her cheeks pinked up as she drew in a breath, and it further confirmed that the next few weeks would be more challenging than I ever expected it to be.
“Did you know I was going to be on this?” I wished I’d paid a little more attention when they’d talked to me about the ins and outs of the show.
“I didn’t know you were going to be here.”
“I think that’s the point.” She tipped her head and gave me a soft smile.
“It’s hardly fair that everyone knew I was the bachelor, but I didn’t know about you,” I replied quietly.
“Hard to keep someone like you a secret.” She smoothed curls out of her face, and the underlying subtext of her comment wasn’t lost on me.
“Funny, I kept you a secret.” I breathed out the words so quietly I wasn’t sure that I’d uttered them out loud.
My heart squeezed, feelings rushing up inside me I thought I’d effectively buried. Not only was she off-limits but I also wasn’t any good for her. I’d spent years putting distance between us, and after all of that, here we were, thrown together in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable.
“I’ll see you inside?”
First night on the job, and I was already needing help to know what to say.
“Without a doubt.”
“I’m looking forward to spending time with you.”
Too bad I had a house full of other women I had to spend time with as well.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
I asked my BFF this question, and she quickly responded with: Flynn. The hero. He’s swoony, and not who everyone thinks he is. (He’s been a favorite with beta’s and my editor!) I think it’s a fun, fresh story that hasn’t really been told. He’s lured back home to repair his reputation through this reality dating show, and the one girl he’s always wanted ends up being a contestant on the show. There’s a lot of push/pull and banter between them. They’re both on neutral ground because it’s home, but it’s also a challenge because they’re not supposed to have feelings for each other – her brother is his best friend. But they do. And they’re on a dating show. So it’s a fun ride for everyone involved!
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Monique Brasher writes small town romance featuring dependable, swoony heroes and the smart, sometimes stubborn women that fall in love with them. When she’s not busy writing about cozy happily ever after’s, you'll find her re-watching Harry Potter or Marvel with her kids, binge-watching shows (current fave is Blacklist) with her husband of fifteen years, or snuggling up with a book.
Due to juggling writing with homeschooling her 4 kids, she drinks about as much coffee as a Gilmore Girl while also being a cat mom to their sweet ginger kitty, Branch and their new lab puppy, Thor.
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