Love at First Hate, an all new not-to-be missed enemies to lovers contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author Denise Grover Swank and USA Today bestselling author A.R. Casella is available now!
The first book in a new series by Denise Grover Swank and A.R. Casella, authors of the USA Today bestselling Asheville Brewing series.
Blogging about bad dates used to be fun, but a girl can only take so much foolishness. So I broke up with my job.
Okay, full disclosure, I was fired. It’s a long, sordid tale, involving my sourdough starter—RIP, Fred!—and my ex-boss’s serious lack of humor.
Newly funemployed and in need of a break, I go to Asheville to dogsit for my sister…and stumble onto a scoop big enough to put my fake-dating days behind me forever.
Augusta Glower, local success story, wrote a bestseller about the self-help group she started. People think her system works, and copycat Bad Luck Clubs have sprung up nationwide. Something feels off, though, and a little poking around by yours truly suggests she stole the idea.
There’s one problem. I have to prove it, and the guy she ripped off—super-hot house flipper Caleb Reynolds—seems to…well, hate me. Which is too bad since his secrets aren’t the only thing I’d like to peel away.
* * *
Molly O’Shea is my worst nightmare.
Is she sexy as sin? Well…yeah. Does she smell like honeysuckle and trouble? No doubt. Is she determined to dig up my secrets with a backhoe? I’m pretty sure she got a two-week rental. But I’ll never talk. If the reason I started the club gets out, my whole life will implode.
So why is she so damn irresistible?
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It’s steeper as we approach the summit, and I turn back to make sure she’s still behind me and not faltering on the loose rock. When we reach the steps to the observation area, I let her go first so I can watch her reaction. Around the corner there’s a stone patio, and she gasps as she walks across it to the low rock wall surrounding the space.
The sunrise is everything I hoped it would be. Clouds hang low in the east, providing enough cover to let the rays of the sun paint the sky with pinks and deep purples. Beneath the sky stretch the peaks and valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A thin river runs in the distance. Rhododendrons blossom all around us.
I move next to her and see she’s shivering in that stupid T-shirt and shorts. It’s windy up here and colder than on the trail. At least we were moving back there and protected by the trees and bushes. Now that we’ve stopped and are standing out in the open, we’re being pelted by gusts of cool wind. Without thinking, I press my side into hers and wrap my arm around her back, covering her upper arm with my hand. I can feel goose bumps under my fingers.
“What are you doing?” she asks, but it’s not adversarial. She’s challenging me to admit the truth.
You’re sexy as hell, and I want you more than I’ve wanted a woman in a very long time.
But while that’s true, it’s not the only reason I drew her close. She’s also cold, and I don’t like seeing her uncomfortable.
Somehow, admitting to that seems more dangerous.
“How many times do I have to tell you that I want to see the sunrise?” I ask, purposely sounding annoyed. “You’re freezing, so you’d be complaining in about three seconds. Now I get at least three more seconds to enjoy the view in peace.”
She looks up at me, and I can tell she has a smart-aleck response on the tip of her tongue, but she doesn’t speak.
Jesus, I want to kiss her, not to keep her quiet like I’ve insinuated, but to taste her lips, her tongue…
I want to taste every part of her.
From the look of surprise on her face, she must see my raw hunger. When she jerks her gaze back to the living work of art before us, I can’t decide whether I’m relieved or disappointed.
Her body leans into mine, though, and I feel the heat of her nestled against me.
“It’s beautiful,” she says.
This view never ceases to steal my breath and remind me that the world is bigger than my problems. But for the first time since I began making these hikes, I’m sharing it with someone other than a random fellow hiker encountered on the trail. I’m spending this moment that I usually reserve for myself with Molly, and the two of us are in our own little world.
I glance down at her, smiling to myself at the awe on her face. One of the many faces of Molly O’Shea, and I have the disadvantage of being attracted to every one of them.
About Denise Grover Swank
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in her own mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.
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About A.R. Casella
A.R. CASELLA is a freelance developmental editor by day, writer by night. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a variable number of fish. Her pastimes include chasing around her toddler, baking delicious treats, and occasional bouts of crocheting. Any Luck at All, co-written with New York Times bestselling author Denise Grover Swank, is her first book.