Two ambitious people team up to prove themselves to their families—and find there may be more to their partnership than just business…
Elizabeth Brannigan is determined to show her father she’s capable of running the family business. Saving his struggling Chicago bar seems like the perfect project. But she’ll need a little help dealing with the rough crowd. Who better to assist her than the handsome co-owner of a thriving Irish pub? Of course, with so much work to do, there are bound to be a few late nights…
Colin O’Leary’s father passed away before he could prove to him that he wasn’t a screw-up. Now he wants to show his brother he’s responsible enough to own a bar of his own—and Elizabeth may be able to help him. But when their professional aspirations clash, tempers—and passions—flare. Are they mature enough to mix business with pleasure—or will they have to choose between the two?
Elizabeth has been researching bars in the area and has just arrived at O’Leary’s. This is the first time she meets Colin.
This bar was doing something right.
The bartender came over as she was reading the menu. “Hi. What can I get you tonight?”
She looked up and swallowed hard. The man in front of her was mouthwateringly gorgeous. His mussed black hair framed a face dominated by a happy-go-lucky smile. She lost her ability to form coherent sentences. “Uh…”
He tilted his head and studied her face. “You look beat. Tough day?”
She nodded. What was wrong with her? She didn’t do this around men. She’d had no fewer than eight different men try to pick her up tonight. This one was just doing his job, and she had to fight for focus.
“How about an Irish coffee?” Dark brows arched over navy eyes.
She cleared her throat. “Sounds good.”
He walked away. She studied the menu. It wasn’t fancy. Like the rest of the bars, it offered burgers and hot wings, but they had more traditional pub fare, like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie. Her mouth watered at the thought of real food. The drink menu was plain as well, but at least displayed a list of drinks with the basic ingredients. Pictures and descriptions would’ve been better, but this bar had already exceeded the competition from the other Chicago neighborhood pubs she’d visited.
The bartender returned with her Irish coffee. She sipped and found it perfect. The whipped cream puffed and floated on top and she used her straw to scoop some up. She ran her tongue over the cream-laden straw and heard a groan.
She looked up to find the bartender looking at her. Replacing the straw, she waited for an explanation.
His mouth quirked up at the corner. “Sorry. I couldn’t help it. That was downright sinful.”
Her cheeks flamed. She was blushing? No. The alcohol from earlier in the evening was catching up with her and colliding with her exhaustion. He broke eye contact and mumbled, “Give me a holler if you need anything else.”
He walked away and picked up a conversation with other customers. She tried not to be obvious in studying him and the way he interacted with people. This was something the other bars had been missing as well. A personal touch.
She finished her drink, tossed cash on the bar, and took a few moments to wander toward the back of the bar. There was a small stage, a jukebox, and dartboards. Down a dimly lit hallway where the bathrooms. Too tired to think, she opted to leave. Part of her wanted to talk to some of the patrons, get their perspective as to why they came here, but it would have to wait.
By morning, hopefully Meg would have information about The Irish Pub and, with any luck, the books wouldn’t be as bad as she imagined. As she wound her way back toward the front, raucous laughter exploded at the bar. The sexy bartender was enjoying something.
He caught her eye as she passed. His laughter made his eyes twinkle with mischief, his smile lighting his face, like he had the best life in the world. She wondered what it would be like to feel that even for a night. It wasn’t that she was unhappy; she liked her life very much, in fact, but it had been too long since she’d experienced a laugh that shook her whole body.
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I love writing contemporary romance because it allows me to be comfortable about writing what I know, what I’m familiar with. For example, I write stories set in Chicago because I grew up there. My world building in some cases is easier than if I wrote paranormal or sci-fi. However, writing contemporary romance has some unique challenges that you don’t find in other genres. For instance, I can’t rely on having an alien race to create conflict for my characters. My hero and heroine won’t ever be rushing to save the country from terrorists.
Contemporary romance, and my books specifically, are about average, everyday people. Rarely do I introduce extraordinary circumstances. Something to Prove is the third book in the O’Leary series. Across the books, I have a teacher, a couple of bar owners, a real estate agent, and, okay, one self-made millionaire. For the most part, my characters are people you might know in real life.
As much as I love the comfort of writing about real-ish people, it also means that I have to figure out conflict. For me, the conflict almost always comes from within the characters. I like to choose a hero and heroine who are opposites. Fundamentally, they might be similar, but on the surface, they’re opposites. That creates fun tension and conflict. In addition, each person enters a relationship with his or her own problems and baggage they need to overcome to find the HEA. That emotional piece is often a good source of conflict.
Since each character is different and they have their own histories, that’s what keeps the romance fresh. I can use the same plot or trope and because the characters are different, the story will be fresh. The characters use their voices to remain unique. At some point in my writing career, my approach might change, but for now, I’m happy to let the characters lead the way.
Shannyn is a former English teacher, who now works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.
Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.
After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”
So she did.
That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to where she is today—agented with a debut ebook coming out with Kensington in late 2012.
She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.
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