Monday, April 22, 2024

Excerpt Spotlight ~ WILL YOU (PRETEND) MARRY ME by Christi Barth

Will You (Pretend) Marry Me (Swan Cove, #3)
by: Christi Barth
Series: Swan Cove
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
Release Date: April 17, 2024

Mega-pop star Kaia has a secret identity. Nobody knows she’s also ordinary Abigail Dilworth. With her latest world tour over, Abigail can finish her degree by student teaching. She’ll be incognito at a coastal Maine high school. When the semester’s over, then she’ll worry about whether to teach or continue her meteoric singing career. Except she’s off to a horrible start. There’s a meet-hate with the vice-principal (with a sexy academic look that can’t be ignored, but should be). And that’s the best thing to happen day one…

Everett Reynolds is content juggling his career as vice principal and teacher….and his secret career as an analyst for the EPA. As for a personal life? Well, he’s got his friends. Anything more leads to heartbreak—he knows that from experience. He definitely doesn’t need an entitled (and, yeah, stunning) pop princess pretending to know how to handle his students.

Abigail and Everett don’t like each other. Do they want each other? Beside the point. But circumstances lead to them needing each other. Who knew that Abigail asking him to be Kaia’s fake fiance would only be the tip of the favor iceberg? As they’re thrown together more, they learn that the difference between hate and love is razor-thin. And that secrets-–including how they really feel—always come out…
It gave him an idea. Another idea. And this one had half the chance of working than the original did. It was a reach. A stretch that would require a fire engine’s extension ladder. “You know, if you want to sample more of my cooking, I have a loaf of oatmeal chocolate chip bread at home.”

“You bake, too?” Even in the moon-shadowed darkness, it was easy to see Abigail’s face melt into a dreamy expression.

The bread wasn’t the big deal. Getting her into his house was the big deal. “It’s chemistry. Which is my specialty. The bread makes for a quick breakfast on the way out the door. Ergo, efficient.”

“Ergo? You’ve never sounded more like a science teacher.” Abigail twisted to shift her legs across his. Now, to keep her balance, she also had to link her arms around his neck.

Everett was not complaining.

Even through the solid inch of puff in their two coats, the shape of her breast against his chest was easily defined. The silk of her hair tickled his cheek. The view of the stars was a distant memory. The only thing he was looking at was her gorgeous, teasing smile.

“I’m happy to let you sample a slice.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “You’ll bring me one tomorrow?”

“Why wait? You could have it right now.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “My house is a ten-minute walk through the rest of the forest. And Tasha’s hanging with her squad.”

“Reaaaaaally?” The way Abigail slow-played the word made it clear that she saw right through his oh-so-casual mention.

“Swan Cove is small, remember?”

“Convenient, as well. Is that the modern male twist on come up and see my etchings? Come and sample my cooking?”

Obviously. “You brought up the subject. I’m just pointing out two equal options. It’s the same amount of time to turn around and head back to the high school or go to my house with a roaring fire and fresh baked bread.”

She tipped her head to rub it against his. “If your quizzes are this easy, I’ll bet your entire AP chem class has an A.”

The simple jibe in no way diminished his desire. Everett liked being able to talk and joke during sex. It was best when it was intense and fun.

Suddenly, he didn’t care about the risk anymore.

He didn’t care if it was a one-in-a-million chance of her saying yes.

Everett had to take his shot. Because all those other things paled in comparison to how much he wanted to be with Abigail Dilworth.

He reached up to cup her gloved hands with his. “No pressure, though. To choose either option. Except for this one more thing. That I hope is a deciding factor.”

“What’s that?”

Here went nothing. “I’d really like to spend an hour with you on my couch. In front of the fire.” Don’t stop halfway. Just go for it. “ I can’t stop thinking about you, Abigail. Giving in and spending more time with you has to be the solution.”

She gave him a slow triple blink. “Just what every woman wants. A man who gives in.”

Copernicus. I didn’t mean—”

“I know what you meant. I enjoy teasing you. You go these long stretches where you’re quite serious. I take it as a personal challenge to rattle you out of that. Then your wry wit is revealed.”

“I’m an open book. I’ll reveal whatever you want to see.”

“Ooh, dirty talk in the midst of all this pristine snow. And so close to the school, too!” Laughter burbled out of her.

The teasing would be fine. After she gave him an answer. “Abigail.”

“Everett,” she said, echoing his serious tone. Then she wriggled her butt. “I’m the one who climbed on your lap. Isn’t that enough answer for you?”

Holy Hawking.

It sure was.

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USA TODAY bestselling author Christi Barth earned a Master’s degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately, she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series.

Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

Photo courtesy of Amy Jones Photography

Places to find Christi Barth:

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