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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Magic

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and there's always so much hype about it that die-hard romantic I am, I sometimes feel jaded. My husband, who seriously does make an effort to be romantic year-round, calls it "Amateur Hour." Every few years, though, he surprises me with something special. We'll see what sort of year this one turns out to be. ;-)

Now when it comes to my writing, though, Valentine's Day is a favorite. There's so much fun you can have with the holiday, and of course I had to make sure my Holiday Hearts series from Ellora's Cave has a Valentine's Day book at the center of it. So please take a look at my new release:

Valentine’s Heart
Holiday Hearts #3
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Out now from Ellora’s Cave

Valentine Holiday loves being single. As the youngest member of the Holiday family, he’s in no hurry for the family magic to catch up with him and find him the love of his life. Right before Valentine’s Day, he begins getting emails from a dating site he never signed up for. He’s sure it’s just a hoax—until he meets Corazon Lopez.

Cora doesn’t have time for romance. The busy social worker is sure her friend must have signed her up when emails start arriving about her “perfect match”. Then she meets Val Holiday in person and all bets are off. Between forced vacation time and a free trip to a tropical resort, the fates seem determined to throw them together—along with a private suite and plenty of sex toys.

Val and Cora realize they’re in for the sexual frolic of their lives. They’re not so sure about falling in love, but the Holiday magic may have other ideas.

Excerpt: (PG-13-ish)

The instant she walked into the coffee shop, she spotted him. Even though he wasn’t standing, his presence seemed to overpower the crowded cafĂ©. When he looked up, smiled and stood, her heart fluttered and her long-neglected girl parts clenched then softened in reaction. Damn, he is perfect. She moved toward where he sat by the small, gas fireplace in an orange easy chair, his laptop bag reserving the one across from him. He’d tossed a brown heathered tweed jacket over the arm of the chair and stood in an impeccably cut French blue dress shirt and a pair of jeans faded to almost white. Cora’s mouth practically watered.

“Cora? Hi, I’m Val.” He held out one hand and scooped the canvas messenger bag from the other chair. “Why don’t you have a seat while I grab us something to drink? You look exhausted.” Then he winced, as if realizing that hadn’t exactly been complimentary.

Cora couldn’t help but smile. Maybe he was more of a geek than suggested by his profile. The chair looked so comfy and her feet ached like hell. Once again, the little cartoon devil sitting on her shoulder gave her a nudge. Why not? It was just a cup of coffee. “I wasn’t really planning to stay, but sure. A cinnamon, skim-milk latte would be great.”

“Ummm—okay.” His dark brows lowered over those incredible changeable eyes in confusion then he dropped his bag into his own chair and turned. “Be right back.”

She watched him walk away and wait in line, impressed by the snug fit of his faded jeans across lean but graceful thighs and a slim, sculpted ass that made her want to drool. She’d bet he was a runner—long and lean but full of endurance. A man like that could probably go all night.

Goodness, what was she thinking? The imaginary angel whacked Cora upside the head with her halo.

Both angel and devil were forgotten when Val returned. He set the tray down on the small table between them, rotating it so Cora’s foamy drink was in front of her and a large cup of what looked like plain coffee was poised in front of Val. On one side sat a plate with an enormous raspberry scone while the other side boasted an icing-topped chocolate chip muffin.

He grinned like a wicked ten-year-old and shrugged. “I was hungry and didn’t know what you liked, so I got my two favorites. Whichever you pick, I’ll enjoy the other.”

She was probably absorbing calories just from looking at them, but Val was smiling at her with such a hopeful look on his face. Vowing to subsist on rice cakes and celery all weekend, she picked up the chocolate chip muffin and moved it to her side of the table.

“Oh good. I really like the scones best.” Either he was the ultimate gentleman or just a consummate liar. She’d seen the momentary flicker of disappointment when she’d chosen the chocolate.

“Val, before we go any further—”

“Cora, you seem like an amazing woman—”

They started to speak at the same time then both broke off with self-conscious smiles. Val tipped his head. “Ladies first.”

After a fortifying sip of her coffee, Cora made a face. “I really just came here to tell you this was a mistake.”

Val stopped chewing mid-bite, and his eyes bugged out. He swallowed and chuckled. “Funny, that’s exactly why I came too.”

“I didn’t even sign up for Compu-Cupid.” Cora picked at her muffin before breaking off a tiny crumb to nibble on. “I think my roommate Marla must have done it.”

“I’ve been blaming one of my siblings,” he said with a wry grin that just about charmed the pants off her. “I didn’t sign up either.”

She laughed. “Maybe that computer really did know what it was doing. It matched up two people who didn’t want to be there. At least this way neither of us is disappointed that the other one isn’t interested.”

His dark brows furrowed. “Don’t you think that’s stretching coincidence awfully far? And what exactly is Compu-Cupid, anyway? Had you ever heard of them before this?”

“No.” She tried to think back over what little TV she watched. “But honestly, I don’t get out much. I’m not very savvy about the singles scene.”

Val nodded. “I imagine social work is one of those jobs where no matter how much you do, it’s never enough.”

Good grief, a man who actually got it. She nibbled on another chunk of muffin and nodded. “It’s endless. And each case just breaks your heart.”

“I’m sure. So what do you do to unwind between cases, Cora? Pretty name, by the way.” He lounged back in the chair, drinking his coffee and eating his scone—utterly non-threatening except for those gorgeous eyes and that killer smile.

“Between cases? There is no between. Mostly I work, sleep then work some more.” Belatedly she registered the second part of his sentence. “Oh—and thanks. It’s short for Corazon—”

“Spanish for heart,” he finished for her. “I saw that on your profile and wondered if it was someone’s idea of a joke, matching up a Corazon with a Valentine.”

Cora rolled her eyes. “Could be.” Marla did have a sick sense of humor, but where would she have met Val—and if she had, why wouldn’t she have kept him for herself?

“Especially since it’s February.”

Was it? Cora had to stop and think. How had January slipped by without her noticing? Then she remembered this morning’s court case. Yep. February third. Damn, she was losing it.

He frowned again and she had to resist a totally inappropriate urge to reach out and smooth the line from between his brows. “So anyway, like I was saying, I can’t find any record of Compu-Cupid existing, except for its big, bright-red website. I can’t even hack into the site—it won’t let me see anything besides the home page and my own profile. If we had any mutual acquaintances, I’d swear it was an elaborate hoax.”

Cora shrugged. “Unless you know someone who works for the county or a parent of one of my clients, I doubt it. Like I said, I don’t get out much.”

“Well, I’m no hermit, but I can’t think of anyone I know at the county building. Certainly not someone who could pull off something like this.” He drained his coffee and popped the last of his scone into his mouth. “Are you hungry? For like, real food? This was a great snack, but it’s six o’clock and my stomach is starting to demand protein.”

As slim as he was, he probably had an awesome metabolism, the rat. Cora had only eaten half her muffin, and she knew she shouldn’t eat another thing all night if she wanted to fit into her jeans tomorrow. She started to shake her head then made the mistake of looking up into his eyes. “Oh, all right.” The words were out of her mouth before she knew she was going to say them. “But it isn’t a date, right? We’re just going to eat while we try to figure this thing out.”

Val shrugged and smiled. “If that’s what you want, fine. There’s a great little Indian place down the block—or Korean if you prefer. If you’re not into ethnic, there’s a killer hot-dog stand on the next street over.”

Hot dogs—yeah, that would do wonders for her backside. And she’d never tried the Indian place. Somehow it seemed too exciting and exotic to go into alone. “Indian.” She sure hoped she’d find something on the menu that looked familiar.

He stood and held out his hand. Cora let him help her to her feet and couldn’t help a purely sexual shiver as his warm hand engulfed her smaller one. The heat from his touch zinged all the way to her pussy. Oh lord, it really had been too long since she’d had sex. She was wet and wanting, only half an hour after meeting the man. Tonight she’d have to dig out that vibrator Marla had given her for her last birthday.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!


Amber Skyze said...

Happy Valentine's Day Cindy. I have this in my reader. Hoping to get to it soon. :)

Paris said...

Happy Valentine's Day! I always love your holiday stories:)

Tina Donahue said...

"Amateur Hour" - I love it - your hubby sounds like a hoot. Lucky girl. :)

Katalina Leon said...

Happy Valentine's Day Cindy! I'm sure "Valentine's Heart" is going to be a spicy sweet Valentine's Day treat for a lot of happy readers.

jean hart stewart said...

Love the dialogue....I'm sure this just gets better and better..Jean

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks everyone! Happy Valentine's Day.

Tessie Bradford said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Cindy! I'm looking forward to reading this story!

anny cook said...

This is such a lovely, loving book! I LOVED it...:-)

Fran Lee said...

Love this one, girl! Going to go get it now!

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