Heat Level: Sensual
Word Count/Length: 55,000 words/166 pages
Stephanie Holbrook has finally found a job she really loves: working as an assistant to Conrad Finch in a small regional theater that’s about a three dollars and a power outage from being torn down. Stephanie wishes her love life would be as perfect as her job. She’ll be thirty on her next birthday and she still hasn’t found Mr. Right. According to Stephanie, Mr. Right has to be strong and brave, with great values and good looks. A guy a lot like Superman.
When Doug Castleberry shows up at her niece’s birthday party dressed as Superman, Stephanie is positive he’s not the real deal. Sure, he’s great with kids and he’s kind of cute. But he’s just a high school teacher making extra money by dressing up for kid’s parties. Hardly the strong, brave, and drop-dead gorgeous guy she’s looking for.
As the theater teeters ever closer to the edge of disaster, Doug proves to be a better man than Stephanie had ever imagined. Could he be the Superman she’s been looking for all along?
If the perfect man existed, why did he keep eluding her?
Stephanie Holbrook felt a yearning for romance as she watched the couple tucked into the corner of the Starbucks in which she and her sister, Liz, sat with their coffee. The couple had their heads together, his knee touching against hers, the man dipping his finger into the foam of his drink and holding it out so the woman could lick it off. They might as well have held a sign that said, ‘We’re crazy about each other.’
“You haven’t heard three words I’ve said.” Liz brought Stephanie back from her reverie while rocking Max’s stroller with her foot.
Stephanie smiled at her sister. “Sure I have. Sophie’s birthday party.”
Liz smirked back at Stephanie and cut her eyes to the couple. “Uh huh.”
“Wait until they have kids.”
“Oh, for goodness sake, it’s a birthday party, not a wedding.”
“Twenty-five.” Liz looked about ready to cry. “I invited twenty-five children. All the books say child’s age plus one.”
“So if Sophie were turning twenty-four, everything would be fine.”
Liz ignored the comment. “I was just going to invite Sophie’s friends from school. But Millie Gardner was in playgroup with Sophie and Millie’s mom, Rona, is best friends with Gretchen Peters, whose son Miles was also in playgroup. And since I had to invite Miles, I had to invite the rest of the playgroup. And Sarah Terrell was in playgroup with Sophie and was also in Mommy and Me swim time, so I invited the guppies from the pool. And that meant that I had to invite the dancers from Tippy Tap. The next thing I knew, the whole thing had mushroomed out of control. Twenty-five kids!”
As though his mother’s distress had pinched him telepathically, Max woke crying from his nap. Stephanie took her nephew from the stroller and bounced him around on her shoulder. “Hush, it’s not so bad.”
Stephanie, although crooning to Max, might have been speaking to Liz. It was just a birthday. A woman whose biggest worry was a child’s birthday party didn’t really have much to worry about. Liz had a nice house, two kids, and a part-time job she could do at home. Moreover, she had a husband who believed she was a direct descendant of Aphrodite. It wasn’t that Stephanie wanted what Liz had, exactly. Steve, a tax attorney, was about as exciting as yesterday’s socks. But compared to Stephanie’s life—living in a one bedroom walkup where she shared nightly Lean Cuisines with a cat named —Liz’s life won hands down.
Max was still fussing and Liz took him from her sister. “It’s okay, Maxie. It’ll all work out.” As though his mother’s voice were a magic charm, Max settled back to sleep on her shoulder.
The couple got up and walked from the café arm in arm, and Stephanie felt another twinge. The man she had been dating, a guy named Eric who bore a striking resemblance to Orlando Bloom, had left her to go dog sledding in the . She knew he wouldn’t be back. Eric had never been the kind of guy who would settle in and start mowing the lawn.
“Oh, honey, you’ll find someone,” Liz was looking at her with some concern and Stephanie knew her feelings were written on her sleeve. She wished her sister wasn’t able to see through her quite so easily.
“Chocolate croissant?” Liz got up and went to order beforeStephanie could object. She came back, split the croissant in two,and handed Stephanie half.
“You’re better off without a guy like that. You deserve someone who cares about you, not some selfish ass hat.”
“He’s not the kind of guy you settle down with.” Stephanie wasn’t sure why she would want to defend Eric, but there it was.
“What kind of guy is he?”
“You know. The kind that likes adventure. He’s brave. He’s daring.”
“He’s in the with a bunch of sled dogs.”
Stephanie played with the crumbs on her plate, the room about to swim away as tears welled in her eyes. “I can’t believe he just up and left. Another woman would have been bad enough, but he left me for a malamute named Snowball.”
Liz put her hand on her sister’s. “He’s a jerk.”
“No, he’s not. He’s an adventurer. He’s strong. He’s brave. He’s—”
“Gone. And good riddance.” Liz gave Stephanie’s hand a squeeze.
“I’m never going to find Mr. Right.”
“Maybe you need to look for Mr. Not-so-bad.”
Stephanie pulled her hand away and wiped her eyes with the napkin. “I don’t want Mr. Not-so-bad. I’m not looking for so-so.”
Liz cast her eyes to her sleeping son then back to her sister. “Who is it you’re looking for, exactly?”
“I’m looking for… Someone tall and strong and drop-dead gorgeous. Someone who believes in love. Someone who will defend his beliefs.”
“Someone who can leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Liz swooped her coffee cup through the air and landed it on the table. “A bird, a plane, no Superman!”
“Okay, I’m looking for Superman. Why can’t I have Superman?”
“Because he’s a cartoon character.” Liz shook her head at her sister. “Let me introduce you to Brad. He’s a nice guy, a tax attorney at Steve’s firm.”
Stephanie immediately changed the subject.
July 29: My Devotional Thoughts
July 30: Rose & Beps Blog
Aug 1: Coffee Beans & Love Scenes
Aug 2: The Divas of Desire
Aug 3: It's All About the Romance!
Aug 4: Musings And Ramblings
Aug 5: Sharing Links and Wisdom
Aug 6: Musings of a Writing Reader
Aug 7: Crystal's Many Reviews
Aug 8: Brianna's Bookshelf
Aug 9: Triad Literary
Aug 10: deal sharing aunt
Aug 11: Salacious Reads
About the Author:
Ute (who pronounces her name Oooh-tah) Carbone is a multi-published author of women’s fiction and romance. Her romantic comedy, The P-Town Queen, was selected as Champagne Books novel of the year for 2012. She and her husband reside in . They have two grown sons.
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