At long last, it’s the official release day celebration for Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet (aka, “Jane & Bingley’s story” and the sequel to Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match) – YAY!!!!
(Cue the music to the Eddie Murphy version of “Party All the Time” – circa 1985 – I’ve been hearing that song in my head all week!!)
We’ve got more music, a movie clip, tasty treats, an exclusive excerpt, and GIVEAWAYS!!! So, come on in and join the party!
I suspect many of you may know the premise of the novel (and some of you have actually read it already – *HUG!* – thank you!!), but for anyone who doesn’t, here are some details about the book:
Everyone thought Beth Ann Bennet and Dr. Will Darcy had an unexpected romance in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match (Perfect #1, January 2013). Now, Beth’s best friend, Jane Henderson, and Will’s first cousin, Bingley McNamara, begin their own unlikely love story in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet (Perfect #2), which starts at the Darcy/Bennet wedding when they find themselves in the roles of maid of honor and best man for the newlyweds.
Jane is an interning school psychologist and a woman who wears an angelic mask in public, but she’s not as sweet tempered as she’d like everyone to believe. Turns out, she may have just crossed paths with the one person who’ll unnerve her enough to get her to reveal her true self.
As for Bingley, he’s a wealthy, flirtatious and compulsively social guru of finance, who likes to wager on stocks and, let’s face it, on just about anything that strikes his fancy. But this dedicated ladies’ man may have finally met the woman who’ll challenge his bachelor ways!
Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet…where life’s biggest gamble is the game of love.
It was SO fun to write this novel! And, because it was *my* book, LOL, I got to include a bunch of my favorite things: Songs I love, i.e., “It Had to Be You” – as sung by Harry Connick Jr. – which was not only in “When Harry Met Sally” (see below) but, also, it was the song my husband and I danced to first at our own wedding (!!); foods that make my mouth water (Thai, Moroccan, turtle cheesecake, and salted caramel gelato – in addition to wedding cake, of course!); and movies I’m fond of and enjoy getting to watch over and over again…
Jane pointed an accusatory finger at the red smudge on Bingley’s shirt. “Slipped your mind already, eh? The lipstick? Clearly, you’ve already found another victim, and you didn’t even wait until after the bouquet toss.”
Bingley didn’t miss a step as they continued to dance, but he fingered his collar thoughtfully, almost as if he were lost in a memory. To Jane, it was like seeing a mask drop from his face, if only for an instant.
Then his expression changed.
His lips twisted into an absolutely devilish grin, which he paired with an eye-widening/eyebrow-raising movement that succeeded in giving him the most unsettling, most oxymoronic air of…rakish innocence.
What a conniving little rascal.
“You’re awfully curious about my whereabouts given that you want nothing to do with me yourself,” he said with the measured, pleasing tones of a late-night radio host. “What do you care about a—oh, how did you put it? Ah, yes, a ‘manipulative and insincere’ man like me? Why does it matter to you what I’m doing, hmm, chickie?”
“Do not call me chickie.”
His grin broadened as he did a little swivel step, spinning her around once. “Sorry, sweet pea. Is that better? Would you prefer plum cake? Honey bunch? Sugar bear? Darling Jane?”
“As you wish,” he said with a laugh. “So, Just Jane, you still haven’t answered my question.”
“I’m not curious. And I don’t care what you do. Forget I said anything.”
“No worries, Just Jane. I’ve already forgotten everything you’ve ever said to me, including, but not limited to—” He lowered his voice. “Those little moans you made when I kissed your neck and sucked slowly on your lower lip.” There was a hardness in his tone, but he laughed for their audience on the sidelines, just like he’d done at the church. Looking every bit the delighted and amiable best man. Nodding at both his parents and hers as they passed near that side of the room. Twirling her again, just for show, a little faster this time. Fast enough that it was dizzying, and she felt the full effect of her lightheaded state.
Despite the cloudiness in her brain, though, something critically important became clear to her, and she needed to address it. She stopped dancing.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t like you.”
He sighed. “Yeah. Noted.”
“But—” She paused. “Look, can we talk over there?”
He nodded and let her lead him to an open area by the dessert table. The scent of cut slices of wedding cake infiltrated her senses. So much vanilla frosting and sliced strawberries. She got a sugar rush just from inhaling.
“Bingley,” she said, “whatever our personal feelings are, they don’t matter. We’re both really close to Beth and Will. Our paths are going to cross—probably a lot more often than either of us would like. I mean, seriously, if the Reverend Elton, our parents and all of these witnesses weren’t here, I’d love to strangle you for trying to play me this summer. But, for the sake of those we care about, we’re going to have to just be friends…or die trying to act the part.”
He smiled at her, though she couldn’t tell if it was more affectionate or patronizing, the way one might regard a naïve child. “Don’t you ever watch movies? Men and women can’t be friends. Not really. Not if both people are straight.” He shrugged. “We’re human. The sexual attraction will always get in the way. Every time.”
He drew closer to her and whispered, “Face it. This is not destined to be the start of a beautiful friendship. I, for one, can’t say I’ve ever spent ten seconds thinking about the undergarments of my friends. But the thought of what you’re wearing underneath that red dress has been plaguing me for hours. Zebra stripes? Leopard spots? Purple polka dots?” He eyed her bridesmaid gown with scrutiny, as if he might be able to see through the flimsy fabric.
“Well, stop thinking about it.” She snatched a plate with a piece of cake on it from the dessert table and thrust it at him. “Here, eat this. Just…just focus on something else.”
Bingley stood very still—the cake plate in his hand. For a second, he seemed lost. Unsure of himself.
Jane inhaled a few times, willing herself to calm down and to stop thinking about his great kissing ability, his skillful dancing or his incredibly winning manners, which flowed freely whenever he decided to flip on his charisma switch. It happened often.
Yes, guys made ridiculous bets with each other. She wasn’t even all that angry about that anymore, although she’d prefer for him to leave her baby brother out of his wagering in the future. But she just realized why Bingley was so dangerous to her heart. Why she’d been seeing red flags because of him, ever since that night in the coat room.
During the engagement party, she’d felt herself get attached to him too fast. It had frightened her, and she was almost relieved when his bet gave her an excuse to distance herself from him. There was a reason she never got very close to men—at least not for long. She didn’t think twice about smiling at guys, flirting with them or casually dating them, but she knew better than to get emotionally invested in a relationship. They could hurt her. They had in the past. And, most of the time, they really didn’t care about more than her body anyway.
Bingley had seemed to be one of those guys, too, at first. He talked the game of a big player and appeared perfectly happy to act the part as well. But now her eye finally caught what her intuition had sensed a couple of months ago. That there were other desires hiding behind his smile.
Standing in front of him now, with the way he was studying her so questioningly, Jane felt the full force of this insight. There was something about Bingley’s combination of charm and insecurity that hinted he was looking for more from a woman than he was letting on. Certainly more than she was willing to give.
Abruptly, he broke off a corner section of the white cake and lifted it until it hovered between them like a spongy ghost. He licked his lips but, instead of eating the cake himself, he offered it to her. This was so unexpected that her jaw dropped open and, before she realized it, he’d slipped the bit of wedding cake into her mouth.
As she chewed, their gazes met again and something she definitely did not want to acknowledge passed between them.
He shook his head. “I thought you looked hungry,” he said, raising one dark eyebrow and handing the plate back to her. “When you’re ready to be honest with yourself, Just Jane, you let me know. Until then, I’ll playact ‘friendship’ with you in front of Will and Beth, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s real. It’s ‘manipulative and insincere’…and, let’s not forget, it’s your idea.”
And, with that, Bingley McNamara strode away from her and out of the hotel ballroom.
One person will get an autographed paperback copy of Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match. (The ebook, by the way, is on sale worldwide on Kindle & Nook through the end of the month for just 99c/77p – see links below!)
Another person will get a copy of the “When Harry Met Sally” Special Edition DVD. (So you, too, can watch the “Baby Fish Mouth” scene to your heart’s content, LOL.)
And a third person will get an According to Jane canvas tote bag because…well, why not?! 🙂
To be entered to win, just leave a comment below about your choice of wedding cake, or your favorite dance music at a wedding, or a romantic comedy film you especially loved, or your impressions of my modern Jane & Bingley from the excerpt! I’ll draw the winners’ names around midday (Central Time) on July 31st and will post them here. Best of luck to everyone!
If you’d like to check out my stories, here are a number of links to the ebook copies of BOTH novels, as well as the link to the brand-new edition of the Perfect Bet in paperback!
Perfect Bet buy links: US – Kindle * UK – Kindle * CA – Kindle * AU – Kindle * US – Nook * UK – Nook * iBooks * Kobo * The Paperback
Perfect Match buy links: US – Kindle * UK – Kindle * CA – Kindle * AU – Kindle * US – Nook * UK – Nook
Thanks for celebrating the release with me!!!!