Welcome To Callender House
Olivia Callender needs a wake-up call. With a hundred-year-old hotel to rehabilitate, a staff of lovable eccentrics to marshal, and guests to keep happy, she has no one to blame but herself for daydreaming through the past few years--or her uncle's threat to take over the hotel.
And Rhys Spencer isn't helping. When the sexy British chef checked in, Olivia's common sense checked out. She doesn't have time to let him distract her, even if he is feeding her hottest fantasies. But the heat they create together is too much to resist, and when they spend a luscious night in his bed, Olivia truly wakes up for the first time--only to realize just what a mess her beloved hotel is. Throw in a pair of bumbling saboteurs, a cranky ex-ballerina, a gorilla costume, a lovesick writer, and tofurkey for fifty, and Olivia has her work cut out for her. All of which might be easier than convincing a certain brash Brit that he needs to wake up, too--and realize that he's hungry for her love...
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May 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Room Service by Amy Garvey
Olivia Callender was fed up with Monday even before she stepped outside her family's hundred-year-old hotel and found the brass nameplate above the door listing to one side like a drunken sailor. From now on, she thought to herself as she frowned at the tarnished sign, Monday was on notice.
What she needed was a time machine. Really, it was sort of amazing that no one had invented one yet when you could watch TV on your cell phone and your refrigerator could talk to you. At any rate, a time machine would certainly solve a lot of her problems.
If she had one, she mused as she backed away from the hotel's revolving door, she could skip today altogether and avoid lunch with her uncle. She could spend the crisp September day walking around Manhattan instead. She bit back a smile as two businessmen strode by like a pair of matched horses in their gray suits and black briefcases. If she had a time machine, she could spend the day walking around the Manhattan--or the hotel--of her childhood.
Poor old thing, she thought as she tilted her head to glance up at the building's eleven sturdy red brick floors, and the gabled windows on the top story. She was no Eloise, and Callender House certainly wasn't the Plaza, but this hotel was home, and had been since Olivia was born.
It wasn't the hotel's fault it had begun to resemble a faded old dowager whose stockings were bagging around her ankles and who had lipstick on her teeth.
She patted the rough brick beside the revolving door fondly. And it wasn't the hotel's fault the nameplate had come loose on one side. The thing had to be nearly as old as the hotel. Still, she wished it hadn't come loose today. Maintenance would fix it, but whether or not it would get done before Uncle Stuart arrived for lunch wasn't what she would call a sure thing.
What was certain was that he would notice it, and remark on it, and roll his eyes, and exude condescension the way some men left a cloud of aftershave in their wake. And she would have to soldier through it, the way she always did, until he'd reached his quota of criticisms and taken off again.
A time machine was looking better and better.
She didn't understand why he insisted on seeing her in the first place. For the first twenty years of her life he'd barely acknowledged her existence. But now that her father was dead, he called like clockwork, every six months, to schedule lunch with her right there in the hotel restaurant.
Family loyalty was out, and so was affection. Olivia couldn't remember the last time he'd even hugged her, and if he tried it she'd have to make a superhuman effort to keep from shrinking away from him. Stuart Callender was about as snuggly as a rattlesnake. With a porcupine hide.
As for loyalty ...Well, Olivia's father was the one who inherited Callender House, not Stuart. Apparently even her grandfather hadn't much liked his younger son. Then again, Stuart had always made it clear that the hotel business was not for him.
Which made these twice-yearly lunches as difficult to understand as they were to sit through. Especially when Stuart's primary aim seemed to be pointing out every one of what he believed were Callender House's flaws.
The lobby, for instance. Every time he stepped through the door he had something to say about the faded marble floor, the circular red velvet banquette, and the dark leather settees. "Scratched," he'd say, pointing to a tear in the leather. "Stained," he'd say, raising his eyebrows at the banquette. "And the ferns? It's the twenty-first century, Olivia. This isn't Casablanca."
Well, she liked the ferns. There were a lot of them, true, and they were a little bit old-fashioned, yes, but they were part of the lobby's charm. There had always been ferns in the hotel's lobby, and she had hidden behind the extravagant green fronds more than once when she was a kid.