He's the one problem she can't solve.
From hysterical bridezillas to grooms with sub-zero feet, renowned wedding planner Claire Pomeroy has never met a disaster she couldn't handle. Then she runs afoul of her client's not-so-best man, a devilishly flirtatious rogue with a killer smile and a chest as solid as a concrete roadblock. Yet their sparks of attraction only highlight his obvious quest--to make sure this wedding knot never gets tied.
Confirmed bachelor Ryder Price knows one unshakable truth: marriage is nothing but a fairy tale. No way is he going to stand idly by while his wingman face-plants into the dreaded marital trap. But there's a problem. A dark-eyed, dangerously curvaceous problem who's bound and determined to pull this wedding off.
As her suddenly skittish clients teeter on the edge of cancellation, Claire challenges her nemesis to imagine long-term as something more than a quickie and a vague promise to call. Ryder counters with a challenge of his own. Let him give her a taste of just how fulfilling a little no-strings-attached passion can be.
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October 24, 2011
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Excerpt from Best Man, Worst Man by Stacy Gail
"The Texas Hill country is such a romantic backdrop for a wedding," Claire Pomeroy told Rachel Pelly, her client and bride-to-be. "Serenity Springs Resort blows the competition away when it comes to wedding venues. It's spacious enough to handle all three hundred of your wedding guests, while providing gorgeous facilities and top-notch service. You can have your fantasy garden wedding in the formal gardens, and then have the reception in the Grand Ballroom no more than a few steps away."
"This place is so much better than Matt's idea of getting hitched during halftime at a Spurs playoff game," Rachel said, their footsteps echoing against the lobby's Spanish tiles as they headed toward the resort's main garden. "Don't get me wrong, I'm as much a fan of professional basketball as anyone, but I can't imagine how freaky-crazy it would be to pull off an entire wedding during a fifteen-minute NBA halftime."
"Of all the weddings I've coordinated, that has to be one of the most original suggestions I've ever heard," Claire admitted, then shot Rachel a smile as they moved into the sun-washed garden. "But I think I could have done it."
"Ugh, please don't tell Matt that. Call me picky, but I would like to have my wedding scented with roses and magnolias, rather than jock sweat and stale beer."
"Your wedding wish is my command." Claire kept her professional mask in place when what she really wanted to do was snort out loud. When Rachel and Matt had first walked into the offices of As You Wish Weddings, it was obvious the couple had a terminal case of truly-madly-deeply--in short, her favorite kind of client.
"According to the resort's event coordinator, this expanse of lawn can accommodate up to five hundred seats, and considering they hosted a senatorial election party last November, I'm confident the wait staff is capable of handling a heavy census." Claire picked her way onto the lawn, careful not to turn an ankle in her usual four-inch open-toe heels. Reaching the height of five feet four only if she stood at attention, she did her best to make up for her unimpressive stature by putting together a look of elegant professionalism in both her work and appearance. The one lesson she'd learned as a wedding planner was a simple one--she was only as good as her reputation, and it was a lesson she made sure she never forgot. "So? Is this the sort of setting you'd like for your wedding?"
"Wow." Rachel took in the well-tended garden while the sun shone down on her coppery red hair. She was a tall, slender woman whose peaches-and-cream complexion was so perfect it didn't look real. Claire, with her porcelain-pale skin and long brown hair, felt pasty in comparison. "This is what I've always dreamed of, Claire! Can't you just picture it? A month from now the flowers will be in full bloom as the sun smiles down on our family and friends, and Matt and I will exchange our vows...oh, my God." She suddenly gasped as if stuck with something sharp. "What if it rains? What if it pours?"
"Then you'll have your choice of reserving the adjoining Majestic Ballroom, or I can arrange to cover the outdoor ceremony site for roughly the same amount of money."
"I think it'd be easier to make a nice little blood sacrifice to whatever anti-rain god there is, and let the chips fall where they may." Rachel chewed on her lip a moment before she shook her head. "Why am I sweating the small stuff? Every bride-to-be is entitled to a bit of luck on her wedding day, right?"
"Just as long as that luck is of the good variety." Snagging up her smartphone, Claire scoped her list of contacts that might be sweet-talked into giving her a deal on wedding canopies. When it came to solving problems, she was a firm believer in making her own luck. "Next on the agenda, of course, is the finalization of the wedding party. Have you settled on numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen?"
"Three apiece, plus the matron of honor and best man."
"I love a bride who prefers not to have an hour-long taffeta parade," Claire approved. "If you'd like, you can email me the names and measurements of the wedding party. The people I work with are standing by, so I can set up fittings straight away and have it all done by the end of the week. I know you've chosen the green-and-white dresses for your bridesmaids and matron of honor, but what about Matt? Has he decided on what he wants for his side of the aisle?"
With the sixth sense of a mother faced with a shifty teen, Claire looked up from her phone. "What is it?"
"Oh, it's nothing. I uh...I was just thinking about why Matt's not here with us now."
"I was wondering about that. Usually your fianc� likes to know what's going on with all the wedding preparations."
"He does, and hopefully Matt will be able to join us by the end of the walkthrough. But he had plans today to ask his closest buddy to be his best man, so I'm not sure he'll be here in time."
"Matt's left it this late?" A warning bell went off in Claire's mind. "Does he understand the wedding is a month away?"
"Oh, he knows. And he's not dragging his feet, it's just..."
"Matt's best friend can be a little unpredictable."
The word trickled an ominous shiver down Claire's spine. Wedding planners the world over had a severe allergy to unpredictable. "Oh?"
Rachel loosed a gusty sigh. "Look, I really don't want to sound like some crazed bridezilla ripping on her fianc�'s friends. No matter how insane this wedding eventually makes me, that is the one thing I have vowed never to do."
"You're a long way from slipping into bridezilla-mode, but I do need to know, Rachel--is there a problem between you and Matt concerning his choice of best man?" Weddings had gone the way of the dodo for less.
"No, no problem. It's...more of a personality thing. But it's not a problem." Rachel gave a quick little laugh. "Everything will be fine, really."
Claire nodded, but in her mind she wondered why Rachel's comment had the ring of famous last words.