WHEN A GOOD-GIRL DIVORCEE Playing by the rules has left Samantha Monroe with an AWOL ex-husband, maxed out credit cards, and the task of raising three children on a hairstylist's salary. It's time for a new game plan. When Sam learns that politician Jack Tolliver needs someone to play the part of his fianc?e for six months in return for a generous paycheck, she's ready to sign up on the spot.
MEETS A BAD-BOY POLITICIAN
Jack needs Sam and her kids to help tone down his image from womanizing cad to dependable dad. But he was expecting Sam to be a frumpy single mom, not a wickedly smart, sexy redhead. Keeping nosey newshounds from discovering that his engagement is a charade is going to be a tough job, but one mind-blowing kiss from Sam and suddenly Jack is ready to put in all the overtime necessary...
LOVE WINS IN A LANDSLIDE...
Now, with scheming opponents itching to bring Jack down, Sam's ex returning to stir up trouble, one stubborn pre-schooler, two squabbling teenagers, a crazy dog, and some out-of-this-world sex, Jack and Sam are discovering that playing make-believe can be complicated--but not nearly as much as falling in love...
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St. Martin's Paperbacks
June 25, 2006
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Excerpt from The Kept Woman by Susan Donovan
The low hum of music and laughter droned in Samantha Monroe's ears, and she began to feel woozy. Maybe it was the two margaritas. Maybe it was the hellish week she'd just put in at the salon. Maybe it was the latest threatening letter from Wee Ones Academy beginning with the ominous sentence: "Due to your child's unresolved toileting issues, we must ask you to find other daycare arrangements within two weeks."
". . . and then, you're not going to believe this!" Sam's best friend, Mont�, continued entertaining the table with her blow-by-blow of last Saturday's date with the Mad Unzipper. Since Sam was quite familiar with the tale, she let her eyes wander through the happy-hour crowd at the Lizard Lounge, noticing the group of young, carefree women at the bar, enjoying life, and she had to wonder . . . had she ever looked that happy? Had she ever felt as wild and sexy as those girls clearly did? Did she ever wear spike heels that high? Was she ever that young? Should she call Lily again to make sure Dakota ate his fish sticks and that Greg didn't indulge in more than an hour of PlayStation?
". . . and the man just stands his ass up from the couch, unzips, and says, 'Mont� baby, I got your python right here!' "
The explosion of laughter made Sam smile to herself, and she returned her attention to her friends. She loved each woman at that table, even if their behavior was bordering on obnoxious. That was the whole point of their Drinks & Depression Nights, anyway. The last Friday of every month, they'd have a couple drinks, bitch about work, life, love (or the lack thereof), and laugh a lot. Then make plans for the next time.
Sam looked past the zebra-striped upholstered lounge chairs and out the picture window. It was a wet and cold early November evening, and the season's first snow was spitting down on the streets of Indianapolis. It was nearly pitch-dark by six o'clock these days. The holidays were just around the corner. No wonder tonight's group consisted of only the most hard-core D & D Night attendees.
Sam glanced to her right to watch Mont� McQueen tell her story, her black braids swinging with the rhythm of her words. Mont� had been her coworker for thirteen long years at Le Cirque. She was a damn fine stylist and the most steadfast friend Sam had ever had. When Mitchell left three years ago, Mont� had held Sam's hand and advised her that a woman with kids didn't have the luxury of giving up. Mont� certainly knew of what she spoke.
To Sam's left was Kara DeMarinis, one of her most loyal clients, looking fabulous and powerful in her usual fabulous power suit yet managing to be one of the most down-to-earth people around. Also at the table were Le Cirque owner and general business goddess Marcia Fishbacher and veteran salon patrons Denny and Wanda Winston, identical twin sisters with wildly divergent lifestyles.
And every one of these women was howling with laughter and smacking her palms on the tabletop at Mont�'s story. Every one but Sam. She knew she should force herself to be more cheerful tonight, because these get-togethers were her therapy. Unfortunately, she was too damn tired for cheerful. She was too tired for therapy. In fact, Sam knew that if the most gorgeous man-babe in the world were to saunter through the front door of the Lizard Lounge at that very instant, partially clothed and completely raring to go, she'd be too tired for him, too.
With a sigh, Sam managed to use her last bit of energy to order an unheard-of third margarita, and when it arrived, she ran the tip of her numb tongue along the freezing cold glass, scooping up a few coarse grains of salt. As she swallowed what would be her only solid food of the evening, a variety of concerns wafted through her weary, tequila-soaked brain. Rent was due in three days, but Mr. Westerkamp hadn't fixed the garbage disposal as promised--so would she face eviction if she refused to pay? Lily was still gunning to go to France with her class next year, but where the hell was Sam going to get an extra three thousand dollars to send her there? And Greg refused to get back into speech therapy, deciding the stutter itself was less painful than the teasing his classmates gave him for going to a "special" class.