Today Christina Hovland is here to share her blog tour, TAKE IT OFF THE MENU! Check it out and be sure to get your copy today!
Title: TAKE IT OFF THE MENU
Author: Christina Hovland
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About TAKE IT OFF THE MENU:
Saying “I Do” has never been such a mess.
Marlee Medford just got dumped. Yes, things have become ho-hum in her longtime relationship, but she was two days away from walking down the aisle with the man she thought was her forever when he called it off. Convincing herself that they’d be able to reignite their spark once the wedding craziness settled? That was easy. Suddenly finding herself without a fiancé? Not so much. Marlee needs to regain control of her life, and a weekend away with her friends is a solid first step.
One of Denver’s best up-and-coming chefs, perpetual bachelor Eli Howard, isn’t into serious relationships–especially the kind that ends in marriage. As if to prove his point that they aren’t worth the trouble, the wedding he was supposed to be catering just fell apart. Feeling oddly protective of the jilted bride–his little sister’s best friend–his weekend plans now involve a trip to Sin City with her group of friends. But it looks like he had a bit too much fun in Vegas when he wakes up married…wedding night included.
Marlee’s attempts at getting her life back together are failing miserably. Her ex-fiancé is taking the house, her chihuahua is intent on a love affair with Eli’s sneakers, and she’s now accidentally hitched to the guy who can’t even say the word marriage. With their quickie annulment denied, Eli and Marlee just have to hang tight until the divorce goes through. It’s just a little divorce amongst friends, what’s the worst that could happen?
“Mar?” Eli asked.
She glanced toward him and raised her eyebrows. “Yeah?”
He pointedly moved his gaze to the skillet in front of her. The bubbles on the pancake burst through the batter, starting at the edge and moving toward the center.
“On it.” She focused. Waiting.
Eli’s instructions were to wait until the batter bubbled in the center and then she should flip it. That was way easier said than done. So far, she’d burned two batches by not flipping quickly enough and she’d flopped batter everywhere once. He’d said she flipped too soon. Clearly, by the batter splatters all over the stovetop. Meanwhile, he cracked eggs into a pan and fried up bacon like it was the easiest thing in the world.
She happened to know it wasn’t. He had tried to teach her to cook eggs and bacon first, but there had been shells in her scrambled eggs and the whole batch had stuck to the non-stick coating. The bacon wasn’t quite done when she’d pulled it off the burner. Apparently, bacon was not like steak where rare was a good thing.
Eli slipped behind her, close enough that it felt really nice.
She stilled. What was she supposed to do with his proximity? The bridal etiquette books said nothing about jilted brides and the appropriate amount of time before they could find comfort in another man’s presence. Was this one of the stages of a breakup? She had no idea, but two hours likely wasn’t long enough. She was barely single. The ink on her not-a-divorce wasn’t even dry.
This was ridiculous. Eli watching from behind was fine. He wasn’t touching her or anything. She turned her attention to the pancake.
His fingers curled around hers on the spatula.
Well, hell. Her heart beating faster and all the little nerve endings in her skin perking up only happened because Scotty hadn’t really touched her in weeks. Not since he’d moved downstairs.
“Now,” Eli said into the air around her earlobe. It felt intimate and right when it was absolutely wrong.
He used her hand to slip the yellow flinger part of the spatula under the batter. Her shoulders hunched, her chin dipped, and Eli was all about control of the flipping.
“It’s all in the wrist,” he continued on like he wasn’t turning her into a puddle of pancake batter that Lothario would have to lick off the floor. “Relax your wrist.”
She gave relaxing her wrist her best effort. With Eli’s help, they flipped the golden-brown, perfect pancake.
“I did it.” She turned around and froze.
Their hands still held the spatula and the pancake continued to cook behind her, but Eli was right there. Right in her space. And he was cooking for her. And teaching her how to cook. And her stomach was fluttering. And her bottom lip felt full. And he had the smallest splatter of batter on his cheek from when she’d flipped and then flopped before.
She wiped the batter off with the edge of her thumb.
He stepped back, clearly startled.
“Sorry.” She held up her hand. The one with the batter splatter.
He massaged his jaw with his palm and fingertips, apparently testing for additional splatterage.
“I got it all,” Marlee assured him.
“Uh.” Eli handed over the spatula, an odd expression on his face. “Pancake’s done.”
“Yeah.” Marlee moved the pancake to a plate, only creating the tiniest of rips in the process. “I did it.” She waved the flinging part of the spatula, whacking Eli in the nose.
Christina Hovland lives her own version of a fairy tale—an artisan chocolatier by day and romance writer by night. Born in Colorado, Christina received a degree in journalism from Colorado State University. Before opening her chocolate company, Christina’s career spanned from the television newsroom to managing an award-winning public relations firm. She’s a recovering overachiever and perfectionist with a love of cupcakes and dinner she doesn’t have to cook herself. A 2017 Golden Heart® finalist, she lives in Colorado with her first-boyfriend-turned-husband, four children, and the sweetest dog around.
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