by Marie Astor
Twenty-eight-year old Annabel Green is about to tie the knot with her college love, an aspiring author Jeremy Blake, but her plans for an ideal wedding are rudely interrupted when she catches Jeremy kissing his gorgeous book agent.
Shell-shocked by Jeremy’s betrayal, Annabel retreats into the quiet routine of TV dinners and solitary evenings. It is then that Annabel’s best friend, fashion designer Lilly Clayton, sets herself on a mission to draw Annabel out of her shell. In an attempt to persuade Annabel to keep an open mind on dating, Lilly takes Annabel for a stunning makeover, but after Annabel passes on a date with a dashing entrepreneur, Lilly decides that more drastic measures are needed. Lilly invites Annabel to see a palm reader who gives Annabel a lucky charm that is supposed to help her find true love.
A few weeks later, Annabel meets a new love interest, and as the two embark on a whirlwind romance, she starts to believe in the power of the talisman the palm reader has given her. But what Annabel doesn’t know is that Lilly is hiding a secret that could unravel her faith in her newly found luck in love.
Read an exclusive excerpt:
That must be my blind date, Annabel thought, her heart in her mouth, as she absentmindedly reciprocated Simon’s greeting. Lilly had been right. Etienne was handsome. He was of average height, no more than five-nine, but well built, with a muscular torso that Annabel could spot from beneath his tailored jacket. His longish, coal-dark hair made his dark brown eyes look intense, which together with his perfectly straight nose and sensually curved lips made Annabel knees buckle. She did her best to steady herself, which was difficult to say the least, as she raked her mind for a witty remark for the stunning stranger. Annabel secretly patted the heart-shaped pendant on her neck, thinking that perhaps Madam Aurora’s charm did have some power after all.“Hello,” the dark, handsome stranger spoke in a low baritone as he bowed slightly.“Lilly Clayton. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Lilly smiled coyly as she eyed Annabel out of the corner of her eye.“Likewise. Simon has told me so much about you.” Etienne shook Lilly’s hand, his glance wandering toward Annabel.“Annabel, Annabel Green,” Annabel stammered, barely able to get a grip on herself as she stared into Etienne’s dark eyes.“It is a pleasure to meet you, Annabel.” Etienne bowed slightly as he took Annabel’s hand into his.“Likewise,” Annabel gasped, thinking that his voice was like smooth silk. Etienne’s grip was firm, yet gentle and Annabel felt electric tingles running through her body as he held her hand in his for just a moment longer than necessary.“Shall we get seated?” Simon interrupted the awkward pause.“By all means.” Etienne finally tore his dark, velvety gaze away from Annabel.“I’m looking forward to this!” Lilly exclaimed, and from the sly glint in her friend’s eyes, Annabel could tell that food was not what Lilly was referring to.The maitre d’ ushered them to their table – the most secluded table in the restaurant that stood in the alcove, against the far wall. Lilly and Annabel took their seats next to one another, and Simon and Etienne sat across from them.A perfectly postured waiter brought out the menus and wine list.Upon opening the menu, Annabel was mortified to see that it was entirely in French and now she wished that, like Lilly, she had paid more attention to those French classes so many years ago. The knowledge would surely come in handy now. As she circumspectly eyed Etienne, who was engrossed in discussing an entry on the wine list with Simon, Annabel attempted to dig up long-forgotten words that floated in her mind like vague ghosts. The only word that she managed to recognize on the menu was fromage, which she was fairly certain meant cheese, and she could not remember a word more to save her life. Annabel was about to ask for help when Simon came to the rescue.“But there is no English menu!” he exclaimed with indignation, shaking his head. Simon motioned to the waiter, and within moments an English version of the menu was placed before Lilly and Annabel.“Now I know I should have paid more attention to French in school.” Annabel smiled guiltily as she began to examine the menu.“You studied French?” Etienne’s eyebrows arched as he looked at her from across the table.“Yes.” Annabel nodded, bidding herself not to blush. “But only the required curriculum in school, and it seems that I’ve forgotten most of it,” she confessed.“Ah.” Etienne bowed his head slightly as he returned to the examination of the wine list.If it were possible to fall through the floor this very minute, Annabel would have done so gladly. It was painfully clear that Etienne’s impression of her was that of a complete, blundering idiot, and for the life of her, she could not think of anything to say to change his mind.As if sensing her friend’s agitation, Lilly came to the rescue. “So, Etienne, Simon tells me that you travel a lot to the States for work?”Etienne nodded. “Yes, now and then. I can’t say that that is my favorite part of the job, but it has to be done,” he added reluctantly.Well, that settles it, Annabel thought, as she took a hasty gulp of water. He definitely hates American girls.“So, Etienne, are you fine with this wine then?” Simon attempted to steer the conversation into a different direction. “Etienne’s uncle owns a vineyard, so Etienne is our wine expert.”Etienne nodded distractedly. “Yes, no - I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” Etienne rose abruptly from his chair, almost flinging it backwards. “I’m sorry, but I’ve completely forgotten that I have a previous engagement. Annabel, it was a pleasure meeting you.”“Etienne! What’s wrong?” Simon rose from his chair, his face filled with embarrassment.Without another word, Etienne stumbled toward the exit.With a great effort, Annabel forced herself to keep her mouth from gaping open. It turned out all those stories about French being jerks were not stereotypes after all.
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/UzJCR4
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novels This Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm, On the Rim of Love, romantic suspense, To Catch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection, A Dress in a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventure novel, Over the Mountain and Back.
If you would like to learn more about Marie’s writing, please stop by her website: www.marieastor.com or visit her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollection
Books by Marie Astor:
ThisTangled Thing Called Love – a contemporary romance about overcoming one’s inhibitions, learning to tango, and finding one’s true love match.
LuckyCharm – a humorous contemporary romance about love, luck and friendship.
Smitten at First Sight – a contemporary romance about the unexpected power of love.
A Dressin a Window – a collection of short stories about love, coincidences, and fate.
Over the Mountain and Back – young adult fantasy adventure novel about a boy who takes his snowboard for a ride and finds himself in a magical, hidden world he never knew existed.
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Marie will be awarding to five randomly drawn commenters at the end of the tour (US ONLY), one of the following five custom-designed jewelry prizes:
Prize 1: Smoky quartz necklace with sterling silver flower clasp
Prize 2: Lapis and labradorite necklace with sterling silver clasp
Prize 3: Kayanite and turquoise sterling silver necklace
Prize 4: Onyx and red agate sterling silver bracelet
Prize 5: Jade, amber and red agate necklace
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