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What's a dedicated bachelor doing at a week-long society wedding celebration? Doug Llewellyn is being bored out of his skull...until a beautiful, unknown woman calls him "darling," then plants a big wet kiss on him. Suddenly boredom is no longer Doug's problem.
Rosie Kilgannon, she of the big wet kiss, is also a guest at the wedding, and although she's used Doug as a way to escape an amorous admirer, that kiss was really something else! Why not enjoy each other for the week, no strings attached?
Which might have worked, if not for the weeping bride, the suspiciously shifty groom, the neurotic wedding planner...and the fact that True Love often sneaks up on the unwary and belts them right in the chops!
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
THE SEPTEMBER SCENERY in northern New Jersey bordered on magnificent as Douglas Llewellyn navigated his sleek black sedan along the narrow, winding roadways that wended through a civilized forest surrounding the large, manicured grounds of well-hidden mansions.
At any other time Doug would have been slowing the car, peering through the trees, on the lookout for interesting old architecture. Because Douglas Llewellyn was an architect, the senior partner of Philadelphia based Architecture Design, Ltd. (restorations a specialty). His interests were steeped in history, and he'd once lost a hefty commission for refusing to remove a fireplace mantel in a suburban Pennsylvania farmhouse because there were three musket balls in the wood, remnants of an Indian raid in 1763.
Then again, as his friend and partner had pointed out at the time, a man could indulge his love of history to the point of walking away from a mid-five-figure profit, if he'd been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Hell, Cameron Pierce had said, Doug had been born with a full set of demitasse spoons clamped between his toothless infant gums.
Doug had merely shrugged, then asked Cam to help him unload the massive oak mantel, because he may have turned down the job, but he'd rescued the mantel.
Besides being a highly successful and sought-after architect up and down Philadelphia's Main Line, Doug was handsome, intelligent, urbane, witty--and matrimonially uncatchable.
He prided himself on the fact that he enjoyed all the benefits of female company, while neatly sidestepping the pitfalls--meaning commitment, meaning marriage. He enjoyed life, he enjoyed women. There was, he believed, no harm in that.
Life had been pretty much one big party for Doug, and it was with shock that he woke up one morning with a young blond real-estate agent in his bed and a feeling of utter emptiness in his gut, to realize he'd somehow become forty years old.
How had this happened? Surely it had been only yesterday that he'd been in college, happily working his way through the cheerleading squad.
Where had the succeeding nearly twenty years gone, anyway? He didn't drink more than the occasional beer, so it couldn't be that the years had disappeared in an alcoholic fog. He worked hard, he played hard, and the years had passed in a blur of work and play. Was that a good answer?
Maybe it was learning that his partner, Cam, had at last found his Darcie, and the two were soon to be married--and looking disgustingly happy with each other.
Not that Doug wasn't happy. Hell, he was delirious he was so happy. Wasn't he? A successful business, work that he adored, beautiful women clinging to his elbow, and always with another beautiful woman eager to take her place.
What wasn't to be happy about?
Which didn't explain why he'd become a virtual hermit these past two months, turning down invitations to parties, boating excursions, even a weekend tryst in the Bahamas with one of his semiregulars, the incredibly beautiful Kay Williams, where they'd have the run of her parents' thatched-roof minimansion fifty yards from their private beach. Kay liked to sunbathe topless. And bottomless. And she liked to be oiled, hourly.
And he'd turned her down?
Obviously there was something wrong with him. Not enough iron in his diet, perhaps? Maybe the chase had become too easy, with the result always a foregone conclusion.
Or maybe he was...old.
No. No, that couldn't be it. Forty wasn't old. Then again, forty wasn't thirty-nine, was it? Cam, standing in the doorway of Doug's office last Tuesday morning--the better to make a quick getaway--had suggested that maybe it all boiled down to the idea that it was time for Peter Pan to grow up.
It was a good thing they were such good friends...and not such a good thing that Cam's words had stuck with Doug ever since.
At first he'd thought, okay, so he was going through a dry spell, a low tide. Something like that. It wasn't the end of life as he knew it, life as he'd always liked it.
He'd just keep his cool, keep his distance from the social scene for a while, until he had his head back on straight, his priorities back where they belonged: work hard, play hard, repeat. He simply needed to be away from women for a few weeks, examine his reasons for--as Cam had also pointed out--dating all the wrong women, and decide what the hell he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
Forty was a big year, a milestone, a watershed year. Doug would like to think that forty was just a number, and a number he could ignore, at that. But after two months of kidding himself, he knew that something more permanent had happened to him, some synapse had misfired in his brain, and he was suddenly looking at the soppily happy Cam and his Darcie and listening to their plans to renovate her late uncle's Victorian mansion...and he was jealous.
It was pitiful, that's what it was. And now, with the worst timing possible, he was going to a place where no man of his recently shaken constitution and lifestyle confusions had gone before--a weeklong house party ending in the wedding of his second cousin, Lili-beth.
Worse...yes, things just kept getting worse and worse. Doug had the feeling he would spend that week with a big red-and-white bull's-eye on his back while his cousin Bettie took target practice at him with her matchmaking Cupid's bow.
Talk about being vulnerable. Talk about looking for a way out before he even arrived at the party....
"Come on, Cam, where's your loyalty to your employer? Where's your sympathy for your friend?" he pleaded now into the hands-free cell phone. "There's got to be a disaster brewing somewhere. The Perkins project--he threw a fit over the cost overrun on the tile border and you need me back there to calm him down? Wait--Hildy Forrester. She's always unhappy with something. I'll go check up on the job, smooth her feathers. Hell, Cam, you know she likes me best."
Cameron Pierce's voice came back to Doug through the marvel of the speakerphone. "All married women of a certain age like you best. That's how we get half of our commissions. So, nice try, Doug, but everything's under control here--just the way it was two hours ago. And it's Sunday. We don't even have anyone on the job today. What's the matter? Are you breaking out in hives already? It's only a wedding, and it's not yours, remember? How are you going to be my best man next month if you're allergic to weddings?"
Doug slowed the car as he peered at the architecturally-compatible-to-its-surroundings-but-barely-legible street sign, and then turned right. "I'm not allergic to weddings, Cam, and I've definitely never been allergic to eager bridesmaids. I'm allergic to being set up. Translation, I know my cousin Bettie. She's probably already got someone all picked out for me--one of her tennis partners from the club or whatever."
"And you'd rather chase those bridesmaids."
"You know me so well," Doug said, not yet ready to tell Cam that he'd rather be on a weeklong golf outing at the Greenbriar, thus admitting he was still struggling with this Peter Pan thing and where his usual willing women belonged in the mix. "But not at a wedding like this one, Cam, it would be too dangerous. A week is six days too long to be stuck constantly with the same woman, or get caught switching women in the middle of the stream--party. I don't know where in hell anyone came up with the idea of a weeklong house party before a wedding, but I've got a bad feeling about the entire concept."
"Okay, I get it. A house party is too confining for Casanova."
Doug wished he could smile at the joke. "Exactly. And don't forget Bettie, who I know is setting me up. I'll bet her name is Mitzy, and she's had her silver and china patterns picked since she left finishing school. A week, Cam. A full week of my cousin throwing Mitzy and me together, seating us at the same table, pointing out the woman's stellar qualities. I should have said I couldn't make it until next Sunday, just in time to kiss the bride and take off again for the rest of the month. This is no damn way to start a vacation, Cam. Why did I agree to this?"
"You promised your mother. And, much as I don't like saying this, you're beginning to sound a little unhinged."From Publishers Weekly:
The week-long pre-wedding house party for Doug Llewellyn's cousin Lili-beth is slated to be the social gathering of the decade-or a seven-day ordeal of shrill matchmaking and grim self-reflection, as it would seem to Doug-in this latest contemporary romance from Michaels (Stuck in Shangri-La). Handsome, intelligent, witty-and "matrimonially un-catchable,"-Doug is a successful 40-year-old Philadelphia architect dreading the tireless matchmaking efforts of Lili-beth's mother. Ditto for sassy, independent web-site designer Rosie Kilgannon. With no graceful way out, Rosie and Doug figure "us victims have to stick together," and proceed to undo Bettie's best-laid plans. Meanwhile, disaster rules at the pre-nuptial festivities: the groom is showing a dark side, Bettie is methodically bedding each of the band members, the wedding planner drinks more than she pours, and Lili-beth isn't sure she wants to get married after all. Lots of flirting, slap-stick antics and eccentric characters, including light-fingered 85-year-old Aunt Susanna and Lili-beth's secretive childhood friend Delbert, make this a cheerful, lighthearted read.
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Book Description HQN Books, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. NEW Mass Market PB. Binding SOLID, NO remainder mark. | SHIPS AIRMAIL INTERNATIONALLY! [REDUCED Charges for Standard International Delivery]. Seller Inventory # 004530
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