Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills and USA Today bestselling author Tia Louise are back with an all-new romantic comedy filled with Southern sass and steamy scenes that will have you laughing out loud and fanning yourself. Pour the sweet tea and get ready…
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THE RIGHT STUD
by Tia Louise & Ilsa Madden-Mills
“The best way to get over your sh**ty ex-fiancé is to get under a shiny new stud…”
As soon as Mr. Tall, Blond, and Handsome walks into that bar, I know he’s the hook-up I need to get over stupid Cheater Kyle.
A few stolen kisses in a dark hallway, and I’m pretty sure we’re headed for a home run—until he disappears without a trace.
Whatever. Men are all snakes in the grass, and I don’t need a new one anyway.
I resolve to forget about his perfect lips (and chest of steel) and instead focus on turning my Granny’s old beach house into a profitable B&B.
What I don’t expect is for him to show up the next day in my kitchen!
You see, my sexy mystery man is none other than Jax Roland, the drop-dead gorgeous home improvement star of The Right Stud, and he’s got an offer I can’t refuse.
With a suitcase in one hand and a hammer in the other, he wants to move in and renovate my old house while he films his new show.
But my roommate has secrets, and they threaten to rip our blossoming friendship—and possible love—apart.
When push comes to shove, is Jax really The Right Stud or is he just another nail in the coffin of love?
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* * *
EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK
THE RIGHT STUD
© Ilsa-Louise Books, 2018
My ankle turns, and the heel on my left stiletto breaks off right before I open the door. Dammit. I clench my hands and want to throw it across the road, but at this point, I’m determined to suck it up and go inside anyway.
I’ve been through three wardrobe changes and waited through four traffic lights to get to the Smokey Siren, the newest (and only) late-night bar in Palmetto, South Carolina, and nothing is going to stop me now. Right, Starship?
Hobbling over to a black wrought-iron bench beside a lamppost adorned with hanging baskets of petunias, I take a seat and peer through the large, front window. I’ll give it to the owners, they’ve done a great job creating a funky, aquatic vibe with turquoise blue accents and iridescent fixtures. Beaded curtains combine with loud music, and it’s packed to the gills on a Saturday night. Couples spill out the doors laughing and talking.
They’re mostly tourists and beach vacationers, but according to my friend Lulu, it’s The Place to find a fast fling. She’d know, since she knows everything going on in our tiny clutch of communities along the coast.
My eyes go to my busted shoe and my bravado deflates. What am I doing here? I should be home on the couch in my flannel pajamas eating Ben and Jerry’s Wedding Cake Wonder and watching Fixer Uppers. Mmm…
I inhale sadly. I’m not supposed to be alone tonight. I’m supposed to be ensconced in wedded bliss, celebrating my six-month anniversary as Mrs Dr. Kyle Nelson.
Six months, three hours ago, I should have been showing up at the Charleston First United Methodist Church in a beaded, mermaid-tail wedding gown that cost over five thousand dollars, which I’d ended up reselling on e-bay for less than half.
Note to Self: bridal boutiques do not take back dresses. Nor do catering establishments refund your ten-thousand-dollar deposit.
I cringe before catching sight of my reflection in the glass. At least being cheated on has done wonders for my figure. I’m down ten pounds since the break-up and can even fit into this dress from five years ago. Red and silky with a deep plunging V-neck, it clings to my curves. I may not have love, but at least my figure is on point.
“Excuse us!” A young couple holding hands brushes past the bench a little too close as they rush to the double doors of the bar and slip inside.
They’re too busy gazing into each other’s eyes to look up, and I think of everything I’ve lost. Scorned-woman rage washes over me, and I want to scream, “LOVE SUCKS!” at them.
See? Hooking up with someone tonight is a terrible idea. Anyway, Mrs. Capshaw, my one guest at the B&B I own and operate (and love), is probably still awake. She might be up for a Gilmore Girls marathon.
We love that show. She even calls me Lorelai sometimes, which I take as a high compliment. Who needs men when I have my own bed and breakfast on the coast? I need a cat—but just one, since more than one means I’m on my way to being a crazy cat lady.
Taking off both shoes, I stand and spin around to head back to my car just as my phone rings. My breath catches, my chest squeezes, and part of me—the stupid, sad part—hopes it’s Kyle calling to let me know, after all this time, he’s finally seen the truth. He made a horrible mistake when he cheated.
It isn’t Kyle, which is fine, because I wouldn’t take that bastard back no matter how hard he begged.
It’s only Lulu.
I exhale and tap the green circle. “Wasn’t it enough that you were just at my house and picked out my entire wardrobe?”
“Are you there yet?” My best friend since kindergarten asks. “Or are you standing at the front door talking yourself out of going in?”
With the phone to my ears, I lift my chin and gaze at the starry night sky. “I’ll have you know I’m at the bar, and I just ordered a martini.”
“You’re a sucky liar. Always have been. Remember that time you told me I had a booger on my cheek so I’d run to the bathroom, and you’d get to kiss Reggie Wallace at Shelia’s sweet sixteen?”
“Oh my God, how do you remember these things?” I cry. “And for your information, he can’t French kiss worth a lick. Anyway, how do you know I’m lying? It’s very rude to accuse people of—”
Her gum smacks as she chews. “I’m parked on the street watching you, scaredy-pants. Why are you holding your shoes?”
“What?” My head jerks around and sure enough, I spot her curly red head sitting inside her Prius.
She waves at me enthusiastically. “Followed you.”
“Don’t you have five dogs and a goat to babysit?”
“Jean Claude is a ram, and I’m not here to party with you. I’m here to make sure you walk in that door and have a drink, preferably with a hot man. You haven’t left your house in a six months.”
“Not true…” It’s a mumbled reply, because she’s right.
In the beginning it had been hard to leave the house because every time I’d go outside I’d bump into someone giving me a pitying look and asking how I was doing.
Now I feel like they’re looking at me like it’s time to stop wallowing. Seriously?
Betrayal flashes in my chest anew as I remember catching Kyle cheating on me with his dental hygienist, Monica with the good veneers. She’d been using that mouth to go down on—No! I will not replay the sight again.
Lulu cuts through my cringe-fest down memory lane. “The best way to get over an old, shitty guy is to get under a new, shiny one. Now get in there! It’s time.”
I roll my eyes even though she can’t see me.
“And don’t roll your eyes at me!”
I groan. “Fine, but I think going home is a better idea.” I search for excuses. “I’ve broken off my heel, plus I have Mrs. C. to consider. She’ll expect me to put out muffins in the morning.”
“Well, I expect you to put out muffins tonight!”
“I don’t even know what that means—”
“It means break off your other heel and get your butt in the Smokey Siren! Mrs. C. and her foul-mouthed parrot will be there when you get home.”
I heave out a long sigh. Lulu’s right about one thing. I have been spending a lot of time in overalls, doing my best to repair my grandmother’s sprawling, hundred-year-old home by the sea. I thought I was doing it for Kyle and me, and eventually our four beautiful children… Until it all went up in smoke. Or laughing gas.
Squeezing the phone against my shoulder, I turn my good shoe over and twist off the heel then put it back on my foot. It’s a weird feeling walking in heelless stilettos, but I know if I go all the way home for new ones, I won’t come back. Plus I really don’t care what my shoes look like. Straightening my shoulders, I walk with purpose toward the door.
Lulu laughs. “That’s my girl.”
“I’m hanging up now,” I grumble.
“Call me when you get home. I want to hear all about it.”
“Walk all those dogs over in the morning for breakfast. Leave the goat at home.”
* * *
“I don’t have all night.” The enormous bartender’s dark brow lowers, and he stares at me expectantly.
My mind blanks, and I try to think of what I want. I always panic when bartenders put me on the spot like this. I want to be sophisticated and order something like a martini, no ice, two olives. Instead I usually just ask for a glass of wine.
“I’ll have a margarita.” My voice wobbles, and I clear my throat. “A margarita!” I say louder, with confidence.
I might be standing on two broken heels, but it’s a stand for jilted women everywhere. I’m better than Monica with the good veneers, and Kyle should’ve seen it. It’s his loss.
The bulky bartender’s expression is bored as he quickly upends a plastic bottle of lime-green margarita mix while simultaneously pouring José Cuervo into an ice-filled silver shaker. Three loud rattles later, and he’s dumping it all into a large, salt-rimmed glass and passing it to me. I coolly hand him a ten and wait for my change, then slip him a dollar tip.
Turning my back to the bar, I look around the packed establishment. What the heck do I do now? “Despacito” blasts overhead, and a few women let out shrieks as they race to the dance floor. I stay put, tapping my broken-heeled foot and sipping my drink. I just need a little more liquid courage before I take on the male clientele. Also, I don’t know if I can seriously work my mojo to Justin Bieber. I need more Rolling Stones… Brown Sugar. Honkey Tonk Woman. It’s possible my margarita is kicking in.
I frown into my already half-empty glass trying to remember the last time I had hard liquor.
“You live around here?” I gasp and almost toss my drink at the male voice shouting over my shoulder.
Blinking quickly, I look around, hoping for the best, and… instant disappointment. Standing beside me is a nice-enough looking guy. His light brown hair is combed neatly in a side part and brown, oversized glasses are perched on his nose. He has a mustache. He waggles his eyebrows.
Coughing, I shake my head. “I’m sorry… What?”
“I said do you live around here?”
“Uh…” Do I want him to know where I live? “Sort of.”
“That’s a funny thing to say. Sort of? Sort of what?”
Jesus, take the wheel. “I mean, my family lives here. I’m just visiting… from Manitoba.”
“Manitoba!” His eyebrows shoot up, and he steps closer, still speaking too loudly. “That’s in Canada, right? I’ve always wanted to go to Canada. Imagine what everybody would say if I told them I had a girlfriend in Canada.” He actually snorts. “What’s your favorite part about living in Canada?”
Shit! I don’t know anything about living in Canada. I thought it would get rid of him, thinking I live so far away. “Uh…” I look all around the bar, racking my brains. “The… uh… syrup?”
His chin rises, and he nods slowly, knowingly. “Maple trees.”
“Oh, well.” I put my empty margarita glass on the bar. “I’d better go… now.”
“Roger.” He sticks a hand toward me.
“Sorry?” Is he agreeing with me?
“Name’s Roger, and you are?”
“Ashton.” I can only keep up with so many lies. “Like I said, I’ve got to go now.”
“I’ll walk you out—”
“To the bathroom!” I hastily add.
He takes a step back when I add that part. Thank the maples. “I’ll just be waiting right here.” He turns his handshake into a pat on my arm. “I’ll order you another drink!”
“Oh, you don’t have to—”
“It’s no problem at all! Just a little southern hospitality for our neighbor to the north!”
I’m not the whole freakin’ country… “Whatever.” I hastily make my way through the thickening crowd away from him, toward the safety of the women’s restroom. I’m almost there when I hear him calling after me.
“If it gets too warm, we can always go for a cooling swim!”
In his dreams, but I’m not turning back now. I’ll just have to get comfortable in the ladies’ room and wait… and hope he gives up before I come out again.
I’m going to kill Lulu.
This was such a bad idea…
* * *
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills and USA Today bestselling author Tia Louise kicked off their co-writing adventure in 2017 with the Amazon #4 bestseller THE LAST GUY. (They had so much fun writing that zany rom-com hit, they decided to do it again.)
Great friends, former English teachers, and southern gals in real life, they’ve teamed up to bring you laugh-out-loud naughty romances with strong leading ladies and sexy alpha males who know how to please their women—and who sometimes you just want to slap.
★Download their first co-written book, Amazon #4 bestseller THE LAST GUY (link)! (*FREE in Kindle Unlimited!)