Title: Starting Over
Author: Michele Shriver
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Liz Matthews agrees to a blind date for her daughter’s
wedding with only one goal in mind- making her ex-husband jealous. The plan
works, but also backfires as she finds herself enjoying the company of her
Widower Bennett Grayson has his hands full enough adapting
to single parenthood of a teenage son and has no intention of falling in love
again. When a friend arranges a blind
date, Ben reluctantly accepts as a favor to his friend, but gets more than he
bargained as the funny and charming divorcee catches his eye.
Brandt Matthews has much to atone for in life, starting with
his daughter and his ex-wife. In spite of their troubled marriage, the one
constant for Brandt has been Liz, until a new man in her life makes him realize
how much he stands to lose- or has already lost.
As Liz and Ben embark on a new adventure called
dating, they are faced with a host of challenges, including the ghosts of the
past and Ben’s son Landon, who wants nothing to do with his father’s new
girlfriend. Can they overcome the
obstacles and start a new life together,
or will Liz succumb to Brandt’s charms again?
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was wrong with this picture, Ben decided as he watched Liz dance with her
ex-husband. Oh, they certainly made a very attractive couple as they moved
across the floor with a grace that reflected many dances together. And Brandt
looked at Liz the way Ben expected she wanted him to look at her—as if she was
the only woman in the world. Heck, at one point it even appeared Brandt would
kiss her, right there in front of his date, and hers, and an entire wedding
party. Liz’s plan to get Brandt’s attention seemed to be working to perfection.
didn’t she look happy to be on the receiving end of that attention? Why did she
pull away, rebuffing Brandt’s attempt to kiss her, rather than moving into it?
And why was Ben so relieved when she did? His role was supposed to be to make
Brandt jealous, and suddenly Ben was the jealous one.
ended and Liz separated herself from Brandt and made her way back to where Ben
stood. “Sorry about that,” she said.
be. I know my role.” He’d played it well so far, and Ben planned to continue.
“I would like to dance with you, if you’re still interested.”
Liz’s hand and led her to the dance floor and settled his hand in the small of
her back. He hadn’t shared a slow dance with anyone but Amy in two decades, and
he hoped he wouldn’t trip over his own feet. “We get a better choice in songs,
at least,” he remarked as Lifehouse’s You
and Mebegan to play. The lyrics were appropriate, too, since Ben couldn’t
seem to keep his eyes off of Liz, and he sure couldn’t explain why.
thinking the same.”
don’t like Endless Love, either?”
much, no,” Liz said. “Brandt thought he was being cute by requesting it. It was
our wedding song.”
didn’t sound at all happy about it, which would match her expression during the
dance. Ben officially had no idea what to make of Liz’s relationship with her
ex-husband. “And you don’t look back on your wedding day fondly?” He hoped he
wasn’t prying. Surely, she’d understand that he had some questions, given the
events of the afternoon.
wedding day was fine,” Liz said. “It’s the marriage that left something to be
still want him back.” It was a statement, not a question.
frowned. “What gave you that idea?”
claimed to not want Brandt back? Now Ben was more confused than ever. “Not
what. Who. Todd, when he suggested this whole thing to me.”
course. I should have figured.” Liz chuckled. “I’m afraid our mutual friends
don’t always understand my somewhat twisted history with Brandt.”
makes three of us, then,” Ben said. “Are you saying you don’t want him back?” He found himself hoping that was the case,
although the whole jealousy plan would then make even less sense.
“I wish I
could give you an easy answer.” Liz sighed. “It’s a long story. Maybe I’ll get
a chance to tell you sometime. I probably owe you that much, given what you’ve
had to put up with today. For now, can we just dance? I like dancing with you,
nodded, happy to oblige. “I like dancing with you too.”
wanted a warm bath, a cold glass of wine and the chance to unwind and reflect
after an afternoon that managed to be joyous, bittersweet, and maddeningly
confusing all at the same time. First, she had an obligation to get her date
back home safely. Although he’d played his part to perfection, Liz figured Ben
was probably more than ready for their date to be over. And who could blame
him? He’d just endured an afternoon with a babbling, blubbering
mother-of-the-bride who couldn’t seem to make up her mind what she wanted from
silently cursed Brandt as she drove back to Concord. Maggie had certainly
nailed it when she remarked on Brandt’s ability to mess with Liz’s head and
heart. He’d done plenty of both today, from showing up with Marissa, to
choosing their wedding song for the dance, the barely-averted kiss attempt and
then almost sounding regretful when she reminded him of the infidelities that ended
very quiet all of the sudden,” Ben remarked.
tired. It’s been quite a day,” Liz said. “Besides, I figure you’ve probably had
enough of me by now.”
I had a good time today. I enjoyed getting to know you, Liz.”
she admitted as she pulled the car to a stop in front of Ben’s house. He was
intelligent, funny and a perfect gentleman. Oh, and gorgeous. How could she
forget that? “You’re a good sport for going along with all of this.”
said, I enjoyed it.” He shrugged. “And hey, I got to put those acting classes
to good use.”
classes. That’s right. None of his attention was real. She needed to remember
that. “I’m glad they came in handy.” She gave him a smile. “Good night, Ben.”
He unfastened his seatbelt, but instead of
reaching for the door handle he turned to face her. “Good night, Liz.” He put
his hand on her cheek and brushed his lips across hers.
Brandt tried to kiss her, Liz’s first instinct had been to pull away. This
time, her body had the opposite reaction. It didn’t want to pull away. It
wanted to move closer. It wanted to respond to the sensation of Ben’s lips on
hers. Common sense prevailed, though. “There’s no one else around.” The words
came out slightly breathless. “You don’t have to pretend to be interested in me
know that,” Ben said, then let himself out of the car.
Michele Shriver writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her books feature flawed-but-likeable characters in real-life settings. She’s not afraid to break the rules, but never stops believing in happily ever after. Michele counts among her favorite things a good glass of wine, a hockey game, and a sweet and sexy book boyfriend, not necessarily in that order.