A VALENTINE PROPOSAL
by Viv Royce
Publication Date: January 13, 2020
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Bliss, Contemporary, “Small Town” Romance, Sweet Romance
Just as free-spirited bookstore employee Cleo Davis faces closure of her beloved shop, the owner informs her it will continue as part of the successful Stephens chain. When the chain’s risk assessor, the very reserved, very attractive Mark Stephens, enters the store to look over her business plan, Cleo clashes with him right away. Oil and water have nothing on them.
Mark has always followed the rules. But the minute he steps into vibrant and spunky Cleo’s store, he knows he’s in trouble. One moment he’s in her “craft corner” painting bookends with kids, the next in a bidding war with Cleo at a charity auction. He can’t deny that opposites attract, and Cleo’s vivacious personality has him rethinking his life in more ways than one.
But when Cleo’s store officially becomes part of the bookstore chain, Mark will become her boss…and completely off limits.
*NOTE* A Valentine Proposal is clean read, a super sweet small town romance, think a Hallmark movie, with just hand holding and kisses (no sex scenes at all, also not behind closed doors).
She scrambled to her feet and stood in front of him, just a fraction shorter than he was. Her face was turned down as she surveyed the thing in her hands, a rather ragged old black teddy bear, and she plucked a dust bunny off its left ear. Her brows puckered in concentration, but her lips parted in a ready smile that lit up her face.
She looked at him with beaming eyes, ready to say something, it seemed, but then hesitated, as if realizing he wasn’t the person she had expected him to be. Disappointment pricked because that gorgeous smile wasn’t for him. Remember what you’re here for.
He gave her a questioning look. “Miss Davis?”
Cleo’s breathing rasped from the repeated attempts to retrieve the runaway bear. It grew even shallower as she stared into the ice blue eyes of this unfamiliar man. With his short-cropped blond hair and athletic physique, he could have been Daniel Craig materialized in her bookshop. Nice surprise on an ordinary day.
If only she hadn’t been clutching a raggedy teddy bear full of dust. Her clothes had probably picked up dust bunnies here and there, and her hair could no longer be called styled. Just my luck. A nervous giggle threatened to break free. “Where’s the little boy?”
“What little boy?”
“The little boy who owns this teddy. He lost him in the book castle, and I went in to retrieve him. I thought he would wait here.” Cleo looked around her. Her elation over having found the bear died a quick death at the idea the little boy was now missing. What if he had gone outside to look for his mommy or older brother and was now wandering in the street where he could run under a passing car?
The door opened, and a woman walked in briskly, carrying the child on her arm. The older boy followed her with dragging steps, kicking the small stool as he passed it.
“Ah!” the woman called as she spotted Cleo and drew closer. “Do you…” Her gaze fell to the bear in Cleo’s hands. “There he is,” she said to the child on her arm. “Now stop crying.”
“Here’s Puddles. He really liked it in the castle. He was looking for treasure.” Cleo held up the bear to the little boy, who pulled him from her grasp and buried his face in his tummy. The mother said, “I only asked Boyd to keep an eye on his younger brother while I was across the street.” Without a further explanation or apology, she grabbed the older child by the shoulder and marched him out of the shop.
Cleo stared after them as the door closed, and she laughed. “That went well.” She looked down at the dust clinging to the knees of her pants. She didn’t want to lean down and pick it off in front of the Daniel Craig lookalike, so she put on her brisk smile. “Sorry about that. All in a day’s work. How may I help you?”
He reached out his hand.
She stared at it. Why introduce yourself when you want to buy a book? Uncertain, she put her hand in his. His grasp was warm and firm, and the contact was too short for her liking.
“Cleo Davis,” she replied on autopilot. The name he mentioned sank in, dropping her stomach. “Stephens? As in…”
“I’m the risk assessor for the chain.”
Risk assessor. She hadn’t expected the Stephens chain to send one.
To see how much of a risk I will be?
Cleo has never felt she was the daughter that her parents wanted her to be so when she pursued her love of books rather than her career as a lawyer it was just another way she disappointed them. Now that her boss is interested in selling the bookstore to a corporation she must convince them that keeping the store exactly the way it is will be the best solution for the store and them.
Mark’s family owns the corporation that is interested in the store where Cleo works and other stores in the area as well. He comes in with his list of expectations and is surprised when she doesn’t immediately fall in line and is skeptical of her plans for the store. Will Mark need to choose between the love he feels for Cleo and his loyalty to his family?
These two are perfect for each other as she helps him see what he wants out of life and he shows her that she is perfect just the way she is.
ABOUT VIV ROYCE
With the same trademark atmospheric settings, relatable characters and cute canines that made several of her cozy mysteries #1 Amazon US and Canada bestsellers in multiple categories, Vivian Conroy pens romance as Viv Royce, creating heartthrob heroes ranging from rugged pilots to royals reluctant to believe in true love who meet their match in that girl next door or the co-worker with the business ideas exactly opposing their own — happy endings guaranteed! When not frequenting fictional worlds, Viv loves to hike (especially in the mountains), craft with paper, felt and clay, and hunt for the perfect cheesecake. Quite active on Twitter, she’s the founder of #HistFicChat, a live Twitter chat about historical fiction, featuring authors like Kate Quinn, Anna Lee Huber and Susan Spann, and would love for readers to follow her and connect via @VivWrites.
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