Kids get away with saying most anything, like Aunt Gina should marry that "charmer" she met at her sister's wedding. But Gina won’t have anything to do with that guy who played with her heart that night—he’s a heartbreaker—no matter how much her niece and nephews adore him now. Besides, the two come from different worlds. Gina’s a workaholic career woman; he’s the irresponsible flirt. Whenever they meet, there are fireworks, and not the good kind. That is, until her sister wins a cruise to the Caribbean and asks the two to babysit for 2 weeks. Sparks fly as they find a way to play house without burning the place down. Forget marriage—these two shouldn't even date. And what do kids know anyway? Maybe everything.
“Oh, hey,” he said casually, “hold the door.” Without my making a move to do so, his hand stopped the doors from shutting between us, and I got a full view of his face. I liked his eyes—they were vibrant blue and full of life, and now they creased into a myriad of laugh lines.
He stepped inside with me. He was tall and standing very close. He acted like it wasn’t a big deal and smiled at me before hitting the button for the thirteenth floor. The button didn’t light up. He shrugged and dug his hands deep into the pockets of his dress pants. “I guess that means no thirteenth floor.” He leaned against the back of the elevator and tucked his cell phone away. His gaze drifted to the gift bag in my hand. “You going to the wedding?”
The elevator doors closed us in together and I tried to adopt his casual manner while holding up the brightly colored bag between us. “What was the giveaway?”
His eyes crinkled at the corners. “Is it any good?”
He nodded. I felt like I was getting punked. How could he have guessed that I had no idea what I was bringing to this wedding? He couldn’t. I shrugged. “It’s the usual boring…”
He leaned over and peered past the pink tissue paper. “You got the lucky couple toothbrushes? Are you a dentist?”
“No!” I swatted him away but was laughing all the same. How could my mother think that toothbrushes were better than a tool set? I tried to deflect his attention from the gift. “I work advertising. Just down the street actually.”
“Oh really? I work downtown too.”
“Nice. Wait,” I stared down at his empty hands. No gift. My eyes went to his laughing ones. “Are you a wedding crasher?”
“Do you want me to be?”
“I…” this guy was unbelievable. He took bantering to a new level. I was horrible at real conversation—it was so boring. But banter? I was amazing at that. I relaxed. This guy was in no position to judge. “Yes,” I admitted with a smile, even though I didn’t believe he was crashing for a second. “Though you’re clearly an amateur. Wedding Crasher 101—bring an empty gift so no one is suspicious.”
His eyes turned appreciative at that. “And you?” he asked.
“I was invited,” I said, “but it was one of those invites that people have to give, you know?”
He looked intrigued. “Why is that?”
I pursed my lips and decided against ruining the moment by getting too personal. “I’m related.”
His eyes turned watchful. “To the bride or to the groom?”
“Good,” he said.
Before I could ask what he meant, we passed the thirteenth floor and he whistled. “Makes you wonder why they won’t let anyone on the thirteenth. What are they hiding there?”
“An alternate dimension where they hide dead bodies,” I said without hesitation.
He snickered. “You’re not even curious, are you?”
“I’m always curious,” I said. “I’m just used to disappointment.”
I lifted my shoulder. “Getting caught for trespassing isn’t on the schedule for tonight. Maybe another time.”
He nodded in understanding. The 22nd floor was fast approaching and for some reason, I felt myself getting more nervous than I was twenty minutes ago. Everyone asked me where my prince charming was at my younger cousin’s wedding two years ago and I wasn’t ready for that again. The rushing sound as we passed each floor felt ominous, and I wasn’t sure why I felt so anxious. All my faults came at me, my fear of not measuring up. I was happy for my sister, sure, and wanted her to know that I loved and supported her, but my mother had said it: Emily wouldn’t even know that I was there. So why did I have to go right away?
The elevator door opened on the 22nd floor, bringing in the loud laughter and chatter. Two little girls in puffy white dresses stood at the door. They grabbed my gift for Emily and ran away with my jacket. Still, I couldn’t leave the elevator. I turned to the stranger beside me like he was my lifeline. “You know what?” I asked. “I’m really tired of disappointment. Aren’t you?” He looked confused and I tried to clarify. “I’m dying to know what’s on the thirteenth floor.”
He didn’t move, even as the elevator made its warning noises for us to get out. “Wait.” A dimple played at the corner of his mouth. “You aren’t kidding?” I shook my head and he hit a button that made the door close us back into the elevator. “Great. Let’s go on an adventure together.”
I liked Gina and Ash. They were fun, relatable characters and I enjoyed their interactions and banter, especially in the beginning with the "first meet". I wish there would have been more of those kind of moments. Sometimes I felt like the focus of the story got to be more about the children than Gina and Ashley which made this book feel a bit long. (It IS a long book at over 300 pages!) The kids are cute, don't get me wrong, and the author nailed the ages, but maybe a more condensed version of all their antics?
Regardless, I really did enjoy the story. It was easy to visualize and easy to like all the characters involved. Their faults made them human and endearing and I loved how it all came together in the end. This book is guaranteed to make you smile.
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Author Stephanie Fowers Stephanie Fowers loves bringing stories to life, and depending on her latest madcap ideas will do it through written word, song, and/ or film. She absolutely adores Bollywood and bonnet movies; i.e., BBC (which she supposes includes non-bonnet movies Sherlock and Dr. Who). Presently, she lives in Salt Lake where she's living the life of the starving artist. This summer, she will do the reading of her musical, "The Raven" with the talented composer, Hilary Hornberger. She also expects to film some shorts with Triad Film Productions. Stephanie plans to bring more of her novels out to greet the light of day. Be sure to watch for her upcoming books, including YA fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, a compilation of short twisted fairy tales, and more--many more--romantic comedies. May the adventures begin.
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