The Art of Romance (Matchmakers Series #2)

The Art of Romance (Matchmakers Series #2)

4.4 28
by Kaye Dacus
     
 

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Up-and-coming author Kaye Dacus presents the second of her new inspirational and humorous romance series, where two meddling matchmakers conspire to unite their artistic grandchildren.

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Overview


Up-and-coming author Kaye Dacus presents the second of her new inspirational and humorous romance series, where two meddling matchmakers conspire to unite their artistic grandchildren.

Editorial Reviews

Fresh Fiction - Viki Ferrel

THE ART OF ROMANCE is truly a delightful blend of art and romance. This inspirational novel explores the way our past creates our present and hopefully molds our future. There are many truths brought to light in this story and valuable lessons to be learned. Kaye Dacus has given us some wonderful secondary characters that truly support Caylor and Dylan in their search for love. This is a story too good to miss!

RT Book Reviews - Angie Howatt

This is the second book in the Matchmaker series by Dacus, and it has a good mix of smart, fun and witty characters. The romance between Dylan and Caylor is genuine and faces everyday challenges that make it even more realistic.
Word Up! - Stacey Dale

This is an incredibly enjoyable novel…especially if you have a love of the creative arts. This book touched a place in my heart that has been dormant for quite a while. Now, I’ve broken out the sketch pad and pencils, inspired by this wonderful story.
Hott Books - Regina Hott

Snazzy! This is one of those books that you must keep lying around the house to grab when you need a comforting old friend. The characters felt so real and so very familiar that it's hard to even explain. I loved the author meets artist scenario but I honestly think that my favorite part is that the characters don't really take themselves too seriously (well, not the main characters). It's really refreshing to see people who have many of the same character traits that I look for when choosing friends. For instance, there is a part in the book when Caylor is with someone who is drinking, quite a lot, I loved how she handled that and how nonjudgmental the players in the scene were with each other. Kaye Dacus writes a refreshing fun romance!!
Power Of Story Blog - Cheryl Olson

I think that Kaye Dacus does a nice job of taking her characters on a journey where they truly do grow and change. They are not perfect people, some more flawed than others, but with God’s help trying to change and grow and become all that they are meant to be. I just think it brings hope to show the process and how they change, as opposed to,” they are perfect from the beginning and have it all together all the time”. Kaye Dacus always throws some cute humor in her characters as well, which makes it fun to read. It’s also a pretty sweet love story with just the perfect ending. So, if you’re in the mood for that sweet Contemporary Christian Romance- then I think you’ll enjoy this book. And the moral of the story- always listen to your Grandma.

I Deal in Hope - Carolyn Scheidies

A story that starts slow, but builds to a satisfying conclusion. With the involvement of meddling grandmothers, humor adds another weave to the story of wounds, romance and second chances.

Fresh Fiction

THE ART OF ROMANCE is truly a delightful blend of art and romance. This inspirational novel explores the way our past creates our present and hopefully molds our future. There are many truths brought to light in this story and valuable lessons to be learned. Kaye Dacus has given us some wonderful secondary characters that truly support Caylor and Dylan in their search for love. This is a story too good to miss!

— Viki Ferrel

RT Book Reviews

This is the second book in the Matchmaker series by Dacus, and it has a good mix of smart, fun and witty characters. The romance between Dylan and Caylor is genuine and faces everyday challenges that make it even more realistic.

— Angie Howatt

Hott Books

Snazzy! This is one of those books that you must keep lying around the house to grab when you need a comforting old friend. The characters felt so real and so very familiar that it's hard to even explain. I loved the author meets artist scenario but I honestly think that my favorite part is that the characters don't really take themselves too seriously (well, not the main characters). It's really refreshing to see people who have many of the same character traits that I look for when choosing friends. For instance, there is a part in the book when Caylor is with someone who is drinking, quite a lot, I loved how she handled that and how nonjudgmental the players in the scene were with each other. Kaye Dacus writes a refreshing fun romance!!

— Regina Hott

Word Up!

This is an incredibly enjoyable novel…especially if you have a love of the creative arts. This book touched a place in my heart that has been dormant for quite a while. Now, I’ve broken out the sketch pad and pencils, inspired by this wonderful story.

— Stacey Dale

Power Of Story Blog

I think that Kaye Dacus does a nice job of taking her characters on a journey where they truly do grow and change. They are not perfect people, some more flawed than others, but with God’s help trying to change and grow and become all that they are meant to be. I just think it brings hope to show the process and how they change, as opposed to,” they are perfect from the beginning and have it all together all the time”. Kaye Dacus always throws some cute humor in her characters as well, which makes it fun to read. It’s also a pretty sweet love story with just the perfect ending. So, if you’re in the mood for that sweet Contemporary Christian Romance- then I think you’ll enjoy this book. And the moral of the story- always listen to your Grandma.

— Cheryl Olson

I Deal in Hope

A story that starts slow, but builds to a satisfying conclusion. With the involvement of meddling grandmothers, humor adds another weave to the story of wounds, romance and second chances.

— Carolyn Scheidies

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607422310
Publisher:
Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/01/2011
Series:
Matchmakers Series , #2
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
196,089
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Art of Romance


By Kaye Dacus

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Kaye Dacus
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-232-7


CHAPTER 1

And they lived happily ever after. Period. The end." Caylor put down her favorite pen—the one with the sparkly purple ink—and twisted in her chair until her back popped in several places. She could understand her editor's wanting to get proofing on this book finished before Christmas, but to give her a due date for two weeks after Thanksgiving—which translated into the Friday before finals week—was ridiculous. She'd begged to have the deadline extended a week. Then she could have worked on the galleys while her students took their tests. But her request had been soundly, but kindly, denied.

No use fretting over something that wasn't to be. The work was done, and it would only take her another hour or so to type up a list of all the changes to e-mail back to her editor. And if she got the e-mail sent before midnight, she'd have beaten her Friday deadline by one day, technically.

But if she was going to keep working, she needed sustenance. As quietly as she could, she slipped down the stairs from her loft, skipping the third step from the bottom that squealed like a puppy with its head stuck in a fence.

She turned on the light over the sink instead of flooding the room with the original 1950s fluorescent lights. Opening the first of the three tall cabinets that served as the pantry, she pulled out the basket overflowing with packets of gourmet flavored hot chocolate. She dug through the assorted Mylar bags until she found what she wanted: sugar-free, dark-chocolate toffee. She put a mug of water in the microwave and set it for two minutes. She'd have to stop it before it beeped, lest she wake Sassy.

Next, she opened the middle cabinet. Back behind the multiple canisters of all different kinds of flour, she felt around for the Box. She and Sassy had agreed to keep it hidden behind the flour, because if Caylor didn't see it, she wouldn't want what was in it. At least not every day.

The Box wasn't there. Caylor pulled the flour bins out. Nope. No Box.

"Looking for this?"

Caylor jumped at her grandmother's soft voice, which coincided with the beeping of the microwave. Sassy held an opaque plastic storage bin, slightly larger than a shoe box, in both hands.

"I knew you had a deadline tomorrow, so when Trina, Lindy, and I stopped at Kroger on the way home from coffee this morning, I hit the Christmas candy aisle."

Caylor grinned. "Sass, I knew there was a reason I love you." Before Caylor pulled her mug out of the microwave, she grabbed the brushed stainless-steel kettle off the stove, filled it with fresh water, and put it back on over high heat. Then she fixed her own hot chocolate.

Sassy sat down at the end of the 1950s chrome and Formica table and popped the lid off the Box. Still stirring her drink, Caylor took the chair to her right and examined the booty. All kinds of miniature candy bars wrapped up in green, red, silver, and gold foil wrappers, mixed in with Hanukkah geld, a sentimental favorite Sassy got every year in honor of her Jewish grandmother. But Caylor dug through the stash, knocking at least a quarter of the candy out, until she came to what she knew her grandmother would have put on the very bottom—the chocolate-covered peanut butter Christmas trees.

"I only got a dozen of them," Sassy warned.

"For the twelve days of Christmas?" The kettle shrilled, and Caylor put the still- wrapped candy down beside her cup and got up to fix a cup of instant decaf coffee for her grandmother. "What flavor creamer?" Caylor opened the cabinet above the coffeepot only she used in the mornings.

Sassy squinted and moved her glasses around. "Belgian chocolate toffee."

Shaking her head at their similarities in taste, Caylor pulled down the canister of flavored powdered creamer and stirred two heaping spoonfuls into the double-strong instant coffee. Ever since she'd turned Sassy on to espresso-based lattes and cappuccinos, she'd insisted on having her coffee at home extra strong, extra creamy, extra sweet, and extra flavored.

Sassy took the purple mug with both hands, blew across the surface twice, and took a sip. "Ahh ... hits the spot. I wish the restaurant would decide to serve something other than plain coffee."

"Did y'all try somewhere new today?"

Sassy gave her an incredulous look. "Do you and your friends ever try somewhere new when you get together?"

"So you went to the Pfunky Griddle."

"They have the best banana, chocolate chip, raisin, and walnut five-grain pancakes around. And with peanut butter on top, then drizzled with honey ..." She kissed the tips of her fingers like an Italian. "Delicious."

Caylor wrinkled her nose at the combination her grandmother concocted at the make- it-yourself pancake restaurant. "Sassy, you know you aren't supposed to be overdoing it on the sugars and refined carbs."

She raised one thin eyebrow. "Look who's talking."

Caylor stopped with her teeth half sunk into the chocolate-covered peanut butter tree. She finished the bite, let the salty-sweetness saturate her mouth a moment, and swallowed. "Hey, now, I do this only on rare occasions—and I'm not the one with the blood-sugar issues."

"I know. You've been so disciplined about keeping away from it. I'm proud of you. How much weight have you lost?"

"About twenty pounds. I'm fitting back into all of my size 14s now." Though that had less to do with discipline and more to do with the fact that—between teaching, participation in the university's drama productions, and trying to get her latest book finished—the only time she wasn't running ninety-to-nothing to get her work finished was during the very few hours of sleep she got each night. Who had time to eat with a schedule like that? Of course, the healthier selections they'd started offering in the cafeteria at school helped considerably, too.

"Good for you. Now what do you want me to make for you to take to Zarah's Christmas party tomorrow night?"

"You don't have to do that. I can pick something up at the grocery store on my way."

As expected, Sassy looked thoroughly scandalized. Caylor hid her grin.

"No granddaughter of mine will go from this house taking food the likes of that." She stood and opened all three pantry doors, then moved back to lean against the table beside Caylor so she could see the contents of all three cabinets at the same time.

Caylor turned in her chair. "I told her I'd bring dessert."

"Excellent. Dessert's my middle name. Write this down."

Caylor finished off her confectionary tree and crossed the kitchen to pull the small magnetic whiteboard off the side of the fridge. She pushed the Box back and set the whiteboard on the table before resuming her seat.

Sassy mumbled to herself, pointing at things in the pantry. "Okay. Ready?"

"Ready." Caylor hovered the dry-erase pen over the clean, white surface.

"Corn syrup. Confectioners' sugar. Dark brown sugar. Oleo. Peppermint extract. Chunky peanut butter. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate. Butterscotch. Walnuts and pecans—"

"Sassy, there will only be twelve people there. We're not feeding an army."

"Quiet. I've got friends and parties to go to also, you know. Keep writing."

Caylor chuckled and decreased the size of her handwriting to be able to fit the continual stream of ingredients onto the board. When Sassy lost her driver's license shortly after Papa passed away, Caylor had agreed to move in and become her grandmother's companion and primary source of transportation. It had been a difficult decision—Caylor so enjoyed sharing a house with her two best friends, Zarah Mitchell and Flannery McNeill. But in the five years since then, Caylor had come to depend on Sassy as much as Sassy depended on her.

Which was why Caylor had resigned herself to the idea she would never marry—at least, not for a very long time. If she did, who would take care of Sassy?

* * *

Dylan Bradley picked at the dried blue paint on the knuckles of his left hand. He hoped this wouldn't take long—if the canvas dried too much before he could get back to it, the painting would be ruined.

"We're happy you decided to move back to Nashville, to let us and your parents help you get back on your feet. But while you're living in the guesthouse, there are some ground rules we wanted to cover."

Rules, rules, rules. That was all anybody ever wanted to talk to him about. What good were rules when all they did was keep people from pursuing what made them happy?

Though he currently sat at his grandparents' kitchen table, the tense atmosphere created by being in the same room with a retired university president and a retired judge reminded him forcibly of the meeting he'd had just over a week ago with the president of the art college where he taught. Used to teach. It was easy enough for him to think of this as a Christmas break just like every other Christmas break—except he was here in Nashville instead of enjoying the gala art scene in Philadelphia.

Not the way he'd expected his Friday morning to go. Dylan feigned attention as his grandmother reviewed the "agreement" they expected him to sign and abide by in exchange for living rent-free in the converted carriage house behind their large Victorian home. Paying utilities. Blah, blah. Respect the historical integrity of the building. Blah, blah, blah. Find some kind of paying work. Blah, blah, blah, blah. No women spending the night.

Dylan's face burned. He'd never felt comfortable with the level to which his relationship with Rhonda had progressed—though it had been an eye-opening lesson on living outside of the rules; but he'd hoped his grandparents hadn't figured it out. In vain, obviously.

"And you are to attend church every Sunday. You can go to church with us, or you can find another church that you prefer." Perty gazed at him expectantly over the rim of her fashionable, aqua-framed reading glasses.

He should've known—his parents had freaked out two years ago when he admitted to them he no longer attended church regularly. Why wouldn't he expect the same from his grandparents? "And if I choose to go somewhere else, how will you know?"

"Dylan, dear, we're not doing this to make you feel like a child." Perty reached over and wrapped her small hand around his larger one. "We're hoping that by asking you to start attending church again, you'll regain some of the self-respect you've lost over the last couple of years."

The last couple of years? Ha. If his grandparents or parents ever learned what he'd really done to put himself through college and supplement his teaching income the first year or two, they would know he had no self-respect to rebuild.

"We would like for you, as an adult, to determine the best way to show us you're willing to abide by this agreement." Gramps should have been wearing his black judge's robe, as Dylan could not imagine his voice had sounded much different fifteen or twenty years ago when he passed sentences in civil court cases.

"We also think getting involved in church will help you meet people your age who can help you settle in to your new life here more quickly," Perty added.

And, no doubt, act as good influences on him. "Okay."

"Okay? As in okay to the entire agreement, or okay you understand this part of it?"

"Okay as in let's sign the agreement." What was the point in arguing or trying to negotiate? He didn't have a job; he didn't want to cash in his 401(k); and just paying utilities, groceries, and gas would start dwindling his savings account pretty quickly.

As instructed by Gramps, Dylan initialed and dated the bottom corner of each page of both copies of the agreement before signing and dating the last page of both beside his grandparents' signatures. Perty collated the pages and stapled each copy.

What, no notary public? No case number and surety just in case he broke the agreement?

All right. This over-the-top cynicism was starting to get to him. He put down the pen and flexed his left hand against a sensation of his skin's being too tight and not stretching correctly. He looked down. Blue. He needed to get back to his painting.

"Is that everything?" Dylan drummed his thumb against his thigh.

Gramps raised his eyebrows, but before he could speak, Perty reached over and squeezed his arm.

"I suppose," Perty said, her blue eyes twinkling, "it would be too much to ask you to cut your hair."

Dylan reached up and touched the bush of curls held back from his face with an elastic band around the crown of his head. He'd started growing it out when Rhonda mentioned how much better she thought certain male celebrities looked with long hair.

"Don't worry. We don't want to put too many unreasonable demands on you." Perty handed him his copy of the agreement. "Oh, but that reminds me, if you have your curriculum vitae ready, I can pass it along to Sassy Evans's granddaughter who teaches at James Robertson University. Caylor says they're always looking for adjuncts, especially in the art department."

Perty's suggestion surprised him. As an alumna, former professor, and the first female president of JRU, Perty could have simply made a phone call to one of her many contacts at the college and ensured Dylan the choice of any course he wished to teach.

"Maybe I should take it out myself tomorrow." Last thing he wanted was to have everyone at the college believing he'd gotten the job simply because of his grandmother's connection to the school. He was tired of taking handouts.

Perty reached around to the kitchen breakfast bar behind her and grabbed a notepad from one of the open shelves below. She scrawled something and handed the top sheet to Dylan. "This is Caylor's office number. Give her a call, and I'm sure she'd be happy to give you a tour of the campus and introduce you around."

I'm not a child, Perty. I can figure out how to get around a college campus on my own, thanks. He didn't even want to know why his grandmother had this woman's office phone number memorized. He tucked the note into his shirt pocket—where he'd probably forget about it until his next load of laundry came out with little bits of paper all over it.

He looked at them with raised brows. He shouldn't have to ask his question again. I've eaten all my brussels sprouts. May I please be dismissed? Actually, he liked brussels sprouts, especially the way they made them at the little German restaurant and biergarten near the art school. Oh how he would miss hanging out there with his graduate students after studio on Thursday and Friday evenings.

"If you don't have any questions for us"— Perty looked at Gramps then back at Dylan—"you can go do whatever it is that we took you from earlier. And you know you're welcome to join us for lunch at noon."

He graced them with a single nod of his head and left the table—only to turn back after two steps and snatch his copy of the agreement to take with him. If he was going to have to depend on his grandparents' charity for his temporary living arrangements until he could figure out where he wanted to go from here, at least he had the carriage house—set back about fifty feet from the museum-like Victorian he'd always hated visiting as a child, from being told not to touch anything. Back then, the upstairs of the carriage house had been nothing more than a big open space where he and his younger brothers could run around to their hearts' content in bad weather. Now it boasted an apartment any of those hoity-toity patrons of the art school would have been jealous of. Almost nine hundred square feet, granite and stainless kitchen, wood floors throughout, and big, airy rooms. An apartment like this in Philly would have been far out of his price range. Thus his primary reason for ignoring his conscience and moving in with Rhonda.

He entered the outbuilding through the side door. He supposed he didn't mind having his grandparents' Mercedes and Lexus as his downstairs neighbors. He crossed the garage and stepped up into the workroom—the workroom that was now his art studio.

The canvas on the easel taunted him, as if it knew what he'd just been through.

Blue. Gray. Green. No. All wrong.

He grabbed the tubes of lemon yellow and cadmium red, streaked them together on his palette, and slashed yellow-orange-red across the boring fades of blues and grays. He stepped back, dipped into the puddle of swirled brightness, and went a little Jackson Pollock on the canvas, enjoying the stark droplets of brightness against the somber background as he flicked and flung his brush to splatter and drip the paint onto the image.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus. Copyright © 2011 Kaye Dacus. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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