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Etta Green kissed Everson, Texas, goodbye years ago. A big city chef, she intends to return only long enough to settle her beloved grandmother's estate and then hightail it back to Chicago. But Grammy Hazel had other plans. In her will, she left Etta part-ownership of a B&B that's about to go bankrupt before it even opens. And what's worse--Etta's partner is Donny Joe Ledbetter, a handsome devil with some serious bad ...
Etta Green kissed Everson, Texas, goodbye years ago. A big city chef, she intends to return only long enough to settle her beloved grandmother's estate and then hightail it back to Chicago. But Grammy Hazel had other plans. In her will, she left Etta part-ownership of a B&B that's about to go bankrupt before it even opens. And what's worse--Etta's partner is Donny Joe Ledbetter, a handsome devil with some serious bad boy charm. Growing up, Donny Joe didn't give Etta a second glance. Now, she's got his whole attention.
A far cry from the shy bookworm he once knew, sexy, spirited Etta Green is nothing but trouble. Yet Donny Joe decides to play nice. After all, the quicker they open the B&B, the faster this exasperating--and irresistible--woman will be on her way. Donny Joe has never been a one-woman kind of man. But one crazy little moment of unforgettable desire may change his mind--if he can convince Etta to stay for good...
"A story full of warmth, wit and charm."
--Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author
"Sweet, sassy, and oh, my yes - sexy! Molly Cannon's debut Ain't Misbehaving is delicious fun! If you like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Kristan Higgins, you'll love Molly Cannon."
--Mariah Stewart, New York Times bestselling author of Hometown Girl
You can't take time off now. It's out of the question." Diego Barrett, head chef at Finale's, made his decree and turned back to the stove as if everything was settled.
Etta swiped at a lone tear and sniffed. It was hard to believe she'd ever thought she was in love with this guy. "Diego, I'm not asking for your permission. My grandmother died, and I'm going to Texas to take care of the arrangements."
He never looked her way as he banged around the restaurant kitchen, lifting lids, stirring a pot here, tasting a sauce there. "What about your sister? She lives in Texas. Why can't she handle things?" He stomped over to the table that held menu plans and supply lists. "And how the hell am I supposed to get anyone to cover for you on such short notice? The Mann party is coming in tomorrow night, and they could make or break our reputation. Remember, Etta? The Mann party? The big opportunity we've been working our asses off for?"
"If you could stop ranting long enough to listen I'll tell you. Mimi will cover for me tomorrow, and everything will be fine. But I'll be gone at least a week. Adjust the schedule accordingly."
"For God's sake, why can't you wait a day or two? Why do you have to leave right now? I need you here."
"The question you should be asking is, 'Are you okay, Etta? Is there anything I can do to help?'"
Sounding like a spoiled child, he tried guilt. "You know what kind of pressure I'm under. Thank you for adding to it."
She took off her apron and started gathering her things. "And thank you for your support, Diego."
"How's this for support?" He sat down at the table, his tone overwrought. "If you leave me now, don't bother to come back."
Without a second thought, she picked up a vat of cold soup, a lovely vichyssoise, and dumped it in his lap. "Oops. There goes the soup of the day."
His howl of outrage and the pungent smell of leeks followed her out the door.
Donny Joe Ledbetter hated funerals.
He huddled in his thin black suit coat as an uncommonly bitter wind whipped through Everson Memorial Gardens and battered the mourners who'd gathered graveside to pay their respects to the dearly departed Hazel Green. Miz Hazel, as she was known by one and all, had lived a colorful life and had died too soon at the frisky age of sixty-eight.
Amen and bless her soul.
She would be missed by the good folks in Everson, including Donny Joe. She'd been his next door neighbor, a grandmother figure of sorts, a never-ending source of unsolicited advice—some good, some bad. And of late, his business partner.
He didn't treat her passing lightly, so when he was asked to be a pallbearer he agreed without hesitation. He had a real affection for the old girl. Too bad he couldn't say he felt the same about her granddaughter.
He let his gaze travel over Etta Green. She had steamed back into Everson a few days ago to take care of the funeral arrangements for her grandmother, but grief could only go so far in excusing her surly attitude. Not that he'd had any direct encounters with her, but it hadn't taken long for word to spread via the town grapevine that she'd bulldozed everyone in her path. Out of the respect people had for Miz Hazel, she'd gotten away with it. Now she perched on one of the spindly chairs set up for the family in front of the casket, her small fireplug of a body vibrating with defiance and anger.
What a piece of work.
He took in her face, grief clearly etched in every feature while the howling wind tossed her short dark brown hair around her head in all directions. Dressed all in black, her fists were clenched tightly in her lap as if it were all she could do not to shake them at the heavens for taking her beloved Grammy away too soon. Her pointy high-heeled black pumps tapped out a nervous rhythm on the dry winter grass, suggesting she might kick the shins of the first person who dared express any hint of sympathy. Donny Joe planned to keep his distance.
By contrast her older sister Belle had arrived in Everson just in time for the service. Ah, Belle. They'd had a mainly one-sided flirtation one summer a long time ago, and he hadn't seen her since. She'd grown into an attractive, and from all appearances, even-tempered woman. Sitting demurely, ankles crossed, she wore a simple gray dress set off by a wide-brimmed black hat. A veil covered her face, giving her the air of an Italian film actress. She sobbed quietly behind the filmy material while her daughter Daphne stared straight ahead, not squirming or wiggling around like most young kids he knew. In fact she showed no emotion of any kind.
Donny wished he could be as stoic. Miz Hazel's death had hit him harder than he'd expected. Despite her untimely demise she'd lived a good life, and the gathered crowd was a testament to how many people she'd touched. Shivering in the cold of the cemetery, surrounded by the grave markers of Everson's deceased made him wonder about his own life. Who would shed a tear if he was to meet his maker tomorrow? Would anybody really give a damn if he lived or died? It gave a man pause.
Brother East, the Baptist preacher, asked everyone to bow their heads in prayer. Then after a chorus of murmured "Amens," he instructed the pallbearers to say their final farewells by placing their boutonnieres on top of the half-lowered glossy white casket. Donny Joe removed the pearl-tipped pin holding the pink rosebud onto his lapel and trailed along in line with the others. Each man said a quick good-bye to Miz Hazel and laid their rose beside the giant funeral spray that adorned the box holding her remains. Donny Joe could feel his eyes start to water and blamed it on the stinging wind. When it was his turn, he stopped and took a moment with his thoughts.
"Good-bye, Miz Hazel," he said in a choked voice. "I'm going to miss you." He glanced up and his gaze locked unwillingly with Etta Green's. She lifted an eyebrow as if doubting his sincerity, and maybe his manhood, too. What the hell was her problem?
Rattled, he broke eye contact and stepped forward, boutonniere in hand.
His foot caught on a half-buried tree root, a root from the stately old oak that would stand sentry over Miz Hazel's final resting place. He stumbled, arms flailing, and then he fell. Fellow pallbearer Mitchell Crowley made a grab for him, catching only a handful of his suit coat as he landed squarely on top of the funeral spray and the casket underneath. Half the crowd gasped, and the other half laughed like things were just starting to get interesting.
For a stunned moment he lay there, his breath sawing in and out of his chest, feeling the polished wood and crushed blossoms pressed against his cheek, clutching the ornate edging that outlined the lid of the coffin to steady himself. The overwhelming floral smell filled his nose, and he could feel the tickle of a sneeze building. "A-a-achoo!"
"Bless you, Donny Joe," someone yelled from the buzzing crowd.
That got him moving. A shower of roses, carnations, daisies, and lilies of every color and hue scattered like a potpourri of rats deserting a sinking ship while he scrambled on hands and knees to get up. Phone cameras appeared throughout the crowd, capturing the moment for posterity.
Mitchell finally got a grip on one of his arms and helped haul him to his feet. "Get ahold of yourself, buddy. We're all going to miss her, but she's in a better place now."
"Sorry. Geez, I'm really sorry." Donny straightened up, rearranging his coat and brushing off his pants. The crowd mumbled and tittered—probably discussing how much he'd had to drink.
Undoubtedly dismayed by his oafish performance, Miz Hazel's granddaughters now stood, and he put out a hand in their direction, an apology of sorts. Belle Green lifted her veil, revealing her pretty tear-streaked face. Then she smiled and winked before letting the gauzy material fall back into place. Etta Green clenched her knotty little fists and skewered him with a glare hot enough to permanently singe all the hair from his body. Young Daphne stayed in her chair, stuck her thumb in her mouth and started to suck.
Etta hated lawyers.
She sat stick straight on the edge of a big leather wing chair in front of Mr. Corbin Starling's scarred walnut desk, impatiently waiting for him to commence with the reading of her grandmother's will. Not that she actually hated Mr. Starling. He seemed nice enough, but she'd never had anything good come from dealing with those in the legal profession, so the sooner they could get this over with, the sooner she could be on her way back to Chicago.
Her sister Belle lounged carelessly in the chair to her left, relentlessly texting and checking her phone for messages. Their appointment had been for ten a.m. They had arrived ten minutes early. It was now five after, and her grandmother's lawyer, after greeting them and asking if they wanted coffee or tea, left them to their own devices while he rifled through papers on his desk. Etta looked at her watch, and her foot started to tap. Patience wasn't one of her virtues in the best of times, and now the crushing sadness she felt over losing Grammy Hazel threatened to derail her thinly held control.
Mr. Starling seemed to notice her impatience and glanced up. "I apologize for the delay. We're just waiting for Mr. Ledbetter to arrive, and then we can get started."
Etta's foot stilled. "Mr. Ledbetter? As in Donny Joe Ledbetter?" The idiot who'd made a spectacle of himself at the funeral? She remembered him as a cocky, troublemaking teenager. Good Gravy.
"Yes, there are provisions that concern him."
Belle leaned forward in her chair, giving Mr. Starling a generous view of her generous bosom. His eyes widened in appreciation of the gesture. Etta stifled a flash of irritation. Her sister's idea of proper attire for a visit to see the family lawyer was a ruffled, low-cut red silk blouse and a pair of tight blue jeans. "I understand Donny Joe and Grammy Hazel got real close before she died," Belle informed them.
Etta turned to look at her sister. "They did? How do you know that?"
"I had a real nice conversation with Donny Joe after the service yesterday afternoon. And Grammy was always going on about how much help he was to her around the house."
Etta's foot started tapping again. Donny Joe Ledbetter was her grandmother's next door neighbor. She had vivid memories of him as a teenager from the summers she and Belle had spent at her grandmother's house. Flirtatious, smooth-talking, too cute for his own good, and always stirring up some kind of trouble.
That was Donny Joe, then and now. From what she'd heard he ran some kind of swimming pool business these days. Now that she thought about it, she did remember her grandmother mentioning him a lot during their frequent phone calls of late, but she realized with a sharp pang of regret, she'd been too busy talking about her own problems and hadn't paid much attention to the details.
Etta's first instinct was to suspect he'd taken advantage of her grandmother's trusting nature. But on the other hand, so what if he'd schmoozed his way into the old lady's affection and she'd left him some small token of her appreciation in her last will and testament?
Fine and dandy. What did she care?
But he could at least have the decency to show up on time so they could get this whole ordeal settled. Her business in Everson, Texas was almost finished, and now that Grammy Hazel was gone, she couldn't think of a good reason to stay any longer than necessary. Despite her assurances to Diego that he'd be fine without her, she couldn't help worry.
Finally, there was a knock on the office doorframe, and Donny Joe stuck his head around the corner. "Sorry I'm late, Corbin."
Mr. Starling stood up and waved him into the room. "Come on in, Donny Joe. We're ready to get started."
Donny doffed his cowboy hat and hung it on the coat rack by the door. "I had an emergency at the Senior Center. The pool wasn't heating properly, and if Splashing with the Oldies doesn't go on as scheduled there's hell to pay. But I apologize."
"Hey, Donny Joe," Belle looked up from her phone and gifted him with one of her dazzling smiles.
"Belle." He returned her smile with a dazzling one of his own, and then with the slightest nod in her direction acknowledged Etta's presence as well. "Morning, Etta."
He pulled a wooden chair up next to her, and sat with legs splayed wide, taking up more than his share of space in the room. Donny Joe was all lanky swagger, and Etta found herself bristling for no particular reason. Turning slightly in her chair, she angled her body so he was out of her line of sight, but a faint whiff of his cologne still wafted her way.
Mr. Starling cleared his throat and began addressing them somberly, so she focused on his words. "This is a sad occasion for us all. Hazel was a great friend to me and my family. We will miss her dearly, and you girls have my deepest condolences." He put both hands on his desk and sighed. "This is the will drawn up by your grandmother three and a half years ago on her sixty-fifth birthday."
He opened the file on his desk and began reading,
I, Hazel Faye Green, being of sound mind and body do hereby bequeath the following:
My string of pearls and matching earrings, the family recipe box, and my complete set of Nancy Drew Mysteries I leave to my great granddaughter, Daphne Jonquil Green.
My enamel turtle pin, my Joni Mitchell albums, and my Volkswagen bus I leave to my cousin, Beulah Cross.
My house, its contents and the surrounding five acres I leave to my granddaughters Etta Place Green and Belle Starr Green. I trust they will do all they can to keep the house since it has been in our family for over one hundred years.
Signed, Hazel Faye Green
Etta slumped back in her chair, fighting new tears. The provisions in the will were basically what she'd expected, but hearing the words read out loud made the pain of Grammy's death rise up and threaten to choke her all over again.
Grammy's house. Growing up, it had always been a safe haven, a place to escape the never-ending circus of her parents' chaotic marriage. And with Grammy Hazel's help, it was the place she learned to cook. She loved the nooks and crannies, the tall ceilings, the wooden floors. It wrapped around her, comforting her like one of Grammy's crocheted afghans. Built by her great-great grandfather and passed down to each new generation, the house still stood tall and strong, despite the human frailties of those who'd occupied it through the years. She was momentarily stirred by the connection with those who'd come before her. With the death of their father four years ago, the house now belonged to her and Belle.
But she would never seriously consider living in it. She had a life to get back to in Chicago.
Oh, of course she did. Surely Diego hadn't been serious when he'd fired her. And he couldn't really fire her. Not outright anyway. She was a minority owner in the place, after all. Just because he'd told her if she left not to come back. Just because she'd dumped a vat of cold potato soup in his lap on her way out the door. She could be volatile, but so could he. It wasn't the first time one of them had used food to emphasize a point, and it wouldn't be the last. Even if they didn't share a passion for each other any longer, they still shared a passion for their work and a passion to make Finale's one of the best restaurants in Chicago. That's why they made such a good team. Unfortunately, he held a controlling interest, and that put her at a disadvantage.
But back to the matter at hand. As far as she was concerned Cousin Beulah could continue to live in the house if that's what she wanted. Maybe rent out a room if she needed help around the place.
Or maybe Belle would consider moving back to Everson. It would provide a stable home for eight-year-old Daphne. Everson would be a great town to raise a child. And a stable home was something her niece hadn't known from the day she'd been born. They certainly had a lot to discuss. She glanced at Donny Joe. Why was he here again? The will hadn't said a word about him. She looked at Mr. Starling expectantly.
Excerpted from Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Molly Cannon. Copyright © 2013 Molly Cannon. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted September 3, 2013
Romances based on little, country towns have a special place in my heart. I grew up in a little Midwest bump in the road and can relate so much to those tiny worlds, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love is no different. Full of small town charm and zaniness, with that perfect blend of heat and heart, Cannon gives us a sweet tale about finding your place in the world. Full review available at RomanticReadsandSuch on Wordpress or BookTrib's Website.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2013
4.5 Star Review!
In Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Molly Cannon, Etta Green just told her business partner, and ex-boyfriend, Diego that she will be traveling to Everson, Texas to make arrangements for her grandmother's funeral. The news didn't go over so well. Their restaurant Finale's is having an important client dinner in a few days and they are still in the midst of preparations. Etta hopes when he tells her not to bother coming back that it's just an idle threat, but she has too much on her mind to worry about it now. Not one to give in to her emotions, Etta is a bundle of nerves trying to keep herself held together while dealing with her Grammy Hazel's will. She finds out that neighbor Donny Joe Ledbetter had been working with Hazel on a project to turn her house into a Bed & Breakfast. Etta has a sneaking suspicion that Donny Joe gave her grandmother the idea and is only interested in making money out of the deal. The only thing she remembers of him when she visited Hazel summers during her childhood was that he hung out with the popular crowd and loved to joke and get into trouble. She supposes probably not much has changed over the years. She soon learns that he invested money from his own business, Backyard Oasis, to get the project off the ground. At the reading of the will, Etta and her older sister Belle are told that Donny Joe gets the house if they don't follow through with the plans to complete the B&B.
Donny Joe and Etta continue to fight over every minute detail regarding the construction of the new Inn, as well as pretty much everything else under the sun. Then Belle takes off with her boyfriend to Paris, leaving Etta to care for eight year old Daphne, getting her enrolled in school in Everson, as well as handling their grandmother's estate. On top of it all, she's not sure how things stand in Chicago at Finale's until she takes a quick trip there. It seems Diego has fallen under the spell of a local socialite and they married immediately. Now she wants to buy out Etta's share of the business, which Etta promptly refuses. She returns to Everson feeling like her whole world has crashed down around her. To her surprise, Donny Joe picks her up from the airport and takes care of her that evening, showing her that he actually does have a compassionate side when it comes to her. They slowly call a truce to their bickering as the days pass and they work together to make Hazel's vision become a reality. When Donny Joe saves the day helping her come up with a crowd pleasing menu for their grand opening, Etta realizes she misjudged him when she first came back to town. She wonders if giving in to her growing feelings for him would put them both at risk for heartache once she figures out where she's headed in life, or if it would help push her in a new, positive direction.
Donny Joe Ledbetter is grieving over the loss of his good friend, neighbor, and more recently, business partner, Hazel Green. They've helped each other out many times over years and now it's up to him to fulfill her dream of turning her old family home into a B&B. But her granddaughters Belle and Etta are complicating matters. He wholeheartedly wants them to become involved in the process and then hopefully take over running the Inn. But Belle is as flighty as ever and leaves the country abruptly, and Etta has a bee in her bonnet over every single little thing he says and does. Donny Joe is busy enough with his own pool/outdoor furnishings business but makes the time to oversee that everything goes accordingly. He had already planned on moving Etta's cousin Beulah into his house while the kitchen is renovated but now he has to offer a place to stay to Etta and Daphne as well. To his surprise, they all coincide rather well and it's nice to have someone in his lonely old house for a change when he gets home at the end of a long day. He also finds Etta to be more charming than irritating as they work together more and more on the B&B. He's not sure if that's a good thing though. He thinks of her when she's not around and finds excuses to see her. It finally takes her ex showing up in town for Donny Joe to admit what his heart has known but his mind has been fighting: he's fallen for Etta in a big way. Now he just has to prove his intentions.
Molly Cannon has written a sweet, funny small town romance in Crazy Little Thing Called Love. It is incredibly easy to fall in love with all the characters and especially with the charm of the Hazelnut Inn itself. I thought there was a nice blend of humor, romance and family drama which created a smooth flow to the story. It was also easy to relate to Etta and Donny Joe as individuals as well. Etta just wanted to put down roots and build a home for herself after having to move so often as a child; and I loved how she shows her loved ones she cares by feeding them, as she's a formally trained chef. Donny Joe was misunderstood as a teen, having grown up on the wrong side of the creek, and still remains a bit of an enigma in town but he certainly redeems himself by the end of the story. I highly recommend this charming romance!
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Posted July 2, 2013
Sometimes you really have to wonder how in the world a hero and heroine are ever gonna make it to their happily ever after. Etta and Donny Joe. Whoboy do they put on a nice show getting to theirs in Crazy Little Thing Called Love. These two start things out...rather rough, okay, they pretty much go at it like cats and dogs. And it's so dag entertaining as they're forced to deal with each other to get her grandmother's dream, a Bed & Breakfast that affects both their futures, up and running.
They're just so feisty with each other and fun to watch. It's a slow going romance but the whole relationship seemed pretty genuine and real. They're characters you can see being together for the long haul. Not just a happy for not but really growing old together. And I loved all their interactions together. Seeing them wear each other down and go from spitting fire ready to throw down too friendship and romance. Even after they make nice they still have that teasing spark between them and get a kick out of riling each other up and putting that little bit of fire in the other's eyes. It really plays nicely with the sweeter moments as they start to fall for each other.
I really enjoyed most of the cast. Donny Joe and Etta are just good people even if they have a moment or two along the way. Her niece and elderly cousin were great additions too. I loved watching them with each other as they put together their new life and dealt with some pretty difficult situations that pop up with both family and the renovations on the Bed & Breakfast.
There were a couple minutes at the start of this one where I was thinking 'oh this is gonna be too cutsie for me'. What with the heroine saying things like good gravy and golly but I'm glad I kept reading because Cannon really had me falling for these two and their story. It's not the steamiest or the edgiest read but it's funny and sweet and will have me coming back for more.
Posted June 27, 2013
Posted June 25, 2013
Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Molly Cannon is a sweet contemporary romance. It is the story of Etta Green, a trained chef, who comes home to help settle her beloved grandmother’s affairs after her unexpected death. When she returns to Texas she gets more than she bargained for. She not only has to deal with the grief of losing her Grammy, but she also has to deal with her egocentric sister, her restaurant and partner in Chicago and her new partner Donny Joe.
I love the way Molly Cannon has multiple internal and external conflicts centering around Etta. It certainly develops her into a real life character — one I would love to meet!! Then there is Donny Joe who gives new meaning to the expression “good ol’ boy” – he is sweet and sincere with a tendency to just tell it like it is. This is a sweet read with lots of story line to keep you entertained from beginning to end!
Heat Rating: Mild
Reviewed By: A. Lyn
Review Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
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Posted June 25, 2013
This is a lovely romance novel about a really hard subject. Carly Lowry is an elementary school teacher whose husband, Jeff, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. She is living her life by merely existing, counting the days and wondering if she will ever feel normal again. She bonds with a group of other women in the same situation and finds her life getting somewhat better. During one of the group’s adventures she meets Staff Sgt. Dane Clark sitting alone in a cave and contemplating his life. Dane was a paratrooper who lost his foot in an IED explosion and had to have two subsequent amputations of more of his leg due to complications. He has not adapted to his new normal and on the fence about what the future holds for him.
This is not your typical light hearted romance. That said there are moments of humor and silliness. Most of the time this story is an honest look at the sacrifices that military spouses have made and respectful of how they cope when their loved ones die in battle. Carly and her friends live their lives and hope for future happiness but they have bittersweet memories that will never be left behind. . Ms. Pappano does an excellent job of portraying characters that are trying to balance the past and the present with an uncertain future. The relationship between Carly and Dane unfolds at just the right pace and feels realistic given the circumstances. They deserve a second chance at love and they have to work to get it.
Carly is further along the healing process than Dane and that causes some bumps in their road to happiness. There are friends and supporting characters who add so much to the story, especially Carly’s friend Therese who will be featured in the next book in the Tallgrass series- A Man to Hold On To.
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