Betts spins a realistic but problematic follow-up to 2009's Tangled Up in Love. Jenna Langan can't get over her ex-husband, undercover cop Gage Marshall, and the divorce she never wanted. Gage isn't happy either, but he can't bear to reveal that his work led him to undertake various reprehensible acts. One night, Jenna lures Gage over, drugs him and ties him up, and sexually assaults him-he does consent once he wakes up, but some readers may not find that sufficient mitigation-in hopes of getting pregnant. Gage is furious, but can't walk away if he might be a father. As they explore the lies that destroyed their marriage, their friend Grace revenges herself on her cheating fiancé by wrecking his apartment and car and stealing his dog. Readers looking for a diversion from formulaic perfect couples will certainly find it here, but the characters' amoral behavior is neither amusing nor compelling. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Loves Me, Loves Me Knotby Heidi Betts
Jenna Langan knows what she wants, and as she tells her best friends after their weekly knitting group, she doesn't need a man to give it to her…only a few of his best swimmers. And just because her marriage to undercover vice cop Gage Marshall ended badly doesn't mean he can't still give her the baby she's always wanted. In fact, she's willing to bet a… See more details below
Jenna Langan knows what she wants, and as she tells her best friends after their weekly knitting group, she doesn't need a man to give it to her…only a few of his best swimmers. And just because her marriage to undercover vice cop Gage Marshall ended badly doesn't mean he can't still give her the baby she's always wanted. In fact, she's willing to bet a couple of her favorite hand-knit boas that she can tie him up in knots he'll definitely enjoy…
An unexpected seduction is one thing, but stud service? No, thank you. Gage had his reasons for pulling the plug on his happily ever after with Jenna, and nothing that's happened since their divorce has changed his mind. That is, until Jenna got it into her head to tie him up and drag him down. Now he has no choice but to stick around until he knows for sure if his ex-wife is pregnant. But the more time he spends with Jenna, the more his resolve begins to unravel…
“Heidi Betts has a winning ability to mix comedy and sensuality with a lively flair that puts her in the top tier of contemporary romance writers.”—Lisa Kleypas
“Sexy, fun, and impossible to resist! I LOVED it.”—Lori Foster on Tangled Up in Love
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The Rob Thomas/Santana collaboration "Smooth" rocked from the small radio/CD player Jenna had set up on her aunt’s kitchen counter, cranked up high enough to be heard and thoroughly enjoyed over the loud whir of the blender. The girls would be here any minute, and she wanted to have the margaritas mixed and ready to go.
Hips twitching in time with the heavy Latin beat, she punched the blender’s off button and popped the lid, dipping her finger in for a tiny taste.
Mmm, perfect. Mango was definitely a good choice to start. She also had lime, lemon, pineapple, and watermelon-flavored mixes on hand, and all the tequila they could possibly need to make Mexican Night mucho, mucho ay caramba!
Even over the bass of the song and her own humming, Jenna heard the insistent pounding on the front door. She slid the volume dial to a slightly less molar-rattling level and ran to answer it.
The minute she turned the knob, Grace and Ronnie spilled into the house, arms loaded with paper sacks, fabric totes, and bottles dangling from their fingers.
A dozen delicious aromas wafted around them, making Jenna’s stomach growl. She’d barely eaten a thing all day, knowing they’d be stuffing themselves this evening with enough calories to make the local circus come looking to recruit them to take over the Fat Lady’s tent.
"We’re here," Grace announced somewhat breathlessly. "Let the fiesta begin!"
Laughing, Jenna took a few items from each of them to lighten their loads and led the way to the kitchen.
"I’ve got a pitcher of mango margaritas mixed already, but that’s about it."
"Well, that’s why we’re here," Ronnie said, dumping her bags on the island countertop. "To do whatever it takes to get this party started."
Out of long practice and many Girls’ Night get-togethers, they moved around the kitchen as a unit, opening drawers and cupboards, organizing things just the way they wanted them.
Blond and stunningly beautiful, Grace Fisher was everything Jenna wished she could be—tall and lithe, confident, successful, happy . . . She was the host of her own local cable talk show, recently renamed "Amazing Grace" in honor of the nickname viewers had bestowed upon her practically from the very beginning. On camera, at least, Grace seemed capable of just about anything, from baking and decorating a three-tiered wedding cake to changing the oil and spark plugs in her car.
She also happened to be engaged to another national celebrity, Zachary "Hot Legs" Hoolihan, star goalie of the Cleveland Rockets hockey team. The two made a sickeningly attractive couple—the Ken and Barbie of the media world.
If Jenna didn’t love them both so much, she’d have been thoroughly green with envy. Especially considering how short and plain and boring she was in comparison.
A humble grade-school teacher, Jenna had short black hair, plain features, and was lucky to reach most people’s armpits unless she decided to suffer the pains of four-inch heels, which she did only on extremely rare occasions.
Ronnie was just as beautiful as Grace, but in a more down-to-earth, approachable manner, Jenna thought. Equally tall and shapely, Ronnie’s hair was a gorgeous chestnut brown that reached halfway down her back. She wrote a weekly column for the Cleveland Sentinel, and until recently had been caught up in a down-and-dirty, anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better competition with Dylan Stone, her arch-nemesis at a rival paper.
Antagonism had quickly turned to passion, however, and the two were now cheerfully involved, living together and maybe, possibly, perhaps one day willing to take the next step toward a ring- and vow-related commitment.
Considering Jenna’s own failed marriage and current romantic dry spell, it wasn’t always easy to see her two best friends happily involved. She’d wallowed in her own misery long enough, however—and boy, had she ever. So now whenever compare-and-despair depression threatened to swamp her, she tried to remind her-self of how very much she cared about Grace and Ronnie, and that someday she, too, might find someone and fall in love again.
Hey, it could happen.
"I’ll take care of the food," Grace offered, loading up a tray with mass quantities of Mexican take-out that she pulled from multiple bags and containers.
"Ronnie," she continued, "you take the radio into the living room and find somewhere to plug it in. We must have music to make Mexican Night fantastico."
Ronnie bustled around, unplugging the radio and hoisting it off the counter.
"Jenna, don’t just stand there," Grace, ever the take-charge kind of gal, ordered, shaking a lock of hair away from her face. "Grab some glasses and start pouring. I’ve been waiting all week to get plastered."
With a chuckle, Jenna grabbed three jelly jars—the only drinking glasses her eccentric aunt had to offer—from a nearby cupboard. Carrying them in one hand and the pitcher of thick margaritas in the other, she headed for the living room.
"See you in there," she threw over her shoulder, knowing Grace wouldn’t be far behind.
Moments later, all three women were sitting cross-legged on the floor behind the low coffee table, backs resting against Charlotte’s faded red old-fashioned brocade settee. Jenna poured them each a healthy dose of the thick, frothy, pale peach concoction while Ronnie and Grace took turns loading up plates with a little bit of everything their favorite Mexican restaurant had to offer.
As was typical of their Girls’ Nights, they’d gone overboard with both the food and the drinks. There were cheese quesadillas, chicken enchiladas, beef and bean burritos, crispy fish taquitos, side orders of rice and beans, and for dessert, mini churros. The very thought of those sweet cinnamon snacks waiting at the end of the meal made Jenna’s mouth water.
"So how are you doing out here all on your own?" Ronnie asked after they’d each taken several bites and downed half of their slushy drinks.
Jenna swallowed before answering. "Fine. Caring for the alpacas means no sleeping in, but I’m used to being up early for school. And it’s quiet with no one else around, but I’m used to that, too." She took a sip of her margarita. "Thanks for coming all the way out here, by the way. I could have just as easily driven back into town."
Grace flicked a taquito-filled hand. "Don’t be silly. It’s nice to meet somewhere new for a change, and I have to admit it’s kind of fun to be here without Charlotte around."
Ronnie’s face blanched as she choked on a mouthful of Mexican rice.
"Oh, I didn’t mean it that way," Grace quickly corrected herself with a small eye roll. "I just meant that it feels sort of . . . wicked, like when I was a kid and my parents would leave me home alone. I’d poke around for secret hidey-holes, hoping to find hidden birthday and Christmas presents."
"And did you?" Jenna wanted to know.
"Sometimes. But I sort of lost interest after I snooped one time too many and ended up discovering their sex drawer." She shuddered with revulsion, sending Jenna and Ronnie into peals of laughter.
"Oh, my God," Ronnie gasped, "what did you find?"
Grace shook her head as though it were too horrific a memory to put into words, but then said, "Some magazines and . . . toys."
"Eeew!" The three of them cringed and shuddered, simultaneously doing their best to shake off the mental image.
"I didn’t fully understand what everything was at the time, but I sort of knew instinctively that I shouldn’t be seeing them. It was traumatizing, believe me, especially later when I did start to figure out what they were for. There are some things a child just should not know about her parents, no matter how old she gets."
"Did they ever find out?" Jenna asked.
"God, no!" Grace’s normally unflappable demeanor slipped, showing a flush of color on her cheeks. "Can you imagine? I’d have had to shoot myself or move to Siberia or something out of sheer embarrassment."
"Well, you’re not the only one trying to block out childhood trauma," Ronnie said, pulling a slice of quesadilla apart to eat section by section. "I once walked in on my father just after he’d stepped out of the shower and was still naked. I don’t think we looked each other in the eye again for about six years."
They all howled again, continuing to eat and imbibe great gulps of mango margarita.
"How about you, Jenna?" Grace pressed. "Any ‘walked in on Mommy and Daddy doing it doggy-style’ issues that it took many years in therapy from which to recover?"
Jenna shook her head adamantly, grateful she’d survived her childhood blessedly unscathed, at least where parental nudity and bedroom habits were concerned. Then again, her parents hadn’t exactly been known for their overt sensuality or spontaneity.
She’d been an only child, and her parents had both been rather quiet and austere. Her father had been the tie-and-pocket-protector type, more interested in his work at a local accounting firm than in his wife or daughter. And her mother had never worn a skirt that fell above the knee or a blouse that didn’t button all the way to her chin.
"Definitely not. As tightly wound as my folks were, it’s a wonder I even exist. I swear, I’m not sure Marvin and Bernadette Langan even took their clothes off to bathe, let alone actually had sexual intercourse."
She pronounced the last "seshual intercourse" in a prim, near-British accent, nearly causing Grace and Ronnie to spit their Mexican fiesta halfway across the room.
"Maybe your dad accidentally rolled over on your mom on the way to the bathroom one night," Grace offered, completely straight-faced.
"Or maybe you were an immaculate conception." This from Ronnie.
Jenna bit extra hard into her cinnamon churro, savoring the crunchy sweetness before finally swallowing. "I wouldn’t be surprised. And if that’s the case, I sincerely hope it runs in the family, because divine intervention is about the only way I’m ever likely to get knocked up myself."
"Aw" Ronnie put down her now-empty glass, wiped her hands on a paper napkin, and scooted a couple of inches closer to wrap an arm around Jenna’s shoulders. "Don’t worry, sweetie, you’ll find someone soon and probably end up with a dozen fat, happy babies toddling around at your feet. You’ll have so many kids, you’ll think you’re running an orphanage, and you may even attempt to adopt some of them out just to get a good night’s sleep."
Where a moment ago she’d been feeling happy and festive, now a lead weight seemed to be pressing down on Jenna’s chest, causing her eyes to water.
"I don’t think so," she admitted, sounding pathetically whiny even to her own ears. If she weren’t so emotionally miserable, she’d be tempted to smack herself upside her own head.
"I’ve tried," she told her friends. "You know I have. I’ve gone out with so many different men these past six months, I’m starting to feel like my entire life is one of those pathetic speed-dating sessions."
"And there was no one you’d consider seeing again?" Grace asked.
Jenna shrugged. "They were okay. A couple of them were cute, a couple of them were funny, but none of them . . ." She trailed off, not quite sure how to describe her almost total lack of interest in the male species of late.
"Flipped your switch? Rang your bell?" Ronnie suggested.
"Put the zip in your Miracle Whip?" Grace added with a teasing wink.
Jenna stuck her tongue out at her friend even as two small tears spilled past her lashes to run down her cheeks. "No, not even close. I think I’m turning into an old maid, drying up inside and losing interest in men altogether."
"What about Gage?" Ronnie asked.
The mention of her ex-husband, so unexpected and out of the blue, caused her stomach to flip-flop and sent a wave of heat flooding through her entire system. A lump formed in her throat, keeping her from being able to respond . . . a reaction her friends noticed immediately.
Ronnie’s arm around her shoulders tightened and she pressed her brow to the side of Jenna’s head. "See, you’re not a dried-up old maid. You’re just still caught up in wanting Gage, and until you’re really and truly over him, no other guy is going to be able to get close to you."
"Oh, God, I’m damaged goods!" Jenna wailed, drawing her knees up to her chest and burying her face against the material of her flowing, tie-dyed skirt.
"Honey," Grace said flatly, shifting until she was closer, too, and they were all hip to hip, arms linked, "we’re all damaged. We all have baggage. Your problem is that instead of being packed up and tucked away in a closet somewhere, your issues are still fresh and raw and strewn all over the bed."
Jenna lifted her head and Grace took a napkin from the coffee table to dab the tears from beneath her eyes. When she was finished, Jenna took the tissue from her and blew her nose.
"Now, I know I can be bossy and opinionated sometimes," Grace said, "and if you want to ignore me entirely, you go right ahead. But I’m going to say something I’ve never said before. Something I’ve been thinking for a long time."
The air hitched in Jenna’s lungs and she let it out on a sigh. "Do I want to hear this?" she asked softly.
"I don’t know if you want to, but I think you need to," Grace said, her tone brooking no argument.
Reaching for the margarita pitcher, Ronnie refilled Jenna’s glass and handed it to her. "Here, have some more to drink and then let Grace have her say. It’ll be like tearing off a Band-Aid . . . it will only hurt for a second and then it will be over."
Grace’s lips, still shaded with the long-lasting gloss they put on her at the television studio, twisted. "Gee, thanks."
Excerpted from Loves Me, Loves Me Knot by Heidi Betts.
Copyright © 2009 by Heidi Betts.
Published in August 2009 by St. Martin’s Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Meet the Author
Soon after joining Romance Writers of America, Heidi Betts's writing began to garner attention in several contests, including the esteemed Golden Heart competition, which she placed in the finals three years in a row. The recipient of numerous awards and stellar reviews, Heidi loves to read, write, watch movies (and just a little too much television), and surround herself with furry, four-legged friends in her home in the beautiful hills of Central Pennsylvania.
Soon after joining Romance Writers of America, national bestselling author Heidi Betts’s writing began to garner attention, including placing in the esteemed Golden Heart competition three years in a row. The recipient of numerous awards and stellar reviews, Heidi’s books combine believable characters with compelling plotlines, and are consistently described as “delightful,” “sizzling,” and “wonderfully witty.” Her books include Loves Me, Loves Me Knot, Tangled Up in Love, and Knock Me for a Loop.
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The author's writing style is good but the content, itself, is awful. The story begins with a scene that is nothing more than glorified date-rape and just goes downhill from there. The main female character and her two friends are weak, vindictive,and selfish. The actions they take against the men they CLAIM to love are ridiculous, devious, and down-right criminal. I found it impossible to relate with any of these characters. And I have no respect for the theme of this story.
The writer frustrated me by using grammatically incorrect Spanish little phrases and the plot was silly and not to my liking, This book was a waste of my money an time !!
I am sorry....I meant the next result....
it was pretty awkward and it jumped around a lot.