Tangled up in Love

Tangled up in Love

4.3 44
by Heidi Betts
     
 

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ARE THEY FIT TO BE TIED?

Ever since Dylan Stone beat Veronica Chasen out of a prime position at the Cleveland Courier, they’ve been bitter rivals, engaging in a very public war of words in their competing newspaper columns. They routinely challenge each other to go bungee jumping, white water rafting, or into tattoo parlors to see who will

Overview

ARE THEY FIT TO BE TIED?

Ever since Dylan Stone beat Veronica Chasen out of a prime position at the Cleveland Courier, they’ve been bitter rivals, engaging in a very public war of words in their competing newspaper columns. They routinely challenge each other to go bungee jumping, white water rafting, or into tattoo parlors to see who will wimp out first. But Veronica’s latest taunt may be Dylan’s toughest assignment yet: She dares him to learn to knit.

OR WILL DESIRE UNRAVEL THEM BOTH?

Dylan is not going to let something his grandmother can do scare him off. He’s man enough to make a scarf—and attend Veronica’s weekly knitting circle. But when the infuriatingly handsome Dylan shows up at the craft shop and charms all the ladies, Veronica starts to get all knotted up in something that feels a lot like love…

“Fresh, hot, and irresistible. Get Tangled Up In Love—you’ll love every page!”

—Leanne Banks

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“I LOVED it!”—Lori Foster

“Fantastic!”—Carly Phillips

“The most entertaining romance of the year.”—Lisa Kleypas

“Fresh, hot, and irresistible. Get Tangled Up In Love—you’ll love every page!”—Leanne Banks

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312946715
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/03/2009
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.85(d)

Read an Excerpt

Tangled up in Love


By Heidi Betts

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Heidi Betts
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-94671-5


CHAPTER 1

Row 1


He wished she didn't have such a terrific ass.

If it were fat or saggy or flat as a board, or maybe one of those that jiggled when she walked, he would have no trouble ignoring her.

But it wasn't. Instead, it was world-class. A tight, round, delicious ass that looked good in pants and skirts and everything in between. And it definitely did not jiggle when she walked.

Oh, no, it sashayed. Swayed slowly from side to side like a hypnotist's watch, drawing appreciative, wolfish stares and sending every dick in the room pointing Due North.

Dylan Stone dragged his gaze away and took a long pull from his bottle of ice-cold Coors Light. Noise clattered around him from the football game playing on The Penalty Box's multiple television sets and the raised voices of its late-night customers. He was in his element, and this was his crowd.

All except for Miss Veronica Chasen, the bane of his existence and a huge, throbbing thorn in his side.

Of course, in addition to a butt that just wouldn't quit, she also amused him all to hell. She had a competitive streak a mile wide, and ever since he'd beaten her out of a prime columnist position at the Cleveland Herald, she'd kept him on his toes with the challenges she wrote in her columns every other month just for him.

It had started as a personal bitch session from her, which she'd taken public in one of her weekly columns for the Cleveland Sentinel, a smaller rival paper to the Herald. But since he'd known perfectly well she was talking about him and how he'd ruined her life by sweeping in with more in his pants than she possessed, he'd had no qualms about firing off a retort in his column the following week.

As best he could recall, he'd made a remark about men just being naturally more qualified for some jobs than women, and that if she couldn't hack it, maybe she should think about doing something more her speed — like needlepoint or working behind the makeup counter of a department store.

Not so surprisingly, she hadn't taken his suggestion well at all. The very next week, seething with barely suppressed rage, she'd basically announced that just because he filled out his jeans more in the front than she did didn't mean he knew how to use what God had given him, and she'd be willing to bet money she had bigger balls, anyway. She hadn't used those exact words, but he'd gotten the drift.

He took another sip of his beer, his mouth turning up at the memory. From there, it had been off to the races.

His response had been something along the lines of, Oh, yeah? Let's see you go bungee jumping, then we'll talk about who's got the bigger set of balls.

He hadn't actually expected her to do it, but just a couple of weeks later, there it was — a grainy black-and-white photograph of her hanging upside down beneath a bridge, connected only by a glorified rubber band around one ankle. Her eyes had been screwed so tightly closed, he was surprised she'd ever been able to open them again. And it had looked like she was screaming loudly enough to bust the eardrums of half the residents of the continental United States.

But she'd gone through with it, he had to give her credit for that.

And at the end of her column about her first experience at bungee jumping, she'd gotten him back by suggesting he prove his masculinity by going skydiving.

Boy, if she'd known how much he hated heights, she would have been cackling with glee. But he couldn't let her — or their readers — think he was a wuss, so he'd cowboyed up and jumped out of the freaking airplane. He'd just about pissed his pants doing it, too, but imagining her response to his challenge photo the following week had made it well worth walking around with undescended testicles for the next few days.

From that point on, they regularly sent each other off to do the wild, wacky, or dangerous.

He made her play goalie for a charity ice hockey event without telling anyone she was a girl.

She made him get his legs waxed.

He made her run a marathon.

She sent him mountain climbing.

He sent her white-water rafting.

In the latest round, she'd sent him into one of the meanest, nastiest biker bars on the outskirts of Cleveland wearing a hot pink Hawaiian shirt and gold lamé biker shorts to order some flaming pussy drink called a Pink Panty. He'd left with a black eye and bruised ribs, but had counted himself lucky not to have been made the girlfriend of one of the towering, unshaven, leather-clad, and personal-hygiene-deficient Hell's Angels, forced to ride around on the bitch seat of his bike the rest of the night.

To repay the favor, Dylan had dared Ronnie to get a tattoo. He was nonspecific as to where or what it should be, but thanks to him, she now sported a Chinese symbol somewhere on her anatomy.

Which brought his train of thought right back around to Ronnie's perfectly rounded ass, since that's where he suspected the tattoo was located.

He couldn't be sure, of course. A photograph of the actual symbol had accompanied her article that week, but it was a close-up and gave no hint as to what part of her body it was on. Since it was nowhere visible to the naked eye, however — and he should know; he'd spent enough time lately doggedly looking for it — and she'd made a reference in her column to it being in what she considered "a rather personal, private area," he chose to believe she'd gotten the tattoo on her ass.

His brand on her butt. He kind of liked that.

A round of female laughter from a table in the corner drew his attention, and he turned his head slightly to study the group of women seated there. His own friends were caught up in the Steelers–Patriots game playing on the giant television mounted above one corner of the bar, paying little attention to him or anything else going on around them.

Ronnie sat with her back to him, the long fall of her wavy chestnut hair reaching nearly to her hips.

He liked long hair on a woman. Too bad this particular woman happened to be his sworn enemy.

She was bitter as a pill around him, but not for the first time, he wondered if there was a softer side to Ronnie Chasen. A woman that beautiful shouldn't be a flaming bitch, and she seemed to get along well enough with her own friends.

The women laughed again, and Dylan had a sneaking suspicion they were having a jolly good time disparaging the shortcomings of men. Isn't that what women spent their time doing whenever two or more of them got together over a pitcher of margaritas?

He didn't know them all, but he was familiar with a few because they were intimately involved with his friends.

Ronnie, of course, his archnemesis.

Then there was Grace Fisher, Cleveland's home-town cross between Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. She had her own cable talk show that covered everything from gripping emotional family dramas to making a cake in the shape of a porcupine. She'd even been nicknamed "Amazing Grace" because of her versatility and lack of any apparent faults whatsoever.

Grace was currently engaged to Dylan's friend, Zack, who played goalie for Cleveland's professional hockey team, the Rockets. The two had met at a charity hockey event where Zack first hit a puck over the protective Plexiglas shield straight into Grace's skull. Then after she'd been bandaged and examined by the team's physician, Zack had proceeded to fly off the ice and knock her flat on her rear.

What could have been touted as the most embarrassing moment of Zack's career had instead become his and Grace's answer to the question of how they first met. Dylan himself had heard the story going on about six thousand times now.

And Jenna Marshall was the ex-wife of another of Dylan's friends, undercover CPD detective Gage Marshall. He supposed Jenna was actually going by her maiden name, Langan, again, but he knew that didn't set well with Gage.

The others he recognized only because they seemed to come in every week or so with the rest of the group.

That in itself was an odd occurrence, seeing as how The Penalty Box was a sports bar, catering to hockey fans in general and Rockets fans in particular, with a primarily male clientele. The Box's TVs were always tuned to some sporting event or another ... sometimes more than one at a time ... and the walls were plastered with hockey memorabilia. Not exactly a chick-magnet kind of decor.

Zack's engagement to Grace had changed that, though. She'd started showing up to meet Zack's friends, spend more time with him, and learn the intricacies of the game. Then, like bunnies, they'd started to multiply until an entire back table was filled with women and the bartender was forced to make fruity pastel girlie drinks in a blender instead of simply pulling a tap or pouring out shots.

It was a shame, to Dylan's way of thinking. He also wasn't too happy that he had to see Ronnie on a regular basis at the one place he'd considered his estrogen-free escape from the world.

Dylan tipped back his bottle of Coors, draining the last remaining drops just as Ronnie pushed to her feet and headed toward the bar with the empty pitcher from their table. Well, shoot, looked like they both needed a refill.

The legs of his chair scraped across the floor as he stood and headed in the same direction, meeting her at the bar and resting both his forearms on the scarred mahogany surface.

"Hey, there, Chasen. How's that tattoo of yours doing? Any pain or swelling I should know about?"

Ronnie cast him a withering glare, her lashes fluttering at half-mast over her coffee-brown eyes. "How would I be able to tell, Stone? You're such a pain in my ass, I'm not likely to feel anything else down there."

Ha! So he'd been right; the tattoo was on her butt. Now he just had to figure out where. Was it on the left cheek or the right? High up near her hip, or down lower on the soft spot?

"Good to know I've made an impression."

She muttered something beneath her breath as the bartender came toward them, and Dylan bit back a grin.

"We need another round of margaritas," she told Turk, handing him the empty plastic pitcher.

Turk was a tall black man with a shaved head, three silver hoops in one ear and two in the other, and a collection of tattoos that — unlike Ronnie's — were easily visible above the neck and below the arms of his tight white T-shirt. He wasn't the owner of the Box, but just about anytime the bar was open, Turk was there. And since he was roughly the size of a small redwood, he wasn't opposed to playing the part of bouncer if the crowd got a bit too rowdy.

When Turk returned with a full pitcher, Dylan slapped a couple of bucks on the counter and said, "I'll take another Coors." The man handed him an ice-cold bottle, collected the money, and walked away without ever altering his hard, blank expression.

"I've gotta tell you," Dylan continued, stopping Ronnie before she could escape back to her table with the fresh drinks, "I didn't expect you to go through with it. I mean, you're so uptight about your appearance, I never thought you'd mar your perfect skin with some big, ugly, permanent tattoo."

"What?" she asked, one dark brow arching while the corners of her mouth turned down in a frown. "You expected me to wimp out?"

She was wearing a fire-engine-red skirt that stopped well above her knees and a jacket to match. Beneath the tailored jacket was a white silk blouse that opened in a V over her high, ample breasts and gave him more than a glimpse of her generous cleavage.

Outfits like this were the very reason he'd felt confident she hadn't gotten the tattoo on one of her breasts. Because he'd have darn well spotted it by now if that had been the case.

He popped the cap on his new beer and took a slow draw before answering, his gaze landing on her full, ripe mouth. "Something like that."

"It will take more than a lousy tattoo to send me running, Stone. Anything you can do, I can do better, remember?"

She tossed her head to the side, sending all that long, dark hair back over one shoulder. Damn, how did women do that? Why did they do it? Didn't they know it sent every drop of blood straight from a guy's brain down to his package?

It took some doing, but he pulled his attention back to her face. Running splayed fingers through his own dark blond locks, he snorted and said, "Yeah, right. Let's see you write your name in the snow."

"Nice," she said, the word icicle-sharp and just as cold. "Not crude at all."

"Honey, in case you hadn't noticed, you're standing in the middle of a sports bar. If you want to avoid crude, you should go down the street to that coffeehouse where all the boring folks hang out."

"Thanks for the advice, but I'll manage. Besides, I think better with a couple of drinks in my system, and right now I'm working on your next challenge."

He took another sip of beer, his glance slipping to the pulse in her throat. Was her skin as soft as it looked? he wondered. If he leaned in and swiped his tongue over that very spot, would it taste salty like her mood or sweet like a woman should?

He took another, longer pull, trying to bring his imagination and his hormones under control. "Bring it on, babe."

She licked her lips, and his temperature shot up another fifty degrees.

"Are you sure you don't want to surrender now and save yourself the humiliation?"

"No way. I'm having a damn good time."

"So am I."

"Great."

"Good."

"Fine."

"Fine."

And with that, she stomped off, her tight, heart-shaped ass sashaying all the way.


"I hate that man with the flames of a thousand fiery Hells," Ronnie spat as she returned to her table of friends and started refilling glasses from the pitcher of slushy, pale green margarita that shook in her hand.

She said it. She meant it. So what was with the strange sense of exhilaration she always felt after one of their sparring matches? Even now, with adrenaline pumping through her system and rage burning in her brain, she almost wanted to dive back in for Round Two.

"What man?" one of them asked, glancing around the bar as though the offender would be standing under a spotlight.

"Who do you think?" Grace said. Blond and beautiful, she was the picture of calm, never a hair out of place, never an emotion left unchecked. Only her close friends knew she had a sharp wit and a tongue like a razor blade. "Only the same guy Ronnie's been bitching about for the past year — Dylan 'That Arrogant Jackass' Stone."

"Let's just call him 'The Jackass' for short," Ronnie clipped out, filling her own glass to the brim before plopping down on her chair with very little finesse.

"I don't get it," Grace said. "You're such a nice person otherwise, and get along with just about everyone you meet, but put you within a ten-mile radius of Dylan Stone and you turn into a slavering she-witch."

Ronnie's eyes narrowed as she finished filling glasses and set the pitcher aside. "Payback's a bitch," she quipped, "and you're looking at her."

"So what did he do this time?" the petite, short-haired Jenna inquired.

"He asked if my new tattoo was sore."

"Is it?"

"Of course it is," Ronnie grumbled, taking a long, fortifying drink of her deliciously frothy tequila-laced concoction. "It throbs like a suffering bastard and rubs against my clothes all day, every day."

"Did you tell him what it means?" one of the other girls asked. The rest of the group chuckled, because they knew. Ronnie had divulged that little secret at their first knitting meeting after having the body art done.

"No way. Let him wonder."

"Fuck him, right?" Grace teased.

A cocky, knowing grin spread across Ronnie's face, and she reached around to pat a spot high on her left buttock. She didn't even wince at the added sting it caused. "That's right."

"So it's your turn to send him out on a dare. What are you going to make him do?"

"I don't know. I haven't thought of anything yet that's adequately dangerous or embarrassing." Her brows knit in a scowl. "He's so obnoxious about thinking men are braver and more accomplished than women. I feel like daring him to walk into traffic blindfolded. A nice Greyhound bus to the temporal lobe would knock some of the smugness out of him."

She lifted her head and met the gaze of each of her friends around the table, her eyes conveying her desperation. "Any ideas?"

"You could figure out a way for him to go through simulated childbirth," Melanie, a mother of two, offered flatly. "That would shut him up and have him bowing down to every woman he met from now until the end of time."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Tangled up in Love by Heidi Betts. Copyright © 2009 Heidi Betts. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

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.

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Tangled up in Love 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cute book with great main characters and nice dose of steamy sex. I would have given this 4 stars if it wasn't for the ending.
LILDEZ More than 1 year ago
you should really read this book because you can feel the emotions the character is felling and also you can some way some where in the story connect to the character . SO YOU REALLY SLOUD READ IT , IT IS A REALLY GREAT STORY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BYE, LOVEE LIL DEZ
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love series. This was a cute love story with some needed "heat". Rec. this book and her other "Loves me, Loves me knot".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This a good book to sit back on a rainy day and read.
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