Who Needs Cupid?: The Max Factor\A Valentine for Rebecca\Lucky in Love [NOOK Book]


Down with Cupid!

Elle Adams, Rebecca Potter and Lucky Morgan all have valid reasons for distrusting Cupid. And with February 14 coming on fast, they decide to take matters into their own hands. If the plucky little cherub can’ t do his job, they’ ll sweeten the odds.

But it looks as if Cupid wasn’ t out to lunch. He was just waiting for the right moment to make things interesting. Now find out what happens ...

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Who Needs Cupid?: The Max Factor\A Valentine for Rebecca\Lucky in Love

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Down with Cupid!

Elle Adams, Rebecca Potter and Lucky Morgan all have valid reasons for distrusting Cupid. And with February 14 coming on fast, they decide to take matters into their own hands. If the plucky little cherub can’ t do his job, they’ ll sweeten the odds.

But it looks as if Cupid wasn’ t out to lunch. He was just waiting for the right moment to make things interesting. Now find out what happens when he finally launches those arrows.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459217027
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/15/2011
  • Series: Harlequin Super Romance Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 932,182
  • File size: 578 KB

Meet the Author

Debra Salonen wrote her first screenplay at age 11 for the television series Flipper. The plot involved the older brother's romantic interest in a young girl, presumably Debra. The story - like Debra's showbiz career - never evolved past the "what if?" stage, but Debra's addiction to writing has never faltered.

"I've always found a way to incorporate writing into any job I happened to hold at the time...well, except for my stint as a flaxseed counter in college," she said dryly. "Don't ask - it wasn't pretty."

As an aide in a preschool, she went from distributing milk and cookies to writing the monthly newsletter. Her stringer work for a local newspaper turned into a full-time position as a feature writer and assistant editor. Salonen says that exposure to human-interest stories fed her writer's soul, laying the groundwork for a wealth of imaginary characters and situations.

"Modern fiction provides the medium to touch people's lives. If your characters are real, in the sense they face real problems and possess real hopes, wants, needs and flaws, people can identify with them. My stories are about imperfect people who must learn life's lessons, heal old wounds and find inner forgiveness before they can truly love another person. I think these are universal themes most people, men and women, can relate to."

Salonen, who lives in the foothills near Yosemite, credits the support of her family with a hand in her success. "My ivory tower is on the second floor of our house. My son recently used an extension ladder to hang a wind-chime outside my window to encourage the creative spirits to stop by for a visit."

She also recognizes the value of networking and associating with fellow writers. "The first hurdle you face as a writer is admitting you are one - like any other addiction."

"I'm thrilled by the validation publication provides, but I also feel a sense of accomplishment for all those people who have helped me learn my craft and encouraged me to believe in myself. Writing is a team effort directed by life experience, associations, imagination, and spiritual connectedness," Salonen said.

Salonen is currently at work on two new projects for the Superromance line. Her Flipper screenplay is on the shelf collecting dust - right where it belongs.

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Read an Excerpt



"Poison. I could leave a cup of strychnine-laced cocoa on the counter the night before Valentine's Day and—"

"That's Santa, Aunt Ellenore. Get your holidays straight," Becca said with a playful grin.

"Your niece is right. Cupid is a mythical being and commercial icon. You can't kill him," the ever-practical Lucky concurred. "Much as I might want to," she added in a low grumble.

"We can try," Elle insisted stubbornly. The three friends had spent their usual Friday night get-together bemoaning their status as single, eligible, underappreciated goddesses-in-the-making. Tonight, Elle was sick of self-pity. Lucky's recent unlucky experience at putting her heart on the line had pushed Elle firmly toward anger.

"What if we burn him in effigy? Right out front where the gas pumps used to be. Becca, you're an artist. You could create a papier-mâché piñata thingee with wings and a golden bow and arrows. All the people Cupid has burned in the past would come and cheer. It'd be a party. And good for business," she added, looking around her beloved but dying coffee bar. For nine months she'd poured her heart and soul—and savings—into Cup O' Love Café and Gifts, the sort of Starbucks-with-heart she'd established in her parents' remodeled Conoco station located at Main and Sixth in her hometown of Fenelon Falls, Illinois. Local residents hadn't exactly jumped at the chance to support her efforts.

"Elle, I love you. You're my friend. And I appreciate your outrage on my behalf, but...that's truly cracked." Lucky Morgan was in her early thirties. Smart about business. Truly clever when it came to eBay auctions. And adorable. Unfortunately she'd also just had her heart broken by a man who should have snapped her up in a heartbeat.

Where was Cupid when Lucky was making a fool of herself by asking Pastor Joshua Watts to marry her? Elle silently questioned.

"It's also against Fenelon Falls' fire codes," Rebecca added. Her niece was a few years younger than Lucky. A gifted artist, but far too modest and reserved for someone so beautiful. Sweet as the honey buns Elle served every morning, and chronically downtrodden, thanks to Elle's older sister, Jane.

Elle huffed impatiently. "You girls aren't helping. I thought we'd decided we were through being victims of the nearsighted little imp. Last year onValentine's Day I was out with a guy who said he was divorced, but turned out to have left his wife the week before." She let out a long, defeated sigh. "Needless to say, our mutual attraction went nowhere."

"Were you his rebound fling?" Lucky asked, looking troubled.

"Just plain fling. He went back to his wife before the month was out." Elle made a fist and pounded it on the coffee table where their bottle of wine was resting. "That's why I say we do something proactive this year."

Becca shuddered. "My mother's favorite word."

"Josh says the best revenge is a life well spent," Lucky stated, the quiver in her voice betraying her still raw anguish.

"He's a preacher. What do you expec—Hey, wait. That might work. We could use Cupid's pointy little arrows against him."

"I don't think that's what Josh meant."

Becca shuddered. "Will there be blood? I get queasy watching House."

Elle laughed. "No blood, dear heart. I promise. We'll use the Internet."

Lucky and Becca exchanged a look. "To do what? Set up a Web site that gives you ten ways to kill Cupid?"

"Maybe next year," Elle said patiently. "This year we'll try for something a little more upbeat."

"Will it help me sell more greeting cards?" Becca asked. Profits from the sale of her unique, handmade valentines helped to fund the after-school arts program Becca offered on the second floor of the Cup.

Elle nodded. "The more business I bring in, the more cards you'll sell. I guarantee it. That's why I've decided to look into the possibility of installing a WiFi connection at the Cup. I know that means sinking more money into what my sister calls a sinking ship, but if we could come up with some creative ploy that ties Valentine's Day and the Internet to Cup O' Love, I'd make back my investment in no time. And then I'd be able to say 'So, there' to Jane."

"You shouldn't worry so much about what my mother thinks," Becca said in a tone that captured her mother's scold perfectly. "Isn't that what you're always telling me?"

Elle nodded with chagrin. Since her arrival back in her hometown, the gulf between Elle and Jane had widened—partly because of Elle's perceived interference in Becca's life. Partly because Jane was...Jane. And Elle was Ellenore Adams, the girl most likely to screw up.

"People love to think they're getting something for nothing," Lucky said, appearing to give Elle's proposal serious thought. "What if you do some kind of online promotion that ends up with a big party here on the fourteenth?"

Elle refilled her wineglass. The three friends always began their Friday night get-togethers with tea or cocoa, depending on the season, but invariably they wound up opening a bottle of vino.

"It would have to be romance-related," Becca said.

"People expect romance on Valentine's Day."

"Speaking of which," Lucky inserted, "when do I get my one-of-a-kind, handmade Rebecca Potter V-Day cards? People are going to start asking for them."

Becca rolled her eyes. "Mother gave me another account today, but I'm working on them. Really. Soon. I promise."

Elle's heart twisted. She wanted so much for Becca to honor her God-given talent and commit to her art, but her darling niece lacked the confidence in her abilities—and herself—to throw her mother's agenda aside and follow her heart.

Nobody spoke for a full minute. The only sound came from the hum of the cash register and the constant rattle of the wind against the windows. This was Elle's first full winter back in the heartland and her heart still wasn't into the cold.

"What if you sponsored an online dateathon?" Becca asked. "That might encourage people who didn't usually frequent the Internet to come into the Cup and use yourWiFi."

Lucky looked intrigued. "Maybe you could have a MySpace.com format where people could post their bios, then all the potential Mr. and Ms. Rights would show up at the Cup on February fourteenth for a party."

Becca, who was in the overstuffed armchair she always claimed, sat forward like an eager student and gave a little clap. "Excellent. And you know who could set it up? Mr. Maxwell. Mom says Max is a genius about all things electronic."

Elle swallowed too big a gulp of wine.

Max. As in Arnold Maxwell. Her old classmate in high school. Class nerd. Boy she'd done wrong. Now, all grown up, Teacher of the Year two years running. A widower. And one of the few locals who came in to the café regularly.

She shook her head to refocus her wine-fuzzy thought patterns. "It's an interesting idea, but do we have time? It's already the fifth of January. I have no idea how long it takes to set up a WiFi system, but even if Max could do it right away, by the time I organized the publicity and built a new Web page...well, three to four weeks isn't enough time to fall in love."

"Elle," Lucky groaned. "You're the one who started this discussion. We're supposed to beat Cupid at his own game, right? Do-it-yourself matchmaking. How good do we have to be? It's not like we really expect anyone to fall in love, right?"

Becca nodded. "I'd settle for a date with a guy who didn't make fun of the sentiments in my cards."

Elle laughed. "You're right. We're talking dates, not marriage. And where do first dates usually take place?"

"At a coffee shop," Becca and Lucky returned in harmony. Their mingled laughter was a sound warm enough to melt the frost triangles in the corners of Cup O' Love's plate-glass windows.

The younger women filled their wineglasses, then all three friends prepared to toast their success. "So, what are you calling this online experiment, Elle? Do-it-yourself matchmaking dot com?" Lucky asked.

"How 'bout the Who Needs Cupid Alternative?" Becca suggested.

Elle shook her head. With appropriate solemnity, she held out her glass and said, "To the Cup O' Love Dateathon. Where, even if you don't find true love, you can still get a fine cup of coffee."

"ARE YOU SURE it's down here? All I see is a gaping black hole."

Elle Adams was squatting beside the concrete depression that had at one time housed the old Conoco station's car lift, trying her damnedest not to stare at the surprisingly fit and well-maintained rear end of the man doing a combat crawl on her behalf.

Selfless. That's what Max had become. But when had he acquired such a nice butt?

"Um, I think so. I seem to remember the contractor who remodeled this place telling me he'd installed a conduit to house all the wiring that went into the office. But that was shortly after we buried Mom. Jane and I were still settling our parents' estate and well...it was tough. Do you want me to call him?"

"Naw. I haven't given up yet."

Elle watched him roll to his side and shine his small, high-tech-looking flashlight around the crawlspace. She didn't even want to think about what was down there. Her father—renowned for cutting corners whenever possible—had helped build the two-story brick and wooden frame building in the early 1950s. Elle, Jane and their parents had lived in the apartment above the garage until Elle was ten.

The elder Adamses had kept the service station open until Boyd's heart bypass surgery, which had necessitated a partial retirement. They'd continued to rent the building to a succession of retail operations, but eventually a major chain opened a superstore twenty miles away, sounding the death knell for Mom-and-Pop-type stores across the county.

Only in the past few years had Fenelon Falls, a relatively untouched hamlet just an hour or so west of Chicago, seen a resurgence in commercial activity. Commuters were looking for big city convenience coupled with small town charm. The old downtown had undergone a rebirth, and Elle was determined to do her part—with or without her sister's support.

They were fast approaching the second anniversary of Elle's father's death. On Valentine's Day morning 2005, Boyd Adams had suffered a massive heart attack while shoveling the sidewalk so the florist could deliver the dozen roses he'd ordered for his wife. Giving Elle yet another reason to hate the holiday.

Not that she planned to share her feelings with anyone. She was a businessperson and V-Day meant kaching in the cash register, which is why she was now scrambling to get the WiFi installed. Cup O' Love Café and Gifts wouldn't be open this time next year if she didn't start showing some kind of profit.

She'd opened the specialty coffee bar nine months earlier. A ridiculous gamble, Jane had said, but one Elle's mother had supported before her death, which had come as a shock to everyone, except Elle.

Elle had returned home on the first anniversary of her father's death to help her mother recover from hip replacement surgery. Elle's two-week stay had turned into months as complication after complication took away her mother's will to go on. Until one lovely spring morning, Margery simply hadn't woken up.

A delayed victim of Valentine's Day, in Elle's opinion. By then, Elle was too committed to her new business to back out. A month later, the Cup was up and running—right down the street from Jane's staid, respectable and flourishing accounting office.

"You are the most impetuous person I've ever known," Jane had complained when Elle'd first introduced her business plan. "Why would you assume that just because you find it annoying not to be able to buy a cup of fancy coffee in Fenelon Falls that everyone else in town does, too?"

Foolhardy. Another one of the words Jane used to describe Elle. But Elle wasn't done fighting. Even if she lost every penny of her investment, she would go down with a flourish.

After last Friday's brainstorming session with Lucky and Becca, Elle had called Max. "How much would it cost to set up a WiFi station—or whatever it's called—at the Cup?"

"I have no idea, but I'll find out." And true to his word, he'd reported back to her with several options. The most affordable only required a DSL line and a wireless router, which he was in the process of hooking up...provided she had the right kind of telephone cable.

"Have you given any more thought to that dateathon idea I mentioned?" Elle asked.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fine anthology

    ¿Lucky in Love¿ by Susan Floyd. Lucky Morgan loves Pastor Josh, but he seems unable to reciprocate. She has decided to make him her forever Valentine.--------------- ¿The Max Factor¿ by Debra Salonen. Coffee shop owner Ellenore ¿Elle¿ Adams says bah humbug to Valentine¿s Day until schoolteacher Arnold shows her how great is to be someone¿s special valentine.----------- ¿A Valentine for Rebecca¿ by Molly O¿Keefe. Art teacher Becca Potter wants Will to share the joy of love as Valentine¿s Day nears. However, so far Cupid has misfired until she gets some mortal assistance.----------- These are three lighthearted romantic romps that celebrate Valentine¿s Day with gusto.---------- Harriet Klausner

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