"A refreshing, modern twist on love! Madsen's smart and sexy banter had me hooked from page one – I never wanted it to end!" - Rachel Harris, NYT bestselling author
12 steps to finding Mr. Right, composed by dating coach extraordinaire Savannah Gamble
1: Admit to being powerless over your attraction to the wrong type of guy. (Like Lincoln Wells, who broke your heart after an unforgettable one-night stand.)
2: Believe Mr. Right is out there.
3: Take inventory of past mistakes. (See step #1.)
4: Make a list of qualities you want in a man. (Avoid charming baseball players/reason you made these rules in the first place)
5: Take charge of your own life.
6: Learn to love yourself.
7: Sort the hookup guys from the relationship guys. (Avoid a painful brushoff after an amazing night together.)
8: Never, ever settle. (Even if the chemistry is off-the-charts.)
9: Don’t believe you can change a guy. (Once a commitment-phobe, always a commitment-phobe)
10: Communicate your needs.
11: Open your heart & love fully. (Still working on this one…)
12: Don’t ever, ever stray from the steps.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)|
Read an Excerpt
12 Steps to Mr. Right
By Cindi Madsen, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Cindi Madsen
All rights reserved.
When you're single, the scariest words in the English language go something like, "Hey, do you have a date for the such-and-such?" They always come heavy with a side of unspoken "You need to or everyone will think you're an undesirable loser." Or even worse, are followed up with, "Because I think I found someone who'd be perfect for you."
Spoiler alert: that person your well-meaning relative is planning on setting you up with? Probably not going to work out. I'd give it lottery odds.
Millions of women are looking for The One. A soul mate. Future spouse and father of their children. The problem is, a large portion of those women have the uncanny ability to walk into a room, find the most unattainable guy, and fall in love with him in ten seconds flat. These are the same women constantly in need of consoling because yet another boyfriend — the same guy everyone repeatedly told her was trouble/wrong for her/a player — broke her heart.
I've been there. My girlfriends have been there. I've even patted perfect strangers on the back in a bar as they cried over their failed relationships. So what do you do when you've had one bad relationship after another, your faith in love is faltering, and you want to give up, but the promise of Mr. Right being out there — possibly just around the corner — still calls to you? Tells you not to give up or you might miss him and some other woman will snag him?
That's where I, Savannah Gamble, dating coach extraordinaire, come in.
I'm here to tell you there's hope. Mr. Right is out there; it's just a matter of learning how to find him. Tricky? Yes. Impossible? No. The key is being trained to change the way you look at prospective candidates so you can find the one who'll give his all to land the position of your significant other.
Like several effective programs, mine involves twelve steps.
Twelve steps to get rid of old dating habits, work through past heartbreaks, figure out how to distinguish the Prince Charmings from the frogs, and find yourself in a relationship that's actually going somewhere.
Twelve Steps to Mr. Right.
* * *
My aunt had just asked the dreaded question about my parents' anniversary party. The are-you-bringing-a-date question. I'd known better than to answer the call, too, but I figured it'd be something simple like, "Hey, can you bring a cheese or veggie tray?" or "Will you go to the party store for decorations?"
This was what I got for running out of coffee. My empty fridge I could deal with, but without caffeine my decision-making skills were subpar at best, and in a moment of groggy insanity, I'd picked up.
I bet she hadn't called up my brother to ask him, even though Jackson turned twenty-eight last month and was two years older than me. No one worried about his dating situation. Then again, he probably would bring a date. Some sweet girl he wasn't even seeing seriously, who Mama would inevitably fall in love with and then — when she found out they were no longer together — would mourn as if she'd been in the relationship, too.
I sighed, deciding to go for straightforward and get it over with as soon as possible. "I haven't really thought that far in advance, but right now I'm not planning on bringing anyone."
"I just don't understand why, if you're such an expert at finding Mr. Right, you don't have a date for the party," my aunt Velma said, apparently thinking I didn't get the irony. She sighed and put a little tenderness into her voice, as if she realized she'd landed a low blow. "At some point, you're going to need to move on. It doesn't magically happen, you know. You have to make it happen. Have you even left your house this week? Or are you sitting around in those stretchy pants people your age are suddenly passing off as going-out wear?"
"They're called yoga pants." And they're comfortable and totally acceptable for going out. From what I'd heard, guys were fans, too. Or maybe that was wishful thinking, considering I planned on wearing mine to run down to the coffee shop as soon as I got off the phone. Which needed to be ASAP, because I still had some prep work to do for this evening.
My eight-week Twelve Steps to Mr. Right workshop had started off small, but thanks to multiple success stories, working with local dating sites, and one huge endorsement, it now booked several sessions in advance. Which was a big part of why I didn't have a boyfriend at the moment — there were only so many hours in a day, and currently most of mine were filled helping others with their dating lives. The other part had to do with my last break-up and the time I'd needed to recover from the loss of the guy I'd thought was the guy.
Determined to not let another failed relationship make me doubt myself or the dating truths I held to be self-evident, I focused on my career during the post-breakup mourning period — which was totally normal, by the way. In fact, jumping right from one relationship to another could be hazardous to truly moving on, because it didn't give you enough time to analyze and learn the lessons you'd need to apply to make your next relationship more successful. Really, compared to how boy crazy I'd been in my earlier dating life, it showed how in control I was now.
And the busier I was with work, the easier it was to drag my feet and cling to the excuse I simply didn't have time to date. That my own search for Mr. Right could wait.
After all, knowing what to look for and what to avoid didn't make the search less time consuming. It's not as if you could just walk into the Guy Store and order exactly what you wanted.
If only ... An image of good-looking guys in life-sized Ken doll boxes popped into my head, shelves and shelves of them. Yes, I'll take motivated and passionate about his career, but not willing to leave me because of it. Oh, and could you throw in a side of unfailing loyalty? I've had a few faulty models that didn't come with enough, and I can't deal with it again.
I shook off that fantasy — if that were the case, I wouldn't have a job, and I loved my job. I could also go into how real life love was better than fantasy, but I didn't have time for that right now. I didn't have time for a speech about moving on, either. Especially from Aunt Velma, who was on husband number three.
"Aunt Velma, I've really got to go," I said, interrupting her lamentations about my generation's definition of style and how there was nothing wrong with putting a little effort into looking your best, which naturally opened the door to more opportunities. "We can discuss the preparations for the party as it gets closer." And after I've had caffeine.
The problem with being a creature of habit was that when my schedule got off, even if only by twenty minutes, not having coffee in my hand went from an inconvenience to a dire situation that could start World War Three.
"Fine. I was hoping you'd bring a veggie tray."
Well, at least I'd been right about one thing. I agreed to bring the veggies no one would eat — because who ate veggies when platters of fried food were within reach — and told her to have a good day. Then I pulled my crumpled brown waves into a messy bun, found my black ballet flats, and charged out the door of my Midtown loft, thoughts on my favorite coffee shop down the block.
Maybe I should add a thirteenth step to my program that includes moving away from your family so if it takes time to find the right guy, you don't have to constantly hear about it. Definitely not conducive to the positive affirmations I instruct women to tell themselves while putting the program into practice.
I had one of those huge families with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, who had weekly dinners together and a desire to know exactly what was going on in everyone's lives. If I moved, they'd only call more, each one taking a turn at trying to pry out details, so I'd also have to rid myself of my phone. That'd make dating tricky when I met a guy I wanted to give my number to, though. I could just get a new number and not give it to my family ...
That was an evil thought. Fun, but still evil. Wasn't that the way it always went?
In spite of their not knowing what the terms "I need space" or "that's not any of your business" meant, I'd never be able to leave them or what I'd built here in Atlanta. A few months ago, I'd nearly considered it. Mason, the ex-boyfriend I apparently needed to move on from, was relocating to Washington, D.C. for a new job, and I'd been sure he'd ask me to go with him. I was so conflicted, but lucky me, he never asked me to make that decision.
A pang went through my chest and I hated that it still stung. That I misjudged how committed we were to each other, even with all the tools I had at my disposal. Ugh, I should be over this by now. I really do need to move on.
As much as I hated to admit it, Aunt Velma had been right about not leaving my place all week. Working from home was glorious that way, but it did leave me a bit isolated. My best friend, Ivy, kept leaving messages asking me to come visit her at Azure, the bar where she worked. Admittedly my life was getting a bit off balance, all work and no play.
That always happened before the start of a new workshop, though. I'd get caught up thinking about empowering women in their dating lives, and despite nearly having my slides memorized, I tended to over-prep. Once I get through tonight's session, I'll make time to go out again.
There might not be a convenient Guy Store, but I had the roadmap to find a real possibility guy. Like any journey, there'd be twists, turns, and a few bumps, but it'd get me there eventually. Who knew? Maybe I'd even find a date for the party so my family, who liked to tease me about my self-help-guru status, would need something new to channel their worry and gossip into.
Okay, back to my intro tonight ... I liked to mix it up a bit so there were always new nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout the steps. Kept me growing and improving, too.
I quickened my pace and grabbed the door to the Daily Grind as a customer stepped outside. I groaned when I spotted the long line leading to the cash register.
On the bright side, it gives me time to choose the perfect affirmation to start my new session off right. I wanted to create that tingly, you've-come-to-the-right-place-and-you'll-soon-be-in-charge-of-your-life vibe.
Let's see ... Embrace the possibilities? Yeah. Maybe I'll start with that. As far as mottos went, it was a good one. I also liked the Avoid douchebags at all costs option, but most people got a bit more shiny-eyed about embracing possibilities. First I promised my attendees that good guys existed, no settling required, and after letting them experience that excitement for long enough they could see the faceless but perfect guy in their future, I transitioned to the tough talk. In order to succeed, they'd have to make that first step, and while it seemed easy in theory, it was definitely one of the hardest, yet most vital.
Step One: Admit to being powerless over our attraction to the wrong type of guy — that our dating lives have become unmanageable.
As easy as it'd be to claim guys were stupid and horrible and deserved all the blame, it simply wasn't true. I mean, some guys were stupid and horrible and some — cough — all had stupid and horrible moments. But until we as women admitted our fault in the situation, we'd be doomed to repeat our mistakes.
No one said my program was easy.
Bless the cashier and my regular customer status, because my order had already been put in before I reached the front. I simply added a banana nut muffin to my large cappuccino. By the time I paid and had my bagged muffin, the barista was calling my name.
"Savannah? Savannah Gamble?" a different, deeper voice said from behind me. Scooping up my coffee, I spun around.
And squeezed my cup so hard the lid popped off. Scalding liquid sloshed over my hand and onto the floor, barely missing my shoes. Hot, hot, hot.
Linc grabbed napkins and started patting my fingers, at which point I became fairly certain he wasn't, in fact, a mirage or figment of my imagination. I set my coffee cup and bag aside so I could help clean myself up.
Only I got caught up staring into familiar blue eyes instead. Hot.
That was the problem with Lincoln Wells. Between the light brown hair he usually kept on the buzzed to short side and those striking blue eyes, he was the kind of hot that'd scrambled my brain for an entire year in college.
"Sorry," he said, wadding the napkins into a ball and making a perfect toss into the nearby trash can. "Didn't mean to startle you."
One corner of his mouth curved up — oh the hours I'd spent daydreaming about that sexy crooked smile — and then he pulled me in for a hug. "I can't believe it's really you."
On autopilot — or maybe force of habit — I hugged him back. Like in college, he was all lean muscle, although he'd filled out a bit, broader in the shoulders and chest. My heart skipped a few beats, and I told myself to stop those rising tendrils of attraction right in their tracks. No thinking about how solid or warm he was, or how long it'd been since I'd been this close to a guy in general, much less a good-looking one.
I pulled back and grabbed my coffee and muffin so I wouldn't be tempted to reach for him again. "Wow, it's been a long time. Are you in town for a visit or —"
"Ivy didn't tell you? I moved back. Last weekend, actually."
Admittedly she and I had been missing each other lately, playing phone tag due to crazy schedules, but news like this? It deserved a meet-up involving alcohol at the very least.
Which is probably why she's been so persistent in trying to get me to go to Azure. But if he moved back to town last week ... Ivy had probably put off telling me, afraid of how I'd react.
Linc ran his gaze down me, and the only reason I straightened, patted my bun, and wished I'd showered and worn something besides yoga pants was because I wanted him to see what he'd missed out on. Not because I wanted to impress him or anything. I didn't want him to look at me as more than a friendly acquaintance. The cool girl he used to hang with in college.
Who he'd had drunken sex with one night.
"You look great," Linc said, and I opened my mouth and then shut it, not trusting my voice to come out as shaky as I suddenly felt.
Five years ago I would've given anything for him to look at me as more than a friend. I'd just known he would eventually see what I had the day I'd met him — that we were meant to be together. That night during spring break, when he kissed me and we ended up in bed, I'd thought he finally realized it, too.
Ivy had repeatedly warned me he wasn't a relationship guy and it was a bad idea to fall for him, so I don't know why I'd been so surprised to wake up alone the next morning. He'd left a note, but all it had scribbled across it was an ambiguous "Catch you later." I guess it wasn't all that ambiguous, because clearly it was a blow-off, don't-make-this-more-than-it-was letter.
Stupidly I'd thought starting out as friends meant it'd be different with us. That our connection was undeniable and I wasn't alone on Team Together Forever. The way he went on as if lines had never been crossed crushed me, but I knew I shouldn't blame him, since we never officially dated. He'd clearly only seen our night together as no-strings-attached fun, but that was the point now, wasn't it? I fell for unattainable guys — er, used to.
After that experience, I changed, and honestly, the guy standing across from me was the reason for several rules in my program, including "Know where you're at with a guy before you sleep with him."
Realizing I was staring, I cleared my throat and took a stab at normal conversation. "So, did you move back for baseball, then?"
Excerpted from 12 Steps to Mr. Right by Cindi Madsen, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2016 Cindi Madsen. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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