Veterinarian Wade Roberts is done with love. But try convincing the elderly folk of Cape Harmony who are determined to play matchmaker. Now the young single women in town are bombarding him with baked goods and love notes, and being “taken” is the only way to stop the meddling grannies—which is why he needs a fake fiancée. Fast.
Arden Pearson loves planning weddings. Other people's weddings, that is. After her own engagement ended in disaster, she prefers to live vicariously through her work. But when she needs to persuade a big client that she’s capable of planning the celebrity wedding of the year, she’s willing to go as far as pretending to be engaged herself to her best friend’s older brother.
Soon their ruse has everyone in town believing they make the perfect couple—including Arden. She’s always been nothing more than a kid sister to Wade, and it might take a village to convince him otherwise...
Each book in the Accidentally Yours series is STANDALONE:
* Bargaining with the Boss
* Catch Him If You Can
* Romancing His Rival
About the Author
Jennifer Shirk has a bachelor degree in pharmacy—which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantics-at-heart come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations.
She is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Montlake Romance and Entangled Publishing. Her novel, Fiancé by Fate, a 2015 Readers’ Crown Finalist, was an Amazon #1 bestseller for Series Romance. And recently, Wrong Brother, Right Match, won the Sweet Traditional category of the 2017 Golden Quill Contest and became a #1 Amazon bestseller for Holiday Romance and USA Today bestseller.
She serves on many volunteer boards in her community, but is most proud of her work on the Ocean City Free Public Library Board of Trustees, where she has served as President for over three years. She resides in a beach resort in NJ, and when she’s not involved in all the above, she’s taking care of her most treasured possessions: her husband, daughter, and dog (Sox).
Read an Excerpt
Something smelled fishy the moment Wade Roberts stepped into his office. But that smell wasn't because he happened to work at a veterinary clinic.
Jane, who ran the front desk at his Sandy Paws practice, jumped up from her seat as soon as she saw him. "Oh, Wade, I'm so glad you're here."
He shrugged off his leather jacket and draped it on the back of a chair. "Why wouldn't I be here?" He was always here. One of the other two veterinarians on staff would be transferring out of state soon. And since his partner, Jeff, had a newborn baby in the house, the hours Wade was putting into the clinic might require him to set up a cot in the backroom and install a shower soon.
"Oh right, of course you're here." Jane sat back down and let out a nervous giggle. "But I'm still happy to see you. We're, uh, unusually busy this morning."
He grabbed his white lab coat where he'd left it hanging yesterday and slid it over his navy T-shirt. "Busy is good," he automatically replied, picking up his stethoscope.
Busy meant less time ... thinking. Without thought, it was easier to go through the motions of life and just exist. That's how he'd been getting through life since his wife passed away four years ago. But it seemed to be working out, and for now, it suited him fine.
Jane twisted nervously in her seat. "Yes, but there's busy and then there's busy."
"What are you talking about?"
She pointed toward the front of the clinic. "Um, maybe you should look for yourself."
The anxious vibe Jane radiated from her posture spiked his curiosity. Wade took several steps to peer into the waiting room.
Mother of Lassie. Jane wasn't exaggerating. Their office wasn't just busy. It was busy. The waiting room was completely jammed with owners — mostly women — and their animals. It looked like a pet epidemic. Dogs barking, cats meowing, birds squawking and — Is that a ball python draped over that woman's shoulders? Every seat was filled, and some people were standing or leaning against the wall.
He blinked and then stepped back, darting a glance at Jane, who wore an I- told-you-so grin on her lips.
What the hell is going on? Normally, a Saturday morning could get busy. After all, his office was only open until noon today and sometimes vacationers had emergencies with their pets that couldn't wait until Monday. It was also not unusual to see so many pet owners who were women. However ... He braced himself and sneaked another peek to make sure he hadn't been seeing things.
Yes, it wasn't unusual to see so many female pet owners, however, it was unusual to see so many women looking ... bedazzled. Short skirts, high heels, hair straightened, some curled. Was that perfume he smelled through the animal stench? Almost every woman sitting with her pet was also wearing ... lipstick?
He glanced down at Jane again. "Is today some kind of holiday?"
She gravely shook her head. "No."
"You sure?" He looked out into the room again. The women seemed to be surveying one another with equal amounts of animosity and ruthlessness that made the hair on the back of his neck stand at attention. "There's something weird going on out there."
"Um, yeah, weird." Jane slapped a folder in his hands. "Maybe you should just get started."
He nodded. He had to be reading too much into the situation. Women normally dressed up on Saturdays. Didn't they? After all, it was a hot date night. Saturday was also a big day for weddings, as his sister's friend Arden, a wedding planner, would remind him all too often.
The problem was that ever since Judy Tavish down at the Drip N Sip self-appointed herself as his personal matchmaker, he'd been on high alert to the attention of strange women — scratch that, to any and all women. Judy had apparently broadcasted his bachelor status to every single female — age not specified — within a fifty-mile radius this past summer. As a result, he'd been accosted by dozens of baked goods left on his porch, hundreds of pictures and love notes in his mailbox, and he didn't even want to think about embarrassing sext messages he'd gotten over the last few days.
Well, actually, some of those were pretty hot. He didn't know who they came from, but he'd almost been tempted to keep one or two.
Jane cleared her throat. "Doctor, your dates — er, I mean patients are getting restless."
Wade frowned. "Right." He took the folder in his hand and flipped it over. The name "Butters" was printed on the top tab. A six-month-old corgi mix. Typical six-month checkup. Piece of cake.
His technician, Becky, breezed into the office. "Morning, all. Sorry, I'm late. My fiancÃ(c) forgot he had to drive me to work today," she said with a happy yawn.
Wade grinned and tugged a strand of Becky's still wet hair. "Not a problem. How about you get a weight on Butters, then show her and her owner to Room A."
"Will do, boss," she said, heading in that direction. But after a few beats, she ran back in the office. "Oh my gosh! It's like animal Studio 54 out there."
"Oh, you noticed that, too?" he asked drily.
"Noticed?" she said, eyes wide. "You'd have to be blind and deaf not to notice that wildlife exhibit out there."
"We're not exactly sure what's going on," Jane said, biting her lip.
Becky folded her arms and smirked. "You're not? Seems clear to me Dr. Dreamy has a growing fan club going on. Saturdays are never like this when Dr. Benson is working."
Wade scoffed. "That's ridiculous. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that we're unusually busy today." At least he hoped that was the case. But considering the amount of attention he'd been getting lately, thanks to Judy, the thought had crossed his mind as well.
Becky shot him a knowing look. "Unusually busy with female clients. And did you see the outfit on the redhead? That is definitely a woman in the market for a man — sick cat or not."
Wade rolled his eyes, determined to brush off the notion. "Go do your job, please," he muttered. "It's just a busy workday. You'll see."
"Whatever you say." She shrugged at Jane, then headed back to the waiting room.
Wade shook his head. "She's obviously delusional after spending so much time with Arden, planning that wedding of hers."
Jane licked her lips. "Well ... I'm sure Becky does have love on the brain right now, but she also has a point. You're single and good-looking. According to Facebook, it's been a while since you've been in any kind of serious relationship. Everyone in town would like to see you settled. You have to admit that all — "
She swallowed. "Uh, yeah. You were kind of a hot topic last week."
"A topic with whom exactly?" he asked, already having a bad feeling about where this conversation was going.
Jane flipped her brown hair off her shoulders and settled back into her desk chair. "On Facebook there's a Cape Harmony Chatter group. We basically share gossip and news from around town. I forget how you came up exactly, but then all of a sudden you were on their top ten list of eligible bachelors this past week. I might have supplied the picture," she said with a guilty smile. "You were holding a kitten in here and it was so cute —"
Wade held up a hand. "Enough."
"Honest, I didn't know all that" — she waved frantically toward the waiting room, sending her bracelets clanking — "out there would happen. Oh my gosh, please don't fire me," she begged, clasping her hands together.
He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "I'm not going to fire you." Good help was hard to find, and Jane was one of the best front-desk managers he'd ever worked with.
"Oh, thank you," she breathed. "Like I said, we were only trying to help. You deserve to find a nice woman."
You deserve to find a nice woman.
He'd been hearing that mantra for the past year. Dammit, he wasn't interested in getting seriously involved with another woman. He happened to like his relationships short term — very short term. He'd been in love once. He'd been married. Check and check. Why couldn't people in town get it through their heads that he didn't want to go through all that again? Once-in-a-lifetime heartbreak was plenty. It made him tense to even think about it. No. When Miranda died, he'd vowed he would never put himself in another situation like that again. Because being the one left behind definitely sucked.
Becky walked back to them from the front waiting area, a large orange cat in her arms. "Okay, Doc," she said with a bright smile. "Butters and her divorced owner are waiting for you, just as you asked."
"Thanks," he said more gruffly than intended. But he didn't appreciate the "divorced owner" comment. He had enough matchmakers in town. He didn't need them at work, too.
Wade turned away and headed down the hall. Once he reached the exam room, he lightly rapped on the door and then opened it. He was greeted by a very attractive brunette wearing a tight red top with the shoulders cut out that accentuated a nice, trim figure. He shifted his gaze to her face, and she smiled prettily at him — and maybe just maybe a little too eagerly as well.
"Uh, good morning," he said, closing the door behind him. He cleared his throat and stuck out his hand. The woman's little corgi was curled in a ball, asleep on her lap. He looked down at the puppy. "And this must be Butters."
The wattage on the woman's smile increased and almost blinded him. "Yes, this is Butters, and I'm Violet. I just adopted her. It's not easy living alone. I'm sure you know what I mean, Dr. Roberts."
Good grief. Since when had his personal life become so public? Then he remembered Facebook. He could kick Mark Zuckerberg in the nuts. Or better yet, neuter him. "Uh, yeah. Dogs are great company. I have a yellow lab myself."
"Oh, how nice. Do you go to the dog park downtown? I've been meaning to take Butters for a while. Maybe our dogs could have a playdate," she said.
Wade suppressed a shudder at the word "date" — even though she was referring to their dogs — and kept his professional mask in place. "I have to admit I don't make it to the park that often. With my schedule, I usually just take her for a long walk around the block when I get home."
Wade was about to reach for Butters, but Violet leaned her chest forward at the same time. He pulled back. "Can you please put Butters on the exam table?" he asked nonchalantly.
The smile on Violet's face dimmed. "Oh, of course." She stood and gingerly placed her puppy on the table, leaning way too close. He shifted to the other side of the table. Maybe he should call in Becky to assist. And as a witness.
He began his routine of checking teeth and feeling for lumps, then listened to the dog's heartbeat. When everything checked out, he glanced at Violet. "Still feeding her three times a day?"
"Oh yes. Plus snacks," she said with a slight blush. "She's a growing girl."
"Any issues with bowel movements?"
"Great. Everything looks good to me. She's a very healthy puppy. My technician will let you know what kind of heartworm medication to purchase, and you and Butters can be on your way." He smiled, then took a step toward the door.
Violet didn't move. "That's it?"
"Uh, yeah, that's it. Unless you have any questions."
Violet brushed her bangs off her forehead and stepped closer. "Yes, there is something I'm a little worried about. I thought you would have automatically seen it."
He paused. "Seen what?"
"She has ticks."
"Ticks?" Wade looked down and examined the dog's skin through her fur once again. When all seemed fine, he looked up again. "I'm sorry, but I don't see or feel any ticks."
"Yes, they're right here, Doctor," Violet said, pointing to the dog's belly. "See those tiny bumps? I noticed them yesterday."
Wade's gaze followed to where she pointed and he suppressed a smile. "Uh, Violet. Those aren't ticks. Those are her nipples."
"Oh!" Violet's face grew red, then she looked under her dog again. "Really?"
"She'll be just fine. But if you're concerned about fleas and ticks, Jane at the front desk can give you a coupon for a special collar she could wear that works great."
"Oh, Dr. Roberts, you are so sweet," Violet said, placing her hand on his arm. "I'm so glad you were recommended to me. Please let me show my gratitude to you somehow."
Wade swallowed, noticing that Violet had yet to remove her hand from his arm. Gratitude? "Uh, completely unnecessary. But thank you. All in a day's work, really."
"Oh no, I insist. Maybe I could cook dinner for you. My ex-husband is a chef and he taught me quite a bit. One good thing to come out of our marriage," she muttered darkly.
"I appreciate the offer, Violet. Thank you, but you don't have to. In fact, you may not even feel the same about me once you see the bill," he joked.
Violet chuckled. "You're funny, too. And handsome. Judy was right about you."
Wade narrowed his eyes. "Judy?"
"Yes, Judy Tavish. She owns the Drip N Sip downtown."
"I'm well aware of Judy Tavish and her coffee shop." And her side job as a local matchmaker.
"She's a great listener. Over many cups of her maraschino macchiato, she helped me gain perspective on my divorce. Then, after it was finalized, she told me about how you were in a bit of a dating slump. But honestly, looking and talking to you, I can't imagine why."
"I'm not in a dating slump."
Violet gave him a sympathetic nod. "Judy said you would say that."
He arched an eyebrow, banking down his growing annoyance at Judy Tavish's know-it-all-about-Wade attitude. "And what else did the great coffee guru say about me?"
"Nothing much," she said with a shrug. "Just that your sister was getting married this year and that you would probably need a date to the wedding."
Wade blinked, hoping he'd misheard her. "She told you about my sister?"
"Yeah. And that you were feeling extra lonely now because of how happy and in love your sister is. Kinsley, right?"
That did it. A red haze clouded his vision, but he forced himself to press pause before he opened his mouth. Even if Judy Tavish happened to veer pretty close to the truth, he didn't appreciate the interference of her or anyone else in his life. Especially Kinsley.
"You know, Judy is not the Wade Roberts expert she's touting herself off to be," he said hotly. "Believe me, there's no dating slump going on. In fact, the only reason I'm not dating right now is like anything else I do or don't do in my life: it's by choice."
Violet cocked her head. "So you're not interested in dinner?"
Wade wasn't sure what constituted "dinner" in her book, but considering Violet's emotions were clearly still raw so soon after her divorce, he doubted she was looking for his usual meaningless hookup. "Look, you're a very attractive woman, but no, I'm not interested in dating anyone right now. It's nothing personal. But I do appreciate the offer."
Violet seemed to take his rejection with a mode of decorum and delicately removed her hand from his arm. "Too bad," she said with a sigh. "If you ever change your mind ... "
Wade finally had the urge to smile. "I'll be sure to let you know."
"So what are you going to do about the others then?" she asked, stroking her sleepy puppy's head.
He stilled. "What do you mean?" he asked carefully.
Violet took one look at his face and laughed. "Oh dear. You really don't know?"
She shook her head. "Judy Tavish didn't just tell me about your dating slum — er, uh, dating choice."
The uneasy fishy feeling from earlier when he'd walked into work was back in full force and creating a buzz in his head. "Oh no. Tell me she didn't ... "
"Oh, yes she did," she said with a laugh. "I think she even put out a message on Facebook, offering her matchmaking services for free. Unfortunately, there is a whole waiting room full of women who have the exact same idea I had when I came here."
Wade sank into his chair. "Why am I not surprised that Judy Tavish is responsible for all this?"
Violet made a face. "It wasn't just Judy. Carol from the consignment shop was in on it, too. They're convinced you need a woman and pretty much made you out to be some kind of unicorn man." Her gaze swept over him in an appreciating manner. "Not that they exaggerated much at all."
Unicorn man? What does that even mean? He shook his head, trying to clear it. "That's impossible. Those women are just pet owners who needed the services of a vet today."
Violet bit her lip. "One woman out there is legit. Two, tops. Maybe."
Excerpted from "Catch Him If You Can"
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Shirk.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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