If you think life is complicated, try immortality. Justine Bennett is cursing her life. She's the Guardian of the Goblet of Eternal Youth, she hasn't left the house in ages, and it's been over 200 years since she's had sex. Oh, and the Goblet has shape shifted into an espresso machine. Not exactly the stuff grand destiny is made of...
Derek LaValle is worried. Due to a family curse, he'll be dead in the space of a week unless he finds the Guardian of the Goblet of Eternal Youth and beheads her. Which wouldn't be a problem if she wasn't so sexy, smart... and ready to behead him right back.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Rowe is the author of more than 40 novels, including her popular Order of the Blade paranormal romance series, and her sizzling new Wyoming Rebels cowboy series about nine rugged brothers. Stephanie is a four-time nominee of the RITA® Award, the highest award in romance fiction. She has won many awards for her novels, including the prestigious Golden Heart® Award. She has received coveted starred reviews from Booklist, and Publishers Weekly has called her work "[a] genre-twister that will make readers...rabid for more."
In additional to her paranormal and romances, Stephanie also writes the highly popular Birch Crossing series, a small town contemporary romance set in Maine. She also authors a thrilling romantic suspense series set in Alaska. Publisher's Weekly praised the series debut, ICE, as a "thrilling entry into romantic suspense," and Fresh Fiction called ICE an "edgy, sexy and gripping thriller."
A life-long reader, Stephanie began crafting stories at age ten, but didn't realize it was her dream until she was an adult. Once the light dawned, she immediately left behind "work" as the world defines it and went to "work" as she defines it, which means getting up every morning with a smile in her heart so she can spend the day doing that which makes her spirit sing.
Stephanie believes in learning to listen to your heart in order to figure out what your dreams are, and then opening yourself to the inspiration that will direct you there. She believes we all deserve the right to enjoy life, and for the ride to be as easy as we want it to be, and that we all should accept nothing less than making our dreams come true.
Stephanie lives in New England, and spends every day doing her best to fill it with people, observations and activities that uplift her soul, which include writing, hiking with her rescue dog, friends, and her amazing family.
For the latest news and subscriber-only giveways, subscribe to her private newsletter at http://stephanierowe.com/contact.html
Read an Excerpt
Date Me, Baby, One More Time
By Stephanie Rowe
WARNER FOREVERCopyright © 2006 Stephanie Rowe
All right reserved.
Chapter OneToday Derek LaValle was going to reverse the Curse, even if it meant saving the life of his blight-on-the-family-name cousin, Les LaValle.
Well, okay, most of the family would claim Les was blight number two. Derek was blight number one. Except when they wanted money from him. Then Derek was blight number one with an asterisk.
Derek's cell phone rang just as he was walking up the broken front steps of the dump Les lived in. It was his second-in-command, Becca Gibbs. "What's up?"
"The folks from McDonald's are here to talk to you about selling our pretzels in their stores." Her voice was slightly elevated; too much caffeine as usual. Becca was one high-strung woman. It made her a great business partner, though. She never slept and got more work done in an hour than most people did in a month. "The meeting's in five minutes and you're not here."
He glanced at his watch. Three minutes until his cuz bit the dust. "I don't have time to deal with them. Reschedule."
"Don't you realize what a huge opportunity this would be?" Her voice shot up a few more decibels. "You can't miss this meeting!"
"I need to deal with Les first." He swung the baseball bat loosely from his fingers as he rapped on the front door and rang the doorbell. "Les! Open up!"
"Derek! Youblew off Dunkin' Donuts last week because you were in the library doing research on that goblet, and you missed the Starbucks meeting on Friday because you saw a woman with a dragon tattoo at lunch and got arrested for stalking her." She made a sound of aggravated distress. "These are incredible distribution opportunities and you need to take them seriously. McDonald's wants an exclusive, and we need to think about whether that makes sense for us, and we can't do it if you're off chasing some damned mumbo-jumbo myth!" She was practically snarling at him now, and he grinned. His business would have been neglected into bankruptcy if it wasn't for Becca.
"Go ahead and meet with them," he said. "They'll realize you're a hell of a lot more on top of things than I am, and they'll be thrilled to work with you instead of me." Hiring Becca five years ago had been his best business decision since deciding to open Vic's Pretzels. She was a business and marketing genius, and the stock price of Vic's Pretzels proved it. Gave him time to pursue more important things, like saving his cousin's life. Not that Becca agreed with his priorities.
Of course, everyone who knew of his plans thought he was insane, so he supposed the fact they didn't support him was to be expected.
He tried the doorknob. Locked. "Les!" A quick glance at his watch told him he had only two and a half minutes now. Damn New York City traffic and his cousin for living so far out of the city. He felt his adrenaline kick in, and his heart began to pump.
But Becca wasn't finished. "These people want to meet with the inventor of Vic's No-Carb Pretzel, not his lieutenant. I will stall them for exactly thirty minutes and if you don't get your designer-clad heinie over here by then, I'm going to hand them the recipe and tell them to have at it." She slammed down the phone.
She'd sounded like she meant it. Crap. Time to save Les's butt and get back to the office.
Barely two minutes left. "Les!" He slung the baseball bat over his shoulder and sprinted around the side of the house. The gate to the backyard was locked, but he scaled it easily, an advantage of being over six feet tall. He vaulted up the rickety stairs to the back deck and nearly crashed into his cousin, who was sprawled in a lawn chair, absorbing the rays. "Damn, Les. Didn't you hear me?"
"Screw you." Les had his feet cooling in a murky plastic wading pool, his bulging stomach hanging over the waistband of his Speedo. "I'm not listening to any of your b.s."
"I don't care if you listen or not," Derek said. "I'm here to save your sorry behind anyway."
"I don't need saving. I take care of myself just fine." For the last six years, Les had been collecting disability for an "injury" to his back. He now spent all his time furthering his Internet poker addiction and bullying the neighborhood children into going to the store for him. The only time he wasn't at the computer was when he was too hungover to focus on the screen. Solution? Sun and beer for a couple hours to revive himself. "And if you keep running around insisting the LaValle men have been cursed, someone's going to pack you off in a straitjacket."
Derek shrugged. "Better insane than dead." His family had already tried to have him committed more than once. Having a vast disposable income came in handy for purchasing his freedom. "Every LaValle man for four generations has died at the moment he turned thirty-one years, forty-six weeks, four days, six hours, three minutes, and five seconds old." He looked at his watch and cursed. "That's in just over a minute for you."
He hoisted the bat to his shoulder and searched the yard for rabid pit bulls and homicidal yard implements that might develop a mind of their own. I know you're out there, you murderous son of a bitch. I'm ready for you.
Les took another slug of beer. "The LaValle men have had a run of bad luck. Nothing more."
"So everyone says." So his dad had claimed until the moment he'd become the victim of a wayward butter knife. Died right in front of fifteen-year-old Derek, while they'd been sampling a no-calorie waffle together.
"There's no Curse and I don't need you here to protect me against some crap you made up." Les folded his flabby arms over his saggy chest and glared at Derek.
No Curse? Not likely.
Not when you consider the way they'd died. One had been found impaled on his toothbrush. Another had choked to death on lemonade. How about the one who'd been kicked in the head by a newborn baby and suffered fatal brain damage? One unfortunate sod had actually shot himself in the head while cleaning his gun-although that could have been legit. The one that had been mauled to death by a pet hamster? Seemed a little fishy. As if fate was grabbing whatever was available at that precise moment.
"I'm going to call my mom and tell her you're over here talking about the Curse again," Les whined. "And then I'm going to call the cops and-"
"Shut up and let me concentrate." If he could keep the Curse from succeeding with Les, he was hoping that would be enough to stop the chain before it hit him and his fraternal twin when they reached the right age. Which was in just over a week.
Forty-five seconds. "Maybe you should go inside," Derek suggested. "You could drown in that pool." His bat wasn't going to be much good if the water suddenly swelled up in a massive tsunami and swept Les away.
"You go inside. Get me another beer." Les belched and let his head drop back against the lounge chair. "Order a pizza while you're at it."
Derek looked up at the sky. No lightning bolt could come out of that blue sky, could it?
Ten seconds. He kicked an old pizza box off the deck. Not sure how cardboard could be deadly, but he wasn't taking any chances.
Les yawned. "I'm gonna take a nap."
Les belched again and picked up a beer.
"Give me that bottle. I don't want glass near you." Before he could grab the bottle, Derek's watch alarm went off, and a huge rock came careening over the back fence, heading straight for Les's head.
Les screamed and dove out of his chair. Derek swung for the rock. It shattered his bat but ricocheted away from Les and smashed through the living room window. "Believe me now, Les?"
No sound from Les.
Derek spun around. His cousin was lying on the deck, motionless, his neck twisted at an angle that was unnatural and very, very wrong.
Frustration ripped through him. "Dammit, Les. Why didn't you listen?"
No one listened. And everyone died.
Well, Derek wasn't going to die, and he wasn't going to let his brother die. He glared at the overgrown backyard. "You've just taken your last LaValle man, you hear me?"
He could have sworn he heard laughter on the wind.
Great. So he was burdened with a Curse that had a warped sense of humor.
Four hours later, after dealing with cops and the ambulance and begging forgiveness from Becca for skipping out on the fast-food meeting, Derek banged open the door to his twin brother's office, making Quincy LaValle jump and spill coffee all over his desk.
"Damn you, Derek. Why do you always do that?"
"Because I like to pick on my little brother. Hello, Wendy. Derek nodded at the assistant filing in the corner as he moved a stack of papers off a chair, and dropped into the seat.
Then he looked again. Wendy Monroe had been working for Quincy for the last two years. Every time he'd seen her, she'd been wearing some gray outfit that barely showed she was a woman. No makeup. Glasses. She was the epitome of a nerdy intellectual and a perfect match for his math professor brother, if only Quincy would pull his head out of his books and realize it.
But today she was wearing a red sweater and her hair looked like it had been marked up with blond or something. What did women call that? Highlighted. Right. She looked like she'd gotten her hair highlighted. A monumental change for her. She actually looked like she had a personality. "You look nice today, Wendy."
She smiled at him and looked him in the eye. Another first. "Thank you, Mr. LaValle." She pulled open a drawer in Quincy's desk and pulled out a napkin, barely keeping her hip a proper distance form Quincy's arm.
"Derek," he corrected her, as usual.
"Of course." As she mopped up the coffee spill, her gaze flicked toward Quincy, and he was pretty sure he saw a light in her eyes he hadn't noticed before. Had she suddenly realized what every other woman on campus already knew? That his antisocial, absentminded brother was apparently a total chick magnet? That would account for the new sweater and colored hair. "Quincy? Do you need anything else?" she asked.
Quincy was already back at the computer typing away. He waved his hand vaguely in her direction. "All set. Have a good weekend."
She gave Derek a knowing smile. It was Monday at one in the afternoon. She still had a thirty-five-hour workweek until the weekend, but it was beneath Quin to keep track of things as mundane as the day of the week. "You have to teach class in forty-five minutes. I'll remind you."
Quincy looked up from the computer. "Really? Today? What class?"
"It's your freshman lecture."
"Oh. Right." He frowned and Wendy set a sheaf of papers in front of him. "These are the tests you're handing back to the students today. And on the top are your notes for your lecture."
Derek grinned as he watched Wendy take care of his brother with calm patience. The perfect woman for Quin. Maybe he ought to encourage Quincy to notice he had a female working in his office.
After they'd taken care of the Curse, of course. Until they beat it, relationships were pretty much doomed. Nothing like telling your date that you'll be dead by age thirty-one to scare her off. Somehow being beheaded by a green bean didn't seem to mesh with domestic visions of white picket fences and 2.3 kids, as their dad's unfortunate butter knife encounter had proven. Just think of the situation Derek would put his kids in if he had any: How do you explain to your friends at school that your dad was the victim of a wayward kitchen utensil that had been momentarily possessed by a supernatural force?
Wendy finished instructing Quincy on his plans for the afternoon, then stepped back from the desk. "Do you need my assistance for your meeting with Derek? If not, I'll keep filing in the corner."
Derek cleared his throat. "Um, would you mind giving us some privacy?"
"No problem at all." She flashed them a small smile and then hurried out of the room.
Derek set a tossed salad and a tuna sub on Quincy's desk. "Brought lunch."
Quincy grinned and began unwrapping the sandwich. "Great. I'm starving. I forgot to eat again."
"I figured that would be the case." The door clicked shut. "Les died."
Quincy looked up sharply. "When?"
Sharp lines tightened behind Quincy's glasses. "At what time?"
"Nine fifty-four and seventeen seconds. As I predicted." Maybe this would convince Quincy. It had to. Derek needed help to figure what was going on and how to stop it. Time was almost out, and eighteen years of solo pursuit hadn't gotten him any answers. He needed a partner, and since Quin was the only person who let Derek discuss the Curse without threatening to get him committed, Quin got the nod.
His brother frowned. "You were there?"
Typical intellectual. He needed every fact before drawing a conclusion. Derek sighed and filled in his twin on the details, then fell silent.
"Huh? That's all you can say?"
"Well, what do you want me to say? Oh, sure, I believe all the LaValle men are cursed and you're going to die in a week and I'm going to die ten minutes after you?" Quincy shook his head. "I'm sorry, but I don't buy this paranormal spooky stuff. There has to be a logical explanation."
"Math is based on logic. Curses aren't. Forget what you know and open your mind."
Quincy pulled off his glasses and shot Derek a superior stare. "Math is real. Curses are myths. There has to be something else going on besides some fantastical intervention by fate."
Derek ground his teeth. "Listen to me, Quin. We have to find out how to stop it. One week and then we're dead. The leisurely approach is no longer an option."
"I'll do some research on the statistical odds of all these deaths happening at such similar times and-"
"Quincy!" Derek slammed his palms on the desk. "This isn't math! It's something more! You'll die if we don't fix this." Derek hadn't suffered all those black eyes and the broken nose defending his nerdy brother just to let him die from a rabid ballpoint pen or something equally ridiculous. A fatal carjacking in the city? Fine. That's fate. A damned ballpoint pen? He had his pride and he simply wouldn't be bested by a blasted writing utensil. "Don't ignore this, Quincy. I'm not crazy."
Quincy leaned back in his chair and gave Derek his tolerant professor look. "What would you have me do?"
"Let's find this Goblet of Eternal Youth. Find the Guardian."
"And then what? Kill the Guardian and steal the Goblet as the journal says must be done for the Curse to be broken? This is the twenty-first century. We can't go around killing anyone."
"What if it's the Guardian's life or ours? You think I should stand back and let us die?"
Quincy leaned forward. "Face it, Derek. There's no Goblet. There's no Curse. There is simply bad luck among the LaValle men. I'll write up a few equations and show that it's mathematically possible for all twenty-nine men to have died without any supernatural intervention."
"Fine." Derek stood up. "You do that."
"And then you'll let this go?"
"Sure." He turned away before Quincy could see the lie in his eyes.
Curse or not, Les was going to be the last LaValle man to die at age thirty-one.
He was going to find that Guardian and do what he had to do. But his gut dropped at the thought of killing anyone in cold blood, even to save his brother.
He hoped she tried to kill him first. Then he could behead her with a clean conscience. Murder in the first degree wasn't exactly befitting of a pretzel mogul. And what was the point of dodging the Curse if he had to spend the rest of his life in prison dodging ... well ... yeah. Probably best not to think about that.
First things first. Find the Guardian.
Deal with the rest Later.
Excerpted from Date Me, Baby, One More Time by Stephanie Rowe Copyright © 2006 by Stephanie Rowe. Excerpted by permission.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Vic, creator and owner of Vic¿s Pretzels, believes the curse has killed twenty-nine male relatives at the moment they turn thirty-one forty six weeks four days six hours three minutes and five seconds. No one including his mathematical brilliant twin Quincy believes him even as cousin Les becomes number thirty.----- Justine is the keeper of the Goblet of Eternal Youth that currently is called Mona the espresso machine. She has been in this boring role for almost two centuries with her best friend Theresa changed into a dragon. Both miss sex, but would settle for a date, but who goes out with a dragon while Justine cannot shirk her duty. Meanwhile her deceased mom visits from purgatory to warn Justine that she will face a test of her goodness. If she fails mom goes to hell as the bride of Satan.------ Vic realizes that the goblet and its guardian are nearby in Manhattan. He soon traces it to Justine, who he believes he must kill to lift the curse and save the lives of his brother and him. However, he finds not only is he unable to murder her, he wants to kiss her for eternity.----- Fans of wild humorous romantic fantasy will enjoy the madcap DATE ME, BABY, ONE MORE TIME. The story line contains two protagonists who by nature of the curse are enemies yet by nature of their respective hearts are soul mates in love. Fans will appreciate the pretzel king counting down his last week unless he beheads the guardian and the guardian knowing she must behead any threat to the Goblet. When they meet, sparks fly, but will heads follow. Their dating woes seem inane when one considers the possibilities between his twin and her friend (next time up).----- Harriet Klausner
Derek LaValle and his twin brother only have a week to live all the men in his family die on their twenty seventh birthday. Therefore, unless he can break the curse, he's doomed. His only hope of doing this is to kill the Guardian of the Goblet of Eternal Youth. Thanks to modern technology and large amounts of cash, he is able to crack the ancient secret and track down Justine Bennett, the 'young' woman who has spent two hundred years keeping an eye on Mona, the Expresso Machine of Eternal Youth whose chameleon circuit has been locked on the expresso machine image for quite a while now. Justine's only help and companionship comes from Theresa, a girl who drank from Mona two centuries ago and got turned into a dragon, but she doesn't let that stop her from having fun still, and her ghostly mother who drops in from Purgatory every now and then. Justine has been bored for two hundred years. Life is now getting interesting in the Chinese curse sense. Not only is Derek, the Pretzel King of New York, trying to kill her, but her mother is being wooed by the devil who has petitioned to get her mom out of purgatory. Besides not wanting her mother to be the queen of Hell, Justine has no desire to get sent there, and giving birth to Justine was what kept her mother from going directly to Hell when she died. Only Justine's fall from grace would send her mother there now, so now the Guardian's council is judging HER soul as well and will manufacture a qualifying incident to decide her eternal destiny. Now, she may have to kill the most handsome guy she's ever met to protect Mona, only she really does not want to, and besides, killing does not sound like something that would get one into Heaven. We haven't even discussed the family secrets she'll discover as she tries to break the curse, save Mona, and keep her mom out of h*ll. .................... This book is nothing short of a hoot. While it may be disturbing to see the devil portrayed as an almost sympathetic comic character, C.S. Lewis did advise that the devil hates to be laughed at, which is all you can do with this version. Subtle pokes are taken in fun at science fiction/fantasy icons that only add to the fun. If you need to giggle, then add this to your buy list.
This was a funny book. By that I mean both funny, ha ha, and funny, strange. I'll try and summarize the plot but I'm afraid it might be too bizarre to explain.Justine Bennett is an immortal and guardian of the Goblet of Eternal Youth which just happens to have morphed into an espresso machine named Desdemona (Mona for short). Oh, and she's forbidden to have sex because it might interfere with her job of guarding Mona. Justine and her roommate, Theresa Nichols, have been watching over Mona for the last 200 years. Oh, yeah, BTW, Theresa is now an 11-foot tall fire-breathing dragon who spends most of her day having cyber sex. Needless to say they don't get out much.Derek LaValle and the men of his family are cursed. For the past four generations all the men of his family have died at the same age, 31 years, 46 weeks, 4 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes, and 5 seconds. How's that for a curse? Where Rowe came up with that exact age, I don't know, but it made me laugh. And the weird causes of death (hamsters, lemonade ?) for the men was hilarious. Derek is determined to break the curse and the only way he feels he can do that is to kill the Guardian and steal the Goblet. Justine must protect the Goblet by killing Derek or else face being sent the Chamber of Unspeakable Horrors. Satan and Justine's mother have a secondary romance (if you can call it that). He lusts after her and she wants nothing to do with him. Some of their dialogue is pretty funny.Eventually Derek and Justine team up to solve the curse and they fall for each other. The plot was rather convoluted at times and while there were some laugh out loud moments some of it was a bit silly to me. This quirky paranormal has no werewolves, no vampires, no fairies, trolls or goblins. Just a fire-breathing dragon. But it was worth picking up for the comedy alone. (Grade: B)
At first glance, this is the type of book that I should have a very good time reading, since it holds so many of the elements I enjoy. There are lots of fun paranormal elements, a kick-butt heroine, and it's a funny and romantic story. The problem for me was that the paranormal elements, while original, didn't ever really gel into a believable premise. The kick-butt heroine was kind of whiny and mopey, and the story never seemed all that funny or romantic. It wasn't a bad book, but the fast and furious page-turning I was expecting never seemed to happen. Oh, well.
I read this because I was looking for light, fun and whimsical (like Katie MacAllister or MaryJanice Davidson) , but this fell far from the mark. The depiction of Satan and Satan Jr. were utterly ridiculous, Justine and Theresa lacked real emotion, Derek believed all the Otherworld/Paranormal happenings far too easily and Quincy was just a wus. Plus, the storyline had far too many references to past deeds that made me wonder if I'd missed the first installment of the series. This was not the adventurous romp I hoped it would be & the only reason I kept reading until the end was because I hoped things would get better. They didn't.
Given what I usually read, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit to reading this book. The writing was certainly light and quick, but the plot was very good. If you like paranormal romance/humor, you will definitely enjoy this book. Characters were hilarious and quirky, and, for the most part, not as shallow as you might expect. I may pick up the next in the series (just maybe not read it in public).
It was a lightweight read. Even lacking a lot of indepth characterization the plot moved along quickly and didn't bog down. Justine is the Guardian of Desdemona's Temptation. Mona for short. She's currently in the form of an expresso machine. Justine shares these duties with her friend Theresa. Theresa as been turned into a dragon. Justine laments on how boring her life is and how much she misses having sex. It seems the Guardian is not allowed to have sex. It comes down to be careful what you wish for.Justine foils an attempted theft of Mona, and instead of running to a new safe house, decides to stay put.Derek LeValle is trying to end a curse which causes all male members of his family to die on their 31st birthday. By reading his ancestor's journal he determines the only way to stop the curse is to behead the Guardian and steal Mona.When Derek and Justine come together, neither wants to kill the other. They work together to remove the curse and find a way around the no sex clause for the guardian.
Derek is on a quest to break the curse which causes all the males in his family to die at the precise age of thirty-one years, forty-six weeks, four days, six hours three minutes, and five seconds but he's not having much luck. He's only clues are in a journal written by a long deceased ancestor which states to break the curse he must steal the Goblet of Eternal Youth and kill the guardian. Finally, only days away from his own judgment day Derek finds the guardian along with the goblet/espresso machine and her apprentice-turned-dragon. The only problem is that the guardian turns out to be beautiful, deadly and spunky, an irresistable combination that he's finding very hard to resist.Date Me, Baby, One More Time was all I had hoped it would be. Cute, fluffy and romantic the relationship between Derek and the guardian, Justine, is humorously based on their complete honesty with each other about the fact that they will, eventually, have no choice but to fight to the death. Fantastic book for lovers of paranormal romance without the traditional doom and gloom.
This was the first book & Series of Ms Rowe's that I have read. I loved it. It had all of the elements that I like in a paranormal. Humor, drama, suspense, and of course a happy ending for the main characters. I would definitely recommend this book and series.
I had been looking at this book in my library for several weeks but never checked it out...it is just something that I wouldn't read. I checked it out eventually thinking I would return it without reading it all the way through. Boy, was I wrong! I was hooked from the first page. I loved it. Be warned: this book is a big distraction when you have homework to do! :D
Funny Funny Funny!!! I LOVED this series. The characters were strong and instantly loveable. The dialogue was witty. The plot was very engaging - I was sucked in from page 1 and read the series straight through. One of the best sets of books I've read (and I've read a LOT). I recommend this to everyone. Read the series in order: 1 - Date Me Baby One More Time, 2 - Must Love Dragons, 3 - He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot, and 4 - Sex and the Immortal Bad Boy. I wish there was more but alas, only 4 in the series. I also recommend: Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series, starting with The Warlord Wand Forever (this prequel comes in an anthology; Playing Easy to Get). Really can't put these down.
Great story!!! Love the characters...the plot is so fun and original, I couldn't put it down. Such a fun series...you must read all of the others!!! Wont regret this book!!!