He's just what she needs...
Single mom Jade Moran isn't ready for any big changes in either her horrible '70s kitchen or her romantic life. Her ex did a number on her, and she isn't interested in getting hurt again. But when she meets a super-hot contractor, she wonders if avocado appliances are on the way out and romance is on the way in.
Max Gianopoulis doesn't have a clue why he's so enchanted by Jade. She's almost as big a mess as her kitchen, and he's a guy who likes to keep things simple. But Jade has turned up the flirty heat - and he can't keep his hands off her.
With everything moving too fast and coming too easy, Jade's insecurities kick into high gear. She's not sure she can trust another man again - and she definitely doesn't believe in happily ever afters...
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
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Just Say Yes
By Alyssa Goodnight, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Alyssa Goodnight
All rights reserved.
Some days, romance needs a little push, a little vote of confidence. For those days, there is chocolate-cherry-blueberry bark. The blueberries will calm your nerves, the cherries will amp up your seductive wiles, and the chocolate means you've scored already.
— Witch in the Kitchen, Bark Is Better with Bite
"Evie, a yes is for an ice cream or an impromptu sleepover," Jade insisted as she parked on the street, a block from their destination on Austin's East Side. "Not lunch at a place whose logo includes a turnip. If that even is a turnip," she muttered. In hindsight, the decision to offer the occasional open-ended yes to a teenage girl seemed somewhat misguided.
"I'm thirteen, Mom. My priorities have changed," Evie said, already out of the car.
Groaning, Jade hurried to catch up with her daughter as she strolled down the sidewalk.
"What are we really doing here? Did you promise to meet a friend? Someone who might be persuaded to go get tacos for lunch?"
"We're just branching out," Evie said, turning to check her headband in a shop window.
Jade stopped walking. "Is this meant to be the next stage in Project Jade Moran Needs a Man?" she demanded as a truck roared past, whipping her skirt up around her thighs. She frantically pressed it back down. "Because I'm really not in the mood."
Her daughter turned to look at her. "Mom, it's just lunch. If we happen to meet someone ..." Her voice trailed off, letting Jade decide how to finish that statement.
She sighed when they reached their destination. She took in the galvanized metal and wood accents and the purple and white vegetable painted on the window and frowned. "Why here? The truth, E."
Evie pulled the door open. "Why does it matter?"
"I'm curious," Jade said, glancing around. And honestly a little suspicious. Fresh-baked bread was being sold by the loaf in crinkly paper sheaths, fancy coffee drinks were on offer at the counter, and the lunch options were written up in wordy paragraphs on a chalkboard wall. Racks of industrial shelving huddled under the counter stocked jams, pie fillings, pickled vegetables, and who knew what else. Jade was a little overwhelmed by the casual mentions of words like "quinoa," "radicchio," and "gnocchi."
"And I'm hungry," Evie said, her slim figure standing straight, her blond head tipped up to stare at the menu wall. She had devious written all over her.
"A food truck would be a lot easier," Jade said, trying to tempt her. "And you could save the yes for later. For something really good." She was well aware that this strategy could blow up in her face, but something was off here, and it made her nervous.
"Evie, right?" said a voice behind them.
Jade turned and stared, taking in the sparkly butterfly barrette pinning back long, dark curls, the funky electric-blue glasses, the turquoise cowboy boots, and the no-holds-barred ruby-red lipstick. The woman wore a red apron over a black-and-white vintage dress, and it was edged with white lace and finished with a heart-shaped pocket that made it look as if she was wearing a homemade Valentine around her hips. She couldn't even imagine how Evie knew this woman, but her daughter was fizzing with excitement.
And who wouldn't be? This woman was Technicolor. With her own blond chin-length cut and sheer tinted lip gloss, she might as well be a faded Polaroid.
"Mom, this is Opal. We met last weekend at the farmer's market," Evie said, gesturing to Jade and joking, "This is the mom I was telling you about."
Opal offered up a rainbow wave, her charm bracelet jingling. She seemed as delighted as Evie. Jade was considerably less so.
"Dad took you to the farmer's market?" she said, offering up a distracted smile and a flutter of fingers.
"Technically he dropped me off," Evie said, shrugging. Seeing Jade's look of irritation, she hurried to add, "He and Georgia wanted to browse through some art gallery, so I asked if I could get a smoothie and wait for them there." She glanced cagily at Opal. "I made a new friend."
Opal smiled charmingly. Jade had no idea what her own mouth was doing. "Our smoothies got switched," she said, "and Evie was very vocal about not wanting my kale-ginger version. After that we seemed to be hitting all the same stalls."
No doubt because Evie had a girl crush. Jade nodded, finally understanding. This was clearly the person Evie had been planning to meet. As weird as it was, it definitely could have been worse.
"Did you have to use the yes?" Opal said in an aside to Evie. Jade rolled her eyes, exasperated.
"I did. I'm hoping it'll be worth it." They shared a look.
Jade felt a flicker of irritation and wondered whether Evie was factoring in the potential backlash for this little stunt.
Opal peered casually through the lunch crowds before flashing a mischievous smile. "I think you'll be happy with your decision." Turning to Jade, hoisting her cherry-red market totes, she said, "They carry my Witch in the Kitchen line, so I'm here a lot. The food is awesome."
"It's definitely an inventive menu," Jade said, glancing again at the chalkboard wall, wondering if the witch could be persuaded to go get tacos.
"She doesn't mean that as a compliment," Evie confided.
"We're food truck people," Jade said by way of explanation.
"We're trying to be better," Evie countered.
Jade shook her head and mouthed, "We're really not."
"Well, I'd like to try something new. Maybe ... the spaghetti squash Alfredo?"
"I dare you," Jade said, her lips curving.
"She's not the best role model when it comes to vegetables, and she doesn't really cook, but in fairness, our kitchen is not a welcoming place."
"Sounds like it's time for a new kitchen," Opal said, her eyes bright.
"Someday," Jade agreed.
Opal smiled and slipped her hand into the heart pocket to fiddle with something.
A trio of people came through the street door at that moment and stepped up behind them. Like magic, a woman in a clean white apron materialized behind the counter.
"We should probably order, Evie." Jade had just spotted burgers on the menu.
"Good idea. I'm starving."
"Get the sweet potato fries," Opal suggested. "Trust me."
Evie glanced again at the menu and rattled off, "Cheeseburger, no onion, sweet potato fries, and a bottle of root beer, please," before resuming her conversation with Opal.
Jade ordered the same for herself and then quietly requested that Evie's burger come on a quinoa bun.
"Mom, Opal makes all this stuff in her grandma's farmhouse kitchen," Evie said, gesturing to a shelf of pie fillings and pickled everything with simple, eye-catching labels.
"Some are family recipes, some are mine," Opal said proudly.
"I love your packaging," Jade said, reaching for a jar of pie filling called Cherry-Rhubarb Wallop and perusing the label.
"Are you in danger of succumbing to a particularly bad decision? If so, it might be time to make pie. Positively packed with willpower-boosting rhubarb and cherries to put your future in focus, this filling packs a wallop! Remember, it's never a bad decision to eat that second piece."
She smirked. Maybe this was an omen and she should have chosen to eat pie filling for lunch.
"Evie told me you're a web designer, and you work from home?"
Jade looked up smiling, refocused on Opal, and nodded.
"Wonderful," was Opal's baffling reply. "How would the two of you feel about guinea pigging for me? I have a new recipe I've been working on." She reached into one of the market totes and pulled out a drawstring pouch.
"What is it?" Evie asked, stepping closer.
"Chocolate-cherry-blueberry bark," Opal said, her voice a bit reverent as her fingers worked the bag open.
Jade leaned in, reaching for a piece just as Evie did. A few seconds later, the chocolate melted on her tongue in a dark slide of goodness.
Opal's lips curved into a lush, red smile. "I'm starting a supper club here at the Pantry and handpicking all the guests," she said, eyes sparkling. "I'm looking for individuals who will appreciate each other's company while enjoying a unique and satisfying dining experience."
"What do you mean by unique?" Evie asked, and Jade's thoughts swirled with suspicion, wondering if her daughter's game was still afoot.
"Game changing, meaningful, unexpected ..." Opal let those adjectives sink in. "You know what?" She reached into the heart pocket again, this time pulling out a rectangle of white card stock and handing it to Evie. "You two are just right."
Jade leaned over to take a peek and wondered whether Opal was going into this supper club with a Goldilocks mentality. And whether Evie was somehow colluding.
"Think about it. It's next week, and I promise I won't disappoint. This first one will be on me — a gateway dinner, to get you hooked." Her eyebrows rose and fell at the edge of those electric-blue glasses. "Now," she said, standing on tiptoe, craning to see the back corner of the café. "There's someone I think you should meet."
Jade sighed. Evidently, it actually was worse. Opal was merely an accessory. Surprise twist.
She should balk at letting things go any further. Because the someone was almost certainly a man, and this was her daughter's convoluted idea of a setup. But as Opal crooked her finger at them, she found herself shocked to be thinking, Why the hell not?
As she squeezed between tables and shifted around chairs, Jade got a glimpse of their destination, and a slow slide of lust shivered through her. This man was all the best parts of Neal Caffrey and Harvey Specter combined — and those two had a lot of good parts between them.
She realized that in her sex-deprived state, she might be glossing over a slew of imperfections. It wouldn't be the first time. She'd glossed over a lot of imperfections where Evie's father was concerned, but she really wanted to believe that that had been a fluke. She needed to believe that she could make good decisions where men were concerned. Eventually. When she was ready. She hadn't had any practice to speak of in almost thirteen years. But one day soon, she might be ready.
Whether Evie liked it or not, today was not that day.
Opal led them to the last in a row of tables fronting a wall-length black vinyl banquette, and Jade took a closer look, intending to corroborate or debunk her first impression. Conclusion: it was a definite possibility that he really was as attractive as she'd originally thought. Maybe his face was a little too square and his forehead a little too high, but she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Who was she to quibble? She was lucky she'd brushed her teeth.
It was entirely possible that this wasn't a setup. Maybe Opal had dragged them over there simply because she'd found something wonderful and wanted to tell the world. Jade commended the woman's good taste and waited to find out.CHAPTER 2
Chocolate is a kitchen witch's secret weapon. It makes friends easily, soothes troubled spirits, and is conducive to romance. When nothing else works, go with chocolate.
— Sadie Trevalyn's Book of Kitchen Witchery
"Max, meet Jade and Evie," Opal said with a flourish before dropping her hand on his shoulder. "New friends of mine."
Mother and daughter offered up almost identical waves.
Jade was trying hard not to stare, resisting the urge to dig out her phone and snap a photo just so she could look at it later. He looked like a Greek god. Jade's thoughts snapped from togas to white sheets to sex in the span of two seconds. She bolted down a drink of root beer and tried to blink away the images now stuck in her head.
"They stocked up on your pickles and pie filling, huh?" he said, the quick flash of a smile taming the sarcasm.
"Max Gianopoulis, ladies. Forgive him his underdeveloped sense of humor," Opal said, lifting one eyebrow and quirking her lips.
"She doesn't realize that's a compliment," he said, shaking his head.
Jade put a finger to her lips and decided to look anywhere but at him. She inventoried the table: MacBook, legal pad, collection of pens and pencils, and a narrow stainless steel thermos. He caught her looking and said, "As offices go, it's pretty spartan, but it's a work in progress."
Jade nodded and offered a distracted smile, hoping it wasn't obvious that he was the distraction.
"This is your office?" Evie asked, right on cue.
While he answered, Jade let go of her self-control and ogled him, searching for an imperfection the way a child might study an I Spy book. She couldn't get over his hair. Dark and tousled, it was possible that it had been styled, but she suspected it was simply haphazard. His eyebrows were prominent and dark, his lashes long, and the lower half of his face overrun with stubble. And amid all that dark, his eyes were pale blue, ringed in sapphire. She could stare at him all day long.
Thanks to Opal, she'd already been regretting casual Saturday, and now it was loads worse. Unwashed hair and no eye makeup? Who was she? A teenage boy?
"I'm here almost every day," Max was telling Evie. "I figure I have squatter's rights to this table."
"You're here every day?" Evie eyed the table with all its accoutrements and then pierced him with a look. "Why here?"
"I like it here," he said defensively. "I can bike here, there's free wifi, I like the music, and sandwiches are just an order away. And if I have an urge to eat pie filling right out of the jar, that's here, too," he said, sending a teasing smile Opal's way.
"The Black Keys," Evie said, picking up on the music being piped through the speakers on the ceiling and nodding. "I like them, too."
Jade glanced toward the counter, wondering where their order was and how the morning had gotten away from her.
"Jade and Evie need a new kitchen," Opal said pointedly, and Jade's head whipped back around. "And I thought maybe you could help them with that." She propped a fist on her hip before continuing. "Max is a contractor," she announced. "And from what I hear, his grandmother seems to think he's a pretty good one."
Evie snorted. "My grandmother thinks I'm a wonderful artist," she said. "I stink."
"You don't stink," Jade said automatically. "It takes a certain level of talent to make an armadillo look like a vacuum cleaner."
"Well," he said, raising both brows in Evie's direction, "my grandmother is a connoisseur of kitchens. She's from Greece, where the kitchen is the most important room in the house." Sharing his attention between them, he added, "And she has impeccable taste."
"We do, too," countered Evie, now evidently on the defensive.
"Naturally," he said. "All the best clients do." Evie was instantly mollified.
Jade heard their order being called just as Evie pulled out the chair across from him and sat down, putting a serious kink in her plans. She hadn't finished grilling her daughter on changed priorities and underhanded tactics, but she didn't want to do it in front of a stranger, sexy as he might be.
"That's us," Jade said, switching her focus to Opal. "It was nice to meet you, and I appreciate you introducing us." She gestured toward the table and Max. "I don't know if we're quite ready to get started on our kitchen yet, but it'll definitely be good to have the number of someone with a grandma-vetted reputation."
"Absolutely," Opal agreed, nodding.
"Is that your way of asking for my phone number?" he said, interjecting himself into the conversation. Evie grinned at him, turning to see Jade's reaction.
"Ignore him," Opal said to Jade, and then switched gears. "I'm so glad Evie used her yes. And don't forget about the supper club — I really hope you and Evie decide to come. Which reminds me ..." She slipped her free hand into that little heart pocket again and pulled out another invitation, laying it on the table for Max. "I'm just assuming this is where your in-box is and that I can trust you to be on your best behavior." Then she winked and walked away with Jade.
Had Jade winked, Evie would have called her on it, or quite possibly schooled her on acceptable winking protocol, but Opal impressed her without even trying.
"Maybe you'd consider giving me a yes," Opal said coyly. "I'd like to use it as your RSVP." She glanced back at Max before locking her gaze on Jade. "I think he might like that, too," she said, before turning away and swinging her market totes on her way out the door. Jade watched her go, and then turned to look back at her daughter and the man sitting across from her.
Excerpted from Just Say Yes by Alyssa Goodnight, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2015 Alyssa Goodnight. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Just Say Yes is quirky but sexy, and reminded me geeky fun isn’t just for the “cool kids”. When her daughter uses a hard-earned “yes” to drag her into an unfamiliar café, “Operation Jan Moran Needs a Man” officially kicks off with more than just quinoa buns and sweet potato fries on the menu. Max doesn’t just look like Neal Caffrey—he’s got the charm, too, and with a little push from the self-touting “Witch in the Kitchen” guru, Jade finds herself suddenly considering a remodel of her utterly outdated kitchen over a basket of hamburgers. But as the intensity heats up in the kitchen (and out) Jade worries she’s making a mistake. Can she get past Max’s track record and lean in to what they’ve started, or are things with her ex going to spell the end of the relationship before it begins? It’s going to take more than just chocolate and ginger (and perhaps a little cinnamon) to nudge things back where they belong. Ignore the slightly predictable “ex-husband drama”, and the at times overly anxious Jade and just enjoy it.
A fun and quirky read! I loved both Jade and Max. Neither one was looking for a relationship--heck, Max wasn't even looking for a new contracting job, yet not only did he take one on, he only gave himself two weeks (!) to completely redo her entire kitchen--but they found themselves unexpectedly drawn to each other anyway, in spite of themselves. The secondary characters--Jade's daughter Evie, Max's grandmother Yia Yia Cleo and his sister Tessa especially--were as much fun as the MCs. There were so many references to things I love--Anne of Green Gables (seriously, Anne and Gilbert just don't get enough page time as a classic romance couple; I have no idea why), Gone with the Wind, Firefly, Veronica Mars, Lizzie Bennett Diaries, various superheroes...the list goes on and on. Seriously, I was wearing my Captain America hoodie (okay, one of my two) while reading about Jade in her Cap t-shirt. We could be besties. A warning: all the little excerpts from the Book of Kitchen Witchery and Witch in the Kitchen made me more than a little hungry--and oh so tempted to give kitchen magic a try. Especially the chocolate cherry blurberry bark. I'm not sure if the "magic" is real or not, but it sounded delicious and definitely worth a try either way! :) This was my first book my Ms. Goodnight, but it absolutely will not be my last. So much fun! Rating: 4 stars / A- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 stars! I've been a fan of Alyssa Goodnight's writing for some time. She wrote these amazing modern magical re-tellings of some of Jane Austen's novels that I absolutely loved. They really opened my mind to the idea of realistic magical elements in contemporary fiction. Then there was nothing from her for a while so I was super excited and happy to see she was publishing Just Say Yes. Max and Jade make a fabulous couple. They might not have found each other either without the meddling of Evie, Jade's thirteen year old daughter. Neither of them is looking for a relationship but the attraction to each other is stronger than their misgivings. I loved being in both of their heads and watching them try to be logical and play it safe about their feelings. I liked how Jade was more open minded than she thought. I loved how she was with Evie. She was firm as a parent should be, but she gave Evie lots of love and the understanding it was okay to try new things. I loved the role family played in this book. It wasn't just Jade and Evie, but Max with his grandmother and sister too. Yia Yia Cleo was a firecracker and I loved her. I loved how Max took care of them even when they it wasn't what he wanted to do. I loved how even though he had misgivings about what his sister was doing with her life, he still loved her. I loved how Max was with Evie. He was kind and friendly, yet also offered her support. He treated her as an adult and respected her wishes. I really didn't like Evie's father and his fiancee. In a way they were sort of responsible of Max and Jade meeting. However they didn't have very many redeeming qualities between them. Now coming to something unique. I love how food is used in this story. It's sort of like extra whipped cream on your piece of cake or pie. I've always loved food and stories that feature them in some way. I've read very few stories where the food plays an equally important roll as the characters. I definitely can not think of other books where the meaning and characteristics of foods have been discussed. It really made me think about the foods I like to eat and how they might be impacting my life and decisions. The first part of the book was a little slow. A little over a quarter of the way in, it picked up and I was hooked. I loved how there was a little bit of a book within a book. I would've loved to read more of it. I loved seeing Jade and Evie interact with their neighbors, Elena and Zoe. I loved the descriptive language Alyssa used. The Moran household is bright and colorful and I could almost see it in my head. I'm sincerely hoping this book evolves into a series because I would love to read more about Opal the kitchen witch, and others Jade and Evie met. I can already sense a number of interesting couples. If you're looking for a book that you'll surprise you with how great it is, this book is for you. I hope you read it and experience the magic for yourself!
This was my first time reading Ms.Goodnight's work and I was pleasantly surprised. This is a cute, fun, quirky story with likable characters and great banter. The secondary characters add spice and humor. This is a very enjoyable book and would be a great beach read. If you are looking for a light, flirty story, this is it! ARC received from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Single mom Jade Moran isn't ready for any big changes in either her horrible '70s kitchen or her romantic life. Her ex did a number on her, and she isn't interested in getting hurt again. But when she meets a super-hot contractor, she wonders if avocado appliances are on the way out and romance is on the way in. Max Gianopoulis doesn't have a clue why he's so enchanted by Jade. She's almost as big a mess as her kitchen, and he's a guy who likes to keep things simple. But Jade has turned up the flirty heat - and he can't keep his hands off her. With everything moving too fast and coming too easy, Jade's insecurities kick into high gear. She's not sure she can trust another man again - and she definitely doesn't believe in happily ever afters. Review: This to me is what you think of when you picture yourself sitting on the beach with a fun, sweet romance. This is a cute contemporary, with a hint of magical thrown in. Magic in the form of Opal, who calls herself the Kitchen Witch. A happenstance meeting between Opal and Evie sets about a change reaction where Jade and Max meet and ultimately fall in love. Jade, Max and the rest of the characters are fun and likable. I did want to smack some sense into Jade when she was wibbly-wobbly about Max and then when she let her Ex dictate her life, but something had to get in the way of Max and Jade or it would have been a rather boring book...lol The book did seem like a set-up for a series especially concerning Opal's Supper Club and the cast of extras. This is a sweet heat book, so if you are looking for something on the hot side of the scale, this ain't it. This was a fun, flirty romance, perfect for when you want something lite. I would definitely read more by this Author. 3.5 Stars *Received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
With a matchmaking 13 year old daughter seriously involved in “Project Jade Moran Needs a Man” this is a hilarious recipe for romance from the moment they meet Opal and encounter her food magic and are introduced to Max Gianopoulis. Most chapters start with some culinary advice regarding the magic properties of certain foods and how eating them can impact on relationships but this is no straightforward recipe with a guaranteed outcome. The mix of characters, their reactions to each other and the plot as a whole makes this a laugh out loud story that is enchanting from the very beginning and has so many twists and turns along the way it is totally magical! Jade has been a single Mum for thirteen years. Her daughter Evie is trying to act as matchmaker with considerable assistance from her new friend Opal who runs a restaurant with some magical food choices. Opal introduces them to Max, just the man to help remodel Jade’s avocado seventies style kitchen which is desperate need of a total makeover. As they get to know each other, the attraction between Jade and Max grows but trust issues and an interfering, threatening ex-husband are conspiring to thwart their relationship. Can magical foods really help them overcome the obstacles to their achieving their HEA? You’ll just have to read this fantastic fun book to find out for yourself! You may well be tempted to try some of the magical ingredients to test them for yourself :) Thanks to the authors, publisher and NetGalley, too for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
It was an interesting, funny, romantic and quite magical read. It made me laugh out loud a few times. Plot was good and it was well-written. I liked all characters but most of all I liked Max. As far as romance novels go this one was among the best. Although sometimes a Little too dramatic but overall a good book for pleasure reading. Jade is single mom and she hasn't dated anyone in thirteen years, after the betrayal of one man she had trusted. Now her teenage daughter thinks that it is time to date again. Evie has taken matters into her own hands and she is determined to find someone for her mom. She used her "yes" and took Jade for lunch where they meet Max. Soon he is being hired by Jade to work on her kitchen. One thing leads to another and they both realise that it is time for them to give relationship another chance. It was not going to be easy but they are willing to gamble on it.
With Just Say Yes, Alyssa Goodnight has created a bewitching tale that is refreshing, delightful and unpredictable. Full of heart and encompassing characters that are well written and entertaining I would recommend to any reader of feel good romance. This is a story taking chances, letting go and moving on. Stuck in a rut due to past hurts and parenting Jade is unprepared for Max and all he makes her feel. Max is equally feeling Jade and wants a chance. Can these two come to an understanding? Will they love in? I received an ARC of Just Say Yes and found it to be the type of story I never expected but really liked.
A very enjoyable read with some really funny moments and a great group of characters! A sweet romance between single mom Jade Moran and her contractor Max Gianopoulis. Jade's not sure she's ready for all the changes, to her home and her life, but between her teenage daughter Eve and a host of quirky town characters she doesn't stand a chance. Max is sure why but he is drawn to Jade and her crazy daughter. So maybe the reno work he's doing might take a bit longer to finish.... This is one I highly recommend.