Helen Murphy loves her supportive family, her close-knit circle of friends, and her part-time job at the library. What she doesn't love: the fact that she's a thirty-six-year-old near-virgin who lives in her parents' house. Eager to move out and reclaim her independence at long last, she's determined to get the library's new Community Outreach Coordinator position. Even if that means working side-by-side with the one man she desperately wants to avoid--Niceville's ambitious mayor Wes Ramirez, who happens to be her only previous lover, and the source of her greatest humiliation…
Wes needs to make up for his disastrous one-night--actually, make that one-hour--stand with deliciously nerdy librarian Helen. As they plan the city's upcoming May Day celebrations together, he'll try to prove he can do better, in bed and out. It may take every bit of his creativity and determination, but their budding romance has already gone down in flames once . . . and he'll be damned if he'll let Helen go a second time.
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By Olivia Dade
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Olivia Dade
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Helen sat with two of her best librarian friends, contemplating the exemplary specimen of manhood displayed before them at the bar. The same specimen she'd admired from a distance for decades now. The same specimen who'd never spared her a moment of his attention.
Well, other than that one time. That one, smelly time.
"Go on," Angie urged, nudging Helen in his direction. "Talk to him."
"I don't know," Helen said. "I don't think I'm his type. We sat in the same classrooms for years, and he never noticed me. In middle school, he actually got the flu and threw up all over my backpack. And he still didn't remember my name afterward. Kept calling me Tiffani, for some reason. As in, 'Tiffani, sorry for horking all over your backpack. Hope it comes off in the wash. Now I must resume my regularly scheduled program of ignoring you completely.'"
Sarah's face scrunched up in disgust. "Ew."
Angie, completely unfazed, rolled her eyes. "That was — what? Twenty years ago?"
"More or less," Helen said. Twenty-four years ago, actually. Not that she was counting or anything.
"Things change. Things like puberty. And boobs." Angie slanted a pointed stare at Helen's cleavage. "Amazing, gargantuan boobs."
The remaining inch of Helen's strawberry daiquiri looked lonely, so she slurped it up through the oversized straw. "Eyes up here, Burrowes," she said, pointing a finger in the appropriate area. "Shit. Smudged my glasses."
"Well, clean them off and go talk to the mayor. As far as I can tell, he didn't come with anyone. So he's free to take in the full magnificence of Helen Murphy at long last." Angie indicated Helen with a sweep of her beer bottle.
Removing her glasses and wiping them with the hem of her knit dress, Helen squinted at the bar. Even with her glasses, seeing Wesley Ramirez would have proven difficult. Dance, Drink, and Shoot — Nice County's only combination bar, dance club, and pool hall — always attracted large crowds on the weekend, and this Saturday was no exception. Without her glasses, she could make out part of a man-shaped blur in the vicinity where she'd last seen him, but that was all.
She popped her frames back on her nose and took another look. Yup. There he sat, his back to her table, slumped over the bar. All short-cropped dark hair, broad shoulders, and slim hips. Mayor Wes Ramirez, the star of her adolescent daydreams. Hell, the star of some of her adult daydreams too. Very adult. Although she found it difficult to pursue those daydreams to their natural conclusion while living in her parents' house. Not when she was lying in a twin bed two doors down the hall from her mom and dad, staring at the rainbow wallpaper she'd never gotten around to replacing. Touching herself under those circumstances ... well, it made her want to call To Catch a Predator and report herself to Chris Hansen.
"I'm thinking about it. But what would we even talk about?" Helen asked her friends. "I'm a geeky part-time librarian living with her parents. He's Niceville's hot-as-hell mayor, for Christ's sake."
"Doesn't matter what you talk about." Angie waved a dismissive hand. "The point is to start a conversation, let him gawk at your stupendous rack, and see where it leads. And it's not like you two don't have anything in common. You could mention his plans for a job center at the library."
"Yes, Angie. What a great idea," Helen said. "Nothing says romance like talk of budgetary constraints and unemployment statistics."
"Then tell him what you told us," Sarah said, popping open another soda. "That you want to squeeze his ass like a ripe peach at the supermarket. Before we all die of anticipation. And boredom. Because you've been talking about the guy for years, but haven't ever made a move. Get on with it, lady. Squeeze the produce."
Angie started a chant. "Squeeze that peach! Squeeze that peach! Squeeze that peach!"
Sarah joined in, to Helen's eternal humiliation.
She shouldn't be surprised. Of all her friends, these two were probably the loudest. Sarah, despite her status as a respectable elementary school art teacher and part-time librarian, lived for drama and busting chops. Angie — manager of the Battlefield Library and proud lover of all things smutty — rarely attempted to filter herself. And once you added alcohol to the mix ...
"No more rounds for you, Angie," Helen said, but she slid off the bar stool. "All right. Wish me luck, ladies. I'm going to need it. I feel like the Millennium Falcon going up against the Death Star."
"That doesn't make any sense," Angie said. "I mean, I know the Death Star had a hole and everything, but I don't think the Millennium Falcon was trying to fuck it."
"It's a simile, Angie," Helen said. "Just go with it."
Angie grinned. "Good luck, honey."
Helen made her way to the bar and caught the attention of the bartender. "Diet Coke, please," she said.
"You got it," the man said, grabbing a glass.
Helen took a surreptitious glance to her left. As usual, Wes didn't acknowledge her presence. Instead, he stared into the depths of his beer, frowning as if it had somehow displeased him. As if everything displeased him at that moment.
He'd clearly come straight from the pool to the bar. The familiar scent of chlorine drifted from his athletic body, and now that she stood so close, Helen could see that his hair looked damp. Maybe swimming could serve as a good topic of conversation. Like him, she'd grown up attending practices and meets. Of course, they'd swum on competing teams each summer. And while he'd become a star and gone to college on a swimming scholarship, she'd settled for participation ribbons and sportsmanship awards.
The contrast between the two of them unnerved her. Always had. Probably always would.
She tried to soothe her jitters with deep, calming breaths. Unfortunately, the first one she took almost made her breasts topple out of her low-cut top. She tugged the fabric upward. Then, after a moment's thought, she yanked it back down. Maybe her mountainous cleavage would accomplish what the rest of her hadn't been able to achieve in over thirty-five years: namely, catching the interest of a hot, available man.
Oh, sure, library patrons sometimes propositioned her. Usually moments after sending their wives to get the latest season of The Walking Dead on DVD. Or shortly before passing out in front of the public computers, leaving their Craigslist pleas for anonymous hand jobs half-completed. No one she actually wanted, though. No one she hoped to see naked. No one like Wes.
Tonight, she planned to change all that.
Tonight, she refused to let her own lingering insecurities — about her plus-sized body, about her distinct lack of accomplishments — cheat her out of her own life. No more self-deprecation. No more hanging around in the background and waiting to be noticed. She was in her mid-thirties, for God's sake. How much longer could she wait before grabbing control of her life and finally becoming an adult woman? Before going after what she wanted without letting fear hold her back?
She wanted Wes. Had ever since she was a nerdy teenager in a training bra.
Tonight, she intended to find out if she could have him.
The bartender placed the Diet Coke in front of her. Squaring her shoulders, she turned to her left and steeled her nerves.
"Mayor Ramirez?" she said.
He didn't hear her. Or maybe he was ignoring her. Either way, he didn't move.
"Wes?" she said more loudly.
At that, he turned his head and regarded the bar in front of her with brows drawn together, either in confusion or annoyance. She couldn't tell, honestly.
"Yes?" he asked the sticky wood.
"You probably don't remember me," she began, "but we went to school together."
He swiveled on the bar stool, facing her fully and meeting her gaze for the first time. He gave her a small smile, and the golden glints in his warm brown eyes reflected the light. She caught her breath at the sight, as she so often had in their youth. Tiger's-eyes. The man had eyes that looked like freakin' tiger's-eye stones, her favorite of the rocks she'd collected as a child. The ones she'd gaze at for hours, marveling at their beauty.
"Yeah," he said. "I remember that bright red hair of yours. Tiffani, right?"
Helen sighed. "No. Not Tiffani. Helen."
He frowned again. "How did I get Tiffani from Helen?"
"I have no idea," she said. "Anyway, I wanted to tell you how much we librarians" — she pointed to the table with her friends, trying to ignore how Sarah caught her eye and mimed squeezing a piece of fruit — "appreciate your advocacy of the library, as well as your call for increased funding."
She nodded to herself in satisfaction and took a celebratory sip of her soda. Despite her nervousness and her long-standing crush on the man, she'd maintained her dignity and managed not to make a fool of herself.
Of course, she'd also managed to make him turn back to his beer.
He raised his glass and took a long drink. "Yeah," he said again. "Well, if you've been reading the paper, you know it's probably not going to happen. So congratulations to both of us." He tipped his beer in a mocking salute to the two of them before taking another gulp.
Good work, Hel. That's how you snag a man: by reminding him of his professional failures. Not by, say, flirting or anything.
But God help her, she'd never learned to flirt. All she knew about the topic she'd learned from pop culture. Pickup lines from various books she'd read and movies she'd seen over the years ran through her head, but none of them seemed appropriate.
Me Helen. You hot Mayor. No, too primitive.
You had me at "Hello, Tiffani." No, too cutesy. Plus, she wanted him to remember her actual name for the first time in her life.
I'm just a nerdy librarian, standing in front of an uninterested man, asking him to remember her fucking name and maybe take her virginity. No, too much information.
Don't make me horny. You wouldn't like me when I'm horny. No, no, no. She shook her head in disgust. That was the opposite of what she wanted to say.
"Are you here alone?" she asked, settling for trite over crazy.
He glanced around himself in confusion. "Um ... yeah."
"Do you want to be?"
Slowly, he looked up. That glint had returned to his eyes, the one she'd never seen directed her way before tonight. At other girls, yes. But never her.
"As a matter of fact," he drawled. "No. No, I don't."
"Okay, then." She took a deep breath and settled into the bar stool next to his. "Let's start over. I'm Helen Murphy. Nice to see you again after all these years."
He didn't shake her outstretched hand. Instead, he enclosed it in his own warm, broad hands and began playing with her fingers. "Wes Ramirez," he said. "But I guess you already knew that."
His eyes fixed on their intertwined fingers, he watched as his thumb stroked the palm of her hand. Her belly quivered at the slight tickle and the friction of his skin against hers. She wanted to jerk her hand away and rub its growing dampness against the soft knit of her skirt, but she made herself stay still. Let this happen, Hel, she reminded herself. Act like handsome men fondle your fingers all the time.
"Helen?" His voice was low. Intimately low.
The sound of her name — her real name — on his lips almost made her gasp in shocked pleasure. Especially because he'd said it that way.
"How much have you had to drink?" he asked.
She tilted her head, trying to read the meaning behind his question. Did she seem drunk? Or was he preparing to offer to buy her another drink? Either way, the answer remained the same.
"One strawberry daiquiri, that's all," she said.
"So you know what you're doing?" His fingers rubbed over her knuckles with slow deliberation.
Her brows drew together. What in the world? "Yes."
"This is my first beer," he said. "And I've only finished half of it. So I'm safe to drive you home."
She slid her hand from his and stared at the bar, disappointed at encountering yet another man who saw her only as a friend. Someone to be taken care of and driven home to her parents' empty house and her empty twin bed. Not someone to take to his bed. Not an adult woman with adult desires and needs.
"Oh, I have a ride to my house," she said. "One of my friends is our designated driver. No worries. Thanks for the offer, though."
He leaned in closer, whispering in her ear. "No, Helen. I want to drive you home. Not to your home. To my home."
His warm breath made the fine hair by her ear flutter, and the faint tickle only added to the shiver she felt building in her spine. He waited for an answer patiently, without moving. Not a single square inch of their bodies touched, but she still felt his presence like water rushing over her. Drowning her.
This is it, she thought. This is what I wanted. Sure, it's all happening very fast. Sure, he didn't even know my name five minutes ago. But I've lusted after him forever, and he's offering himself to me. How can I turn that down? I can't. I just ... can't.
As she turned her head toward him, he didn't move away. His wide mouth hovered a millimeter away from her lips, and she couldn't help herself. She covered that last tiny distance, brushing her mouth against his.
His indrawn breath at the brief contact sounded harsh. Ragged. "Helen?"
"Yes," she said, the word emerging from her in a rush. "Yes, I'll come home with you."
"Do you need to check in with your friends before we go?" he asked, settling a big, hot hand on the small of her back and kneading the muscles there with gentle fingers.
She nodded and headed for her friends' table, separating from his touch with reluctance. As he paid his tab, she gathered her purse.
Angie and Sarah regarded her with expectant stares.
"So?" Angie said. "How's the produce?"
"I'm taking it home," Helen said, and then frowned. "Well, no. I guess technically the produce is taking me to his home, which seems kind of backward."
Sarah sat up straight in her bar stool, her gray-blue eyes serious. "Are you sure about this, Helen? You may have grown up with him, but you hardly know him. You talked to him for five minutes right now, and that's it."
"He's the mayor," Angie argued. "It's not like she's running off to spend the night with a stranger carrying a pickax and trying to sell his fillings for cigarettes."
"You never know," Sarah said darkly. "Evil comes in all sorts of handsome disguises. And I'm not just talking about physical danger. I'm asking Helen whether she's emotionally ready to go home with a stranger."
Helen paused and thought. "I understand your concern," she finally said. "But I have to do this. I have to take this chance."
Sarah dug her phone out of her jeans pocket and checked the time. "It's a few minutes before ten right now. If we don't get a call or text from you before midnight, I'll get worried. So promise you'll contact us before then, okay?"
"Sure," Helen said. "Though I hope the call will only be a brief intermission in the proceedings." Just the thought of those proceedings made her feel warm between her legs. Tingly.
Angie grinned and held up her hand for a high five. "That's my girl. Go get him, Hel."
Helen slapped that hand and laid down a ten for her drinks. "Okay, ladies. We'll talk later. Wish me luck."
"Good luck," they chorused, but only Angie looked enthusiastic. Sarah was gazing at Wes with a troubled expression.
"Be safe," Sarah said.
Angie rolled an imaginary condom over an invisible penis. "What she said."
"Before midnight," Sarah reminded her. "Text or call."
Helen blew a kiss to her friends and headed for the door, where Wes was waiting. He smiled at her as she drew closer, slinging an arm around her shoulder as they exited into the darkness of the parking lot.
"Ready?" he asked, guiding her to his truck.
"Ready," she said with a smile. I've been ready for years, she thought as he unlocked the door and helped her up into the passenger seat.
When he started the engine and the interior lights dimmed, she could hardly see him. He was all dark shadows merging into indistinct lines and arcs of flesh. But still handsome, somehow. Still everything she wanted.
I've been ready, she thought again. I was just waiting for you to catch up with me.
Excerpted from Mayday by Olivia Dade. Copyright © 2016 Olivia Dade. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
Mayday is #3 in the Lovestruck Librarian series by Olivia Dade. While I’ve enjoyed book#1 and book#2, I had a very difficult time finishing “Mayday”. The premise seemed promising: spinster librarian, Helen has been crushing on Wes Ramirez since high school and now that he’s mayor of Niceville, he seems more out of Helen’s league than ever. However, one after work dare forces Wes to start taking notice of Helen. The major issue I had with this book was that it seemed to start just like the other books in the series: hero and heroine have an unbelievable one-night stand and spend the rest of the book overcoming problems to get their HEA. The challenge with starting a romance with a love scene is that the author has to keep the conflict high in order to maintain the readers’ interest, but the conflict never got off the ground for me. Helen quickly got over her anger towards Wes and they were a couple for much of the book, so why should I keep on reading? Was the conflict supposed to be centered on her getting her library job and Wes making the May Day celebration a success so he could go and be a major somewhere else? And what about their internal GMCs? I also had a major problem believing the romance between Helen and Wes. While Helen had been nursing a crush on Wes for years, Wes didn’t even remember her name. Yet after one night with Helen, he decides to turn his career around and prove that he’s worthy of Helen’s love? I didn’t buy it. And it was certainly convenient that Wes chose the May Day celebration to get closer to Helen – the same May Day even she needs to work with the major so she can get a permanent job at the library. Convenient, eh? Also, Helen’s character was inconsistent from Book#2 to Book#3. Helen who seemed to have “saved herself” for Wes, suddenly has another one-night stand with an IT guy, Sam? I didn’t believe this personality change and very irresponsible sexual behavior. I know this is fiction, but the Helen I thought I knew in Book#2 wouldn’t jump into another man’s bed to make herself feel good about herself. In Book#2 Helen seems a bit shy and reserved, yet in Book#3 she seemed to act a lot more like Angie (heroine in Book#2). This story taught me that it’s important to keep characters consistent in a series and the importance of internal and external GMC. While I understand authors need to write quickly, I also try to take some time to get to know my characters and brainstorm how they would react to plot situations.
Helen had a crush on Wes, now the town mayor, in high school, though he didn't seem to know she existed. When she runs into Wes at a bar late one night , she digs up her courage and approaches him. At this point he's got a pretty big reputation as a playboy, and true to form, he seems interested in a night with her. To her dismay though, it's a wham, bam, thank you ma'am sort of operation that leaves her well, satisfied in one manner, but disappointed in him and herself for making what was obviously a big mistake. To her humiliation (and partly relief, because he wasn't that good in bed), he drops her back off at the bar with an apology and the knowledge that it was a one time thing not to be repeated. 10 months later, Helen is trying to get a full time job as a community outreach coordinator, and it involves working with none other than Wes in a professional capacity. Since that time, Helen has done her best to forget the incident, but unknown to her, it was the catalyst Wes needed to make some serious changes in his life. He knew that he had disappointed Helen, and sincerely regretted what had happened between them. He felt that at that time he wouldn't have been a man worthy of her, but since then he's made some different decisions in his life, put to rest his player ways and become a better person. He's been wanting the chance to prove to Helen that he's a changed man, and hoping for a second chance with her. Now that they have to work together, he's got a plan in place to make up for his mistakes. Will Helen be willing to forgive and forget? And more importantly, will she give Wes a second chance? Wes has a lot to make up, after his disastrous night with Helen - first, behind the scenes, by getting funding for the library that she was working at part time, and was something the library desperately needed, and then by pulling up his bootstraps and working hard at getting the community back in the public eye by rejuvenating the downtown and planning festivals to get tourists and money moving to local businesses. Helen and Wes end up working together on a community festival to celebrate Mayday, complete with a Maypole, spring traditions involving romance and flowers and bringing some much needed tourism to the town. There are several humorous scenes involving some of the citizens who don't approve of the symbolism of fertility wrought by the ahem 'pole' and the 'flowers' that slide onto it, making for lots of laughs as they work at making the festival a success. There are several steamy scenes as Wes goes about making things up to Helen. In fact, it's almost too much for her. Wes is being 'courted' in a manner of speaking by a councillor from a town 5 hours away, hoping that when his mayoral position is up in the fall, he'll consider moving and doing for this new place what he's done for his hometown. Helen worries about falling in love with Wes who has so obviously changed for the better, and also that his dreams of 'bigger and better' don't coincide with hers of small town living and being an independent woman. As the story moves forward, it's obvious that something's going to have to give if they are going to end up together, and the question of whether it will be his or her dream makes the story a little bit tense as it nears the end, and you wonder how it will all work out to a happy ending. But of course it does, and we end up with a very satisfactory story, a sweet, sexy and entertaining story.
This is the third book in the Lovestruck Librarian series and it is as fun as the first. Helen is a part-time librarian who moved back in with her parents after her bookstore closed. The library has just received more funding, and a position that is perfect for Helen will soon be available. In an effort to become more qualified, she volunteers to work on the community planning committee for the citywide Mayday celebration. Unfortunately, this means she will working closely with Mayor Wes. They have a past that didn't end well, and Wes has to overcome all of Helen's doubts to win a date with her. Will Helen give Wes a chance to redeem himself? This is a cute, sexy story that made me laugh. I like the humor, pacing and characters. I am a big fan and would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
Mayday by Olivia Dade is the third book in her Lovestruck Librarians series and the first book that I have read by this author. Although the third book in a series, this book was easily read as a stand-alone. This was a cute romance with a slow burn and buildup in Wes and Helen's romance. I appreciated the fact that Wes wanted to take the time for them to get to know each other better. This was also a somewhat sad read for me because I don't believe I've ever read a romance where the hero and heroine were so insecure about themselves. They both battled with their individual insecurities throughout the story. They did get their HEA after much soul searching for both of them which definitely made it a happy ending for me, as a reader, too. I was given an ARC from Kensington/Lyrical via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced by the receipt of the ARC.
The concept of the Lovestruck Librarians series is adorable. Reading is power and knowledge is sexy. Olivia Dade had found an interesting way to tackle a somewhat boring subject. I received an ARC of MayDay in exchange for an honest review. Wes and Helen were a couple not seen often in a romance. Despite the accomplishments each have had, they dwell on the failures instead. I find it easier to empathize with characters that have a few of my own quality traits. It's easier to see the faults in others instead of acknowledging them in oneself. Helen and Wes were mirror images of each other but allowed the insecurities to creep up and steal that feeling of euphoria from them. MayDay is cute, sexy, frustrating and honest. It's human.