Speech teacher and successful matchmaker Mackenzie Simms decides to find a woman for her friend, handsome newspaper tycoon Rick Duffy. Though they've been each other's go-to dates for the past month, Mac and Rick couldn't be more different: she is outspoken, sarcastic, and completely loathes his privileged lifestyle. He's laid-back, unassuming, and seems comfortable at an upper-class charity function. So why can't she stop thinking about him?
Rick knows he and the opinionated-though-adorable Mackenzie are better off as friends, so he agrees to the double-date getaway Mac plans at his family cabin. But seeing Mac cuddle up with her "friendly" date rankles Rick beyond reason, and Mac regrets her matchmaking scheme the minute she sees the way her beauty-queen cousin looks at Rick. Can Mac 'fess up to what's really in her heart, when speaking her mind puts everything at risk?
Each book in the Perfect Kisses series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 - Playing at Love
Book #2 – Speaking of Love
Book #3 – Falling for Her Soldier
Book #4 – Making Waves
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Speaking of Love
A Perfect Kisses Novel
By Ophelia London, Stacy Abrams, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Mary A. Smith
All rights reserved.
The front door swung open, and the first thing Rick noticed about Mackenzie was that she was wearing her war paint.
"Wow," Rick blurted automatically, "you look stunning."
"Thank you. Here," Mac said as she handed him her coat. No time for small talk; she was all business, probably wanting to face the beast and get it over with.
After only five previous dates, or "non-dates" as Mac liked to call them, Rick knew the drill.
Still, he had to fight back a smile as he held her coat up at the ready. Mac wasn't looking at him, but her sweet perfume filled the air, as well as Rick's head. When she turned around to slip her arms into the sleeves, his hand skimmed across the middle of her backless dress and Rick felt a jolt run through his system.
In moments like these, he had a hard time reigning in the natural instinct to wrap his arms around her and mess up the sophisticated way she had fixed her hair for the evening.
This platonic relationship was getting to be more than he could handle. The logical part of his brain told him it was a good thing this was going to be their last official non-date. In such a short amount of time, Rick had become too attached, and getting emotionally involved with a woman like Mackenzie Simms was not what he was in the market for.
Plus, if he did what he felt like doing to her, it would smudge her makeup.
"Hey, nice tie," Mac said when she turned to him. "It matches your ..." She reached over and slid a hand along his chest, causing Rick to take in a sudden breath. "What is this called? A hanky?"
"Pocket square," Rick answered. When he automatically patted at the breast pocket of his suit, his hand brushed Mac's. No doubt about it, there was physical chemistry between them. But Rick wasn't interested in just chemistry.
"Silk?" Mac asked.
"The finest the sweatshops of China have to offer," Rick joked, even though he had no idea what the fabric was, let alone its origin.
He couldn't help chuckling when Mac gave him the evil eye.
"You're terrible." She slid her hand off his chest. "I'm sure Brandy will like your tie, though."
"Who?" Rick asked, feeling the heat from where her hand had been.
"Brandy." Mac folded her arms. "My cousin. We're still on for lunch on Friday, right?"
"Oh," Rick said, suddenly recalling their recent conversation. "Yeah, sure."
After his and Mac's last non-date — which had been something of a disaster, ending with Mac going five rounds with one of the city councilmen about a new strip mall being built over a greenbelt — they'd both decided they should call it quits and not ruin their friendship.
The day after that date, Mac had called him up, singing the praises of one of her cousins. Mac assured him that said cousin would be a more suitable companion for him at the high-brow shindigs he'd been attending since taking over leadership at The Franklin Standard six months ago. Feeling a bit blindsided, Rick had agreed to the set-up, but afterward, he wasn't so sure ... Especially if the cousin resembled Mac.
"Good," Mac said. "I know you and Brandy will hit it off. I'm an amazing matchmaker." She gave him a big smile. "Trust me."
Rick offered her a nod, unsure of how he'd gone from bachelorhood to non-dating to being fixed up.
After meeting Mac six months ago, it took a few weeks for Rick to finally ask her out. Well, it wasn't really a "finally" — she'd been on his radar for months, and they had several mutual friends. And it wasn't even a real date. Rick had needed someone on his arm at a chamber of commerce dinner, and it just so happened that Mac was going stag to an event at the high school where she taught.
It was a tradeoff, practically a business arrangement. He picked her up; he dropped her off. Twice, he'd gone into her house afterward and they'd shared a bag of Cheetos. But that was it.
Even though he could count on two hands the number of times they'd been alone, Rick could tell that Mac was gearing up for a fight when she put on so much dark eye shadow. Attending a chamber of commerce dinner with him shouldn't have been a battle, but with Mackenzie, Rick just never knew.
In fact, after five non-dates, Rick didn't know all that much about Mac. She wasn't one to open up, and Rick wasn't one to pry. He did know about the eye makeup, however, and it was his first clue to jump in and head off any tension.
While she was smoothing down the collar of her coat, Rick took a step back.
"Um, Mac?" he said. "I hate to tell you this, but I think you've been robbed."
She looked up at him, her blond hair shining under the porch light. "What?" A little notch of confusion cut between her blue eyes. "Robbed?"
Rick nodded, glancing down at her admiringly. "Someone made off with half of your dress."
When her somber expression cracked and he was rewarded with one of her big laughs, Rick joined in.
"Clever," she said, as she closed her front door. "Though a little cheesy for a journalist of your upper-class station." She glanced down at her dress. "Seriously, though ... too much?" She tilted her head. "Or too little?"
"I didn't say anything was wrong with it," Rick assured, grateful to be standing outside in the cold March night air. "In fact, I was thinking you should get robbed more often."
Mac laughed again and Rick offered his arm as they walked down the steps of her porch toward his car. Her heels were about five inches high tonight, and her face still only reached his chin.
From the first day they'd met last fall, when she — along with two other teachers from the high school — had shown up at the newspaper office, demanding that he cover a story about the school's budget cuts, he'd felt a strange attraction toward her. He'd dated beautiful women before, but there was something different about Mac that he hadn't been able to put his finger on.
He'd kissed her once, months ago. But it had been a mistake, a professional breach — they'd both agreed on that. He couldn't very well be expected to write non-biased articles about her high school while they were getting busy on the sly. Although there were times, like tonight when he'd seen her standing there in that dress, that he felt the urge to kiss her again.
"Don't let your mother hear you talking that way," Mac said, pulling Rick away from where his mind was headed. "In my experience, mothers never fully appreciate when their sons speak of robbers and short dresses."
"Particularly in the same sentence?" Rick added.
Mac put the back of her hand to her forehead. "Gasp. Not my Richard ... he would never stoop to such a ..."
Rick loved listening to Mackenzie talk, even when she was doing a pretty impressive imitation of his mother, someone she'd never even met. There was no doubt in his mind, if Mac tried to convince a nun that backless dresses were perfectly decent and that the sky was orange, she could do it. She'd been the speech teacher and debate coach at Franklin High for six years. He'd been to her school a few times and had seen the impressive line of statues and plaques in the trophy case outside her classroom.
It was a proven fact: Mac was an excellent talker. Rick found himself gazing at her eyes, how they lit up with animation. Then his gaze slid to her mouth.
"Will they? Rick?"
"What?" he asked, moving his focus back up to her eyes — smoothly, he hoped.
"I asked if you think your parents will be there tonight."
"Oh. Um, yes." He adjusted the knot of his tie. "They will be."
When he heard Mac mutter something under her breath, he stopped in front of his car. "What's the matter?"
Mac didn't answer, but Rick noticed her arm, still looped through his, tighten.
In the last month, Rick had learned a thing or two about Mac, like what topics made her uncomfortable. For example: his parents. Although she never told him why.
"Your father will be there?" Mac asked. "And your mother?"
Mac turned to look back at her apartment. "Do you think I should change?"
"Your political party?"
"You're a real riot. My dress," she said. "Should I change —"
"No way!" Rick cut in, maybe a bit too enthusiastically. "I'll make you a deal. If the mayor is wearing a shorter dress than you, then I'll take you home. But I'm warning you, he's got great legs and likes to show them off."
As Rick watched Mac throw her head back and laugh, he felt warmth spread through his chest. It was not an altogether welcomed sensation.
Just like the automatic attraction he'd felt the day they'd met, there was always something else between them, separating them, some barrier she would never let down. Or maybe that was simply the way Mac was. Closed off, guarded. She was interested in relationships for everyone but herself.
Despite that, he liked her. She was adorable and interesting, and she had a wide mouth and full lips, which he loved. He loved how her whole face brightened when she opened her mouth and cackled. It was a bonus when the cackle ended with a snort.
But when it came to knowing the real Mackenzie Simms, he was at a complete loss. Rick reminded himself, again, that it was a good thing this was their final non-date.
Just as he was about to open the car door for her, Mac suddenly turned around to face him.
"Rick," she said, her voice and manners strangely hesitant. "About your parents. Your father ..."
He felt his eyebrows pull together. "Yes?"
"Well," she continued, "I ..." But her expression changed. Her blue eyes were wide, her lashes long as she gazed up at him. She was wearing the same expression that had been on her face right before they kissed six months ago.
* * *
What am I doing? Mac thought as she gazed up at his face, feeling the desire to heave a very uncharacteristic, feminine sigh. Because, honestly, he was just so gorgeous: dark blond hair that sometimes waved, clear blue eyes, tall and kind of dashing.
But instead of sighing, she reached up to straighten his light blue tie.
"You look like a miniature Jay Gatsby."
Nice subject change, Mackenzie.
After a second thought, Mac decided that now was not the time to get into her issue with his father. If she hadn't told him about it six months ago, when there really had been a chance of starting something, why did she feel the need to tell him on the night of their last date?
Rick lifted his eyebrows. "Miniature? I'm six- one." He lowered those brows and flashed a roguish smile. "And with better style."
Mac snickered, giving his tie another tweak.
She didn't need to, of course. At affairs like the one they were heading to, Rick's tie was always in place. During the day, when he was working for the newspaper, he was all about rumpled tweed jackets, untucked shirts, and scruffy facial hair. But when he got dressed for an occasion, there wasn't a hair out of place.
Jay Gatsby, indeed.
Even after seeing him around town for six months, it was still a mystery to Mac how easily Rick seemed to slide from unshaven beat reporter to Richard Duffy, owner of The Franklin Standard and important man about town.
It was the latter that made Mackenzie drop her hand and step back.
It wasn't that she disapproved of millionaires. She just didn't, well, approve. It was one thing to be unbelievably good looking, and it was another to be good looking and be raised with a silver spoon in your mouth.
When they'd first met, there was a moment when Mac hoped things would take off with Rick, but that was before she knew about all that stupid money ... before she found out who he really was, who his father was.
She was too much her father's daughter to get involved with a man like Rick. Best to get untangled before it was too late.
"Yeah?" she said, taking another step back.
"You were about to say something about my father?"
"Oh." She waved a hand in the air. "Just that ... I hope he made off better than Gatsby's father."
Her comment made no sense, but she was relieved when Rick didn't press the subject.
"You ready?" she asked brightly.
"Sure," Rick said and then opened the car door, wrapping his strong hand around hers while she slithered inside.
The moment he shut her door, Mac exhaled and touched a hand to her forehead. While Rick walked around the hood of the car, she pulled down the visor mirror. It was bad enough that, at twenty- nine, she didn't look a day over twenty, with her petite stature, light blond hair, and big, almost tomboyish facial features. But when she went all dark and emo with the eyeliner, she felt even younger, like she was playing dress-up.
Makeup overload was mistake number one of the night, she thought, flipping up the visor. Or maybe wearing this dress was the first mistake. But when Rick got in the car and Mac noticed how he shot a subtle glance at her crossed legs, she decided that she was happy with her outfit after all.
"Have you eaten?" Rick asked.
"We're going to a dinner."
Rick smiled and revved the engine. "Just checking."
Mac whistled in relief. "I'm starving. What's on the agenda for tonight?" she asked, as Rick pulled away from her apartment complex.
"It's the Chamber," Rick said. "Just like the one last week. A local business owner will speak, the chairman will present some award, we'll eat rubber chicken, and our cheeks will be sore tomorrow from smiling like the Osmonds."
"Did I thank you for bringing glamour into my dreary life?"
"Plus," Rick added, stopping at a red light, "there's an open bar. You never know what could happen."
Mac had experienced firsthand a few minor "open- bar" scenes at Rick's social events. They always made her wish she could beam herself somewhere else. Unlike Rick, who seemed completely at ease wherever he was. Mac just hoped she'd been putting on a convincing act when she accompanied him. It was part of their deal. A deal that was ending tonight.
That thought made a heavy feeling press against her chest, but she quickly forced it away. A real relationship with Rick was not meant to be. There was already too much baggage, and one amazing kiss six months ago that had gone nowhere did not a relationship make.
Still, she knew he meant well. She'd dragged him to a school open house and to her college roommate's wedding. But the one time he'd accompanied her to one of her fund-raisers, she'd known at once that he was uncomfortable, and when he'd pulled out his checkbook, wrote out a huge donation then wanted to leave, Mac realized Rick was a typical rich guy with clean hands. All cash and no cares. Major disappointment.
And then there was his father ...
"I think the city manager is speaking, too," Rick added, pulling her back to the present. "That's pretty unusual."
"Something about converting that vacant factory on Elm Street into a parking garage. It's been sitting there empty for over a decade."
A lump caught in Mac's throat.
"Oh." She bit the inside of her cheek and looked out the window. "The Elm Street factory."
It really did suck. Rick was funny and intelligent, and she so enjoyed the way it made her feel when he put his hand on the small of her back when they entered a room. But his last comment only reminded her that Richard Duffy was not the guy you bring home to meet your parents.
At least not her parents. Not with who Rick's father was.
"We're here," Rick said.
When she looked up, he was handing his car keys to the valet attendant. She plastered on a smile, not wanting to get into the whole Elm Street factory thing. Not tonight. And if not tonight, probably not ever.
"Now entering Party Central," Mac said in a singsong voice as they walked into the hotel lobby. "Seriously, this place looks like a funeral home," she added, gesturing to a pair of carnation sprays flanking the double doors. "One from the eighties."
"It's apropos," Rick said, taking her coat. "I've heard that tonight's MC is only slightly livelier than a corpse. But that's only a rumor."
She turned to him and tilted her head. "Aww, look at you, you're on a roll. That's two jokes tonight."
Rick made a slight, theatrical bow. "You can catch my show every Monday at nine p.m. Standing room only."
"Okay." She patted his arm. "I think you're done now."
"Two jokes is my limit?"
She rolled her eyes. "Apparently."
Excerpted from Speaking of Love by Ophelia London, Stacy Abrams, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2013 Mary A. Smith. 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
The interaction with Mac and Rick was – frustrating, loving, hot, and timid – all those words that feel like falling in love. Most romance books are over the top with the perfect guy doing the perfect thing - something I have never experienced or witnessed. (You know the ones that exist only in romance novels.) Ophelia London keeps her characters flawed, realistic, relatable and lovable they are people you could easily be friends with, cheer for and adore. It’s what makes Speaking of Love believable and real. It’s what has set the Perfect Kisses series apart from all others. In Speaking of Love, Mac is trying to make her town a better place. The little side stories in novels while not a huge part of the story, are the ones that keep me engrossed. Mac and Rick are good people trying to do the right thing by the town and each other. It’s admirable. I liked that we also got to see characters from the first book in the Perfect Kisses series, Playing at Love. It was fun to revisit them and see how their relationship was progressing. What I didn’t like: Mac’s initial relationship with Rick bugged me. I really dislike the girl games you find in so many YA and Romance novels. You know where the girl wants something and expects everyone to read her mind? Initially I thought Mac was heading that way, but her saving grace is that she actually wasn't playing games. She was sincerely trying to save her heart from potential pain by falling for a guy she just couldn't be with. It was easy for me to forgive her and soon I found myself cheering for her. Ratings: PG. There is no sex but there are some steamy kissing scenes that weren't graphic. The kissing and emotion had me completely engulfed – what played out in my mind was more than what was written. So the book is rated PG, but I’m telling you – you’re going to love it! In all honesty if you love romance but don’t like the romance that borders on erotica read Ophelia London’s Perfect Kisses series. They. Are. Awesome. I give Speaking of Love 4 ½ skulls, only because Mac’s behavior at the beginning of the book irritated me enough I had to put the book in time out, otherwise it would be a 5 skull rating. Once Mac figured out how she felt about Rick I couldn't stop reading. I ended up staying up until 1 AM to finish it. Then first thing this morning I re-read the last chapter because it was just a feel good happy ending that left me smiling. Something I think the world could use more of, books like Speaking of Love, that make you feel good.
Speaking of Love is one of those stories that.you immediately love and show you that sometimes what you're looking for is right in front of you. Plus how can you not love a completely endearing romance with a happily ever after? I love how there's much more than just sex for Rick and Mac. They each are fighting for something other than each other. Both of them have issues that they are working through. But, overall they both just need each other. Once we got to "weekend getaway", I just loved how the romance hit Rick and Mackenzie like a freight train. They're so comfortable with each other and they have perfect banner with one another. Plus, with the characters I love how Ophelia created "competition" but it was the type of competition that you could see from the beginning stood no chance, and I loved that, that there was no confusion in the love. Plus, Rick is pretty sexy. Overall, Entangled put out another Bliss beauty. Speaking Of Love is one of those stories where you will be rooting for the characters until the end. It's a story where there isn't much darkness, where it doesn't revolve around sex, but is your chick-flick love story where there are two people who are just meant to be together. Loved it!
Great story with lots of love and humor. Love Ophelia London.
I absolutely loved this book! I smiled so much while reading it. I read it straight through I couldn't put it down!
This is a very good book. Once you start reading it you can't put it down. Another book I highly recommend.
Ophelia London does it again with this fun and light friends to lovers romance. Mackenzie and Rick are great friends. Mackenzie is a school teacher bitter and done with relationships. Rick is a wealthy newspaper owner who is laid back and ready for just about anything. So when Mackenzie arranges a double friendly date getaway to introduce Rick to her gorgeous cousin, things should go smoothly. Or should they? When Mackenzie and Rick see one another with someone else, jealously flies to the forefront and they two of them are faced with the reality that they may actually have feelings for each other. I love the characters in this book. Mackenzie and Rick have amazing chemistry, making me laugh around every corner. Their relationship is wonderful. First as friends, they struggle with feelings they didn’t know they had for one another, and they develop into something much deeper. The secondary characters are great too. Their roles in the story are the most important, as they are the reason that we are treated to such an exciting game between Mackenzie and Rick. This book is the second in a series, but as a stand-alone, it’s a great read. If you’re looking for a romance that will make you smile and give you a heartfelt HEA, pick up the latest from Ophelia London. It definitely will not disappoint! Reviewed by Marie for Cocktails and Books
As Reviewed for The Reading Cafe 4 out of 5 for this reader folks! Simple formula for this read! Almost lovers, friends, lovers! You know, the kind of relationship that is made to last! Speaking of Love was another wonderful SWEET love story by Ophelia London. It is the second book of her Perfect Kisses series and it certainly did not let me down! I have discovered that Ophelia London has a great style. This is the third book of hers I have read, and she is brilliant at sarcastic, quick wit, amazing chemistry between her hero and heroine, including modern day references and just making me believe that love could really be this BEAUTIFUL! Now .. let's get to some of the nitty gritty shall we?? We first met Mackenzie Simms (but you better call her Mac and most definantely not BABE, or she'll go postal all over you) in the first book of this series called Playing at Love. Mac is my kind of girl! By profession she is a speech/debate teacher at the local high school and by nature she is outspoken, for sure set in her ways, stubborn, very quick witted, matchmaker to her friends and REALLY REALLY easy to like. She fights for what she believes in and will go a million miles to help those she loves. We also met Rick Duffy in Playing for Love. Rick is a reporter who actually owns the local paper. He is also a bit of an oxymoron (although it takes Mac forever to figure this out .. silly girl). Rick comes from a rich pompous family but he truely doesn't embrace the posh lifestyle that he was born into. While Rick loves a fancy car and suit, carries himself with much class and is well mannered, he can wear a fine pair of jeans and plaid shirt, drive an old four wheeler, and get dog slobbered with the best of them. These two .. COMPLETE OPPOSITES! (Pssstt .. good thing we know that opposites tend to attract right?? LOL) Mac and Rick tried the whole "let's get hot and heavy" when they first met and I think it may have gone well, until Mac found out that Rick came from money and is the son of the man who was responsible for essentially ruining Mac's parents marriage. Unfortunantley our speech professional cannot seem to find the words to tell Rick this small tidbit of information, so they each embrace the "friendship" aspect of their relationship instead and carry on. I, at times got really frustrated with these two. I am such "spit it out and say what you mean" kind of personality that I found I rolled my eyes at some of their ignorance towards each other and jumping to negative assumptions right away. Now of course let's be honest here .. without any of that this book would not flowed nor had any build up. WINK! Somehow through the maze of setting up her beauty queen cousin with Rick, fighting off an ape-man, constant heat filled banter, mutual attraction, truck catastrophe, snowstorm with serious sexy moments, squirrel fighting and a kick ass demonstration in a small town these two do finally figure it out! A great read and I do strongly recommend you read the first book in this series as the characters are introduced and you get a good feel for their personalities and the intrigue of "where is this going"???? That being said, you can read this as a stand alone very comfortably. I want to finish this review with a flirty moments between Mac and Rick. "And anyways, there is still no better song for house cleaning than "I Want Your Sex." "Really?" Rick turned to her again, one eyebrow lifted. "next time you come over to my house, I'll play it for you." The way he was smiling made Mac's heart hiccup. "My floors could use a good deep clean." I have to try that .. LOL
3.25 stars Mackenzie and Rick have an non-dating arrangement to be each other's 'date' at public functions. Although their chemistry is very palpable Mac is determined to stay away from Rick because of what she thinks he represents. She has convinced herself that Rick must be like his family and their acquaintances even though she has seen for herself that he is a down-to-earth, good man. Rick has been attracted to Mac since the moment they met and although he knows that they'll be good together he can't help but question if Mac feels the same since she always keeps him at arm's length. He likes spending time with her and now that the last of their non-dates approaches he can't help but think that he should try for me. However, Mac sets him up with her cousin and Rick get the message that Mac wants nothing to do with him. Rick and Mac's story was funny, sweet and very romantic. I loved the characters and it was a treat to get to know them throughout the story. Rick was handsome, charming and funny while Mac was both strong and vulnerable with insecurities and hesitations about how she felt about Rick. The author, Ophelia London, did a great job of developing the characters and their emotions letting the reader get a real glimpse into their personalities. Their story flowed throughout the book in a way that really let me connect to them and care about the outcome of their relationship. I liked how they related as friends, but loved how adorable and loving they were as a couple. However, what I enjoyed the most were their interactions. Full of funny, flirtatious banter their dialogue was both insightful and entertaining. Speaking of Love is an adorable friends-to-lovers story that will warm your heart. Although it is the second book in the Perfect Kisses series it can be read as a stand alone. However, as soon as you get a tiny glimpse into Tess and Jack's story you will want to read the previous book as well. I already have it on my TBR pile, since I enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author. I received this title from Entangled Publishing through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion.