Nick Katsalos has a foolproof plan to save his parents' floundering wedding venue. The last thing he expects is for Erin O'Malley, the captivating daughter of their biggest rival, to waltz in and charm the client who could finally get the family business back on track. Nick would be furious—if only he could stop thinking about her.
When Erin and Nick enter into a wager to determine who will win the contract she prepares for the worst…and is surprised by the glimpses of warmth she sees in the man behind the numbers. But Erin isn't about to forfeit what could be the biggest wedding of the decade to the enemy, especially since securing it means she could finally prove she's capable of handling the family business.
But as the competition heats up, Erin and Nick must decide what's more important—winning or love.
Each book in the Weddings in Westchester series is a STANDALONE story that can be enjoyed out of order.
* The Bouquet List
* The Wedding Wager
* Four Weddings and a Fling
About the Author
Barbara DeLeo's first book, co-written with her best friend, was a story about beauty queens in space. She was eleven, and the sole, handwritten copy was lost years ago much to everyone's relief. It's some small miracle that she kept the faith and now lives her dream of writing sparkling contemporary romance with unforgettable characters.
Degrees in English and Psychology, and a career as an English teacher, fuelled Barbara's passion for people and stories, and a number of years living in Europe gave her a love for romantic settings.
Discovering she was having her second set of twins in two years, Barbara knew she must be paying penance for being disorganized in a previous life and was determined to get it right this time. It's amazing what being housebound with four preschoolers will do for the imagination and she decided it was time to follow her writing dream. Funnily enough, those first manuscripts had not a single child in them.
Married to her winemaker hero, Barbara's happiest when she's getting to know her latest cast of characters. She still loves telling stories about finding love in all the wrong places, but now without a beauty queen or spaceship in sight.
Read an Excerpt
The Wedding Wager
A Weddings in Westchester Novel
By Barbara DeLeo, Lewis Pollak
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Barbara DeLeo
All rights reserved.
As he strode the well-tended path to Congressman Williams's office in Beauville, Westchester County, Nick Katsalos considered executing a side heel click like the ones he'd seen in cartoons as a kid.
Of course he'd never be seen dead committing a random act of emotion or public display of crazy, but it had been years since he'd experienced such a high in this sleepy little town, and it felt damn good. He reconsidered and did an internal fist pump instead.
Finally, after weeks of uncertainty, he'd created a foolproof plan to rescue his parents' wedding hall business. As soon as the contract for the wedding of Congressman Williams's daughter was signed, he'd leave the bridezillas and strung out mothers at the Aegean Palace in the hands of the company's highly efficient wedding planner, his mother would come to her senses and return home from Greece, and he could get back to his real job and the predictable rush of Manhattan. His family's life could then return to the noisy, crazy chaos they liked to call normal, and the gnawing guilt he'd always carried for their troubles would finally be buried for good.
He took the stairs two at a time and arrived at reception with an extra spring in his step, still a little surprised to have received the invitation to sign the contract so soon. While the wedding planner was fully capable of doing all this on her own, he wanted to make sure that nothing could go wrong. A month in Westchester was a month of his life he'd never get back, but he didn't want to return to pick up any pieces.
"May I help you?" A young woman with fiery red hair regarded him from behind the desk.
"Nick Katsalos. Here to see Congressman Williams."
She shifted her gaze to a computer screen, then gave him a beaming smile. "Oh yes. He shouldn't be long." She nodded toward the lobby on her right. "Please, take a seat."
He turned and stopped still. A woman was already seated in the middle of the room, and the sight of her caused the air in his lungs to evaporate.
Her back was ruler straight as she perched on the edge of the plush chair with her head tilted. Dark blond hair was caught in a sleek ponytail low on her neck, and diamond earrings winked from her lobes. Deep pink lips were curved in a half smile as if she held all the secrets of the world, and he had an overpowering urge to know every last one of them.
She turned and gazed back at him with eyes the color of the ocean in summer, then she blinked and quickly looked away.
Clearing his throat, he strode forward and took the neighboring seat. The whole of her, from the precisely cut, pale-blue business suit, to the cream heels accentuating a pair of tanned calves tucked neatly to the side, was perfect. "Here to see the congressman?" He picked up a yachting magazine and flicked through it with feigned interest. "Looks like he's running late."
He'd expected her voice to be breathy and light, but it was firm and direct, and he wanted to hear it again. "Been waiting long?"
He turned, ready to ask why she was here, but saw she was intently interested in the print on the opposite wall. "You like Rockwell?" he asked, noting her flawless skin and the confident angle of her chin.
She moistened her lips and a bolt of bare-knuckle desire pulled through him. "Oh, is that who it's by?" she asked. "I don't know anything about art." She waved her hand in the air, and it reminded him of the wing of an exotic bird. "I was just admiring the way he's created the people. They seem so real."
For just a moment she turned to him, then flicked her eyes back to the print, a soft blush tinting her cheeks. There was something oddly familiar about her, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Was she the sister of an old friend? Someone he'd dated in high school? No, he'd never have forgotten someone like her.
"The shoppers," she continued, "the businessman and the errand boy reading the news of the stock market crash together. You can feel their emotions. It's quite powerful, don't you think?"
"A picture with emotions?" he asked, trying to hide his amusement. "You know there's a mistake in it."
She turned back and this time held his stare, her eyes sparking. "Sorry?"
"There's a mistake. The errand boy has three legs."
A small frown creased her forehead, and then she laughed, softly at first and then loudly as if he'd told her the funniest thing she'd ever heard. "What do you mean, a mistake?"
"There is." He nodded toward the picture. "You can see how the boy's legs run straight up and down at the back, right?"
She rolled her lips together, and despite the fact he should be looking at the picture, too, he couldn't pull his eyes from her. "Yes."
He leaned forward so their bodies were in line and the air crackled. "But his hands are also resting on a bent knee at the front. Two legs at the back, one at the front. That's gotta be uncomfortable."
She stood up, walked to the wall, and peered closely, her back still straight, but now he could see the curve of her hips and the smooth-as-silk skin at the back of her neck. "No, you're wrong. It's just the way his apron's falling across his knee."
"Uh-uh. Three legs."
"How do you know?" she said, twisting back to him. She sounded slightly annoyed, as if he'd just told her Bambi was a delinquent fawn that didn't really care what happened to its mommy. "Are you an art expert?"
He shrugged. "Call it a hobby. A public service." Her frown was darkening, so he continued. "TV shows, movies, books, you'd be surprised how many are full of continuity errors."
She blinked and then there was that secret smile again as if she knew his innermost thoughts. Or as if he amused her. And she let out another laugh. "You mean you find these sorts of things on a regular basis? And go around destroying people's enjoyment by telling them about it?"
He leaned back in his chair. "I only ever see movies by accident — over someone's shoulder on a plane, for example. And you'd only catch me in an art gallery if I needed to use the bathroom, but if there's a mistake, I see it as my duty to expose it."
She sat beside him again and looked at him as if he were something on the bottom of her shoe. This was the point where most people would agree with him or change the subject. She pushed on. "Like when? In which movies?"
He threw a glance at his watch. The appointment was for 3:30. It was now 3:32. He looked back at her and smiled. "I can see you're one of those people whose dreams would be crushed if I mentioned it."
She kept her crystal blue gaze locked on his, one eyebrow beautifully raised. "Oh, no you don't. You can't just throw out an accusation like that and not back it up. Which movies have mistakes?"
She wasn't going to stop 'til she had an answer, but it wouldn't be polite to carry this on without introducing himself. He was just about to when the congressman appeared.
"Ah, you're here," he said, leaning toward Nick and offering his hand. His shake was firm. Too firm. The greeting of a man who always tried to prove himself around other men. They'd met a number of times, and although Nick had thought him insincere and posturing, he wasn't going to argue with what was sure to be a very fat checkbook. "Thank you for being here on such short notice," the congressman said. "Come through to my office."
Nick turned to say good-bye to the woman, kicking himself for not getting her number when he'd had the opportunity. She was standing, too.
"I see you've met," the congressman said, nodding at her.
Nick held out his hand again. "Not properly."
She placed her hand in his, and her grip was firm, that secret smile growing on her mouth as her shining eyes held his. Something kicked in his chest. "Mr. Katsalos has been busy ensuring I don't have unnecessary emotional responses to works of art," she said. "I'm surprised you don't remember me, Nick." She let go and stood straight with her hands clasped in front as if she were about to give a sermon in church.
Damn. She knew him? She wasn't an old girlfriend, was she? It wasn't like him to forget women he'd dated, especially someone as beautiful as this. In fact, if he had dated her, what in all hell had he been thinking in letting her go? It bugged him to think she'd carried this whole conversation on without mentioning it.
"I ... ah. No, I don't remember you. I'm sorry. Where did we meet?"
"I'm Erin O'Malley."
He felt his smile stiffen, and he swallowed. O'Malley? Sonofa —. "From O'Malley Weddings?"
She grinned, nodding slowly, and his expectations for this day went straight from heel clicks to hell no.
"Shall we adjourn to my office?" the congressman said, and chatted with Erin as they walked down a corridor. As he followed behind them, Nick's brain went into overdrive. Erin had known who he was, and she hadn't said a thing. She'd played him, and he hadn't even known it.
Although he hadn't seen her or any of her family in years, the O'Malley name had been like a curse in the Katsalos household for as long as he could remember. Their parents had fallen out decades ago, and while the fortunes of the Palace had suffered for years, he'd heard the O'Malley's had gone from strength to strength. If they were both here to meet the congressman, who'd won the contract for his daughter's wedding?
"Take a seat," the congressman said when they'd entered the office and he'd moved behind an enormous wooden desk.
Erin sat first and Nick followed. The last time he'd seen her, they must've been sixteen. Although he'd known how high the level of animosity between the families was back then, it hadn't stopped him from asking her on a date. She'd said yes at first, then changed her mind at the last minute — not before he'd bragged to his friends about it, though. She'd said it was because her father had found out, but something in her eyes said otherwise. Maybe she'd just wanted to make a fool out of him. The way she was sitting now, so confident and collected in her power suit with that whisper of a smile on her lips, suggested she intended to do the same thing today. But damn, she was beautiful.
"I'm sure you're wondering why you're here together," the congressman said as he leaned back in his chair. "I have to say that your proposals for my daughter's wedding were both very strong. Mr. Katsalos, Amy was particularly impressed by the menu that you offered, and as she's had a long interest in all things Greek, your food was her preference."
Nick didn't try to suppress his smile. Everyone told him that the biggest consideration for a wedding was the food. It didn't matter if people were married outside or in, somewhere palatial or a barn, it was the food they remembered, and the Palace's menu was exceptional. With his ability to problem solve and limit errors, he clearly had this in the bag.
"Thank you, sir. Leo Papaspiros, my uncle, has won countless awards for his cooking. I'm glad your daughter approved of the menu. I'm sure the guests at her wedding will be equally impressed."
He threw a look at Erin. He'd heard from his sister Yasmin that while O'Malley's had a reputation for style and sophistication, they lacked the friendly, family touch that was the Palace's strength. If the congressman's daughter had loved the Palace's food, then they were home free. So why was Erin here? And why was she still looking so confident ... and amused?
The congressman turned to her. "While Amy and her mother loved the food at the Aegean Palace, they couldn't stop talking about the chapel that O'Malley's offered. O'Malley Weddings has a strong reputation in Westchester, and it would make us very proud to have Amy's ceremony in your chapel."
A bright smile crossed Erin's face and, impossibly, she looked even more perfect.
A headache bit behind his eyes. He couldn't lose this contract. And he most especially couldn't lose it to Erin O'Malley.
"We'd be honored to hold Amy's wedding at O'Malley's," Erin said. "She mentioned July next year, and we'll make sure she has her choice of date."
"Wait a minute," Nick said, leaning forward. "Do you mean O'Malley Weddings has won this contract? That's not what I was expecting when I was invited here this afternoon. I'm sure that if your daughter loves the food at the Palace so much, we can negotiate some changes so we can give her what she wants for the ceremony as well."
The image of the Williams wedding being held at the Palace, the pictures splashed across the society pages and crowds of new couples booking their weddings years into the future began to disintegrate. Not only could the Palace not afford to lose this contract, they couldn't afford for O'Malley's to win it. All that free and in-depth publicity for them was sure to put a nail in the Palace's coffin and mean his parents wouldn't get back together, maybe never come home. And the guilt he'd harbored for what they'd sacrificed for him would never go away. The most important thing was to stay focused on logic and fact, emotion only ever got you into trouble.
"That's not what I had in mind," the congressman said. "My Amy is used to getting what she wants, and in this instance it's the food from the Aegean Palace and the ceremony at O'Malley's. I'd appreciate it if you could both make that happen."
Nick and Erin spoke as one, and he had to grip the side of his chair to stop himself from leaping to his feet.
"With all due respect, Congressman, The Aegean Palace is a package. We can't divide up bits here and bits there. If Amy has fallen in love with our food, then I'm sure she'll fall in love with our whole venue as well. She could be married in our garden. We can listen to her preferences for the ceremony and do what we can to incorporate them within our venue."
"I'd have to agree with Mr. Katsalos," Erin said in her quiet but firm voice. "Sharing wouldn't be practical. We're thrilled that Amy loves O'Malley's chapel as much as we do and we'd be delighted to adapt our existing menus to incorporate the food of her choice at a reception in our restaurant as well." She threw a look at Nick and smiled brightly. "Much easier to create a new menu than build a whole new venue." Her eyes twinkled as she looked into Nick's eyes and smiled. "That could lead to all sorts of ... continuity errors."
The congressman leaned closer and clasped his hands together. He lowered his voice and his eyes narrowed. "Being in the business of making dreams come true, I'm sure you both understand that when a woman finds something she likes, she's not going to let anyone take it away from her."
Erin nodded. "I completely understand, sir. We make dreams happen every day at O'Malley's and have all the resources to fulfill Amy's wishes. I've been working in wedding halls since I was twelve years old, so I understand that more than most."
There was a barb in that comment so pointed Nick could feel the jab. Erin knew he didn't do this for a real job, and she was driving home for victory. She'd had him by the balls right from the minute he'd walked into the lobby, and it bugged the hell out of him.
"And may I also remind you," the congressman continued, "that this will be the society wedding of the decade in this county, and there will be plenty of publicity for whoever hosts. If neither of you are prepared to compromise, I'll be forced to offer the contract to Georgia Heights Weddings. I'm sure neither of you would like to see that happen." He stood and walked around the side of the desk. "I anticipated this would take some negotiating, so I'm going to leave you alone to work out the logistics. When you've agreed, I have contracts for you both to sign. I'll be back shortly."
When he'd shut the door behind him, Nick turned to Erin and shook his head. She was sitting with her hands in her lap, her mouth curved in the relaxed way that reminded him of a counselor or a Zen Buddhist. "Did you know about this?"
She blew out an even breath and shook her head. "Not for a second. I assumed, as I suppose you did, that we'd won the contract until I saw you in the lobby."
Nick nodded. "It's clear he doesn't know who he's dealing with. How he could think either of us would agree to something so impossible is beyond me." Logistics were his specialty. He could fix this.
She twisted in her seat, and now Nick noticed how brilliantly bright her eyes were, almost as if there was a light shining from behind her perfect irises. "The answer is simple. We'll just pay you for the use of your chef and compensate you for losing him on the day. We can make sure he and the Palace are acknowledged in any of the publicity that surrounds the wedding." She sat back in her chair as if it were resolved and they'd be out of here in a few minutes.
Excerpted from The Wedding Wager by Barbara DeLeo, Lewis Pollak. Copyright © 2016 Barbara DeLeo. 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
great book about opposites attracting This was a good romantic read where the MC had good chemistry and some angst that moved the story along. Nick Katsalos and Erin O'Malley are basically on opposite sides- both running their family’s wedding businesses for different various reasons. Then comes a wedding contract that they both want and its war! This wedding contract would give balance of power to one of the family’s business over the other so of course this makes the contract super important to get. That means a wager is placed and all the silly competitions to prove one family business is better than the other to get this wedding contract but what Nick and Erin didn’t foresee was falling in love. It wasn’t an easy fall , it was full of angst, but it also came with laughter and great sexual chemistry. I liked the MC and their fall into love. Nick is a numbers man while Erin is a people’s person. It is true, opposites do attract. My rating: 4.0 stars **** **I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review***
This was a very light uplifting read. Despite being on opposite sides of a competition, Nick and Erin encouraged each other, got to know one another. Their story was very sweet and heartwarming. They were cute when they flirted with one another and very hot when they would whisper in each other's ears. I loved the importance of family aspect throughout the book. And even in the dramatic part, I could totally understand why that person felt the way they did. It made me a little sad, but showed how big a heart they really had. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
SO SO GOOD! I’m tempted to end my review right there, but that won’t do this book justice. I enjoyed The Wedding Wager so freaking much. It was so great. It is a quick read, my copy was only about 146 pages, but it was still so worth it. I binge-read it in about 2 hours when I should’ve been sleeping, but I wasn’t. This book is worth every second of your time. So the plot was a little fast-paced, but that was because it is such a short book. There seemed to be some aspects that were rushed and at moments it was a littler hard to tell the timeline, but it was eventually cleared up and my understanding of the book never diminished. I was so into this book that I was very upset when it ended. I WANTED MORE! I NEEDED MORE! Can I please have some more? Erin is just trying to prove herself. She is the first-born of a very proud Irish man who wanted a son. When her father’s health goes down, she steps up to take over the company and gain her father’s approval. She was so stubborn, which I guess she had to be when she was trying to gain her father’s approval and couldn’t back down against him. But there was moments when I wanted to reach in and shake her. Yell at her to stop being so stubborn and just accept what is happening between her and Nick. She is also so intelligent. She was quick-witted and fierce. I hope to be as good of a businesswoman as she was. Nick looks like a freaking Greek God. That is all you need to know about him. Just kidding, there is more to him than just looks. He is a very closed off, cold, logical person. He is also extremely intelligent and sweet when he wants to be. It was great watching him take over his families business to try and bring them back together. I wish I could know more about Nick because we didn’t learn a lot about him. I want more Nick in my life! All in all, this book is a great read. If you’re looking for something short and sweet, this is the book for you. Also, don’t be fooled by its length, it packs a great story into those few pages and it is worth your time!
I really enjoyed this story. There was not a whole lot of romance, but what can you expect from long time family rivals, right? I think that Barbara DeLeo did a great job with keeping the rivalry clean and competitive. Sometimes competitions are taken too far, but this was tactfully done to where I enjoyed it. Nick is determined to save his parent's business. When an opportunity presents itself that could potentially save the family business in one transaction, Nick knows what he has to do. When the clients daughter chooses food from his business and a venue from his rival, they set out to have a competition to see who can win her over for the full wedding. What Nick is not prepared for is Erin, the rivals daughter that takes his breath away from their first meeting. Nick knows that he will catch so much flack from his parents if he even so much as thinks about dating her, but there is just something that draws him to Erin and won't let him go. Erin is determined to prove to her father that she is just as capable of running the family business as anyone else would be. She knows that she has to win this competition at all costs to prove this to her father. Erin doesn't realize how far her father will go to help her win the competition and makes her choose between winning and doing what is right and wrong. Erin knows that she can never live with herself if they cheat though. When Nick keeps pursuing Erin during the competitions, she has no idea what to do because she is physically drawn to Nick as well. Erin knows that when put in the situation, she is not going to be able to deny Nick what he really wants. The competitions commence and Erin and Nick both win some of the rounds. When it comes down to the final rounds and finding out who wins, Nick starts to think about things and the situation that he has created with Erin. He can't go on with what he has created with her, but how will Erin feel about all of it? Will Nick come to his senses eventually? You have to read this story to find out what happens between Erin and Nick. Such a great read that keeps you engaged and wanting to know how things are going to turn out! I can't wait to see what is next for Barbara DeLeo. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which did not influence my opinion at all. 2 likes ·
I so enjoyed this story of wedding rivalries. Nick and Emma's families are involved in the wedding industry and they both want the wedding of the year, so now they have a wager of whom is going to win this big wedding. As they fight to have the best, sparks soon begin to fly between the two. Oh... but what will their families think, rivals for years!! They both are trying to help their parents in the wedding business. Loved returning to the Weddings in Windchester, a stand alone book, that for sure will delight all romance readers. I was laughing out loud at times while reading. The perfect read for the upcoming wedding season.
I received an eARC, from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. The Wedding Wager by Barbara DeLeo This was a really sweet, funny and enjoyable romance. Nick Katsalos thought he had a great plan to save his parents wedding venue business. But Erin O'Malley who is with the rival company is trying to win the customer over too. This puts them and their family in to a wedding wager! This was a good romance that didn't have a lot of misunderstanding and 'games'. I enjoyed this book and hope that you will too! Please follow more reviews at the below sites: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1... http://sissymaereads.blogspot.com/ https://www.facebook.com/sally.mae.39... http://booklikes.com/ https://romancebookreviewforyou.wordp... https://www.facebook.com/groups/17091... https://twitter.com/soapsrus68
A great return to Westchester and the Aegean Palace! I was hoping for Nick's story after reading The Bouquet List. Nick Katsalos is home to take his turn in trying to save his parents business and get them to come home from Greece. He believes if he lands the wedding of a congressman's daughter, all will be well and his parents will come home. He thinks he has it in the bag until he shows up to the congressman's office and sees Erin O'Malley, one of daughters of his father's biggest rival. Erin O'Malley is shocked to learn that the congressman wants O'Malley Weddings and The Aegean Palace to work out a compromise for his daughter's wedding. Since there is no way this can happen, she suggests a competition and the winner gets to host the wedding. During their competition, their chemistry erupts. I absolutely loved this story! It's a more adult version of Romeo and Juliet, instead with a happy ending. My only complaint was that Yasmine and Lane weren't part of the story. This was a quick sweet read that I finished in a couple hours. I'm looking forward to the continuation of this series! I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed reading it, it is a fun & entertaining story about two rival businesses. I also liked both Nick and Erin. The chemistry between them is perfect. And their encounters are always interesting. The book held my interest from the very beginning until the end. And ending is also perfect. This is a must read for romance lovers no doubt in that. Two business rivals struck a wager. The one who wins will win the contract for the biggest wedding they will ever host. Winning this contract is important to both Erin and Nick. Their families have hated each other for a long time. They have been competing to prove their respective businesses to be the best. Now it's up to these two to prove once and for all that which business is the best in area, What started as simple wager turns out to be far more complicated than either of them had anticipated. The more time they spent together the more they understand each other. What drives them, and soon they find themselves falling in love. But for Erin and Nick happily ever after is not in the cards. There are too many things at stake... There are many laugh-out-loud moments in this book. I loved all the characters. It is a delightful read!
It's been a while since we first met the Katsalos in The Bouquet List but now they are back and better than ever! This time Nick is trying his hand at running the family business while his parents are working out their issues. He never realized how difficult it could be especially dealing with the rival O'Malley's. Specifically the always beautiful and tempting Erin O'Malley. When they are both up for a very lucrative deal they make a small wager. Well not small because this contract could make or break both their businesses. You will really enjoy reading this wonderfully written story as these two try their best to not only win the wager but fight their growing attraction for each other. I highly recommend this one.
The Wedding Wager was pure bliss. I received an ARC of this short story in exchange for an honest review. Ms Deleo lead her readers on a merry chase with this rival to romance novel. There is nothing sweeter than a romance built around weddings. Nick can be so adorably clueless but his heart is in the right place unless Erin is pushing his buttons. Erin has something to prove to herself and her family. Nick is a distraction she just doesn't need but his seductive aura appeals to her inner vixen. The heat is on with this sugary story of competition, compromise and love.