Love blogger Kate Bell is finished with men—especially the hot ones. Of course her only chance to save her career requires snagging an interview with the man who literally wrote the book on love, reclusive and super-sexy relationship expert Jake Wright. Who happens to be her boss’s brother.
The last thing Jake Wright wants is to be dragged back into the spotlight as a bachelor for his sister’s dating website. But when a sweet and sexy blogger crashes onto his island in the middle of a storm worse than his love life, keeping his hands off proves to be a challenge—especially when they’re stuck sharing the same bungalow.
Each book in the Smart Cupid series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Breaking the Bachelor
Book #2 Unexpectedly His
Book #3 One Little Kiss
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Kate Bell, suddenly single and regretting the four doughnuts she'd eaten this morning while watching Dr. Phil On Demand, sat across from her boss and considered the idea that she might have a knack for the wrong guy.
"So, the latest Prince Charming decided to hit the road?" Jane Wright tucked the dark curls of her pixie cut behind both ears and flashed a high- wattage, suspiciously Zen smile.
Clearly the shit is about to hit the fan. The Manhattan matchmaker might look all cool and breezy, but nothing got in between her and the success of SmartCupid.com. Certainly not a friend's rant-filled, anti-dating breakup tirade.
Kate bit her bottom lip. "I guess you read my blog."
Jane pushed aside the remains of a pastrami sandwich and nodded at the glowing tablet on her desk. "Oh, I read it all right, and if the whole thing wasn't so sad, I'd tell you it was funny."
Kate winced, knowing she was in serious trouble. Not only could she lose her job, but her meltdown had undermined all the work she'd done to catch the attention of a junior editor at Cosmopolitan. She'd been dreaming about landing a job as the magazine's authority on Happily Ever After forever. Now she was one Google search away from working at The Farmer's Almanac. "Probably not such a smart move — writing an anti-love piece for a matchmaking site."
Jane snapped the tablet cover shut in one quick motion. "Probably not."
Cringing at the less-than-subtle sarcasm, an apology raced out of her faster than the D-line into the city. "I know. I'm sorry. I was a total train wreck this morning, especially after the closet purge, and yes, I went too far with the whole pathological man comment, but ..."
"You think so?" Despite her obvious annoyance, a sympathetic frown worked its way across her friend's face. "Did he really leave a half-eaten box of doughnuts on the counter?"
"He really did."
The frown deepened. "Did he leave a rent check? A parting gift, maybe?"
Kate considered the undershirt she'd stuffed in her tote bag this morning so the apartment wouldn't reek of Irish Spring. "Not unless you count the T-shirt he left next to the doughnuts."
"I don't," she said, her eyes narrowing over the half-empty coffee cup on her desk. "Did he steal your MasterCard again?"
She shifted in her seat, hoping to avoid a rehash of the whole credit card disaster. "Not funny, Jane."
"Who was being funny?" she asked, glancing around the office. "It's a serious question."
A wave of heat infused her cheeks. "Borrowing your girlfriend's credit card one time does not make you a felon."
"It does if you disappear to Vegas with it, run up the bill, and refuse to pay."
"It's not like he killed somebody."
Jane tore at the edges of her sandwich wrapper. "No, he's too dumb for that."
Kate drew in a long breath. A small — thankfully, very small — part of her wanted to defend him, but her friend was right. The man had cleared out without so much as a backward glance and stuck her with the remainder of the lease. Not technically a felony, but definitely romantically criminal.
She slumped down in her chair. "I make terrible choices when it comes to men."
Silence filled the space between them, punctuated only by the sound of her boss tearing at the wrapper. "Well ... not terrible terrible."
"No — more like disastrously terrible. The only question is why — why?" she asked the bronze Cupid perched on the edge of the desk. "I practice self-actualization, cultivate personal growth, embrace my ch'i, but hey, show me a guy with a sketchy romantic past and a working penis, and Hallelujah, I'm in love."
Jane's smile aimed for reassurance, but landed closer to sweetie-you-need- a-new-game-plan. "You've got a super-sized heart, that's all, and you're lovely and trusting and ... What is the term all your self-help books use ... other-oriented? You're other-oriented."
"Well, being other-oriented sucks." Kate yanked a loose thread from the hem of her skirt and hoped the fabric wouldn't unravel like her love life. "My super-sized heart is tired of being crushed. I'm a dating disaster. Why can't I just find The One and be done with it?"
"With dating or with love?"
"Both." A soft breath hitched at the back of her throat, and the longing in her voice broke her misguided heart all over again. "Dating and love."
Jane leaned forward in the upholstered chair and steepled her fingers. "Maybe you need to try a different tactic. A change of perspective. What if you stopped focusing on finding The One," she said, tossing out a set of air quotes, "and started exploring more ... possibilities?"
She looked up from her hem. "What possibilities?"
Jane let go a sigh. "A different kind of romance, one with less pressure and more potential for ... "
Her mouth twisted to one side as she wondered if her love-centric heart could handle a different kind of romance. "Spontaneity?"
"That's the word. You don't have to plan everything." Jane winked. "You don't have to plan at all."
Don't plan? No. Just no. How did you go out with someone and not try to figure out if you had any long-term potential? Love? Marriage? Family? And Jane wanted her to just forget everything and let it be. Let it be?
"That doesn't sound like romance at all."
A shrug of Jane's shoulder. "I'm just saying. You can't plan passion. You want a guy who looks at you like he can't get enough of you."
Kate wrinkled her nose. Of course, she wanted a guy who looked at her like she was the be-all, end-all; she simply preferred a consciously committed relationship to spur-of-the-moment, no-strings passion. Then again, her relationship history was nothing to write home about. Not unless she wanted to give her mother another reason to marry her off to the neighbor's desperately single son back in Arcadia. Which I do not.
"Well ... maybe," she said, negotiating with her conscience. "Sex on the side does sound a lot better than dumped without a backward glance."
"Wait — what?" Jane blinked several times in succession. "Did I say sex on the side?" She shook her head. "No, no, no. I didn't mean sex on the side. I meant something more along the lines of a new kind of relationship. One that doesn't try to plan ten steps in advance."
Kate sat up in her chair and tapped her heels against the hardwood. Not her usual modus operandi, but ...
"A sweet, non-pathological guy might be just what I need to jumpstart the new Kate."
Her boss's brows raised in a question, probably wondering what happened to her friend, the relationship junkie. "The new Kate?"
"The brandnew Kate." After all, her closet was half empty, she'd listened to more than enough Coldplay to last a lifetime, and change was critical.
"Brand new isn't necessarily ..." Jane's phone vibrated against the vintage desk. "Damn." She eyed the number, pressed mute, and tapped the screen with her finger. "Okay. So the first step to getting you past this is ..." Her phone vibrated again. "Double damn."
"Let's just say you're not the only one who can't get a guy to do what she wants."
Jane cringed. "Please never mention that word in the same sentence as this person again. No, it's not Charlie; it's this situation with ..." She waved away the thought. "It's my own fault for trying to get him to do the interview." She glared at her phone. "If he'd just say yes, it would be over."
Can you say opportunity?
She'd just wrecked her career. She wasn't about to ignore a chance to prove she was still worth her salt.
"Sounds like you could use some help," Kate said.
"Oh no. You don't want this one."
Kate put on her most confident smile and hoped it looked better than she felt. "Try me."
Jane read a text message, then sighed and put the phone down. "It's next month's interview for The Bachelor Profile."
Kate's heart leaped forward like an eight-cylinder on the open road. The Bachelor Profile? Talk about a dream opportunity. If she could nail that, her career wouldn't just be back on track, it would be headed into the stratosphere.
"I'm the best at convincing people to do things they don't want to do," she said.
Unless that means being with me ...
"Yeah," Jane said, "you are. But this bachelor is ... different. He's high-profile ..."
"I can handle high-profile."
"Which means an exclusive, potentially challenging interview ..."
"Challenging is great," she chimed in.
"... with a semi-retired, totally reclusive, extremely stubborn relationship expert" — Jane wrinkled her nose at the phone — "who just happens to be my brother."
And there it was — the catch. Kate shook her head. "But Nick isn't a bachelor or reclusive or a relationship expert."
Jane gave a short nod. "And thank God," she said. "Only room enough for one sex and relationship therapist in the family. No, I'm talking about my other brother — Jake."
"Jake? Jake Wright?" Kate blinked several times, her pulse suddenly zooming past its target rate. "The Jake Wright, bestselling author of The Sex Factor?"
An eye roll was all her friend could muster. "That's the one."
"Jake Wright is your brother?"
"Oh my God." Jane scribbled a sarcastic "yes" into the air. "Yes."
This was incredible. Before he'd dropped out of sight, Jake Wright had been on everyone's hot list. His treatise on modern relationships was considered a revolutionary discussion of erotic intelligence and contemporary intimacy. And now, he was her bachelor.
If she could convince him to do the interview.
"Let me take care of this." She pulled out her phone and typed: buy copy of The Sex Factor. "Look at it this way: it'll make up for my meltdown this morning."
"Kate ... you know I believe in you. But this would be a serious step up from the daily blogs." She inched to the edge of her Queen Anne chair. "Are you sure you're ready for this?"
Ready? Tired of being pigeonholed as the blonde from Ohio State, Kate had been dying to prove her capabilities, and if this profile helped her land the dream job at Cosmo, she'd have a legitimate reason to stay in New York. A glossy national magazine equaled a career in her parents' eyes, as opposed to "some job at an internet site." Cosmo would compel her family to take her seriously and allow her to gently turn down her dad's offer to run the family construction business back in Ohio. Heck, yeah, I'm ready.
This was a chance of a lifetime. "I am more than ready."
Jane leaned forward, looking every bit the Manhattan hotshot she was. "He'll be a tough sell. I've been trying for three years to get him to agree to this profile."
"Three years," Jane said with a frustrated sigh. "But now he's slated as our July bachelor, so it's a done deal. Whatever he says, whatever he does, just roll with it."
A frown pulled at her brow. Whatever he does? Was he some kind of self-help guru turned axe murderer? Had he burned down a few retail stores? Skipped the country under an assumed name? C'mon, this was Jake Wright. The man sported a PhD and a bestseller on his résumé. How bad can he be?
Jane cocked a dark eyebrow in reply, as if the question had been spoken aloud. "He won't like the idea, not one teeny tiny iota, but if you make this profile happen despite his resistance, I'll forget about the blog — maybe even call in a favor and talk to a friend who works for Cosmo."
There it was. The future that minutes ago she'd thought was lost. If she wanted a shot at her dream job, she needed to nail the interview as penance for this morning's ill-conceived blog. Chances were good Jane would make the call anyway, but Kate wanted to prove she deserved her friend's confidence. This is my chance. My chance of a lifetime ...
The hint of a smile touched her friend's lips, the kind that almost always meant trouble. "I'll let Jake know it's taken care of."
Too late to back out now.
"Jane, there's no way in hell I'm going to be your Bachelor of the Month."
Jake Wright forced a piece of plywood into the window frame with his shoulder and shoved a hammer into his back pocket, then clicked up the volume on his cell phone with his free hand. "No. Way. In. Hell. I've got enough on my plate right now, preparing for a little visitor known as Hurricane Dante. I'm not interested in your matchmaking."
"I'm proposing an interview, not a date, for crying out loud." His sister's exasperation filtered through the line from eleven hundred miles away. "And why are you preparing for a hurricane? What hurricane?"
"Jesus, don't you watch the news?" If only there were a 24-hour Matchmaking Channel.
"Are you talking about C-SPAN?" she asked. "Because ... no, not if I can help it."
"I'm talking about basic ... Listen, forget it. I'm working against the clock here, preparing for a Category 1, so sorry, but no time to entertain your love reporter."
A pause filled the line, followed by an anxious sigh. "A Category 1 is on the low end of the scale, right? Not seriously dangerous. Because ... um ... the story's kind of already slated."
"Then change it." He grabbed another plywood board. He was on the island to find peace after his ugly divorce. The last thing he wanted was a bunch of single women tracking him down for love advice. Or worse — an actual date. "Being splashed across the Internet like man candy isn't exactly a priority right now. Get back to me next month."
Not that he'd agree to be a bachelor on his sister's matchmaking site next month, either, but maybe suggesting a delay would buy him thirty days of peace.
"Next month?" Jane said. "No, no, no, can't be next month. You're Mr. July."
"Mr. July?" He set the plywood into the upper window frame. Jesus, next thing he knew he'd be sporting a pair of boxer briefs in the Smart Cupid Christmas calendar. "Forget it, Janey."
"But being interviewed as a bachelor for Smart Cupid is a once in a lifetime opportunity, like making the Maxim Hot List, only hotter and sexier — and male."
"I'm sure it's the chance of a lifetime for a guy who's interested in falling in love, but as we've discussed, I'm not interested in love. Period." He pressed his thumb and index fingers against the bridge of his nose. Exhausted by the effort to prepare the island for the storm, the last thing he needed was his sister sending a reporter he'd have to look after.
"Jake, you're a sex and relationship therapist."
"Ex — sex and relationship therapist."
"How can you not be interested in love?"
"Easy." He banged the wood into the frame. Some people were bad bets when it came to love. Too closed off or just plain unwilling to take the risk. He wasn't necessarily proud of the fact, but he fell somewhere on that spectrum. His marriage had taught him that much.
That's what women called him these days. The truth hurt, but it didn't matter how much he wanted love if he didn't feel it anymore. If he ever had at all.
"Relationships aren't for everyone."
Jane's voice cut through the wire, straight to the heart of the matter. "A life without love sounds kind of lonely to me."
Always the matchmaker.
"Yeah, well, I'm not lonely. I've got Island Time." He picked up a power drill and walked across the dusty plank floor to the 1966 Chris Craft cruiser he planned to restore, his own, less official kind of therapy.
"Jake, you left Manhattan for a vacation — three years ago. Three years of no New York. No smog-filled air. No Sal'sPizza. No Mets games."
He reset the drill bit and anchored the boat to the table. "You know I'm a Yankees guy."
Truth was the city didn't define him. If he went back, it'd only be to fulfill his contractual obligations now that he was under the gun. His ex- agent had started sniffing around recently, pressuring him to deliver another bestseller, but writing a book about love relationships for the asshole who'd slept with his wife — currently ex-wife — and then married her? Yeah, Island Time and a lengthy legal battle seemed preferable.
"Don't you think it's time to come home?" she asked.
Jake rechecked the anchors and ignored the sympathy in her voice. Sure, he missed the city, but not enough to go back to that counterfeit, celebrity- style life. At the height of his career, everybody had wanted a piece of him, especially women. They'd line up for an autograph or marital advice, all with the hope of landing a nationally famous relationship expert. But he'd only wanted one woman. A bitter sound formed in the back of his throat. But that was a long time ago. A helluva long time. Lesson learned. "Jane, I have to go."
Excerpted from "One Little Kiss"
Copyright © 2017 Maggie Kelley.
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
This was agood story. First part had lot of humor second part romance and getting together.
Sweet, Delightful Romance Read This is a sweet romance that is a quick read that is great for light and sweet read. This author paints the romance and backdrop of NRW YORK CITY perfectly. Kate Bell is an optimistic small town girl seeking romance and also a career in the big city. Now things haven’t been working out for her but she doesn’t let that get her down, she just keeps pushing forward. She loves her job as a blogger and her job is going to get her into bigger and better things at Cosmo but she possibly screwed things up unless she fixes things by interviewing a reclusive bachelor., more like doing everything she can to get this interview off the ground with this bachelor since a} Kate is a bit tipsy upon their initial meeting and b} Jake Wright is recovering from a bad divorce and wasn’t ready for Katie. These two smoldered when they meet and they sizzled. Kate and Jake bring each other out of their shells when neither expected this would happen when they would meet. The hurricane and their proximity during the dark, rainy night will change the course of their lives. Will they open up to love or will they let it fall away? Only way to find out is to read this sweet, delightful romance. My Rating: 4.4 stars ***** "I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
This was a sweet and spicy little book. Who knew an almost recluse could be so alpha sexy?!? Jake had that in spades. He was a vulnerable man not wanting to open himself up again, but Kate brought out his desire to live again. She is the sweetest female character who is determined to makeover herself, be a little patient to find The One. I loved their banter and tongue in cheeks repertoire. The two of them together have to be the absolute cutest. And the ending and epilogue were beyond swoon worthy. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
One Little Kiss has romantic comedy written all over it. Move over My Best Friend's Wedding, because Maggie Kelley is gunning for you. Full of precious moments of humor and heart. This story screamed winner right from the very start. Kate's red hot love life is singing the blues. Jake has all the answers while doling out relationship advice, but clueless is his middle name when it comes to his own love life. A deserted island, a freak storm and lots of sexual tension could end up putting this clueless duo in a perfectly awkward position. Perfect movie material.
Received an ARC for my fair review for netgalley. This was a cute book. You have Kate who is a blogger for a matchmaker, however her love life is horrible. Her boss allows her to convince her brother Jake to be the July's bachelor, and he is very opposed, since his disastrous divorce, where his exwife had cheated on him with his agent, and Jake was supposedly a relationship expert. Jake is dead set against interview, but very much attracted to Kate, and they have an explosive one night stand, something she normally never does. They end up going there separate ways, and he ends up writing a new book, so he comes to New York, and Kate decides to interview him, they again go there separate way, and are heartbroken, but luckily he wises up in time.
I'm a huge fan of this series and couldn't wait for the Smart Cupid to put another couple in her sights! Kate & Jake's story did not disappoint. Take one fish-out-of-her-NYC-water, throw her onto a tropical island with a growly guy who'd really rather not be noticing her big blue eyes and killer curves, throw in a tropical storm, and boom! Magic, as only Maggie Kelley can deliver! You can read this series in any order. No matter where you start, you will end up with a smile on your face.
kate bell has been dumped spectacularly for the last time. it's time to figure out a new way to find the one. but first she needs to make up for her ill-timed blog post for the dating service she works for. especially if she wants to solidify her shot to work for cosmopolitan--writing features for the magazine is her dream job. one little kiss is about her journey to get that dream job and the dream guy. and all she has to do is convince her boss's reclusive brother, a published self-help romance guru, to grant her an interview. but first she has to hunt him down at his island retreat. and the last thing jake wright is interested in is granting this sexy blogger a story. he's been done with all the celebrity and media attention since it failed him the last time he was in the public eye. after being left by his wife for his literary agent he's decided that living out the dream in anonymity is the way to go. but from the moment kate falls into his arms, jake can't help but feel compelled by her. the chemistry between them is so hot that jake wonders if no strings attached should be his dating philosophy and the possible topic of his next book. but when he keeps coming back to kate he knows that his ideas are just a work in progress. convincing kate of that fact will prove harder, but it not an insurmountable task. all jake needs to do is admit that maybe the chemistry is something more, something deeper. **one little kiss will publish on may 8, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (lovestruck) in exchange for my honest review.
Maggie Kelley always delivers an adorable story with characters I want to spend thousands of pages with, rather than hundreds. I loved Jake and Kate! Loved this book. It's sweet, funny, romantic, and had me smiling the whole way through!
If you need a cute, sweet romantic confection to entertain you, ONE LITTLE KISS fits the bill completely. The author perfectly captures the romance of New York City, from walks in the park to the pleasures of Coney Island and everything in between. Kate Bell is an optimistic small town girl seeking romance and a career in the big city and it doesn't matter that things haven't exactly worked out like she planned. She's in love with love and her job as a blogger is the perfect stepping stone to her dream job at Cosmo, but a blunder may have jeopardized that opportunity unless she can fix it by undertaking to cajole an interview out of a reclusive bachelor. Jake Wright has enjoyed the fame and bright lights of the celebrity lifestyle but crashed and burned spectacularly and is now jaded by it all. His island paradise has been the perfect place to get away from everything and he's not willing to entertain some spoiled city diva for a minute but thanks to his sister's machinations, he has to ride out the coming storm with a stranger. But Kate is very far from what he was expecting and very much his kind of woman, if he was looking. And with the sizzling chemistry between them what's wrong with enjoying each other for the one night she'll be on the island? Well, Cupid definitely has a lot to say about that. Will Kate's cheerful and optimistic take on life and love be the thing that Jake needs energize him or will Jake's bleak view of relationship and romance take the air out of Kate's bubble? And what does Cupid have in store for these two? I really enjoyed both characters, especially Jake. I like that even though he took a break from relationships in the wake of his divorce, he was willing to get back in the game for the right woman and the right reasons. Kate was a little too fresh off the farm for my tastes but she somehow grew on me (maybe it was the power drill and knowing her way around a construction site). This was a very enjoyable and quick read, perfect for a lazy day. Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely mine.
If you're looking for story that is deep and intense this isn't the book for you but if you are looking for a story the is fun, sexy, and romantic - look no further! Kate and Jake will have you smiling in no time and by the end you'll be cheering for their HEA. These two are great characters and their chemistry jumps from the pages. This can be read in one sitting and it's perfect for a lazy rainy day or a day of basking in the sun. Definitely a book I recommend.
loved this book - it has probably the best first kiss scene I've ever read....sweet, sexy, and oh, so very hot at the same time. It was perfect and the book earned five stars for that scene alone. This is a feel good, fun romance, with just enough angst to make it feel more real. I immediately fell in love with the characters - from the clutsy Kate who lands way out of her comfort zone, to the sexy Jake, a best selling author hiding from the world. The author made me care about their story and feel invested in it. If you are looking for a fun romance, this is a great choice. While it is book three in a series, it is a stand alone novel.