In this raw, moving short novel for readers of Jill Shalvis, Molly O’Keefe, and Karina Halle, two kindred spirits share a winning lottery ticket—and discover what it really means to get lucky.
Holly Ward is stretched to the breaking point, raising her young son alone and working long hours for minimum wage at a local superstore. Sure, she’s noticed the new guy with the easy grin and warm brown eyes, but she’s learned the hard way that relationships aren’t worth the pain. Still, when he invites her to split a lottery ticket, she figures a little innocent fun couldn’t hurt. The last thing she expects is to score big, which is exactly what happens . . . in more ways than one.
From the moment he meets Holly, Ray Lopez is drawn to her quiet dignity and openhearted beauty. And when they hit the jackpot together, he’s thrilled that the single mom can give her kid a better life. The only problem is the chaos surrounding them: lawyers and reporters swarming, friends and family angling to get their cut. In all the chaos, Ray discovers an oasis of calm and passion in Holly. But with the stakes higher than ever, winning her trust could cost him everything.
Rebecca Rogers Maher follows up Rolling in the Deep with a sexy and deeply emotional short novel in which unexpected desire leads to surprise beginnings.
Tony Lopez is losing it. Burdened by a broken marriage and a failing business, the divorced father of two young daughters isn’t on his A game when he meets Beth. She’s clearly pregnant and defiantly single: a beautiful, graceful vision that lights a fire somewhere deep beneath Tony’s layers of self-doubt. They connect at his brother’s upstate New York home during a weekend among friends. Except friends don’t feel this kind of chemistry—or want each other so bad it hurts.
Beth Cody has no use for ties that bind. She’s witnessed that kind of wrecking ball. The father of her child isn’t in the picture, and she couldn’t be happier. So when Tony sends her already raging hormones off the chart with his rugged good looks and pent-up sexuality, Beth is thrilled to indulge in a short-term affair, with no strings attached. But one taste isn’t enough. Now that she’s out of her comfort zone, Beth either needs to let go or take a chance on a man who might just be worthy of her love.
(All information obtained from Author’s Website)
Excerpt from Rolling in the Deep
“No place I’d rather be than stocking candy at Cogmans on a Friday afternoon. Sun shining outside? Who cares? Got me some Phil Collins playing on the intercom, got a cart full of Juicy Fruit. What more could a man want?”
I snort and pick up a stack of candy bars. “A polyester uniform vest? You could have that.”
“Got it.” He does a little sidestep and adds gum to the shelf. “A matching tie?”
“Oh, look.” I point to his chest. “You’ve got that, too.” Then I turn back to my candy shelf, because when Ray smiles, a dimple creases out on his right cheek.
Okay, maybe he’s a little more than good-looking. With his brown eyes and thick hair, his strong hands. At the moment he’s a bit too close and I realize I can smell him. His aftershave, I guess, which is kind of smoky and sweet.
Like barbecue potato chips. That is what I just compared this poor man to. I realize that in all the hubbub this morning I forgot to make myself breakfast.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Ray continues behind me. “Working at Cogmans is great and all that. What with the nonstop buzzing of track lighting over our heads. And the cranky customers. And the total lack of health insurance. But after work I’m thinking I’ll hop down to my private plane and jet on over to the Vineyard for a round of golf.”
“Martha’s Vineyard?” I line up boxes of candy one after another, so that all of their corners match.
“Naturally. Where else does one go on the weekend?” He’s got a bit of a New York City accent usually, and mixed with the faux-British he’s trying hard to tackle, it’s doing something weird to my midsection. His voice is too deep, I think. Even joking around, it vibrates.
“Martha’s Vineyard is definitely where I’m gonna go,” I say. “Soon as I win the lottery. Maybe the Cape while I’m at it.”
“Or the Hamptons.” Ray turns and leans against his cart. “We’d fit right in, you know, you and me. All the golfers wear large buttons like ours that say, ‘How may I help you?’ ”
“Oh, for sure. Alongside their name tags that identify them by first name only.” I crack a smile and face him, and immediately wish I hadn’t. There’s the dimple again, and his eyes, which crinkle at the corners.
“You know there’s a Powerball drawing coming up,” he says. “Nobody’s won in ages. It’s over four hundred million.”
“Yeah,” I say. “Let’s definitely play the lottery. Because that’s not rigged at all. We’ll totally win.”
He edges his cart closer to mine. “Why not? You never know.”
“Seriously? You don’t actually play, do you?”
“Sure I do. Don’t you? Can’t win if you don’t play and all that.”
“Yeah, but it’s like a zillion-to-one chance.” I cross my arms over my chest, and then drop them when Ray’s gaze almost imperceptibly follows the resulting pushing-up of my boobs. He looks back to my face so quickly you’d barely know he’d wavered. Except for the slight color in his cheeks. I press on to rescue both of us. “It’s a waste of money.”
“Maybe. But it’s only two dollars. I spend two dollars on a soda if I’m real thirsty. Don’t mind wasting that much for the sake of a little dreaming.”
I tilt my head at him. “You make it sound reasonable. When in fact it’s completely insane and illogical.”
“See, but that’s how I draw you in.” He smiles. “With my rakish charm and unerring man-logic. Right here in the candy aisle I lay my trap. First it’s a little light gambling. And then before you know it, it’s the drinkin’. And the druggin’.”
“Next thing you know I’m driving the getaway car to Toronto.”
“Exactly.” He holds out his hand. His nails are neatly trimmed, his fingers broad. “Give me a dollar.”
“What? Why?” I’d take a tiny step back, but my cart’s in the way. Its piles of candy bars stare up at me accusingly. Any minute our manager will pop his head around the corner and chastise us for slacking off on the job.
“Powerball ticket’s two bucks. We’ll go in on one. See what happens.” His hand waits, open and extended out to me. I want to place my own hand against it, palm to palm, and feel the warmth there. He’s not kidding about the charm.
“You want me to give you a dollar and we’ll split a Powerball ticket.”
He nods. “Yup.”
“How does it even work?”
“Drawing is tomorrow night. You can watch it on TV at like eight o’clock. I’ll go to the store after work, give them our two bucks, they print out a ticket, and that’s our shot. Wait, how do you want to do it? You want to pick the numbers? It’s five numbers plus a bonus one, the Powerball one. You can pick your own or the computer generates one for you.”
“Let’s do the computer.” It’s out of my mouth before I even realize I’m in. But I’m in, I guess. Like Ray says, why not? It’s no worse a distraction than eating a bag of donuts, and significantly better for my blood sugar. Maybe it will actually take my mind off my worries for five minutes, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. “Might as well use the computer numbers and be totally random about the whole thing.”
“Sure, yeah.” Ray’s teeth are very white. He has a good mouth, a soft mouth.
I shouldn’t be looking at his mouth.
“Random,” he says. “I like that.”
I dig in my pocket for a dollar. When I hand it over, his fingers brush mine. I pretend not to notice the zing that races through me.
Excerpt from Just Give Me a Reason
As soon as the car is parked, the girls unbuckle their seatbelts and run squealing into the house. All the way up from the city, they’ve been hatching a detailed plan involving fairies, knights, and the dusty old attic of their aunt Holly’s new house. I believe Holly’s puppy is featured, too, in some sort of dragon capacity. It’s hard to keep up sometimes, with Ana and Sofia.
A year ago, my brother was a cook at a diner in Queens. Now he’s living in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, practically moved in with a woman who might soon be his wife. It doesn’t hurt that they won the lottery together six months ago and are now filthy rich. Their whole, perfect lives are spread out before them.
And I’m happy for them. I really am.
It’s just that sometimes I have a little trouble adjusting. Once upon a time, I was the success story, striving like hell for the life my parents wanted for me. The life my mother left Mexico for, that my father worked double shifts in construction for. That he eventually died for.
I had that life for a while—a wife, two kids, a nice home, a thriving business. Until it all started crumbling, and I couldn’t react fast enough to keep the pieces together.
Ana comes bounding out of the house now, the dog at her heels, shrieking delightedly. Sofia soon follows with a water sprayer, soaking wet and out for vengeance. I look at my watch and chuckle. It took about five minutes for trouble to find them.
I know I should go in, but I’m not quite ready to face Ray and Holly. Or Holly’s friend, for that matter, who might already be here.
I met Beth only once, five months ago, and once was almost more than I could handle. It wasn’t long after I signed my divorce papers. Ray and Holly invited us both out to dinner to celebrate their lottery win.
She was wearing a red dress, and the reason I remember that is because of the way it hugged her skin—the lush shape of her, the curve and weight. I’d say it was shallow of me to notice her body, but honestly, I didn’t choose to notice. It was like some previously silent homing device woke up in my gut and started shivering.
When Ray introduced us, she reached out and shook my hand. Her fingers wrapped around mine—firm and warm—and I’m ashamed to say my first thought was how those fingers would feel on my dick.
I wouldn’t call myself uptight, but I’m not usually the kind of person who veers off the road like that, mentally. I took my seat at the table, kept my head down, and said as little as possible while Ray and Holly talked animatedly about their plans for the restaurant.
Beth cracked deadpan jokes and tried to include me in the conversation. She might even have been flirting with me, but I was so shell-shocked, I had no idea how to respond. She was too beautiful, and I was too broken.
On the whole, it was not my finest hour.
I peer through the windshield at the front windows of Holly’s house. It’s past time I went in and faced everyone. I take a deep breath and reach for the door handle.
And my phone buzzes in my jacket pocket.
I fumble it out, glancing guiltily at the house.
Ray and Holly give me grief about accepting work calls up here. They complain that I work too much, but that’s easy for them to say when, combined, they’re worth over a hundred million dollars. I answer the phone.
“Hey, Jackie. Everything okay?”
A Stevie Wonder song filters down the line, which is no surprise. My store manager favors a certain 70s Pandora station, and she’s not shy about dancing to it.
“Oh yeah, all good, boss. Quiet. Just wanted to see if I should maybe close early like we did last week.”
Like we’ve done for the past several weeks, she’s too polite to say. When it was Saturday night and the store was so dead it wasn’t worth the electricity to keep it open.
“How quiet are we talking?” I ask her.
She hesitates, and Stevie fills in the silence with that song he wrote for his daughter. I breathe deeply so as not to listen too hard, because that song always puts a lump in my throat.
“Like, maybe two or three people in the last two hours.”
I sigh heavily.
The store’s neighborhood used to be diverse and working class, and it was no mystery how to provide for that population. We sold household merchandise out of a double storefront, and like all the other businesses on the block, we offered reasonable prices. The previous owner was Greek; I was Mexican and Italian. We both came from working-class families, and we knew the people who lived around us. Our neighbors were an old-school butcher who’d been there several decades and a cobbler who could turn an ancient pair of boots into a work of art. I worked there as a teenager for extra cash, and ten years and a business degree later, when the owner was ready to retire, I bought the place and took it over.
It was relatively simple until the neighborhood population changed. Since then, we’ve all been fighting to adjust, and some of us are failing. The butcher closed up shop three years ago—replaced by a chain store—and the cobbler is already planning his retirement. He can sell the store for seven figures now, and move out to Long Island with his grandchildren.
If I had been less distracted by the disintegration of my marriage, I might have come up with a plan of my own sooner—a strategy for reconfiguring the business, for acclimating to the shifting neighborhood. But by the time I had my head on straight, we were already sinking. For the last six months, I’ve been fighting like hell to rescue us, and every minute I’m not there I feel like I’m letting my employees down. They need their jobs as much as I need mine, and it’s not looking good for us at the moment.
I take another deep breath. “Go ahead and close up at six, okay, Jackie? Make sure you set the alarm.”
Rebecca Rogers Maher writes realistic stories that push the boundaries of contemporary romance, uniting the genre’s love scenes and happy endings with the crisp, layered prose of literary fiction. In past lives, she’s been a teenage metalhead, a cleaner of lab rat cages, a community organizer and an urban schoolteacher. Her recent work includes Rolling in the Deep and the forthcoming Just Give Me a Reason from Loveswept, as well as The Bridge, Hurricane Lily, Snowbound with a Stranger and an upcoming title with Brain Mill Press.
Rebecca lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and children.
Thanks go first to NetGalley and Random House Loveswept for providing us with a copy of this book so that we could bring you this review.
Well I first read Rolling in the Deep way later than I should have as I am so behind on my reviews, but that is besides the point. I read it and it was just at the perfect time to read such a sweet, heartwarming story. I have been reading back to back books and had just gotten finished with a action packed one and well was in need to something I could just sit and relax and not be overwhelmed with every emotion known to man. And this is just that perfect happy, sweet read. That book that warms the heart in a way that it restores a persons faith in humanity. One that shows that not everyone has an alternative reason to do something good and nice for someone else. Its that feel good book that you know you just need to have. The fact that Ray was such a stand up guy. A man who doesn’t take advantage of a single mom and who sees that same woman as the perfect person to share things like a lotto ticket with. It shows that sometimes the little guy can have good things happen to them.
I give this book 5 lucky kisses…
I then noticed I also had Just Give Me A Reason and knew that I needed to find out if Tony could find happiness. Another man that has gone through hell in a short period of time and you just hope finds the right woman. Though this one was also a sweet book with feel good moments. This one killed me a little bit more. The fact that Beth doesn’t know what she wants for so long. That she feels that she would be screwing up being with someone who can love her, just about crushed me. Made me want to go through the pages of the book and slap her. I will give her a bit of a break with thinking she was dealing with pregnancy hormones, but it was hard not getting a bit worked up since I love Tony so much. I do wish it was a little more clear how old Anna and Sophia were and maybe gotten a bit more of them in the story, but I understand why they weren’t in it as much. The other thing about this book I wasn’t so fond of, was that we didn’t get an epilogue with it. I would’ve like to see what happened with them in the future… jump ahead a little. Maybe we will get a 3rd book with all 4 characters and their children… hopefully.
I give this book 4 steady kisses…
Happy Reading… Adri