A Midsummer Night's Romp: A Matchmaker in Wonderland Romance

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9780451471383: A Midsummer Night's Romp: A Matchmaker in Wonderland Romance

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Importance of Being Alice comes the second Matchmaker in Wonderland romance, where finding love means falling head over heels...
 
Lorina Liddel is terrified of embarrassing herself on national TV as the face of Dig Britain!, a new archeological reality show. Lorina would much rather keep her head down and her hands in the dirt underneath Ainslie Castle, but her on-screen partner is proving to be a major distraction.
 
Brother to the castle’s current lord, privileged, perfectly sculpted Gunner Ainslie is a sure bet to keep viewers glued to their screens. Lorina intends to keep the ladies’ man focused on the job at hand, but Gunner is confident he’ll soon have the beauty falling into his bed.
 
When an unexpected find turns the academic dig into an all-out treasure hunt, Lorina and Gunner get swept up in the excitement. But when their steamy tryst is caught on camera, it’ll take more than an award-winning performance to get them out of the hole they’re in...

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About the Author:

Ever the romantic, Katie MacAlister decided one day to write a story that included all her favorite literary elements—dishy guys, strong women, steamy love scenes, and lots and lots of humor. She’s been blessed to write more than forty books since that first one, and is always madly in love with her latest hero.

She is also the author of The Importance of Being AliceIt's All Greek to Me and the Time Thief, Light Dragons, and Dark Ones series.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise for the Novels of Katie MacAlister

ALSO BY KATIE MACALISTER

Chapter 1

“I get that Gunner is an amateur archaeologist. But why is an archaeology reality TV show coming to the castle?”

Gunner Ainslie made a face at his sister-in-law. “‘Amateur’ is a bit rough, Alice. I took a degree in archaeology, after all.”

She looked even more confused. “Then why are you a photographer now instead of an archaeologist?”

“Because he didn’t want to be a burden to the estate like all my other siblings,” his brother Elliott, the current Baron Ainslie, answered, giving his wife a squeeze. “Or so he said. Frankly, I think it was a cover so he could take pictures of unclothed women.”

“My job, as you very well know, is about as far from taking pictures of nude women as you can get,” Gunner said with dignity, ignoring the way that Alice, sitting on the arm of Elliott’s chair, leaned over to whisper something into his ear. Gunner kept speaking. “Old decaying buildings aren’t particularly sexy, but they can be lucrative in the right developer’s hands, and yes, dear sister-in-law, Elliott is absolutely correct that I wanted a job that would allow me to support myself. Archaeology, while fascinating, isn’t a profession known for money. In fact, it’s damned hard to even make a living from it, let alone thrive.”

“I got that,” Alice said, reluctantly pulling her attention away from Elliott and back to Gunner. Since the two had been married for only a few months, Gunner was prepared to give them a little leeway as far as displays of affection went. “But why did you call in your archaeology buddies in the first place? Yes, the tower in this castle you call home fell down, but there’s nothing there that screams archaeology, is there?”

“We wouldn’t know if there was,” Elliott answered. “Not until the rubble is cleared away, that is.”

“Crop marks are the answer to your question, Alice.” Gunner gave her a smile that immediately had Elliott pulling her down onto his lap. Gunner grinned inwardly, never failing to find amusement in how jealous his brother had become. “During the summer, here in England, it’s possible to see areas where archaeology exists, because the crops grow differently when stone walls or ditches are beneath the topsoil. The drought this summer made it clear that the remains of some large structures were beneath the surface of the estate’s pastures, so I called a friend who works for the county archaeology office, and he passed on the news to the Claud-Marie Archaeology people.”

“Speaking of which, who are these Claud-Marie people? You said they’re some kind of archaeology company, but you also just said no one makes money in the old-buried-stuff business. How does this company survive if that’s the case? They don’t work with a university, do they?”

“No, they’re privately funded by a number of companies. Adam—my friend who now works for the county—volunteers now and again for the CMA, and told them about our crop lines. We were actually already on their list of potential sites to visit in the future when the television studio contacted them.”

“And the TV show joined forces with them . . . why?” Alice asked, her brow wrinkling in puzzlement.

Gunner shrugged. “That, I don’t know, beyond the fact that they want to make a monthlong TV show about an archaeology dig.”

“And they offered us money for it,” Elliott said quickly. “Lots of money. Which, as you know, my dear wife, despite my lofty title and thriving career as a novelist, we desperately need before our castle falls further down around our heads.”

“I like lots of money,” Alice said approvingly. “Even if it means digging up the pastures a bit. The tourists who come to visit the castle might like it, too. Do you think we should have some new brochures printed up that describe what’s going on?”

“That would be a bit premature, since we don’t know what, if anything, will be found at the dig site,” Gunner pointed out.

“Yes, but a TV show will be filming while the dig is going on. People love to watch that sort of thing. Maybe we should have some new merchandise for the gift shop made up with archaeology stuff on it. Hm.”

Alice, who had taken wonderfully to the business side of Ainslie Castle’s tourist programs, was clearly getting caught up in considering a whole new range of products, and scooted off Elliott’s lap to take a position behind his laptop. Before long, she was busily typing up some notes to herself.

Gunner smiled, grateful his new sister-in-law had taken up the challenge of her husband’s impoverished family. Given how many of them there were—the late baron and his wife had had two children of their own and adopted nine others—helping the family over the hump of insolvency was no small feat. But it was Alice’s greater intention—the one to see them all happily married—that gave Gunner pause.

“Are you sure you’re going to be able to cope with the TV crew while we’re gone?” Elliott asked Gunner. “With the family making its yearly exodus to their various holiday destinations, there will be no one here but you to deal with any problems.”

“It’ll be fine. I’ll be back from Portugal before they start, and Cressy will be here by then.”

“Oh, that’s right—your daughter is coming for the summer.” Alice looked up from the laptop. “I’m excited to meet her. She’s seventeen, right?”

“Yes.”

“So she’ll probably be boy-mad, and indulging in all the drama,” Alice said, nodding.

“Actually, she’s not. Cressy is a bit . . .” He paused, trying to find the words to explain his daughter’s particular joie de vivre. “She’s a bit enthusiastic about things. No drama in the sense of door slamming and pouts, just lots of running around, and everything is either super awesome or dead grotty. There’s no in-between with Cressy. Her mother claims she’s immature, but I prefer to think of her as unsophisticated and excitable.”

“Well, she sounds adorable, nonetheless, although I have to say that you’re the last person I’d have expected would have a seventeen-year-old daughter. You’re so . . .” Alice stopped, suddenly looking guilty.

“Dashing?” Gunner supplied. “Debonair?”

“A bit of a dawg, actually.”

Elliott gave a short bark of laughter. “Truer words were never spoken, my dear.”

“On the contrary,” Gunner protested. “I would say just the opposite. I am not a dawg, assuming you mean that in the sense of a man who prowls his way through women.”

“Oh?” Elliott’s brow rose. “Let us examine the last few women with whom you associated yourself romantically. You were with them how long?”

Alice raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know about the others, because I’ve been here less than six months, but the last one—wasn’t her name Charity?—she lasted a whole three days. And Anna Louise, that American lady—you remember her, Elliott; she’s the one who was here for one of the Ainslie Castle Experience weekends—she hung in there for a whole ten days before Gunner gave her the heave-ho.”

“She had to leave,” Gunner said with a frown at both of them. “I didn’t tell her to go; she had travel plans elsewhere.”

“Uh-huh. And if she hadn’t, would you have asked her to stay on longer?”

Gunner made a sharp gesture with his hand. “That’s neither here nor there.”

“He wouldn’t have,” Elliott told his wife.

“Totally a dawg. But in a nice way,” Alice added.

Gunner sighed. “Just because I’m not a fan of long-term relationships doesn’t mean I’m misogynistic. I like women. Women like me. We like each other in a mutually satisfying way, and when that satisfaction ceases to be mutual, we part. Amicably.”

“I will give you that,” Elliott said, considering his brother. “None of your exes is vindictive or bitter. You do seem to have a knack for picking women who are just as transitory relationship-wise as you are.”

“There’s nothing wrong with embracing a lack of responsibility,” Gunner said, getting to his feet and gathering up his camera. “Not everyone can be the worrywart you are, El. Are you clear on the situation with the dig now, Alice? If so, I’ve got to get ready for my trip to Spain and Portugal.”

“As clear as I’ll ever be.” Alice’s attention was clearly focused back on the laptop. “I’m just going to add a little something to the castle’s Web site about the TV show filming here.”

“Since you two will be off to the States on Elliott’s book tour and delayed honeymoon before I return home, I’ll give you a bon voyage now.” Gunner embraced Alice, and patted Elliott on the back. “Have fun, and stay safe.”

“Likewise,” Elliott said, turning a smile on his wife. “Don’t call unless something dire happens. I fully intend to give Alice the honeymoon she deserves.”

“I’m sure nothing more exciting will happen beyond finding some Roman ruins beneath the pasture,” Gunner predicted, an excellent example of why he would never be called psychic in any understanding of the word.

Chapter 2

“I think my best memory of you is when we were in college and you were telling me a funny anecdote that ended with the punch line ‘I said, I have gas!’ and right at the moment you were telling that part, the office door opened and out walked Professor Levi—you remember him?—and the dean of students, and the head of Romance languages.”

“Oh, lord. Yes, I remember both Dr. Levi and that day,” I said into the phone.

“And you were so mortified—” Laughter choked off Sandy’s voice.

“You don’t have to continue. We both know what happened.”

“Lorina, you were so mortified that when you scurried away, you pooted with every step.”

The phone tucked under my chin, I rested my head on my hands, not with remembered shame of that day some twelve years in the past but because Sandy was laughing so hard she was snorting. It had been months since she’d laughed, and I just wanted it to go on and on. Why did it have to happen now, when she was calling me just before boarding her flight? “We had a lot of laughs together that summer, my intestinal woes aside.”

“We sure did. You were the best roommate I ever had.”

“Silly woman. You haven’t had any roomies other than me. In fact, if you add up the four years we were together in college, and then the eight years we’ve shared an apartment after that, I think we’re going to have our twelfth anniversary in October.”

“Good lord, so we are.” There was a thoughtful pause. “That’s longer than a lot of marriages!”

“I told you that we should have been gay. We’d have been an awesome lesbian couple, and we could have had kids by now,” I said, a bittersweet nostalgia tinting my voice. “Although you’d probably have been the wife in the relationship, since I’m built like a brick oven.”

“Oh, you are not. You’re statuesque and tall and everything that petite people like me are not. I envy your ability to walk into a room and make people take notice.”

“It’s not so much take notice as it is stare and wonder who the Amazon is. No, no, don’t go on trying to make me feel better—I’m resigned to the fact that I’m almost six feet tall, and chunky. That’s beside the point, which is that we’d have made an awesome lesbian couple.”

“Yes, darn us and our pesky love of men.” She was laughing again, which made my spirits rise. “Although it doesn’t seem to have done either of us any good. I ended up with a man who ruined my life, and you—” She stopped abruptly.

“I had exactly one relationship in that time, and it was with a man who was just as abusive as my father was,” I finished for her, feeling the pull of dark memories, but not allowing them to drag me under. After years of therapy, I’d finally made my peace with the fact that some men thought it was their right to tear women’s egos to shreds, but it didn’t mean I had to be a victim.

I was most definitely not a victim any longer.

“Oh, sweetie, I didn’t mean that.”

“No, but it’s true. My romantic life has sucked. Men are just so . . . shallow. Into themselves. Looking for someone to be arm candy, or a quick roll in bed, and not anything more. Wow, I sound bitter, don’t I?”

“No, you sound like someone who simply hasn’t found Mr. Right yet.”

“And fast starting to believe that such a man doesn’t exist for me. I’m thirty-four, for heaven’s sake. I’m running out of time to meet a man who doesn’t have to resort to Viagra to perform.”

“Now, that is a gross exaggeration, and you know it. There are lots of men out there in their thirties, or even forties, who are awesome lovers. There’s bound to be one who’s perfect for you. You just haven’t found him yet, but you will. I know you will.”

“That’s because you’re a romantic, while I’m a realist,” I pointed out.

“You would be just as romantic as I am if it hadn’t been driven out of you by that therapist you went to,” she answered, her voice filled with scorn.

“Dr. Anderson made me a strong, confident woman,” I said quickly.

“By stripping away all ideas that men can be just as nurturing and emotionally giving as women, yes. But really, Lorina, do you want to live the rest of your life alone because your dad was an asshole, and your ex was cut out of the same material? Not all men are like them. There are plenty of men out there who cherish women.”

“I know that, silly. I know that there are perfectly nice men around—it’s just that I don’t seem to attract them. Hey, how did we get onto the subject of my pathetic excuse for a love life? We’re supposed to be celebrating you.”

Sandy laughed. “Nice change of subject.”

“I thought it was.” My throat tightened up. “Are you sure you’re going to be all right? What if the nuns aren’t as good with HIV as you think they are?”

“They’ve had a higher success rate than Western doctors. I showed you the medical-review paper about them, and their treatments are beyond what I could get here.”

“Yeah, but it just seems foolish to trust yourself to a religious group rather than reputable doctors with cutting-edge drugs that could nip the disease in the bud.”

“A religious group that has had tremendous success with their antiretrovirus drugs that are allowing thousands of people with HIV to live perfectly normal, healthy lives. No, there’s no cure for it, but at least with the treatments I get with the nuns, I will have a life. And that’s certainly worth pursuing, don’t you think? I don’t want to go through my life wondering if I could have done more.” She paused, and said softly, “Lorina?”

I rubbed my ear. The phone had been pressed into it so hard that I was sure it was leaving a mark. “Right here, babe.”

“Don’t cry. You know this is for the best.”

“No, I don’t, but I respect the fact that you think withdrawing from the world is what’s best for you. I just wish you could do it closer to home, where I could occasionally see you.”

“The order doesn’t work that way. When they say cloistered with no contact with the outside world, they mean it.”

“But . . . you’ll need doctors and medicines.” It was the same objection that I had made for the last two days, and I knew even as I spoke the words what her response would be.

“I’ll ...

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Descripción Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Importance of Being Alice comes the second Matchmaker in Wonderland romance, where finding love means falling head over heels. Lorina Liddel is terrified of embarrassing herself on national TV as the face of Dig Britain!, a new archeological reality show. Lorina would much rather keep her head down and her hands in the dirt underneath Ainslie Castle, but her on-screen partner is proving to be a major distraction. Brother to the castle s current lord, privileged, perfectly sculpted Gunner Ainslie is a sure bet to keep viewers glued to their screens. Lorina intends to keep the ladies man focused on the job at hand, but Gunner is confident he ll soon have the beauty falling into his bed. When an unexpected find turns the academic dig into an all-out treasure hunt, Lorina and Gunner get swept up in the excitement. But when their steamy tryst is caught on camera, it ll take more than an award-winning performance to get them out of the hole they re in. Nº de ref. de la librería ABZ9780451471383

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