Dear Listener, Cate Madigan isn’t asking for trouble. Her wacky Irish family is constantly playing matchmaker for her with men who leave much to be desired. All she wants is peace and quiet and a nice place to live while she saves her money from tending bar in a lively Boston pub. Okay, so what if her roommate is a cross-dressing lounge singer named Marty Longfellow? In exchange for cheap rent, all she has to do is take care of his plants and collect his mail when he’s out of town. And then...Marty disappears. At the same time, a bullmastiff named Beast shows up with instructions from Marty to take care of him. Can Cate handle this 120-pound bundle of joy who wants to devour everything in sight? Ex-cop Kellen McBride has decided to make Cate’s bar his nightly hang-out. But is he just there for the beer? Or does he have an ulterior motive for getting close to Cate? When Cate comes home to a ransacked apartment, she realizes Kellen knows more than he’s saying. Problem is, he’s turning up the heat in her life - in more ways than one. Soon Cate finds herself in deep trouble with mysterious stalkers, a lovesick would-be boyfriend named Patrick Pugg, two friends who are looking for love, and the very sexy, possibly dangerous Kellen McBride. The south side of Boston has never been wilder.... Happy Listening! Janet and Leanne “Evanovich serves up consistently craveable goodies.” - People “When everything goes wrong with your day, you need a dose of loving warmth from favorite author Leanne Banks!” - Romantic Times BOOKreviews
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Bestselling author Janet Evanovich is the recipient of the Crime Writers Association's John Creasy Memorial, Last Laugh, and Silver Dagger awards, as well as the Left Coast Crime's Lefty award, and is the two-time recipient of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's Dilys award. She lives in New Hampshire.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter OneCate Madigan had mentally stripped the guy across the table from her, and he’d come up short in every possible way. Cate hadn’t actually wanted to see him naked. The image had just popped into her head. One of those awful moments of too much information! The guy’s name was Patrick Pugg, and he was the Madigan family’s pick of the week for a boyfriend for Cate.Cate and Pugg were seated at the Madigan’s chaotic dinner table, where the rule had always been every man for himself. Things had calmed down some since Cate’s brothers Matt and Tom had moved out, but dinner here was still a harrowing experience... in a good Boston Irish kind of way.There were eight people at the table tonight. Cate, Patrick Pugg, Cate’s parents Margaret and Jim Madigan, Cate’s older brother Danny, Danny’s wife Amy, and their six-year-old twin girls, Zoe and Zelda.The Madigans were all stereotypical Irish. Milk-white skin sprinkled with freckles, red hair that curled with length, brown eyes, a stubborn streak, and a natural bent toward practical jokes. The men were chunky and fought flat-footed. The women were slim and preferred getting even to getting mad.Amy was the single frosted cupcake in the box of jelly doughnuts. She didn’t look at all like a Madigan. Amy was the all-American cheerleader with blond hair, blue eyes, and smiley personality. Amy grew up half a block away and, from what Cate knew, Amy and Danny had been together since they were two years old.”You look all wrinkle-head,” Zoe said to Cate. “What are you thinking about?””I was thinking about work,” Cate said. “I need to go in early tonight.”This was a big fat lie, of course. Cate had been unconsciously grimacing at the thought of a naked Pugg. At five foot six inches he looked eye to eye at Cate. He wasn’t bad looking, but he wasn’t great looking either. Mostly he was... hairy. The hair crept from the cuffs of his shirt and spilled over his collar. He had long sideburns and a pompadour on the top of his head with a single curl pasted to his forehead. He was a car-crash cross between Elvis Presley and Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley. And he had a horrifying habit of referring to himself as Pugg.”Pugg likes this pot roast,” Pugg said to Cate’s mother. “Pugg would like to find a woman to marry who could make a pot roast like this.”Cate’s mother beamed at Cate. “Cate makes a wonderful pot roast,” she said. “Don’t you, Cate?”Cate blew out a sigh and forked up some mashed potatoes. She’d gouge out her eye with a rusted spoon before she’d make a pot roast for Pugg.”Green beans,” Cate’s father said at the head of the table, and an arm reached across Cate for the bean bowl.Food was circulating at warp speed around the table: the gravy boat, the dinner rolls, the butter dish, the green beans, the meat platter, the monster bowl of mashed potatoes. This was normal behavior at the Madigan dinner table, and over the years Cate had perfected the technique of passing with her left hand and simultaneously eating with her right.”I heard the Sox are trading five guys,” Danny said.Cate’s dad shoveled pot roast onto his plate. “Bull crap.””I got something brown on my dress,” Zelda said. “It smells like dookey.””It’s gravy,” Amy said. “Don’t worry about it.””I don’t like it. Make it go away.””Dookey dress, dookey dress, dookey dress,” Zoe said.”Patrick sells tires,” Cate’s mother said to Cate. “He’s the top salesman at his dealership.”Patrick Pugg winked at Cate. “Pugg is good at selling. Pugg is good at lots of things, if you know what Pugg means.””No,” Cate said. “What do you mean?”Danny was seated next to Cate. You’re baiting him,” Danny said. “This is going to get ugly.””Pugg’s wounded,” Pugg said. “Cate doubts Pugg’s romantic virtuosity.”Danny stared openmouthed at Pugg for a beat. “Wounded? Romantic virtuosity? Who the heck are you? What are you?””I’m Pugg.””Oh boy,” Danny said. He slid an arm across the back of Cate’s chair and leaned toward her. “Don’t worry. I have a banker I want you to meet. I have it all set.”Patrick Pugg did a little finger wag at Danny. “Pugg wouldn’t like that. Pugg is committed to making this relationship work.”Danny narrowed his eyes. “Did I miss something? I thought you just met Cate tonight.””Yes, but Cate likes Pugg, right? And Cate wants to see more of Pugg.”Everyone stopped eating and looked at Cate.For the past six years Cate had been tending bar and working her way through college, inching closer to her goal of teaching grade school. Cate had always thought teaching second graders would be easy after living with three volatile brothers and tending bar. It was her observation that her older brothers, men in bars, and very young children had many things in common... for instance, they all from time to time exhibited inappropriate behavior, and they were all easily distracted.If Cate told Pugg she wanted nothing more to do with him, he’d sulk through the rest of the dinner. If she told Pugg she liked him, Danny would sulk through dinner. So Cate did the only sensible thing... she accidentally on purpose tipped her water glass and jumped out of her seat when the water splashed everywhere.”Shoot,” Cate said. “Just look at this mess. I’m so sorry.”And she ran to get a kitchen towel.”Good move with the water,” Danny whispered when she returned. “It’s a classic.””It’s all your fault. You caused that confrontation.””Did not.””Did so.””Did not. Anyway, wait until you see the banker. He’s light-years away from this moron. You’re gonna like the banker.””No. No more fix ups. I hate fix ups.””I wouldn’t have to get you fixed up if you were better at getting dates.””I don’t have time for dates right now.””You’re not getting any younger,” Danny said.”I’m twenty-six!””I worry about you,” Danny said. “We all worry about you. We don’t like you working in the bar, coming home at all hours, dealing with drunks
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