Marianne Arkins

No matter the decade, always Happily Ever After

 
ONE LOVE FOR LIV from Samhain Publishing
 

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Liv is out to prove her high society fiancé is cheating on her. Can she do it without breaking a nail—or falling in love with Mike the mechanic?

 

Olivia "Liv" Leigh, wealthy socialite and spa owner, suspects her fiancé of cheating on her, so she takes drastic steps to discover whether appearances are deceiving.   And if those steps require a bit of stalking, a change of appearance, a hippo-sized dog named Spike, and sacrificing her manicure to clean house for a sexy but sloppy man whose neighbor is determined to break several of the strangest Guinness Book of World Records, why should that be a problem?

 

Mike, a happily single auto mechanic, is more than content sharing his bachelor pad with piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and a sneaky ferret.  But when a half-crazed woman in a bad wig shows up on his doorstep, what's a nice guy to do?  Why, invite her in, unknowingly help her in her search for the truth and, in the process, fall head over heels for a woman who's never been less his type.

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 BOOK TRAILER/font>

EXCERPT

          Liv Leigh tugged a faded Boston College sweatshirt over her head, careful not to dislodge the wig covering her platinum blond hair.

          “Marissa, you’re a miracle worker.” Liv turned in a tight circle in front of the full-length mirror in her office, alternately pleased and dismayed by her appearance.

          The reflection didn’t match the picture of herself Liv carried in her head. Instead she saw a petite brunette dressed in snug, tattered jeans and a sweatshirt two sizes too big. Olivia Leslie Leigh, wealthy socialite, owner of the exclusive Pamper Me Salon and Day Spa and Boston’s Young Businesswoman of the Year, wouldn’t be caught dead in such an outfit. Perfect.

          Marissa pursed her dark red lips and gave Liv the once-over with a critical eye. “You’ll do.”

          Liv smiled and gave a sharp nod of encouragement to her reflection. Time to start her new life as a private investigator.

          “Key?” Liv stuck out her hand.

          Marissa grinned when she handed over the single key that dangled from a huge plastic baseball. “Don’t wreck my car.”

          “Your car is already a wreck. That’s the whole point of my taking it.” Liv’s fingers closed over the cool bit of metal, and for the first time she wondered if she was doing the right thing. She loved Geoff, didn’t she? She’d tried to confront him earlier in the day, but couldn’t get through his secretary. What other choice did she have? Still…didn’t real love require trust?

          Marissa must have sensed her mood because she snatched a pile of receipts off Liv’s desk and waved them in front of her nose—receipts found in Geoff’s jacket pocket only the night before. “Dinner at The Torch restaurant. Roses from Beacon Hill Florist. Lucky Lady Lingerie.” She stuffed them into Liv’s purse and closed it with a snap. “Don’t go soft on me now, boss.”

          “You’re right.” Liv’s resolve returned, along with the vision of some sleazy woman draped over her fiancé’s bed, wearing nothing but a slinky teddy purchased at the Lucky Lady and a come-hither smile. “I need to know if Geoff’s a lowlife cheating scumbag or the wonderful man I’m going to marry in three weeks.”

          “That’s my girl. Now get.” Marissa shooed Liv out the door with the backs of both hands.

          Liv hurried out the rear exit of the spa and into the driver’s seat of the beat-up sedan, trying to ignore the huge crack in the dull brown dashboard and the rips in the vinyl seat beneath her slim legs.

          With one last longing gaze at her shiny black Miata, she drove out of the parking lot and headed to Geoff’s home.

          When he’d canceled their lunch date today, the day before he left on a short business trip, she’d grown suspicious. Since their engagement three months ago, they hadn’t gone twenty-four hours without seeing each other—except when Geoff was out of town. He should have been desperate to see her one last time before he left.

          Surely there was an explanation for this. And yet, when she’d phoned to discuss it with him, his secretary had indicated he could not be disturbed, was in a meeting all morning and then would be at home, but still unavailable until four o’clock. Didn’t Miss Leigh check her voice mail? She was certain Mr. Quigley had called to cancel their lunch date.

          Sure enough, Geoff had called and begged off. He was terribly busy, and something unexpected had arisen. He’d make it up to her when he arrived back in town.

          A meeting? That Liv could understand. Life with Daddy had prepared her for small disappointments. Business came first, after all. But as long as she’d known him, Geoff had never left his job at her father’s law office early. Why would he do so today, just to go home? Could it have something to do with the receipt from Lucky Lady Lingerie? Maybe he was meeting the lucky lady herself. If so, she intended to find out.

Reviews (click the link for the complete review)

Ms Arkins has created wonderful cast of characters. Mike is the perfect hero. He’s kind, generous, funny and sexy. Liv, despite her privilege upbringing is sweet. Unlike some other heiress characters from other books, I really liked Liv. Instead of being shallow and as if everyone was beneath her, she was more naïve about how the others may live...

...Add in a mastiff, an abandoned ferret, and a neighbor trying to break various records and you have a fun book that is tough to put down. I’m looking forward to more books by Ms Arkins. 
- Laura J, The Good, The Bad, The Unread - Rated:  B

"One Love for Liv" is the kind of book that you never tire of reading and re-reading. This fast-paced and witty read actually made me laugh ‘til I cried in several parts. I can guarantee that I can’t even think about pizzas without my eyes misting over after I read the story. Ms. Arkins’ fresh and interesting writing style will attract fans of offbeat romantic romps. "One Love for Liv" can easily become your much needed break from life's harried pace. Ms. Arkins is definitely an author to look out for!  -  Bramble Nymph, Literary Nymphs reviews - Rated:  5 Nymphs

Marianne Arkins has done a super job of telling a story of love among the rich and not-so-rich. "One Love for Liv" is fun and fast-moving. It isn’t without its share of bumps for the lovers but it is very entertaining. The story of opposites attracting could be dull but with the quirky character traits these characters have, not to mention their unusual pets, it is anything but boring. I agreed with Liv’s choice in the end even though I’m not sure I would have taken the same path to finding love. I’m not sure if the lovers will stay together but I suppose that may be the meat of the sequel if there is one! I hope there is, since Ms. Arkins’ writing is clear and concise and makes for very easy reading. "One Love for Liv" is a satisfying read! I loved it! - Carly, Fallen Angels Reviews - 5 Angels

"One Love For Liv" was an enjoyable romance of a heroine completely out of her element, and a hero who is, at heart, a hero.  Liv has absolutely no concept of how to perform the job assignments she received from Mike, so she has ingenious alternatives - primarily to have others do it for her.  I particularly loved when she went grocery shopping.  Mike knows that it is risky to trust a stranger, but he can't not help someone in need.  It is just an innate reaction, just as he kept the ferret that was left in his apartment, and brings leftovers for the local stray dog.  I simply adored Mike.  - Kathy, Gotta Write Network - Rated: 4/5

The plot is a page-turning saga of doubt and love and disappointment and discovery. I truly did not want to stop reading. I couldn't wait to see what whacky chances Liv would take or what delightfully peculiar character might be introduced on the next page. There were plenty of odd characters in the story, but none were gratuitous; Each one played a part in Liv's transformation - even the terrifying ferret and the attentive, slobbery bull mastiff....just read, you'll find "One Love For Liv" a very worthwhile book.  - Black-Eyed Susan, The Long and the Short of It - Rated: 4 Books
 

More to come!

Deleted original beginning (unedited)

          Lips still warm from Geoff's more passionate than usual kiss goodnight, Liv backed through the door of her condo and pulled the lapels of his jacket close around her face.  Breathing deeply, she smelled his cologne and felt as though she still stood in his embrace.

          Not wanting the magical night to end, after she locked the door behind her she swung the jacket out in front, curtseying deeply and holding the arms as if it were her partner.  She let the jacket lead her into a waltz around the room and she hummed along with the one-two-three tune in her head.

               Eyes closed to slits, she imagined this was the first dance of her wedding day, her first dance as Mrs. Geoffrey Bartholomew Quigley III.

          "You look different, Mrs. Quigley," Geoff said, staring into her eyes as he tightened his grip on her waist.

          "I'm more in love with you now, than I ever was before, Mr. Quigley."  She prayed her two left feet wouldn't betray her on this memorable occasion.  "It must show on my face."

          Geoff skillfully guided her into the waltz, circling the floor.  Her wedding dress skimmed the tile and she felt dizzy from the depth of her emotion and the speed with which Geoff spun her around.

          "I love you, too, Lee Lee."  Geoff smiled… and spun her into the coffee table.

          "Ow!" Liv sprawled on the floor beside her glass table, arms thrown out in front, and Geoff's jacket a few inches from her fingertips.  She sat up and rubbed her shin, cursing her lack of grace yet again.  No wonder she'd all but flunked out of finishing school as a teenager.

          She grasped for the jacket, which was lying nearly inside out on the soft carpet.  As she dragged it toward her, bits of paper fell out of the inside pocket.  Maybe they were receipts for the carriage ride around Boston this evening, a celebration of the one month anniversary since Geoff proposed.  She'd love to keep it for her scrapbook.

          She opened the first piece.  It was for two dozen roses, dated ten days ago but didn't include delivery information.  She frowned, trying to remember if she'd gotten flowers from him then.  Maybe he got them for his mother.  He always was a thoughtful son.

          The next was for the Torch Restaurant, their special place, and she smiled until she noted it was for three nights before, a Thursday.  She and Geoff always went there on Sunday.  Maybe a business meeting?

          Liv twisted her two-carat diamond engagement ring around on her finger, thinking she should probably stop going through his things, hating that she wanted to continue.  Geoff was so thoughtful, loving and attentive.  He didn't deserve the suspicions that were swirling around inside her head.

          One last one, she decided.  Then she would stop.

          She chose the yellow paper, bigger than the rest and neatly folded.  Her hands shook a bit when she opened it.  When she saw the business name her throat tightened, though she wasn't sure whether it was from sorrow or anger.

          Lucky Lady Lingerie.  Two hundred dollars worth of sexy underwear she'd never seen and in sizes far larger than her spare frame would hold.  Clearly, she wasn't the lucky lady in Geoff's life.  She wondered how Geoff, always proper and worried about appearances, had managed to buy women's undies without dying from embarrassment.  She could only imagine how uncomfortable he would have been.

          "Pardon me, miss," Geoff gained the attention of the provocatively clad saleswoman in the lingerie shop.  "I need clothing appropriate for a mistress.  My fiancée, of course, wears only practical cotton undergarments and I want something completely different for the woman who stirs my blood.  Can you help me?"

          The woman's full, red lips turned up into a cat-like smile.  "Of course, sir.  I know just the thing.  Follow me."  She turned and sauntered to the back of the store, hips swaying hypnotically beneath her leather miniskirt.

          She stopped in front of a display with teddies and thongs.  "See anything you like?"

          Geoff's eyes grew wide at the selection and he randomly chose several.  "Wrap them up for me, please.  In something non-descript."

          "Discretion is our middle name," the woman assured Geoff and wrote up a quick receipt.

          Liv, vowing to go tomorrow and buy a bright red thong and garter belt, crumpled the receipt into a ball and threw it across the room, but the action did nothing to allay her anger.  She tried throwing his jacket, but when it only traveled a few feet it only made her rage worse.  Finally, she yanked off her engagement ring and hurled it.  It smacked the wall and bounced away.  That felt good.

          Was Geoff buying roses and sexy underwear for someone else only three weeks before their wedding?  Was that woman the reason he never did more than indulge in a bit of necking now and then?  He said he respected her, wanted their wedding night to be special -- but was he frustrated and needing to relieve his urges somewhere else?

          Didn't he love her? 

          She shook her head.  Of course he loved her.  Surely her suspicions were completely unfounded.  Tomorrow she would take his jacket to him at his office and confront him with the receipts.  She knew he'd have a good answer for everything.  Even her father liked Geoff; had introduced them, in fact.  Geoff was a good guy.  The best:  kind, thoughtful, loving.  And perfect for her in every way.

          He'd absolutely have a good answer for everything and shame on her for doubting him.  Her heart contracted tightly in her chest, squeezing a tiny sob out of her throat.

          Suddenly panicked about her bare ring finger, she scuttled on her hands and knees in search of the precious symbol.  Not by the wall, nor under the bookcase.  How far had it bounced?

          Stretched out on her tummy she reached underneath the entertainment center, but felt nothing but a few dust bunnies the maid had missed, something she'd address with her service first thing in the morning.  Didn't anyone have a good work ethic these days? 

          Exhausted by the fruitless search, she laid her head down on the carpet, tears filling her eyes.  They dampened the spot beneath her cheek but she didn't move, eventually falling into a restless sleep.

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