Brooks Johnson’s Words To Live By:
When returning to Licking Thicket, TN, for the first time in ten years to reunite with your nosy neighbors, heart-broken ex-girlfriend, and matchmaking mama who never quite believed you were gay, it’s best to bring a fake boyfriend as backup…
Just don’t be surprised when your ex-girlfriend does the same.
And when her incredibly hot fake boyfriend becomes the one island of calm in a sea of bovine-based insanity, it’s best to exercise caution… especially when he pushes you up against the rough barn wall to check you very thoroughly for splinters…
Just don’t be surprised if you fall head-over-hooves in love with him.
Cover Designer: Cate Ashwood
After this lovely dinner with the family—and by lovely, I obviously meant horrific—I was counting down the minutes until I could give my excuses and scurry back to the blessed solitude of my arboreal guest house. Before the last ear of corn had been gnawed to the quick, however, Ava’s dad put me under the interrogation lights.
“You’re going to win this race for her tomorrow, right, son?”
I snuck a glance at Ava in hopes she’d be holding up a cue card with a little guidance on what the heck he was talking about. Instead, she was happily stripping a drumstick like a starving teenager biting into a turkey leg at a medieval festival.
“Do you mean metaphorically, or…?”
Mr. Ivey’s eyes narrowed. “The Lope. We need this. The Ivey family has won every Lope that’s been run without a Johnson. Just because Brooks is back this year and Elliot’s not competing doesn’t mean they get to take the title away from us.” He sat forward, pushing his dinner plate off to the side where Mrs. Ivey scrambled to clear it to the kitchen. “It’s one thing for that boy to win the race when he was in top shape as the QB for the Bovines, but I’ll be damned if some pencil pusher from New York City is going to embarrass the Iveys. Do you understand what I’m saying, son?”
I was pretty sure he was saying the Thicket’s high school mascot was a cow, but that should have been obvious. It certainly explained the random moo shouts I’d heard earlier today when Brooks had walked into the planning meeting. At first I’d thought they were heckling the poor guy, and then I’d assumed they were making a comment about his “pencil pushing” physique. Which, honestly, was pretty damned fine if you asked m—
I jumped at Mr. Ivey’s bark. “Yes, sir. I mean, I can try. I do run fairly regularly.” I glanced at Ava again, who, if I was keeping track properly, was enjoying her sixth ear of buttery corn.
She nodded. “Yes, Daddy. It’s like I told you. Mal runs when he’s upset which means he’s in really good shape.”
She made me sound like I had an anger management problem. “That’s not—”
“Good,” Mr. Ivey said, sitting back and clasping his fingers over his belly. “That’s real good, son. I knew we could count on you for something.”
How was it possible to feel like I’d both impressed and disappointed him at the same time?
“You’re… welcome?” I glanced toward the kitchen, both hoping there might be dessert to soothe my hurt feelings and hoping there wasn’t dessert so I could leg it the fuck out of there.
Mrs. Ivey came in carrying a cake with lit candles. “Mal, dear, why don’t you lead us?”
I glanced around the table hoping someone, somewhere would tell me what the hell was happening. Was it someone’s birthday?
“Um… I don’t…” Several expectant faces beamed at me, and it was worse than the interrogation lights. “Happy Birthday,” I began singing and thankfully everyone else joined in immediately.
After enjoying creative writing as a child, Lucy didn’t write her first novel until she was over 40 years old. Her debut novel, Borrowing Blue, was published in the autumn of 2016. Lucy has an English Literature degree from Vanderbilt University, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the years and years of staying up all night reading tantalizing novels on her own. She has three children, plays tennis, and hates folding laundry. While her husband is no shmoopy romance hero, he is very good at math, cooks a mean lasagne, has gorgeous eyes, looks hot in his business clothes, and makes her laugh every single day.
Lucy hopes you enjoy sexy heroes as much as she does. Happy reading!
May is an M/M author who lives in Boston. She spends her days raising three incredibly sarcastic children, finding inventive ways to drive her husband crazy, planning beach vacations, avoiding the gym, reading M/M romance, and occasionally writing it. She also writes MF romance as Maisy Archer.