HOT UNDER THE COLLAR
Author: Roxanne St. Claire
Series: The Dogmothers #1
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Firefighter Braden Mahoney is devastated when his beloved Weimaraner, Jelly Bean, fails the canine arson investigator test. Faced with the challenge of raising the money for advanced training, it’s Braden’s sweet grandmother and her best friend who suggest he use the services of the new event planner in town. Not that he needs a push in Cassie Santorini’s direction. Ever since she arrived, Braden has had his eye on the sassy Greek goddess…and can’t stop thinking about getting the rest of him on her, too.
Cassie has spent years putting family first, even moving to Bitter Bark when her mother falls in love with the local veterinarian. Having a huge new extended “family” is fun, especially when one smokeshow of a firefighter attends the gatherings, but Cassie has no plans to remain in this small town. She’s ready to pursue her big city dreams. But when Braden asks for an assist for his precious pup, Cassie agrees to help him set up a town-wide scavenger hunt. It isn’t exactly a hardship to be around those blue eyes and brawny shoulders, especially since they both agree everything – even the undeniable sparks that crackle between them – is temporary.
But when temporary gets complicated by feelings that might lead to forever, Braden and Cassie start to question the direction they're headed. Should they follow their dreams…or their hearts? It’ll take a dog with a bad nose and a sweet soul, two particularly meddlesome grandmas, and some help from the clan that loves them to make sure Cassie and Braden follow the clues and find their way to each other’s arms.
“And, Cassie, I’m going to be straight with you. I don’t believe in…permanent things.”
“Not when someone has a job like mine,” Braden admitted. “I don’t think it’s right or fair to be in a serious, long-term relationship. My work’s too dangerous, and I refuse to give someone a guarantee of a future. That—at my age of thirty-three?—usually sends women packing after a few dates.”
She considered that, studying him before asking, “So, what exactly are you proposing?”
“That we don’t fake a thing. We just give it an expiration date.”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Anything ‘real’ almost always comes with connections and plans and trust and intimacy that will lead to…side dishes and detoured dreams. And I won’t let you do that, Braden. I won’t.”
He heard the vehemence in her voice, and that just made him more certain this was a good idea. “Then we both agree it’s temporary. Nothing will be detoured, I promise. Go ahead…” He pressed her hand to the notebook. “Write that down and make it so.”
But she didn’t, still studying him. “And side dishes?”
“They can be on or off the table, Cass. You’re the one setting it.”
She shot up a dubious brow. “Do you seriously think we could date for real, spend any amount of time alone with each other, and not…” She swallowed. “Repeat that kiss?”
No. Not for a minute. “We could try.”
“Then what difference does it make if it’s real, fake, or temporary if there’s no sex?”
“Because I’m not a fan of lying, either,” he said. “So be my temporary girlfriend, and let’s just have a little fun before you blow out of Bitter Bark.”
“Could be.” So much fun.
Published since 2003, Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty romance and suspense novels. She has written several popular series, including The Dogfather, Barefoot Bay, the Guardian Angelinos, and the Bullet Catchers.
In addition to being an ten-time nominee and one-time winner of the prestigious RITA™ Award for the best in romance writing, Roxanne has won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense four times, as well as the Maggie, the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, the Award of Excellence, and many others.
A mother of two but recent empty-nester, Roxanne lives in Florida with her husband. She loves dogs, books, chocolate, and wine, especially all at the same time.