Quaint Lewis Cove is home to the charming three-story Victorian manor known as the Alice Wilshire Lending Library and its plucky librarian Peg Turner: the current hostess of the weekly Bronte Book Club, better known as the ‘Hopeless Romantics’ of all ages. Nurse Annette has been too busy working for love; mechanic Tim has missed the boat somewhere in his past; art student Sophie comes off as too unique, while tech geek C.J. has fallen—hopelessly—for the too-cool-to-care Llourdes.
With her vacation plans indefinitely on hold for the summer, Peg has decided to transform the ‘Hopeless Romantics’ into hopeful ones. But while she’s trying to help her fellow readers find romance, she’s avoiding her matchmaker friend Caroline’s latest blind date—only to see her best friend Cam, the ruggedly-cute-but-sometimes-curmudgeonly coffee shop owner fixed up instead. And that’s something Peg isn’t sure she likes.
Questions about love and last chances on her mind, and way too many books piled on her desk, will Peg succeed in finding romantic hope for anyone, including herself?
“Evening everybody!” Caroline breezed into the coffee shop in her usual manner. She pulled off her summer scarf and dropped her shopping bags on the floor as she sat down at our table. “Did you see the repair work they’re doing on the highway? I had to cut across Ocean Lane in Valencia to get here from the city.”
Next to Stacy — and Cam — Caroline was my oldest friend in Lewis Cove. We had known each other in college; now she worked as a realtor with an office closer to the metropolis than town, and believed firmly that one’s social life should never slow down, no matter the time of day or the fatigue one might be feeling.
“Just a cup of black coffee for me, and a low-cal snack,” she said to Cam. “What’s with the book?” Her gaze fell on the copy of Jane Eyre.
“It’s mine,” I said. “I’m trying to recruit new members for the book club.”
“Was that tonight?” said Caroline. “Is that why you said ‘no’ to going out with Greg’s friend tonight?” Greg was Caroline’s current boyfriend — his friend was a blind date setup I had been stealthily avoiding for two weeks.
“A date?” said Cam. “You’re dating again?” He looked at me.
“For the record, I was never not dating,” I clarified. “I just haven’t met anybody with whom the interest is mutual. Not in awhile, anyway.”
“To qualify as ‘dating,’ you have to go out with them,” said Caroline. “Not just say you’re going to do it sometime, then keep giving them excuses for why you’re not available.”
“Those aren’t excuses, Caroline, those are reasons,” I said. “Friday nights, I’m always at the book club. I’m the librarian, I have to be there to unlock the door and let them in.”
“So? Get them to meet somewhere else. They can meet in Cam’s coffee shop. Lots of atmosphere and great beverages.”
“The music will drive them out,” said Cam, placing a low-fat granola bar in front of her. “I’m instituting an ‘all rock and roll, all the time’ policy come Monday.”
I hid my smile for this answer. “Besides, I like the club,” I continued. “I like being part of their meetings.”
“The Hopeless Romantics?” said Caroline. “There’s a reason why it has that nickname, Paige. They’re people who can’t find the right person because they’re too picky, or because they’re too blind to see the right person when it’s right in front of them. You are not hopeless — and you’re definitely not a fully-fledged romantic.”
“I have a romantic streak,” I said. “And it’s mean to call them hopeless just because they have a lot of free time and no romantic ties. They’re just trying to spend an evening with people they have something in common with. That’s the whole point of the club — an exchange of mutual ideas on literature.”
“Will you exchange mutual ideas with Greg’s friend next week?” she asked me.
“Maybe,” I said. “I’ll call him. We’ll find an evening we’re both free.” From behind the counter, Cam coughed noisily. I wondered if he had tried a bite of the low-fat granola bars he kept on hand for calorie-conscious customers.
Caroline leaned forward and lowered her voice. “Speaking of dating,” she said, “I have the perfect person for Cam.” She glanced to the side, making sure he was busy with a new customer.
Did I mention Caroline is an obsessive matchmaker, too?
Laura Briggs is the author of several women’s fiction and chick lit novels, with themes that range from wedding planning to modern Jane Austen. Even though she tends to write stories with a romance theme, as a reader she has a soft spot for mysteries, including those by Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. She also enjoys books by Jane Austen, Anne Tyler, Amy Tan, and too many others to name. In her free time, she likes to experiment with new recipes and tries to landscape her yard (a never-ending project).
Author Website: http://paperdollwrites.blogspot.com/
Twitter Account: http://bit.ly/1ME9ivJ
Facebook Page: http://on.fb.me/1JjeMoI