on September 18, 2018
"Witty, heartfelt and emotionally satisfying. Everything I want in a second chance romance! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!" #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken
In high school, Charlotte Windham went through a typical ugly duckling phase - glasses and all, while harboring a crush on Garrett Stephens, the school's athletic heartthrob. Fifteen years later, Charlotte and Garrett have a chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant. However, this time around, Charlotte has leveled the playing field. She’s a bestselling novelist and no longer “Glasses,” the humiliating nickname Garrett gave her. She’s a catch and, thanks to corrective eye surgery, it’s not just her eyes that see better…so does her heart! Garrett hasn’t fared poorly either, transforming from teen heartbreaker to adult lothario and is now a successful professional golfer suffering from a possible career-ending injury. Can Charlotte forgive Garrett for his past ways, and more recent Don Juan lifestyle? And, can Garrett change his ways for a second chance with Charlotte, who may just be perfect for him?
Damn! I’m late…again. You’d think with nothing to do, I’d get my act together enough to be on time for a family lunch. I fell asleep on the couch after my rigorous night’s activities with Dani, spelled with a heart over the “i.”
She’s a Laker girl. It took me three weeks, and a dinner reservation at Genevieve, to convince her to go out with me, but it was worth the effort. She was insatiable in bed and her flexibility was a total turn on. Without much sleep last night, it’s no wonder I passed out on the couch after my morning workout.
I rush past the valet and glance at the incoming call on my cell phone thinking it’s Mom checking on my arrival status. It’s not Mom. It’s only been a few hours since I slipped out of Dani’s bed before she woke up this morning and she’s already calling me for the second time today. I let it go to voicemail again and figure she’ll get the hint. Then again, she likely won’t. Dani with a heart over the “i” isn’t the brightest bulb in the marquee.
As I race to the restaurant, I scowl knowing Mom’s going to have my head. Actually, she’s probably used to it by now. I’m surprised they don’t give me fake arrival times knowing I’m always ten minutes behind.
I rush through the revolving door of the restaurant, through the bar, and smack into a woman. She brushes against my bum shoulder and the pain burns right through me. Minding the manners Mom hammered into me from a young age, I mutter, “Sorry,” when I’m honestly not. I look down and notice something familiar about her.
“Hi, Garrett,” she says, sharing a small smile. “It’s been a long time. How are you?”
“Um. I’m fine.” My brows furrow as I wrack my brain trying to figure out who the hell this woman is. She’s short, about five two and roughly my age. I glance down and notice full, round breasts, slightly wide hips and thick thighs. Not my usual type, so I’m pretty sure I haven’t slept with her. At least I don’t have to worry about that embarrassing scene. She’s got chocolate brown eyes, looking at me with warmth. “And…how are you?” Shaking my head I am still trying to place her.
“I’m doing well,” she replies, her smile growing.
“I’m glad to hear that,” I say, trying to be polite and end this awkward reunion that clearly has me clueless.
“Well…I guess I should go.” She turns back and waves to a woman sitting in a far booth of the restaurant. On further inspection, she’s waved to Lindsay, my sister, who of course made it to our family lunch on time. Seated with her are my parents, with Mom frowning at me and shaking her head. Like she didn’t expect I would be late. Marcus isn’t here yet either. Guess the twin thing really does run deep.
“You know Lindsay?” I ask her.
“Uh, yeah,” she says, with a small chuckle and a noticeable hint of sarcasm.
“Of course.” She shakes her head slightly like it’s hitting her I have no damn clue who she is. Then she confirms my suspicions and just lays it on the line. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” Her eyes are alight with humor.
“Umm. I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage,” I splutter, rubbing my hand behind my neck – my tell – before flashing her my most charming, dimpled smile. Before she can respond, a lady in her mid-sixties with salt and pepper hair wearing an outfit appropriate for someone twenty years younger – but this is LA after all – walks over.
“Pardon the interruption,” she begins. “I would just be kicking myself if I got home and didn’t take advantage of telling you what a big fan I am.”
“Oh, thank you,” I say, turning on the faux charm I reserve for situations such as this.
“My husband and I loved your book.” The lady turns fully toward this mystery woman. “I wish I had it with me for you to sign. Maybe I could get your autograph on something else?” I cock my head to the side and watch Mystery Woman. She turns back toward the elderly lady and smiles sincerely.
“Sure. I’d be happy to sign something.”
The lady reaches into her oversized zebra-print bag and produces a pen and small notepad. She hands them to Mystery Woman and turns to me, smiling.
“Who should I make this out to?” asks Mystery Woman.
“Donna and Frank. Your dear friends, Donna and Frank.”
“My… dear… friends… Donna… and… Frank,” Mystery Woman murmurs aloud as she writes. Watching her autograph the paper, I can’t help the grin spreading across my face. Once she finishes, Donna reads through the note, her eyes widening with delight.
“Thank you, Charley,” she says.
“My pleasure,” replies Charley – Charley? – who looks tickled.
“Charley?” I rack my brain to no avail.
“Yes,” replies Donna with pride. “You are standing with the brilliant novelist Charley Windham.” She turns back to Charley before walking away. “Thank you again, dear.”
“Uh-huh,” responds Charley, giving me a look like I should piece it together.
“Charley Windham. Why does that name sound so familiar?” I rub my hand on the back of my neck while Charley looks at me with amusement. “Wait, you’re Charley Windham? Who wrote The Crossing Guard?” Charley shakes her head and laughs.
“That’s me.” She’s unable to control the wide smile spreading across her face.
“Yes. Now I know. I read your book. In fact, everyone on the tour read it. You couldn’t walk around a locker room or airport terminal without seeing someone with it in their hands.”
“That’s nice to hear.” She grins at me with her head tilted, nodding it slightly up and down, giving me the impression she’s waiting for me to say more.
“That explains who you are, and I get you would know who I am, but how do you know my family?”
“That is the question of the moment, isn’t it?” She smiles smugly.
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Immensely.” She is grinning unabashedly.
I look back over at my parents and sister and see my brother Marcus walk in through the restaurant’s back entrance. After a quick exchange, Lindsay points to where Charley and I are standing. Marcus waves to Charley and she waves back.
“Oh, you know my ugly as shit brother too?”
“Ugly as shit? You’re identical twins,” she laughs.
“Nah.” I shake my head with a playful sneer. “I got the looks. He got the brains.”
“You got the looks?” She watches me with a raised brow.
“Yep. All of ‘em.”
“I suppose you got all of the humility too?” I can hear the humor in her voice.
“Seems more like humiliation these days.” I rub the back of my neck and look down at my shoes. I really messed things up and now I don’t know if my career is over.
“Hey, don’t knock yourself. Not your fault you have shoulder issues.” She places a hand on my arm and her slight touch causes all my blood to rush south.
“You follow my career?” I ask, my spirits surprisingly improving. There’s something about this woman that’s got me intrigued and I don’t just mean ‘cause I can’t place how I know her.
“I’ve been known to glance at the sports page now and then,” she says with smiling eyes.
“So, how did you say you know my brother again?” Marcus, his wife Abbey, and Lindsay start to walk over to us.
“You’re not going to tell me.”
“I’m finding it quite entertaining you don’t know who I am,” she says again.
“Of course I know who you are,” I scoff.
“Yes. You’re the charming and talented writer having dinner with me on Saturday night.” Charley lets out a nervous giggle and glances down at the floor and damn, if that’s not the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
“You want to have dinner with me on Saturday?” she says on a breath and I wonder how she would breathe my name as she’s coming undone beneath me. Before I can respond, Marcus places his hand on her shoulder.
“Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.” Charley turns toward him and Marcus scoops her up into a big hug.
“Good to see you, Marcus. This must be your wife.” She turns to the short red head with wide green eyes and a full smile standing between Marcus and Lindsay.
“Yeah, this is Abbey,” says Marcus, turning to the side, allowing the small woman to shake Charley’s hand.
“Wow. I’m a huge fan,” she begins, grasping Charley’s hand and pumping it furiously. “The Crossing Guard was my favorite book of last year. My book club spent hours discussing it.”
“Oh, thank you,” says Charley, with the same genuine appreciation she showed to Donna a few minutes ago.
“I didn’t realize Marcus knew you. I probably would have begged him to ask you to come meet with us,” Abbey continues, still holding onto Charley’s hand.
“Oh, believe me, she doesn’t owe me any favors. It’s the other way around. If it weren’t for Charlotte here, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into a good college,” he says to Abbey.
“Charlotte?” I repeat.
“Of course. Charlotte Windham. You know, our high school English tutor,” he says, looking at me like I’m a dumbass.
Charlotte Windham. Charlotte Windham. Then it hits me. “Oh, Glasses. You’re Glasses.” I smile widely, proud of myself for finally putting it together.
“Yep. I’m Glasses,” Charlotte sighs loudly. “Well, I need to get going. Great catching up with you all again and nice to meet you Abbey.”
“I’m sorry, Charlotte,” says Lindsay, shooting daggers at me with her eyes. What is that death stare for, I wonder.
“It’s okay. Um…give me a call if you want to grab lunch. I’m waiting for a manuscript back from my editor, so I’ve got a ton of free time.” With that, she turns and walks away.
“You’re an idiot.” Lindsay shakes her head and scowls at me.
“What? What did I do?” I’m flummoxed.
General Interview Q&A with Lisa Becker
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money – on margaritas and books. In addition to my romantic comedy novels, which reviewers call clever, hilarious, sexy and smart, I’ve written bylined articles and participated in interviews about relationships, online dating and romance for a range of media including Reader’s Digest, Mind Body Green, Cupid’s Pulse, The Perfect Soulmate and TV Grapevine. My grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” I’m now happily married to a wonderful man I met online and live in Manhattan Beach, California with him and our two daughters. So, if it happened for me, there’s hope for anyone!
Tell us about your most recent release.
A light-hearted, second chance romance, Links explores what happens when nerdy girl Charlotte reconnects with her unrequited schoolgirl crush, star athlete Garrett, 15 years after high school.
Did you have an unrequited crush in high school?
I’m not too ashamed to admit I had such a fierce crush on a boy, I willingly sat with him in the bathroom at parties while he puked up wine coolers, just so I could spend time with him. Thankfully, that soul-crushing time in my life is over, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I came upon that secret crush today as a confident, successful woman.
One of your books is based on how you met your husband. Can you tell us more about that?
I’m most known for the Click trilogy comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click, which is loosely inspired by how I met my husband. The series follows a young woman’s search for love online in Los Angeles with the entire series unfolding in emails between our heroine, her friends and her hilarious dates. Fraught with BCC’s, FWD’s and inadvertent Reply to All’s, readers will cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends. And ultimately, they will root for Renee to “click” with the right man.
What is next for you?
This spring, I will re-release a novel I published several years ago called Clutch. The re-release includes five new chapters, a new cover and audiobook. It is a laugh-out-loud romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags (the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.) as she searches for the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.
Is Clutch also inspired by your real life?
When I was writing the Click trilogy I was obsessed with NCIS re-runs and would have the show on in the background as I wrote. There was an episode where a character refers to a man as a “handbag husband,” or something useless you carry on your arm. I started thinking about that, and the idea for Clutch grew from there. I believe that everyone deserves a happily ever after
and would like to think there’s a “clutch,” or someone worth holding onto, out there for everyone.
At the end of your life, when it is all said and done, what would you want your tombstone to read?
Here lies Lisa Willet Becker – a great wife, mother, friend and citizen who wrote books and movies people loved.
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