Rash & Rationality Happily Ever Austen Series Book 2 by Ellen Mint Genre: Contemporary Romance
Love is a lot closer and more complicated than Marty ever dreamed.
Marty Dashwood is a true romantic. Hearts, chocolates, kisses on the hand—the whole nine yards. His killjoy brother Eldon doesn’t believe in love at first sight, but one day Marty will have the perfect meet-cute, she’ll fall helplessly in love with him and they’ll live happily ever after.
Brandy’s worked with Marty for almost two years. He’s the best friend she could ever have hoped for after the accident that took her husband. So she should be happy that Marty finally found what he’d always wanted, right?
So why does it feel like every time she sees Marty with the ‘Social-Media Angel’ he rescued from a mugger, a piece breaks off her heart? How can she explain any of this to him before she loses her best friend forever?
Reader advisory: Rash and Rationality is a modern gender-swapped friends-to-lovers Sense & Sensibility, set in a cozy bookshop.
Motown piped through her little apartment, causing her hips to sway as she worked the roller up and down the wall. Marty stood beside her, attempting to put his tiny brush to work and only covering a tenth of what she could.
“I’m going to beat you,” Brandy declared.
“Only because you stole that,” he complained, pausing in his artistic swipes at a flat wall. With paintbrush perched on his hip, he pointed at the roller that was constantly splattering paint back at her. Fat drops landed in her hair, but Marty somehow avoided all the spray. Maybe he was just that lucky.
Brandy dipped the roller through the paint tray. “I can’t steal what I bought. Not my fault you brought a tiny tool for a big job.”
“Ouch,” Marty scoffed. “I’ll have you know it’s not the size of the tool but the consistency and rhythm of the strokes that matters.” He cracked a smile at her and heat burned across her face. Had to be her damn apartment and the shitty air conditioning.
So much exercise in a tight space with two bodies…it was no wonder she felt flushed. Struggling to reach the ceiling, Brandy pushed harder against the wall. A large swipe of gross yellow lingered above their heads. “Damn it!” she gasped, straining on her toes and making no progress.
Her blackmailed man paused in his delicate strokes to watch her. The flush returned again, causing her to break out in fully flustered sweats. Uncertain what to do, Brandy kept trying to reach what she couldn’t get.
“Here,” Marty said. “Trade?” He passed her the small brush and took the roller for himself. Starting where she’d already greened up the wall, Marty began to inch the paint higher. A slick roll scattered over the yellow, but the line was light and left a two-inch gap above their heads.
He gritted his teeth and took a step closer, straining his hand far above his head. Out of ideas, Brandy stepped back and watched Marty. It was obvious he couldn’t get any farther past what she ‘d done, but he didn’t seem to want to give up.
She’d never thought of him as short. Okay, compared to the average guy, he was smaller. But it didn’t matter, not to be her friend. Not to be her…not to work in the shop. He never seemed to have that little-Napoleon complex, like a chihuahua trying to bite a Great Dane’s ankles. To think it bothered him to the point he felt like he had to prove himself with a cheating… And there you go, thinking it’s your job to fix his relationship. What? You’ll slot into the place where Janeth was kicked out of? Like you’re ready for that.
Too much pizza and alcohol sloshed about inside her, unsettling her stomach. Brandy reached to touch it, when she caught the paint-soaked brush in her hands. That would have been quite the mess--
“Ah!” Marty cried, and his straining tiptoes collapsed. He splattered right onto the wall that was coated in wet paint.
“Oh no.” Brandy dashed to his side, but it was too late. A great smear of mint green covered the entire front of his black T-shirt. Marty held up his hands, showing one stained palm too. The other clung to the roller and he stared in shock at the mess he’d made.
A strange smile rose on his lips and he took a step closer. “Brandy, come here.”
“Give me a big hug!” he said, flailing both hands.
She took a step back and knocked right into the damn stool she’d moved so they could reach the ceiling in the first place. Movement in her peripheral vision caused her to turn back to find Marty advancing.
“Don’t you dare,” she warned, shaking the brush at him.
He snickered at the empty threat. “Come on. It’s tradition.”
“No, it’s not,” she shouted, laughter escaping. Marty lunged for her, but Brandy was quicker and ducked under his arms. He spun around but kept lumbering toward her like a reanimated corpse.
“Of course it is. The Fourth of July hug.”
“Stop!” She full-on giggled, running for her kitchen. Marty was quick on her heels, his entire torso glistening from the wet paint.
What was she doing in here? The stove and counters trapped her in place, pinning her between escape and Marty. He winked and—in his smoldering voice—said, “Don’t you want to be wrapped up in these arms?” Yes.
And she hated herself for it.
“Here.” Yanking a towel off the stove, she wiped at Marty’s hand. That seemed to slow the charging beast. His minty-green belly showed, but it stopped the attack. Instead, he stood silent as she wet the towel and kept cleaning him off.
“So you don’t…” Brandy glanced away from his nearly spotless palm up into his face. A breath rolled between his barely parted lips and his Adam’s apple dropped.
Shaking off the rise in her body, she said, “So you don’t make a mess of my place.”
“Too late for my shirt,” Marty said with an accepting sigh. “Well, don’t want to be a poor guest.” And, before she could get another towel to sponge off the paint, he gripped the neck of his shirt and yanked it off. Holy crap.Shame tried to direct her to look anywhere but at the half-naked man attempting to rinse off the paint. But she couldn’t escape the pull. Instead of the nearly full spread of man fur of her dream, he only had a light smattering that was a softer brown than his head hair. It dashed halfway across his rounded pecs, then pointed straight down his flat stomach. Even with a giant pizza sitting in there, she could make out a hint of a four-pack flush to his half-moon belly button. And it was sexier than anything she could have dreamed.
Pride & Pancakes Happily Ever Austen Series Book 1
When a cold-hearted singer and a hard-headed journalist are trapped together in a blizzard, there will be sparks—and pancakes.
When Beth Cho is tasked with interviewing elusive musician Tristan Harty, it’s hate at first sight. Despite his sapphire-blue eyes and lithe frame, he’s got to be the most infuriating man on the planet.
Tristan Harty is already sick of reporters and this one is proving no different. Sure, she might be adorable with her ebony hair and big brown eyes, but her incessant need to dig into his past is dragging on his last nerve.
The bickering duo vow never to meet again, but Mother Nature has other plans for them, trapping them in a Vermont cabin via a blizzard. The more Beth learns about the aristocratic Tristan, the harder it is for her to keep her professional distance, just as Tristan discovers that a loving heart beats inside the beautiful reporter.
But what happens when the snowstorm’s over, and the melted Tristan and enamored Beth are free to leave? Can their reluctant attraction bloom into a deeper love now their cold-as-ice judgment has thawed?
Reader advisory: Pride and Pancakes is a sweet yet steamy contemporary story inspired by the immortal Pride & Prejudice. There are references to sexual abuse, death from drug overdose and death in car crash.
“The snow’s stopped.” Tristan’s voice echoed through the cabin.
“Thank God,” she gasped, pressing Save and backing her work up into the cloud. At least this place had working internet and electricity. The heat seemed to come predominantly from the fire, but there were a lot of trees around. And all she had to do was make it through the night, then she’d be free of him.
He stared at her from the reflective window, but she wouldn’t look up. What time was it? The moment she saw it was nearing midnight, a yawn rumbled in her gut.
“There is the matter of sleeping arrangements,” the strange man she’d only met this afternoon declared. Beth’s heart sank.One bed in the honeymoon cabin. Not a reason for another.“I don’t care how big it is. I don’t want it,” she babbled, rising from the couch.
To her surprise, and small delight, Tristan blinked in confusion, his brow clouding. “What…what are you? What do you mean?”
“The bed, the only bed.”
“Oh!” he gasped as if coming to God. He canvassed the ceiling before landing his sight upon her. “You referred to…yes, of course.”
“Why? What did you think I meant?” The moment the question left her lips, she played back what she’d said without thought and the innuendo it crafted. A blush moved to scamper over her cheeks, which she could disguise thanks to the firelight.
“You take the bed, alone,” he tacked on quickly. “I’ll sleep out here on the couch.”
Beth glanced at the small two-seater. She could probably scrunch up to fit, but no way he’d manage. “I’ll sleep on the couch. You, Mr. Big-Wig Musician, take the bed.”
“Ha,” he snorted. “You think I can’t hack it out here?”
“Damn certain you can’t.” Beth nodded to herself, well aware of the riders most celebs demanded just to sit for a few minutes and talk about themselves. No way anyone who’d gone platinum would demean themselves by sleeping on a couch.
“I’ll have you know, I’ve slept on buses in my touring days.” Tristan broke from his vigil over the snow, his closed-off body sliding closer.
“Oh yeah? I’ve done Greyhound.”
“Vans, as well. One time, I had to sleep on the floor of an overbooked hotel room.”
“Big deal.” She prodded at him without touching him. “You ever slept on the floor of a cargo plane? Or a rickshaw? Or the bottom of a leaking boat?”
Her rather colorful background threw Tristan off. The cocky demeanor melted, his arms falling out of their tight cross as he eyed her. “No. No, I haven’t.”
“Then take the damn bed.” She indicated the bedroom, exhausted by his sudden chivalry. “I can handle myself on a damn sofa for a few hours. And no, I won’t mention it in the article. ‘Musician sleeps in bed.’ Hardly pull quote material.”
The edge of his stark-white canine emerged as he sneered. Had he perfected that in the mirror when younger or was it simply his face reacting to his soul? “You cannot stop riling people up, can you? Like a scrap of splintered wood rubbed over skin.”
Beth moved to rise to defend herself and point out how he knew as little about her as she did him. But the haughty musician spun on his heels and finally trudged off to the open bedroom. Without another word, the door slammed, rattling the cabin’s frame until snow plummeted off the roof. A shudder climbed her spine as she remembered she was trapped in a cabin with a stranger.
A near-stranger known to have a temper problem. He buried it under cold scowls and erudite language, but it was there. It was the sixth or seventh thing people thought about when imagining Tristan Harty. And Beth knew better than to ask about it, especially with no one around to pillow his punches.
Twisting in place, she glared at the short sofa she’d vehemently insisted be hers. Sitting up wasn’t so bad, with her back nestled against the armrest and her feet up on the cushion. But how was she going to sleep on this thing? She’d have to scrunch up like a child in the throes of a nightmare to fit. And he’d thought he could do it?
Too riled up to sleep, Beth turned her back to the closed bedroom and opened her laptop. The blank page mocked her, the blinking cursor questioning why she didn’t get a job in engineering instead. Because you’re awful at math and fear being electrocuted. At least engineers didn’t have to deal with being trapped in snow-bound cabins with fickle, thin-skinned musicians. He’d been so damn insistent she not take her car when there’d been a chance and now they were both stuck together.Always having to be right, having to throw his intellectual weight around as if it were a ten-ton wrecking ball. Flexing her fingers, Beth laid into her keyboard to quickly type,Tristan Harty is an arrogant know-it-all who cares little for the consequences of his actions.The cursor flickered at the end of her cruel cut, wondering about the bias and the rather limp lede. Folding her other fingers into a fist, Beth plunged her pointer to the delete key, pressing to vanish every letter of the accurate but inflammatory sentence.
Tristan Harty is…
The sound of the door opening caused her to crane her head around. Instinctively, she closed her laptop as the subject of her non-start barreled out of the room. A blanket curled from his arms down to the floor and a pillow nestled against his chest. “Here,” he said, thrusting both at Beth. She reached for them, confused as to why he’d bothered. Before she could ask, he spun on his heels and marched back into the bedroom, once again slamming the door. Wrapping her arms around the offering ripped from his bed, Beth breathed in a surprising masculine scent. Warmth lingered in the wool fibers. Had he been tossing and turning in the bed before deciding to give the blanket to her? Or had he been holding both blanket and pillow, pacing back and forth, wondering if she’d even accept them?
Despite her annoyance at the man, she wasn’t stupid enough to turn down potential warmth in the midst of a snowstorm. Tucking the pillow behind her back and laying the blanket out over her legs, Beth tried to dive back into her work. She stared blindly at the blinking cursor, watching as the document automatically synched up to the cloud with its half a sentence. As she leaned back into the pillow, warmth curled across her weary back and the smell of sandalwood spiced with juniper wafted around her.
Tristan Harty is confounding.
Ellen Mint adores the adorkable heroes who charm with their shy smiles and heroines that pack a punch. She has a needy black lab named after Granny Weatherwax from Discworld. Sadly, her dog is more of a Magrat.
When she's not writing imposing incubi or saucy aliens, she does silly things like make a tiny library full of her books. Her background is in genetics and she married a food scientist so the two of them nerd out over things like gut bacteria. She also loves gaming, particularly some of the bigger RPG titles. If you want to get her talking for hours, just bring up Dragon Age.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author? Name’s Ellen Mint, and I’ve got the fix you need right here. Enemies to Lovers, One Bed, Forbidden Love — that one’s got a little Secret Prince mixed in, some Soulmates from across the stars. So what strikes yer fancy? I started down this long road as many a romance peddler does from the siren call of fanfic. For me, it came from a video game, Dragon Age. Hit me up if anyone wants to talk some darkspawn. Because of that, I often write nerdy characters. They’re not always into the traditional nerd things, but everyone had something they geek out over. In Rash & Rationality, the hero Marty has an almost photographic memory and uses that to whip out book recommendations on the spot. He’s also romance obsessed and delights in planning the most extravagant and perfectest dates.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I keep skeletons in my basement. A lot of them. Over ten at last count. They normally only emerge for Halloween, but this year I thought to let them out and have fun during the summer. You don’t want to go in my basement alone. There’s more than just bones down there.
What kind of world ruler would you be? I like to think I’d resemble Lord Vetinari from the Discworld books. Ruthless and cunning, but with the aim to make the world run properly for all. My competence would keep my enemies from thinking twice about offing me, or they’d have to clean up the mess.
What do you do to unwind and relax? When my fingers are too tired to write, I like to make pretty graphics. Sometimes they’re for my own books, other times it’s just a fun challenged to try and create it. Every year for Halloween I make the posters to advertise All Hallows Read. Lately, I’ve gotten into making soundscapes: a busy bookstore, a fireplace in a cabin, a spring walk through a meadow. It’s fun to create a subtle story using only sound effects. And if that’s not enough, I stab templars for trying to take another piece of eden.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? I’m still waiting for that feeling to kick in. Didn’t happen with the first book, or the second, or the twelfth. Didn’t happen when I got a publishing contract. Maybe if I get a drink at a local coffee shop named after me, that’d work.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? Pride & Pancakes has a very Hallmark Christmas movie feel—cabin in the woods, sharp banter, learning lessons. Until it gets to the R-rated steamy scenes. Then Hallmark would probably toss holy water at me and tell me to get out of their office.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? Considering the state of the world, for now I go from my couch to my table. If I need to stretch my legs, I swing past fridge.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
An echidna, because they’re a little weird looking, break expectations of mammals by laying eggs, but are so ugly as babies they’re adorable.
What inspired you to write this book? Aside from needing to eat, my current series is modernizing classic Jane Austen novels but not repeating the plots or characters. It’s more embracing the themes and running with it. I kept thinking how much fun it would be to write a male hero who’s obsessed with romance, who wants a woman to sweep off her feet. To have him face the reality that it’s not always love at first sight happily ever after, and learn to realize what’s been in front of him the whole time. That was fun and gave me a lot to sink my teeth into.
What can we expect from you in the future? I’m currently working on a five alarm chili paranormal reverse harem series. Take one nursing student who learns on her birthday that she’s a witch. Add in an incubus that’s bound to her soul and refuses to leave her side or put pants on. Every book will add more to the group couple as the series goes on. Ink arrives this October.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? Not sure if I should give too much away. My publisher would only let me write about one of the two couples from Sense & Sensibility, so while the male version of Elinor is around and with someone, their relationship is pushed to the side. In my head I have all the beats of Eldon and Elena relationship, but it’s gotta stay there. I want to write their story as well, but first I need to find the time to do it.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Rash & Rationality? Marty Dashwood (he hates being called Martin) is a hopeless romantic. Creative, energetic, and charming, he can’t wait to meet his one true love and whisk her off her feet. He works at a bookstore with Brandy, the two often playing around, getting together for movie nights, and being food friends. But she’s off limits as far as Marty’s concerned. It’s not a best friend he wants but his angel. Too bad life and romance don’t always go according to plan.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? I can’t remember exactly when I decided Marty would be this almost hyperactive puppy—adorable and energetic as all get out, but I love writing him. He’d come up with these elaborate dates or games that would make characters either love or hate him. Luckily, the right character kept adoring him it.
One example, is that at the store Marty and Brandy would have book duels. They’d each pick a random book, then call out a number. The other person would read the first sentence on that page and they’d build an erratic story from that.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick? Brandy’s an interesting one. She grew up fast, not because of any trauma in her past, but love. Getting married at twenty and opening her own bakery would do that. But tragedy cut her epic love story short. Widowed at twenty-five, Brandy’s struggling to pick up the pieces and maybe rediscover that young adult life she missed out on.
What is your favorite part of this book and why? At one point, Marty agrees to help repaint Brandy’s living room from a god-awful yellow. There’s a lot of banter and some serious hijinks when Marty covers his shirt in green paint and he chases Brandy around her apartment for a hug.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. Do you want something different than the typical friends to lovers? A story that’s both so sweet you fear your heart may explode and also so steamy you need a cold shower? How about an adorable Latino hero who’s only five-foot-eight and loves working at a bookstore? Or a heroine who’s struggling to overcome feelings of guilt and rebuild her life with a man that makes her feel whole? If so, then try Rash & Rationality.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? Aged paper, sunshine streaming through the dust in a shop on old main street, vanilla bourbon, and a hint of gunpowder from the exploding fireworks.
How long have you been writing? Since the ocean was a drop and the land a pebble. So about twelve years, give or take. I started off in fantasy but eventually wormed my way over to romance, both contemporary and paranormal when I’m in the mood.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? It depends upon the character. Every character always has some little secret I don’t discover until I’ve written then for awhile. Usually I have a grasp of who they are weeks before I start writing. I like to play out little scenes in my head when I’m walking my dog. But then, I don’t really capture their voice and mannerisms until I actually write them. So the answer is…yes?
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? Oh my god, do I need music. For anything creative. I also paint and make various crafts when the mood strikes. But if I start without music, my little brain gnome starts chewing away with threats. “You’re doing it wrong. This is terrible. Why are you even bothering?” Music helps shut it up, at least until it’s time to edit.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? I try very, very hard to only have one story going at a time because I fear if I get distracted I won’t come back and finish the book. There are a few abandoned projects bemoaning their fate on my hard drive. One day, little ones, I will give you legs and set you free.
Pen or type writer or computer? Oh god, computer. A hundred and fifty percent, computer. I’m left handed and was never taught that twist your arm around so you look like a Cirque acrobat while taking notes trick. Which meant that everything I wrote longhand wound up smeared on the side of my hand. Never again!
Tell us about a favorite character from a book. Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld series is who I aspire to be when I’m old and living in the woods. Despite being a misanthrope who has no use for ninety-nine percent of the population, Granny still goes out of her way to help people, even if she winds up saving them from their own foolishness. She’s a woman that if someone told her to smile, she’d look them dead in the eye, sneer, and never blink until that guy ran away in terror.
A day in the life of the author? Wake to the sound of my dog clawing at her collar because that’s her butler bell. I spend most of the morning checking up on marketing stuff: swaps, promos, giveaways. Things like that. After lunch and the dog getting her first walk, I sit at the kitchen table and write whatever scene I planned out while taking my dog around the neighborhood. Then it’s time to make dinner. Later at night, I take a shower, do more planning while standing under water, and write to finish out the day. Rinse and repeat for all eternity.
Describe your writing style. Goofy until I suddenly stab you right in the feels. I’m not afraid to tell jokes, and will do so often. I’m far more of a character and dialogue person than a setting and descriptive author. You’ll probably know more about a character’s thoughts on their fourth-grade school play than what they’re wearing. It’s just how I roll.
What makes a good story? You need to have an element of mystery. It doesn’t have to be a literal whodunnit but a question for the reader to follow. With romance it’s not so much who gets together but how and is the why satisfying. If there isn’t that thread of wonder keeping the reader turning the pages, all you have is a collection of diary entries.
What is your writing Kryptonite? Descriptions! I am loathe to include them, especially clothing. Seriously, I suspect one could read most of my books assuming most of the characters are naked and it’d hold up.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? My muse is a fickle beast. To keep her entertained and from consuming the world, I need to write something I find interesting. It could be a subversion of tropes, a main character not usually seen, or just an excuse to invent new alien creatures who have a fascination with pie. There isn’t so much a need to be original and different, more an if I don’t do something fun I won’t finish the book.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? I used to try to get the first rough draft down in a month, but lately it’s been a month and half for a full novel. About a month for a novella. My time’s being consumed by the other side of things: editing, marketing, trying to keep sane in this every confusing world. Usual author stuff.
Do you believe in writer’s block? Yes, and no. I’m such a contrary pain in the ass, aren’t I? There are times when I don’t want to write. Flat out, my brain just says no. Not happening. But I find that’s not usually writer’s block and it’s my brain’s way of telling me I need a break. Bad. Sometimes hammering out three thousands words a day, every day until the book’s done isn’t what the book needs. Sometimes taking a few days off to regroup, rethink, and replan is what gives the best book of all.
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