Dani Dipietro has always considered herself an ugly duckling in a family of swans. She’s the bridesmaid her friends count on, but never the woman any man wants for his bride. So she plays the funny girl and guards her emotions, and her secrets, closely.
When Zach Morrison was dumped at his wedding, Dani was there to help him through the humiliation. A year later they meet again and once more Zach needs her help. To fend off the unwanted attentions of his former fiancé, he asks Dani to pretend to be his girlfriend. They play their roles a little too well, and make believe turns into reality. But their relationship comes crashing down around them when Zach’s trust issues cause him to accuse Dani of cheating. Telling the truth means that Dani will betray a friend, something she will never do. But keeping her secrets means she may be destined to remain a bridesmaid forever.
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The door swung open, and for a moment Dani could only stare. Zach Morrison stood holding the door and looking even more handsome then he had a year ago. She’d learned from Fiona that he’d be here, that they’d be paired together in the wedding party. But even though he’d had a starring role in her fantasies for the last year, she hadn’t expected her insides to go all mushy at the sight of him.
Finally, she remembered her manners and held out her hand. “It’s nice to see you again, Zach.”
He took her hand and held it tightly. “It’s nice to see you, too. In fact, I’m really glad you’re here.”
Her mouth went instantly dry. “You are?”
“Yeah.” He squeezed her fingers, the look on his face intense. “I know we don’t know each other well, but I have a favor I need to ask you. A really big favor.”
“Okay.” She couldn’t imagine what kind of favor he’d want from her. “Why don’t I come inside and you can tell me about it.”
He looked furtively over his shoulder. “I haven’t forgotten your kindness when I saw you last. My mother told me how considerate you were to her and Camp as well. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. But I really didn’t do anything.” Her heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it.
“It meant a lot to me. Listen, there’s not much time. I wanted to ask you–”
“Zach! Who’s at the door?”
Dani started. She knew that voice. Chantal.
Zach visibly shuddered at the demanding tone in his ex-fiancé’s voice. His blue eyes implored her.
“Please, play along with me. I’ll make it worth your while.”
“Daniella, help me, please!” he whispered.
How could she say no to a handsome man asking for her help?
Before she could articulate a question, he pulled her into his arms, his mouth descending on hers. Dani was too shocked to object. For a full ten seconds she remained rigid and unyielding. Then she relaxed slightly, sighing at the sweet sensation of his lips touching hers. Her hands seemed to move on their own accord, first exploring his muscular chest, then winding around his neck. Her body trembled as it molded itself against his.
“Dani? Is that you?”
Chantal’s voice doused the pleasant awareness. She stepped back with a jolt, shocked that she’d been so intimate with someone she hardly knew. She cringed. And in front of an audience, too.
Zach put his arm around her waist, pulling her against him and kissing her cheek. “Just follow my lead. Please,” he whispered urgently in her ear. Dani looked up into his eyes and saw his desperation. Without thinking, she gave an imperceptible nod. He grinned and turned to face Chantal.
“I was just saying hello to Daniella.”
Chantal looked her up and down. “Since when do you say hello to Dani by sticking your tongue down her throat?”
Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.com
Website – http://www.janarichards.com
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Also by Jana Richards
ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID is book 3 of my Left at the Altar series
HER BEST MAN – Book 1, Left at the Altar series
THERE GOES THE GROOM – Book 2, Left at the Altar series
A LONG WAY FROM EDEN
THE GIRL MOST LIKELY
FIRST AND AGAIN
Interview with Holly Hewson
HH: Jana, thank you so much for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID and is the third book in your Left at the Altar series. What can you first tell us about this amazing series?
JR: When I set out to write this series about people who had been jilted at the altar, I wanted to explore what it would take for someone who had been humiliated in such a public way to let themselves love again. Would they ever trust in love again? Would they ever go through a wedding ceremony again?
HH: What can you tell us about the first two books?
The first book is HER BEST MAN:
Sarah Stevens experiences a bride’s worst nightmare; being dumped at the altar. When she goes on the Caribbean cruise meant to be her honeymoon in order to lick her wounds, she discovers her ex-fiancé has sent his brother, Will Marshall, the former best man, on the cruise as well. Everyone on board thinks they’re newlyweds, and Sarah is too embarrassed to set them straight. How is she supposed to share a tiny cabin with a man she barely knows? Even worse, how is she supposed to pretend that she and Will are on their honeymoon? Sarah discovers the best man for her really is the best man.
Number two is THERE GOES THE GROOM:
Eight years ago Tony left Olivia at the altar. He was sure she didn’t really want to marry him. Now he’s back, and they’re forced to work together.
Coming home isn’t easy for Tony, because his father wanted him to work at a trade instead of going off to college. Their relationship is still unsteady. Even before Tony’s return, Olivia began questioning the depth of her love for her fiancé, a man she chose because he was safe and reliable. Yet the last thing she wants is a loveless, faithless marriage like the one her parents suffered through.
When Tony, who never stopped loving her, insists her fiancé is the wrong man for her, Olivia sets out to prove him wrong. But the sexual chemistry between them is still strong, and so are her feelings for him. Even so, how can she break her engagement, hurt her fiancé as she was once hurt? And how can she trust Tony not to abandon her as he did before?
If anyone does the jilting this time, she will.
HH: How does Always a Bridesmaid continue it?
JR: Daniella Dipietro, the heroine of ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID, is Sarah’s best and bridesmaid in HER BEST MAN, and Tony’s sister and bridesmaid in THERE GOES THE GROOM. Are you detecting a theme here? Dani’s been a bridesmaid more times than she cares to remember. She hasn’t had a lot of luck with men and believes she’s doomed to remain a bridesmaid forever. She really doesn’t think love and marriage is in the cards for her. Her less than positive opinions about her own looks are holding her back. Her friends and family from the first two books help her to see herself in a whole new way.
HH: What do you like about Dani and why will readers identify with her?
JR: I like Dani because she’s a loyal friend, a caring sister and a loving daughter. She’ll do anything for the people she loves and cares about, and expects nothing in return. I think readers will identify with her because she’s not perfect. She’s not a size 2 and she doesn’t have a cute perky little nose. Though she’s worked hard to lose weight she’s never going to be rail thin. Like many of us Dani can be hard on herself when she cheats on her diet and has too much dessert. She has a self-deprecating sense of humor. She’ll never make a joke at someone else’s expense, only her own. And if someone hurts her, she’ll make a joke about it and won’t let them see that she’s wounded. She holds her cards close to her chest.
HH: What do you like best about Zach and why will readers love him?
JR: Well, he’s gorgeous for a start! But Zach isn’t just a pretty face. He’s smart and loyal. When he makes a mistake, he does his best to fix it. He discovers he’s made a mistake about Dani, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to convince her he’s sorry and he loves her.
HH: Will there be more in this series?
JR: I’m afraid not. ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID is the third and last book in the series.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
JR: I’m working on a new series that I call the Twice in a Lifetime series. It’s kind of time-travel, paranormal, fantasy romance. When a man dies, he’s stuck in a waiting room next door to Heaven, unable to enter the afterlife until he helps a series of mortals go back in time to the point where they lost the loves of their lives. He must help them get a second chance at love. He discovers that by helping others he begins to see where he went wrong in his own mortal love life.
I’m also plotting out another series I call Love in the North Woods. It’s about three sisters who inherit their grandparents fishing lodge in northern Minnesota, and not only find themselves a new home but new chances at love.
HH: What are you reading now?
JR: I just finished Sally McKenzie’s “Surprising Lord Jack” and “The Monuments Men”, which is now a movie starring Matt Damon. Both of those books were paperback. I currently have Eloisa James’ “Duchess by Night” on my MP3 player which I listen to exclusively at the gym, which means if I want to hear more of the book, I have to work out!
HH: What appearances do you have coming up in 2014?
JR: I don’t have any live appearances lined up for 2014 as yet, but I’ll be guest blogging in various places around the Internet.
HH: Where can readers find you online?
JR: Website: http://www.janarichards.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards
Newsletter Signup: http://www.eepurl.com/m3UnT
Thanks for having me on TRS!