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Aug 15

On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci Excerpt Reveal and Giveaway!

Title:  ON THE CORNER OF LOVE AND HATE

Series:  HOPELESS ROMANTICS (#1)

Author:  NINA BOCCI

Release Date:  AUGUST 20, 2019

 

For fans of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne comes a delightfully sassy and sexy romance about a campaign manager who reluctantly works with the local Lothario to help revamp his image for the upcoming mayoral elections, only to discover that he’s hiding something that can turn both their lives upside down.

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

A perfect blend of humor and heart, On the Corner of Love and Hate is the first in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci.

 

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EXCERPT:

Thud. Whoosh. Slap.

Thud. Whoosh. Slap.

The trio of irksome sounds repeated another half-dozen times.

My eyes darted upward, a silent prayer falling from my lips.

Dear God, please give me the strength not to shove that tennis ball somewhere that would require surgery. Amen.

My coworker casually leaned back in his chair, his long legs out-stretched and crossed at the ankles on the shiny surface of the conference room table. Beneath his brown leather loafers sat a report.

His unfinished-yet-due-tomorrow report.

I marveled at his ability to multitask. It would have been more appropriate if he had been, say, working. Instead, he was tossing a ball against the conference room wall with one hand while texting with the other. Even though he didn’t take his eyes off his phone screen, he caught the ball every single time. If I hadn’t been so annoyed, I would have actually been impressed.

The clock ticked against the pale yellow wall above his head.

With each passing tick, the ball struck with a thwack to its right.

“Cooper, could you please stop?” I finally said, rubbing my temples to ease the headache that was forming.

Thud. Whoosh. Slap.

“Cooper,” I repeated, glancing up from my laptop. “Hello?”

Thud, whoosh, slap was the only response I got.

Sliding back my chair, I stood up and walked around the long maple conference table. It was only when I got close enough to see the scantily clad woman in his text window that I noticed the wireless earbuds that were blasting music into his ears. As the ball left his hand, I touched his shoulder.

Startled, he lost his grip on the ball, sending it sailing behind him.

“What’s up?” he sputtered, quickly pulling his earbuds out. I didn’t miss his hand sliding his phone into his pocket. He looked every bit like a teenager caught red-handed by the principal.

“Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed. “You’ve had music on this entire time? I read nearly two pages of the brewery expansion proposal out loud to you twenty minutes ago!”

At least he had the decency to look remorseful. “I thought you were talking to yourself, so I”—he motioned to the black Beats—“figured I’d give you your privacy while I caught up on work.”

My eyebrows must have reached my hairline, because with a mildly guilty expression he pulled his legs down from the table.

I snorted. “Yes, I start all sentences with, ‘Cooper, what do you think about’ when I’m talking to myself. Were you just smiling and nodding for my health?” Shifting in his seat, he straightened.

I huffed.

The small laugh lines around his mouth became more pronounced, an indication that he was fighting back a smile. “Emmanuelle,” he purred smoothly.

“Don’t Emmanuelle me,” I clapped back. “That tone may work on your fan club, but not me.”

He held his arms up in a defensive position. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. What did I miss?” He grabbed for the papers in my hand.

Holding them back against my chest, I scowled. “Hope Lake Brewing Company. Expansion. Asking for input before it goes to the town council for approval.”

He whistled and rocked back in his chair. “Council is going to reject anything that comes across their desk from them. They hate the ‘vibe’ the brew house brings, and the addition would make the council’s heads explode.”

I nodded. “Yep, which is why the guys asked us for help. To try and edit the proposal to appeal to them. It’s also why I booked us the conference room for this meeting that you just Tindered your way through.”

“That’s not a word, and I wasn’t—” he began, patting his pocket absently. Probably making sure the evidence was tucked away safely.

I held up my hand. “Save it. I don’t care what or who you’re doing. Just that you’re not paying attention. Again.”

When the owners of HLBC, Drew and Luke Griffin, first came to our department, Cooper and I had championed their proposal to build a brewing company, tasting room, and outdoor entertainment space just along the lakefront. It was one of the first projects Cooper and I had worked on together, and it was just what we’d needed in town back then—a fun, innovative business that catered to every age. Now, six years later, HLBC was one of Hope Lake’s most popular spots, and the brothers were looking to expand their space to include rooms for private events and a small restaurant. Cooper and I were supposed to be discussing how to approach the town council about it.

Looked like I’d just been talking to myself instead. “I’m going back to my office, where I can work in peace,” I said. Exasperated, I started gathering up my stuff.

After a few seconds of awkward silence, he cleared his throat.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. Let’s go over it. Again.”

I stacked my files, feeling my blood starting to boil. Having to repeat myself irked me, but I needed his input whether I liked it or not.

Glancing up, I noticed Cooper readying to say something else when our shared assistant, Nancy, hurried in with the main office calendar and a fistful of Sharpies clutched in her hand.

“I’ve been searching for you two everywhere,” she said, looking wide-eyed at each of us in turn. The conference table, at least on my side, was covered in charts, graphs, and photos of the lake-front. On Cooper’s side—well, there was a lot of polished maple visible.

“Did you discuss the project?” she asked hopefully, her face falling when I shook my head. “Okay, well, I guess you’ll handle that, uh, later. I’m sure.” She gave me a look. “I hope,” she mouthed, then cleared her throat and pulled out the head chair of the conference table and sat down with the main office calendar in front of her. “It’s time for the afternoon rundown—are you ready?”

Cooper groaned. Not at Nancy but at the calendar she had opened. It had been on my desk this morning when I’d filled it with upcoming appointments and meetings. By the looks of it, Nancy had managed to fill almost every empty space that remained. We kept it old school at our office. Instead of using Google calendar or iCal, we used a large paper desk calendar with a color-coded legend, labels, and tabs to keep our government office running like clockwork. It’s not as though we hadn’t tried to modernize, but some of the, ahem, older department staff were frosty toward change.

Nancy, Cooper, and I worked at the Hope Lake Community Development Office on the top floor of Borough Building. In a small town like Hope Lake, my department was sort of the home base for everything. From simple things such as parade permits to more detailed ventures—for example, helping to secure funding for business owners like HLBC—the CDO, as we tended to call it, had its hand in pretty much everything. It wasn’t big, but what we lacked in size and staff we made up for in energy and results.

“The upcoming week is brutal,” Nancy apologized, looking at Cooper, who, not surprisingly, was on his phone again. “Emma, I’m afraid you’re a bit overscheduled.” She tapped a Sharpie on the table.

I waved a dismissive hand. “It can’t be any worse than that week the staff came down with the flu.” I had practically run the office that week even though I was heavily medicated myself.

“It’s close.” She held up two fingers barely an inch apart.

“You’re back-to-back Monday. There is a pocket of time during the event this weekend with the future Mr. Mayor here and his
opponent.”

Cooper perked up then. He knocked twice on the wooden table. “Don’t jinx me.”

Oh, sure, you’re paying attention now.

“You’re a shoo-in. People love you, Cooper. And with the mayor already behind you, how can you not be?” Nancy assured him.

Nancy wasn’t blowing smoke. Cooper had decided to run for office this year, and his magnetic personality made him the perfect political candidate. He was brilliant, liked by the majority of the town, and had confidence to spare because he knew he was the best choice for the job. Even I could admit that, and we
were often at odds.

“Emma, I know you wanted to have a sit-down with Drew and Luke from the brewing company about the proposed expansion before they go to the council, but I don’t see how it’s going to happen.”

Nancy jotted a note onto the calendar. Over the years, we’d gotten our system down to a science: orange for me, blue for Cooper, hot pink for our department administrative assistant, green for Nancy, and red for the mayor, because red was my dad’s favorite color. Blue, not surprisingly, was the color least visible on the entire calendar. It was sporadically used, even from my vantage point, which meant that Cooper had a light schedule this week.

Shocking.

I chewed the pen cap, irritated. Nancy continued reading off meeting after meeting throughout the week.

“These two on Thursday—I can probably sit in on them to give you a break, Emma,” she offered.

Looking over Nancy’s shoulder, I marveled at the Technicolor scheduling system. It might have been old-fashioned, but at least it looked good.

Shaking my head, I pointed at the partially torn yellow Post-it stuck on the edge of the frame. That was how my father added mayoral meetings to the calendar. Stickies. He was nothing if not professional. “No can do, my friend. You’re going to be at a ribbon cutting with Mayor Dad.”

She looked up, her lips a thin, flat line. “I am? He didn’t tell me.”

Sighing, she jotted the information down. “I wish he’d told me I was supposed to go, too!”

She took her calendar duties very seriously. I for one appreciated it, and I knew my father did, too, even if he did use his own odd system to add to it. It kept all of us in line.

Together, Nancy and I figured out the rest of the week, Cooper staying silent and, surprise surprise, on his phone. We looked over the days, pointing and crossing out, trying in vain to find somewhere to squeeze in a last sit-down. “It’s not going to work,” I lamented, sinking into the chair beside her.

“Well, someone from the department needs to at least show their face at the city events meeting,” she urged, looking pointedly at Cooper. A notebook was now on his lap, his hand moving swiftly over the page. He didn’t look up when she said his name or when she repeated it a few seconds later. He was too deeply invested in whatever he was doing.

At least he’s off the phone.

Tearing the Post-it off the calendar and balling it up in her fist, Nancy lobbed it at him. “Cooper!” she shouted, snapping her fingers as if she were telling a dog to sit.

Fitting.

He smiled at her. “I’m listening.”

 

 

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