HANDLE WITH CARE – A Helena Hunting Cover & Excerpt Reveal

*A note from Helena*

Need a refresher as to who the heck Lincoln is inside The Shacking Up world?

Lincoln is Armstrong Moorehead’s older brother. You don’t  meet him directly in any of the previous books, but he’s mentioned in Hooking Up. He also happens to be besties with Griffin Mills, the oldest Mills brother. So there’s that to consider. And moving on . . .

You may remember Armstrong as the douchey ex-fiancé/husband of Amalie Whitfield in Shacking Up and her very short term husband in Hooking Up. Their marriage lasts all of 12 hours as a result of Armstrong  cheating on Amalie during their wedding reception, and the whole sordid thing is broadcast to the entire reception.

Yeah. Imagine having that douchenozzle as your brother. Fun, right?

Blurb/Summary: To be Announced–SMP is working on this, so once we have it ready to go we’ll share it with you! For now I have an excerpt for you to share with the cover that will give you a taste of what’s coming in this fun, crazy, sexy story.

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I’m startled out of my thoughts when my brother jumps up and shouts a bunch of profane nonsense, hands flailing like he’s trying to swim on land, or approximate the chicken dance while on an LSD trip.

“You can’t do this! It’s absolute bullshit!” Armstrong yells.

I look around the table, trying to piece together what I missed.

“I’m sorry, Armstrong. I know this is a shock, but we feel it’s in the company’s best interest to put Lincoln at the helm during this transitional stage,” G-mom says firmly.

At the helm? I look to G-mom who’s busy not looking at me.

Armstrong jabs at finger at himself. “But I’m the one who’s put in all the time here! I deserve to run the company! Lincoln doesn’t know the first thing about Moorehead. All he knows how to do is dig wells and forage for food in the wilderness. How are those valuable assets here?” He turns his attention to our mother. “Did you know about this? How can you let this happen? Look at him. How can that be the face of our company? He looks like he crawled out of a gutter and mugged a twenty-year-old college kid on a bender. How is this better for our bottom line?”

My mother clasps her hands in front of her. “I’m sorry, Armstrong, but this decision wasn’t mine to make. I know this is hard for you, but your grandmother and fath—”

Armstrong stomps his foot, exactly as a toddler would. “The company is mine! Lincoln can’t have it!”

I raise a hand, half to quiet my brother and also to find out what the freaking deal is. “Whoa, let’s back this bus up.  Can someone explain what’s going on?”

“You’ve been appointed as the CEO of Moorehead Media, according to the will,” Christophe—no R, because that would make it far too pedestrian a name—my father’s lawyer says.

I’m working on trying to remain calm as I address my grandmother. “You didn’t say anything about me being CEO. You said you needed my help.”

“Running the company, yes,” she says through a practiced, stiff smile.

It’s her warning face, but seriously, when she said she needed my help for a few months I figured it meant I’d be keeping Armstrong in line while she sorted out who was going to take over the company, which I realize now was a stupid assumption.

“I didn’t think that meant CEO. How am I going to run a company with this dickhead on staff?” I motion to my brother.

“The name calling is unnecessary,” G-mom replies.

“Lincoln’s not even part of this family! He hasn’t attended one event in the past five years except for Dad’s funeral. He didn’t bother coming to my wedding and now he’s going to run the company? How is that fair?”

I snort. “Your wedding was an expensive joke.”

He crosses his arms over his chest. “I was set up. Amalie had cold feet and made me out to look like the bad guy.”

The woman beside him shoots him disgusted look.

Armstrong clears his throat and tugs at his collar. “My wedding is not the real issue. The point is that you’ve never involved yourself in any part of this family and now you think you can come in and take over. I will not stand by and let this happen!” He keeps jabbing his finger at me, as if he’s engaged in a finger sword fight.

I lean back in my chair and lace my fingers behind my neck. Armstrong has always been reactive. And self-absorbed. For a while it seemed like he finally had it together—back when he was engaged. But ever since that fiasco of a wedding he seems to have come completely unglued. Again. But worse this time. “Someone needs a timeout.”


About Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Helena Hunting lives outside of Toronto with her amazing family and her two awesome cats, who think the best place to sleep is her keyboard. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.

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SHACKING UP – A Helena Hunting Excerpt Reveal

“Fun, sexy, and full of heart…Helena Hunting has done it again!”
USA Today bestselling author Melanie Harlow

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shacking upThey say every cloud has a silver lining, but does that include missing your big acting break because of a bad cold? Maybe, if being actually sick turns into being lovesick.

From New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting, SHACKING UP (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, November 27, 2018, $7.99), is a hilarious, swoon-worthy novel about sex and the city—and everything in between.

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with an important audition. But instead of getting her big break, Ruby gets sick as a dog and ends up with her tail between her legs. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed her—and then coughed on her—at a party the night before.

Ruby’s BFF might have found her the perfect job opportunity: pet-sitting in the lavish penthouse apartment belonging to hotel magnate Bancroft Mills. But when the newly-evicted Ruby meets her jet-setting employer, she realizes he’s the same guy who got her sick. Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet . . . and maybe back into his arms?

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Excerpt SUHHPBR.png

CHAPTER 3

SCREW  YOU,  AWESOME KISSER

RUBY

I eat an entire Listerine PocketPak on the subway ride home to kill any lingering germs in my mouth from Awesome Kisser. I’m annoyed by the whole thing, but at least he apologized and seemed sincere about the acci- dental tongue invasion. Too bad the hotness of the mem- ory is marred by raging Brittany and the hack in the face.

After getting home, I rinse with mouthwash, down six vitamin C capsules and some anti-flu holistic stuff, and then I go ahead and make myself my customary before- bed, pre-audition nighttime drink of hot honey-lemon water, and pray I’ve done a good enough job of ridding myself of cough germs.

I climb into bed, note my sheets lack a fresh scent, question when I last washed them, then I set my alarm and close my eyes. Behind my lids appears the hottie— whose name is apparently Banny, or maybe I misheard and it’s Danny. It’s not really a hot guy name. I’m going to stick with Awesome Kisser.

Now that I’m past the shock-and-awe factor I can fully appreciate that man’s hotness in the shouty caps sense of the word. It’s unfortunate he dates vapid, self-absorbed model-y types and not starving artists. I have a feeling “date” isn’t the appropriate word anyway. It’s also unfor- tunate that he has poor coughing manners.

I consider that he was likely a guest at the engagement party and he very well may be a guest at the wedding as well. If I’m still dateless by then he could make an ex- cellent potential dance partner, depending of course on how tight he is with Armstrong. If they’re close friends I don’t think it’s advisable to get involved in any semi- unclothed dancing outside of the wedding celebrations, no matter how hot he is. I don’t want to run the risk of encountering him again should things not go as well as one hopes.

Eventually I stop fantasizing about what’s under his suit and pass out.

I’m about to find out exactly what’s in Awesome Kiss- er’s designer pants when a repetitive, annoying sound dis- tracts me. I pause just before I smooth a hand over the amazingly prominent bulge while he tilts my head back, his soft lips brushing mine, his hot tongue sweeping . . .

The wisps of the dream fade and I crack a lid. The fantasy breaks with the obnoxious sunlight screaming its wake-up call, along with my stupid phone. Sometimes I’m slutty in my dreams.

I reach for the phone, remembering that Amie prom- ised me a morning call, just in case I messed up my alarm, which has happened in the past. I was on the ball last night, though. I set three alarms, all within five min- utes of each other so I wouldn’t have an opportunity to fall back asleep.

“Rise and shine, Ruby! I’m your wake-up call!” How she manages to sound so damn chipper at seven-thirty in the morning after her engagement party is beyond me.

A seal-like bark comes out when I attempt to grum- ble hello and tell her off for interrupting my dream.

“Ruby? Are you there?”

I make a second attempt at speaking but all I manage is another bark.

“Do you have a bad connection? I told you not to go with the cheap provider. You know how terrible the re- ception is.”

I clear my throat and immediately regret it, as it feels like knives are traveling up my esophagus.

“Ruby?” Amie asks again and then sighs. “I’m hang- ing up and trying again.”

Once the line goes dead I immediately hit the video call. Amie picks up right away. She’s wearing a white robe with her wavy hair pulled up into a ponytail, look- ing as fresh as baked bread out of the oven. I on the other hand, look like yesterday’s garbage based on the small image in the corner of my phone.

“Oh my God. Are you okay?”

I motion to my throat and shake my head. I give speak- ing another shot, just in case my inability to make more than random, audible sounds is a result of waking up. I usually don’t have to use words until after my morning coffee. All I get is another one of those squeaky moans and more sharp pain in my throat.

Amie sucks in a gasp and slaps her hand over her mouth. “You have no voice!”

I nod.

“How are you going to audition?”

The final dregs of sleep slip away. I mouth oh God. A mime is the only part I can audition for with no voice, or one of the dancer roles with no lines. They don’t make nearly as much money as central, or even secondary character, roles—which is what I’m hoping to score. The pay scale for that is far higher than for a lineless role. It definitely won’t cover the basics, like rent and food, let alone the minimum payments on my credit card. I’ve been banking on this audition to get me out of the hole I’ve dug for myself over the past few weeks.

The phone conversation is pointless since Amie can’t read lips and I can’t respond. She tells me she’s coming over. I try to tell her not to bother, but again, with the lack of words it’s impossible to convey. I wait until she hangs up and text her to tell her it’s not necessary. Besides, this thing I have is clearly contagious since I must’ve gotten it from Awesome Kisser, and I don’t want to pass it on to her. Damn Awesome Kisser—ruining the already ques- tionable state of my life.

I roll out of bed, the full-body ache hitting me with the movement. I must be dying. And I’m not just being dramatic. Every cell in my body hurts. I drag myself to the kitchen and fill the kettle. Maybe a lemon-honey hot water toddy will help restore my voice. Based on my re- cent unlucky streak, I have my doubts.

I shuffle to the bathroom, turn on the shower, and root around in the medicine cabinet for some decent drugs. All I have is regular-strength Tylenol, so it’ll have to do. I climb into the shower without checking the temperature first—it takes forever to heat up and then fluctuates be- tween lukewarm and scalding. I step under the spray during a scalding phase and huddle in the corner until it’s bearable.

I’d like to say the shower helps me feel better. It does not. The warm water also does little to help my voice. Although I’m past just squeaking to barely audible one- word phrases, such as “ow.” I’m praying to the voice-miracle gods that the honey-lemon combo will further improve my ability to speak.

Once out of the shower I doctor up my water, adding extra lemon and honey. Not only do I burn the crap out of my tongue, it feels like serrated blades coated in acid sliding down my throat. Still, I get dressed in basic black tights and a black tank with a loose, gauzy gray shirt over top. I dry my hair and put on makeup in hopes that ap- pearing put together will make it so. I have to double up on powder when the effort to prepare my face causes me to sweat.

I take a second hot lemon-honey toddy with me on the subway and arrive for my audition half an hour early. Not that my promptness matters. I’m still unable to speak above a whisper. My despair balloons like a marshmal- low in the microwave at the mass of people performing voice warm-up exercises around me.

I make an attempt to do the same, but the hoarse, croaklike sound is drowned out by the crystal clear voice of the perfectly gorgeous woman standing next to me. As I listen to the sound of a thousand soaring angels spew out of her mouth, I shiver with what I fear is the begin- ning of a fever. Sweat breaks out across the back of my neck and travels down my spine, along with a violent shiver. As if today could be any worse than it already is, my stomach does this weird, knotting thing.

“Ruby Scott.”

I glance at the director, who’s thankfully still looking fresh, and not beaten down by hundreds of craptastic au- ditions. Those are yet to come. I shoulder my bag and follow him to the theater.

“You’re auditioning for the role of Emma today, cor- rect?” He doesn’t give me a chance to confirm. “I’d like you to start with the song at the beginning of act two.”

“Okay,” I croak feebly, cringing at the raspy sound. At least I can speak, even if I sound like a prepubescent boy with his nuts caught in his zipper.

The director looks up from his clipboard, his frown an omen.

“I seem to have lost my voice.” He has to strain to hear me.

He heaves a frustrated sigh. “You can’t audition if you don’t have a voice.”

“I didn’t want to miss it. Maybe I could audition for a dancer part?” Fewer words are better.

He purses his lips. “Auditions for dancer roles aren’t until later in the week.”

“I understand, but I’m here and if you can’t hear me sing, at least you could see me dance?” I fight the gag reflex as another wave of nausea hits me.

He sighs and relents, gesturing to the stage. I thank him, then drop my bag at the edge of the stage and get into first position. My brain is foggy and my body aches horribly, but I can’t pass up this opportunity for a mod- est, yet steady income for a few months. I can’t afford to rack up additional credit card debt, and I don’t want to ask my father for more money, because that will make him aware of how much of a struggle this is. Then he’ll make his case for me to come work for him, as is his mas- ter plan. I know I can do this.

The music cues up, and as I start to move my stom- ach does that rolling-heave thing again. There isn’t any food in it, but all of a sudden the honey-lemon water I consumed this morning decides to stage a revolt. I’m in the middle of a spin—not the best idea when nauseous— and the next wave hits me; violent and unrelenting.

I attempt to keep my mouth closed, but the intensity of the spasm forces it open. I spray the stage with partially digested honey-lemon water, and what appears to be last night’s shrimp tarts and mushroom canapé appe- tizer dinner—in an Exorcist-like dramatic flair.

And thus ends my audition.

 


The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Pucked and I Flipping Love You, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

HOOKING UP – A Helena Hunting Chapter Reveal

IMG_2541 Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception–but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.

Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him.

They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical.

Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.

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One

Wedding Unbliss

Amie

This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”

My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?

I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.

I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.

The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.

“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.

Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”

Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.

I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?

I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the deejay, or whoever is behind the mic, he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.

I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.

Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”

A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.

“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”

My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief is as vast as the ocean.

Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.

I clutch Ruby’s hand. The next sound that comes from him is a hybrid between a hyena laugh and a wolf baying at the moon. And every guest at our wedding is hearing the same thing I am. Our wedding. Someone other than me is blowing my husband at my own wedding. My mortification knows no end.

I grab the closest bottle of wine and dump the contents into my glass. Some of it sloshes over the edge and onto the crisp white tablecloth. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty more where it came from. I chug the glass, then grab Ruby’s.

People lean in and whisper to each other, eyes lift to the speakers. A few people, the ones who are probably just here for the social-ladder-climbing potential, question who it is.

“Is the deejay watching porn?” That comment comes from a table full of mostly drunk singles in their early twenties.

Several eyes shift my way as I carelessly down Ruby’s wine and someone asks where the groom has disappeared to.

The grunts and groans grow terrifyingly louder. This is nothing like what I’m used to in bed with Armstrong. The dirty words aren’t something he ever uses with me, mostly it’s just noises and sometimes a “Right there” or “I’m close,” but that’s about it. He’s never talked to me like he is to the woman currently providing oral pleasure. And I’m very adept at oral. Although with Armstrong it’s very polite, neat oral, with no sounds other than the occasional hum. Slurping is uncivilized and a definite no-no.

I reach past Ruby for the bottle of red since I don’t really give a flying fuck about purple teeth right now. As I sink low in my seat I pour another glass of wine, surveying the people in the ballroom from behind the cover of the centerpiece. The centerpieces are huge and excessive and I don’t like them at all, but at least provides a protective barrier between the guests and my disgust, which I’m certain they must share. He sounds like a wild animal rutting. It is entirely unsexy. I have no idea who he’s getting intimate with, but I’m suddenly very glad it’s not me.

And doesn’t that tell me more about our relationship than it should.

It’s only been about thirty seconds—the most humiliating thirty seconds of my life—before Armstrong comes. How do I know this? Because he says, very clearly, “Keep sucking, baby, I’m coming.”

And “baby,” whoever she is, makes these horrific gurgling noises. It sounds like some form of alien communication. It’s way over the top, and apparently Armstrong is loving it, based on the string of vile profanity that spews from his asshole mouth.

“Holy crap. Is this for real? That was really fast,” Ruby mutters.

I guzzle my glass of wine. Then decide the glass is unnecessary and take a long swig from the bottle before Ruby snatches it away. Wine dribbles down my chin and onto my chest, staining the white satin purple. My dress is ruined. I should be freaking out. But I really don’t care.

“Come on,” Ruby tugs on my hand. “We need to get you out of here while people are still distracted.”

My older brother Pierce and the emcee are standing in the middle of the hall, gesturing wildly to the speakers above us. My other brother, Lawson, is on his way toward the podium in an attempt to do something. I don’t think there’s anything he can do to stop this train wreck from there.

Ruby tugs again, but I’m frozen, still trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Well, I know what’s happened. I just can’t believe it.

The sound of a zipper and the rustle of clothes follows. “Thanks for that, now I’ll be able to last later tonight,” Armstrong says.

“What about me?” A female asks. Her voice is nasally and whiny.

“What about you?”

“Well I helped you, aren’t you going to help me?”

“Didn’t you come with a date?”

“Well, yes, but—” God her voice is familiar. I just can’t figure out where I know it from.

“My cousin, right? He loves my sloppy seconds. Speeches are starting. I gotta get back to my ball and chain.”

Gasps of horror ripple through the room, followed by a few giggles. These people really are assholes.

I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t believe he’s going to come out here and pretend nothing just happened. Like some other woman didn’t just have her lips around his cock. His distinctly average cock. Maybe even slightly below average in length, if I’m being one hundred percent honest.

A door opens and closes.

Lawson turns on the mic behind the podium and taps it, sending screeching feedback through the room, making people cringe. Too bad no one did that a minute ago.

Murmuring grows louder and glances flicker to the head table and then away as Brittany Thorton, a seriously skanky debutante, comes strutting through the doors, using a compact to check her lipstick. She’s made it her mission to attempt to get into the pants of half the eligible men in this room. She’s followed, not five seconds later, by a very smug-looking Armstrong.

“I’m going to kill him.” I grab the closest steak knife, but it appears my hasty, and possibly felonious, plan is unnecessary. My brothers leave their respective posts and stalk toward him. Across the room my mother is gripping my father’s arm, whispering furiously in his ear. Great. Just what I need, additional family drama.

“Oh shit,” Ruby gasps.

I follow her gaze to find Bane converging on Armstrong with my brothers. Bancroft is a tank and he used to play professional rugby. I’ve seen him with his shirt off, he’s built like a superhero and he’ll probably crush Armstrong, or at least break something. Possibly multiple somethings.

For a second I consider that Ruby should probably stop Bane from destroying Armstrong’s pretty, regal face, but then I realize I don’t actually care. In fact, the possibility that he might break Armstrong’s perfectly straight nose fills me with glee. Armstrong’s wellbeing is no longer my concern, it’s more about Bane ending up in prison for murder.

“I hope Armstrong has a good plastic surgeon, he’s going to need it once Bane is done with him.” Ruby echoes my internal hopes and her chair tips as she jumps up. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.” She nods to the right.

I notice my mother and father engaged in a heated discussion with Armstrong’s parents. I really don’t need this right now. Not the drama. Not the humiliation. All I wanted was a nice wedding. Instead I end up with a husband who gets a blow job during our reception—and it’s broadcast to everyone attending.

Ruby urges me into action. “Don’t worry about them. Get your stuff and we’ll get you the hell out of here. I’ll have the limo meet you by the entrance near your bridal suite as soon as I can.”

I nod and stumble unsteadily to my feet, thanks to having consumed the better part of a bottle of wine in the last minute and a half. It’s amazing how ninety seconds can change a person’s entire life.

All hell breaks loose as more men jump in to either pummel or extract Armstrong from the pummeling. I grab my clutch and phone from the table, gather up my stupid, too puffy gown, and head for the bridal suite, where I had prepared for what was supposed to be the most amazing day of my life. And now it’s likely the worst, at least I hope the mortification level I’m experiencing can’t exceed this. I feel like the foulest version of Cinderella ever.

I rush down the empty hall and grab the doorknob as I fumble around in my clutch for the key. I’m surprised when it turns. I thought I’d locked it before we left for the ceremony. Regardless, I need to get away from everyone before I either lose it or commit a felony. Maybe both. Murder in the first. Armstrong will be my victim. And maybe that horrible skank, Brittany.

I thrust the door open and slam it closed behind me, locking it from the inside. Tears threaten to spill over and ruin my makeup. Not that it matters since there’s no way I’m going out there again. I can’t believe my forever lasted less than twelve hours. I can’t believe the man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life loving couldn’t be faithful to me for even one day. What the hell is wrong with me? With him? I’m as devastated as I am angry and embarrassed. Once I annul this farce of a marriage I’ll become a spinster. I should probably go ahead and adopt six or seven cats tonight.

“I need to get out of this dress,” I say to myself. I reach behind me and pull the bow at the base of my spine. Instead of unfurling, it knots and I only succeed in pulling it tighter. Of course my dress has to be difficult. I growl my annoyance and rush over to my dressing table where my makeup and perfume are scattered from earlier today. Half a mimosa sits unconsumed beside the vase of red roses Armstrong had delivered.

The card read: I can’t wait to spend forever loving you.

What a load of bullshit. I drain the contents of the champagne flute, not caring that the drink is warm and flat. Then I throw the glass, because it feels good and the sound of shattering crystal is satisfying. Next I heave the vase of roses, which explodes impressively against the wall, splattering water and shards of glass across the floor.

I yank out a couple of the drawers and find a pair of scissors. They actually look more like gardening shears and seem rather out of place, but I don’t question it. Instead I reach behind me with my back to the mirror and awkwardly try to cut myself free. It’s not easy with the way I have to crane my neck.

“Goddammit! I need to get out of this stupid dress!” I yell at my reflection. I think I might actually be losing it just a touch now. I stop messing around with the laces in the back and shove the scissors down the front. I nearly nick myself with the blade—they’re a lot sharper than I realized—but that doesn’t slow me down. I start hacking my way through the bodice; layers of satin, lace, and intricate beading sliced apart with every vicious snip.

I just want out of this nightmare.

 


CONNECT WITH HELENA

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

SHACKING UP – A Helena Hunting Q&A and Review

Accidental lip locks don’t generally end in HEA…but in HH’s world that’s just what you’re gunna get.

In typical “I inconvenienced you so here’s how I’ll make it up to you” trope fashion: Bane has to make this right and hire Rub to stay with him and take care of his…..exotic pets (and that is not a euphemism). Bane and Ruby are two peas in a pod. There’s an easy chemistry between the two of them shows form their first..ahem…interaction.

Ruby is a bit of a spitfire and has the well-known Hunting Heroine sass that matches Bane’s sarcasm and makes for some entertaining scenes. Not to mention these two seem to find themselves in sexually tense situation more often than not.

Of course they’ve got to blur the line between business and pleasure to find out if that tension is worth cutting. Bane doesn’t want to overstep Ruby’s bounds but he can’t resist. Ruby knew that the stranger that kissed her and started this whole debacle would be memorable but she didn’t plan on life-altering.

So excited to be back in the Hunting world and am so hoping for more in this steamy new series. Plus…rugby players…i mean they’re just the European version of sexy hockey players right?!

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A STANDALONE Romantic Comedy

SHACKING UP
by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting!

ShackingUp.jpgRuby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

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Shacking-Up-Whim-4.jpg

CHECK OUT AN EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT HERE


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Describe Shacking Up using no more than 140 characters (a la Twitter).

Sexy, quirky, with enough sexual tension to light your underwear on fire.

 

Where did you get inspiration for the character’s names, particularly Bancroft aka Bane?

Once I met a police officer (I wasn’t doing anything illegal) who introduced himself as Bancroft. I thought that was his last name, so I sassily introduced myself by my last name as well. Then he corrected me, telling me that his first name was Bancroft, and I felt obviously ridiculous. He was a mammoth man. He practically had to duck through doorways, so I put that one in the name bank for a rainy day. I also thought it was rather hilarious that it could be shortened to Bane—as in the bane of my existence, which we know Bancroft certainly is not. Ruby is a spunky name and I thought reflected the heroine’s fiery personality.

 

Shacking Up is hilarious! How easily does the banter between the characters come for you? Do you ever struggle writing the humor in your books?

With Ruby and Bane the banter came easily because there weren’t a lot of social constraints or limitations for them. At the beginning they’re working under the premise of a business arrangement, so the pressure is off and Ruby isn’t really one to hold back,. Neither is Bane for that matter. I have such a fun time creating off the wall, sometimes sexually tense scenes, especially with these two.

 

Do you ever make yourself laugh when writing a scene?

Yes. I feel weird saying that, but there are times when I’m imagining what is happening as I’m writing and thinking “this is just ridiculous”. My hope is that if I think it’s ridiculous, so will other people, and it will inspire the same reaction. Francesca certainly helped make it a lot easier to fit in fun, light-hearted situations.

 

What inspired Bane’s exotic choice in pets?

Ferrets are freaking adorable, but they are menaces if they’re left to their own devices. They’re also a lot like dogs and cats, but they require a different kind of care, the fact that they’re illegal in NYC also helped. As for Tiny—I think a lot of people would be reluctant to take care of a giant spider, no matter how cool they are as pets. I felt like both of them would be lend for some funny situations.

 

The heroes in your Pucked series are all hockey stars, and Bane in Shacking Up is an ex-rugby player. Is it safe to say you have a thing for athletes?

I guess you could say I have a fascination with athletes. That level of physical fitness takes an extraordinary amount of discipline, plus STAMINA!!! More than just being an athlete, I have an affinity for heroes who show loyalty and determination and who are just as much about brain as brawn.

 

Ruby is a bit of a rebel, defying her family to go after her dreams. What do you love most about her?

I love that despite things not always going her way, she refuses to take the easy way out. Our paths are not always linear and Ruby is very willing to make concessions where she needs to in order to prove to herself and her family that she can attain her goals.

 

Why are Bane and Ruby so perfect for each other?

They’re both very goal oriented people with the same core values. Ruby is a firecracker and Bane needs someone with that level of sass to challenge him. For Ruby, Bane is an inherent caretaker, BUT he tries not to force that care on her which is something she can appreciate.

 

Are there any books or authors you’re really excited about right now?

I’m excited for Ann Marie Walkers BLACK TIE OPTIONAL. I recently devoured Jana Aston’s Grind Me Series and Debra Anastasia is writing the most awesome book right now, and I can’t wait until it’s ready for public consumption.


CONNECT WITH HELENA

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

SHACKING UP – A Helena Hunting Excerpt

A STANDALONE Romantic Comedy coming May 30, 2017

SHACKING UP
by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting!

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EXCERPT:

She taps the arm of her chair and regards me for a few seconds. “So . . . that woman you were with at the engagement party, I’m guessing she’s not your girlfriend or anything? I don’t need to worry about her freaking out because another woman is living in your condo?”

“You mean Brittany? Uh, no. She’s definitely not my girlfriend.”

“Good to know.”

“With all the travel a girlfriend hasn’t been all that practical.”

She cocks her head. “What do you mean?”

“When I played professional rugby I was on the road a lot. And now it seems like I’ll be on the road more than I anticipated. At least for a while. It makes it difficult to get involved.”

“Ah. I understand. Theater is challenging like that, too. The hours are odd since performances are typically in the evenings and on the weekends. Unless you’re dating another actor it’s not very practical.” She dips her spoon in her dessert again. “So that Brittany chick was just meant to be a hookup then?”

I’m sure Brittany would’ve been good with the hookup part, but I don’t mention that to Ruby. “I went out with her as a favor.”

She grimaces. “Wow, that’s some favor.”

“She’s not that bad.” I’m not sure why I’m defending Brittany, other than it seems to irritate Ruby.

“She called me a slut!”

“Well, you were kissing me, so . . .” I have to bite back the smile at her incredulity.

She points her spoon at me, her annoyance clear. “You kissed me.”

I shift an arm behind my head. “You didn’t put up much of a fight.”

Her mouth drops open and snaps shut just as quickly. It’s the same reaction I got out of her the other day when I brought the same thing up at the restaurant.

Her eyes narrow into slits. I bet she’s a real firecracker when she’s angry. I sort of want to push her buttons just to see what happens when she goes off. I bet angry fucking with her would be incredible. I wonder if she’s a hair puller, or a biter, or a scratcher. Wow. That got dirty fast.

She narrows her eyes. “We are not talking about this.”

“About you kissing me back? I wasn’t going to bring it up, but now that we’re on the subject—”

“Consider it un-brought-up.” Her cheeks flush.

I can’t help myself. I keep pushing. “No way. You as much as admitted that you kissed me back, right there. You opened the door. I’m walking through it. Why would you kiss a complete stranger?”

“I said I wasn’t talking about this.” The pink in her cheeks rises to the tips of her ears.

This is way too much fun. She’s got one hell of an angry glare going on. “I’m leaving you in my house for more than a month, alone. I need to be certain you have sound judgment.”

“I’ll have you know my judgment is usually very sound. However, when an incredibly attractive man surprises me with his tongue in my mouth, the most logical response is to kiss back.”

“You think I’m incredibly attractive?”

She rolls her eyes. “Of course that’s the part you choose to focus on. You see yourself in the mirror every day. You can’t tell me you don’t know you’re nice to look at. I’m just stating a fact.”

My ego inflates a little at this. I know I’m not unattractive, but my nose has been broken a couple of times, and there’s a bump I can’t ever get rid of without plastic surgery. I’ve had knee surgery and I’m not great under anesthetic, so I’d prefer to avoid that scenario. I also have a few small facial scars from playing rugby all those years, which, in the environment I grew up in, takes me down a few points on the desirability scale. Not that I give a fuck. It’s my mother who seems to be worried about it, as she does about every line and gray hair. It’s a blessing I don’t have any sisters.

            I see. So you’re telling me if any incredibly attractive man did what I did, you’d respond the exact same way.”

“Now you’re generalizing. It’s circumstantial.”

“What do you mean by circumstantial?”

“Well, I guess I assumed you had to be a guest at the engagement party.”

“So that made it okay to kiss a stranger? Because we were attending the same event?”

She pauses with her spoon at her lips. “That’s not what I said.”

“It sounds like that’s what you’re implying.” That spoons slips into her mouth and she licks it clean before she responds. The entire time I’m thinking increasingly dirty thoughts about that tongue of hers.

She flounders a little. “It’s not like I was at some seedy bar with seedy douches. It was an engagement party.”

“So that makes me better somehow?”

“Are you always this antagonistic?” She throws up her hands. “You kissed me. You smelled good and you’re good with your tongue so I went with it. Stop judging me.”

“I’m not judging, I’m just asking. So on top of being incredibly attractive and smelling good I’m also an excellent kisser.”

“I never said excellent, you added your own adjective. And if you keep talking about how attractive you are you’ll go from a ten to a nine pretty fast.”

 


ShackingUp.jpg  Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

AMAZON |  B&N |  iBOOKS | KOBO |  GOOGLEPLAY |  AUDIBLE


CONNECT WITH HELENA

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

SHACKING UP – A Helena Hunting Cover Reveal

ShackingUp.jpg

PREORDER NOW

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Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS


CONNECT WITH HELENA

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.