Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Love to Win

A funny, heartwarming story that will steal your heart!” 

 

She hates to lose . . . 

Competitive barista Brenna Kinkaid loves a challenge, and she’ll do whatever it takes to win, especially when it comes to her nemesis, Dante Caravicci. But when forced to team up to save their best friends’ wedding, Brenna recognizes that Dante might just be her ultimate win.

He plays to win . . .

Restaurateur Dante Caravicci won’t quit anything until he can claim success. He’s bided his time, but he’s used to taking big risks and surviving, so he figures he’s got nothing to lose by playing for Brenna.

Hearts at risk . . .

These two fall fast, and it looks like a win-win—until a competition pits them head-to-head and one of them goes way too far. A nudge from an improbable source may be the only way these two competitors will ever admit that the only way to win is to lose their hearts

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EXCERPT from Love to Win:

 

The bell on the door of the Lump & Grind jingled, and the crowd whooped and clapped. Brenna looked past Raelynn to see who had come in, and her chest constricted. Of all the men in Bright Hills, why did he have to be the first one to step through her door?

“Speak of the devil.” Raelynn fanned her face and gave Brenna a look. “As dares go, you could do a whole lot worse than kissing Dante Caravicci.”

The man in question glanced around at the noisy crowd. It was apparent that their delight was aimed at him, and he played it up and gave them a bow worthy of a royal court.

“Hey, Caravicci, the Dare won. You have to kiss Brenna!” someone called out.

Dante straightened and shot a bemused look over the collection of people, then modified his expression into a comical leer. “Reaaally?” He wriggled his brows and twisted an imaginary mustache. The group went wild, clapping and whoop-whooping.

Brenna rolled her eyes. Why, oh, why, oh, why? But she wanted to win this thing, and winning meant playing along and having every possible person in this town on her side, so she brightened her expression, came around the counter, put her hands on her hips, and vamped it up. Doing her best impression of Mae West she batted her dark-lashed dusky blues at Dante and said, “Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

Dante dropped his head back and laughed along with Brenna’s customers. The infectious humor seeped into her, and she found herself laughing with them, feeling both ridiculous and pleased that her supporters were getting such a kick out of her goofy role play. This would translate into a bigger crowd for the Truth or Dare challenge next Saturday, and Brenna would never complain about more people coming into her little coffeehouse to order their designer brew.

“Well, c’mon.” She wriggled her fingers in a come here gesture. “The Dare is that I have to kiss the first man who walked in, and that’s you. Let’s get this over with.”

Dante stepped up to Brenna and smiled down at her. “I’m taking Cal to lunch to keep him busy before the wedding. I just dropped by to see if you need any help.”

“Thanks, no. You just keep Caleb out of our hair. He’s not allowed to see Maddie before the ceremony.”

“I know. Maddie already gave me my marching orders.”

“You gonna kiss her, or what?” someone hollered.

“Keep your pants on,” Dante said over his shoulder, and a moment later he grabbed Brenna and swung her into an unexpected dip.

Brenna gasped and clutched Dante’s shirt while The Lump & Grind exploded with approval. Wide-eyed, she watched his face lower towards hers, and panic whooshed through her. She didn’t want to kiss Dante Caravicci. She especially didn’t want to suffer through it in front of an audience. Never mind that the man was a special kind of eye candy. He had the whole sexy-Italian-male thing going for him, the bastard—hair and eyes the color of rich espresso, and olive skin that made him look like he’d just enjoyed a few hours at the beach. At the moment, the lower half of his face bore just enough growth of beard to tell her he’d shaved that morning, but too early in the day to keep him smooth for the evening wedding. His Mediterranean heritage, she figured, was to blame for the sexy stubble.

Damn it, she hated giving him a positive critique.

When he was close enough to hear her lowered voice she said, “Listen to me, Neanderthal. If you stick your tongue in my mouth I’ll bite it off. Understand?”

Dante’s eyes lit with mischief. “You have no faith in me at all, Brenna. Relax and enjoy making your customers happy.”

“Don’t you dare—”

“I would never,” he assured her in a silky voice that sounded a lot to her ears like a promise that, oh, yes, he absolutely would.

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