Ms. Romance, Hannah Arden, writes one of the top read relationship advice columns in the nation. Mr. Reality, Brooks North, writes the top read relationship advice column.
Ms. Romance believes in true love and soul mates. Mr. Reality believes love is a term humanity has assigned to the primal instinct to procreate. She believes in fate—he in chance. She knows there’s one right person for everyone—he knows there are multiple ones. The two writers couldn’t be more polarized on relationships. They’re professional rivals, and philosophical antagonists.
For eight years, their battles have been fought with words and ink. That changes when they apply for the same position at the World Times and find themselves face-to-face for the first time. Brooks isn’t the sour-faced, antiquity of a man Hannah pictured. And Hannah isn’t exactly the middle-aged shrew with cat hair on her housedress that Brooks imagined either.
In lieu of competing for the promotion traditional ways, the two writers are presented with playing the leading roles in a social experiment unlike any before. Can a person be tricked into falling in love? Can a relationship be crafted under the right string of circumstances? Hannah knows the answer. So does Brooks.
Agreeing to the terms, the two set out on a three-month dating experiment, live-streamed for the world to watch. All Hannah has to do to win is not fall in love with the narcissistic brute. All Brooks has to do is get the starry-eyed dreamer to fall in love with him. Both are so confident in their philosophies, they expect the challenge to be easy.
With the world watching, Brooks and Hannah will be forced to confront their beliefs and conclude, once and for all, who’s right. The answer is one neither of them saw coming.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
I jolted. Brooks had an annoying talent of being able to appear out of thin air. “As far away from this dance floor as I can get.”
“But we haven’t danced yet.” Brooks crept in front of my path, forcing me to stop or crash into him.
Braking to a stop, I shot him a look. “I’ll be sure to shed some tears for that later. When I’m asleep.”
“Someone’s notably grumpier now than they were earlier.” His eyes narrowed in an investigative kind of way. “Methinks you weren’t totally forthcoming about you minding if I danced with other women.”
The cameraman was leaning in, our ever-present third wheel, but I didn’t feel the need to lower my voice. “Methinks you were onto something when you expressed trepidation over your manhood’s functioning properties after tonight.”
Brooks let out a low whistle. “Under the right circumstances, those words, from that mouth, would be such a turn-on.”
“The right circumstances being what? Your standing appointment with a dungeon and a dominatrix?”
One dark brow lifted. “Bad kitty.”
“No. Grumpy cat.” I circled my face before going around him.
His arm whipped out, cinching around my waist to draw me back to him. “Let’s see if I can help with that.” His hand found mine, lifting it, while his other secured at my back, bringing me closer. And closer.
And . . .
“Brooks,” I hissed, remembering the camera before I put into words what I’d just felt.
He didn’t appear the slightest bit fazed. “What was that about my functioning manhood?”
“I don’t want to feel it digging into my stomach when I’m trying to focus on tangoing.”
“Then you shouldn’t have worn that dress.”
“And we’ll lump that in the category known as victim-blaming,” I muttered, trying to ignore the hard swell rubbing against my midsection.
“It’s not your fault my dick has a thing for your dress.” Brooks didn’t lower his voice at all. “It’s his fault, one hundred and ten percent. Total case of dick-blaming right here.”
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.