Jill Mansell’s Countdown to Valentine’s Day!
To celebrate the U.S. release of The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell, we’re sharing excerpts from the book to get you geared up for some Valentine’s Day love – from your book boyfriend or otherwise – with an excerpt from her newest book!
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The Unexpected Consequences of Love
by Jill Mansell
“Waaah, stop it,” shrieked Tula as Riley scooped her up into the air. “Put me down! I’m too heavy…”
“Don’t give me that. You’re light as a feather. Okay, hang on tight…”
“You hang on tight,” Tula retorted, before letting out another yelp as he expertly threw her over his shoulder in a fireman’s lift.
In front of them in the parking lot of the Mermaid Inn, CJ called out, “Everybody ready? Down to the beach, around the rocks at the end, and back again.” He raised two ominously murky pint glasses like trophies. “Losers have to drink these.”
There were six couples taking part. Tula was just glad she wasn’t wearing a short skirt. But the party was brilliant, everyone was incredibly friendly, and the drinking games had been hilarious. So long as they didn’t lose this one; God only knew what had gone into making that muddy–looking brew.
“Three…two…one…GO,” bellowed CJ, and they were off.
Urgh, being carried in a fireman’s lift was a bumpy experience. Clinging on for dear life, Tula admired Riley’s physique; his shoulders were broad and his biceps rocklike as he ran out of the parking lot and down onto the beach.
“Don’t be sick down my back,” he warned as they headed for the outcrop of three rocks exposed by the low tide at the far end of the beach.
“I’m never sick.” Raising her head and seeing the rest of the party cheering them on, her heart clenched with joy at the sight of Josh’s instantly recognizable figure among them. He was here; at last he’d turned up. Hooray!
It was dark, but the full moon and the strings of lights looped between each of the street lamps along the esplanade went some way toward illuminating the beach. She could see and hear the white, foamy waves breaking along the shoreline. The whoops and shrieks of the other contestants mingled in the warm night air with the yells of encouragement from the pub behind them. Just as they reached the rocks, Riley tripped, lost his footing, and stumbled…
And then they were lying on the sand, tangled up in each other, and he was saying, “Sorry, that was the seaweed. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He’d been the one who’d broken her fall; she’d managed to land inelegantly on top of him. “How about you?”
“Never better.” He was grinning up at her, his long, blond hair spread out on the sand beneath his head. His eyes glinted with mischief as he slid his hand around the back of her neck. “Well, now we’re here, seems like an opportunity too good to waste…”
“Losers!” bawled one of the other couples, racing past them.
“That’s what they think,” Riley murmured. “Sometimes losers win.”
“Ooh no, no no no.” Before he could guide her mouth down to meet his, Tula vigorously shook her head and wriggled away.
“No.” Glancing over in the direction of the Mermaid’s parking lot, she could still see the others outside, watching the racers. And if she could see Josh from here, the chances were that he could see her.
“Oh dear. Someone else you’ve got your eye on?” Riley’s tone was playful.
Ignoring her protest, he raised his eyebrows. “Josh?”
“Come on. I saw the way you were looking at him this afternoon. It was pretty obvious.”
“Oh God. Really?” Tula’s heart sank; just for once in her life why couldn’t she be the cool, enigmatic type?
“To be fair, I’m pretty much an expert.” Rising to his feet and brushing the sand off his jeans, Riley added, “Although I’m usually the one on the receiving end.”
“Sorry.” She smiled at his wounded expression.
“And I really liked you too. This is crushing.” Holding out his hands, he hauled her upright. “I’ve lost all my confidence now.”
“I’m sure you have.”
“I’m not that ugly, am I?”
“You’re beautiful,” Tula assured him as her phone beeped.
It was a text from Sophie:
What are you two DOING out there??
Leaning in to read it, Riley said, “Nothing, sadly.” Then he took the phone from her, switched it to camera mode, and held it at arm’s length, capturing both their faces on the screen. “There you go, a little something to remind you of the time we met, that romantic fireman’s lift you were given on the beach. In years to come, you’ll look at this photo and think, damn, what an idiot I was to turn him down, the one who got away.”
“I had my chance and I blew it.” Tula nodded sympathetically.
“You’ll probably regret it for the rest of your life. Your friends will see this picture of us and go, ‘Wow, who’s that? He’s gorgeous!’”
“They will say that.” If she’d thought for one second he meant any of this, Tula wouldn’t have been able to joke about it. “I’ll probably have this photo blown up to poster size and hung on my bedroom wall. I expect I’ll cry myself to sleep every night in my lonely single bed.”
Riley slung a companionable arm around her shoulders as they made their way back up the beach to the Mermaid. “I really hope that happens. It’s no more than you deserve.”
The Unexpected Consequences of Love
By Jill Mansell
February 3, 2015
Sophie has no interest in finding love. But what happens when love finds her?
Sophie Wells is a successful photographer with a focus on putting the past firmly behind her. When Josh Strachan returns to the seaside town of Cornwall from the States to run his family’s hotel, he can’t understand why the fun, sexy girl has zero interest in letting him—or any man for that matter—into her life. He also can’t understand how he’s been duped into employing Sophie’s impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited. Both girls remain mum about the reasons behind Sophie’s indifference to love. But that doesn’t mean Josh is going to quit trying…
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With over 9 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. She worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol, and now writes full time. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.
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