Hard Cover

A Novel

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He can read her like a book. But will he give her a happy ending?

Dawn: I’d do anything to keep my bookstore. It’s a safe place for all women, somewhere to let their freak flags fly. I call it sex-positive. The menfolk call it smut. That’s how I met Rory Parker, the local billionaire trying to shut me down on behalf of the “moral majority.” He walked in with an offer I couldn’t refuse . . . except I did. Now Rory wants to play dirty. Well, he picked the wrong bookseller. Let’s see how much support he still has after people get a load of the little movie I recorded of the two of us going at it like wild animals in my shop. 

Rory: I couldn’t care less how Dawn Nolan makes her money. The only thing I care about is how much she’s making. Her bookstore isn’t the kind of upscale attraction my investors want in this sleepy little tourist trap, so it’s got to go. But when Dawn personally finds out how I treat bad girls who misbehave, she seems to enjoy it as much as I do. Now I just need to destroy the copies of that video she’s threatening to post—as soon as I stop watching it. The trouble is, when I’m with her, all I want to do is get started on the sequel.

Don’t miss any of Jamie K. Schmidt’s seductive novels:
LIFE’S A BEACH | STUD | HARD COVER
The Sentinels of Babylon series: NECESSARY EVIL | SENTINEL’S KISS
The Club Inferno series: HEAT | LONGING | FEVER

Praise for Hard Cover

“Sexy banter and smoldering bedroom scenes. I adore the chemistry between Rory and Dawn!”—Mia Hopkins, author of Thirsty

“For those who love when opposites attract, this is the book for you!”—Harlequin Junkie

“Such a decadent read! I’ve read this a number of times because it’s just one of those books that you wouldn’t be able to help yourself from visiting and revisiting.”—Joyous Reads (five stars)

“Jamie K. Schmidt told a nice love story with a twist. I always enjoy reading a story that has a moral to it and not just steamy, hot sex. . . . By the way, Hard Cover has both.”—Guilty Pleasures

“This is my first read by Jamie K. Schmidt and I have to say that I had fun with Hard Cover. [It’s] sweet, sassy and fun wrapped up with a hot-mouthed bedroom alpha.”—The Heathers’ Blog

This standalone novel includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Under the Cover

An excerpt from Hard Cover

Chapter 1

Dawn

Rory Parker was a billionaire douche bag who looked like a movie star. I knew this because we had gone to the same high school. I Google-stalked him when he started sending me emails earlier this year. We traded quips and banter for several months like it was some bizarre foreplay. Then the real reason he contacted me came up.

Rory hadn’t wanted to “reconnect,” he wanted to buy me out of my lease. I wanted him to go to hell. When it was apparent neither one of us was going to budge, the emails mysteriously stopped being friendly. I felt partly triumphant that I stood my ground, and a little disappointed that he only was interested in me because of my store. However, I should have known he wasn’t giving up and was just refocusing his attack.
A combination of old money and real estate mogul, Rory was planning a redevelopment project for the shops by the Haven docks. He was throwing money around that had everyone scrambling to sell out. I wanted to punch him in his perfect white teeth—when I wasn’t fantasizing about what I’d like to do with him. With his pretty rich-boy looks and body by CrossFit, Rory was eye candy. He was also the enemy, and I had to keep that in mind.

In high school, he had been a senior when I was a freshman—not to mention his crowd wouldn’t let him be caught dead going out with me. Still, we managed to flirt every chance we got. Once he left for college, it was out of sight, out of mind for both of us. I felt like an idiot for getting all oogly-woogly when he emailed me out of the blue. I was such a sap. Maybe I was even a little desperate. That’s why it stung so much when he followed up my “Want to get dinner sometime?” with “Funny, you should ask . . .” I told him I wasn’t interested in having him buy me out of my lease, and then stopped responding to his emails. Rory still sent them, though.

When the emails no longer worked for him, he sent my landlord, Larry Briggs, with a generous offer. I ripped up the paperwork and set it on fire inside the copper bowl by my cash register. It had been worth the citation for the fire hazard. I’ll pay that fine next month, as well as another one when the next bullshit charge they try to lay on me comes around. The town’s officials were collecting offenses, hoping to evict me, but they were going to have to work a lot harder on that one. I paid my rent on time and I was a model tenant—if a little eccentric.

I hoped that would be the end of it. I couldn’t care less if I was delaying hometown boy’s pet project. I still had five years left on my ten-year lease. He and this town could kiss my ass until then. When it was time to find another place for my bookstore, it probably wouldn’t be here. No one would rent to me. I was the quartz in their otherwise shining jeweled crown of the conservative New England town of Haven, on the Connecticut shoreline. Eight months out of the year the only customers I had were locals I brought in through workshops and my lecture series. But during the summer, I made a great deal of money selling unique books about feminism, sex, and various other forms of enlightenment.

The tinkling bells over the door alerted me someone was coming into the bookstore. I glanced up as a woman walked in with her two children. She took one a look at me and my purple hair and tattoos, grabbed their hands, and rushed out of the store.

Namaste, bitch.

I wasn’t your usual bookstore owner, and I certainly didn’t belong among these stores—at least that’s what some of the town politicians thought. They replaced the potter who had the shop next to me with one that sold Limoges, Waterford crystal goblets, and Hummel figurines. The old fisherman who had the store on the other side of me took Rory’s generous buyout offer as well. Packing up his handmade birdhouses and fishing lures, Old Man Mack left an empty store space that smelled vaguely of Skoal tobacco and codfish. They replaced the business with a small art gallery, with painters I’ve never heard of, from places far away from Haven.

The First Selectmen of the town—one of whom was Rory’s father—said they wanted to make over my store into a chic bookstore cafe that sold things that would be more universally appealing. I offered to put a few USA Today best sellers in the front window as a compromise, but that wasn’t good enough.

My best friend, Jeannine, worked in the selectmen’s office and overheard a conversation between my landlord and the selectmen. After she filled me in on their nefarious plans, I quickly installed cameras and put up signs that said: If You Enter This Store, You Agree to Be Videotaped. I had to assure my regulars that it was for security reasons and not because anyone wanted to spy on their purchases. It lost me some customers, though.
But it saved my ass when the guy they sent in to buy a deck of tarot cards accused me of trying to sell him drugs. I showed the police the video transaction and exonerated myself, much to my landlord’s chagrin.

- About the author -

USA Today bestselling author Jamie K. Schmidt has published more than thirty short stories in small-press journals and e-zines. She’s an active member in the Romance Writers of America. When not writing, she relaxes with a mug of hot tea and knits or makes beaded jewelry.

More from Jamie K. Schmidt

Hard Cover

A Novel

Hard Cover

— Published by Loveswept —