Books, Writing

A Modern Austen Romance Flips Everything Around

Countdown to Rash & Rationality — Day One

Join me in celebrating the arrival of my second Happily Ever Austen book for its release on July 28th.

Rash and Rationality is a modern gender-swapped friends-to-lovers Sense & Sensibility, set in a cozy bookshop.

Marty Dashwood loves love. All he wants is a princess to sweep off her feet. But the love blinders keep him from noticing Brandy, who’s been by his side for over a year.

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Rash & Rationality

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a store nearing closing without any customers will be the epicenter of employee mischief.

In the midst of re-stocking the latest airport thriller, Blood on the Tarmac, Brandy heard the pre-programed soundtrack skip. The classical piano and violin CD—which made her both ache to nap and also homicidal after a twelve-hour shift—changed, and a rhythmic beat rumbled from the three speakers crammed above the giant bookshelves.

Shaking her head, she resumed unboxing the books despite a smile climbing up her cheeks. Just when her arms were full, a head popped around the long corner. With windswept hair never tamed even by a comb, Marty was a wiry man in both stature and height, but his exuberant smile and deadly cheekbones more than distracted from it.

As the song rolled out of the musical intro, he mouthed along, “Snow falls from the skies, forgetful and pure…”

“It’s June,” Brandy said, but Marty ignored her.

He slapped a hand to his forehead and collapsed against the bookshelf. “I reach out to feel, glass cold as a grave…”

“Shouldn’t we be working?” she said and bit her lip to keep from laughing. Marty, not about to give her an inch of relief, started to shake his hips.

Hands extended far, as if he was stretching, he cried out along with the singer, “Reach for me, reach for me. Give me a chance. Sing me a hope, gift me a dance.”

Brandy doomed herself by turning to the man pleading for her attention. A glint struck his boyish brown eyes and he fluttered his fingers while straining for her. With a laugh, she dropped the paperbacks and accepted his hands. Together, the pair swung in a tight circle, the shelves pressing them so close he was nearly on top of her.

Marty dipping her caused Brandy’s no-nonsense ponytail to smack into the display of big-headed collectibles. One carrying a surfboard rebounded from its stand, falling into the arms—and giant head—of a woman in a parka. Ah, plastic love.

“Reach for me, reach for me,” Marty sang, his sweet voice barely competing with the artist’s baritone. Not that it mattered to Brandy, who laughed along while joining him.

His hands locked tight around her waist, the pair galloped up and down the walkways of the store. Brandy could barely keep up with Marty, who managed to raise his knees nearly to his chest with each step.

“You’re such a dork,” she called to the man twirling her with abandon. Marty waggled his eyebrows at her in response, too busy mouthing along with the song to respond.

They dashed through the shelves of thrillers and horror, hovered around sci-fi, and he gave her a deep dip at romance.

Brandy skimmed her palm along the floor, which needed a mopping by one of them later. But she didn’t care about work, not with her unending laughter trapped in a cascade of giggles and Marty sweeping her around in a circle. Marty kept her from smashing into him, but the two lingered barely a breath away from each other as the love song drifting through the air reached its climax. His gaze beamed into hers and he sang the final words in a gentle whisper.

“I reach out to hold a hand fit for mine. Hearts become bold, and our stars align.”

Brandy rose, staring in wonder at the lips singing to her. She reached out, about to touch his cheek, when a jangle burst from the front door. Marty opened his hands and she danced back, a silly blush burning up her neck. What was she doing? It was just Marty, who always acted like a fool nearing closing time. Good friend. Nothing more.

Arrives July 28th!