Always the Bride by Janell Michaels

Always the Bride by Janell Michaels

In Janell Michaels’ Always the Bride, ulterior motives can lead to true love…

Helping with her celebrity boss’s wedding plans is the last thing that recently jilted bride Lizzie Williams needs. Handsome photographer Grant Denver might lure her heart out of seclusion-but can he be trusted? His motives for wooing her involve an ex-fiance’s revenge…and if he succeeds, the reward money will pay for his daughter’s medical treatment. If he fails, the price could cost him his career and his child…

A contemporary romance to make you laugh, cry, and swoon.


Always the Bride by Janell Michaels

ALWAYS THE BRIDE
by Janell Michaels
Going to the Altar Book 1
Contemporary Romance
Release date: October 1, 2018

Helping with her celebrity boss’s wedding plans is the last thing that recently jilted bride Lizzie Williams needs. Handsome photographer Grant Denver might lure her heart out of seclusion-but can he be trusted? His motives for wooing her involve an ex-fiance’s revenge…and if he succeeds, the reward money will pay for his daughter’s medical treatment. If he fails, the price could cost him his career and his child…

There’s no room to let his heart get involved. But will that stop him from falling for her? Can Grant romance and jilt Lizzie at the altar for $50,000 if he accidentally falls in love with her first?

BUY


Excerpt
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With mega-designer Giovanni himself on the line, Georgia moved to hold the phone herself. She shifted P.P. to grab the cell, but the dog was no longer complacent. The pup was focused on something, straining to get free. And with a well-timed lunge, she managed an escape.

Lizzie cringed when the dog hit the ground, fearing her breadstick-sized legs would be injured. Instead, she took off running, the tiny bell on her collar tinkling as she made a break for it.

“Oh! P.P., come back!” Georgia exclaimed. “Bad P.P.! Lizzie, please!”

Lizzie took off after the dog moving at a surprising speed. Dressed in slacks and low-heeled pumps, she had a much better shot at catching the dog than Georgia, whose tight skirt and designer stilettos made her capable only of comical itty-bitty steps.

The dog headed toward a man standing a short distance away. A camera strap was around his neck, and he was leaning back, focusing a lens that was pointed at the waterfall. The dog let out a stream of tiny yapping barks, and the man, clearly startled, lowered the camera and looked down at the puppy jumping up on his leg. P.P. could hardly clear his knee, and he bent over to say something Lizzie couldn’t hear.

“Come here, P.P., and leave that poor man alone,” she said.

Something else distracted the dog, and she froze. With a low growl, much larger than her body should be capable off, the puppy took off again, this time toward something far worse than a guy with a camera.

“Oh, no.” Lizzie stiffened, her eyes growing wide. “Stop!”

The dog took off like a barking bullet toward a cat that had been lazily sauntering across the promenade. The feline hissed and then raced for the parking lot and the street beyond, well ahead of the dog who did her best to keep up.

“P.P., stop!” Lizzie yelled.

She sprinted hard, her thighs feeling the burn and her feet taking the jarring impact of her heels striking pavement. Behind her, she could hear Georgia’s frantic shouts. The cameraman, who appeared to be in lean, athletic shape, dashed past her.

“Here, doggie.” His long stride closed the gap between him and the pup. But P.P. was fixated, unaware of the delivery van heading down the winding road.

“Oh, god!” Lizzie cried, doubling her pace.

The man was making good progress, well ahead of her and almost on the dog’s heels. The cat darted across the street safely. The puppy was at the curb, about to jump into the road, when the man lunged. It all happened in a blur, but he was on the ground, the dog in his hands, just as the van honked and rushed past.

Lizzie’s heart was thudding in her throat by the time she caught up to where the dog was licking the man’s face, wagging her tail like nothing was out of place. “P.P., naughty girl! Thank you so much, sir. Are you all right?”

He held up the puppy, which she took and cradled against her. His eyes found hers, and for a brief moment, there was a catch in her breath. The hero of the day was quite handsome, from a chiseled jaw to wavy dark hair and penetrating eyes. At least, until they narrowed at her.

“I’m fine. And hoping you learned a lesson about taking proper care of a pet.” He groaned as he got to his feet, standing a few inches taller than her. “It’s irresponsible and dangerous to take your dog out in public without a leash.”

“Excuse me,” she snapped, “but before you climb on that high horse, it might interest you to know that this isn’t my dog.”

“You were chasing it.”

“So were you.”

“My baby!” Georgia sobbed, finally catching up. “My precious.”

She scooped the animal out of her assistant’s arms, holding her close and pressing kisses all over the dog’s head, leaving red lipstick marks.

Lizzie folded her arms and gave him a pointed look. “You were saying?”

He was too busy brushing off his hands and examining his camera. He held it up and groaned. “Damn it! Not now, of all times.”

Her irritation at him was washed over with a tinge of guilt. “Is it…damaged?”

“Not damaged. Broken.” He held it up, squinting. “The housing is busted. And the lens is cracked clean through.”

Lizzie lifted a brow at Georgia and cocked her head toward the man as a hint.

“But of course I will replace your camera,” Georgia said. “It is the least I can do for your bravery.”

Lizzie noticed a raw scrape on the man’s forearm. It was starting to bleed. Her hands darted out, grabbing his arm before she thought twice. “You’re hurt.”

“I’ll mend.” She looked up and let go when she saw the curious look on his face.

“I don’t know what got into my angel,” Georgia said. “She has never run off like that.”

“She ran right to him.” Lizzie nodded at the man. “Like she knew him.”

He shot her a scowl. “That doesn’t make it my fault.”

“I didn’t say that it was.”

“She’s never this friendly to strangers,” Georgia went on, ignoring the little power struggle. “I am Georgia. Although perhaps you recognized me already.” His confused expression suggested otherwise. “And this,” she continued, ending the handshake so she could make the dog’s paw wave, “is P.P.”

His brow lifted. “P.P.? As in…”

“No,” Elizabeth broke in. “She’s housebroken.”

“It’s short for Purse Puppy,” Georgia said with a grin.

He eyed her as though he wasn’t quite sure she was from the same planet. Georgia had that effect on certain people.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Grant Denver.”

Georgia’s eyes went wide. “Not thee Grant Denver? But you must be, with that camera in your hand.” She turned to her assistant. “You’ll have heard of him, of course.”

Lizzie frowned. “Should I have?”

Georgia’s face screwed up into a disapproving sneer. “My dear, don’t tell me after all the times you’ve almost been married that you never heard of Grant Denver? He’s a top wedding photographer in the area.”

Grant gave Lizzie a hard, scrutinizing look at the mention of her past failures, and she felt her cheeks heat up. “It wasn’t that many times. But no, I hadn’t heard of you. Sorry.”

“I’m not quite at the top,” he said. “But it’s nice to hear.”

“This has to be fate.” Georgia moved closer to him. “Here I am in need of a photographer, and you show up. You must shoot my wedding, Grant. It will be the event of the season. No expense is too small. Name your price.”

His deep stare shifted back to Georgia. “When?”

“October the thirteenth. Short notice, I know. But I’ll pay well enough to make it more than worth your while.”

Something flickered in his gaze. Desperation, maybe. Possibly flat-out greed. “I’ll need half in advance.”

How sure of himself he sounded. Lizzie stifled a snort.

“Done. How’s ten thousand?” Georgia beamed. “Half up front, half at the wedding.”

Grant looked like he might choke. Elizabeth’s jaw dropped, and she felt a rush of irritation. Ten grand? She should have aimed higher for her bonus.

“I can work with that.” He raised his camera. “Except for one minor detail. This was my best camera.”

Georgia waved a dismissive hand. “Consider it replaced. I have a friend whose brother owns an electronics store. They have all the latest digital cameras.”

“This isn’t digital. I only use film.”

Lizzie made a face. “Isn’t film obsolete?”

He raised his chin coolly. “Not to the discriminating eye. Film is superior if you want the best.”

“The best of the best,” Georgia cut in. “You are the expert, after all. Get me the information on your camera. I’ll order a replacement and pay you the deposit.”

“Looks like you’ve got yourself a photographer, then.”

The woman squealed. “Oh, and for ten thousand I will need one or two itty bitty shoots before the wedding.”

He nodded. “I also do engagement photos and rehearsal dinners,” he offered.

“No engagement photos. Everyone has those. My photos will be as unique as my wedding.” Lizzie caught the slight roll of his eyes when Georgia raised her face to the sky, but he morphed it into a bright, charming smile when she turned back to him. “Lizzie, give him your number. You will need to be in close contact. Grant Denver, this is my assistant, Elizabeth Williams. No relation. She’ll be in touch to give you all the details.”

He nodded and pulled out his phone. “I can send the contract within twenty-four hours.”

Great. She would get to be in “close contact” with Mr. Judgmental. She stifled a sigh. If there was one thing she’d learned to do as Georgia’s assistant, it was to work with all sorts of people who were full of themselves. Time to act nice.

Lizzie flashed a smile. “I hope your phone is still intact, Mr. Denver.”

“Call me Grant, Elizabeth.”

“Lizzie, actually. That was quite a dive you took to be P.P.’s savior. I’d say you slid at least into third base.”

He blinked, and the smile that followed was genuine—and a tad disarming.

“Your phone number?” he asked. She gave it while he typed into his cell. Hers beeped a moment later with a text from him. Sorry for the comment about pet responsibility. Grant Denver.

“I came off a bit harsh before,” he said when she looked up with a smile. “Heat of the moment. And it’s been a rough couple of days.”

She nodded, wondering for a moment whether the gesture was for real or because he had to make nice with the client’s help.

“Apology accepted,” she said. They locked gazes, though whether it was a battle of wills or something else, she wasn’t certain. She could tell he was waiting for her to say something more. But what?

“Well, we must be off,” Georgia said, breaking the moment. “It’s been a pleasure, Mr. Denver.”

“Call me Grant,” he said.

“Text Lizzie the replacement information as soon as possible,” Georgia said. “We can’t have the best photographer without his camera. Can we, my naughty little precious?”

She made the dog wave again. P.P. was an absolute wiggle worm, trying to get out of Georgia’s arms. She appeared to be lunging at Grant.

“She really does seem taken with you.” Georgia took a firmer hold of the dog. “A good omen, I suppose. Good day, Grant.”

She made her little clicking heel steps as she sashayed off, leaving the other two alone, facing each other with tentative expressions.

“Well,” Lizzie said, clearing her throat. “I’ll be waiting to hear from you, then.”

“I’ll get the contract and the camera info sent to you tonight or tomorrow morning.”

She nodded and started away.

“By the way,” he called after her. “You said something about me sliding into third. You a baseball fan?”

She turned around. “More so before my team traded Jefferson and began a hard, slow dive.”

He grinned. “They should have kept him and given up Andrews.”

She raised a brow. “Ah. I see you root for D’s too.”

“Always. Even when I live to regret it.”

She thought about that as she watched him saunter off with a casual, yet confident gait. Then Georgia caught her up in a whirlwind of wedding plans, and she did her best to shove the whole awkward encounter to the back of her mind.

What readers are saying:

“An amazing book!”

“…captivating and entertaining.”

“I just love this story…”

“A great read with a wonderful story line…”

 

Janell MichaelsI love writing stories! Strong heroes, feisty heroines, and the hijinks they get into on their path to true love. This is my passion, and I can’t get enough of it. A good book, whether I’m reading or writing one, is like riding a roller coaster in the comfort of my favorite armchair…and with over thirty books written under three pen names, I can say that when I’m immersed in the sagas of my characters, I feel like I’m right at home.

When I’m not writing the next romance, I’m hanging out with my family…helping my youngest with her studies or my husband, also a writer, edit his work. We live in the high desert of Southern California, in a spot where the winters are short and the summers are steaming hot.

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