Blog Tour w/Giveaway: Worth the Wait by A.J. Pine


WORTH THE WAIT

by AJ Pine Kingston Ale House #4 Publication Date: January 16, 2017 Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Contemporary Romance

BUY:

Synopsis: I like to think of myself as a man of pleasure…I enjoy a good pint of ale, being in the arms of a beautiful woman, and living by my own rules. The only thing I try to avoid? Commitment. And I’ve got a three-year success rate to prove it. I wasn’t planning on Grace—the beautiful, funny, totally off-limits massage therapist who keeps popping up in my life. She’s on a six-month mission to rid her life of toxins. No alcohol. No red meat. And, yeah, no men. I’m talking full-on man cleanse. I know I should walk away, but I can’t…and the only way to keep her in my life is to live by her rules. I’ll need to prove to a woman who’s lost all trust in men that I’m worthy of her love. And do it all without so much as a single kiss. The only problem? If I win, I’ll lose the one thing I swore I’d never give up. My heart. goodreads-badge-add-38px


Excerpt:



Prologue

Senior Year

(Ten years ago)

A turtleneck would hide it. It didn’t matter that it was Memorial Day weekend and the warmest day of the year so far. Brynn was going to the party. Sure it hurt to swallow, and maybe she was running a fever, but this was it. Her last chance. All year she’d promised herself she would kiss Spencer Matthews before she graduated, and graduation for the class of 2005 was in one week. Time was running out. This was it, their last hurrah before he left for school in California. There was no way she was going to miss it.

“Oh…my God. What’s wrong with your neck? Ew, Brynn. What are those bumps?”

Leave it to her sister, Holly, to notice…and with a flair of drama only Holly was capable of. She stood in Brynn’s bedroom doorway but already looked poised to make a run for it.

“Nothing’s wrong,” Brynn insisted, but even her voice was a dead giveaway. She could barely get that second word out. It sounded more like a gurgle than a word. It didn’t matter. She would power through. Spencer was going to be at the party, and he expected her to be there, too. It would have been enough if he’d just stopped by her locker to say hi, but she played his words over and over again now.

“You’re going to be at Becket’s tomorrow night, right? Promise me I’ll see you there.” It was a simple request, and Brynn was determined to comply.

Jason Becket was her class’s notorious party thrower, and tonight’s festivities were guaranteed to be epic. So, of course, she promised Spencer she was going. He was single for the first time this year, and so was she. Still. The stars had finally aligned, and nothing was going to stop her from turning fantasy into reality. Mind over matter, right? If she didn’t admit she was sick, she wouldn’t be sick.

“And your voice!” Holly continued. “You sound like the worst Kermit the Frog impersonator I’ve ever heard.”

Holly was two years younger and a typical drama student. She performed whether she was on stage or not. Tonight was no exception. And anyway, who was she to say Brynn’s voice was the worst Kermit she’d ever heard? Cut a sick girl some slack. If she was going to sound like a frog, she was going to sound like a good frog.

But she wasn’t sick. So it didn’t matter. She needed to focus, keep her eye on the prize.

“Do you know what’s supposed to happen tonight?” she asked her sister, and Holly recoiled. Did she sound contagious? It was possible her ears were clogged. Hell, everything was clogged, and everything hurt. But this was her night, and she was not contagious because she was a healthy, seventeen-year-old girl who just couldn’t swallow without the threat of tears.

Holly took a step back toward her own room. “Ugh, Brynn. It’s so cliché to like a guy like Spencer Matthews. He’s, like, too perfect. Any girl would get an inferiority complex around someone like that. Better yet, I bet he’s so good his girlfriends don’t even get mad. They get bored. I think the best guy is the one who pisses you off every now and then. Like…like Patrick and Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You!”

Life was not some romantic comedy. Holly was full of shit. Of course Spencer was perfect. That’s why she’d crushed on him the whole year, biding her time until he was single and would maybe, hopefully, look at her the way she looked at him. Today she was sure he did—or would once they found a moment alone tonight. If being a hot, smart, football-playing-marching-band drummer was a crime, Brynn wanted to be his willing accomplice. Seriously, a guy who started pregame on the field with the band—in his formfitting football uniform—and spent the rest of the game as running back…how hot was that?

Brynn attempted a groan, which really freaking hurt, but she wouldn’t give whatever plague she was carrying the satisfaction. If anything, a twenty-four-hour bug had taken up residence in her throat, which meant she was at least a quarter of the way through it at this point. She was probably already on the mend.

“Have you ever felt fireworks?” she asked.

Holly answered her sister with a roll of her eyes and slid down the wall until she sat on the floor in the hallway, still keeping clear of Brynn’s room.

“Okay,” Holly said, waving her on. “I’m comfortable. And this feels like a safe distance from patient zero.”

Brynn wanted to groan, but she thought better of what that would feel like on her throat and instead plopped down on the foot of her bed, sweat beading at her hairline.

“Fireworks,” Brynn said again. “Falling in love—knowing you’re in love because when you kiss the guy who’s the right guy…” She closed her eyes and smiled dreamily, despite how miserable she felt.

Holly took the liberty of finishing her sentence. “Fireworks?”

Brynn nodded, then opened her eyes. “That and ‘I’m a Believer’ will start playing in my head.”

“Love doesn’t come with fireworks and soundtracks filled with songs by the Monkees, not that I’ll ever understand how Mom got you obsessed with a forty-plus-year-old boy band. I think you might be delirious with fever or something.” Holly laughed. “Hey, maybe that explains your taste in music, too!”

Brynn huffed. “Whatever. You’re only fifteen. You’ve never been in love.”

Before Holly could offer a rebuttal, the front door opened, and Brynn let out a tiny whimper of relief because if there was one thing Holly could call her on, it was Brynn never having been in love, either. God, if she could just make it to the party and kiss Spencer, she knew there’d be fireworks…plus Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones harmonizing in her head, no delirium necessary.

But with the sounds of footsteps bounding up the stairs, Brynn’s dream slipped further away. It was for sure Jamie because he never knocked. He was practically a resident in the Chandler house. Jamie would take one look at her in a turtleneck and yoga pants and put the kibosh on the whole operation.

Time to rally.

Brynn pulled her hair out of the bun sitting atop her head and finger-combed the curls. Then she swiped on some lip gloss and affixed her best smile—until she tried to swallow, and her eye betrayed her with a rogue tear.

Jamie appeared at the top of the stairs and stopped in the doorway, his too-straight, sandy hair slicked back like Leo DiCaprio in the Titanic ballroom scene. Brynn sighed. She loved Titanic. Why couldn’t Rose just move over on that piece of driftwood? There was definitely room for two.

Brynn blinked a couple of times. The fever must be rising, because she could swear Jamie looked super cute tonight, and she did not have thoughts like that about Jamie Kingston.

He ran a hand through the product in his hair, and a shock flopped down over his eyes before he pushed it back again. She did not find this adorable, either. Because that would be the weirdest, looking at her best friend like that. Besides—Spencer. Spencer was the issue at hand.

“Holy shit, B. What happened to you?”



Jamie wasn’t sure whether to take a step into the room or back down the stairs. He always thought Brynn was beautiful, but she looked bad. Like, really bad. Her eyes were bloodshot and her cheeks flushed. And her swollen neck? Whoa.

She stared at him through the thick lenses of her glasses perched mildly askew atop her nose. Her wild brown curls were matted to her face, dampened with sweat. But this was just at the hairline. The rest was a tangled sort of nest-like display, which could only mean she’d just taken it down from a bun. Jamie was the only one Brynn let see her immediately post-bun, and he took a certain pride in this—even if he was here to take her to a party where she planned to kiss another guy.

“Sleepy Jean, I say this with love, but you look like shit.”

She flopped back on her bed and groaned. This was how he knew something was really wrong. He didn’t call her Sleepy Jean solely for her inexplicable love for the sixties TV band, the Monkees. Brynn really was a “Daydream Believer.” She saw opportunity in every situation and never took no for a final answer until she’d exhausted all other possibilities.

Jamie took a chance and moved toward the edge of the bed. Screw it. He sat down next to her, resting a hand on her leg.

“What’s with the turtleneck, Dieter?” He raised his brows.

Brynn laughed. At least he thought it was a laugh, but she also could have been trying to blow bubbles in mud. Sprockets was her favorite Saturday Night Live skit, another one of Brynn’s retro faves, this time from the nineties, and although Mike Myers wasn’t on the show anymore, Jamie had a stockpile of his parents’ VHS recordings for them to watch whenever the mood struck. He smiled to himself. Brynn was clearly sick, but he made her laugh, and that was something.

She sat up, tears pooled in her eyes. When she pulled the turtleneck down to her collarbone, Jamie sucked in a breath.

“Duuuuude. You’ve got mono.” The glands in her neck swelled on each side like she was a cartoon character who had swallowed a small branch that got stuck in her throat just below her head.

The tears came fast now, tears that tugged at his heart because he knew what they were for. He knew whom they were for: Spencer Matthews.

“My throat hurts so much, Jamie. I can’t even swallow.”

Okay, so maybe he was a selfish asshole. It’s quite possible the river of tears was for the extreme pain she was in. He knew what it felt like because he had had mono sophomore year, and it sucked.

He brushed a damp curl off her forehead and tried to tuck it behind her ear. But Brynn’s hair had a mind of its own and had no intention of obeying. Kind of like the girl herself.

Jamie bit back a smile.

“Mono?” Brynn croaked.

Holly was still in the hall, standing up now and, at the utterance of the word “mono,” she ran to her own room and slammed the door.

“Let me know when you’re on some antibiotics or something, and then I’ll come out!” she called from the other side.

He chuckled. Typical Holly.

“Where are your parents?” he asked, and Brynn flopped back down on the bed.

“Out,” she whined. “My dad has some work dinner thingy in the city, so they’re staying the night in a hotel.”

He looked at the pout on her lips, letting his mind wander for a few seconds. What would it be like to kiss those lips? What if he was the guy Brynn was willing to risk her health—and others’—to see?



She whimpered, and he drifted back to reality.

“Holly!” Jamie kept his eyes on Brynn while he called for her sister.

“What?”

His eyes grew wide. Holly sounded much closer than she should have, considering she was barricaded next door.

“The vent,” Brynn said, and Jamie couldn’t help but laugh.

“You guys still do that?” he asked, heading toward the wall Brynn’s room shared with Holly’s. He dropped to a squat and directed his request toward the metal slats of the vent in the floor.

“Holly?” he called, using his indoor voice this time.

“James?” she responded, and he had flashbacks to when he and Brynn were in middle school, sitting in her room doing homework while Holly and her friends giggled and squealed next door, some of them professing their love to him—through the vent, of course. Brynn had always laughed and rolled her eyes.

“Don’t they know you’re practically our brother?” she’d once said. Jamie hated that she still saw him like that now.

“Call your parents and ask if I can take Brynn to urgent care,” he told Holly.

“Okay, James.” He could hear her smile.

“And Holly?”

“Yes, James?”

“Stop calling me James.”

He smiled, too. Then he heard Holly speaking to her mom.

“Are you sure it’s mono?” she asked him.

“Pretty sure,” Jamie said. “I had all the same symptoms.”

He glanced back at Brynn, who had turned to her side to watch the back and forth between Jamie and Holly. He wondered if she had any clue what she did to him, if she knew how much he wanted to scoop her up in his arms and hold her until she felt better. And maybe after that, hold her a little more.

He lay down next to her and tilted her glasses up so he could swipe a thumb across her tear-streaked cheek.

“You’re burning up, B.” He let the frames fall softly back against the bridge of her nose.

“I know,” she whispered. “I took my temperature. But I thought if I didn’t admit how bad I felt that I could ignore it.”

He pressed a kiss to her forehead, her skin like fire against his lips. But he didn’t care, not if he could give her the smallest bit of comfort.

“You know I’d give my left arm to make you feel better, right?”

She pressed her lips together and nodded. “It’s not that big of a sacrifice, considering you’re a righty. If you really cared—” She cut her own joke short to attempt a swallow, and it only made her cry more.

“For you, Sleepy Jean, I’d give them both.”

Fuck. He was a goner. How he made it through this year without blurting out his feelings was a mystery, because when she looked at him like that, like he was the only one who could fix the mess that was her night, the words repeated over and over again in his head: I’m in love with you, B. But she’d made no secret of how she felt about Spencer Matthews since the school year started, which meant Jamie was well practiced in the fine art of holding it all in.

“Mom wants to know how high her fever is.”

Brynn tried to clear her throat, then moaned in pain before she said, “One hundred and two.”

Jamie repeated the response to Holly, then sighed as he looked at his miserable friend.

“Does she want them to come home?” Holly asked, and Brynn shook her head, her eyes still on Jamie.



“Are you sure?” she asked. “Because this is it. Our last high school party. I don’t want you to miss it, too.”

Shit. If she only knew how many other parties he would have skipped if it meant a night alone with her instead… But all he said was, “I’m sure.”

Brynn tilted her head back in the direction of the vent.

“My night and, let’s face it, my goal for the year are out the window,” Brynn said. “Tell them Jamie will take me to the doctor, and then I’ll go to sleep. They don’t need to ruin their night.”

After Mrs. Chandler insisted she speak to Brynn, Holly chucked her phone into the room and ordered Jamie to sanitize it when Brynn was done.

And that was that. Instead of taking Brynn to the final bash of their senior year, he’d take her for a blood test, maybe top off the night with a throat culture. Man did he know how to impress the ladies.

“This was supposed to be my night, Jamie,” she said after getting off the phone. “My night. And now all I want to do is chop off my own head to end the pain.”

He laughed. He couldn’t help it. She was cute when she was a mess.

“First of all,” he said. “I think the whole beheading thing might be a little more painful and a lot less practical than, I don’t know, going to urgent care? And second, this can still be your night. Just a different kind. We’ll see a doctor, get you a nice prescription for some codeine, a pint of Cherry Garcia, and a stack of Dieter tapes—as long as you still have the VCR hooked up.”

She sniffled and sat up. “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get sick?”

He shook his head. “I’d chance it to take care of you. Plus”—he gave her a knowing smile—“you’re not supposed to be able to get mono twice. I’m probably immune to your plague.” To prove it, he kissed her on the forehead, happy to show her she didn’t have to be alone tonight. But even in her state, all the kiss did was prove to him how hard it was to just be her friend.

“Okay, maybe we’ll get you a quick shower, too.” The least he could do was lighten the mood, for both of them.

She sniffled again. “Can we listen to the Monkees in the car?”

He put his arm around her, pulling her head to his shoulder.

“Anything for you, Sleepy Jean.”

And he would do anything for her, even step aside for someone else. He’d made it all the way to junior year not falling for her. It had taken him dating Stephanie Delaney to realize no other girl made him feel the way Brynn did. Though who’s to say it wasn’t always there, this thing between them? Correction—this thing between them only Jamie seemed to feel. And who was he to stand in the way of her dream? He wouldn’t be that guy, letting his feelings interfere with her happiness. They had too much history for that kind of selfishness. Brynn made her choice, and it wasn’t Jamie. But tonight the universe seemed to be on his side, postponing the torture of watching her fall for someone else. Tonight was not for Spencer Matthews. It was for Jamie and Brynn. Even if they were only friends.

DON'T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE KINGSTON ALE HOUSE SERIES!
three-simple-words-cover

BUY:

Synopsis: She’s holding out for a happy ever after.
Annie I know where to find my happily ever after—between the pages of a romance novel. It’s why I sell books, why I blog about them, and why I’ll never get disappointed by love.So what if my brother’s best friend from high school is now a bestselling author? Or that he just blew back into town on a Harley, filling out a pair of jeans like he never did before? Or that he’s agreed to do a signing at my bookstore on such short notice? Because despite all his adoring female fans, I kind of hated his book.
Wes The last time I saw Annie Denning, she was a senior in high school, three years older than me and way out of my league. Now I’m her last-minute date to a wedding, and what started as a night of pure fun has turned into something more real than either of us anticipated.Annie is my muse. When I’m with her, my writer’s block fades away, and the words finally flow.The only problem? She wants the fairy tale—her very own happily ever after—and anyone who’s read my book knows the truth. I just don’t believe they exist.
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Six Month Rule New Cover

BUY:

Synopsis: She created the game, but the rules are about to change.
The second I met Will Evans in his three-piece suit with that hot as hell British accent, I wanted him. That is...until he insulted my shoes and stole my corner office. Now I have to work side-by-side with the surly British arsehole who just set my career back six months. It's fine. That accent won't get to me, no matter how sexy it sounds when he asks permission to do things professionals shouldn't do. On the couch. In the corner office I still wish was mine. Maybe we can't keep our hands off each other, but I'm sure as hell not falling for a guy who lives an ocean away. Because in six months, he's leaving for good. I don't do broken hearts, but you know what they say... There's a first time for everything. Each book in the Kingston Ale House series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
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the-one-that-got-away-1-cover

BUY:

Synopsis: How far will one man go for the woman he's loved since high school?
Jamie Kingston has been Brynn Chandler's best friend since middle school. Only once was their friendship tested—when Brynn gave Jamie a single kiss. Since then, they've had an unspoken agreement never to cross that line again, and she’s ready to let go of the past and move on. But Jamie has loved Brynn for as long as he can remember, and now that he's ready to tell her, she has her sights set on someone else. Knowing this is his last chance, he asks Brynn to go on a two-week road trip. But their time alone brings old hurts to the surface, and Brynn has to decide if the one that got away lies at the end of the journey or if he's been by her side all along.
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ABOUT AJ PINE

aj-pine
AJ Pine writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality–romance. Naturally, her books have the same. When she’s not writing, she’s of course reading. Then there’s online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes) and, of course, a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires and superheroes. And in the midst of all of this, you’ll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago burbs.

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