Monday, July 28, 2014

EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

by Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 5th 2014


In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.


Of course, we’re sopping wet and dripping everywhere by the time we step into the dry mudroom to pull off our boots.  “This is crazy,” I say, shaking my head like Sadie does when she’s wet.  “We can’t walk through the house like this—we’ll make a mess.”  Ryder’s jeans are soaked through and caked with mud.  I’m wearing shorts, but my bare legs are spattered all over.  “We’re going to have to strip here,” I say, shaking my head.  “Just leave it all in a pile.  I’ll toss it in the wash after lunch.”

He just stares at me, wide-eyed.  “What?  Now?”

“Yeah, you go first,” I say, amused by the blush that’s creeping up his neck.  “Geez, Ryder.  It’s not like I haven’t seen you in your underpants before.” 

I have vague memories of Ryder running around Magnolia Landing’s lawn wearing nothing but superhero undies.  And after all the years of shared beach houses and hotel suites, well…like I said, we were more like siblings when we were little. “If it’ll make you more comfortable, I’ll turn around,” I offer. 

“Nah, it’s fine.”  He reaches for the hem of his T-shirt and pulls it over his head in one fluid motion. 

And then I remember why this was a bad idea.  My mouth goes dry at the sight of his tanned, sculpted chest, his narrow waist and jutting hipbones.  Oh, man.  What was I thinking?

I swallow hard as he unbuttons his jeans and slides down the zipper.  Boxers or briefs, that’s all I’m thinking as he peels down the wet denim—slowly, as if he’s enjoying this little striptease.  He steps out of them gracefully and tosses them into a heap beside his shirt before straightening to his full height, facing me. 

Oh.  My.  God. 

I exhale sharply.  The answer is boxer-briefs, heather gray ones.  And right now they’re clinging to him wetly, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination.  He looks like a god.  A six-foot-four, football-playing god and I am staring at him with my mouth hanging open like some kind of pathetic freak.

Snap out of it.

“Sorry,” I say, averting my gaze.  My cheeks are burning now.  I probably look like a clown—that’s what happens when a fair-skinned redhead like me blushes.  “If you…um…want to shower.  I mean, you know—” 

“I’ll just go put on something dry for now.  We really need to eat and then get that stuff out of the barn.”

I just nod, biting my lower lip.  I can’t even look at him. 

“Your turn to strip,” he says, and my gaze shoots up to meet his.  He’s smiling now, his dimples in full effect. 

“Ugh, just go and change.”  I cover my eyes with one hand and flap the other toward the hall. 

“I’ll meet you in the kitchen in five,” he says. 

“Great.”  I only let my hand drop when I hear his footsteps move away.  Then yeah, I’ll admit it—I allow myself a nice, long look at his backside as he walks away from me. 

And let me tell you, it was well worth the look.

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As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

That’s the official version–here are some other fun facts:

~ As an undergrad, I majored in History and minored in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss, I was a member of Phi Mu sorority, and I was a Dixie Darling. And yep, Brett Favre was our quarterback at the time!

~ I studied American History in grad school at Columbia University. I *love* history, especially the Civil War era (U.S.) and Regency- and Edwardian-era British history.

~ My all-time favorite book *and* movie is GONE WITH THE WIND. My favorite literary characters are Rhett Butler, Atticus Finch, and Mr. Darcy. I kind of want to add Peeta Mellark to that list!

~Weirdly enough (or maybe not so weirdly?) I’m also a big fan of STAR TREK (the original series). I never can remember if I’m supposed to call myself a “Trekkie” or a “Trekker,” though!

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Sara said...

I would not date a significant other that my parents set me up with