The Matchmaker’s Royal Mess
Frieda J. Downing
Publication date: November 25th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
She’d rather give a mountain lion a bikini wax than mess with love again.
Been there, went viral, never going back. Hattie Montague’s life as a backcountry guide for the spoiled and famous suits her just fine, thanks. It’s the only place she feels completely safe being herself. So what if she has nightmares that she can only speak squirrel and craves pine cones for breakfast? It beats leaving yourself vulnerable to humans. Fine, all of them aren’t bad. She likes probably three, so when one needs her help, she drags herself back to civilization. If she can navigate white water rapids, she can babysit a matchmaking office for a weekend. It’s not like she’ll have to deal with people or, you know, be nice. Ew.
Alexander Greye ruined her life ten years ago. Not his proudest moment. Known as the Winter Warlocke, he’s a man born and raised to lead a country with logical precision. Yet around her, he can’t seem to think rationally. He’s never met anyone who dives into the unknown like she does or tames chaos like she can. In a world as perfectly controlled as his, that makes her irresistible and utterly dangerous. And he’s willing to risk it all to thaw his frozen heart.
It’s half past too late when he realizes his carefully laid plans to win her over covered everything except the theft of the Crown Jewels, an abandoned mine where they’d have to face their deepest fears, and the betrayal that forces them to let go.Quite literally.
Warning: Not for the faint of heart. Sassy romantic adventure, with instances of chaos, misunderstandings, and feels. Oh, and the occasional sheep. Sparks will fly, it’s gonna get awkward, and the Happily-Ever-After will be well-earned.
Deals with the devil…
“Natalie, do us a solid and make notes. We’re creating a new contract.” I snag the file from him and use it to poke him in the chest with each new condition without even looking inside it. He said dates. “First, I’ll lead you to the location you believe has your stash, but only to that spot. You will obey my every order. You will not, under any circumstance, go anywhere besides exactly where I tell you. I won’t have you falling down a mineshaft and causing someone else to lay their life on the line because you acted like a moron.”
Natalie is now groaning with her head between her knees. “We’re all going to prison.”
Xander opens his mouth, but I shake my head and poke him again. “Not done yet. Second, I’ll pretend to be your coach or whatever, but we keep things completely business. These aren’t dates where somebody gets kissed at the front door at the end of the night. Zero physical contact. None. Nada. Zipskies on the kisskies.”
Xander cocks his head. Bright interest lights up his eyes again. “Kisskies?”
“Shut up.” I clear my throat and fight the urge to stare at the floor. “Third, and finally, you say you run a business, an international one. For something like that, I imagine you know loads of people. I imagine some of them might even be bored and, say, in need of an adventure.”
That danged left corner of his mouth twitches. “You might say that. Why?”
I clear my throat again and lift my chin. “You apparently already know about my back country business somehow. It’s going to offer themed adventures, like solving a mystery and stuff on the trip. Haunted Hattie’s Adventures. You can send lonely people to Zoe and bored people my way. That’s the deal. Oh, and whatever you’re paying, I’ll need you to double it.” It’s audacious and I don’t remotely think he’ll accept my terms; I kinda just wanna freak him out.
“That’s quite the marketing pitch.” He narrows his eyes a bit. “What about your makeover, prince, and revenge?”
I shrug. “We’ll keep the revenge part. However, I’m not wearing dresses; there will be no dancing, and lay off the fairy-tale prince crap.”
With that, Natalie rolls out of her chair, throws the contract in the air, and belly flops onto the couch in Zoe’s office. All I hear from her is, “Maybe my tower will have a window, like at least one of those slits for arrows.”
Xander, in the meantime, appears to have made extensive notes on the pad on Natalie’s desk. He runs down the list again. “Follow Hattie’s every command. No physical contact, specifically kisskies. Send clients to Haunted Hattie’s Adventures. Double the fee. Let’s also not forget: no dresses, zero dancing, and cancel all fairy tales. Care to read it before we sign? After all, you should never agree to a legally binding document without reading it first.”
Patronizing punk. I stomp over and try to grab it from him. He holds on. I glance down and watch our hands in static battle on opposite ends of the notepad. We’re not even touching, yet why does it feel as if we are? I look up and catch my breath. His eyes dip to the base of my throat, where I can feel my heartbeat pounding. His voice drops to a low rumble. “Careful, Hattie. If you cross this threshold, you must see it through. New adventures can be dangerous.”
My heart starts pounding about three gears faster at that. Finally, he lets go. I tip backwards, but quickly regain my balance. Inside? Not so much.
Nice to meet you. I’m Frieda. I write sweet contemporary romance as well as romantic adventure.
I blame it on my childhood babysitters. For some reason they thought I shouldn’t ride our family’s buffalo. Believe me, I was just as shocked as you. Though I never did get that buffalo ride, I found plenty of other creative outlets for my adventure needs. Some were good clean fun, some got me kicked out of various and sundry events, and others ended with me getting lost in catacombs. (Not metaphorically speaking. Somewhere there’s an Austrian catacomb caretaker? guy whom I owe dinner and a large apology.)
I like to think I’ve gotten a tiny bit wiser.
I married my best friend and dove head first into the magnificent cyclone known as raising kids. I mountain bike every chance I get, lose my coffee cup daily, and bake a mean lemon merengue pie, if I do say so myself. I may indulge in shenanigans on a regular basis, but I plead the fifth every time.
I suppose it’s important to me that you know how very much I love us crazy, broken humans. We dream so big. We try so hard. Yet somehow, so often, things just go terribly, horribly wrong.
That’s where my books begin… because that’s where the real love story’s found. I hope you enjoy reading them. Most of all, I wish you adventure, joy, and more love than you knew was possible,
You can find more at www.friedajdowning.com
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