USA Today Bestselling Author
He thought he had the perfect plan…
When elite university professor Keaton Andrews walks into a meeting with the dean, he expects to hear that his tenure application is on track. Instead, his beloved department is cut. Regrouping in Silver Falls with family seems like his best option. One morning, he takes a risk and orders a pumpkin spice latte from the beautiful barista at the local coffee shop. Too bad she doesn’t seem to find him nearly as intriguing as he finds her…
Raine Hanover is no longer swayed by a charming smile, especially by a nerdy—and distractingly handsome—academic. She’s taking a break from romance and focusing on running her increasingly busy coffee shop. But when Raine is involuntarily put in charge of organizing the town’s Halloween bash, Keaton jumps in to help, and it’s not long before sparks, and kisses, fly.
As the leaves begin to fall, Raine wonders if she should risk taking another chance on happily ever after, especially with a man who has dreams and goals so far away from Silver Falls and her.
Raine Hanover having staffing issues at Tea Leaves and Coffee Beans. Timmy, her best employee has started full time at college and Heather seems to think the schedule is a suggestion and calls out whenever she wants. Missing the First Avenue Business Owner’s Association Meeting has consequences she can’t get out of, planning the Boo Bash. Raine had been in charge of the Valentine’s Sweetheart Dance, she should have been exempt. They were only required to do one event a year. Raine is tired, exhausted in fact, she’s got to solve this and fast.
An overachiever Professor Keaton Andrews is close to his goal, tenure at the elite university would be announced at the end of the Fall semester. He was sure everything was on track, until it wasn’t. With admissions down and budget cuts his department was being cut, all contracts of those not tenured cancelled. He was out of a job.
Heather is the reason no one has been showing up for interviews and when Raine hears her admit what she’s been doing, she fires her. No one undermines her business without consequences. Fortunately, in line at the time is Robin Baxter. Robin is soon to be divorced and wants a job, she’s eager to learn and ready to start as soon as possible.
Quilt shop owner and self-proclaimed matchmaker, Margot Winslow, rules the First Avenue Business Owner’s Association. Although she won’t relent with regard to Boo Bash, she does make sure Raine has help. Keaton has the time although his experience with events is more on a professional level rather than community.
Dating wasn’t on Raine’s mind especially when she gets a text from her ex, she isn’t sure she’ll be ready anytime soon. Keaton suggests a practice date, and they go out after the shop closed for dessert at the bakery.
This is a favorite scene.
Keaton hadn’t laughed so much in… He couldn’t remember the last time. Raine told him one story after another about incidents that happened at the various coffee shops that she’d worked at over the years. “What you’re saying is Silver Falls is relatively normal compared to Seattle?”
“When it comes to funny customer stories, yes. But this town has its own quirks.”
“Like a resident matchmaker?”
“Be careful, or she’ll have you married off before you leave town.”
Only a few crumbs remained on their plates. “I’m not interested in a relationship. Not when my life is so in flux.”
“I told Margot something similar. The question is if she listens.”
“No one is forced to play along. Though I don’t hear Callie or Garrett complaining.”
“Callie wasn’t happy about it before she fell for Brandt. Now, she’s thrilled how everything turned out.”
“Hey.” Brecken approached them. He carried an empty tray at his side. “Hate to kick you out, but it’s closing time.”
“Oh.” Raine folded her napkin and placed it on the table. “I had no idea it had gotten so late.”
“Me, either.” Keaton hadn’t glanced at his phone once. “Sorry to keep you.”
“No worries.” Brecken grinned. “We still have to clean and prep for tomorrow, but Taryn prefers customers to be gone by then even from the patio. She’s a good boss, but a stickler for rules.”
Keaton laughed. “That’s exactly what Garrett needs.”
“Ready to go?” Raine asked.
No. He wasn’t ready for the evening to end, but he didn’t want Brecken and Carl to get in trouble. “Yes.”
Keaton stood, pulled out a five-dollar bill from his wallet, and tossed it on the table.
“Thanks, dude.” Brecken cleared the table. Raine headed toward the rear door, and Keaton followed her into the bakery.
Behind the counter, Carl cleaned the display cabinet. “Thanks for coming in. Have a good evening.”
She waved. “Everything was delicious.”
“Loved the pie.” Keaton opened the front door for Raine. “After you.”
Outside, the temperature was ten or twenty degrees colder than on the patio with the heaters nearby. Raine wore a sweater, but it wasn’t that thick.
“Cold?” he asked.
A streetlamp illuminated the sidewalk. The light cast shadows on them.
She glanced through the bakery’s front window. “I can’t believe we closed down the bakery.”
“Practice date for the win.”
Raine laughed. “They do close earlier on weekdays.” A closed sign hung on the door. “But I can’t believe Brecken kicked us out. I’ll make him work extra hard during our next tutoring session for that.”
“He was just doing his job.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll go easy on Timmy.”
“Thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
A part of Keaton wished she’d say the same thing about him. Maybe by the time the Boo Bash was over she would. He rocked back on his heels. “So how do you think it went?”
“If it means dessert and getting to know each other, then well. We know each other’s favorite colors, food, TV shows, books, and movies.”
“If we put everything that we discussed into a Venn diagram there wouldn’t be much overlap.”
“Except for food,” they said in unison.
“The practice date was a success. How did I do?” she asked.
Raine did a shuffle step as if dancing. “Yay!”
“You did great.” More than once he’d forgotten they weren’t on a real date. “When the door opens, you’ll be ready.”
“You made it easy.”
His chest puffed out. He couldn’t help it. “You’re a great date. I’ve gone out at times and wondered why my date said yes when all she did was stay on her phone the entire time.”
“That’s how Emmett and I had gotten toward the end, but the first few dates are the honeymoon time. A phone can’t compete with that.”
“Unless it’s not meant to be.”
She nodded. “It’s getting late.”
“You have to be at the coffee shop early.”
Raine nodded. “Thanks for dessert.”
“I had a great time.” Dates usually ended with a kiss, but this was just for practice. He doubted suggesting a practice kiss would go over well.
“Me, too.” She shifted her weight between her feet. “I’m glad you suggested doing this.”
Keaton wanted to ask her out again. That was how much he’d enjoyed himself. But she didn’t want to date, and he was leaving town— soon, he hoped.
“We might have to come for dessert again. To celebrate our work on the Boo Bash.”
“There’s going to be a lot of it.”
“Teamwork will get it done.”
“You sound more like a coach than a professor.”
“I assign group projects.”
“The bane of students everywhere. Timmy always got stuck with classmates who didn’t want to do any work.”
“That happens sometimes, but it’s a good lesson in adulting.”
“Recently experienced that with a former employee.”
He’d heard about a barista getting fired from Margot. “If this was a real date, I’d kiss you good night. But since this is only for practice…” He kissed her forehead. “Did you walk?”
“Drove. The hatchback right in front of us. You?”
“Walked.” “Want a ride to Margot’s?”
He shoved his fingers in his pockets. “I’m good. Good night.”
“See you around.”
Tomorrow. Keaton planned on working at her coffee shop. He couldn’t wait to see her again.
Melissa McClone. A Cup of Autumn (Kindle Locations 1713-1765). The Tule Publishing Group, LLC.
There’s an attraction between Raine and Keaton that neither of them want to acknowledge. Their closeness while planning and executing Boo Bash is a definite catalyst for a relationship. Only thing is what Keaton wants can’t be found in Silver Falls.
I love the way this story unfolds, a slow build love story with lots of romance, good friends, and supportive family.
5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!
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USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.
Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!