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Other titles in the Avon Light Contemporary Romances series:
Perfect Match (Avon Light Contemporary Romances)
Synopses & Reviews
"You have sunk to new depths today, Lauren Grace Stevens."
"Arck! Arck!" The parrot on Lauren's shoulder screeched and bobbed its tufted head, obviously agreeing with the sentiments of the woman on whose shoulder he perched.
"The last thing I need at a time like this," Lauren continued, "is criticism from a feathered fiend."
The parrot lowered its head. Lauren sighed and scratched the beak of her only ally in New Orleans. "All right, I'm sorry I called you a fiend. It's not your fault I'm in the situation I'm in."
"Arck! Buy low. Sell high!"
Lauren smiled despite herself. The bird's former owner had possessed a magic touch when it came to the stock market. Not that even the fattest portfolio in the world could have saved Mrs. Plaisance from succumbing to pneumonia, an event that had triggered Lauren's own downfall from paid companion to her current state of street performer, earning tips in exchange for photos of her exotic parrot. Despite everyone's advice to the contrary, two months ago Lauren had taken yet another leave of absence from her doctoral dissertation to accompany Mrs. Plaisance to New Orleans. If only her dissertation advisor could see her now!
"Mom, can I pet the bird?"
Lauren smiled at the youngster approaching the spot she'd made for herself among the tarot-card readers, jugglers, artists, musicians, and mimes plying the tourist trade. It seemed visitors to the city were drawn to Jackson Square in New Orleans's French Quarter like lemmings to a Norwegian hillside.
"Only if the lady says so," answered the woman puffing along in her son's wake. She carried several shopping bags, but it was the bright purple bag with gold lettering thatseemed to dance as the bag banged against the woman's thigh that captured Lauren's attention. Focusing, she made out "Bayou Magick Shop." Her artist's sense of style appreciated the beauty of the design, and she promised herself the treat of visiting the shop just to see what type of establishment put such effort into its shopping bags. Of course, she couldn't purchase anything, but possession wasn't her object.
"If Buster says yes," Lauren said to the boy, "it's okay with me."
"What kind of name is that for a parrot?"
"His," Lauren answered.
The boy swung back to the woman. "This is stupid. Why'd we come here? You know I wanted to go to Disney World."
The woman tugged at her hair and directed a glare at Lauren.
Lauren thought of her empty pockets and correctly interpreted the glance. Hating herself for her own duplicity, she said, "Just kidding."
"What would you name a parrot?"
The boy's eyes lit up. He studied the bird, then reached out a hand toward Buster's brightly hued wings. "Tweety. 'Buster' is for dogs."
How predictable. Two hours of working for tips had taught her more about holding her tongue than all her prior twenty-eight years of life. "Let's call him Tweety, then."
The boy nodded and held out a hand toward the bird.
"Buy low. Sell high!" With a show of his wings, Buster hopped from Lauren's shoulder onto the boy's. The child smiled, and Lauren did the same. In a few more minutes, she ought to collect enough of a gratuity from this pair to cover her expenses for the day.
"Wow, Mom," the boy said. "He likes me. Can I get a bird when we get home?"
The woman, who'd broken open a chocolate bar, paused with one square en route to her mouth."No." The woman glared at Lauren. "Give it back. Now."
Lauren reached for the bird and settled him back on her shoulder. The boy fished in his pocket and dumped some change into the discarded popcorn box Lauren had placed next to her feet. Waiting for the mother to provide the real compensation, Lauren found another smile for the boy.
The woman popped another square of chocolate into her mouth and, without another word, hurried them away.
Two quarters winked in the sun.
Two quarters wouldn't get her a streetcar ride, let alone the art supplies she needed if she were to earn some real money and get herself out of the bind she was in.
"Good morning," said a deep voice from just beside her.
Lauren jumped. She hadn't heard the man approach, but only a foot away stood the most gorgeous male specimen she'd ever seen. A blond with close-cropped hair, he stood almost six feet tall. His lips were full and curved up gently, and she knew without knowing that they would be warm and firm to the touch. Above a perfectly shaped nose, blue eyes matched the dark blue of a suit she could have sworn was cashmere. It was all she could do to keep from reaching out to stroke the fabric.
"Hello," she said.
Buster, for once, said nothing, though he fixed one nonblinking eye on the man.
"I couldn't help but notice your parrot," the man said. "An African Grey?"
Lauren thought about the answer and wondered whether she should tell the truth. Would this well-dressed man wonder why a street performer possessed such a valuable bird? Lauren sure would.
"A real sweetheart," she said, scratching Buster's tufted head.
"Yes, I can see that," the man said, but oddly enough, he was looking at Laurenrather than at Buster.
The saxophonist leaning against the fence behind Lauren chose that moment to blow out a note that rendered any reply unnecessary.
The man stepped closer and spoke over a warbling version of "Summertime." "So are you a regular?"
Lauren glanced from the man to the fortune-teller seated beside her, then down at her feet. She sure hoped not, but what kind of answer was that? You're working for tips, she reminded herself, and flashed a smile. "Oh, yeah," she said, "like clockwork. Every day, rain or shine."
"Buy low. Sell high!"
"And I see you bring your financial advisor along with you."
Lauren chuckled. She appreciated dry humor...
When two very tempting siblings vie for her attention, Lauren thinks she should choose button-down banker Oliver. But it's his brother, Alistair, who has the magic touch. Alistair knows it's time for him to settle down, but the enchanting Lauren spells trouble. Still, love is thick in the New Orleans air. And they are about to learn that sometimes the perfect match is the one you least expect.
While Not Looking For Mr. Right...
Although she vows that she's locked her heart and thrown away the key, ravishing red-headed Lauren Stevens suddenly has several men vying to prove her wrong—and to win the right to set free her passionate self. Button-down banker Oliver Gotho seems like a good candidate, but it's Oliver's sexy brother Alistair who has invited the beautiful, penniless free spirit to share his living space—temporarily, of course. She thinks she should encourage the successful businessman brother, yet is it Alistair with the oh-so-sensual magic touch who holds the key to her happiness?
Has She Found Her Perfect Match?
Sexy, wise, and charismatic, Alistair has offered Lauren a place to stay out of the goodness of his heart—and certainly not because of her gorgeous eyes, luscious lips and enchanting body. Lauren may entrance him, but it's time for him to find a sensible woman to take to wife. And Lauren, with her penchant for peccadilloes, spells nothing but trouble. But spring is in the balmy New Orleans air, and so is love, as both Lauren and Alistair discover that the heart-pounding perfect match isn't always the one knocking at the door...
About the Author
Hailey North is a USA Today bestselling author who began writing while employed as a "game show lawyer" for NBC Studios. Tired of hearing lawyers weren’t creative, she quit her job and typed "ChapterOne" (not the chapter, just the heading!).
Since that day, Hailey has authored six romantic comedies, primarily set in her adopted home town of New Orleans, Louisiana.
In addition to her creative pursuits, she is the director of the Tulane University College Paralegal Studies Program, a position she’s held since 1993.
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