Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Read an #Excerpt from Happily Never After by Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter returns this spring with HAPPILY NEVER AFTER, a riotous new rom-com that readers of laugh-out-loud contemporary romances like those of Ali Hazelwood, Christina Lauren and Lana Ferguson will love. The Wedding Crashers meets No Strings Attached when two people disillusioned with love work together to break up couples’ weddings as hired—all while fighting the insane chemistry between them. Available now! 




About the Book


Happily Never After
by Lynn Painter

Format 304 pages, Paperback
Published March 12, 2024 by Berkley
Their name? The objectors.
Their job? To break off weddings as hired.
Their dilemma? They might just be in love with each other.

When Sophie Steinbeck finds out just before her nuptials that her fiancΓ© has cheated yet again, she desperately wants to call it off. But because her future father-in-law is her dad’s cutthroat boss, she doesn’t want to be the one to do it. Her savior comes in the form of a professional objector, whose purpose is to show up at weddings and proclaim the words no couple (usually) wants to hear at their ceremony: “I object!”

During anti-wedding festivities that night, Sophie learns more about Max the Objector’s job. It makes perfect sense to her: he saves people from wasting their lives, from hurting each other. He’s a modern-day hero. And Sophie wants in.

The two love cynics start working together, going from wedding to wedding, and Sophie’s having more fun than she’s had in ages. She looks forward to every nerve-racking ceremony saving the lovesick souls of the betrothed masses. As Sophie and Max spend more time together, however, they realize that their physical chemistry is off the charts, leading them to dabble in a little hookup session or two—but it’s totally fine, because they definitely do not have feelings for each other. Love doesn’t exist, after all.
And then everything changes. A groom-to-be hires Sophie to object, but his fiancΓ©e is the woman who broke Max’s heart. As Max wrestles with whether he can be a party to his ex’s getting hurt, Sophie grapples with the sudden realization that she may have fallen hard for her partner in crime.


Excerpt 

Sophie

The moment my dad raised my veil, kissed my cheek, and handed me off to Stuart, I wanted to throw up.
No-first, I wanted to punch my groom right in his besotted smile.
Then I wanted to vomit.
Instead, I took his arm and grinned back at him like a good bride.
The pastor started speaking, launching into his cookie-cutter TED talk about true love, and my heart was racing as I waited. I swear I could feel four hundred sets of eyes burning into the back of my Jacqueline Firkins wedding gown as I heard nothing but the sound of my panicked pulse pounding through my veins and reverberating in my eardrums.
Was he already there, seated among the guests? Was he going to burst through the doors, yelling?
And-God-what if he was a no-show?
The photographer, kneeling just to my right, took a photo of my face as I listened to Pastor Pete's love lies, so I turned up my lips and attempted to project bridal joy.
"You look so nervous," Stuart whispered, giving me a small smile.
I honestly don't know how I didn't throat-punch him at that moment.
"Welcome, loved ones," the pastor said, beaming at the congregation as he spoke. "We are gathered here today to join together Sophie and Stuart in holy matrimony."
I felt my breath hitch, unsteady, as he kept yammering, leading us closer to the moment. Something about the twinkling lights and evergreen boughs that we'd painstakingly selected for our December wedding felt garish to me all of a sudden, as if the hobo ghost from Polar Express was going to show up in the back of the church and mock me for my foolishness.
And he wouldn't be wrong.
Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please, I thought, panic tightening my chest. With every word the pastor spoke, my anxiety grew.
Stuart squeezed my trembling hand, the ever-supportive fiancΓ©, and I squeezed back hard enough to make him look at me in surprise.
"Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your-"
"I do."
A collective gasp shot through the large chapel, and when I turned around, the man standing up was not at all what I expected. He was big and tall and impeccably dressed: charcoal suit, white shirt, gray tie, and matching pocket square. He looked like Henry Cavill's stunt double or something, but with darker hair and more intense eyes.
Honestly, I'd imagined he would be a party bro, like Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers, but this man looked more like he belonged in a boardroom.
"So sorry to interrupt," he said in a smooth, deep voice, "but these two should absolutely not be married."
"Who is that?" Stuart hissed, daring to give me an accusing stare as a low rumble of whispers emanated from the pews.
"Oh, she doesn't know me, Stuart," the man said, looking a hundred percent comfortable in his uncomfortable role. He raised one dark eyebrow and added, "But my friend Becca knows you."
I gasped, my response entirely authentic even though I'd actually practiced it beforehand. I'd known this man was coming, but I hadn't expected him to be so . . .
Good.
The man was good. The way he spoke made me feel just as shocked as I'd been two nights ago, when I'd discovered Stuart's Becca on his phone.
"Listen, pal, I don't know-"
"Stuart. Shut up." The man looked down at his wrist and straightened his cuff, as if the mere sight of Stuart bored him. "The lovely Sophie deserves so much more than a cheater for a husband. I would imagine most of us here know it isn't the first time; wasn't there a Chloe last year?"
"I don't know who you are, but this is bullshit." Stuart's face was red as he glared at the man, and then his darting eyes came back to me. I looked at his face, remembering how it'd looked when he'd sobbingly begged my forgiveness over his Chloe transgression, and he actually had the gall to say to me, "You know it's not true, right?"
My gut burned as he feigned innocence and I said, "How would I know that? Isn't Becca the name of the girl who texted you in the middle of the night, and you said it was a wrong number?"
"It was a wrong number," he said with wild eyes. "This guy is obviously trying to ruin our day, and you're letting him, Soph."
"Then give me your phone," I said calmly, and Pastor Pete pulled at his collar.
"What?" Stuart's flushed face twisted, and he glanced at the congregation as though looking for backup.
"If you have nothing to hide," the objector said, still standing and talking in that deep, steady voice like this whole scenario was completely normal. "Just give her the phone, Stuart."
"That's it, fucker!" Stuart yelled, rushing toward the guy. All hell broke loose as his groomsmen followed, though it was unclear if they were trying to hold him back or incite the forthcoming brawl.
It was a cacophony of male yelling and gray tuxedos in motion.
His mother yelled, "Stuart, no!"
Just as Stuart punched the objector square in the face.
"Oh, my God," I said to no one in particular, watching in disbelief as the objector took the punch without his body moving, as if he hadn't even felt it.
Stuart's father looked right at me as he loudly muttered, "Jesus Christ."
And Pastor Pete apparently forgot that his lapel mic was on, because he sighed and said, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Excerpted from Happily Never After by Lynn Painter Copyright © 2024 by Lynn Painter. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.






About the Author


Lynn Painter lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and pack of wild kids. She is a community columnist for the Omaha World-Herald, as well as a regular blogger for their parenting section. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can be found eating her feelings and shotgunning cans of Red Bull. Learn more online at www.lynnpainter.com.



1 comment:

  1. I loved this book! Great characters, great story line, great banter!

    ReplyDelete

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