Make Me a Match
by Mackenzie Lucas
Widower Mark Cage is rusty at relationships. He owns the micro-brewery that supplies
the restaurant and bar at St. Augustine's premiere spa resort, Essence, with its award
winning local craft beer. And he’s been focused on building his business and raising
his teenage daughter ever since his wife died ten years ago. Nothing else.
When he runs into a sweet kindergarten teacher who is vacationing in St. Augustine
and staying at Essence everything changes. A sudden, inexplicable encounter with a mystical tree
known for its legend of bringing lovers together, convinces Mark the schoolteacher is
his destined match. However, his encounters are disastrous.
His only hope of persuading the woman he wants to even consider a date with him is
working with Essence’s on-site relationship guru, Athena Sullivan. A reknowned relationship coach, Athena is the opposite of everything Mark wants in a woman. She’s feisty,
independent, and challenges him at every turn. Sparks fly between the two from their
first meeting and flare into a blazing inferno as Athena helps him navigate the dating scene.
After a series of too-perfect, mis-queued dates, Mark realizes maybe the woman of his
dreams is not a sweet schoolteacher after all. Maybe she’s a feisty, independent, sexy relationship coach who stands up to him and is everything he’s always wanted or needed in a woman.
If he opens himself up to true love, he might just find second chances at love are possible and that his perfect soul mate is closer than he thinks.
Two days later Jamie came bounding into his office at Ancient City Brewery. “Hey, Daddy-o.”
“Uh oh. She wants something,” Mark commented to no one in particular as he pushed away the stack of invoices in front of him. Running a brewery was work he didn’t usually mind. Today, though, his focus was shot. “What do you need now, dollface?”
“Nope. I don’t want anything. I’ve got something for you. It’s a surprise.” She waved a folder in his face.
He went to grab for it and she snatched it back. “Hold on. Not so fast.”
Mark settled back into his chair and laced his hands behind his head, prepared to wait for the reveal. “Okay, so what’s this all about?”
“Weeeeeeeell. It’s good for you, but you’re not gonna like it.”
“Sounds like what I used to tell you about eating your Brussel sprouts and broccoli.”
“Eww.” Her face comically contorted. “You don’t need to get nasty.”
Amazing. The girl still hated broccoli and Brussel sprouts to this day.
“It’s in no way as bad as Brussel sprouts.” She blessed him with one of her brightest smiles. He was in so much trouble.
“This is going to be bad.” He groaned. “Out with it. What is it? College is ten grand more? You want to go to school in the Grand Caymans?”
“Can I? Is that a possibility?”
“Ah, no, not even a chance. You’ve been accepted into the University of Virginia. That’s where you’re going.”
She pretended to pout for a few moments, then smiled. “Okay. Charlottesville it is, then. Sooooo. Ready for your surprise?”
“Girl, you better share before you burst.”
She studied him warily. “All right. So. Here’s the deal. I bought something . . .”
“This never ends well for a man.” Mark sighed and pulled at his ear. “How much did you spend?”
“For me, what is a mini-fortune.”
Mark groaned. “How much?”
“A thousand dollars.”
His front chair legs slammed to the concrete floor. “You what?”
“Now, listen. It’s a good cause.” Her face started to get red. “And, well, I spent my own money.”
“Jamie, what money?”
“I work part-time.”
“Yes, and you were saving your money for school. Books and such.”
“Right.” Her gaze skittered away. “I’ll get by. Most of the books are online anyway these days.”
“What did you spend the money on?”
“I told you, I spent it on you.”
This was like pulling teeth. “How?”
“Aight. Remember the part I said would be good for you, but you wouldn’t like?”
“That’s this part . . . I purchased a three-session package for you to meet with a relationship coach to help you with your dating skills.” The words rushed out in a tumble, then she held her breath.
He didn’t like it. Not one bit.
When he didn’t say anything after a few seconds, she blew the breath out.
“What the hell is a relationship coach? And why do I need one?”
This is a very fast paced, mildly paranormal romance that was easy to read. I never was able to like or relate to either of the protagonists very much. Mark Gage is a jerk and drinks too much. He lost his beloved wife a decade earlier which is supposed to excuse his rude, obnoxious behavior. His daughter wants him to find love and companionship since she will soon be leaving for college.
Athena is an uncommonly beautiful and alluring relationship coach. Mark's Daughter hires Athena to help him navigate the unfamiliar dating scene. Bad experiences in past relationships has made Athena leery of becoming involved with another man. She also has a policy against dating clients. However, Mark seems different after they get past a rocky start.
This easy to read, second chance romance is fast moving story and was an entertaining way to spend a sunny weekend afternoon. It is stand-alone romance in a collection of stories by different authors that all feature an ancient “Soul Mate” tree.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
Meet the Author
Mackenzie Lucas is an avid reader of genre fiction. She writes contemporary and paranormal romance, and listens to an eclectic mix of music. She loves a good story, whether it’s an erotic short, a full-length romance novel, or the narrative slice-of-life found in country music. In any story, emotional integrity and authenticity are most important to her as well as a big dose of romping hot sexual tension. She enjoys smart-mouthed, sexy heroines, hunky alpha heroes who know how to take care of their women, and plot twists that surprise her, but most of all, she just wants to experience the satisfying emotional arc of a character falling in love and finding what he or she needs most in life.
Mac is a small-town country girl with a world-traveler’s heart. She grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and she’s lived in Dublin, Ireland, within spitting distance of New York City in Long Island, and now in the Washington, D.C. area. She obtained her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Dickinson College and received her M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She’s currently an author for Soul Mate Publishing and is represented by Otis and Mackintosh Literary Agency.
With Mackenzie Lucas—whether you’re reading her light paranormal romance or her small-town-based contemporary romance—you’ll always find a heart-warming love story about connectedness, community, and emotional authenticity. And, no, it doesn’t hurt that all her heroes are panty-melting gorgeous alphas and all their sexy, sensually aware heroines know how to stand up to them, give no quarter, and love them just as they are.
Watch for new titles by Mackenzie Lucas.
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