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Book 2: A Very Bad Bet Audiobook (Cider Cove Sweet RomCom)

Book 2: A Very Bad Bet Audiobook (Cider Cove Sweet RomCom)

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A Very Bad Bet
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Sometimes a wager only makes things more fun...

She’s got seniority over the obnoxious grump next door, and she's determined to beat him out for the top job in their charming hometown. But a bold bet spins their rivalry into a flirty attraction that could change everything.

Claudia:
I was born to be the Cider Cove City Planner. But Beckett Fletcher—the hothead who works next door to me—wants the job too. We can hardly stand each other on a good day, much less compete for the same promotion.

So I make him a bet: Whoever proves they best know the citizens' needs and submits the top proposal for the Christmas Festival gets to apply first.

I've got seniority and a solid plan. What can go wrong?

Well, this bet also means talking to Beckett daily. I can't believe I've done myself dirty like this.

Not only that, but the more we're together, the more I see he's not just a competitive grump. Suddenly I'm noticing things like his cute dogs, and how he cares for his sick aunt.

Do we have more in common than I thought? And why does my pulse do cartwheels when he walks in the room?

But I refuse to be distracted by my insane attraction to the man trying to steal my dream job. I set out to win the bet—and the job—but keep losing focus thanks to Beckett's handsome face and extraordinary kisses.

Can our rivalry and this very bad bet spark something very right?

Sometimes the worst wagers have the sweetest outcomes.

NEW RELEASE! Order this exclusive sweet romcom right here and get the book 8 weeks before it goes on retailers!

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

I pause to wait for Genie to sniff the trunk of a tree, which is a huge mistake. The other two dogs I’m walking this morning think it’s okay to turn our morning walk into a sniff-fest. I’m really off my game this morning, and it’s all because of the announcement about the City Planner position with the city of Cider Cove.

The application packet is in-tense, and I need letters of recommendation, a portfolio, the experience, and it’s at least a three-interview process. Application packets are due November fourteenth, and that gives the current City Planner and his team of people six weeks to find his replacement before his retirement begins.

“Come on,” I say to Genie as I tug on her leash. “Walk. Let’s walk.” With dogs, you need to use short, easy commands. I take these three dogs on their morning walks every weekend, and Genie—a miniature poodle—looks up at me with her happy little smile on her face.

Yes, she’s cute and she knows it.

“Walk,” I say, tugging on the goldendoodle’s leash, as well as the black, full-sized schnauzer who needs way more exercise than I can give him in an hour on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Part of me wishes I could start and run a full-time doggy walking business, but that’s only on pure, clear, somewhat cool Saturday mornings like today. I definitely love my job, what with all the cute skirts and slacks and blouses I get to wear.

I’m not like Lizzie or anything, who’s started doing some plus-size modeling, but she’s good with fashion, and she gives me plenty of items that I actually really like.

Right now, it’s my job causing me to lose focus on the dog-walking. And it’s walking. It’s not hard.

The path we’re on is one I’ve walked many times, the emerald green-grass on my right side opening up to a large field where several people have come to throw balls and Frisbees to their canines.

I’m not paid to do that, and it would make me a little nervous anyway. I have good control of my dogs, but Willie, the schnauzer, tends to bolt when he sees someone or something he likes. Even now, he’s tugging on the leash a little too hard for my liking.

“Don’t pull me,” I say as I give his leash a hard tug. It pulls him back to me, and he looks over his shoulder as if I’ve done him a horrible wrong. But he slows down and keeps pace with the other two dogs. If anything, Genie’s the one working the hardest, her little tawny legs moving at twice the speed of the other dogs.

I make plans to work on my portfolio when I get back to the Big House, because I have plenty of experience in terms of events from my last several years as the Public Works Director. 

The desperation to make sure every single thing is exactly right with my application claws at me, and I round the bend in the path, now turning into the sun. Some people complain about the heat in South Carolina, but I personally love it.

It’s not as bad as South Texas, where I grew up, and it’s got the beach instead of the border of Mexico. I love the beach, and sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly peppy, I walk the doggos on the sand instead of through this park.

It’s a harder walk for all of us, as the sand shifts in mysterious ways beneath our feet, and Lucy, the goldendoodle, is a little bit psycho around water. But I determine that tomorrow, I’ll take the dogs to the beach to do our morning walk.

“I’m going to get this job,” I tell the trio of canines. “I managed the clean-up of Discovery Park, and that place was a mess.” Now, it’s one of the most-reserved pavilions and the pickleball courts there are impossible to get on.

I’ve been working on that layout in my portfolio for a week, and I think I’ve about got it done. Right. 

As they often do when I’m stewing over work, my thoughts move to the only person I think could get this job over me. 

Beckett Fletcher. 

He’s the Deputy Director in the Public Works Department for the city, and he does a lot of work with private investors and businesses, using their donations to improve public lands. He’s done some incredible projects too—including a riverwalk improvement that I sometimes take the dogs to—and I know his portfolio will be as flawless as mine.

I scoff under my breath, because there’s no way he can put together a double-page display that shows the before-and-after the way I can. For once, my scrapbooking skills have come in handy, and I never thought I’d say that.

My phone rings, thankfully distracting me from the downward spiral of my thoughts. Ry’s name sits there, and I swipe on the call with my thumb while maintaining control over the three dogs with my left hand. They trot along on my left side like the good puppers they are, and I say, “Hey, Ry,” as I lift my phone to my ear.

“Hey, are you out walking the dogs?”

“Yep.”

“Emma says she could use some help at the shop today, and I got the task of calling everyone.” Her voice slows on the last few words, almost turning into a question without becoming one. 

I suppress my sigh, because I don’t mind helping Emma at her florist shop. “What’s she got going on?”

“She has a wedding tonight,” Ry said. “And someone just came in, begging and crying for flowers for their company party.”

“A company party?” My eyebrows go up toward the sun.

“You know how Emma is,” Ry says with the sigh I wanted to make a few moments ago. “She can’t say no.”

I’ve been walking at a brisk pace for half an hour, and my breath scoffs out of my mouth. “It’s a company party. Not a last-minute funeral.”

“Is that a no?” Ry asks.

“No, of course not.” I spot a man jogging toward me with two dogs on my side of the path, and I need the use of both hands for this. “I’ll be there, but I won’t be home for another hour or so.”

“We’re going to go over at ten,” Ry said. “I’ll have Tahlia make you a breakfast sandwich. Emma said she’d order us pizza.”

“All right,” I say. “I have to jet.” I slide the phone in the side pocket of my stretchy pants, and I tug all three dogs closer to my side as Shirtless Jogger continues toward me. He’s wearing a visor and a pair of sunglasses and the shortest shorts I’ve seen on a man—and I’ve seen plenty jogging around the city, the beaches, and on this very path.

He’s got muscles from here to the West Coast, and I’m glad my own eyes are shaded behind a pair of sunglasses, so he can’t tell how I’m ogling him.

His dogs—both brown canines that look like mutts—are on leashes, which are connected to a belt around his waist. He’s got earbuds in, and I see the slightest movement of his head toward me as he gets closer and closer. 

His dogs’ tongues hang out of their mouths, and it sure looks like they’re going to trot right past us. I’m not sure who moves first. It could’ve been Willie, who definitely crosses in front of me. Genie follows him, and in the next moment, I’m trying to high-step over their leashes while the guy slows and pulls on his dogs’ leashes.

Both of them are tail-waggingly sniffing Willie already, and all five dogs have decided their greeting chain is happening right in front of me.

How they stop so fast, I don’t know, because I feel like my momentum is still propelling me forward—right of top of them.

“Move,” I bark at the same time I’m trying to find a place to put my feet that isn’t dog flesh. They move like snakes, and just when I see a spot of open cement, it disappears under a bushy, brown tail.

I’m going to fall, and I know it. I look up into a face I recognize, and it’s not until I’m descending backward that I realize the muscular, two-dog owner behind the shades is Beckett Fletcher.

Then I’m down, pain smarting through my tailbone and up into my spine. I only hold one dog leash, which means my other two are loose, and I’m not sure if my pulse is panicked because of that or because Beckett has A Body.

And two dogs. And jogs in this park where I walk my canines. 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Beckett says, and he’s instantly on his knees in front of me. “Are you okay?” 

If he knew it’s me on the ground, he wouldn’t be so nice. I feel put together wrong, like everything that’s usually straight is all askew, from my sunglasses, to my ponytail, to every stitch of clothing on my body.

“I’ve got the dogs,” someone says, and I look to my left, where the dog pile was. The dog pile I’m now part of. Only Genie sits there, and I don’t see a stitch of black anywhere. Great. Willie’s gone.

“I have—” I try to say, but my voice feels stuck behind my lungs. Until I can get a proper breath, I won’t be able to speak. I have to try. “A schnauzer,” I manage to say.

“I’ve got him,” that someone says again, and Beckett looks over to them.

Then back to me. “The dogs are right here,” he says. “Can you get up? Did you twist or sprain something?” Beckett puts his hand on my shoulder, and the touch burns partly against my bare skin and partly through my tank top strap.

In this moment, with him looking at me with concern, and touching me, I realize—he has no idea who I am.

I never wear my hair up at work. I don’t wear athleisure attire. I don’t have dogs, or wear sunglasses, and Beckett and I never talk about personal things. I don’t know where he lives, or that he has dogs, or anything about him really.

Now, I see the little bit of scruff on his face that indicates he hasn’t shaved today. It’s the color of the rich brown floors in the living room at the Big House, and he’s got a mouth full of white teeth as he flashes me a smile.

My heartbeat clangs strangely in my chest, and I know this feeling inside myself. If he was anyone but the annoying, obnoxious, arrogant, grumpy Deputy Director who works next door to me, I’d be interested in him.

I’d get to my feet and try to flirt with him enough for him to ask for my number. The thing is, Beckett already has my number, and he would never, ever use it to ask me out on a date.

“I’m okay,” I say, my voice lodged down in my throat. I’m relieved I don’t sound like myself, and with Beckett’s hand in mine, I get back to my feet.

I straighten my tank top and take the leashes back from the second man who’d stopped to help. I recognize him too, because he comes to this park all the time. My heart drops to the soles of my feet as Landon smiles at me. He’s asked me out before, but there’s no fizz between us. 

Not like there just was when Beckett put his hand on my shoulder.

“Thank you,” I say to him, adjusting the leashes in my hand so I’m holding them the way I like. 

“Sure thing, Claudia,” he says, and I press my eyes closed.

So close.

“Claudia?” Beckett asks, his voice pitching up into a near-screech. 

Oh, so close.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I’m totally enjoying this series and getting to know all the characters. I loved Beckett and Claudia’s story. This author writes characters that come alive on the pages and you get invested in their stories. I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.” Mary Jane M.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “What a great story – the battle of the perfectionists. And boy, what a battle at times! Claudia and Beckett are an intense pair with big feelings. It’s fun watching them spar while giving in to the electricity flowing between them. I also thoroughly enjoyed the supporting cast – the secretaries and the roommates! They added a great dimension to the storyline while giving us a little glimpse of the next book.” ~Tracey W.

View full details

A brand-new romantic comedy series that will have you laughing out loud, wishing you lived in the South, and swooning for all the Boys Next Door!

6 single roommates. One Big House in the suburbs of Charleston. 6 guys who either live or work right next door to our curvy heroines...

These couples don't particularly get along, but they're all dealing with the forced proximity issues - until they realize that the hot guy next door is actually really... sweet.

  • Book 1: A Very Terrible Text

    Sometimes the thumbs slip…


    She’s finally joined the dating app everyone in Cider Cove is raving about…when she accidentally sends a message about wanting to meet up for a first date to her enemy.

    Read now! 
  • Book 2: A Very Bad Bet

    Sometimes a wager only makes things more fun...

    She’s got seniority over the obnoxious grump next door, and she's determined to beat him out for the top job in their charming hometown. But a bold bet spins their rivalry into a flirty attraction that could change everything.

    Read now! 
  • Book 3: A Very Merry mess

    Sometimes the holidays are messy...

    Christmas is the season of joy, mistletoe, and, unfortunately for Ryanne, the pressure of bringing home a date. When she vents to Elliott, her best friend and co-manager at the small-town office supply store, he impulsively grabs her phone and texts her mother that they're dating.

    Date. Ing.

    Preorder now! 

Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town... This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!

Read this series if you like: 

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Sweet Beach Reads

✔ Contemporary romance

✔ Later in life romance

✔ Friends to lovers romance

✔ Enemies to lovers romance

✔ Small-town romance

✔ Military romance

✔ Single-dad romance

Customer Reviews

Based on 23 reviews
91%
(21)
9%
(2)
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A
Abby
Beckett & Claudia

I loved this one! Oh Beckett, he was so sweet and fell so hard for Claudia. He was just such a great guy! I loved how Claudia associated things with paint colors, that was fun & really unique and clever. Loved that we got to see more of the Southern Roots characters too!

J
Jennifer L.
Loved it!

I loved this second book of the series just as much as the first. (Which was a lot.) it was a really fun read. The group of roommates in “The Big House” (“‘Don’t they know that’s what prisons are called’”) were so entertaining. I really like the characters in this series. I enjoy how they have such entertaining quirks. For instance, Claudia’s paint sample name curses in this book. Great, fun characters and wonderful romance. There was no love lost between Claudia and her annoying coworker Beckett, who was applying for the same promotion as her. A weekend run-in pushed Beckett to approach Claudia differently, which got the ball rolling on significant changes to their relationship. “Perhaps this attraction between us has always been there, and we’ve simply built walls around it. And bam, with the smallest of cracks, it’s all come spilling out.” A bet that could impact their burgeoning romance came into play early on. “‘But I do know one thing about bets: There’s always a winner…and a loser.’” I liked the feeling in this book of really sitting in the progressing relationship and all the bumps in the road, rather than so much focus on getting to an actual relationship. There was excellent chemistry between the main characters, but the ups and downs came as they learned to harness it and direct it the right way. It wasn’t all easy. “The truth is, Beckett and I have a relationship like a yo-yo. Sometimes it’s up, and sometimes it’s down, and sometimes it’s been thrown around.” There were lots of great swoony moments. The texting is a fun element of this book too. There is a lot of character carryover from book one of the series, and this story is set up with some chapters in book one so I suggest reading both books in order. However, this book would still read well as a standalone. This is a clean story with mild innuendo and no harsh language.

P
Priscila P.
I'm going to miss these characters

This is the first time in a while that I was both looking forward to how the story would end, while at the same time not wanting it to end, lol. Beckett and Claudia's story was just what I needed and I definitely enjoyed both the romance and the laughs. I loved their growth, their turn from frenemies to attracted and more, and how they learned to help and complement each other (it reminded me a bit of Julie Christianson's The Even Odder Couple). I loved how the bet played out, making for a starting point/nudge in their relationship, but not being too drawn out. It was fun that they were both coworkers and had a few things in common, like a love of dogs and (some) family.

It was great seeing past characters again, and considering how long it's been since I read the first one, I was surprised that it didn't take me as long to differentiate all the roommates. I loved the updates on how they're doing, and I especially enjoyed the peek into Ry's POV, as well as the hints for a couple of the other roommates.

For real, I was sad to come to the end of this book, since I feel like I'm going to miss these characters (Claude and Becks) but that's also why I'm glad this is a series, and we'll get updates from characters of previous books in the next ones. I'm definitely looking forward to Ry and Elliott's story! ~ 4.5 stars

L
LeAnn A.
Workplace clean, romcom

I am loving this Cider Cove Sweet Southern Romance series. This story focuses on Claudia and Beckett, two coworkers that are always at odds with each other. When they have an encounter outside of work, they see each other with different eyes. The story has some twist and turns that keep it interesting. The characters are pretty well rounded. Each of the stories in this series is about a different roommate that live in “ the big house” so we get to know a lot of side characters. There are parts that I liked and parts I didn’t. I did think it was a little long. It is a dual point of view of Claudia and Beckett. There was one chapter where the characters change. It threw me not realizing it was part of the set up for book 3. I did like the sneak peek for book 3. It sounds like a fun fake dating story. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

T
Teresa P.
Very entertaining

Entertaining Hallmark worthy story with misunderstanding, romance, comedy, and clandestine meetings in an office closet. Wonderful read.