A Bluegrass restaurateur and chef, Lane can’t be bothered with romance. He’s spent his youth taking care of and providing for his younger siblings. Clearly, the sexy, young woman, who wants only marriage and commitment, is trouble for Lane and his new freedom.
As the two work together to pull off a Kentucky Derby party for charity, Lane finds himself susceptible to Sarah’s charms…and much, much more.
Formerly titled A Man of Her Own. Revised and re-edited two times. Last time April 2015. Third time’s the charm!
Until you go to Kentucky and with your own eyes behold the Derby, you ain’t never been nowheres and you ain’t never seen nothin’. – Irvin S. Cobb
Learn more about the setting of Betting on Love
“A quick and pleasant romantic read.” Delores, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance Rated 3 Cups
Fourth Street Live!
Downtown, Louisville, Kentucky
They were arguing again. The noise in the Fourth Street Live! nightclub practically drowned out all thought, let alone conversation, but Sarah Colby could hear well enough to know her friends Kate and Tracy were quarrelling about her.
“You can’t know a man by just one kiss,” Kate said in a shrill voice, swiveling her barstool back and forth and stabbing a straw in and out of a frothy piña colada.
“Lighten up,” Tracy chided. “Don’t say that to Sarah. She believes it and she’s finally ready to look for her prince.”
“By kissing men?”
Stifling a sigh, Sarah looked around. The place was packed. With the Kentucky Derby only three weeks away, people were partying long before the day of the fabled race.
Sarah lifted her wine glass and studied her barhopping companions—Tracy, single but looking, and Kate, divorced and not looking. They had been her sorority sisters at the University of Kentucky and her best friends in the whole wide world.
“You know the fairy tale about the frog prince,” Tracy said.
“Men are disgusting toads,” Kate announced. “Don’t be stupid. Kissing a man won’t turn a toad into Prince Charming.”
Tracy was right. Sarah didn’t appreciate Kate’s negative remarks. It wasn’t the encouragement she needed, when she’d decided to go for it again.
Once she had believed in fairy tales. As a little girl, Sarah had lain awake at night dreaming of her prince. She had imagined him walking toward her with a warm smile on his lips and a tender look in his eyes. Tall. Dark. He would put his arms around her and kiss her. Slow and easy. The image always faded with the kiss. But Sarah knew, just by that one kiss, he was the man she would marry.
After all, that’s how it had happened with her mom and dad. They’d met on New Year’s Eve at a bar where guys were kissing girls at midnight. Her mom had told her she’d known she would marry her father from that very first kiss as “Auld Lang Syne” played and balloons dropped from the ceiling.
Sarah didn’t believe in fairy tales now, but she had believed in her mother. Wasn’t it normal to want to be cherished? To love and be loved? Who was to say one fateful kiss couldn’t tell a woman the truth about a man?
At twenty-four, Sarah realized it was now time to get serious. She had dated more than her share of frat boys in college, but when their kisses failed to ignite a spark, she’d dropped them all without a second chance. Why waste her time with just one of them only to end up disappointed in the end?
Here at the nightclub, the place was crawling with men. Why not sample a few of them? Maybe she’d get lucky. It only took one kiss, after all.
“I doubt anything I say will stop Sarah from making a fool of herself,” Kate said shaking her head. “Women do stupid things where men are concerned. Look at me.”
“We’re not here for one of your pity-parties,” Tracy replied. “We want to help Sarah find her onetrue love.”
“By kissing strange men?” Kate’s voice dripped with sarcasm.
Sarah shifted uncomfortably on the stool and tugged down the skimpy, black dress that hiked up her thigh. “Quiet, both of you. We’re here for two good reasons. We’re celebrating the anniversary of Kate’s divorce.”
Tracy said brightly, “And you’re here to find Prince Charming by kissing a few frogs.”
“Toads,” Kate amended under her breath.
Tracy wagged a finger at Kate. “You didn’t think David was a toad when you married him.”
“Well, the jerk fooled me. The man I thought was Prince Charming morphed into a toad as soon as the wedding ring was on my finger.” Kate slurped down the rest of her piña colada and stared sadly at them.
Sarah’s chest tightened. Her romantic heart knew there was a guy somewhere just for her. She didn’t want to believe all men were like Kate’s ex. And her practical side knew the way to find him.
Sarah leaned forward on her barstool. “Look, Kate, it’s very simple. To make sure you’ve found the right man, you need a point of reference. You need a baseline. That’s why you have to kiss a lot of men. My mom always guaranteed this method works to find the right one.”
“There are no guarantees,” Kate grumbled into her empty glass.
“We know that.” Tracy waved Kate’s objection away. “We’re being proactive here. Sarah has a plan.”
“And how many toads have you kissed?” Kate challenged Tracy, unable to let go of the topic.
Tracy frowned, her normal optimistic smile fading. She shook her head slightly, then spoke honestly, “Too many, I’m afraid.”
“And you haven’t found Mr. Right,” Kate pointed out.
“You don’t have to remind me.”
“So, it’s a stupid idea.”
Sarah ignored Kate and fixed her attention on Tracy. “Where do you think I should start?”
“Let’s look for suitable candidates.” Tracy swiveled around and surveyed the whole nightclub. “Check out that guy over there hitting on the blonde.”
Sarah studied the man in low-rider jeans and a bicep-baring tank top. That guy wasn’t her type. She grimaced. “Looks coarse to me, but I’ll give him a try. Gotta start somewhere.”
Kate wrinkled her nose. “By the looks of that guy, I guarantee he’ll be glad to let you try.”
Tracy swiveled around. “Or there’s that babe magnet sitting beside you.”
Sarah turned and eyed the man hunched over his drink. He seemed oblivious to the clamor around him, but she liked his clean-cut, mature good looks.
She sipped her wine. Those were her options. If her aunt had her way, she wouldn’t be going back to graduate school this summer. A food critic, Aunt Amelia wanted Sarah to do research for the regional cookbook she was writing. Not much chance of meeting Prince Charming if she was stuck in a dusty library or behind a laptop working for her aunt.
Besides, she had come dressed tonight for the occasion, prepared to get on with the job of finding a man to marry.
She was still a freakin’ virgin, for crying out loud. It was now or never.
Sarah drew a deep breath and released it. Then eyeing the crude guy who’d just been dumped by the blonde, she said to her friends, “Okay, ladies. Time to pucker up. Time to kiss a toad and see what happens.”