Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet
Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet by Marilyn Brant
Publication date: July 20th 2014
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
**Note: PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT BET is part of the "Perfect" series, but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel**
The course of true love doesn't always run smooth…
Everyone thought Beth Ann Bennet and Dr. Will Darcy had an unexpected romance in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match (Perfect #1).
Now, Beth’s best friend, Jane Henderson, and Will’s first cousin, Bingley McNamara, begin their own unlikely love story in Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet (Perfect #2), which starts at the Bennet/Darcy wedding when the two of them find themselves in the roles of maid of honor and best man for the newlyweds.
Jane is an interning school psychologist and a woman who wears an angelic mask in public, but she’s not as sweet tempered as she’d like everyone to believe. Turns out, she may have just crossed paths with the one person who’ll unnerve her enough to get her to reveal her true self.
As for Bingley, he’s a wealthy, flirtatious, compulsively social guru of finance, who likes to wager on stocks and, let’s face it, on just about anything that strikes his fancy. But this dedicated ladies’ man may have finally met the woman who’ll challenge his bachelor ways!
Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet…where life’s biggest gamble is the game of love.
Jane pointed an accusatory finger at the red smudge on Bingley's shirt. “Slipped your mind already, eh? The lipstick? Clearly, you’ve already found another victim, and you didn’t even wait until after the bouquet toss.”
Bingley didn’t miss a step as they continued to dance, but he fingered his collar thoughtfully, almost as if he were lost in a memory. To Jane, it was like seeing a mask drop from his face, if only for an instant.
Then his expression changed.
His lips twisted into an absolutely devilish grin, which he paired with an eye-widening/eyebrow-raising movement that succeeded in giving him the most unsettling, most oxymoronic air of…rakish innocence.
What a conniving little rascal.
“You’re awfully curious about my whereabouts given that you want nothing to do with me yourself,” he said with the measured, pleasing tones of a late-night radio host. “What do you care about a—oh, how did you put it? Ah, yes, a ‘manipulative and insincere’ man like me? Why does it matter to you what I’m doing, hmm, chickie?”
“Do not call me chickie.”
His grin broadened as he did a little swivel step, spinning her around once. “Sorry, sweet pea. Is that better? Would you prefer plum cake? Honey bunch? Sugar bear? Darling Jane?”
“As you wish,” he said with a laugh. “So, Just Jane, you still haven’t answered my question.”
“I’m not curious. And I don’t care what you do. Forget I said anything.”
“No worries, Just Jane. I’ve already forgotten everything you’ve ever said to me, including, but not limited to—” He lowered his voice. “Those little moans you made when I kissed your neck and sucked slowly on your lower lip.” There was a hardness in his tone, but he laughed for their audience on the sidelines, just like he’d done at the church. Looking every bit the delighted and amiable best man. Nodding at both his parents and hers as they passed near that side of the room. Twirling her again, just for show, a little faster this time. Fast enough that it was dizzying, and she felt the full effect of her lightheaded state.
Despite the cloudiness in her brain, though, something critically important became clear to her, and she needed to address it. She stopped dancing.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t like you.”
He sighed. “Yeah. Noted.”
“But—” She paused. “Look, can we talk over there?”
He nodded and let her lead him to an open area by the dessert table. The scent of cut slices of wedding cake infiltrated her senses. So much vanilla frosting and sliced strawberries. She got a sugar rush just from inhaling.
“Bingley,” she said, “whatever our personal feelings are, they don’t matter. We’re both really close to Beth and Will. Our paths are going to cross—probably a lot more often than either of us would like. I mean, seriously, if the Reverend Elton, our parents and all of these witnesses weren’t here, I’d love to strangle you for trying to play me this summer. But, for the sake of those we care about, we’re going to have to just be friends…or die trying to act the part.”
He smiled at her, though she couldn’t tell if it was more affectionate or patronizing, the way one might regard a naïve child. “Don’t you ever watch movies? Men and women can’t be friends. Not really. Not if both people are straight.” He shrugged. “We’re human. The sexual attraction will always get in the way. Every time.”
He drew closer to her and whispered, “Face it. This is not destined to be the start of a beautiful friendship. I, for one, can’t say I’ve ever spent ten seconds thinking about the undergarments of my friends. But the thought of what you’re wearing underneath that red dress has been plaguing me for hours. Zebra stripes? Leopard spots? Purple polka dots?” He eyed her bridesmaid gown with scrutiny, as if he might be able to see through the flimsy fabric.
"Well, stop thinking about it.” She snatched a plate with a piece of cake on it from the dessert table and thrust it at him. “Here, eat this. Just…just focus on something else.”
Bingley stood very still—the cake plate in his hand.
Abruptly, he broke off a corner section of the white cake and lifted it until it hovered between them like a spongy ghost. He licked his lips but, instead of eating the cake himself, he offered it to her. This was so unexpected that her jaw dropped open and, before she realized it, he’d slipped the bit of wedding cake into her mouth.
As she chewed, their gazes met again and something she definitely did not want to acknowledge passed between them.
He shook his head. “I thought you looked hungry,” he said, raising one dark eyebrow and handing the plate back to her. “When you’re ready to be honest with yourself, Just Jane, you let me know. Until then, I’ll playact ‘friendship’ with you in front of Will and Beth, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s real. It’s ‘manipulative and insincere’…and, let’s not forget, it’s your idea.”
And, with that, Bingley McNamara strode away from her and out of the hotel ballroom.
About the author
Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato.
Connect with Marilyn
Ends August 12th - open INTL
- One signed paperback copy of the companion book from the series, PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH (Will & Beth's story).
- One signed paperback copy of Marilyn's bestselling coming-of-age romantic mystery, THE ROAD TO YOU.
- One Marilyn Brant t-shirt with musical notes.
- One ACCORDING TO JANE canvas tote bag.
- One A SUMMER IN EUROPE luggage tag.
- And one Godiva ice cream cone magnet.