Crazy Stupid Love by Cassie Rocca

by Cassie Rocca
Published by Atria Books

 

Are there written rules on how to find a soulmate? Or is it better to trust the hands of fate? A hilarious romance perfect for the fans of Debbie Johnson and Holly Martin.

 

After enduring a string of dead-end relationships, Zoe Mathison has made a decision – to find a man who truly appreciates her. But this is turning out to be more complicated than she expected. Fed up of being surrounded by insufferably happy couples in love, her mission to find the perfect man starts to become an obsession.

Eric Morgan is pushed to his limits. Hopelessly in love with Zoe, who sees him as nothing more than a best friend to lean on, he can’t bear seeing his hopes of romance crushed every time the sculpted pecs of a younger man comes along. But when a new girl appears on the scene, he is determined to prove that he can push his infatuation aside and move on. But is it as easy as it seems?

In the romantic and bustling city of New York, will Zoe and Eric’s hilarious misadventures attract Cupid’s arrow?

The woman staring back at her in the mirror was the proof that she’d obtained exactly the effect she’d been aiming for when she’d started getting herself ready: her makeup, primarily targeted at highlighting her wide grey eyes, was perfect, her hair, smooth and dark, was held elegantly to the sides of her face by two ivory combs and hung down to her neck, and her dress – a soft woollen one with a round neckline – hugged her shapely figure without being too revealing. Okay, it was a beautiful bright red… but it was a longstanding tradition in her family to wear red for New Year’s Eve. While she applied the final touch of all-day lip gloss, Zoe Mathison paid only scant attention to what she was doing. She was used to that face in the mirror – she knew that she was beautiful and she used the fact to her advantage, but managing her appearance and dressing up for special occasions wasn’t really something she enjoyed any more: it was just something she did on autopilot, practically without realizing it.

And that seductive appearance of hers which magnetically attracted the male gaze meant that she was often the object of envy and spitefulness. Not that she looked like some airbrushed pin-up: she was slim and lithe, with a face that was attractive even without makeup. Her sensuality was something innate, something that emanated from her naturally, and only over time – and after several disappointments – had she learned how to use it in a way she was happy with. Nowadays, she knew how exactly how men worked and held the reins of power confidently, but when it came to women… Well, when it came to women she still had some problems.

Even as a little girl, Zoe struggled to get along with other members of her own sex. A lot of girls didn’t like her because, without ever meaning to, she made them feel as though they were in her shadow. Others tried to imitate her, and others still spread gossip that she was easy just because she was always surrounded by boys.

None of them had ever wondered what exactly she thought about her good fortune. In all probability, the answer would have surprised them.

She was, of course, grateful to the heavens, or to her parents, or to whoever the heck it was who had made things turn out the way they had and ensured that she had a beautiful face and a beautiful body –– but beauty didn’t always produce positive results. In fact, it was often a double-edged sword, and other people’s mistaken belief that having a pretty face automatically meant having a perfect life had begun to irritate her.

If her pretty face had actually been any use then maybe at that moment she wouldn’t have been in her old bedroom at her parents’ house, about to spend yet another evening celebrating with the whole family -– great-uncles and great-grandparents included – but without a man by her side.

For a moment she found herself thinking of Clover, one of her few friends, who at that time was in Ireland with her wonderful Prince Charming, the actor Cade Harrison. In less than a month, Clo had managed to meet the toast of Hollywood and make him lose his head over her, and now the two of them were practically inseparable. With her long red hair and her dimples and her straightforward soap-and-water beauty Clover was like some kind of elf, yet her simplicity had succeeded where Zoe, with her knockout body and perfectly sculpted face, had always failed.

And what about Liberty? Even the stiff, serious owner of Giftland, always tightly wrapped in her dowdy business clothes, had had a faithful boyfriend for years.

She was the only one who was single – and she had been for centuries! When men looked at her, they didn’t lose their heads, it was just that the blood flowed off to a quite different part of their bodies… Ah, if only brains could speak…

Sighing in irritation for the umpteenth time, Zoe threw the lip gloss back into her vanity case and turned away from the mirror. That night, she would have given anything to be celebrating the New Year with a man, intelligent or otherwise, rather than with her family. But lately, interesting guys seemed to have become a bit thin on the ground – or maybe she was becoming more selective.

The sweet, public love affair between Clover and Cade had undoubtedly worked against her: it was hard to settle for some boring fling when right before her eyes there was that example of a perfectly matched couple. Just like it was hard to come back to the family home from time to time and see the boundless love that still glowed in the eyes of her mother and father for each other after thirty years.

Why hadn’t she inherited their good luck in love, instead of their good looks? It would have been a much more welcome gift.

A discreet and familiar knock at the door distracted her from her gloomy thoughts. “Come in, Mom,” she said, sitting down on the bed so she could slip on her stiletto-heeled black boots.

Claire Mathison poked hers head around the door, a sweet smile on her beautiful and still youthful face.

“Your grandparents have arrived.”

“I’ll be right down.”

“Ah… you’re wearing the red dress, I see,” said her mother waveringly. Zoe looked up and blinked, puzzled.

“It’s New Year’s Eve, I thought it suited the occasion. Why?”

“Oh, nothing, you look great. But, you know, great grandmom has decided to join us tonight…”

Zoe jumped up, startled.

“That old witch is here? Mom, you promised me she wouldn’t be coming!” she protested.

 

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Cassie Rocca is a writer of Sicilian origin who has lived in Genoa since the age of three. In everyday life she is a child-minder, a job which gives her plenty of ideas for her modern fairy tales.

 

Facebook: @CassieRoccaWriter

Twitter: @CassieRocca

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Website: www.ariafiction.com

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