Valentine’s Day Rom-Com Novella
Back Cover Copy
Skipping Valentine’s Day just might be the best thing she ever did!
There’s no secret that New York columnist Robyn (Robbie) Dare hates Valentine’s Day. So when her editor assigns her the task of writing a column about V-Day, she advises her readers to skip it. Dubbed The Valentine Hater, at least one person is out for blood, leaving Robbie little choice but to beat a hasty retreat back to her family in the UK. It wouldn’t be so bad, if heartthrob Joe Langford wasn’t right on hand to welcome her back. She used to have a thing for Joe. So did her sister. Five years ago, Robyn pretended to choose her career and walked away, but she always regretted her decision.
There was a time when Joe longed to rectify the mistake he made when he let the woman he loved walk out of his life. Now she’s back and bringing a heap of trouble with her. Good thing Joe likes trouble. He isn’t sure how this mess will turn out, but one thing Joe knows for sure, skipping Valentine’s Day just might be the best thing Robbie ever did!
Six days ‘til Valentine’s Day
…Three hundred and sixty-five—sometimes sixty-six—days of any given year to find love, and the whole world zeros in on one commercial day. In every city, six short days from now, love-starved hopefuls will pin their collective expectations on the flimsy fantasy that Valentine’s will be the day Mr Right comes along. Or, if you’ve fooled yourself into thinking he’s already arrived, you’ll be waiting with bated breath for him to whisk you off to some romantic restaurant. Ply you with fine wine and rich food, then drop to one knee in the middle of the restaurant filled with other misguided hopefuls, and propose. Let me assure you, ladies, Mr Right doesn’t exist! Like this ridiculous holiday, he’s a fallacy. A myth created by overzealous romantics, and deluded naïvetés.
Do yourselves a favour, and take my advice.
It’s a waste of a day!
“Robbie, what were you thinking when you wrote this column?” Her best friend, Cyndi, brandished the magazine under Robyn Dare’s nose.
She empathised with Cyndi’s reaction. Understood why she would be so annoyed. Not only had Robyn dissed Valentine’s. She also managed to get herself—and Cyndi by association—ostracized by everyone she met, and quite a few people she already knew.
Even the gentle Italian grandmother who owned Café Crysta, a popular coffeehouse on the Upper West Side, who usually served her and Cyndi their mocha choco lattes and fresh-from-the-oven chocolate croissants, got more than a little snippy with her today.
Robyn pulled out a chair from under a corner table beside one of the floor-to-ceiling French windows and sat.
“That it’s about time someone made a stand.”
Robyn’s column usually focused on eateries and the food they served. She was a sort of food critic with an eye on which celebs were eating where. So the whole Valentine’s thing was a step out of her usual subject matter.
Cyndi’s gaze skated around the café. She lowered her voice as she sat on the chair opposite Robyn’s.
“Against Valentine’s Day? People expect certain things from your column. Like whether the latest pop star ordered salad or the calorie-laden special. Or if they shared dessert with their date and what they were up to.”
“I maintain what I said. We should all skip Valentine’s.” Even to her, she sounded callous. Robyn ignored a pang of remorse as she shrugged out of her coat. She’d made a promise to herself: toughen up, or accept herself as a push-over forever. She pulled off her cable-knit peaked cap and turned her attention to the snow-covered walkway outside the New York coffeehouse. Café Crysta was known for its creative coffees, and vast selection of fresh-baked pastries and desserts. It was also a hangout for writers, actors and artists, which was how Robyn came to find it three years ago. Since then, she and Cyndi had come here for coffee every day.
“You do know they’ve dubbed you The Valentine Hater, right?”
“Where has originality gone?”
“You have to fix this. Write another column about how much you love Valentine’s or something.”
“I hate Valentine’s, Cyndi. You know that.”
“Shhh! Keep your voice down. You want more people to scowl at us?”
Robyn glanced around them. Seemed to her people would have better things to do than spend their lunchtime throwing eye-daggers at a complete stranger.
“They aren’t scowling at you. They’re scowling at me.”
“But I’m with you. They must think I hate Valentine’s too. Just because Danny broke your heart on V-Day two years ago, doesn’t make it a hateful day. Some people love February fourteenth. Okay, maybe it’s the only day some people make an effort, but at least they do make one.”
At the mention of Danny’s name, Robyn’s chest clogged. She’d talked herself into falling for Danny. He was nice—compatible—and that was what she was looking for in a relationship. She’d done the whole passion thing once before—never again.
However, Danny wasn’t responsible for her antipathy toward Valentine’s. Before Danny came along, she’d been in love with a man she thought was the most amazing male of the species—a man her sister had also been in love with. In the end, Robyn had stepped aside, admitted defeat in the sibling competition for Joe Langford, and let her sister win. She’d jetted from England to New York to accept the job offer as columnist to a New York gossip rag. Not that she intended to remain a columnist for much longer. At twenty-seven, Robyn held her dream of writing a Sitcom close to her heart. And one day she would find the time to get started on that dream. For now, she had New York, Cyndi, and her job, which was usually more fun.
Since her column in Dish This started the mess, Robyn would take Cyndi’s advice and fix it.
“What are you doing?” Cyndi’s frantic whisper and arm tugging caught her attention.
“You asked me to fix it. That’s what I’m doing.”
“Excuse me?” Robyn didn’t need to raise her voice. From the moment she and Cyndi took their seats, the place fell silent apart from the soft, soothing jazz that filtered from hidden speakers. She had a ready audience, so she cleared her throat and proceeded. “Some of you might recognise me as the columnist Robyn Dare—”
She didn’t expect to be well received anyway.
“I think some of my readers have missed the point I was making, and it’s this: why do people need a special day to prove their love? Is love an emotion we save in a shoebox until the fourteenth of February so we can pull it out, dust it off and roll it out for one day? The only day we are supposed to buy flowers and cards? Purchase candy in heart-shaped boxes and tell someone we love them? You know it’s all hype, right?
“Who needs permission to celebrate love? If you love someone, doesn’t that make it Valentine’s Day every day? I’m not saying you shouldn’t fall in love. I’m simply saying you shouldn’t let society, florists, or gift and card shops dictate which day you make an effort for your loved one. And why do so many people hinge their hopes on February fourteenth? Why not the sixth of January? Or April first? Wait … that’s April Fools.” Robyn glanced at Cyndi, who had pulled her wool hat down until it covered her face.
“You need to ask yourselves,” Robyn continued. “Are you angry at me for what I wrote, or are you disappointed in yourselves for letting retailers brainwash you into thinking you should go all out for one day and make it special, when the other three hundred odd days you ignore your so-called loved ones—?”
She gave up. Clearly, she wasn’t going to get through to this crowd.
“Cyndi, I tried.” She threw her hands in a gesture of defeat and was about to sit when a projectile in the form of a gourmet cupcake flew across the room. She saw it a second before it bounced off her forehead. Then more food—along with a number of irate suggestions—started flying at her like panties at a Tom Jones concert.