On an anonymous online dating app, LittleMissPerfect meets HotAussie007 and it’s love at first click. In real life, a smart but spiky woman in STEM, research scientist, Dr Eden, meets a laid-back Aussie marketing manager, Finn, at the big pharma company where they both work in California. They’re forced to compete for special projects funding, and both their jobs are on the line.
Eden just wants to win at science and in life. It’s not happening! She can’t stand Finn’s too-cool-for-school, nice guy act, or his delectable forearms that keep invading her space. While Finn is stupidly attracted to Eden, when she’s not telling him off, he isn’t free to pursue her. He’s stuck in the worst position in his professional life, and doesn’t see a clear way out. He can’t tell her the whole truth about what’s going on at work or in his personal life. . . or it could all blow up in his face.
When they realise the truth about their online alter egos, dating is off the table. Can they ignore their inconvenient attraction, and work together to take down their unethical boss? Or will intense rivalry cause their IRL work lives and online love lives to collide and explode like a science experiment gone wrong?
Cassandra has shared an extract with us today so grab that drink, those biscuits, a comfy chair and enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
The following excerpt is from Chapter Two of Dating Little Miss Perfect, © Copyright Cassandra O’Leary, 2023. Reproduced and shared with permission of the author.
This chapter starts in the hero, Finn’s, point of view. He’s just received the latest in a series of flirty online messages from LittleMissPerfect, an anonymous prospect on the dating app he’s using. They are yet to meet in real life. But it’s his cranky work rival, Dr Eden, who is on his mind. And later, we find out Finn is on Eden’s mind too! They work in a big pharma company in California, and they’re being forced to compete for special projects funding and to collaborate, to a certain extent.
Finn stared at his phone in the palm of one hand while rubbing the back of his neck with the other. LittleMissPerfect’s opening gambit was a tease. Normally, he’d fire back, saying he’d love to take her downtown. Get down and dirty. But today? Another woman occupied his thoughts like an invading army.
Cupcakes? Doctor Eden bakes cupcakes?
Eden’s email was perfectly reasonable, almost pleasant, aside from her Wikipedia dig. Probably fair enough. But it made his head spin. Because his mind went straight to an image of her swanning around her kitchen, wearing her white lab coat, a dusting of powdered sugar, and little else. Licking cake mixture off the back of a spoon…
Bloody hell. Seated at his desk, he adjusted his trousers, suddenly a fraction too tight.
Eden was inspiring some lurid fantasies during the middle of a workday, which was definitely a cause for concern. But the real reason he felt so uncomfortable, so guilty, was all the time he’d been thinking about her, he’d forgotten about someone who could really matter to him. LittleMissPerfect, his online dating partner. Date. Potential girlfriend. Whatever.
Time to focus and organize a top-notch date. Soon. Before he lost his damn mind. He was about to call his favorite Italian restaurant when a knock at the door startled him so badly that he banged his knee against the underside of his desk.
He cleared his throat. “Come in.”
“Hey, Finn.” Nate hovered in the doorway, awkwardly leaning on the frame. “Can I have a minute?”
“Sure. Pull up a seat.”
Nate sat on the low couch by the wall, so Finn scooted closer on his swivel chair. Blowing his ratty hair out of his eyes, Nate gazed up at the ceiling and took a moment before speaking. Finn studied his ugly heavy metal T-shirt, torn jeans, and combat boots. The guy looked about sixteen instead of a twenty-four-year-old postgrad.
“Weird, how? Did they get back to you?”
“Nope. I had a visit from the big boss. Doctor McTavish stopped by my cubicle to ‘say hello’ and see how I was settling in.”
Nate’s raised eyebrows told the whole story. Finn’s eyebrows shot up too. McTavish never stopped by to say hello to anyone who worked for him. He sometimes summoned people to his expansive office, but that was an entirely different ball game. Doctor Martin McTavish didn’t really ‘do’ people.
Finn leaned back in his chair. “Huh. What else did McTavish say? Was he worried about you using IT resources? Checking if you had authority for the request?”
“Nope. He asked how I was settling in, and if you’d made me feel welcome in Marketing, that was it.”
Finn had no words. The conversation was so out of character for McTavish that it was as if they were talking about a completely different person. Someone with an actual personality.
“Okay. Keep this to yourself, but let me know if McTavish pops by again or if he sends any other unusual communications. I reckon he might be fishing for information about problems in our team, asking the new guy. You know we’re competing for that special projects funding.” Finn breathed out, Zen style, finding his calm. At least trying not to let stress overwhelm him.
He stood and paced to the window. Watched the seagulls soaring high above the courtyard. “On a lighter note, we’re all invited to a charity morning tea on Friday with the scientific research team. I’m told there will be cupcakes.”
“Cupcakes? And plenty of hot, smart scientist women, I’m guessing?”
Finn turned and shot a frown at Nate. “Speaking in a totally politically correct and non-gender-biased way, I can confirm there will be both cupcakes and female scientists. But I won’t comment on the temperature of either.”
“Ha!” Nate’s laugh was so loud that it made Finn jump. “I’ll take my chances. Count me in.”
Finn swallowed his chuckle as Nate loped out of his office. He was beginning to like the guy. There was more to him than first impressions suggested. Seemed there was a lot of that going around.
“The metabolic results are back,” Eden announced, phone pressed to her ear.
She swiveled in her office chair, waiting to hear his voice. No, not waiting to hear his deep, resonant voice. Waiting to hear his response.
Finn wasn’t going to like the story the results told. Why that made her so tense, she couldn’t say. Eden stretched her neck from side to side, attempting to ease the crick in the muscles there. She’d sat in her private office far too long, poring over the bad news in the report, trying to find some positives in the information. Honestly, hiding out.
“Great. Can you finish your report today? I need to add my section and get it across to McTavish.” Finn’s tone was light, unconcerned.
“I’d better talk you through the results before I send it. It’s not what we were expecting.”
Finn groaned, and the sound vibrated through the phone, doing surprising things to her insides. Everything tightened and heated. If she didn’t know better — if it hadn’t been so long — she’d almost describe it as…sexual.
Oh no. Not Finn.
She couldn’t be attracted to him. How inconvenient. Long months of not through choice celibacy, or longer, now she thought about it. Making out didn’t count. It was close to two years. And since there had been lackluster dating for much longer, her hormones were getting out of control. They had to fire up now. Because of him. Just perfect.
“I’ll swing by your office in five,” Finn said.
Brusque. Efficient. Nothing to get worked up about.
He’d already hung up.
*****end of extract*****
About Cassandra O’ Leary –
In 2015, Cassandra won the global We Heart New Talent contest run by HarperCollins UK and her debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was released in 2016. Cassandra was also a finalist in contests run by AusRom Today, Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of Australia. She has indie published several titles including a romcom story collection, Hot In The City and standalone novel, Dating Little Miss Perfect.
You’ll find Cassandra in Melbourne, Australia, chasing her two high-energy mini ninjas and drinking excellent coffee with her superhero husband.
She is a proud member of Romance Writers of Australia, the Australian Society of Authors and the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild.
Dating Little Miss Perfect is an updated take on You’ve Got Mail for lovers of online dating romcoms, with added science, cupcakes and old movie references! Click here to buy on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Waterstones, Kobo, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Google Play Books.
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