The Matchmaker’s Royal Mess
Author: Frieda J. Downing
Publication date: November 25th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
She’d rather give a mountain lion a bikini wax than mess with love again.
Been there, went viral, never going back. Hattie Montague’s life as a backcountry guide for the spoiled and famous suits her just fine, thanks. It’s the only place she feels completely safe being herself. So what if she has nightmares that she can only speak squirrel and craves pine cones for breakfast? It beats leaving yourself vulnerable to humans. Fine, all of them aren’t bad. She likes probably three, so when one needs her help, she drags herself back to civilization. If she can navigate white water rapids, she can babysit a matchmaking office for a weekend. It’s not like she’ll have to deal with people or, you know, be nice. Ew.
Alexander Greye ruined her life ten years ago. Not his proudest moment. Known as the Winter Warlocke, he’s a man born and raised to lead a country with logical precision. Yet around her, he can’t seem to think rationally. He’s never met anyone who dives into the unknown like she does or tames chaos like she can. In a world as perfectly controlled as his, that makes her irresistible and utterly dangerous. And he’s willing to risk it all to thaw his frozen heart.
It’s half past too late when he realizes his carefully laid plans to win her over covered everything except the theft of the Crown Jewels, an abandoned mine where they’d have to face their deepest fears, and the betrayal that forces them to let go.Quite literally.
Warning: Not for the faint of heart. Sassy romantic adventure, with instances of chaos, misunderstandings, and feels. Oh, and the occasional sheep. Sparks will fly, it’s gonna get awkward, and the Happily-Ever-After will be well-earned.
Since the office doesn’t have a bathtub, I get resourceful. The closet, unfortunately, is a disaster of pillow guts and shelving covered in sheep-sized bite marks. No one would confuse me for a sheep expert, but I always thought it was goats that chewed everything to pieces. Maybe Calambity is part goat. Thankfully, the blue pillow tub is in one piece.
I carry it to the kitchenette and place it on the tile next to the sink. Once I have it situated, I pull the large plastic dustpan off the broom and place the wide bit under the faucet of the tiny sink with the narrow handle hanging off the side. When I crank the hot water, I watch the makeshift waterfall begin to fill my soon-to-be luxurious bath. I shut the curtains in Zoe’s office, then lay out the single towel I had packed. After I strip down, I test the water one more time. A quick soak to freshen up, then I’ll curl up with my pizza and catch up on some Netflix until CataXanderclysm shows.
I snort, rather pleased with myself for that one, then put some tunes on my phone. A summery, reggae sounding track fills the office. With arms overhead, I dance over to Zoe’s desk and snag the bath bomb I found earlier when I was looking for printer ink. Since Zoe said help yourself to anything, I’m doing just that. I’ll replace it tomorrow, along with everything else.
At long last, I get the thin, clingy plastic off the blue ball and, lifting it in a toast to the peace and quiet, I ease myself into the oversized bucket. If I were a tall girl, this could’ve been problematic. As it is, I have to bend my legs all the way for them to fit. It mostly works; only my knees poke out of the water. Despite that, it’s pure bliss. I drop the bright bath bomb in with a satisfying bloop. Tiny bubbles escape and an indigo cloud disperses. To my delight, it also appears to be a low-powered bubble bath. It doesn’t produce heaping mounds of fluff, but it’s enough to cover the surface with bluish white foam and fill my nose with the tantalizing fragrance of cupcakes. I close my eyes, inhale, and settle in as far as my coiled up appendages will let me. I savor the warmth and scent as they wrap around me. Since I don’t know the upbeat song playing, I make up words so I can sing along my way.
I can feel my hair still sticking up in all directions, so I tip first to one side, then the other to wet it down. However, I can’t get the middle strip, so I take a scoop of bubbles and form the remaining dry hair into a floppy fauxhawk. After that, I splash some of the scented water across my face. In the midst of one of those scrubbing sessions, the door to the office opens. Surprised, I suck in bath water and spend a solid ten seconds coughing and sputtering.
Lo-and-behold, my Personal Pain in the Stuff Sack leans against the doorjamb with his arms folded across his chest, one ankle casually crossed over the other. Too bad GQ isn’t here with cameras because Xander is cover model material in the flesh. The navy, single button suit he wears looks more expensive than most of the furniture in this office. Unfortunately, it also sets off his stormy eyes, making it practically impossible to notice anything but him. A smug grin creeps over his arrogant mug. “You look a little crazy right now.”
I scowl and hug my arms to my chest, doing my best to hide my panic. Natalie’s reminder to lock the door chooses that moment to waft through my brain, taunting me. “Why thank you. I owe it all to you. What on earth are you doing here?”
His grin grows. “I love what you’re wearing for our date.”
I hunker down deeper in the plastic storage tub and pull my knees a little tighter to my breasts. My heart’s pounding so hard it may be enough to churn more bubbles all by itself. How can he just stand there and flirt? “You act like you’ve never seen a woman having a bath before. Do us a favor and grow up.”
His lips twitch. “I’ve never seen you having a bath before. There’s a very important difference. Also, in all fairness, I’ve never seen any woman bathe in a storage bin, nor turn herself blue doing so.”
“Blue?” I glance down, then hiss. “Son of a cupcake scented bath bomb.”
about the author
Nice to meet you. I’m Frieda. I write sweet contemporary romance as well as romantic adventure.
I blame it on my childhood babysitters. For some reason they thought I shouldn’t ride our family’s buffalo. Believe me, I was just as shocked as you. Though I never did get that buffalo ride, I found plenty of other creative outlets for my adventure needs. Some were good clean fun, some got me kicked out of various and sundry events, and others ended with me getting lost in catacombs. (Not metaphorically speaking. Somewhere there’s an Austrian catacomb caretaker? guy whom I owe dinner and a large apology.)
I like to think I’ve gotten a tiny bit wiser.
I married my best friend and dove head first into the magnificent cyclone known as raising kids. I mountain bike every chance I get, lose my coffee cup daily, and bake a mean lemon merengue pie, if I do say so myself. I may indulge in shenanigans on a regular basis, but I plead the fifth every time.
I suppose it’s important to me that you know how very much I love us crazy, broken humans. We dream so big. We try so hard. Yet somehow, so often, things just go terribly, horribly wrong.
That’s where my books begin… because that’s where the real love story’s found. I hope you enjoy reading them. Most of all, I wish you adventure, joy, and more love than you knew was possible,
You can find more at www.friedajdowning.com
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