Cover Reveal & Excerpt: Mrs. Mix Up by Candace Harper

Today, we have a cover reveal from romance author Candace Harper for her upcoming release, Mrs. Mix Up! You might remember that Candace released a short story last year titled News Flash. You can read more about that here.

This cover (and novella) is near and dear to my heart – because it’s mine! I’m very excited to share this high heat lesbian romance with all of you, and I hope you’re excited to read it!

A secret crush. A mix-up in paperwork. And suddenly, a fake marriage that lands two women in one hotel room–and face to face with their denial.

After six months of simmering attraction, librarians Sofiya Anderson and Molly Andersen are ready to burst. There’s a magnetism between them that threatens their commitment to professionalism, and not even a librarian’s stern shushing can quiet it down. But they’ve managed to hold themselves in check…for now.

Until a mistake at a regional conference, a tiny oversight in spelling, makes the coordinators believe they’re a married couple.

Two women. One bed. And a Mrs. Mix-Up that doesn’t quite go by the books. Can they make it through five days of professional development with both their hearts and their jobs intact?

Mrs. Mix Up is a high heat novella featuring a Black cis demiromantic lesbian and a white cis lesbian main couple. Goodreads

If that’s gotten you excited, you can go ahead and preorder it for a mere $0.99 from Amazon!

Keep scrolling to see the cover and read an excerpt of Mrs. Mix Up!

Mrs. Mix Up Cover

 

 

Excerpt from Mrs. Mix Up:

SOFIYA

Sofiya felt like she had been filling out paperwork for days, but she’d barely made a dent in the stack in front of her. They shouldn’t have taken her that long. She had filled out dozens of these applications in her decade as a reference librarian, and this one was no more complicated than any of the others had been. Yet she kept finding herself distracted by something. Scratch that, not something – someone.

Every few minutes, the new children’s librarian would flit into her periphery and then all of Sofiya’s focus would disappear into the ether. The impeccably dressed Black woman was reading Raisin the Littlest Cow, something that was always a hit with the crowds of children that sat at her feet no matter how many times they’d listened to it.

Even as an adult who had heard the books ad nauseum, Sofiya had to admit that Molly was a captivating reader – and a beautiful one. Not that she would ever admit that last part out loud. It would be entirely unprofessional to say that the tamest of her daydreams were about unfurling the other woman’s bun and watching the multi-colored braids cascade down her naked back. As for the rest, well, to say they were not safe for work would have been an understatement.

As if she knew what Sofiya was thinking, Molly glanced towards the circulation desk with the bright smile that would charm even the grouchiest of parents. It made Sofiya melt to her core, thinking of the things she could do to make the woman smile like that. She shook her head, clearing the images from her eyes like a drawing on an etch-a-sketch and trying to hide her blush.

What she found before her was the same stack of papers that would allow Molly and herself to get the funding they needed to travel to and attend the regional conference that would allow them to grow the library’s programming even further over the next few years. She needed to get back to work, and so she did. Picking up the next form on the pile, she started to fill it out.

When Molly made an exaggerated movement and laughed along with the story a moment later, the throaty sound that sent tingles traveling to Sofiya’s most intimate parts. She threw down her pen with a groan. There was no way she was going to get anything done in this room with her body reacting to every sound the other librarian made as if it was straight out of a porno. It all had to get done today so that it was filed before the new year deadline… But where could she go? Libraries were not rife with privacy, especially with how packed it was today.

She racked her brain as she looked around, trying to think of somewhere on the grounds she could go. Not outside, where it had been and would continue raining all week. The library director had been holed up in the office for three days trying to figure out what they needed to ask for during the upcoming budget negotiations, so that was out, too. She refused to sit in the bathroom to do work. That was several steps too far, even for her dramatic self. So, she’d have to look further afield. When her stomach rumbled with what was probably hunger, inspiration struck.

The coffee shop down the street would be the perfect distraction. It would be even more public and she’d have a lot of sounds to lull her into a deeper focus. She could get lunch and talk to Claudia, her friend and barista. They made a killer bahn mi and was a great person. And hey, maybe getting drenched on the walk over would help to figuratively cool her down and get her head back in the game.

With resolve, Sofiya gathered up her papers and tucked them into both a weatherproof folder and her briefcase. She stuck her head into the office to tell the director where she was going and headed out into the rain. She could do this. She would do this.

***

MOLLY

“And they all lived happily ever after,” Molly finished. The toddlers at her feet burst into childish applause and she smiled at them. One of the parents had started doing that last week and it had apparently caught on. Not that she minded – it was nice to be appreciated.

Looking around while the parents rounded up their children’s things, she noticed that something was different. Isabella had taken over the circulation desk and was waiting patiently. Molly knew she should go and help – it was always a rush when story time let out and the listeners would come and check out their book for the week – but she really didn’t want to. She felt like the blood in her veins had been replaced with electricity and it was making her both jumpy and itchy at the same time. It was not a great feeling, but it was one that was increasingly common at this new library.

Not that the library had anything to do with it, really. It only happened on days when she worked with Sofiya, the older reference librarian. There was something about the lithe Latina that drove Molly to horny distraction. Today was the worst day in the six months she’d been working there. The woman’s magenta knit sweater hung gracefully over her cleavage in a way that had Molly’s heart skipping a beat every time she glanced over. Which was often.

Unfortunately, her usual solution – masturbation – was many hours out of her reach, so she was just going to have to suffer through it. If this kept up, though, she’d have to start packing her vibrator and find somewhere that she’d be able to use it on her lunch break. Her cheeks heated at the thought of the risks that idea entailed, even knowing that it was ridiculous.

As if the universe knew she was thinking naughty thoughts, a child tugged on the bottom of her wrap dress. Molly plastered a smile on her face and looked down to find one of the smallest boys sucking on three of his fingers with the hand that wasn’t wrapped in the dress.

“Hey there, Matt. Whatcha need?”

Instead of answering, he just tugged her dress and started walking towards where his dad stood near the library’s double doors. The man stood there watching them with his hands shoved deeply in his pockets. She resisted the urge to groan where the boy could hear it.

“You want me to go talk to your daddy, Matt?” The boy nodded. “Why don’t you let me talk to him alone while you go pick out a book to take home? Does that sound good?”

Matt nodded again and scampered off. Andrew Scott was a very attractive, newly single man, which would have been fine and dandy if he had not made it clear to all of the female librarians that he was in the market for a new wife/nanny – and fast. This was going to be awkward at best and his son didn’t need to hear her get firm or ugly with him if it became necessary. She really hoped it wouldn’t.

Let’s get this over with, she thought grouchily. Maybe then she could actually do her job.

***

SOFIYA

It had made sense on the way there, but Sofiya regretted her choice to walk back to the library. The wind and rain left her feeling -and looking- like a rat who had spent way too much time in a frozen lake. The rush of warm air from the library entryway was a welcome change, as was the sight of Molly speaking quietly to one of the parents.

“I’m sorry Andrew, but as my coworkers have told you, we are legally not allowed to date patrons,” Molly was saying patiently. Sofiya groaned quietly in sympathy as Molly continued.

She felt bad for the man, because his particularly nasty divorce from the mayor had been fodder for the county papers. However, his flirting technique was terrible, and that was coming from someone who refused to ask her coworker out. It was so obvious from watching them together that he had no idea how to care for his own son.

If he’d had some sense, he’d have waited longer than a week after the ink was dry on the divorce papers and hired an actual nanny to make it less clear that that’s what he expected from his partner. One of these days, someone was going to snap on him and embarrass the shit out of him. Sofiya just hoped it would happen in the library so they could all see it. For now, all she could do was rescue poor Molly with a believable, but untrue request

“Ms. Andersen, I’m so glad I caught you!” Sofiya crowed, throwing her wet coat over one arm. “I need your help filling out some of this grant paperwork so that I can get it turned in before I leave.

She positioned herself right between the white man and her coworker, not obviously enough to be rude but clearly including herself in their conversation. Pure relief washed over Molly’s face, but she swiftly hid it behind a sweet smile that revealed none of her true feelings.

“Oh, of course, Ms. Anderson. I can help you with that now. Mr. Scott and I have said everything that needs saying right now. Oh, and I believe Matt’s finished choosing his book!”

Sure enough, the boy had a book in one hand and the fingers of his other hand in his mouth while he toddled over. Andrew’s face twisted into a grimace, then a smile for his son.

“What did you pick out?” Andrew asked cheerfully. At least he knew better than to make a scene in front of the poor kid. Maybe he was actually a decent person. That would serve him well when he met someone who suited him romantically.

The boy held the book up – one of their many dinosaur books – and Sofiya saw the smile on Molly’s face turn from professional into a real one. This one showed a little bit of her slightly gapped front teeth, which didn’t seem like a small difference, but it was like the clouds had parted to show off the sun that was her personality. Sofiya was momentarily stunned at how beautiful Molly was, and not for the first time.

Shaking herself out of it and pretending she didn’t feel that rush of warmth, she waved to the little boy and tugged her coworker away.

“Are you all right? Do you need a minute to regroup?”

Molly turned her smile to Sofiya and nodded.

“I’m good, thank you. I might go find him a few nanny options, though.  This shi-,” she cut herself off. “This asking every woman around him to be his girlfriend isn’t appropriate.”

“No kidding,” Sofiya laughed. She was luckily visibly gay enough and old enough that the man hadn’t approached her at all, but she’d seen him making his rounds and commisserated with her younger coworkers.

“I’m glad you showed up when you did, otherwise I’d have had to come out to him to get him to go away and I don’t really need that stress in my life.

Sofiya blinked, then raised her eyebrows. That was the first time Molly had said anything about her sexuality in her hearing.

“Is that your way of coming out to me?” Sofiya asked, looking sidelong at the younger woman. Molly’s mouth formed an ‘o’ in what she could only guess was surprise. She didn’t immediately confirm or deny it. After a moment, Sofiya continued. “You don’t have to, if you don’t want to. No pressure.”

She hadn’t meant to make the other woman uncomfortable. She was just curious – a trait that had gotten her in trouble many times before. She’d guessed her coworker was queer, based on her well-honed gaydar and the rainbow-colored braids, but it was always nice to have these things confirmed. Especially when that made her wild fantasies a little bit more of a possibility.

“I’ll tell you later, okay? I think at least one of us should be helping Isabelle with the crowd.” She nodded at the many toddlers crowding around the circulation desk. She was right. A second librarian would be a huge help, Sofiya realized with a grimace.

“Oof, for sure. Want to grab dinner tonight and talk about the conference, too?”

Molly rewarded her with a gap-toothed smile as she turned away. It left Sofiya slightly breathless. God, she hoped she actually was queer – even if it meant she’d have a harder time quashing her inappropriate daydreams. It wasn’t like she would act on them unless there was some sign of mutual interest.

Molly took a few steps before she turned back around, a question clear from the wrinkles on her forehead and the frown on her lush lips. “Wait, did you actually need my help with the paperwork?”

Sofiya laughed. “Heavens, no. You’re welcome to look over it to make sure I didn’t mess anything up, though. You’re also welcome to pick the restaurant, if you want?”

“That’s all right. I trust you.”

The smile came back and Sofiya grinned back while warmth rushed to her cheeks and the tips of her ears. Molly trusted her. That felt good.

***

 

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