2008 EPPIE Finalist!

Cover Me
by Sharona Nelson
ISBN-13: 978-1-59279-691-5 (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59279-664-9 (Electronic)
Publisher: Amber Quill

Read the reviews.
Read an excerpt.


Single mom Sunny Montgomery survived a lousy childhood with hippie parents as well as a terrible marriage with the cheating Kirk Stanley (AKA Kirk the Jerk), so she figured she could deal with whatever life threw at her. In short order, however, Sunny loses her job, car, health insurance, and life's savings.

What's a single mother to do? Get married, of course—though not for love.

Sunny accepts a marriage-of-convenience offer from her landlord, Ben Hart, so that she and Libbie, her asthmatic daughter, will have health insurance. The only problem is, she's falling in love with him—despite the fact she thinks he's gay. And, while she sometimes craves more distance from the temptation known as Ben, heaven knows that good, affordable apartments in Boston are as rare as winters without snow.

Through it all, Sunny views her life through a comic lens. She succeeds when she takes chances, when she puts her heart on the line, and when she stops nursing old wounds and forgives. Whether beset by estranged hippie parents, money troubles, a creepy new boss, an is-he-or-isn't-he faux husband, or the Boston mob, Sunny sustains herself with her inner strength, her best friend Dulcie, odd-duck neighbor Ray, and lots of mac-and-cheese, hot dogs, and ice cream. Oddly enough, what Sunny's daughter, Libbie, wants—comfort food and plenty of SpongeBob SquarePants on the tube—aren't fundamentally different from what Sunny wants—happiness and love.

Sunny's struggles teach us that making lemonade from life's abundant supply of lemons isn't too difficult, as long as we follow our hearts...

"Written in the first person, Sunny’s perspective of her world engages the reader from beginning to end. Ms. Nelson’s unique voice and characterization shines through, giving the readers a very enjoyable story. I suggest adding COVER ME to your reading list today!"— Lacey, Romance Junkies

"With a peppy first-person point of view and characters who really sparkle, Sunny's story is both stylish and attention-grabbing... COVER ME is a great pick-me-up this spring; make sure it's on your reading list!"— Amy Cunningham, Romance Reviews Today

"A fast, funny and very readable novel ... I love, love, love this new, modern take on the marriage of convenience!"—Bev Katz Rosenbaum, author of I Was a Teenage Popsicle and Beyond Cool

“A feisty heroine and an endearing hero make Cover Me a joy to read! This book is for anyone who's ever dealt with difficult parents, challenging children, found love and lived to tell the tale!”—April Kihlstrom, award-winning romance author

Excerpt from "Cover Me" © 2007 Sharona Nelson. All rights reserved.

"Don't you just love it?"

Dulcie swirls in front of me, showing off her scarlet dress. Its filmy skirt floats lazily around her thighs. I look down at my black jeans, dull blue sweater, and black ankle boots, then survey her clear plastic high-heeled slides.

"If we sing together, we're going to be the ugly duckling and the swan. Are you certain you want me up there with you?" I nibble my lip.

"Hush up already with the ugly talk. You have the biggest gray eyes in the world, blonde waves to die for--"

"Dishwater blonde," I say.

"--blonde is blonde--though a few highlights wouldn't hurt--and a body made for high fashion. Let me check your closet."

Twenty minutes later, I'm wearing a midnight-blue dress. It skims my bones so that I look as if I actually have curves. Silver strappy sandals and a quick makeup job, and I'm nearly gorgeous.

"I'll bet you didn't buy this dress, did you?" she says while squinting, adjusting the fabric to flow better over my bones.

"No. I think Kirk did."

"Have you ever worn it before?"


"The sandals?"

"An impulse buy. Wasn't I with you?"

She taps her chin with an index finger. "I remember now. You'd just found out that Kirk The Jerk couldn't keep his pants zipped. Yes, I took you for shopping therapy that day. I still can't believe he flat-out dropped his life here and ran away to parts unknown. The man's pure-D nuts."

"I still can't believe he'd do that to his daughter. Run away from her, I mean." A sob escapes before I can choke it back. "Aw, shit."

My best friend dabs at my eyes with a tissue. "No tears, now. Tonight you're going to try something new, and you're going to kill. By the end of the evening, you're going to have a date, too, or else."

"Or else what?"

"I'll sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner'."

"In that case, I'd better find a man."

When Dulcie reaches for the high notes and misses, stay away from large panes of glass.

After sufficient primping on her part, we pile into her car. We spend less time driving to The Coast than we do finding a parking place once we arrive, but that's typical for Boston. After we locate a legal spot a mere block away, we join the streams of people, all of us walking in the same direction.

The Coast is the biggest and best karaoke bar in Allston-Brighton. It's kitschy seventies: colored lights, a mirrored revolving ball, and an actual dance floor. Did I mention that the house special is a classic Seventies drink, the Tequila Sunrise? A couple of those and you won't know whether the sun is rising or setting.

"You really think Libbie will be all right with Jessie?" I worry.

"You saw the way they were playing before we left," Dulcie says. "Lib took to her as if she were an older sister. Ooo," she whispers, grabbing my arm, "take a look at the fellow over there." My eyes follow her not-so-subtle pointing finger.

"Geez, Dulce. Even a dating service would reject him. You think he's hot?"

"Well, who do you like, smarty-pants?"

"I like the one standing near the stage. With the hair."

She stares briefly. "He's your type, all right. Good-looking businessman who oozes testosterone. I'll bet he's in middle management at some financial operation."

"Operation? You make him sound sleazy."

"Yeah. He's Boiler-Room-Roger. He sort of resembles Tim Robbins in The Player. Just not as good-looking."

I take another glance; he doesn't seem as hot as he did before. Something about him reminds me of Kirk the Jerk.

"Who do you like?" I say.

"That one." She motions with her hand.

"He looks like Software-Engineer-Ed."

Dulcie actually acts offended. "Just because I appreciate a man who looks smart and not smarmy, there's no need to diss my taste."

"Okay. Truce. Let's figure out what the heck I'm singing."

"Don't you mean, what we're singing?"

A man at the bar catches my eye, smiling. I toss my head in my best Sarah Jessica Parker style and smile back.

Another woman approaches to snag him. Damn it.

"I'm going to do it. I'm singing alone," I say.

"No, you won't. We've been here before. You always chicken out. C'mon, let's do something fun like 'Werewolves of London.' I don't want to sing alone."

"You don't sing. A cat in heat sounds better. Yet, the audience always loves you."

"I stand up there and enjoy myself. That's all you have to do. Remember, unlike me, you can actually do something that sounds like singing. And the audience wants you to succeed. So give them what they want."

It's our turn to choose from the songbook and sign up. Dulcie, a huge Warren Zevon fan, picks "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me." I flip the book open, stab randomly, and come up with Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman."

"Perfect," I say while scribbling my name and song on the list.

"No way you'll do that song," Dulcie says.


"Nooo way."


"Bet me a drink?" she taunts.

"Hell, yes."


Boiler-Room-Roger stands before us, with a dumpy man to his right.

"I'm Roger, and this is Peter."

Damn. His name really is Roger.

"Oh, goodie," Dulcie says under her breath.

"So, like, what are your names?" the man called Peter says.

"I'm Dulcie, and this is--"

"Sarah," I interrupt. "Sarah Parker."

"What are you drinking?" Boiler-Room-Roger says.

He oozes charm. I hate charm. Charm reminds me of Kirk. From now on, I'm immune to charm, I decide.

"Beer," I say.

"Something diet and non-alcoholic," Dulcie says. "I'm the designated driver."

"You want Bud Light?" Roger asks me.

The Coast has about two hundred brands to choose from. Feeling a little mean, I say, "Yuengling Light," knowing he's probably never heard of it, much less how to spell it.

"Ying-Ling?" Boiler-Room-Roger says, frowning. "What's that, Chinese beer?"

"Oh, God, don't get the microbrew freak started on beer," Dulcie says.

I stare both men down.

"No. It's a Philadelphia beer. Oldest brewery in the country." I use my snobbiest tone.

Peter looks as if his shoes are pinching his feet, but my comment flies right over Roger's head.

"Okay. Back in a moment," he says.

Peter follows. It's clear who the alpha male is in that twosome.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the emcee begins. "I'm your host, Frankie Went Hollywood. It's time for Saturday Night Karaoke at The Coast, where we celebrate the best--and the worst--of pop music. First up, the incomparable Patsy. Give it up!"

A regular who sounds eerily like Patsy Cline takes the stage. Tonight she resembles Cline, too, with a dark flip-do wig, circle skirt, and neckerchief. She croons her way through "Walking After Midnight."

"She's so good," Dulcie says. Her voice holds a tinge of envy.

After Patsy, a Madonna-wannabe performs "Respect Yourself." She dances better than she sings. "Vogue" follows, sung by a woman whom I suspect is not one hundred percent female down where it counts.

Peter and Roger return with drinks. The people on stage give me an excuse not to talk, though that doesn't stop Roger from trying a bit of non-verbal communication. I smack his hand when it strays to my thigh.

"Let's welcome Dulcie Williams, as she channels both Warren Zevon and Linda Ronstadt," Frankie the host says.

I cheer as she sways to the beat. Three minutes later, she has us all laughing fit to burst, because she vamps the Zevon verse that describes a perverse encounter. She really can't sing worth a damn, but she's a showstopper.

"Next is Sunny Montgomery, in her first solo performance at The Coast. Give her a big welcome, folks!"

I hear Roger say, "I thought your name was Sarah."

I stand, walk to the stage, take the mic. My knees are wobbling, and flop sweat breaks out on my brow when I hear the opening bars.

No, damn it, you're going to do this just like you do in front of the bathroom mirror.

I pretend no one's in the room but me and let 'er rip. I pose; I sing; I dance on those silver heels like Mercury had blessed them. When I finish, I freeze, eyes closed, breathing hard.

Waves of applause and cheers hit me. I open my eyes.

I killed!

Dulcie is jumping up and down, screaming, "Sun-NY! Sun-NY! Sun-NY!"

My eyes turn wet from sheer joy. I did it. I conquered my fear and security demons and did it. Hot damn, but it feels good.

Maybe I'll take another risk soon, despite the fact that taking risks normally gives me hives.

I skip back to the table, where the two men are bug-eyed with admiration. Actually, they look a little intimidated. I throw my head back and laugh.

"Wowie," Dulcie says. "You're even better than I thought you would be, and I thought you'd be fabulous."

We high-five, then hug.

"Want to go celebrate somewhere else?" she says.

We grab our purses. Roger frowns, saying, "Can't we talk you ladies into staying?"

We're beating a hasty retreat from Peter and Roger when we hear the emcee say the only words that could convince me to stay.

"Here he is, folks, your favorite professor and mine, Doctor Ben Hart. Tonight he's treating us to his rendition of, 'It's All Been Done Before' by Barenaked Ladies. Give it up!"

My feet glue themselves to the floor. Dulcie's mouth hangs open. And there's my landlord, bouncing on his toes, moments from ripping into song.

Our eyes meet. The grin he shoots me warms me inside out.

He opens his mouth.

He's good.

No, he's great.

I hear Dulcie squealing. I'm silent, mesmerized.

As the applause dies down, Ben heads straight for me, moving more like a rock star than a physics nerd. Not that he looks the least bit nerdish tonight, not with his shining espresso hair, large green eyes, and muscled body. Not Fabio-muscled, which I can't stand, but trim and fit, dressed in jeans, black T-shirt, and denim jacket.

Why does he have to be my landlord? And hot? And gay, to boot?

Excerpt from "Cover Me" © 2007 Sharona Nelson. All rights reserved.

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