Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Sophie Wintner | My Real-Life Meet-Cute

October 29, 2014


I had given up on love. I decided it would be easier to write about romance than endure the ups and downs of any more real-life love affairs. So after years of dead-end pick-ups, fix-ups and online dating, I’d reached a point in my life where I was content to be alone.

I’d arrived at this decision while in the middle of writing LOVE THY NEIGHBOR for the new Lovestruck Imprint for Entangled. For those of you who might not be familiar with the Lovestruck line of books, the one thing they all have in common is the meet-cute. The meet-cute is the cornerstone of every romantic comedy ever made. It’s where the man and woman meet in a memorable and for lack of a better word, “cute” way.

And while I was working away on my novel, determined not to become embroiled in any more ill-fated romances, I experienced my own meet-cute. Picture the scene: it’s the holiday season. Chicago is in the grips of another polar vortex. It’s my best friend, Sydney’s last night in town because her visa is about to expire and she’s forced to leave the States. We’re having a farewell drink at a neighborhood bar. Note that for months prior to this evening, Sydney has been saying that she needs to find me a “play friend” for fear that I’d never leave my apartment after she’s gone. So while we sat at the bar trying to determine when she could return to the States, the man sitting to her right chimed in. One look and my heart began to race. He was handsome and sexy and beyond charming. His name was Juan Alber. Juan is a lawyer and has (among other things) practiced immigration law. He heard Sydney and I exchange just enough misinformation that he felt he had to correct us.

The three of us began talking and Juan bought us a round of drinks. Sydney, being not so stealth gabbed me in the side, going, “Sophie, Sophie—”  “I know. I know. I’m on it,” I assured her. When he asked what I did, I told him I was a romance author. “Seriously?” he seemed intrigued. By then Sydney had not so discreetly repositioned herself at the other end of the bar, leaving Juan and I alone. Emboldened by the cocktails, I turned to this handsome man and said, “So do you want to hang out some time?” He shot me a devilish grin and asked for my phone number. No sooner had he plugged my digits into his phone did we lock eyes and without saying a word—just twenty minutes after our meet-cute—we leaned in and experienced our first of what would be many, many more delicious kisses.

Later that night I teased Sydney, saying, “You did find me a ‘play friend’ but you really ran it to the wire.” To which she replied, “Well, you know me, I leave everything to the last minute.”

Even though Juan is not my neighbor, or a commitment phobe (thank God) falling in love with him did inspire aspects of my novel, LOVE THY NEIGHBOR. And so after experiencing my own meet-cute, I just sat back and let the story of Nikki Norris and Dallas write itself…


Interior designer Nikki Norris is at the end of her rope. She’s lost her business, and her fiancé who called off their engagement. Now she’s broke and on her own, living in a loft apartment she can barely afford. But something in her feng shui must be working, because her new neighbor across the hall is a sexy Brit fashion photographer…and he has just the thing to turn Nikki’s bad luck around.

Dallas is tired of stick-thin fashion models with no personality. So when his curvaceous new neighbor, Nikki, seeks his help in making her ex jealous, Dallas is only too happy to oblige the woman who sets his libido on fire every time she walks into a room. Dallas, not being one to make commitments, thinks all he wants is a little taste of Nikki. But will it be enough?

Just as Nikki and Dallas hatch their plan, the wicked chemistry between them—growing more irresistible by the second—complicates things. Now the lines between make-believe and making love blur. Have Nikki and Dallas found a perfect arrangement… or have they designed the perfect plan for disaster?

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