Thursday, November 20, 2014

Naomi Bellina's "Don't Say No" and a #Rafflecopter #giveaway!

I was a mystery shopper

Of all the strange jobs I've ever had in my life (and I've had some weird ones!) being a mystery shopper was one of my faves. I worked for a company that managed several apartment complexes and my job was to evaluate an employee and the site by acting like I wanted to rent a unit. I had to call and make sure I got the person that was supposed to be "shopped" and set up a time to meet them. They had to show me around the complex and convince me to rent an apartment there.

It was surprisingly easy for me to get into that role. Even though I was living in a house at the time, I remember those days of looking for the perfect apartment home. Kind of fun but kind of stressful too. It was a big decision, deciding where I wanted to live. I like my home environment to be clean and peaceful and the place had to be in a good neighborhood. I was usually on a limited budget, which narrowed down my choices. I managed to find some good places and a few not-so-great ones during my years of searching.

For this assignment, I really wanted the employees I talked with to do well and thankfully, they all did. The worst I had to report was one woman who greeted me in a dress that looked like the kind I wear around my house when nobody can see me and all my other clothes are in the laundry. I cut her some slack because I was shopping the day after I holiday. I figured she ate too much the day before and couldn't fit into anything else. Ha! My favorite employee was the one who, after I told her I just broke up with my boyfriend, said the upper floor unit would be perfect for me. I could be Rapunzel in her tower, waiting for the right guy to come along. This woman was so sincere, I could see myself perched on the balcony, greeting a man below.

In Don't Say No, Amber is shopping a spa that Jaeger and his family want to buy. She gets to enjoy the spa services, paid for by Jaeger's company. I would jump at the chance for this assignment!

Have you ever had a really weird but sort of cool job? Thanks so much for reading. 

Here’s what Don’t Say No is about:

Mixing business with pleasure has never been so much fun

Amber’s life sucks. Her ex got her thrown out of college, then fired from her job. When she’s hired for a mystery shopping assignment, she hopes this is exactly what she needs to kick-start her life and get her back on track.

Jaeger is all business when he hires Amber to check out the spa he’s purchasing. If she can help him prove that the venture will be a success, then he can build his own future, not the one his family has mapped out for him. Becoming attracted to his sexy spy isn’t part of the plan.

Amber can’t see how she fits into Jaeger’s world, and he’s too uptight to ever fit into hers. Circumstances bring them together, in bed and out, but when a secret from his upper-class life is revealed, Amber must decide if she can trust him. Or is her life going down in flames all over again?

Here’s where to buy it:

Barnes and Noble:
All Romance:

Available everywhere soon. Check your favorite retailer.

And here’s an excerpt to pique your interest:

“I've written out a script for you to use at the spa.”

Jaeger pushed a piece of paper across the table to Amber.

She picked it up and raised an eyebrow. “A script? You think I can memorize this in half an hour? Anyway, I don't need a script.“

Amber pushed it back toward him.

Jaeger frowned. “You need to make sure they think you're just visiting. You can't let on that you're evaluating them.”

“Okay, duh, I've got it. I know what to do. I have been to a spa once or twice in my life. I know how to act like a guest.”

She dug into her food. They sat at Pancake Palace again, and this time Amber had ordered scrambled eggs and hash browns. The small order. She didn't want to be overly full while getting her treatments. Jaeger had insisted on meeting before she went to the spa to brief her. Brief her. That's what he'd said. Like this was some kind of tactical mission.

“Here then, look at the evaluation form you'll be completing on each employee.”

Amber took the paper and studied it while Jaeger scanned her completed employment application.

“You took two years off between high school and college? What did you do during that time?”

Was he allowed to ask that? Was it any of his business?

“I traveled around with my boyfriend. We wanted to visit a bunch of different states.”Plenty of people did that. Some even went to Europe and other foreign places.

She sighed inwardly at the memory. Team Amber/Randy had had a good time those two years, no regrets. It had been a great experience, staying with friends and in hostels, meeting new people, working a few temp jobs to make money, and not having a set agenda. She'd learned a lot during those days.

“No college?”

The question was asked innocently enough, but Amber stiffened. Well, this was bound to come up, if not now, then later. Jaeger could probably find out about the sordid Event anyway, and it wasn't the worst thing in the world. She hadn't committed a felony or hurt anyone. Plenty of people got kicked out college.

“I went to Camton University for two weeks, then was asked to leave.”

He looked up from the paper. “You were asked to leave?”

“Do I stutter? It's a long story. I don't feel like getting into it. What, I can't be your mystery shopper without a college education?”

“I didn't say that.”He went back to reading her application. “What were you studying?”

He looked up again. She knew he wanted to hear more, wanted to know something about her. What could she tell him that would inspire trust? He'd already hired her, sort of. He could dismiss her just as easily though. She was going to have this conversation with other employers, she realized. Might as well work on her spiel now.

Picking at the paper placemat, she forced herself to look him in the eye and answer. “Business management. My boyfriend, Randy, and I were going to open our own business.”

“And you're not now?”


“Was your boyfriend the man you were pelting with baked goods at Taylor's CafĂ©?”


Jaeger's mouth turned up slightly at the corner. “I take it the relationship ended badly.”

“You think?”

He laughed. “What kind of business?”

She stopped fussing with the placemat and sat up straighter. “We were going to call it Fun on the Beach. We would rent out toys to people who were vacationing at hotels. You know, Frisbees, kites, stuff like that. Cheap toys, so if they got broke, no big deal. Parents don't have enough toys, the kids get bored. Or the adults want something to do besides sit around, so they fly a kite. It was a great idea.”

Her shoulders slumped. Yeah, was.

You're kind of young to be running a business,” she added.

It was time to get the focus of this conversation off her and her failures.

“I'm not running a business. It's my family's company. I've been assigned this project. And I'm not that young. I'm only several years older than you, I believe.”

She crossed her arms. It was illegal to ask her age, she knew that, but he could figure it out from her application. Okay, enough of this. She needed to get in a spa frame of mind, not pick a fight with her employer.

“Tell me more about Bella Sun. What's going on there that you need to know about?” she asked and bent back to her food.

“Actually, I think it would be better if you don't know. I want you to go in with fresh eyes, to observe.”

“Oh, come on, give me a hint. Is there a specific problem I should look for?”

He took a sip of his tea. The server had looked at him like he was nuts when he'd requested Earl Grey. She'd asked who that was. Jaeger was not trying to be snobby, Amber suspected, but he was obviously used to a slightly different lifestyle from the one they had in Palm Groves. He'd settled for a decaf tea bag, which Amber guessed was dug out of a dusty box buried on a shelf.

“We just want to identify employees who are not happy or causing trouble.”

“If I give them a bad report, will they get fired?”

“No, we can't do that. We'll talk to them first and see if we can resolve any issues. If that doesn't work, we'll cut their hours enough so they leave voluntarily. Your input will have some effect, yes. You understand that, right? Are you still up to the job?” he asked.

She snapped him a salute. “I do, and I am.”

Where to find me: (I play around at Pinterest, Goodreads, and other places

Naomi Bellina
Provocative tales of love, lust, passion and magic


Naomi lives in sunny Florida with the love of her life and a magical calico cat. She writes for various fiction and non-fiction markets but is drawn to romance because her characters insist on canoodling and falling in love. So she lets them. Her interests include dancing, motorcycle riding, drumming and creating healthy meals. She takes the opportunity to play whenever possible. Her motto:  Never pass up the opportunity to have an adventure!  

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