Deleted Scene – The Bookworm Crush

Posted at Feb 14, 2020 12:27 pm

Cover of The Bookworm Crush


Hi Lovely Readers! 

One of the toughest parts of “authoring” is having to cut favorite scenes. There are lots of reasons this happens; in this case, it was for length. I write very looonnnggg books, so I have to kill lots of my darlings, much as it pains me. 🙂

I love this scene because it’s all about books and those who love them…and a book club crasher, who’s hard to resist because, duh…it’s Toff! 🙂 

Spoiler Warnings: If you’ve already read The Bookworm Crush, you’re good! If you haven’t read it yet, this scene is a fun intro into Amy’s bookish obsessiveness, her bookish tribe, and the sparky chemistry between her and Toff. 

Helpful Backstory: In the published book, there’s a scene in which Toff (our cocky, lovable hero) is invited to attend The Lonely Hearts Book Club meeting by Mrs. Sloane, an elderly romance reader. Amy (our shy, bookish heroine who runs the book club) is horrified. Book Club is sacred! No Boys Allowed! He declines the invitation because he knows Amy will freak if he shows up.

However…in an earlier draft of this book, Toff does show up to book club…because Amy. 🙂 

I’d give this a PG-15ish warning for “suggestiveness.” 😉

Happy Reading!





Toff lay in bed texting with Amy. He’d never texted so much with a girl before.

Toff: Two non-gratuitous scenes in that whole fracking book. RIP. OFF.

Amy: Please don’t come to book club today. I’m begging you.

Toff: I like it when you beg, Bonnie.

Amy: Don’t be gross, Clyde.

Toff: Okay, I’ll do the begging. Meet me before book club. In my van. Bring a smoothie and let me lick—

“Toff! Are you packed yet?”

Toff closed his eyes and clutched his phone to his bare chest. His dad had dropped the bomb yesterday that they were driving to Arizona to visit his grandparents. He was ninety percent sure Dad was doing this to keep him out of the water this last week of the surfing ban.

The timing sucked.

He and Amy had spent all day together yesterday, and much of the night. They’d made it back to her house within three minutes of her curfew, but she’d still been late because of a goodbye kiss that had left him dazed. He was used to being in control of his feelings, used to knowing he could walk away whenever he wanted.

But this thing with Amy…it wasn’t like that.

“I’ll do it later!” He stared at his phone screen, debating whether or not to finish texting his R-rated idea. The last thing he wanted was to scare her away suggesting something she wasn’t ready for. He deleted the unfinished text.

“You need to pack this morning, Toff.” Dad appeared in the doorway looking frazzled, his long hair disheveled, his five o’clock shadow looking more like eleven o’clock.

“Later.” Toff yawned and stretched, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “I’ve got somewhere to be.”


“I’m a special guest at Rose’s bookstore today. For book club.” Ace-in-the-hole. No way would Dad stop him from going to his fiancé’s bookstore.

“You? At book club?” A disbelieving eyebrow arched over his dad’s narrowed gaze.

“Yep.” He stood up, keeping an innocent expression plastered on his face.

“So you read the latest Rhys Bowen?”

“The what?”

“Gotcha.” His dad pointed an accusing finger. “That’s what the mystery book club is reading this month.”

“I’m going to a different book club. Amy and Viv’s club.”

Dad fell back against the bedroom door, clutching his chest. “I’m dying, aren’t I? Having a heart attack. Because there’s no way my son read a romance—”

He pushed past his dad, shoving him extra hard against the door. “Give it up, Dad.”

“You’re coming home to pack as soon as book club’s over.” His dad’s voice, threaded with laughter, echoed down the hallway.

“Got stuff to do after,” Toff called over his shoulder. “I’ll pack tomorrow before we hit the road.” Slamming the front door behind him to mute his dad’s rebuttal, he grinned triumphantly.

Packing would take ten minutes, tops. Shorts, t-shirts, swim trunks, underwear. Done.

Dad needed to chill. This wedding stuff was turning him into a freak.


#   #   #


Rose greeted Toff with a wide grin when he entered the bookstore. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you, sweetheart.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Lonely Hearts are in the kitchen. Waiting for you.”

“Viv told you I was coming?” He approached the counter and helped himself to a Reeses peanut butter cup from the candy jar.

“Well, sort of.” Rose smiled conspiratorially. “Let’s just say she and Amy had a disagreement about whether or not you were invited.”

He grinned, running his thumb across the spine of The Darkest Night, which he’d finished early this morning. He hadn’t been able to sleep, so he’d read the whole damn book, hoping for way more non-gratuitous scenes than there were.

“I read the whole book,” he said. “And I have opinions.”

Rose laughed. “Then you are most definitely invited.” She made a sweeping gesture toward the door. “Have fun in there.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “Take it easy on Amy. She’s quite rattled about you attending the meeting.”

“Don’t worry. I know how to handle Amy.” Did he ever.

Christopher.” Rose used her warning voice; he knew it well after years of hanging out with Viv.

“I’ll be good. Scouts’ Honor.” He raised two fingers and she shot him an exasperated eye roll. Grinning, he headed for the kitchen coliseum, ready to face down the lions. Lionesses. Whatever. He could handle a room full of book nerds squealing about some bossy duke hero if it meant an excuse to spend more time with his…

He swallowed. He wasn’t ready to put a label on things with Amy.

Not yet.




The kitchen door whooshed open and the raucous book chatter stopped. Just like a cheesy movie, thought Amy, when the villain-or the hero-makes a grand entrance. Toff scanned the room, his gaze settling on her. A sly, sexy grin spread across his face. She swallowed as butterflies swirled in her stomach.

Was he the hero or the villain today? Based on all the mind-blowing kissing last night, hero for sure. But crashing her sacred book club space? That definitely moved him into villain territory.

“Hello, ladies.” He sounded like a game show announcer, strutting like a peacock as he approached the table. “I’m Toff. You might know me as the Surfer King guest reviewer on Viv’s blog.” He took a deep bow, flinging out an arm with a flourish.

Amy groaned as the other members laughed. The Lonely Hearts had loved that review. Megan, their resident grad student doing her thesis about feminism and romance novels, had begged Amy to invite the mystery blogger to a meeting so she could grill him.

Toff plopped into an empty chair directly across from her and cracked his knuckles. “Bring it, ladies.”

Viv flicked a few drops of lemonade at his face.

“Good to see you too, sis.” He wiped the lemonade from his cheek, then blew her an exaggerated kiss.

“This is my soon-to-be-brother,” Viv said. “Unless I kill him first.” She side-eyed Amy. “Let’s go around the table and everyone can introduce themselves.”

“Welcome, Christopher.” Natasha from the herb store spoke first. Amy wondered why she called him by his full name, like a teacher. Maybe he’d caused trouble in her store.

“Yo, Natasha.” Toff tilted his chin and Amy rolled her eyes. He was acting extra dude-ish this morning, probably to drive her crazy since he knew she didn’t want him there.

“Welcome to our lair, Surfer King,” said Megan, smiling deviously. “I can’t wait to quiz you on this book.”

“Challenge accepted.” Toff matched her wicked grin with his own.

Amy’s gaze flicked between the two of them-Toff in all his cocky surfer king glory and Megan strutting her spiky-haired, nose-ringed, smarter-than-you attitude. At least she wouldn’t be swayed by his charms. Maybe she’d knock him down a peg.

Mrs. Sloane’s blue eyes twinkled behind her bifocals as she patted her silver hair. “We’ve met before, young man. I’m Mrs. Sloane, one of the store’s loyal customers.”

“The most loyal,” Viv corrected. Mrs. Sloane dipped her head as if to shrug off the honor, even though Amy knew she prided herself on it.

“We’re connoisseurs of romance novels, Christopher,” Mrs. Sloane continued, “so you’d better not be planning any nonsense. We take our reading seriously.”

“So do I.” Toff slanted another sly grin at Amy. “I read some chapters more than once, to make sure I don’t miss anything.”

Her cheeks burned as she shifted her focus to the bowl of M&Ms. Last night, when they’d spent hours kissing in the back of his van, he’d teased her about the “non-gratuitous’ chapters, asking if she read them multiple times.

He’d convinced her to read a scene out loud from her Kindle app on her phone and…well…once they’d managed to pull apart, they’d both agreed reading non-gratuitous scenes aloud was too dangerous…for now, anyway. Heat suffused her body as she relived last night in her mind.

Viv cleared her throat noisily and Amy glanced up to find everyone staring at her, including Toff, who scooped a spoonful of candy from the bowl. He tossed a green M&M into the air and caught it with his open mouth. Natasha raised a disapproving eyebrow.

“Your turn,” Viv, looking so smug that she wanted to dump her glass of lemonade on her best friend’s head.

Amy heaved an annoyed sigh and stared right into the interloper’s baby blues. “I’m Amy, aka Bonnie. We’ve met.” Unfortunately, it didn’t come out as sarcastically as she’d hoped. Overcome with the heat radiating off her body, Amy lifted her hair from the back of her neck, twisting it into a messy bun.

Toff’s eyes darkened from sky blue to denim as he tracked her movements like a hunter in that stupid video game he played. She shot a nervous glance at Mrs. Sloane, who looked positively giddy at the drama playing out in front of her.

“Yeah, we’ve definitely met,” he said, his voice low and gravelly. “You look tired, Ames. Not enough sleep last night?” He tossed a handful of M&Ms into his mouth, then chewed slowly, his lips quirking up as his gaze locked on hers.

How the heck did he make chewing sexy?




He knew he’d pay for this later. Amy would give him hell, and Viv would, too. Totally worth it, though, just for that look on Amy’s face- like she wanted to throttle him, but also tear his clothes off…to “ravish” him, like that wimpy heroine said to the duke in the book that was the topic of the day.

Right now, he wanted to shift the balance from throttle to ravish.

“I slept just fine, thank you.” Amy said through gritted teeth.

Uh oh. She was tipping back into throttle mode.

“Before we start the discussion questions,” Amy continued, “I want to talk about the differences between older historical novels and new ones, and how different things used to be. For instance,” she shot Toff a fiery look that revved his engine, “a true gentleman would never crash a ladies’ event. As has happened here today.”

Toff wanted to laugh, but he held it in.  

“See, that’s why I didn’t like this one,” Megan jumped in. “All that segregating by gender. Who was allowed to do what, and with whom. All that nonsense about chaperoning and ‘delicate sensibilities.’ I like Austen so much better because her heroines push those boundaries.” Megan punched Toff on his bicep. “Sometimes a gate-crashing is just what we need. Shake it up, right?”

Toff grinned. He liked a girl who had strong opinions. Also a strong punch. Good thing she hadn’t aimed for his busted ribs, though.

“Historical romance written before the two thousands, or thereabouts, was much different than today’s,” Mrs. Sloane said. “Trust me, I’ve read hundreds.” She nodded at Megan. “You could write your entire thesis on that.”

Megan nodded eagerly. “I know. I’ve been binge-reading. Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan. Their books are so different than this one.” She held up The Darkest Castle. “Sorry, Ames. I know this was your pick, but it just didn’t work for me.”

Your pick?” Toff turned a speculative gaze on Amy, and she squirmed under his attention.

Viv clinked a spoon on her glass. “Okay, ladies and gentleman, we need to focus. Let’s get back to Amy’s questions.” Viv smiled sweetly at him. “Amy emailed the questions to the members, but since you’re not officially a Lonely Heart—”

“I’m definitely not lonely,” he interrupted, emphasizing the last word. Amy glanced up, her cheeks turning pink. “And I don’t need to see the questions in advance.” He grinned at her, putting as much heat into it as he dared, considering their audience. “I can keep up.”

Amy shot him a warning look, but she was fighting a smile, too. Warmth spread in his chest, then made its way down his torso. She pulled an index card from her book and cleared her throat, then took a long drink of lemonade.

Toff hoped she felt as hot and bothered as he did. He needed to stop reliving when she’d read that sex scene out loud last night. Who would’ve guessed something so nerdy as reading from a book could be so hot?

“Okay, let’s start.” Amy’s voice sounded wobbly. “When did you realize the vicar was the villain? Did the author telegraph this too early? Or were you surprised by the big reveal?”

That was easy, thought Toff, but before he could answer Natasha jumped in.

“Fifth chapter.”

“Really?” Amy’s eyes widened in surprise.

“It was around the eighth chapter for me,” said Megan, flipping through her book filled with post-it notes. “When that stable boy disappeared.”

“Third chapter,” Toff announced, proud he’d guessed it before the pros.

“No way.” Amy shot him a glare. “I don’t believe you.”

“What?” He gave her his best sad puppy eyes. “Come on, babe. Why are you being so tough on me ?” Viv shot him a look full of sass, but he was used to that. Natasha flipped through her book, frowning.

“Do. Not. Babe. Me.” Amy’s eyes were on fire.

“You didn’t mind last night. Babe.” He took a long, slow drink of lemonade, then licked the sticky sweet residue from his lips, keeping his eyes locked on hers. Her face flamed as red as her hair.

“I don’t believe you figured it out that fast.”

“Amy—” Viv began.

“Prove it.” Amy ignored her, staring him down.

“Yeah, I wanna hear this.” Megan eyed him suspiciously. “Do you read a lot of mysteries?”

“Nope.” Toff shook his head. “But when the wimpy chick saw the priest dude lock up his journal and hide something under that black cloth, it was obvious.”

“Wimpy chick?” Amy narrowed her amber gaze. “Do you mean Lady Atherton? The heroine of the book?”

“Yeah. She was a total chicken-shit.” He smiled broadly. “Not like you, karaoke queen.”

Viv snorted with laughter. Amy looked like she wanted to kill him. Toff really, really wanted to drag her out of this kitchen and kiss her until they both ran out of air. Escape to his van or somewhere else they could be alone, but that would be like dragging a mama bear away from her cubs right now.

“I thought he was wrapping up a religious object in that scene,” Megan said. “Not a weapon.”

“Agreed,” Natasha said. “Lady Atherton overheard him say a prayer, then he opened the locked chest to put everything away.” She studied Toff. “Why did you assume he was nefarious? We’ve hardly seen him at this point in the book.”

“Nefarious means up to no good,” Viv chimed in, blinking innocently. “In case you didn’t know.”

“How many times do I have to tell you, Wordworm? I can read. Big words and everything.”

Viv giggled and glanced at Amy, who watched him with a mixture of frustration and curiosity. His competitive streak roared to life. He needed to prove to her that he wasn’t an illiterate moron, and that he really had figured out the bad guy that quickly.

He turned to Natasha. “You’re right, we hadn’t seen the priest dude much by chapter three, but the few times the chick–I mean Lady What’s-Her-Name–saw him, it was always after dark, sneaking around the castle. She busted the him coming out of the duke’s library, even though the duke told her it was off limits.”

“Off limits to her,” Viv argued. “But the duke didn’t say anything about the vicar.” She glanced at Megan. “More sexist crap. He probably assumed she couldn’t read, or only read mind-rotting novels.”

Mrs. Sloane piped up. “I think our guest may be correct.” She tapped her chin with her finger. “As I recall, the duke warned Lady Atherton that no one should enter the library.”

Toff grinned at Mrs. Sloane. She was cool, for an old lady.

Amy looked agitated. “But the vicar calmed Lady Atherton down after she got lost exploring the moor in the second chapter! He made her tea, which guys never did in those days.” She rolled her eyes at Viv. “I was afraid we might be in for a love triangle.”

“Oh God,” Megan groaned. “I hate those with a passion.”

“I adore them.” Mrs. Sloane sighed happily. “Two hotties for the price of one.”

“Love triangle?” Toff cocked an eyebrow at Amy. “You mean like what Viv did last year? Dating all those different guys and still flirting with Dallas the whole time?”

“I-I did not!” Viv sputtered. “I didn’t…we didn’t….” She shot him a stink-eye and he laughed, reaching for another handful of M&Ms.

Book club was more fun than he’d expected. He stretched his legs out as he crunched his candy. His mind wandered, imagining playing the M&M game with Amy, passing the candies back-and-forth with their tongues. How long did these meetings last, anyway?

Amy pinned him with a suspicious gaze. “You still didn’t answer my question. Just because Lady Atherton sees the vicar come out of the library, and then sees him wrap up something with a black cloth, you somehow knew he was the villain? In chapter three?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Same thing happens in my favorite video game. There’s this traveling priest dude who pretends he’s there to help people, but really he’s robbing them blind. He kills people with a gold cross that he wraps up in this holy cloth.” He snatched a brownie from a plate and grinned triumphantly, then took a super-sized bite.

“You-you- figured this out based on a video game?” She sputtered, her eyes flashing with indignation.

“Beginner’s luck.” Megan shrugged, then reached out to fist-bump him. “Good one, but I bet you can’t do it with another book.”

“Bet I can,” he said around his brownie bite.

“We’ll never know,” Amy shot back. “Since today is your one-and-only book club meeting.”

He pretended to look crushed. “Aw, Ames, you’re breaking my heart. I thought you wanted to keep me around for a while.” He took a swig from his lemonade glass and licked his lips, keeping his eyes on hers the whole time. “I didn’t think you were the use-him-and-lose-him type.”

Mrs. Sloane tittered. Natasha shook her head like she was offended, but he saw the tiny twitch in her lips. Both Viv and Megan eye-rolled him. Amy, however, had gone from blushing to pale. A jolt of panic gripped his chest like a vise. Had he crossed the line? She had to know he was teasing, right?

“Maybe I should write a paper about you,” Megan said, shaking her head. “You’re like a walking cliché of dude-ness.” 

Everyone laughed, except Amy, who stared down at her pile of index cards. Damn. Maybe he should dial it down. He’d just wanted to tease her, to spend time with her, not piss her off and ruin her meeting.

“What’s the next question, Ames?” He did his best to sound serious and interested.

She lifted her gaze to his, and his stomach twisted at the wariness in her eyes.

“Yeah, let’s hear it,” Viv said, jumping to his rescue.

Amy took a breath and picked up another card from the pile. “Thoughts on pacing. Too slow? Just right? Did the story bog down?”

Huh. Toff listened as everyone jumped in with opinions about the three-act structure and character arcs- whatever those were. He had a vague memory of learning something about that sophomore year, but he didn’t remember much.

After everyone else spoke, Amy turned to him. “What did you think about the pacing?”

“I didn’t fall asleep, if that’s what you mean.” When he saw the frustration flash in her eyes again, he realized he shouldn’t have made a joke. “I mean it. You know I don’t read much. And since this one took place way back in the 1700’s or whatever—”

“1843,” she clarified, eyes narrowing.

“Right,” he agreed quickly. “So anyway, I thought I’d be bored, but honestly I wasn’t.”

It was true. Probably because he’d figured out the villain so fast and tried to anticipate his next moves. That had kept him interested. That, and waiting for the “non-gratuitous” sex scenes, which were pretty hot, even though there were only two of them.

“Would you read another historical novel?” Megan asked. “Or any other type of romance novel?”

“What about one of my mom’s books?” Viv asked.

He looked around the table, meeting everyone’s curious gazes. He doubted he’d ever become an obsessed reader like they were, but hey, it was their jam. Who was he to mock it? Plus, Viv’s question made him feel bad.

“I’d like to read one of your mom’s books,” he said to Viv. “I’m sorry I haven’t.” His dad had read all of them. They were on a special display shelf in the living room. Toff sighed. He was a clueless moron sometimes, just like Viv always told him.

Viv smiled, her nose crinkling the same way it had ever since she was five years old. “That’d be cool. I want to see how fast you figure out her bad guys. She’s really good at tricking readers.”

“You’re on.” Toff grinned and scooped another spoonful of M&M’s from the bowl. “I know I kind of joked about this book,” he said, glancing nervously at Amy, then focusing on the rest of group, “but I think it’s cool how much you all love books. I can see how the stories become real.”

He popped a few candies into his mouth and shrugged. “It’s like video games for me. People dis those all the time, but it’s the stories I get hooked on. I like how I can actually be the hero, you know?” His gaze slid to Amy again.

“I just read a paper about this!” Megan exclaimed.

Toff dragged his gaze from Amy. “A paper?”

Megan nodded, looking excited. “A thesis about the reasons people get so hooked on games. It’s just what you said – they get to become the main character in a story. This paper was all about the immersiveness of video games, comparing them to books, and how different people respond to different story mediums—”

“So you’re saying I’m a genius, basically,” Toff interrupted, and everyone laughed.

Even Amy.

Relief washed through him when she smiled at him, a hint of a blush on her cheeks. It wasn’t just relief he felt. If he was honest, it was something way bigger than that.

Something this crowd lived for.


WHAT HAPPENS AT BOOK CLUB STAYS AT BOOK CLUB – A Deleted Scene from The Bookworm Crush, Copyright 2020, Lisa Brown Roberts


2 responses to “Deleted Scene – The Bookworm Crush”

  1. Lakshmee says:

    It was funny, adorable, totally swoon worthy for book lovers. I wonder why was it not added to the book

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