Samantha is having a crisis. Andy has the skills to help her. They might be great together but . . . his brothers aren’t good matchmakers.
Samantha’s dog treat business was doing well. Until her new, horrible website ended it in a day.
Andy doesn’t have time to take on another client, even a pretty one. When Samantha and her dog meet him and his four cats, it’s chaos.
Everyone will be surprised if his brothers succeed with their matchmaking. But Andy and Samantha may be Surprisingly Matched.
This is a standalone book which is part of a series. It’s clean and wholesome with no sex or swearing.
Samantha Santoro made notes in the margin about the dog treat recipe she’d tested. Disaster. Don’t try this again. Then she tossed the notebook on the counter.
Everything lately had been a disaster. With her website catastrophe and sales in a downward spiral, testing new treats had become a waste of time and money, neither of which were in abundant supply.
Gracie, her rescue dog, leaned against her leg. Sam wasn’t sure of her pet’s breed or breeds, but she had fallen in love with the small black dog at first sight.
“We’ve got each other, though, don’t we, girl?”
Gracie wagged her white-tipped tail.
Sam knew her current problems had an easy solution: fix her website and get orders coming in again. That shouldn’t be a problem.
But that hadn’t been true so far. She’d had lots of problems.
The phone in her pocket rang, and pulling it out, she saw her marketing expert’s photo on the screen. Answering, she said, “Hi, Nathaniel.” He had helped grow her business, but she didn’t have the income right now to justify any more marketing.
“Samantha, I just tried to check something on your website. Do you realize—”
She let out a breath and closed her eyes. “Yeah, I do. The website designer won’t respond to emails or calls.” Gracie woofed, and Sam reached down to pet her.
“Why didn’t you call me right away? I know people who can help you.”
She didn’t say what immediately came to mind. Because I felt like an idiot?
Nathaniel continued. “If it can’t be fixed, you may have to start over.” He hesitated. “How much can you spend on a new one?”
A hysterical laugh bubbled up, but she forced it back. She told him an amount, and it was met with silence. “I know that’s low.”
“Can you increase it?”
“Nathaniel, my website has been this way for at least a month. I couldn’t understand why sales had plummeted. Then someone called to order treats for their store and told me they’d tried to order online, but my site didn’t work.”
She sat on her couch, and Gracie jumped up beside her.
“You had a great new website!”
Sam rubbed her hand over her face. “I know. The designer had gone over and above.” And then, he had gotten mad. I’ll never do business with a family friend again.
“I’m on it. Let me try to get either someone who can fix this or build a new site. But Samantha, that’s a tight budget.”
She knew that. She’d been trying to find someone on her own for days. Instead of feeling humiliated for being taken advantage of, she should have called Nathaniel first. “Thank you.”
“I know a man who might do it as a favor to me.”
She wanted to ask if the man knew what he was doing, but Nathaniel anticipated her reply.
“He’s the best. You would normally pay many times this amount.”
“Thank you.” She ended the call.
Gracie snuggled closer. As Sam petted her dog, she decided to move forward with her most dreaded plan. She’d check to see if they’d hire her back at Sassy Seafood. Every time she considered that, though, she could feel her blood pressure rising.
She knew her friend Kelsey could probably step away from prep work in the morning for a quick phone call without upsetting the restaurant’s owner, Pieter. She definitely couldn’t interrupt a dinner service for anything less than a major earthquake.
“How’s everything, Sam? I miss having a friend for a boss.”
“I’m considering chef work again.” She didn’t want to admit she’d failed completely, so she added, “To support my business in these early days.”
Sam could hear the happiness when her friend replied. “That would be amazing! The summer tourist season will be here soon, so I’m sure that Pieter will take you back.”
Sam pictured being at the stove during a busy dinner service during Anchorage, Alaska’s tourist season, and the stress of that image had her putting her hand on her racing heart. On the other end of the phone, she heard whistling that she knew came from the restaurant’s owner. It faded away and a door slammed.
“Okay, Sam, what’s really going on? You said you’d never work in a restaurant again.”
Kelsey knew her well. “I’ve had a setback with my website and therefore my business. I need to bring in money to save it.”
“Are you going to call Pieter?”
Sam took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She could do this. “I have one last shot at a website. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll call him later this week.”
“That makes me so happy! I’m jumping up and down beside the Dumpster in the alley.”
Sam laughed. Finding a friend in Kelsey had been one of the best parts about working at that restaurant. “Say hello to your husband and son. I’ll call you when I know more.”
“I hope that’s soon.”
As Sam tucked the phone in her pocket, she said, “Gracie, things with my business need to change quickly or I’m going to have to work in a restaurant and find a doggy daycare for you.”
Gracie would have no way of knowing what that was, but Sam’s tone must have made it sound terrible because her dog dropped to the floor and covered her head with her front paws.
Andy O’Connell kept his eyes on his computer screen as he reached for the phone ringing from beside him on the couch and answered it. “Top Tech.”
“I need to ask you about a website.”
He peeled his gaze from his work and checked the phone. Nathaniel Montgomery. His brother was married to Nathaniel’s sister.
“If you have a second, Andy, could you check out this site?”
He didn’t have a second to spare, but he liked Nathaniel and considered him to be family. “What’s the address?” Andy’s eyes widened in amazement as the website Nathaniel had told him about popped onto his computer. Mutant animals cavorted across the screen.
“Are those supposed to be dogs?”
“They are.” Andy watched the creatures dance.
“You can see four legs, ears, and a tail.”
“On some of them, but not all. You’re telling me that this site belongs to one of your clients and that you recommended the web designer who created it?” Andy regretted his words the moment they came out of his mouth. “I’m sorry, Nathaniel. I shouldn’t have worded it that way.”
Nathaniel chuckled. “No offense taken. She hired this man all on her own. I suggested to her that she needed a new, more functional website and gave her the names and contact info for several designers including you.”
Andy clicked on the About button at the top of the page. Nothing happened when he did that or when he clicked anything else. Not only was it an ugly website, but it was also a completely nonfunctional website. “I see a shopping cart, so it looks like she has products even though I can’t get to that page right now. If so, this isn’t a simple website that I can knock out in a short time.”
“She does sell products. She makes dog treats.”
“That’s the business?”
“Oh, yes. It’s a very lucrative business. She uses only high-quality ingredients, and the dogs love them. Our dog Chloe went crazy for them when I brought some home from a meeting with her.”
Andy looked over at his orange striped cat, Lucy, who was sound asleep on a chair across from him in the living room. “Only dog treats?”
“She seems to be a dog lover. I know that may be hard to imagine for a man with—how many cats do you have now? Three?”
He set his laptop beside him on the couch and rolled his shoulders to relax them. “Three and one more that seems to want to live here. I finally brought her into the house and took her to the vet only to discover that she’s expecting kittens. So we’re about to go from a four-cat house to a who-knows-how-many cat house.”
Nathaniel finally said with a chuckle. “And I thought one dog was a challenge when she adopted me.”
A caricature of a gray-haired woman smiled at him from the top of the page. Nathaniel’s client must be a sweet old lady who’d been taken to the cleaners over her new website. Andy stared at the screen. “It’s kind of mesmerizing.”
“So, can you work on the site? Fix it?”
Andy pulled his gaze away from his computer and rubbed a weary hand over his face. “Nathaniel, I would love to help you with this project—”
“You didn’t let me finish the sentence. There was a but. I have so many clients right now for new websites and updates to old ones that I’m putting in a lot of hours every day.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “Too many hours. Since you’re family, I’ll add that I’ve been so busy I didn’t have time to go to the family lunch last Saturday. Mom has threatened to make me host this week if I forget to confirm that I’m coming by Friday night.”
“I don’t doubt she’d do it. The entire family may be on your doorstep next Saturday. It’s been a while since we’ve seen your house, so Jemma, our daughter, and I may have to come.” A second’s pause was followed with, “Um, now, about this website. She’s a very nice lady.”
Andy chuckled. “It wouldn’t matter if she was kind and sweet and the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Well, those things might help.”
Nathaniel laughed. “If you’re sure?”
“I don’t have any other option. Not today.” He’d stopped working on his laptop long enough that Lucy got up, jumped on the sofa, and curled up on his lap. He petted her, something he hadn’t done as much as he should lately because of his workload. “Once I get through this batch of jobs, maybe in a couple weeks, things will look better.”
Nathaniel muttered what sounded like, “That will probably be too late.” But then he said more loudly, “Thank you for looking at it.”
A few days after Samantha talked to Nathaniel about her website, he called her back. This time, he had a recommendation for a web designer. “Contact Top Tech. He’s the best.”
She’d never heard of that company, but she hadn’t heard of most of them. Before she’d contacted five highly rated website design companies this week—only to be quoted a price several times what she could pay—she hadn’t heard of them either. “Give me his website’s address, and I’ll look him up while we talk.”
“He doesn’t have one.”
She must not have heard him correctly. “Someone who designs websites doesn’t have one himself? Isn’t that how customers find him?”
“He says he has so much business that he doesn’t need to generate more. He’s a word-of-mouth web designer. But if you’d like to check out other sites he’s done, you can go to mine, my wife’s, or my brother-in-law’s. Each is very different, but you can see that each functions well.” He rattled off the domain names and Sam wrote them down.
“But do any of them have a shopping cart?”
“No. But before you argue that those sites don’t help you, you need to go over to Playful, an online toy store. He designed their entire website, and it has a very functional shopping cart.”
She went there and discovered an adorable site. After clicking around on it, she found it worked perfectly. And Jemma’s site sold her design and furniture-flipping services well.
“He’s exactly what I need. How do I get in touch with him?”
“I’m emailing that info to you now.” Then he became quiet, and she wondered what was going on. “Nathaniel?”
“He’s very busy, but I’m hoping it will help that you’re my customer.”
“Why would that matter, aside from business courtesy?”
“His brother is married to my wife’s sister.” He quickly added, “But this isn’t about family. This is about being the best.”
Samantha chewed on her lip. “Can I afford the best?”
“You told me your budget.” Nathaniel hesitated before saying, “He’s also a good guy. I think that will be fine.”
“Is there anything you’re not telling me?”
Another pause. “Give him a call and see what he says. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Staring at her phone after he’d hung up, Sam knew this was it. Her business would have to close in another month or two if she couldn’t get a website up and running—and within her budget.
Sensing that something wasn’t right, her dog bumped against her leg, then leaned there. Sam petted her on the head. Then she took a deep breath and blew it out slowly before dialing the number Nathaniel had given her. When her call rolled over to a voicemail, she debated about leaving a message and decided against it. Begging would be hard in a message. She’d call again later.
After lunch, she tried the number again.
A man answered the phone. “Top Tech.”
“I’m interested in a website.”
“I’m not taking new clients.”
Before she could say “Nathaniel sent me,” he added, “Sorry,” and hung up.
She’d have to create a new website herself. Up to this point, she’d run the business on her own with Nathaniel only helping occasionally with marketing. How hard could it be to build a website?