Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter

Is it possible for two anxiety ridden adults both who have emotional challenges such as social anxiety disorder and panic attacks, both who are lonely and feel they are missing out on life, but are afraid to take a step ahead out of fear, can meet and fall in love? Bet on it!!

Aja Owens has fled to Greenbelt a small town because big cities give her too much anxiety. But even in a small town she still finds some things difficult, which is where she finds herself when at the Piggly Wiggly in the frozen food section she feels the panic coming. Using the tools she has been given by her therapist she tries to calm down, but nothing seems to be working until a handsome stranger comes over to her, takes pity on her and helps her through the crisis.

Walter Abbott fled Greenbelt years ago to live in a big city. He knows all about small town gossip and being made to feel like a loser. His parents had both been drug addicts and when they couldn’t take care of him, his grandmother stepped in. Of course, the whole town knew his story and taunted him from a young age. He began to have anxiety in social situations because he never knew what he would be facing. So, even though he loves his Gram he left for the city after college and has not returned since. Yes, he misses his Gram and the peach cobbler at the local restaurant, but nothing will ever get him to return. Until Gram has an accident and needs his help.

But when he takes his Gram to her weekly bingo game which accident or no accident, she cannot miss, lo and behold there sitting next to his Gram and talking to her no less as if they are long lost friends is the beautiful woman he helped at the Piggly Wiggly. He certainly knows the signs of a panic attack and although he did not want to embarrass her, he wanted to give her some encouragement.

Aja is shocked to see her knight in shining Piggly Wiggly armor and cannot believe he is related to the one person she is not too afraid to talk to, but to her surprise he never mentions their first encounter. Is he too good to be true? Aja, who has never won at bingo only goes for the companionship of Walter’s gram.

As they begin to get to know about each other and both awkwardly flirt, what starts out as a new friendship starts to become something more. Something neither of them knows really what to do with. And with Walter already saying he can’t wait to get back to the city, Aja decides to take this slow and agrees to go to a date with Walter to a different bingo hall because he has never won at bingo either!

After their first bingo date, and neither coming out a winner, they decide to continue going and place a bet on which of them will win bingo first, and let’s just say the prize is not money…

As their story continues and they realize they have so much in common and can feel each other’s fear and begin to understand that they are good for each other in so many ways, they still have certain obstacles which somehow, they are unable to get past. Knowing Walter will be going back home, Aja knows she can’t go with him, her anxiety too deep to go back there again. How do they proceed when it’s time to end this romance when Gram is back up on her feet again?

Bet on It is a wonderfully funny, yet empathetic look at what anxiety and stress can do to someone. And no one’s story is the same. But it hopefully will show those who suffer from this that they are not alone and if you keep at it, perhaps even if the anxiety never goes totally away, you can live a full life, by being honest with those who know you, get stronger and with that strength you can win whatever prize you dream of.

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #BetonIt #JodieSlaughter for the advanced copy.

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