2017 Book #69 – Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

519Qgtj62YLTitle: Ready to Run
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 8/15/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Pages in book: 203
Stand alone or series: I Do, I Don’t series Book #1
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: firefighter Luke Elliott, a known player who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan, but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Jordan Carpenter, a tv producer from New York City, and Luke Elliott, a firefighter from a small town in Montana. Normally these two might never have crossed paths but luckily Jordan is trying to cast the star of a new tv show called Jilted (The Bachelor but for guys with commitment problems) and Luke has left three women at the altar, and by all accounts seems perfect to be the star of the show. And so Jordan travels (*cough*stalks*cough*) to Montana to convince him in person. Only problem is once she gets there she finds herself distracted by.. well by Luke himself. While he sure is surly he also has a heart of gold. But while Jordan’s career rests on Luke’s answer, can she really throw her life away and open herself up to this new opportunity with Luke?
Overall this was a really good book. I really got hooked into the story and I didn’t want to put it down. There was some great chemistry between the main characters and I thought the author did a great job of really developing their relationship, especially considering how short the book was. This was a fairly quick and easy read, and it would be just perfect for reading on your summer vacation. My only warning is don’t think too hard in like a feminist mentality, Jordan seemed genuinely happy with her decisions and I like that the author accurately portrays how much her character likes the small town life. My only real complaint with this one is that I thought it would’ve been really fun to read about Luke actually being on the show but it sounds like we’ll get a glimpse of that with the second book in the series, Runaway Groom. I liked this one a lot and I can’t wait for the next one in the series!!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, it was a sweet story and it was a good read. I really got hooked into the story, I didn’t want to put it down! I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #67 – Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

512C5hRsk8LTitle: Are You Sleeping
Author: Kathleen Barber
Date finished: 8/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 333
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Josie Buhrman and her family, and how their lives are all turned upside down (again) when a woman starts a podcast to reexamine the murder of Josie’s father, Chuck. Thirteen years ago, Chuck Buhrman was murdered in his home with his twin girls in the house. A man named Warren Cave was arrested, tried and convicted on scant evidence that he had killed Chuck, and now Poppy Parnell, an “investigative journalist,” is using the case as a subject matter for her true crime podcast. Josie and her twin sister Lanie were both affected in different ways by the murder of their father and their mother’s subsequent abandonment. And after all that happened too, Lanie did some very awful things to her sister that cause Josie to run away and basically abandon her whole life. After traveling abroad for 5 years, she returns to the States and settles in New York City with her boyfriend Caleb. The podcast though, is bringing a lot of truths to light and there will be unfortunate consequences.

Overall I liked this book. There were some pieces of it that I couldn’t buy into (Josie’s reaction and the running away to Europe seemed extreme and I thought Lanie should’ve actually like apologized without trying to also be manipulative) but overall I didn’t want to put this book down. I was dying to find out who the real killer was and what would happen in the end. And maybe it was that build up of extreme tension throughout the book that made the ending kind of seem slightly anti-climactic but I think that’s how I ended up feeling. I was so intensely into the story but then at the end I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. And none of the characters in the book were particularly likable, they all had so many flaws and many of them were actually awful not nice people. Even with these draw backs though I still really liked the story and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I couldn’t wait to see how the ending turned out. That being said I was the slightest bit disappointed in the ending because I thought it was just a tad flat. I still really liked the book though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #66 – Leave The Night On by Laura Trentham

519Uqdwv8ELTitle: Leave The Night On
Author: Laura Trentham
Date finished: 8/3/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 331
Stand alone or series: #4 in the Cottonbloom series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge—life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiancé’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage—and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Wyatt Abbott, a mechanic, and Sutton Mize, a judge’s daughter. Wyatt has had a crush on Sutton since they were kids, but being from the wrong side of Cottonbloom, he never acted on it. Well that isn’t entirely true, he acted on it in the sense that, like a young boy does, he teased her and played pranks on her, but Sutton appropriately interpreted this as him being mean rather than him liking her. Now that they’re all grown, Sutton brings her fiance’s car into Wyatt’s family shop to get renovated. She’s completely thrown for a loop when she finds another woman’s panties under the front seat of the car. She’s thrown for an even bigger loop when her fiance (Andrew) admits to everything she feared, and so in a spur-of-the-moment decision Sutton tells Andrew that she doesn’t really care anyway since she’s been fooling around with Wyatt. And so begins a tangled web of lies that really only end up acting as a cover for Sutton and Wyatt’s growing infatuation. But with a relationship that began on so many unfounded facts (aka lies), can they really build something lasting?

Overall I like this book okay. It was a pretty solid read for a romance novel, it didn’t do anything to wow or surprise me but at the same time I did enjoy it for the most part. Some of the conversations are a bit cheesy, and the miscommunication between the hero and heroine was frustrating since the reader can read their thoughts the whole time. Books like that I always get frustrated thinking ‘if you could just be honest with each other we wouldn’t have these issues.’ Maybe that’s something that we as humans should strive more for is being honest with people around us whether we know them super well or not. But I think that’s a talk for another time. Anyways Wyatt and Sutton’s love story was sweet and cute and I like the setting of the book especially. This one had a bit of a Grease (like the musical) feel to it since the goody-two-shoes girl is a good influence on the guy and the guy is a little bit of a bad influence on the girl (just enough to let her experience some different things). In the end they develop great affection for each other and it’s a pretty good love story. I would recommend, especially in connection with the series, which I enjoy.

 

The bottom line: I thought this was a fairly good romance novel. I think the series overall is pretty cute, I would recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #65 – Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes

51BaCBQAllLTitle: Emerald Coast
Author: Anita Hughes
Date finished: 8/1/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date:August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Set on the glamorous Italian island, Emerald Coast is a touching and humorous story about marriage and the difficulty of finding love and happiness at the same time.
Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. She’s a successful business woman with an international chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Enzo, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit.
Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never cancelled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.
Lily is determined to make do and enlists Enzo to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?

My rating:  1.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Lily Bristol and her ex-husband Oliver, who through one of those crazy twists of fate end up both trying to use a reservation after their divorce. Oliver brought his new girlfriend (Angela) and Lily ends up hooking up with a guy named Ricky from Sardinia (where they are) but while all this is happening they both also can’t stop thinking about each other and their shared memories.
Overall I did not care for this book. I’m going to try to be honest here without being (a) cruel or (b) overly dramatic. I found Lily’s character to be a complete mockery of a strong and independent woman. She has random conversations with strangers and just is everything that I would hate to become as a women and as a wife. Oliver has some extreme jealousy issues and may be addicted to sex since he can’t seem to stop having it with his new girlfriend. However (**SPOILER ALERT**) he apparently NEVER THINKS TO ASK HIS NEW GF ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL. Sorry the caps were dramatic I just can’t believe that any logical person in this day and age would overlook that in a new relationship. Anyways moving on the characters were irrelevant and unrealistic, the story line was half-hearted and not at all engaging, and I honestly couldn’t even read most of the conversations they were so awkwardly structured. I did not care for this novel. However, all of that being said I know these are popular novels and that some people do like them so that’s fine. Amazon has mostly 4 star reviews. So maybe its just me.

The bottom line: I did not personally enjoy this book. I cannot personally say that I recommend it, though I know many people who enjoy this author’s books so maybe its just me.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #60 – A Week to be Wild by J.C. Harroway

Title: A Week to be Wild
Author: J.C. Harroway
Date finished: 7/16/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Harlequin Dare
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Pages in book: 176
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Harlequin Romance Insiders NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

None listed on Amazon

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Olivia and Alexander. Olivia is visiting London to be a speaker at a seminar, little does she know that Alex was the one who arranged for her to be invited to speak. Alex is trying to market his new company that helps disabled kids, and he knows that Olivia is just the one to help him get the word out. Neither of them expected this electrifying intensity, and neither are really prepared for the strength of their emotions for each other either. Libby was burned once before, and she’s determined to never fall in love again. Once Alex slips under her skin though will she fight to make it work or will she run away from her feelings instead?

Overall I didn’t love this book. The characters fell flat and what should have been a book filled with passion was really lacking in emotion for me. There were too many sex scenes for my taste but at the same time I thought the scenes weren’t that interesting. While I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, this was a quick and easy read and would probably be a good beach read if the genre is of interest to you.

The bottom line: I didn’t love this book, for me it was lacking in emotion and imagination. I wouldn’t recommend, unless you’re looking for a quick easy beach read in which case it might work out for you.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #58 – I Have Never by Camilla Isley

51FhWUoFAkLTitle: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 7/12/17
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: July 13, 2017
Pages in book: 191
Stand alone or series: #2 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Have you ever wondered what might have been?

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.
But when Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?
*Never Lie
*Never Pick a Fight
*Never Make a Scene
*Never Make the First Move
*Never Make Impulse Decisions
*Never Mix Business and Pleasure…
With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…
I Have Never is a wonderful chick lit beach read and a fabulous office romance. A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane.
First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

My rating: 4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Blair Walker, who when we first meet her is convinced that today will be the day she not only gets promoted but also gets engaged. Unfortunately for Blair, neither of those are the case. Instead she ends up fired and dumped and unsure where to go from here. Blair has always lived by her own set of “rules,” convinced that if she avoids doing certain things in life (getting arrested, getting drunk, sleeping with a guy on the first date, etc) that everything will work out for her. But now that her life has basically crashed and burned around her, she decides to do everything possible on this list that has betrayed her. Along the way she acquires a new boss, Richard Stratton, who is amazingly handsome but also amazingly commitment-phobic, a new group of work friends and a new lease on life.
Overall I just loved this book. The book immediately draws you in and engages you in Blair’s life and her character. I was hooked right from the very beginning and I didn’t want to put it down. The plot line was just so emotionally satisfying, at each twist along Blair’s road to freedom I found myself rooting for her to win and to come out on top! Plus the book was hilarious, all the hi-jinks that Blair ended up getting herself into were so funny and I loved her work group at her new office. I’m also really interested in Nikki’s story (Blair’s roommate) and can’t wait to hear when that will be released. I liked the plot of this book as well, following along with the list. The premise behind this  reminded me a little of another book I read last year (Thirty Days to Thirty) mostly because of the whole crashing and burning thing at the beginning and the list aspect. I especially liked that with this story, the list was more like a reverse list, it was about Blair breaking through the ceilings that she had set for herself in life for what she (or really her mom) believed was proper.  This was a quick story and an entertaining and engaging read and I would highly recommend!

The bottom line: I just loved this book, Blair was an easy to like character. I was rooting for her through the whole book! The story was a great series of ups and downs of emotions and was extremely satisfying. Just loved this book, I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

I Have Never BLOG TOUR!!

I-have-never

I Have Never by Camilla Isley was released this week (July 13th) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt!!! I loved this book and I definitely recommend everyone should read it!

Title: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Release Date: July 13th, 2017
Genre: Chick Lit

Book-Blurb-1-1

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.

When Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?

With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…

A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane. First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

Book-Blurb-2-1

Goodreads | AmazonUS | AmazonUK | Google Play | Kobo | B&N | Apple

Book-Blurb-3-1

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband in an adventure abroad.
She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Website | Twitter: @camillaisley | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

EXCERPT

Two

Never Get Drunk

51FhWUoFAkLMy entire body aches. Even the tips of my hair are in pain. Instead of blood, it feels like acid is pumping through my veins, and my lids have been replaced by sandpaper. What’s happening to me?

I try to move. Easier thought than done. My muscles feel like Jell-O. I’m stuck lying on something soft, something that smells like a cold winter day: pinecones and rain. Slowly, I open my eyes. Daylight stabs my pupils, sending tendrils of pain through my brain. Where am I? In a bedroom, it seems. Whose bedroom? Ah, that’s the question.

Panic gnaws at my stomach, followed by a flood of nausea. I turn to one side and spot a glass of water and a blister of Aleve on a nightstand. A lifeline. I pop two pills and drain the water before collapsing back on the bed.

Who’s bed? Oh, crap… I’m in someone’s bed, in my underwear, and I’ve absolutely no idea how I got here.

The last thing I remember is walking into a bar determined to tackle the next item on the list: never get drunk.

Ding-dong. Mr. Hangover, we meet at last… Not sure I like you. I close my eyes hoping the Aleve will act quickly.

When I open them again, I’ve no clue how much time has passed—a minute or an hour—but at least I’m slightly better. Well enough to roll over and retrieve my discarded clothes from the floor. There’s my bag, too, and I always carry a compact mirror. Face damage assessment time. Gingerly, I flip the little metallic lid open. I’ve got panda eyes, but it’s nothing some makeup remover wipes can’t fix. The cool touch of the damp cotton is heavenly on my heated skin as I scrub myself clean. The soothing moisture helps also with the headache, so much so that I don’t stop until I’ve used up the entire packet of wipes.

With my head a little clearer, I search for my phone and unlock the screen. Eight fifteen in the morning. There’s an unhealthy number of missed calls and messages waiting to be answered. Later. My temples are still pounding. I open the map app to check where in the world I am exactly. The little blue dot stops on Brooklyn Heights.

What the hell am I doing in Brooklyn? How did I get here? Whose house is this?

Time to find out.

Still sitting on the bed, I put on the silky turquoise dress I was wearing last night—perfect for a proposal, not so much for a morning-after commute from Brooklyn. There’s nothing I can do about the hair, so I scrunch the red tangles in a messy-for-real bun and stand up.

The room spins. I blink several times to fight the dizziness and shake my legs until the dress’s skirt slithers into place, reaching my knees. Shoes in one hand, bag in the other, I drag my feet to the door and tentatively exit the bedroom to enter… a cool loft. One of those with brick walls and modern furniture.

Feeling like a burglar, I slip my pumps on and shuffle into an open-space living room with floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Hello?” My voice sounds thick.

“Morning,” someone says. A male someone. “I was starting to worry you were dead.”

“I thought I was d—” My throat catches as a guy in jeans and a light blue shirt comes out from behind a pillar. He’s so good-looking I literally can’t talk. Rumpled dark hair on the longish side. Dark brown—almost black—eyes, a strong jaw covered in five o’clock shadow, and he’s smiling at me. A little sexy dimple on each cheek. My stomach flips.

Is it the smile or the hangover?

But the real question is, did I have sex with this hunk? Well, I woke up in his bed wearing only underwear. I hope we did it. And I hope he wants to do it again because I can’t remember a thing and the guy is too handsome for me to leave, not remembering having sex with him.

Eeeeee, somebody please censor my brain. Never in my life would I have had sex with someone I just met—but that was the whole point of throwing out the list and getting crazy drunk. If this man is the first outcome of my new lifestyle, high five to me. But how embarrassing not to remember if we slept together. What do I do? Do I ask him? I don’t even know his name!

“Er, Blair?” he says. “Are you all right?”

Mr. Hot knows my name. “Yeah, super… mmm… uh…”

“Richard.” He smiles again. “The name’s Richard Stratton. I made coffee, you want some?”

If he wasn’t already hot enough, the dude has an impossibly sexy British accent that’s making my knees wobble. Either the accent or serious dehydration.

“Richard, sure.” I pretend like he needn’t have told me his name. “Coffee would be great, thanks.” I stroll to the kitchen bar, sit on a stool, and drop my bag to the floor.

“Black? Sugar? Milk?”

“Sugar equals poison,” I declare. “Do you happen to have almond milk?”

Richard’s eyes widen.

“Black’s fine,” I hurry to say.

Mr. Hot hands me a mug. “You didn’t seem to have a problem with the sugar rim of your cocktails last night.”

“About that…” I take a sip of coffee, hoping caffeine will help my synapses connect. “I’m not exactly sure what… er. To be honest, last night’s a bit—uh—foggy. How did we meet?”

“I called you.”

“You called me?”

I have to kill the parrot possessing me and stop repeating whatever people say.

“Mm-hmm.”

“How? Did I give you my number?” I think I’d remember giving my number to someone as hot as him.

“No, I got it through a friend of mine.”

I frown. “A friend?”

The parrot lives.

“Yes, I’m the Editor-in-Chief of an up and coming web-based magazine. We’re looking for a Fashion Editor—”

I hear magazine, I hear fashion, and the other shoe drops. He’s gay. Ninety-five percent of Évoque male employees are gay. “Oh, you’re gay,” I interrupt him, a bit crestfallen. “Of course you’re gay. That face is too handsome for you to be straight. I mean between the hair, the eyes, and the smile you’d have to go around with an I’m-too-hot warning sticker on your chest…” I’m babbling and Richard’s eyebrows have shot up. Blair, shut up. But I’m possessed, and can’t stop talking. “And that accent! Imagine what it would do to women. You sound like Prince William. Well, at least now I don’t have to ask you if we slept together last night…” I brush my hand over my forehead in a gesture of relief and laugh nervously. “Phew.”

Richard stares at me dumbfounded for a few seconds before saying, “I thought I made it clear last night I wasn’t gay.” His tone is dead serious.

Something in my guts twists. “You mean we”—I point at my chest and then at his—“slept together?”

“No, we didn’t. I was mocking you.”

“But I woke up in your bed in my underwear.”

“I left you in my room with your clothes on. You must’ve done the undressing.”

“Oh, so you are gay.”

“No, I’m not gay.” He scoffs. “It’s just that so-drunk-she-can’t-remember-her-name doesn’t do it for me.”

I’m too mortified to speak, so I hide my red-beyond-control cheeks by staring at the floor.

“Last night,” Richard continues, “I called you to talk about a job opportunity, and you told me to join you in a bar in downtown Manhattan. When I got there, you were already drunk and delirious about a list, spaghetti marinara, and someone’s secretary…”

I’m feeling smaller and smaller. From under my lids, I dare a peek at Richard.

“When we left the bar, I tried to put you in a cab to get you home, but you weren’t able to supply an address. So it was either leave you on the street or bring you back here.”

“Oh, okay.” I drop the empty coffee mug on the bar and get up. “Sorry for all the trouble I caused and thank you for… mmm…” Giving me a bed to sleep in instead of the curb? Saving my life? Making me believe for five seconds that we had sex? I go with, “For hosting me last night. I’ll get out of your way now.” I pick up my bag from the floor and… I’ve no idea where the exit is. “Where’s the door?”

“This way.” Richard leads me to the opposite side of the room and stops in front of a metal door striped with faux rust, or real rust, I’m not sure. Cool, design rust in any case. “About that job interview,” he adds. “You want to reschedule?”

“You still want to interview me?”

“You look suspicious.”

Not look, am. “I don’t mean to be rude, but if you’re still considering me for a job after last night’s stunt and this morning’s conversation, you must be desperate.”

His jaw tightens. “I’m not desperate.”

“So what’s your magazine’s circulation?” I challenge.

“It’s an online-only editorial hub; we hardly have any circulation.”

“You’ve no printed edition?”

“No.”

“Alexa rank?”

Richard holds my gaze for a couple of seconds before answering, “In the lower thousands. But most of our traffic comes from in-app views, with no ad blocking, and we want it to stay that way.”

“As I said, you’re desperate.”

“Well, from what I gathered last night, so are you.”

Ouch. Below the belt, Richard. Way below the belt. What else did I tell him while I was drunk as a skunk? Probably better I don’t remember.

“Listen.” He rolls up the sleeves of his shirt, and I get distracted looking at his forearms. He has really pretty forearms. Correction: he has really pretty everything. “I don’t claim to be Évoque Magazine, but I’m working on making something fresh. Something better. I’ve put together a great team, so before you snub us, why don’t you hear me out?” Richard takes a business card out of his pocket and hands it over.

As he comes closer, I get a whiff of that same pinecones and rain scent I smelled in the bedroom. His scent. So Richard was my cold winter day. The combination of shower gel or aftershave plus male skin is intoxicating. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep focused and take the card. “Thank you.”

“Go home, take a shower, and come back to check us out at the address on the card. This afternoon, tomorrow morning. Whenever works.” Before I can politely decline he adds, “If nothing else, stop by so you can see my too-handsome face one more time,” and winks.

My mouth hangs open, and my face sizzles in shame for the millionth time since I woke up. “You know you can’t use anything I said while I thought you were gay against me.”

“Nice try.” Richard gives me a wicked smile and opens the door. “See you later?”

I scold him on the way out. “Maybe.”

“This way.”

He guides me down the hall in silence until we reach the elevators. There, I push the down arrow and wait. When the doors sweep open, I briskly step inside, push the lobby button, and say, “Goodbye.”

Richard braces both arms against the doorframe. “I’ll see you soon,” he says, stepping backward, and, as the doors begin to move adds, “And I’ll work on finding that sticker.”

The doors close so that I’m left staring at my shocked, beet-red face reflected in the metal.

Check out the full tour-

July 13th

Rachel Brimble Romance – Author Q&A
A Beautiful Book Blog – Book Review
Writing Pearls – Book Review
With Love For Books – Book Review
For the Love of Chick Lit – Book Review
July 14th

Kristin’s Novel Cafe – Book Excerpt
JenaBooks – Book Review
He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post
Judging More than Just the Cover – Author Q&A
July 15th

I Heart Fictional People – Book Review
Chrissi Reads – Book Review
Books and Photographs – Book Review
Rebecca Book Review – Book Excerpt
Monique McDonell-Author  – Book Excerpt
July 16th

One Book At A Time – Spotlight Post
CosyCuteKnits – Book Review
The Writing Garnet – Book Review
July 17th

The Belgian Reviewer – Book Excerpt
Girl vs Books – Book Review
kraftireader – Book Review

July 18th

Reading Is My SuperPower – Book Review
I Heart Fictional People – Book Review
THE CHLOE DOUGLAS BLOG – Book Review
July 19th

Kristin’s Novel Café – Book Excerpt
Simona’s Corner of Dreams – Author Guest Post
Bookish – Book Review
July 20th

TheBlossomTwins – Book Review
Grass Monster – Book Review
Chick Lit Central – Author Q&A
Living Life with Joy – Author Guest Post
July 21st

ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review
Rae Reads – Book Review
Novelgossip  – Book Review
Whispering Stories – Book Review
Ali – The Dragon Slayer – Book Review
A Daydreamer’s Thoughts – Book Review
Steamy Book Momma – Book Excerpt
July 22nd

BookLoverWorm – Book Review
Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review
Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt