Title: Fake Engagement, Real Temptation
Author: Joya Ryan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 30, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Oh. My. God. Carrie Morgan can’t escape her cheating ex fiancé. She goes on her Hawaiian honeymoon fantasy vacation to prove she’s over him—but he’s there with his mistress in tow. Good thing Carrie’s annoyingly over-protective friend Blake came with her. How’s she going to prove to her ex she’s over him? Easy. One… Two… Three… She grabs Blake and kisses him.
Blake Harris isn’t about to let anyone take advantage of his heartbroken friend Carrie. And that includes himself, even if she’s sexy as sin in that bikini. Then she kisses him—and he’s on fire. Damage done, but he can back off. Except he sees that broken look in Carrie’s eyes. No. Hell no. New plan. He intends to show her ex just what he’s thrown away.
The kisses? For show. The heat? Part of the performance. The private practice sessions? Uh-oh. Those are starting to feel a bit too real…
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Blake Harris had no idea what he was doing staring down the door of his best friend’s baby sister. Okay, he did have an idea, he just wasn’t loving it.
Carrie Morgan was on the other side of that door, and yes, Blake cared about her. He’d known her brother since they were kids. But this was her wedding. Or it was supposed to be. And now she was on the other side of the door, in tears, because her scumbag fiancé had abandoned her for another woman.
Shit. He’d never been close to her. He’d been sixteen and she’d been nine when his mom had died and he’d spent so many afternoons with her older brother Lane. But hell. Lane was his best friend. He couldn’t just let his sister suffer like this.
Blake would go back to his outdoor guiding business in the mountains soon, bury himself in work, but not before he made sure Carrie was okay.
He hadn’t even had a chance to see her yet since she’d not left the bridal suite in forty-eight hours. Even since she’d gotten word that the groom wasn’t going to show. Could have been worse. She could have been literally stood up at the altar. At least the piece of shit fiancé had told her two days before the wedding.
Now, he was staring down her hotel room door and asking god to open the door.
He knocked twice.
“Carrie?” he called. He heard low music and rustling. “It’s Blake. Come on, little girl, open up.”
Lane was the closest thing to a brother he had, and neither distance or time had changed that. Then there was Carrie. The sweet girl Jake and Lane had spent their teenage years playing Uno with and looking after. Until Blake had graduated college and moved to the city.
Shit. He was an ass for not being around more. Poor girl was likely behind the door crying, and that made him want to punch the douche bag that had hurt her. Maybe later he’d help Lane hunt the prick down.
Blake took the keycard that Lane had given him out of his pocket. “I’m coming in,” he announced. “Just want to check on you…”
Blake peeked in. “Carrie?”
He stepped into the room. It was a massive suite with a sitting area and kitchen. The plush furniture was lined with roses, and unlit candles were scattered around everywhere. Ah shit, so this was her honeymoon suite.
He stepped further in and heard the low sound of music got louder. It was coming from the open bedroom door. He looked in and found—
“What the hell?” he asked, taking in the scene, or rather the woman before him.
The strawberry blond five feet in front of him was moving and shaking in the middle of the room. What was more distracting was the fact that she was doing that in nothing but a pair of panties and matching white tank top. Her eyes were locked on the wide screen hanging on the wall. He glanced at the television. She was doing…jazzercise?
“Carrie?” His voice decided to break a little around the one word he’d said several times but now held a lot more heat. Sure, his blood felt hot, but his skin was cold.
So this is what shock feels like.
She froze and faced him. “Blake?”
He smiled, and her body remained still while her chest heaved with deep breaths. While those inhales made the thin cotton stretch over her breasts in a way that made his mouth instantly water, it was better than her dancing. Because any more bouncing on her part and he might forget she was his best friend’s little sister and lose his damn mind wondering how many more deep breaths it would take to make that tank top non-existent.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, not bothering to cover up. Something he wasn’t completely upset about since the woman was smoking hot. She wasn’t a little girl, he knew that. But he’d barely seen her since she was a teenager. And seeing her now, all woman—worse, his type of woman—that fact hit harder than the last.
He glanced down, attempting to take a break from marveling at her, but all he accomplished was getting flashes of those tone thigh and adorable pink-tipped toes.
Nope. She definitely wasn’t the kid he grew up with anymore. She was twenty-three with a tight body, perfect ass, and breasts he’d just learned had no problem doing a Baywatch slow-motion run in place.
She’d invited him to the wedding, but he realized that she’d likely meant: What the hell are you doing in my hotel room?
“I’m here to see you,” he said.
She nodded as if his answer was good enough and walked to the bedside table. She seemed…carefree? Not at all the crying woman he’d expected to find. Then she grabbed a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels off the table and took a few swigs.
Well that explains things.
“Glad to see you’re staying hydrated,” Blake said. She wasn’t carefree, she was drunk. And exercising. An odd combination, but he could see the logic. Drink away the sorrows and get the endorphins going. He’d try it out himself next time he felt so lonely he forgot why a relationship was off the table for him.
She winced on her final swig and wiped the back of her hand over her mouth.
“Yep. Hydrating is important,” she said. “I’ve got to stick with my video exercise. Been doing this for six months to get ‘bikini ready’ and if I stop now then…”
She trailed off and folded her lips together as if to fight off tears.
Ah, hell. Put him between a woman and a man who meant her harm, he knew what to do. Swing until the other guy went down. But a crying woman? One who’d already been abandoned by the guy? Yet another sign Blake had failed by not saying something. Or at least getting here early. Maybe then he could have caught the scumbag before he disappeared to who knew where.
But nope. Blake’s life and job were a hundred percent on his time and agenda. Freedom was a heady thing, and he would always be free. Never tied to a woman, never love, because the loss that came with love was too much.
But this woman was different. The protective instinct he had came roaring to the surface at the first sign of water lining her eyes. She was hurting. Her shoulders slinking. And there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. But he so badly wanted to.
She shook her head. “I guess I don’t have to do the videos anymore now that I’m not going to Hawaii.” She took another swig. “Guess it didn’t matter how hard I worked out, Kevin left anyway. The whole time he was cheating! Can you believe that? With his trainer. Which, by the way, I want a refund on all those ‘classes’ he signed up for to get his own ass ‘bikini ready,’ because I doubt nailing your trainer burns more calories than a treadmill.”
Cute and sweet, with some truly funny moments sprinkled throughout–if you like best friend’s little sister or fake relationship troupes, this could be for you. The timeframe, though, feels much too short–sure, they’ve known each other for years, but have never been close (Blake’s own words on page one) and in recent years hadn’t seen each other at all. Overall it made for an enjoyable few hours–Blake and Carrie are likable characters and work well together, and hey, Hawaii–but it definitely could have benefited from more story and character development throughout to make it more.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About The Author:
National and international bestselling author Joya Ryan is the author of more than a dozen adult and new-adult romance novels. Passionate about both cooking and dancing (despite not being too skilled at the latter), she loves traveling and seeking out new adventures. Visit her online at www.joyaryan.com.