Aiden Kent never expected to see Noelle Rana again. He’s determined to keep his distance from the beautiful enigma wrapped in denim and leather. He can’t trust anyone with the last name Rana. But he made a promise to his dying mother, and it isn’t long before Noelle invades his personal space. He can’t stop thinking about the exotic beauty’s alluring curves.He wants the daughter of his enemy, and he’s determined to have her…if only for one night.
If Noelle wants to move forward with her life, she must make a deal with the devastatingly gorgeous, broody millionaire Aiden. He made a promise years ago, and she’s come to collect—even if it means facing down the only man who ever broke her heart. And there’s a really good chance he’ll do it again.
“What exactly do you want from me, Noelle?” Aiden shifted forward, his tone hardening, the patrician lines of his face sharpening.
Noelle inhaled a deep breath…a big mistake. His clean, fresh, rain-and-earth scent filled her until she could practically taste it. Taste him.
The hell? Where had that thought come from? Whatever feelings she’d once had for him had been ground under the heel of humiliation, rejection, and pain.
“I need you to pay my graduate-school tuition.” She paused. “For Boston University.”
“Boston University,” he repeated, ice dripping from each syllable. “You’re applying to Boston University.”
“Have applied,” she corrected, voice soft. Wary. “And have been accepted with a partial scholarship. I start in January. I can cover all of my other expenses. Only the rest of the tuition has to be paid.”
“What are you playing at, Noelle?” he growled. Anger seemed to radiate from him, beating at her. “Of all the cities and colleges, you choose here? Do you think I’m stupid? I’m not one of your father’s marks. You can’t con me. What else aren’t you telling me?”
“Nothing,” she insisted, insulted. “I have an apartment and a job. I arranged those before I left Chicago. I’ve been providing for myself and others for years without your assistance, and I really don’t want it now, but I have no choice.”
Screw this. Yes, her father hadn’t been a model citizen—unless it was a citizen of the Cook County DOC. But she wasn’t him. Damn if she’d let him—him—make her feel…dirty. Unworthy.
She stalked forward, allowing anger and hurt—yes, damn it, hurt—to propel her forward when caution would’ve been prudent…safer.
“Look, believe what you want. I could quote the damn Bible from Joseph to Jesus, and it wouldn’t change your opinion or erase your suspicions. But if you think coming to you and asking for help was easy, then all those millions have made you soft in the head.” She snorted, shaking her head. “At this moment, though, I need you to keep your promise to Caroline more than I care about offending your tender sensibilities with my presence. She wanted me to have the money. So how about this? Send the tuition payment directly to the university, and you don’t have to worry about seeing me again. You can go on pretending I don’t exist, and I can forego the pleasure of you staring at me like I’m something you scraped off the bottom of your shoe.”
Giving him a tight smile, she pivoted and marched for the door, desperate to escape the room before she did something stupid…like allow the tears stinging her eyes to fall. Damn it! She’d been teased, bullied, and sneered at more times than she could remember, much less count. Yet none of those mean girls or leering guys who assumed she was an easy fuck just because of her last name had been able to drag one tear from her.
Only Aiden possessed that power.
“Noelle, we’re not finished. Don’t you walk out that door.”
Like hell she wouldn’t. She was a grown-ass woman. Self-sufficient. Mature.
So she did the only thing a grown-ass, self-sufficient, mature woman could do in her situation…
She flipped him off and walked out.
Just in case you’ve been missing the summer heat (which has not been an issue up here, thanks!) pick up The Bachelor’s Promise by Naima Simone–whoa, does it generate a lot of steam! Noelle and Aiden have a past–one with a foundation of secret longings that, just as things had started to get interesting, came to an abrupt, and seemingly permanent, end.
Except now it’s several years later and Noelle’s in a jam. She’d been trying to do it on her own, but caring for her father has left her resources depleted. If she wants to ever make her dream of owning her own art gallery happen, she needs to swallow her pride, find Aiden, and ask him to honor the promise his mother had made him give as she lay on her deathbed–to gift Noelle with the funds needed for school. She’s managed to work her way through undergrad; it’s a graduate degree she needs help with.
The Bachelor’s Promise of the title is taken care of early on–Aiden honors his mother’s wishes almost without argument. But staying away from Noelle (his wishes–not his mother’s!) proves impossible when he offers (sans prior promises, this time!) to help her out of another dilemma she finds herself in. The more they’re together, the more the sparks are flying…hence the aforementioned steamy scenes. There’s a lot of them. They’re definitely NSFW…even on my lunch break, they were a bit much. But I persevered 😉
So…all that’s left is for Aiden to find a way to get past his issues and prejudices against Noelle’s family (they’re doozies) so they can get to their HEA. I do have to admit, I didn’t have a clue what his actual main issue was–but once Noelle pointed it out, everything totally clicked. Yep, makes sense! Unfortunately, it took Aiden another chapter and a half to come to the same realization. (But his grand gesture’s a good one–and goes pretty far toward making up for his earlier butt-headedness.)
There were a few elements of the story that bothered me a bit, hence the 1.5 star reduction. There was a bit of unnecessary repetition (Noelle reflecting to herself three, maybe four separate times about when she overheard her brother telling her dad about how he had betrayed Aiden–nothing new was added any of those times, so why tell us again? Each seemed like it was supposed to be a revelation, but we’d already heard about it.) Also, the “bachelor’s auction” part of the storyline is conveniently forgotten about halfway through–Aiden never shows up for a date he had made with the woman who “won” him (he was supposed to have been on his way to meet her, but got…uh, sidetracked.) No mention is made of him rescheduling or making any future arrangements with her…ever. She’s mentioned by minor characters one more time, but we never see him fulfilling his side of the many-thousands-of-dollars deal. What gives? Okay, it was for charity, but she’s going to want a return on her investment all the same, right? It made the auction feel like nothing more than a flimsy excuse to bring Noelle and Aiden together–the lack of follow through was bothersome.
The Bachelor’s Promise is the third book in the series, but it works fine as a standalone. Aiden’s business partner was the hero of book one ( Beauty and the Bachelor ) and there’s references to his story, but we’re told the important bits we need to know about it. If the second couple is mentioned at all, it went over my head completely since I didn’t look up the synopses for the other books until after finishing this one. (Spoiler alert: they’re on my TBR now.)
Rating: 3 1/2 stars/ C+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Billionaire Lucas Oliver is hell bent on revenge. And his plan begins when Sydney Blake—the stunning daughter of his enemy—is tricked into bidding on Lucas at a bachelor auction. Then he serves up a little blackmail…followed by a marriage proposal Sydney has no choice but to accept.
Sydney has been controlled by her family her whole life. When Lucas threatens to reveal her father’s shady business, she is once again forced to do her duty for her family. But worse—oh so much worse—is the rush of lust that Lucas ignites in her blood.
Lucas is determined to make Sydney suffer, but it’s tough when he can’t keep from touching her–or thinking about touching her–all the time. She’s not fairing much better since she’s engaged to a darkly handsome beast intent on destroying her entire family…along with her heart.
He promised to stay away…but some promises are made to be broken
Plain-Jane computer programmer Khloe Richardson needs a date—one to make the prince of her dreams jealous. Maybe then he’ll finally see her as a desirable swan and not the ugly duckling in the second office from the left.
But when she bids on a bachelor at a charity auction, the man she wins is millionaire Niall Hunter—who once made intense, passionate love to her and then left without a word. She’s determined not to let her guard down again—among other things—around the infamous Irish lothario.
Niall never imagined his penance for one hot-as-hell night with his best friend’s little sister would be transforming her from a shy wallflower to a sultry siren. Helping her attract another man is torture…especially when he promised his friend he’d stay away. Plus, she wants forever, and he’s not a forever kind of guy. But Niall can’t stop wanting her. Can’t stop touching her. Can’t stop, period. And damn if he can remember why he has to…
Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey, Sandra Brown and Linda Howard many years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Though her first attempt at a romance novel starring Ralph Tresvant from New Edition never saw the light of day, her love of romance, reading and writing has endured. Published since 2009, she spends her days—and nights— creating stories of unique men and women who experience the first bites of desire, the dizzying heights of passion, and the tender, healing heat of love.
She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.
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