August 27, 2019

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Handle with Care by Helena Hunting

handle with care book cover


SYNOPSIS


New York Times bestselling author of SHACKING UP and I FLIPPING LOVE YOU by Helena Hunting mixes humor and heart in this scandal-filled romantic comedy. 

HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL.

Between his parents' messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he's been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother's chagrin. But Lincoln's bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman. 

SHE'S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER.

Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she's presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she's that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn't expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn't expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she's forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.

MY REVIEW


Loaded with witty dialogue and the type of quality writing I've come to expect from Helena Hunting, HANDLE WITH CARE is the perfect combination of romance, comedy, and suspense. 

Wren is an independent PR consultant and has just done the impossible--reshaped the horrendous reputation of Armstrong Moorehead. Armstrong is the screw up son of one of the most prolific media moguls in NYC, and Wren successfully reshaped his image after his involvement in several scandalous events became public. 


Despite her clear road to success in the world of PR, Wren's ultimate dream is to start up a charitable organization one day. In fact, her dream is one of the main reasons she initially agreed to be Armstrong's handler. His mother is a member of nearly every charitable foundation committee in the city and has promised to give her a glowing recommendation upon the fulfillment of her contract at Moorehead Media. Unfortunately, Wren's six-month contract is extended an additional six months when the CEO suddenly dies and she agrees to help Armstrong's older brother Lincoln transition into the vacant position.


Thankfully, Lincoln is nothing like his brother. He's altruistic and focused on his job as a project manager, where he oversees the construction of homes and helps to strengthen communities in developing countries. He's in the middle of a project in Guatemala, has been away from civilized society for years, and hates New York. This new job is the last place he wants to be. To put it mildly, Wren has her work cut out for her. 

Despite their rough start, the chemistry between Wren and Lincoln is undeniable. They eventually stop fighting the inevitable and their relationship naturally progresses--which is one of the things I love most about them as a couple. This isn't a story of instalove; it's a story about two people who form a strong bond organically over time. But despite the confidence and loyalty they have found in each other, can their newfound relationship survive the fallout of a buried secret once it's unearthed and the ugly truth is revealed?


MY TAKE

I wholeheartedly enjoyed reading HANDLE WITH CARE. In fact, I loved it so much that I read the entire thing from start to finish in one sitting. Also, I love it when authors throw in a cameo of another character from a previously written novel, and Helena Hunting is a master at this. (Hint: If you loved the Shacking Up series, you'll love this standalone.) HANDLE WITH CARE is a must read for romcom and "feel good" book lovers everywhere!

OVERALL STARS: 💜💜💜💜💜
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: 💜💜💜💜💜
STORY LINE: 💜💜💜💜💜
HUMOR: 💜💜💜💜💜
STEAM FACTOR: 💜💜
ANGST: 💜💜💜

BUY BOOK >>> HERE

*A HUGE thank you to Kelly Klein at St. Martin's Press for allowing me to be a part of this book tour and for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of this book. It's such an honor and I was so thrilled to be asked. 

AUTHOR BIO

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

helena hunting bio

August 14, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Hush, Hush by Lucia Franco

Hush, Hush is a story about two best friends living it up in NYC.


Aubrey and Natalie are college roommates, addicted to money and designer clothing, and are having the time of their lives. A pretty clear picture of this life is painted when they go out on the town for Aubrey's 21st birthday.

"It's time to pregame," she says dropping a pill into my hand. "We're celebrating this birthday in true New York City fashion--with a few shots and some Molly."


"I'm gonna need to find a hot rando tonight if this is what we're doing."



Naturally, this type of lifestyle lends itself to risky behavior -- and plenty of it. It also leads Aubrey to cross paths with James Riviera. Thirty years her senior, James is an attractive, incredibly wealthy, and well-known attorney. He also happens to be married.

But... married, shhhmaried. Right?


As it turns out, James and his wife have an understanding of sorts. This is good news for Aubrey, as it momentarily soothes her weak conscience when she can't stay away from him. Unfortunately, the good news stops there, and a surprising revelation soon flips their world upside down. With more than just her heart at stake, Aubrey must decide how far she's willing to go to live a double life and keep the first man she's ever truly wanted.

MY TAKE


Despite having no knowledge of the book's subject matter and never having read another book by this author, I requested an ARC from the publisher. Why did I do this? Because the synopsis and teaser photos intrigued me. I thought they were fabulous, and they immediately reminded me of Gossip Girl. And, I loveeeee me some Gossip Girl.



I realized pretty quickly that Hush, Hush would be NOTHING like Gossip Girl. Nevertheless, I really wanted to like this book. I hate writing negative reviews for books I'm given early access to read -- especially if I personally requested the ARC from a publisher -- which is why I never gave up on Hush, Hush (even though I wanted to about a million times).

The first quarter of the book was pretty brutal for me to get through. Nothing happens. Seriously. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. Aubrey doesn't meet James Riviera (aka "the hero") until CHAPTER 21.
Chapter TWENTY-ONE, guys!


Every chapter before that is filled with nothing more than page after page of inane or whiny dialogue between Aubrey and Natalie.

"I could be every man's wet dream."


"Real recognizes real," she says with such a heavy Bronx accent in the back of her throat. "Say no more. I got you, girl."


"I really don't want to fold clothes tomorrow.""I really don't want to go to class tomorrow.""I really don't want to babysit these bratty kids all weekend."


It was extremely hard to power through the first twenty chapters, but the book does get better once she finally meets James. One small other gripe is more of a personal pet peeve of mine than anything else and has to do with a lack of congruence. The setting is present day and Aubrey has just turned 21. Yet, there are many pop culture references from the late 80's / early 90's (Macgyver, Fatal Attraction, Problem Child, "Damnn, Geeeena!", and so on and so forth) that someone her age just wouldn't make. Like I said, it's not really a big deal because it doesn't take away from the book... but it's a HUGE pet peeve of mine.

REVIEW BREAKDOWN


GENRE:   New Adult / Forbidden Love / Taboo Subject Matter
POV:         First Person

OVERALL STARS: 💜💜
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: 💜💜💜
STORY LINE: 💜💜💜
HUMOR: 💜
STEAM FACTOR: 💜💜💜💜💜
ANGST: 💜💜



PROS: well-written hot and steamy scenes
CONS: characters are incredibly shallow and immature; slow moving plot; repetitive; casual drug use

I understand that this book was written to appeal to a younger audience. However, many NA authors have managed to write stories about party girls without glamorizing drug use. I'm not talking about a little pot or mild drug use. I'm talking about the use of heavier drugs like MDMA (aka molly or ecstasy) and popping prescription pain pills everyday. The opioid problem in this country is bad enough already. The last thing we need are more books that make it seem like prescription pain pills are the answer to every problem. I was tempted to give this book a one-star rating for this reason alone.

TO SUMMARIZE:

This book will not be for everyone. It deals with a taboo subject matter that will likely turn off some readers completely. Other authors have tackled the subject a bit more delicately than Franco. It's all about how the subject matter is initially presented, and I think it was poorly executed here. I really enjoyed reading a few of the chapters with Aubrey and James, and I definitely think a younger audience might really love this book, but it just didn't do it for me.


*A big thank you goes out to the author for granting me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book. The thoughts expressed in this review are my own personal opinions and have been written in my own words.

July 31, 2019

COVER REVEAL: Hush Hush by Lucia Franco

lucia franco

lucia franco

Genre: New Adult College / Cover Design: Okay Creations
Photo: Regina Wamba / Model: Hannah Peltier

Release Date: August 14, 2019


lucia franco


BLURB

I knew the rules.

Never reveal my true identity.
Play the game, give the illusion.
Don't get close to the clients.

The dark and glamorous lifestyle of the rich and shameless open my eyes to a lavish world of sin and wealth, and a man I can't have. 

A man I desperately want--James Riviera.

We're treading a fine line as we live the ultimate double life until we make a startling discovery that tests both our loyalties.

I only had to follow the rules, but rules are meant to be broken.



PRE-ORDER LINKS - $2.99 for pre-order ONLY!



Enter the Cover Reveal giveaway on Lucia's Facebook page: https://facebook.com/AuthorLuciaFranco

AUTHOR BIO


A competitive athlete for over ten years, Lucia Franco currently resides in sunny South Florida with her husband and two boys. Paranormal romance was her first love, but she has a soft spot in her heart for small-town and reunion romance stories. When Lucia is not hard at work on her next novel, you can find her relaxing with her toes in the sand at a nearby beach.

lucia franco

AUTHOR LINKS



welcome to the lifestyle of the rich and shameless

July 11, 2019

EXCERPT REVEAL: Making Up by Helena Hunting


MAKING UP is the next book in the popular Shacking Up series by Helena Hunting.



I recommend all of the books in this series: Shacking Up, Hooking Up, and I Flipping Love YouEach book is a standalone novel -- so you don't need to read them to enjoy reading MAKING UPIt's just a great series that I often recommend to romcom book lovers. 

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS:

A new standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting.

Cosy Felton is great at her job--she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she's ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she's more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend's bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin's motivations, there's something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world. 

BOOK EXCERPT:

We’re a couple of minutes away from my apartment, which also means we’re almost at the end of our date. End-of-date protocol often means a goodnight kiss.

And I’ve eaten onions. Lots of them. What the hell was I thinking? I feel around in my shorts pocket, hoping I have a random stick of gum. I find a tiny square packet and pull it out, along with an old tissue. I shove that back in my pocket and sigh with relief as I carefully open the Listerine Pocketpak. There’s one strip left. I pop it in my mouth, wishing I had water since my mouth is dry and I’m suddenly super nervous.

Griffin pulls up in front of my apartment building. I swallow a bunch of times, trying to get the strip to dissolve on my tongue and glance out the tinted window, seeing it from his perspective. I don’t live in a bad part of town, but I sure as hell wouldn’t leave this car sitting out here for any length of time unless I wanted it keyed or stripped down.

Griffin shifts into park and turns to me, one hand resting on the back of my seat near the headrest. “I had a great time, Cosy.”

“Me too, thanks for dinner.” I tried to fork over my share, but he was quick on the credit card draw.

“It was my pleasure.” He leans in the tiniest bit, a nonverbal cue that he’s going in for a kiss.

I mirror the movement, giving him the go ahead. My stomach flutters in anticipation. I exhale slowly through my nose. Even though the Listerine strip should be doing its job to mask the onions, I don’t want to ruin the moment by breathing that in his face.

His fingertips skim my jaw, and I close my eyes. And then his lips brush my cheek. I wait for them to move a couple of inches to the right, but after what feels like a lot of seconds—and is probably only a few—I crack a lid.

Griffin is still close, a wry smile on his lips and a smolder in his eyes.

“Seriously, that’s it? A kiss on the cheek?”

His smile widens, making his eyes crinkle at the corners. He’s nothing like the guys I usually end up on dates with. College boys don’t take things slow. If I were out with one of the guys from school, I’d be sitting in a beat-up Civic with some stupid music playing, and he’d be all over me with his tongue halfway down my throat, copping a feel. “I thought all the onions you ate were the equivalent to garlic for vampires.” Griffin fingers my hair near my shoulder. I’d really like him to finger something else. Wait. I mean I’d like to feel his hands on me. Not in my pants. Okay, maybe I’d like them in my pants, but not after date number one. “I wasn’t thinking, and I really like onions. A lot. In hindsight, it’s not a great date food. I feel kinda dumb. And I guess at first I wasn’t so sure about you. How was I supposed to know you’d actually be kind of normalish?”

“Normalish?”

“Well, you drink club soda on purpose, so you can’t be all there.” I tap his temple.

Griffin circles my wrist with his fingers and drops his head, lips brushing over my knuckle. “We can’t all be perfect, now, can we?”

“I suppose not, and perfect is boring.”

“That it is.” He hums against my skin, and I feel it through my entire body. “I would like to try that kiss again, if you’re still interested.”

From MAKING UP.
Copyright © 2019 by Helena Hunting and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250253378 <<< Link to purchase MAKING UP

AUTHOR BIO:


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.


x

June 27, 2019

COVER REVEAL: The Obsession by Nikki Sloane


I've been patiently impatiently waiting for the release of The Obsession by Nikki Sloane from the moment I finished The Initiation.


GREAT news! I won't have to wait too much longer because the book is scheduled for release on August 13th. HALE YES!



Filthy Rich American series by Nikki Sloane

BLURB:

The Hale family is obsessed with status, power, and control. No problem is too big their money can’t solve.
Royce Hale manipulated me into giving him everything. My virginity. My hand in marriage. My heart. And as soon as he got what he wanted, he callously sold me off for a cool ten million.
In the boardroom and the twisted game his family plays, he says the only rule is to win at all costs. Yesterday I learned a painful lesson not to trust the prince of Cape Hill. Today I’ll destroy his carefully laid plans and show him just how badly he’s already lost.
All the money in the world won’t be able to stop me.
The Obsession is the second book of the Filthy Rich Americans series. You can read my review of The Initiation >>> here.
Pre-order your copy today:
Amazon Universal – http://mybook.to/theobsession
If you aren't familiar with Nikki Sloane, you're truly missing out and I'd suggest you get to work. The Blindfold Series would be a FABULOUS place to start.

June 21, 2019

CHAPTER REVEAL: Handle With Care by Helena Hunting


I'm a huge fan of Helena Hunting and her trademark romantic comedies, so I'm excited to share this sneak peak of her upcoming novel, HANDLE WITH CARE (available August 27, 2019).  




New York Times bestselling author of SHACKING UP and I FLIPPING LOVE YOU Helena Hunting mixes humor and heart in this scandal-filled romantic comedy.

HE WANTS TO LOSE CONTROL.
Between his parents’ messed up marriage and his narcissistic younger brother, Lincoln Moorehead has spent the majority of his life avoiding his family. After the death of his father, Lincoln finds himself in the middle of the drama. To top it all off, he’s been named CEO of Moorehead Media, much to his brother’s chagrin. But Lincoln’s bad attitude softens when he meets the no-nonsense, gorgeous woman who has been given the task of transforming him from the gruff, wilderness guy to a suave businessman
SHE’S TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER.
Wren Sterling has been working double time to keep the indiscretions at Moorehead Media at bay, so when she’s presented with a new contract, with new responsibilities and additional incentives, she agrees. Working with the reclusive oldest son of a ridiculously entitled family is worth the hassle if it means she’s that much closer to pursuing her own dreams. What Wren doesn’t expect is to find herself attracted to him, or for it to be mutual. And she certainly doesn’t expect to fall for Lincoln. But when a shocking new Moorehead scandal comes to light, she’s forced to choose between her own family and the broody, cynical CEO.

Enjoy this preview and pre-order your copy of HANDLE WITH CARE >>> here



CHAPTER 1
WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO? 


WREN

I slip onto the empty bar stool beside the lumberjack mountain man who looks like he tried to squeeze himself into a suit two sizes too small. He’s intimidatingly broad and thick, with long dark hair that’s been pulled up into a haphazard man bun thing. His beard is a hipster’s wet dream. His scowl, however, makes him about as approachable as a rabid porcupine. And yet, here I am, sidling up next to him.


He glances at me, eyes bleary and not really tracking. He quickly focuses on his half-empty glass again. Based on the slump of his shoulders and the uncoordinated way he picks up his glass and tips it toward his mouth, I’m guessing he’s pretty hammered. I order a sparkling water with a dash of cranberry juice and a lime.


What I could really use is a cup of lavender-mint tea and my bed, but instead, I’m sitting next to a drunk man in his thirties. My life is extra glamorous, obviously. And no, I’m not an escort, but at the moment I feel like my morals are on the same kind of slippery slope.


“Rough day?” I ask, nodding to the bottle that’s missing more than half its contents. It was full when he sat down at the bar an hour ago. Yes, I’ve been watching him the entire time, waiting for an opportunity to make my move. While he’s been sitting here, he’s turned down two women, one in a dress that could’ve doubled as a disco ball and the other in a top so low-cut, I could almost see her navel.


“You could say that,” he slurs. He props his cheek on his fist, eyes almost slits. I can still make out the vibrant blue hue despite them almost being closed. They move over me, assessing. I’m wearing a conservative black dress with a high neckline and a hem that falls below my knees. Definitely not nearly as provocative as Disco Ball or Navel Lady.


“That solving your problems?” I give him a wry grin and tip my chin in the direction of his bottle of Johnnie. His gaze swings slowly to the bottle. It gives me a chance to really look at him. Or what I can see of his face under his beard, anyway.


“Nah, but it helps quiet down all the noise up here.” He taps his temple and blurts, “My dad died.” I put a hand on his forearm. It feels awkward, and creepy on my part since its half-genuine, half-contrived comfort. “I’m so sorry.”


He glances at my hand, which I quickly remove, and refocuses on his drink. “I should be sorry too, but I think he was mostly an asshole, so the world might be better off without him.” He attempts to fill his glass again, but his aim is off, and he pours it on the bar instead. I rush to lift my purse and grab a handful of napkins to mop up the mess. “I’m drunk,” he mumbles.


“Well, I’m thinking that might’ve been the plan, considering the way you’re sucking that bottle back. I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask for a straw in the first place. Might be a good idea to throw a spacer in there if you want tomorrow morning to suck less.” I push my drink toward him, hoping he doesn’t send me packing like he did the other women who approached him earlier. He narrows his eyes at my glass, suspicious, maybe.


“What is that?”

“Cranberry and soda.”
“No booze?”
“No booze. Go ahead. You’ll thank me in the morning.”

He picks up the glass and pauses when it’s an inch from his mouth. His eyes crinkle, telling me he’s smiling under that beard. “Does that mean Imma wake up with you beside me?”


I cock a brow. “Are you propositioning me?”


“Shit, sorry.” He chugs the contents of my glass. “I was joking. Besides, I’m so wasted, I can barely remember my name. Pretty sure I’d be useless in bed tonight. I should stop talkin’.” He scrubs a hand over his face and then motions to me. “I wouldn’t proposition you.”


I’m not sure how to respond. I go with semi-affronted, since it seems like somewhat of an insult. “Good to know.”


“Dammit. I mean, I think you might be hot. You look hot. I mean attractive. I think you’re pretty.” He tips his head to the side and blinks a few times. “You have nice eyes, all four of them are lovely.”


This time I laugh—for real—and point to the bottle. “I think you might want to tell your date you’re done for the night.” He blows out a breath and nods. “You might be right.” He makes an attempt to stand, but as soon as his feet hit the floor, he stumbles into me and grabs my shoulders to steady himself. “Whoa. Sorry. Yup, I’m definitely drunk.”


His face is inches from mine, breath smelling strongly of alcohol. Beyond that, I get a whiff of fresh soap and a hint of aftershave. He lets go of my shoulders and takes an unsteady step back. “I don’t usually do this.” He motions sloppily to the bottle. “Mostly I’m a three drink max guy.”


“I think losing your father makes this condonable.” I slide off my stool. Despite being tall for a woman, and wearing heels, he still manages to be close to a head taller than me. “Yeah, maybe, but I still think I might regret it tomorrow.”


He’s incredibly unsteady, swaying while standing in place. I take the opportunity for what it is and thread my arm through his, leading him away from the bar. “Come on, let’s get you to the elevator before you pass out right here.” He nods, then wobbles a bit, like moving his head has set him off balance. “That’s probably a good idea.”


He leans into me as we weave through the bar and stumbles on the two stairs leading to the foyer. There’s no way I’ll be able to stop him if he goes down, but I drape one of his huge arms over my shoulder anyway, and slip my own around his waist, guiding him in a mostly straight line to the elevators.


“Which floor are you on?” I ask. “Penthouse.” He drops his arm from my shoulder and flings it out, pointing to the black doors at the end of the hall. “Jesus, I feel like I’m on a boat.”


“It’s probably all the alcohol sloshing around in your brain.” I take his elbow again, helping him stagger the last twenty feet to the dedicated penthouse elevator.  He stares at the keypad for a few seconds, brow pulling into a furrow.


“I can’t remember the code. It’s thumbprint activated though too.” He stumbles forward and presses his forehead against the wall, then tries to line up his thumb with the sensor, but his aim is horrendous and he keeps missing.


I settle a hand on his very firm forearm. This man is built like a tank. Or a superhero. For a moment, I reconsider what I’m about to do, but he seems pretty harmless and ridiculously hammered, so he shouldn’t pose a threat. I’m also trained in self-defense, which would fall under the by any means necessary umbrella. “Can I help?”


He rolls his head, eyes slits as they bounce around my face. “Please.” I take his hand between mine. The first thing I notice is how clammy it is. But beyond that, his knuckles are rough, littered with tiny scars and a few scabs, and his nails are jagged.


“Your hands are small,” he observes as I line his thumb up with the sensor pad and press down. “Maybe yours are abnormally big,” I reply. They are rather large. Like basketball player hands.


“You know what they say about big hands.” I fight not to roll my eyes, but for a brief moment, I wonder if what’s in his pants actually matches the rest of him. And if he’s unkempt everywhere, not just on his face. I cut that visual quickly because it makes me want to gag. “And what do they say?”


His eyes crinkle again, and he slaps his own chest. “Something about big hands, big heart.” I bite back my own smile. “Pretty sure you’re mixing that up with cold hands, warm heart.” His brow furrows. “There’s a good chance.”


The elevator doors slide open. He pushes off the wall with some effort and practically tumbles inside. He catches himself on the rail and sags against the wall as I follow him in. I honestly can’t believe I’m doing this right now.


He doesn’t have to press a button since the elevator only goes to the penthouse floor. As soon as we start moving, he groans and his shoulders curl in. “I don’t feel so good.” Please don’t let him be sick in here. If there’s one thing I can’t deal with, it’s vomit. "You should sit.”


He slides down the wall, massive shoulders rolling forward as he rests his forehead on his knees. “Tomorrow is going to suck.” I stay on the other side of the elevator, in case he tosses his cookies. “Probably.”


It’s the longest elevator ride in the history of the world. Or at least it feels that way, mostly because I’m terrified he’s going to yak. Thankfully, we make it to the penthouse floor incident-free. On the down side, now that he’s in a sitting position, getting him to stand again is a challenge. I have to press the open door button three times before I can finally coax him to his feet.


In the time between leaving the bar and making it to the penthouse floor, the effects of the alcohol seems to have compounded. He’s beyond sloppy, using the wall and me for support as we make our way to his door. There are two penthouse apartments up here. One on either side of the foyer.


He leans against the doorjamb, once again fighting to find the coordination to get his thumb to the sensor pad. I don’t ask if he needs my assistance this time since it’s quite clear he does. Once again I take his clammy hand in mine. 


“Your hands are really soft,” he mumbles. “Thanks.” The pad flashes green, and I turn the handle. “Okay, here we go. Home sweet home.”


“This isn’t my home,” he slurs. “My cousin’s family owns this building. I’m crashing here until I can get the fuck out of New York.”


I scan the penthouse. It an eclectic combination of odd art and modern furniture, like two different tastes crashed together and this is the result. Aside from that, it’s clean to the point of looking almost like a show home.


The only sign that someone is staying here is the lone coffee cup on the table in the living room and the blanket lolling like a tongue over the edge of the couch. I’m still standing in the doorway while he sways unsteadily. He tries to shove his hand in his pants pocket, but all he succeeds in doing is setting himself off-balance. He nearly stumbles into the wall. “Thanks for your help,” he says.


He’s back in his penthouse, which means my job is technically done. However, I’m worried he’s going to hurt himself, or worse, asphyxiate on his own vomit in the middle of the night, and I’ll be the one catching heat if that happens. I’ll also feel bad if something happens to him. I blow out a breath, annoyed that this is how my night is ending.


I heave his arm over my shoulder and slip mine around his waist again, leading him through the living room toward what seems to be the kitchen. There’s a sheet of paper on the island, but otherwise it’s spotless.


“What’re you doing?” he asks. We pause when we reach the threshold. “Which way is your bedroom?” He looks slowly from right to left. “Not that way.” He points to the kitchen. It’s very state of the art.


I guide him in the opposite direction down the hall, until he stumbles through a doorway, into a large but simply furnished bedroom. Once we reach the edge of the bed, he drops his arm, spins around—it’s drunkenly graceful—and falls back on the bed, arms spread wide as if he’s planning on making snow angels. “The room is spinning.”


“Would you like me to get you a glass of water and possibly a painkiller for the headache you’ll likely have in the morning?” I’m already heading for the bathroom. “Might be a good idea,” he mumbles.


I find a glass on the edge of bathroom vanity—which is clean, apart from a brand new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. I run the tap, wishing I had a plastic tumbler, because I’m not sure he’s in any state to deal with breakable objects. I check the medicine cabinet, find the pills I need, shake out two tablets, and return to the bedroom.


He’s right where I left him; sprawled out faceup on a massive king-size bed, legs hanging off the end, one shoe on the floor beside him. I cross over and set the water and the pills on the nightstand.


I make a quick trip back to the bathroom and grab the empty wastebasket from beside the toilet in case his night is a lot rougher than he expects. I tap his knee, crossing my fingers he’ll be easy to rouse. “Hey, I have painkillers for you.” He makes a noise, but doesn’t move otherwise.


I tap his knee again. “Lincoln, you need to wake up long enough to take these.” I cringe. I called him by name, and he didn’t offer it to me while we were down at the bar. Here’s hoping he’s too drunk to notice or remember. His name is Lincoln Moorehead, heir to the Moorehead Media fortune and all the crap that comes with it. And there’s a lot of it.


One eye becomes a slit. “Every time I open my eyes, the room starts spinning again.” “If you drink this and take these, it might help.” I hold up the glass of water and the pills.


“’Kay.” It takes three tries for him to sit up. He tries to pick the pills up out of my palm, but keeps missing my hand.


“Just open your mouth.” He lifts his head. “How do I know you’re not trying to roofie me?” I hold up the tablet in front of his face. “They don’t say roofie, so you’re safe.”


He tries to focus on the pill and then my face. I have my doubts he’s successful at either. His tongue peeks out to drag across his bottom lip. “The cameras in the hall will catch you if you steal my wallet.”


I laugh at that. “I’m not going to steal your wallet, I’m going to put you to bed.” “Hmm.” He nods slowly and opens his mouth. I drop the pills on his tongue and hand him the glass, which he drains in three long swallows. “Would you like me to refill that?”


“That’d be nice.” He holds out the glass, but when I try to pull away, he covers my hands with his. His shockingly blue eyes meet mine, and for a moment they’re clear and compelling. Despite how out of it he is, and how much he resembles a mountain man, or maybe because of it, I have a hard time looking away.


“I really wish I wasn’t this messed up. You smell nice. I bet your hair is pretty when it’s not pulled up like that.” He flops a hand toward my bun. “Not that it’s not pretty like that, but I bet if you took it down, it would be wavy and soft. The kind of hair you want to bury your face in and run your fingers through.” He exhales a long breath. “I haven’t had sex in a really long time, but I feel like I would have zero finesse if I tried right now.”


I smile and turn away. In the time it takes for me to refill his glass, he’s managed to get one arm out of his suit jacket. He’s made it most of the way onto the bed, feet still hanging off the end, but he’s on his back, which is not ideal. I set the glass on his nightstand, along with a second set of painkillers, which I’m assuming he’ll need in the morning, and give him another nudge. “Hey.”


This time I get nothing in the way of a response. I poke him twice more, but still nothing. He can’t sleep on his back with how drunk he is. He needs to be on his side or his stomach with a wastebasket close by. I can’t in good conscience leave him like this. My options are limited. I shake my head as I kick off my shoes and climb up onto the bed with him. This is not at all what I expected to be doing when I brought him back up here.


I stare down at his sleeping form. His lips are parted, they’re nice lips, full and plump, even though they’re mostly obscured by his overgrown beard. His hair has started to unravel from its man bun, wisps hanging in his face. He has long lashes, really long actually, and they’re thick and dark, the kind women pay a lot of money for. His nose is straight and his cheekbones— what I can see of them—are high. With a haircut, a beard trim or complete shave, and a new suit that actually fits, I can imagine how refined he’ll look. More like a Moorehead than a mountain man lumberjack. I shake my head. “I need you to roll onto your side, please,” I say loudly.


Nothing. Not even a grunt. I pull on his shoulder, but he’s dead weight. Leaning over him, I make a fist and give him a light jab approximately where his kidney is. “Lincoln, roll over.”


And roll he does, knocking me down and turning over so he’s right on top of me. We’re face-to-face. Good God, he’s heavy. His bones must be made of lead. He shifts, one leg coming over both of mine. I push at his knee, but his arm swings out and he wraps himself around me on a low groan, pinning my arm to my side. He’s like a giant human blanket.


“How did this become my life?” I say to the ceiling, because the man lying on top of me is apparently out cold. I try to wriggle free, I even yell his name a bunch of time before I give up and wait for him to roll off me. And while I wait for that to happen, I replay the conversation with his mother, Gwendolyn Moorehead, that took place forty-eight hours ago and put me in this awkward position underneath her drunk son.


I’d been standing in Fredrick’s office, still digesting the fact that he was dead. It was shocking that a massive heart attack had taken him, since he was always so healthy and full of life. Gwendolyn, his wife—now a widow—stood stoic behind his desk, papers stacked neatly in the center.


“I’m so very for your loss, Gwendolyn. If there’s anything I can do. Whatever you need.”


The words poured out, typical condolences, but sincerely meant because I couldn’t imagine how my mother and I would feel if we lost my father. Gwendolyn’s fingers danced at her throat as she cleared it.


“Thank you,” she whispered brokenly and dabbed at her eyes. “I appreciate your kindness, Wren.”


“Let me know what you want me to handle, and I’ll take care of it.”


She took a deep breath, composing herself before she lifted her gaze to mine. “I need your help.”


“Of course, what can I do?”


“My oldest son, Lincoln, will be returning to New York for the funeral, and he’ll be staying to help run the company.”


A hot feeling crept up my spine. I’d heard very little about Lincoln. Everything from Armstrong’s mouth was scathing, Fredrick’s passing references had been with fondness, and my interactions with Gwendolyn had been minimal as it was Fredrick himself who hired me, so this was first I’ve heard of Lincoln through her.


“I see. And how can I help with that?”


I could only imagine how difficult Armstrong would be if he had to share the attention with someone else, particularly his brother.


“Transitioning Lincoln.” Gwendolyn rounded her desk. “You’ve managed to turn around Armstrong’s reputation in the media during the time you’ve been here. I know it hasn’t been easy, and Armstrong can be difficult to manage.”


Difficult to manage is the understatement of the entire century where Armstrong is concerned. He’s a cocksucker of epic proportions. He’s also a misogynistic, narcissistic bastard that I’ve had to deal with for the past eight months on a nearly daily basis—sometimes even on weekends.


My job as his “handler” has been to reshape his horrendous reputation after his involvement in several scandalous events became very public. It wasn’t a job I necessarily wanted, and I was prepared to politely reject the offer, but my mother asked me to take the position as a favor to her since she’s a friend of Gwendolyn.


Beyond that, my relationship with my mother has been strained for the past decade. When I was a teenager, I discovered information that changed our relationship forever. Taking the job at Moorehead was in part, my way of trying to help repair our fractured bond. The financial compensation, which was ridiculously high, also didn’t hurt. Besides, Gwendolyn is on nearly every single charitable foundation committee in the city, and since that’s where my interests lie, it seemed like a smart career move.


“Since you’re already working with Armstrong and things seem to be settled there for the most part, I felt it would make sense to keep you on here at Moorehead to work with Lincoln. He’s been away from civilized society for several years. He’s nothing like his brother, very altruistic and focused on his job, rather than recreational pursuits, so he should be easier to manage.”


I fought a scoff at the last bit, since “recreational pursuits” was a reference to the fact that Armstrong couldn’t seem to keep his pants zipped when it came to women.


Gwendolyn pushed a set of papers toward me. “It would only be for another six months. And of course, your salary would reflect the double work load, since you’ll still have to maintain Armstrong in some capacity while you assist Lincoln in transitioning into his role here.”


“I’m sorry, what—”


Gwendolyn pulled me into an awkward hug, holding onto my shoulders when she stepped back. Her eyes were glassy and red-rimmed.


“You have no idea how much I appreciate your willingness to take this on. As soon as your contract is fulfilled, you have my word that I’ll give you a glowing recommendation to whichever organization you’d like. Your mother told me you’re interested in starting your own foundation. I’ll certainly help you in any way I’m able if you’ll stay on a little longer for me.” She dabbed at her corner of her eyes and sniffed, then tapped the papers on the desk. “I already have an agreement ready and an NDA, of course. Everything is tabbed for signing.”


I’m pulled back into the present when Lincoln shifts and one of his huge hands slides up my side and lands on my breast. At the same time, he pushes his nose against my neck, beard tickling my collarbone. He mutters something unintelligible against my skin. I’m momentarily frozen in shock. Under any other circumstances, I would knee him in the balls. However, he’s not conscious or even semi-aware that he’s fondling me. Thankfully, now that he’s moved, I have some wiggle room.


I elbow him in the ribs, which probably hurts me more than it does him. At least it gets him to move away enough that I can slip out from under him. I roll off the bed and pop back up, smoothing out my now-wrinkled dress. My stupid nipples are perky, thanks to the attention the right one just got. Probably because it’s the most action I’ve seen since I started working for the Mooreheads eight months ago.


I hit the lights on the way out of the bedroom, pause in the kitchen to grab a glass of water and check out the sheet of paper on the counter. It’s a list of important details regarding the penthouse, including the entry code. I nab my purse, snap a pic, and head for the elevators. I have a feeling this is going to be a long six months.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helena Hunting


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance, ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.


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