Tag: Love Unexpectedly

Review: An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne

Posted November 7, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: An Ex for Christmas by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
An Ex for Christmas (Love Unexpectedly) by Lauren Layne
Series: Love Unexpectedly #5
Also in this series: Good Girl, Walk of Shame
Published by Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 218
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com.

“Lauren Layne writes characters I want to tackle and keep as my best friends, woven into smart, sexy, utterly romantic tales of love.”—Violet Duke

When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.

Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.

Every time that Lauren Layne releases a book, I’m going to read it. She’s been my go-to author for fabulous contemporary romances for the past couple of years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. An Ex for Christmas is the fifth book in the non-series, Love Unexpectedly and it’s another sweet romance that I ate right up.

Kelly believes in fate and in all things psychic so when she’s trying to make her way home for the holidays and a psychic stops her to tell her that she’s already met her one true love, Kelly is shook. She’s so shook that she gets home and ropes her best friend Mark into helping her make a list of her ex-boyfriends because one of them is her one true love and she’s going to find him. So she goes on this mission to track down her exes, put them through a date to see if there are any sparks left and well…you know how that goes.

Mark just got out of a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere and he’s making plans for his future when his best friend Kelly comes home with the crazy plan to track down her exes and marry one of them. He’s grumpy about it because what man wants to be caught up in that tangle of junk?

Mark and Kelly were adorable together. I love how comfortable they were with each other and how loyal they were to each other. When Kelly thinks that Mark’s girlfriend is cheating on him, she gets super mad on his behalf and I thought that was fantastic. Mark couldn’t have cared less because he was getting ready to put his plans into action and when he’s sidelined by Kelly’s crazy plans to nab an ex, I loved seeing him battle his emotions with that.

Lauren Layne does a great job of telling this story while only giving us Kelly’s POV. I would have liked to get inside Mark’s head from time to time but I caught onto his deal pretty early on so I didn’t think the book suffered much from not having it. Mark was the perfect kind of grumpy that I adore to pieces so I was all aboard the Mark train.

Kelly took her sweet ass time figuring out who her perfect mate was but I had a good time seeing her fail at every date she went on so I wasn’t annoyed at all. She was great fun to get to know and I liked seeing her come into her own. She had a sweet relationship with her parents and with her friends from high school so all in all, this was a good read.

This was the perfect read to read heading into the holidays…it was fun, flirty and had a smoking hot hero that was grumpily perfect for the sweetheart of a heroine. Lauren Layne continues to shine in my eyes and I’m already thirsty for more. She seriously can’t write fast enough to suit me. I’m so greedy when it comes to her books. She’s just so good. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Posted May 28, 2017 by Rowena in Features | 0 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Lauren Layne is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. If you know me then you know that contemporary romance is my jam. I’ll read any contemporary romance if it catches my eye and Lauren Layne always catches my eye. She’s so good, you guys. One of the best in writing big city romances with sophisticated heroines and the hot shot heroes that love them. This week’s Sunday Spotlight features her latest release, Walk of Shame and I’m probably going to sound like a broken record in this post but I swear…this one is a good one.

Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne
Series: Love Unexpectedly #4
Also in this Series: Blurred Lines, Love Story, Good Girl
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Random House, Loveswept

Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

So a socialite and a divorce attorney meet in the lobby of their apartment every morning. She’s coming in from a night on the town and he’s going out to start his work day. They have absolutely nothing in common except a mutual attraction to one another but their morning ritual is about exchanging witty banter and one upping each other and I was so here for it because every passing day, things changed between them and goodness, the chemistry was off the charts!

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Memorable Quotes

The chemistry between these two was so stinkin’ good, I happy sighed my way through the entire book. From the beginning when they were sniping at each other like this…

“I pop another piece of donut in my mouth and smile. “It’s fine. I won’t tell a soul you checked me out.”

“I wasn’t—” He clears his throat. “Forget it. You’re ridiculous.”

I’m grinning outright now, because that’s two you’re ridiculouses this morning, and when he takes to repeating himself, I know I’ve successfully gotten under his skin.

Georgie, one; Andrew Mulroney, Esquire, zero.”

…until they were arguing and then getting serious like this…

“Georgiana.”

“What?” I snap, turning around. “What can you possibly say that you haven’t said a million times already with every scowl, with every eye roll, with every you’re ridiculous? You think I’m stupid and worthless. I get it.”

The guy’s expression is one tangled knot of emotional constipation. “That’s not what I think.”

Walk of Shame is a great romance with characters that leaped off the page and right into your heart. Georgie and Andrew were a wonderful couple who fell in love slowly but so sweetly. The love that blossomed between the two of them melted me into a puddle of happiness and I enjoyed the heck out of it so you should check it out for yourself. You’ll fall in love with the book and find out for yourself why I featured it for this week’s spotlight.

Walk of Shame is part of the Love Unexpectedly series, a series that are similar in theme but don’t really have any connection outside of that. Check it out, fall in love with the characters and with Lauren Layne. You won’t be disappointed, I promise!

Love Unexpectedly Series

Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you love this book as much as we do? If you haven’t read it, are you looking forward to reading it for yourself? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Lauren Layne

FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.

A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.

She lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL’s ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.


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Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Posted April 28, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne
Series: Love Unexpectedly #4
Also in this series: Good Girl, An Ex for Christmas (Love Unexpectedly)
Published by Random House, Loveswept
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

Lauren Layne strikes again. She has written another fabulous contemporary romance that hit me in my feels and made me laugh. She has a knack for writing great characters that are completely relatable and super funny and that’s really my jam so I’m super happy that I read this one.

Georgie Watkins is a rich girl who is an expert in socializing. She spends her days recovering from her partying nights and when her neighbor Andrew Mulroney starts his day at 5AM, she’s usually coming in from ending hers. On top of being a workaholic, Andrew is a health nut who looks down his nose at Georgie bringing in donuts every morning for the doormen that work at the front desk of their apartment building.

They meet each other in the lobby every morning and they share a witty banter that just filled me up with goodness and I enjoyed each of their daily chats. They don’t like each other and they love to antagonize one another and I thought it was the cutest thing.

Georgie was a great heroine who seemed to sense in herself, a quiet unrest that she didn’t understand until interacting with the snob, Andrew Mulroney. She realized that she was bored. She was growing up and she wanted more out of her life than nightly visits to the club where she danced the night away with her friends and flirted with cute boys who lived their lives, the exact same way that she lived hers. She wanted more and she also had a huge ol’ crush on Andrew, who seemed to take great pleasure in putting her down every chance he got. She didn’t understand her crush but ran with it anyway because it wasn’t going anywhere. The best part of her days were her morning arguments with Andrew and she wasn’t going to give those up.

Andrew doesn’t like Georgie. At least, he doesn’t think he does. She’s everything that he doesn’t have time for. A spoiled rich girl who isn’t doing a damn thing with her life other than partying with her friends. He’s too smart and too driven to throw away his life by doing…nothing. But that doesn’t stop him from looking forward to battling wits with her at 5AM, every morning. It also doesn’t stop him from admiring just how pretty she is. When a particular battle of wits ends with him challenging her to spend a day in his shoes (he doesn’t think she’ll last a day), she accepts and things change for the two of them.

The romance between these two was adorable and just so much fun. The chemistry was strong and the sexual tension made its presence known from the very beginning. They were both such great characters on their own that bringing all of that awesomeness together made for a very enjoyable story. This is a story that I didn’t even know I wanted and I’m glad that Lauren Layne provided because she delivered the goods with this one. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Good Girl by Lauren Layne

Posted May 19, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Good Girl by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Good Girl by Lauren Layne
Series: Love Unexpectedly #2
Also in this series: Walk of Shame, An Ex for Christmas (Love Unexpectedly)
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 220
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Lauren Layne brings all the unpredictable heat of her USA Today bestseller Blurred Lines to an all-new cast of characters! Country music’s favorite good girl is hiding away from the world—only to find herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.

Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.

Good Girl is the second book in the Love Unexpectedly series by Lauren Layne and I spent a good chunk of the book wanting to kick the hero in his nuts but all is well that ends well and this was one of those books.

Jenny Dawson is country pop star and she needs a place to lay low while the latest scandal that is not even a little bit true about her dies down and she finds herself on her way to Louisiana, renting a mansion to get away from everything and focusing on the one thing that matters in all of this…her music.

Noah Maxwell owns the mansion that Jenny is renting and when the spoiled pop princess pisses him off and thinks he’s the property caretaker, he lets her think it. He keeps up the ruse while they’re living at the house together and while he tries to stay out of her business and her way because he’s working on his own stuff, you just know that his little white lie was going to pop up and kick him in the ass…and it does in a big way.

I really enjoyed the banter between Noah and Jenny when Noah wasn’t being a complete dickhead to her. And he was a dickhead to her a lot but it’s a testament to how much I enjoy Lauren Layne’s writing because I continued on with the story and was rewarded for my dedication. I like how this story ended and was happy when Noah finally came into his own and owned up to being a dickhead to Jenny. I thought that he made things right with Jenny in a way that left me satisfied that they were going to be okay (for a while there, I wasn’t so sure). This book was a fast read. It was cute and steamy and though the story might not work for everyone (because I know Holly and Nath’s reading tastes, I hesitate to recommend this book to you guys. I feel like you would want to burn Noah’s house down, Holly), I enjoyed this book.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Reading Order

Blurred Lines
Good Girl

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Good Girl by Lauren Layne

Posted May 8, 2016 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 13 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Lauren Layne has become one of my auto-buy authors just this year. I can’t get enough of her stuff. I’m trying to pace myself while working through her back list but everything that I’ve read, I’ve really enjoyed. I’m thirsty for more and Good Girl is up next.

Good Girl
Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2) by Lauren Layne
Releases on May 17, 2016 by Loveswept

Pre-Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Lauren Layne brings all the unpredictable heat of her USA Today bestseller Blurred Lines to an all-new cast of characters! Country music’s favorite good girl is hiding away from the world—only to find herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.

Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.

Are you ready for this excerpt? I am.

Excerpt

“What time did you say this chick was arriving?” Finn asks around his cigarette.

“Tomorrow morning,” I say, rapping my toe against a funny-looking floorboard and wincing when it buckles.

“Huh.” Finn exhales and looks out the window.

I know that tone. “What?”

“Seems she might have gotten here early,” he says, a second before the quiet afternoon erupts with the sound of my dog losing his mind, mingled with the shrill piercing yap of a much smaller dog.

“Seriously?”

Finn shrugs and nods. “There’s a girl outside.”

“Shit,” I mutter as I head toward the stairs, dodging the two broken ones.

Ranger’s about as good a dog as they come, wouldn’t hurt a fly. But he’s a big dog with a big bark, and one serious weakness: gleefully humping smaller dogs. He’s a rescue, and though he was fixed after they brought him in, he’d already gone through canine puberty, or whatever. He’s still got the fierce urge to hump, although it’s more habit than hormones.

I exit out the front door just in time to see my big brown Lab leap forward, his clumsy paws finding the shoulders of a blond girl who lets out a shriek, holding a cat above her head like that scene from The Lion King.

“Ranger, no! Down.”

I run forward, my hand finding the collar of my dog and yanking him backward as I search the ground to find the source of the small-dog barks still piercing the air.

Then I register that the sound is coming from above, and realize . . .

The cotton ball isn’t a cat.

That orange piece of fluff is a dog, and Ranger is apparently in love.

“What the heck is wrong with your dog?” the girl says as she slowly lowers the puffball from over her head, cradling the hideous little monster against her chest as it continues its high-pitched bloody-murder yips.

“At least my dog is actually a dog,” I say, staring in horror at the pointy face of a canine that could fit in one of my hands. “I’ve seen dust bunnies bigger than that thing.”

“Dolly’s a Pomeranian,” she says, setting a hand on top of the monster’s head. “She’s supposed to be this tiny.”

“Well, Ranger’s a Lab. He’s supposed to be this normal.”

“He attacked me,” she says, giving Ranger a wary look as his tongue hangs out the side of his mouth, his eyes locked lovingly on Dolly.

“He didn’t want you, he wanted the . . . dog,” I say, forcing myself to acknowledge that the creature in her hands might be part of the canine family.

“For what, dinner?”

I don’t respond, because now that the crisis is averted, I’ve managed to shift my attention from the dogs to the girl, and . . .

Holy shit.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been sucker-punched by equal waves of lust and disdain before.

Jenny Dawson is hot as hell.

I knew that going in, but up close she’s even more mouthwatering. Her white skirt is short and tight, her legs long and toned.

She’s wearing some billowing pink top, so I can’t get a good look at what’s happening there, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve always been a legs man, and I can’t stop looking.

The legs are a 10.

The face is a 10.

And the long blond hair spilling over one shoulder definitely begs to be spread over a man’s pillow. My pillow.

And yet even as my cock says yes, my brain is saying hell no.

Gorgeous as she is, she screams diva from the pink toenails to the sky-high stiletto sandals and all the way up to the carefully made-up face.

I just turned my entire life upside down trying to get away from a woman exactly like this one, so this is definitely a look, don’t touch situation.

But I’m looking. I’m definitely looking.

“Hi there! You must be Mr. Walcott!” Her smile is pretty, even if it’s probably fake, and she pushes her big sunglasses on top of her head, revealing wide blue eyes.

I open my mouth to respond, until I realize she’s not talking to me. Her eyes are locked over my shoulder, and I turn to see Vaughn and Finn walking toward us with a slightly dazed look on their faces.

Finn has Ranger’s leash in his hand, and I snatch it as he gets close, clipping it on my big horny dog as I glare at my big horny friends.

It’s obvious why Jenny’s question is directed at Vaughn. In his fussy suit, he looks the part of Preston Walcott, and I open my mouth to shoot down her snotty assumption.

Only instead of telling her the truth, the most bullshit thing comes out: “Obviously this is Mr. Walcott.”

Her eyes flick over me, cool and disinterested. “And you are . . . ?”

“Noah Maxwell,” I say, deliberately not going forward to shake her hand. “The caretaker.”

She wrinkles her nose and looks back at Vaughn in confusion.

Vaughn is staring at me in confusion.

“Problem?” I say before he can open his fat mouth and ruin my little game.

Jenny lifts her shoulders. “I guess I just assumed the Eddingtons would still live in the caretaker’s cottage. Foolish, I suppose. They were elderly ten years ago. Have they . . . are they passed?”

No idea. Who the hell are the Eddingtons?

A quick call to my father’s attorney had confirmed that there was in fact a property in my father’s name, but there’d been next to no information.

“They’re in a retirement home,” Vaughn says smoothly, apparently deciding to play along, although I don’t know why. “The family pays for it, of course.”

She smiles prettily at him, although the smile slips when her gaze slides back to me. “And Mr. Maxwell here is the replacement?”

“Truth be told, I’ve just hired him,” Vaughn says, giving me a cool, appraising look as though deciding whether I’m worthy of the right to be on my own property. How did I not know the guy was such a good actor? “But he seems competent enough.”

“Wonderful,” she says. “But the dog can’t stay.”

I blink. “I’m sorry?”

“The dog.” She gestures with her chin at Ranger, who’s settled down, but barely. “Dolly will be staying here with me, which means your dog needs to go.”

“He’ll be kept on a leash,” Finn says before I can reply. He steps forward, apparently deciding that he too wants in on the game.

“Okay, but—”

“I’m Finn Reed. The electrician. Came out to fix a couple of wiring problems,” he says, extending a hand to her.

Electrician? That’s new.

Jenny shifts the cotton ball to her left arm and shakes Finn’s hand, either unaware of the way he’s checking her out or so accustomed to it that she knows not to show a reaction.

“Are the wiring problems all fixed?”

“Yes,” Vaughn says nervously, shooting me a quick glance. “But Ms. Dawson, I need to make it clear what bad shape the house is in. Worse than I realized when we first emailed, and—”

“It’s all right,” she says quietly. “As long as the walls stay standing upright, it’ll be perfect.”

She gazes up at the house with a faraway smile on her face. The guys glance at me, and I roll my eyes and shrug.

“I know you think I’m crazy,” she says, not looking at us. “But I wrote my first song here, and it felt magical.”

She turns back and looks at Vaughn. “I’m sorry to hear about your father. I never met him in person, but the fact that he opened up this beautiful space to young musicians without charging them a dime . . . he must have loved music.”

Vaughn’s smile is strained, and when Jenny looks away he gives me a what the hell shrug.

I don’t respond.

The truth was, my dad didn’t love music. I mean, sure, he’d go to the odd concert or have music playing on the car radio when he wasn’t barking on the phone, but he didn’t love music.

No, but he had loved Caleb, and Caleb had loved music. No doubt my father had hoped that one of his charity cases, someone like Jenny Dawson, might carry on with Caleb’s legacy in a way that I couldn’t.

Jenny was walking around the side of the house, a happy smile on her face despite the fact that all I could see was weeds and chipped paint.

“What the hell are we doing?” Finn says out of the corner of his mouth.

“Yes, what are we doing?” Vaughn asks me in a low voice. “Why’d you tell her I was you?”

“I don’t know. She pissed me off.”

My friends only look at me, their skepticism clear. I don’t blame them. It’s not the right answer. Or at least not the full answer.

The truth is, I didn’t tell her my name because for a crushing moment I didn’t want to be Preston Walcott Jr., heir to this, that, and the other thing.

I wanted to go back.

Back to a simpler time when I knew myself only as Noah Maxwell. Back when I believed my mother’s quiet claims that my father was dead. Back before he’d shown up on my fourteenth birthday, informed me that the brother I didn’t know I had was dead and that his wife had left him, and asked if I wanted to come live with him, though it wasn’t optional.

I hadn’t wanted anything to do with him or the life he offered.

But then the bastard had dangled the one carrot in front of my mother that she hadn’t been able to say no to: education.

I’d been enrolled at the Academy the very next day, and by the time I graduated and headed to LSU, my only connection to that former life was Finn and a fragile, strained relationship with my mother.

“I called off the wedding,” I say quickly, quietly, as Jenny and her dumb dog start making their way back toward us, her steps careful as she tries to navigate the uneven ground with those ridiculous shoes.

“Come again?” Vaughn says.

Finn swears and rubs a hand over his hand. “Shit, man.”

“Why?” Vaughn asks. “Yvonne Damascus is perfect.”

“For someone like you, maybe,” Finn mutters, earning a middle finger from Vaughn.

“Can we not?” I say wearily. “I don’t want to talk about it. I just . . . I need some time. Away.”

“So book a trip to the Bahamas. Don’t stay here,” Vaughn says, looking around in horror as he smooths a hand over the shitty purple tie.

Finn reaches for his cigarettes. “Country Club’s right. You’ve got money, man. Use it.”

I do have money. More than I know what to do with.

Jenny Dawson is back in hearing range, and as I find myself checking out those long legs, I wonder if Finn and Vaughn are right. If I need to escape, spending time with this diva is not the way to do it.

But here’s the douchebag part of all this, where I tell you I feel some weird connection to this place I haven’t ever been to before today—a place I didn’t even know existed until a few days ago.

My dad left me a shit-ton of property, more fancy cars than I know what to do with, and enough money to employ an entire fleet to take care of both. This is the one thing to my name that feels like it can be mine. Already my mind is racing with the sheer number of projects around here to keep my hands busy. To keep my thoughts off . . . things.

“I’m staying,” I say out of the corner of my mouth. “And not a word to the pop princess here about my real name.”

“She’s a country singer,” Finn says.

I snort. “Barely.”

“Heard that,” Jenny says sweetly with a smile that doesn’t even pretend to be real.

She teeters over to her car in her sexy shoes, setting Dolly in the backseat before she rummages around for something in the front passenger seat, giving all three of us a rather prime view of her backside.

Ranger’s no longer the only one whose tongue is lolling out of his mouth.

“Here we go,” she says, emerging a moment later with some paper and a pen.

“What’s this?” Finn asks as she flutters a piece of paper in his direction.

“An NDA.”

“A what?” Finn asks.

“Nondisclosure agreement,” Vaughn supplies.

There’s no mockery in Vaughn’s tone for once, but I sense Finn stiffen anyway. The man doesn’t have a lot of soft spots, but feeling dumb is one of them. Especially when compared to Vaughn.

“Mr. Walcott here’s already signed one,” she says, gesturing at Vaughn, who’s signed no such thing.

I, of course, have already signed it, but I sign this one as well, as Noah Maxwell.

“Sign it,” I snap at Finn. “It just says that you can’t tell anyone you saw her here.”

“Well, that sucks,” he mutters as he scribbles his name across the bottom of the paper.

“Perfect,” she says with a little wink for Finn. “You never saw me. Got it?”

Finn shrugs. “Sure.”

She gives me an expectant look, and I glare at her. “I’m stuck here with you, princess. Who’m I gonna tell, the mosquitos?”

“Well, you’ll have to leave the property at some point,” she says pragmatically. “Surely you get a day off. How do I know you won’t tell people at the local Piggly Wiggly or whatever?”

I glance at Vaughn. “Boss? Do I get time off?”

“Sure. Whatever. Two days off,” Vaughn says impatiently, obviously tiring of the game.

Time to wrap this up.

“I’ll need to go get some food,” I say. “You’re a day early, and we weren’t prepared.”

“I’m sorry about that,” she says, sounding genuinely contrite. “I emailed and then tried to call, asking if it was okay, but the call went straight to voicemail.”

“No service out here.”

I say that with no small amount of glee, expecting her to freak out, but she sighs in relief. “Perfect. That’s perfect. And I stopped at the store on the way. Plenty for both of us. I‘m assuming you‘re living in that little cottage? The one where the Eddingtons lived.”

That little cottage.

As in the caretaker’s cottage that I didn’t know existed, much less where it’s actually located.

The reality of my situation is setting in, and I come very close to calling a halt to my little charade, but then I remember the stubbornness on Yvonne’s face when I tried to tell her the wedding was off.

Over my dead body, Preston, she said.

Yeah, no. I’ll be taking my chances here with the Nashville princess, thanks.

Jenny tugs the NDA out of my hand with two pink fingernails before going to the car and putting the papers back in the passenger seat. She retrieves her yapping dog and a guitar case.

“It was lovely to meet you, Mr. Walcott,” she tells Vaughn with a smile. “You look nothing like your father, but you’re every bit as lovely.”

Finn snorts around his cigarette but covers with a cough when she turns her smile on him.

“Lovely to meet you as well, Mr. Reed. I’m sure Mr. Maxwell will be in touch if there are any further problems with the wiring.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he says, barely hiding a smile. The only thing Finn knows about wiring is how to hot-wire a car.

“Wonderful.” Jenny beams at us, although her smile slips when she looks at me. “I’m going to go take a look inside. Could I trouble you to bring my stuff in?”

“No trouble at all,” I say sarcastically. “I’ve been waiting for the honor.”

She either misses my sarcasm or ignores it, sauntering up the wide steps toward the open front door, and we all turn to watch, my mouth practically watering at the sight of the back of her thighs.

“No trouble at all, huh?” Finn says from beside me.

He’s right. I’m totally fucked.

I’m not normally a fan of secrets in a book but I have every faith that Lauren Layne will deliver a great story for both Noah and Jenny. I’m so looking forward to digging in.

Love Unexpectedly Series

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About the Author

Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels.

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. A year after moving from Seattle to NYC to pursue a writing career, she had a fabulous agent and multiple New York publishing deals.

Lauren currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and plus-sized Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll likely find her running (rarely), reading (sometimes), or at happy hour (often).

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