Review: Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

KISS MY CUPCAKE
Genre: Contemporary Romance, RomCom
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: August 11, 2020

As two neighborhood shop owners battle for business, they prove opposites attract in this outrageously funny romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of Meet Cute.

Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success.

From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.

 AMAZON

What’re you doing?”
“I want to see what I’m dealing with.”
“You can touch him, he doesn’t bite.”
“Him?” She peeks up, her expression amused. “Does he have a name?”
I scoff. “Of course not.” I call him The Sword of Destiny in my head, though.

I finished this good with a ridiculous craving of cupcakes and a goofy grin on my face. This was just so stinking cute, y’all. SO CUTE. This was opposites attract perfection with a splash of enemies to lovers and all the feels.

You may have started the war, but I’ll be the one taking you down, one sweet treat at a time.”

What happens when a sexy and tatted lumberjack meets a sassy and fiery baker with a penchant for retro fashion and insults. Basically, this was a recipe for amazing from the very first page.

Blaire is intent on making her boozy bakery a success. Combining sweet treats with fun drinks is her thing, much to the dismay of her very kooky but gourmet family. She’s intent to prove to them that she can make it on her own and without their financial help. But then she gets a new work neighbor that turns everything upside down. Ronan runs the bar next door and his renovations have been giving Blaire grief. So suffice it to say their first meeting isn’t exactly cordial. The chemistry between these two was EVERYTHING. And I seriously mean everything. You can literally see the sparks fly between them each time they go head to head.

At first they’re business rivals, each trying to one up the other when they’re not trading barbs and insults with a strong undercurrent of sexual tension. Then an unlikely friendship forms. I seriously loved the two of them together. Blaire has the kookiest family that made for some highly entertaining secondary characters. She’s also fun and fiery with a temper but a caring heart. I simply adored her. I cannot tell you how much I loved Ronan. He was perfection covered in tattoos. He’s sweet and loyal and I loved the relationship he has with his grandfather.

The romance here was a delicious slow burn that I couldn’t get enough of. I was eagerly turning the pages just waiting for that moment when Ronan and Blaire finally give into the chemistry between them. And when they finally did? YOWZA. Perfection.

If you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted romcom with a delicious sizzle and plenty of feels, look no further!

Review & Excerpt: A Secret For A Secret by Helena Hunting

A SECRET FOR A SECRET
Series: All In #3
Series: Contemporary, Sports Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: May 12, 2020

From New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting comes a new romance about trading secrets, breaking the rules, and playing for keeps.

My name is Ryan Kingston, and I’m a rule follower. I’ve never been in a fistfight. I always obey the speed limit. I don’t get drunk, and I definitely don’t pick up random women at bars.

Except the night I found out that my whole existence has been a lie.

I got drunk. And picked up a stranger.

Her name was Queenie, and she was everything I’m not: reckless, impulsive, and chaotic. We did shots and traded secrets. And ended up naked at my place.

She left me a thank-you note in the morning and her panties as a parting gift. But no way to contact her.

Six weeks later I’m sitting in the first official team meeting of the season, and there she is. I neglected to mention that I’m the goalie for Seattle’s NHL team.

And Queenie? Turns out she’s the general manager’s daughter.

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AMAZON | PAPERBACK | AUDIO

“You think our GM got himself an assistant?”I follow his gaze to the front of the room. Standing at the desk with her back to us, arranging papers, is a woman with wavy chestnut hair that nearly reaches her waist. “Maybe an intern?”

She’s wearing a navy dress that conforms to her very feminine form. I trace the dip of her waist and the curve of her hip, skimming down to where the hem of her dress hits the bend in her knee. Her calves are bare, athletic, and toned, and her heels boast a little bow on the back. Classy, yet sexy. “Possibly.”

“I hope the eye candy is gonna be permanent,” someone at the table behind us says, loud enough for everyone close by to hear.

“I wouldn’t mind if she helped me with my jockstrap,” one of the other guys chimes in, eliciting a loud chuckle from the rest of the table.

I glance over my shoulder and pin them with an unimpressed glare. I recognize Foley from Tampa, and Dickerson is an LA trade. They’re notorious womanizers. “Watch your mouth and have some respect. That’s someone’s daughter.”

“Take it easy, King. It’s not like we’d actually say that to her face,” Foley says.

I don’t have an opportunity to reprimand him further because the GM, Jake Masterson, and our head coach, Alex Waters, enter the room through the side door. The GM crosses over to the woman, whose back is still turned to us, and he gives her a smile that seems . . . overly warm. He leans in and squeezes her shoulder as he says something with his mouth close to her ear.

“Maybe she’s not his assistant. Maybe she’s his new girlfriend, ’cause that looks pretty damn friendly to me.” Bishop jams a sausage link into his mouth.

“Maybe,” I agree.

She turns slightly, giving me a glimpse of her profile. Her cheeks are flushed pink. I blink a couple of times, because she seems incredibly familiar.

“I think I know her,” I mumble, more to myself than to Bishop.

“Not as well as our GM does, by the look of things.”

It hits me like a puck in the chest without pads on. I do know her. Queenie. My one-night stand who bailed the next morning and left a Post-it and panties hanging from my doorknob. Destroyed panties. “Oh God.”

Did I sleep with the GM’s girlfriend? Memories come barreling into my brain, and I want to sink into the floor. My behavior that night was highly atypical. Everything about that night was. I chalked it up to the alcohol, the family drama, and the fact that she seemed to be a very eager and willing participant in our adventures. Do not think about the things you did to her.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about Queenie and our night together. I’ve even considered driving by the bar where we met, but I don’t know if she’s likely to show up there. And it’s not as if I can ask the bartender about her without looking like a creep. Besides, if she wanted me to have her number, she would’ve left it.

“Are you okay? You look like you’re about to hurl,” Bishop asks.

I cover my mouth with my palm, not because I’m going to be ill but to hide the fact that it’s hanging open and I can’t seem to close it. Although my stomach is starting to do those awful somersaults that will soon turn into full-on nausea. The kind I used to get when I’d first hit the ice for a game.

This is bad. Really bad. I’ve never had a one-night stand before. I’ve always been in committed relationships, and I prefer to get to know my bed partners before they actually get into bed with me. Teen pregnancy was pretty common where I grew up in Tennessee, because there wasn’t much else to do apart from playing sports or getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol—my brother, Gerald, went the latter route. I obviously fit into the sports category. By the time I became a teenager, my parents had finally learned their lesson. It was drilled into me to never become that kind of statistic, or to turn my girlfriend into a mom before she was ready to take on more than senior-level algebra.

Ironic how my actual mother would’ve been one of those girls had my grandparents not made the choices they had.

“King?” Bishop nudges me. “You’re staring, man.”

Jake whistles with his fingers, causing the woman beside him to cringe but then quickly school her expression into an uncertain smile. “Who’s ready for a new season?”

He’s rewarded with a chorus of cheers from the players. Waters stands off to the side, clapping enthusiastically. He generally runs all team meetings, but Jake is a hands-on GM, so he always manages first meeting intros before he hands it over to our coach.

Jake waits for everyone to settle down and take their seats before he continues. “Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to my personal assistant, Queenie.” He throws his arm over her shoulder and pulls her into his side.

A hot spike of anger rushes down my spine—it’s a foreign feeling. I’m usually very level headed. But not right now. It’s obvious by the way Jake and Queenie interact that there’s a relationship there. Is she a cheater? Did she make me one? There’s a definite age gap. He’s young for a GM, but he’s in his forties, and I’m pretty sure she’s in her mid twenties.

“She also happens to be my daughter, so don’t get any ideas, boys.” He somehow manages to wink and glare at the same time.

And it just went from bad to worse.

My one-night stand isn’t my GM’s girlfriend; she’s his daughter.

 
A Secret for a Secret (All In, #3)A Secret for a Secret by Helena Hunting

3.5 STARS


Give us a chance to get through this together, Queenie. Let me catch you when you fall. Let me be your safe place to land.”

This was so stinking cute, y’all! Like goofy smile on my face the entire time reading sort of cute.

Ryan Kingston is definitely a change of pace from your typical professional hockey player. The man is a freaking boy scout. He doesn’t swear. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t disappoint his parents. And he doesn’t do one-night stands. He’s a guy that was a perfect kid growing up and then got the shocker of a century from his parents and finds himself reeling at a bar about it. One drink and a chance encounter with a beautiful woman leads to another drink and a different encounter entirely. But then he finds out that his beautiful one-night stand is the GM’s daughter and new assistant. Ruh roh.

Queenie is a free spirit. She’s never quite found herself and sees herself as a disappointment for her devoted father. She can’t find a job that sticks and always seems to mess up. So when her father tells her that the hockey players are off limits, she’s determined to do things right. But it’s tough to keep it friendly when your chemistry is through the roof and Ryan is determined to do things right with her and date her.

Now don’t pay my rating any mind, because this is based entirely on personal preference here. While I loved the opposites attract thing, Queenie and Ryan weren’t my usual cuppa when it comes to characters. Ryan was just a bit too sweet for my reading tastes. Stop judging me! I do love that he still had full alpha vibes even with all that sweetness. Queenie was a touch too brash for my particular tastes too. Though I did love her fire and spark. Ultimately, I loved the story and the characters, even if it wasn’t my typical preference. I simply adore all things Helena Hunting and this series just does it for me. It’s tough to follow the perfection that was book two for me, but this one still definitely hit the spot.


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’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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#DGRFave & Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: A Favor for a Favor by @helenahunting

A FAVOR FOR A FAVOR
Series: All In #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: January 28, 2020

From the New York Times bestselling author of Pucked and A Lie for a Lie, a new stand-alone romance about trading favors, battling wills, and winning love.

When I joined Seattle’s NHL expansion team, I thought it was the start of something great. But nothing ever goes the way you expect. Take my introduction to my new neighbor. She came rolling in on the hot mess express at midnight, making a racket while she tried to get into my team captain’s apartment. Did I mention that he’s married to a woman who definitely was not her?

Imagine my surprise when I end up with an injury that has me out of the game for weeks, and she’s the one to offer to help me. I should probably add that she’s not the captain’s mistress. She’s his sexy, pastel-haired younger sister.

So we come up with an arrangement: she rehabs me so that I can get back on the ice sooner, and she can add a professional athlete that isn’t her brother to her client list. Seems simple enough. As long as I can keep my hands to myself and my hormones in check.

AMAZON

“Say you were taking a woman to a formal work function. Would you get her flowers or something?” I’ve gone on my fair share of dates, had a few relationships, but I’ve never been one for hearts and flowers or any of that bull. I’m thinking I might need to do that with Stevie, though, since she’s been screwed over pretty hard.“Is this a date or a favor for a friend?”

“I guess she thinks I’m doing her a favor.” At least that was the impression that I got when I offered to go with her.

“Is that actually what you’re doing?”

“Yes and no.”

“Can you give me a little more to go on?”

“Her ex is going to be there and I don’t want her to go alone.”

“You don’t want her to go alone because you’re worried he’ll be a jerk or he’ll try to take advantage of her?”

“Sure, yeah, that’s part of the reason.”

“Instead of me dragging the information out of you, why don’t you lay it down for me?”

“So, Stevie—”

“Hold up, we’re back to Rook’s little sister?”

“Who else would I be talking about?”

“I thought you said there isn’t anything going on between you, and now you’re taking her to some kind of work function? That’s not a favor; that’s a date. Does Rook know?”

“It’s none of his damn business.”

“I’m not sure he’ll see it that way.”

“Well, he doesn’t have control over her or what she does, or what I do.” I’m agitated now. “She’s not going to that thing alone. I don’t trust that ex of hers, and I don’t want her to end up in a situation she doesn’t like.”

Kingston tips his head to the side. “Dang.”

“What?”

“You like her.”

“Well, yeah, I like her.” What’s not to like? She’s gorgeous, and she’s funny and feisty; her body is rockin’; and she’s fun to be around, super chill, and genuinely selfless.

“Like you actually want to date her, though.”

I shrug, because what am I going to say? The answer to that is yes, I want to date her, but the timing needs to be right. “I don’t want the ex thinking he has another chance.“

“You really love complicated situations, don’t you?”

“They just tend to find me, is all.”

“When’s this event you’re supposed to take her to?” King asks.

“Saturday.”

He frowns. “We get back at noon on Saturday.”

“It’s in the evening.”

“You better hope our flight isn’t delayed.”

I hadn’t considered a delay. The only reason that would happen is if the weather isn’t good. “It doesn’t start until five. I should have plenty of time to get home and throw a suit on.”

Kingston nods and taps restlessly on the edge of the pool. “So would you call this your first date?”

“We hang out all the time.”

“‘Hang out’ meaning what?”

“Other than PT sessions, we watch hockey, eat pizza, stuff like that.”

Kingston blinks several times in rapid succession. “That’s it?”

“I pick her up from work a lot.”

“Have you ever bought her flowers before? Brought her any gifts?”

“I brought her over an aloe plant once. But, like I said, it hasn’t been like that.” I don’t get why he’s so hung up on the flowers.

“Again, please try not to take offense, but are you sure you haven’t inadvertently put yourself in the friend zone?”

“How do I know if I’m in the friend zone?” I haven’t had a lot of friends who are girls. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend who’s a girl who isn’t related to me. And I only have two female cousins, whom I see a couple of times a year at family functions. They’re significantly younger than me, so mostly I avoid them.

It’s Kingston’s turn to blow out a long breath. “If you put your arm around her and she gets all snuggly but doesn’t try to take it any further, it could mean you’re in the friend zone.”

I don’t know what my expression must be, but the panic I feel inside quite possibly reaches my face. I feel like it should be obvious that I’m interested. A guy doesn’t spend endless hours with a gorgeous woman who combines weird pizza toppings for shits and giggles. But then again, I haven’t attempted to make a move on her since the almost-kiss. And any conversation I’ve tried to have with her about it has been shut down. In fact, she wants to pretend it didn’t happen. I hadn’t considered that this might be because she actually didn’t want it to happen at all. She seemed just as into it as I was. Or maybe I’ve been misreading the whole thing. “If I’m in the friend zone, how the hell do I get out?”

I need you to stop touching me!” It’s stupid because I’m still holding on to her, not the other way around.
“Why are you yelling at me?” she shouts back.
“Because you’re half-undressed in my tub,and I’m a guy, and apparently my dick is a fucking sadist. It honestly feels like my balls are on fire right now. A semi has literally never been this painful.” “Well, close your damn eyes and think about dead things.”

FAVORITE. HELENA HUNTING BOOK. EVER.

How do you even top this? This book was EVERYTHING. The blurb was amazing but it didn’t even begin to do this justice. I loved the first in the series, but this story just owned me. It was enemies to lovers with a slow burn to beat all slow burns. It was full of banter and humor and all of the sizzle. GAH! I seriously can’t right now with all of my feels!!

These two were easily my favorite characters that Helena Hunting has created to date.

Stevie is RJ’s younger sister from A Lie for a Lie. She’s feisty, sharp-witted, and currently trying to move on from walking in on her boyfriend having sex with another woman in their bed. The bed in the apartment they just moved into together. The apartment that they got because of a job they both got and will be working together at. Good times. As she runs away to lick her wounds, looking a hot mess, her brother offers up his condo to her. So of course as fate would have it, what happens when everything that can go wrong does and you’re looking a hot mess trying to get the key to work to your temporary new gigs? You run into your ridiculously good looking but terribly tempered neighbor.

To say that these two get off on the wrong foot would be a serious understatement. While Stevie is dealing with her new normal, she now has to deal with her grumpy new neighbor that happens to assume that she’s his married teammate’s sidepiece. So suffice it to say, he’s not that happy to see her. No matter that the relationship between RJ and Bishop is antagonistic at best.

These two begin an intricate dance of antagonism laced with enough sexual tension to set their condo building on fire. It’s enemies to lovers at it’s very best. With amazing banter, sizzling chemistry, and all of the funny barbs and one-liners. When Bishop gets dangerously hurt during a game, he’s desperate to get back on his feet. And then Stevie offers him her help. She’s a physiotherapist specializing in sports therapy. It’s a great arrangement. A favor for a favor. She’d help get him back on the ice, and he’d give her the chance to work with her first professional athlete and make a name for herself without her brother’s help. Thus begins an even more intricate dance of denying their chemistry as they’re forced in tight quarters and to be around each other a lot more often.

Bishop was such an amazing hero. This man is brooding, and while looks are deceiving, he’s not the typical man-whoring athlete. He takes care of his younger brother and focuses on his career. He has no time for a woman, until one quite literally stumbles into his life.

This was such a delicious story. I don’t even have all of the words to describe how good. The chemistry was incendiary, the humor was on point, and the story was addictive. Pure perfection on pages. I can’t recommend it enough. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t read a Helena Hunting book yet, then this is the perfect one to hook you with!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.
 
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Review, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: A Lie For A Lie by Helena Hunting

A LIE FOR A LIE
Series: All In #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: Montlake

Sometimes I need an escape from the demands, the puck bunnies, and the notoriety that come with being an NHL team captain. I just want to be a normal guy for a few weeks. So when I leave Chicago for some peace and quiet, the last thing I expect is for a gorgeous woman to literally fall into my lap on a flight to Alaska. Even better, she has absolutely no idea who I am.

Lainey is the perfect escape from my life. My plan for seclusion becomes a month long sex fest punctuated with domestic bliss. But it ends just as abruptly as it began. When I’m called away on a family emergency, I realize too late that I have no way to contact Lainey.

A year later, a chance encounter throws Lainey and me together again. But I still have a lie hanging over my head, and Lainey’s keeping secrets of her own. With more than lust at stake, the truth may be our game changer.

AMAZON 

Lainey vs. Puck Bunnies in A Lie for a Lie    

A Lie for a Lie is a heartwarming, sexy, emotional romantic comedy. It’s a second chance romance, filled with secrets and there are definitely some exciting, fun twists. It’s also a story of empowerment, self-discovery, and independence.

Rook Bowman, aka RJ or Rookie as he has been known as previously, has recently taken on the role as captain of Chicago’s NHL team, and with that role comes big responsibility and more fame than he sometimes knows how to handle. As with any professional sport, the NHL lifestyle can often be full of excess and decadence; money, fame and an endless stream of women who will do just about anything to get into bed with them, and it’s not always easy to avoid that kind of temptation.

When we meet Rook in A Lie for a Lie we learn that he has a less than shiny past when it comes to the excess and the puck bunnies (hockey groupies). NHL players are often drafted quite young—just watch a game and you’ll notice that the rookies can often barely grown peach fuzz, let alone a full beard. They’re still teenagers when they start their careers, and Rook was no different. Having grown up on an alpaca farm in rural New York, his focus was mainly hockey and the family farm, but once he hit the pros he found himself surrounded by women who literally threw themselves at him. And being young, attractive and full of testosterone, he fell headfirst down that rabbit hole. At least until the drama found him in the form of a fake pregnancy and a social media firestorm. Because of that, and the impact it had on his relationship with his family, Rook swears off the bunnies and refocuses on his career, rather than extracurricular activities.

He meets Lainey on the way to Alaska, where he’s gone every summer since he was a teenager with his dad and his brother. He lost his father a few years earlier, but kept the tradition with his brother because he craves the escape from the demands of his life as an NHL superstar. Lainey encapsulates everything he misses about being a “normal guy.” She doesn’t recognize him or seem to even know anything about hockey, and that makes her even more alluring. For once, he can just be himself. He doesn’t have to worry about ulterior motives or being used. Lainey is refreshingly innocent, incredibly smart, genuine and overwhelmingly sweet and Rook finds himself enamored with her sense of adventure. As they get to know each other, Rook learns about her traumatic past and realizes that despite the challenges she’s faced, Lainey possesses a quiet strength and resilience. Add some insane chemistry and you’ve got a recipe for love. Unfortunately for Rook, he built their entire fragile relationship on lie he can’t take back.

***


 

When Lainey excuses herself to the bathroom, I rush upstairs and throw on a T-shirt. I know she said whatever makes me comfortable, but sitting around shirtless is such a douche move.I make it back to the kitchen and pour her a fresh drink before she returns from the bathroom.

“How can I help with dinner?” Lainey drapes her sweater over the back of a chair.

And my mouth goes dry. Like I ate an entire sleeve of saltines and chased it with a tablespoon of salt. So far I’ve only seen Lainey in a giant parka or an oversize sweater. Under all that bulky fabric is one hell of a body. She’s wearing a simple white waffle shirt that conforms to her curves. A pair of dark-wash skinny jeans encase her toned legs.

I’m used to bunnies throwing themselves at me, often in questionable states of undress. I stopped getting excited about miniskirts and revealing tops a long time ago. There’s something infinitely sexier about a woman who can show off her body without actually showing it off at all.

Lainey tips her head to the side. Her teeth press into her full bottom lip. I want to do that. Suck that pouty, full lip between my teeth and bite it. I want to do a lot of other, far more explicit things than that, but a kiss seems like a good place to start.

“RJ? Is everything okay?” Her eyes dip down to my chest. I’m wearing a shirt from one of my endorsement campaigns. It afforded me the extensive renovations on this cabin a few years ago.

“Huh?” I give my head a shake. “Oh. Yeah. Everything’s good. Sorry, zoned out there for a second.”

She smiles and pushes up on her toes, her eyes twinkling—like, they legit light up, and her excitement makes her entire body vibrate. It also makes her boobs jiggle. I try to keep my eyes glued to her face. It’s not easy, though.

“I do that all the time! Sometimes my brain is busy with so many thoughts I miss entire conversations. Does that happen to you too?”

I grin. I love that she seems to say whatever is on her mind. “All the time.”

“It’s actually a helpful skill when you’re being lectured, because I can sort through stuff in my head, but it’s not so great when your supervising professor is telling you what’s wrong with your thesis.” She pulls her hair over her shoulder and finger combs it.

“I take it that’s happened to you.”

“It did. Thankfully he also emailed all his criticisms, so missing out on it the first time wasn’t that big of a deal.” She divides her hair into three sections and deftly braids it without looking at what she’s doing even once. It’s pretty damn impressive. I almost want to pull it apart so I can watch her do it all over again. “Anyway, enough about that. Let’s get started on dinner!” She nudges me out of the way so she can wash her hands. She dries them on her jeans and moves over to the fridge, opening it to check out the contents.

I kind of like that she makes herself at home. I’m used to women who expect to be catered to. It’s refreshing to meet someone who doesn’t want me to pander to her.

I start pulling things out of the fridge as she starts naming items she’ll need and set them on the counter. I manage to locate most of what she asks for.

“What about garlic? Do you have any of that?” She leans over, peering into the fridge beside me. Her braid slips over her shoulder, skimming my arm.

“Uh, maybe we could forgo the garlic?”

“Are you allergic? My oldest brother gets bloated when he eats it. It took us forever to figure out what was causing it. Sometimes I’ll still put some in when he’s coming for dinner, because it’s funny to see him look like he’s expecting.” She tips her head to the side. “Or you just don’t like garlic?”

“I like it sometimes, but it depends.”

Her brows pinch together. “On what?”

“Who I’m eating with. I mean, if I’m going out with buddies, you bet I’m gonna order the honey garlic wings, or the cheesy garlic bread, or the pasta Alfredo. But if I’m eating dinner with a pretty girl, I’m gonna pass on the garlic.”

“Oh.” She twists the end of her braid around her finger.

I hope I’m not reading things wrong and making her uncomfortable.

“Does that mean you think I’m pretty?”

That she sounds genuinely curious as to my answer is unexpected. “You see yourself in the mirror every day—what do you think?”

She averts her gaze, still playing with the end of her braid. “My eyes are too big, so I always look like I’m surprised. My nose is small, and my lips are too full, so my mouth doesn’t really fit the rest of my face.”

“Wow. I think you need a new mirror, because all I see is a whole lot of gorgeous.”

She snorts a laugh and waves me off. “Once, I took a portrait class, and we learned all about proportion and symmetry of the face. Those are just my flaws based on what I was taught.”

“Well, I’m a big fan of all your flaws, and I think they make you more beautiful, not less.”

“Thanks. I think you’re beautiful too.” She cringes. “I mean handsome. You’re very nice to look at, with or without a shirt on. When I fell in your lap on the airplane, I remember thinking, At least I fell on someone nice looking.”

“Is that so?”

“Mm-hmm.” She opens a drawer, maybe to avoid looking at me. “And as much as I was mortified when you sat beside me on the Cessna, I couldn’t complain about the view, inside or outside of the plane. That you turned out to be really nice, and just so helpful, was a great bonus.” She hands me a roll of foil. “Why don’t you wrap the potatoes? They take the longest, so we should get started on those first.”

I put the potatoes on the barbecue and let Lainey order me around. She definitely knows her way around a kitchen. When I was growing up, my mom did most of the cooking, but my dad could make a mean Saturday-morning brunch. He also made great bread, which I miss a lot.

An hour later we’re seated at the table, plates full of steak, twice-baked potatoes, and crispy brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat. I open a bottle of red wine and offer Lainey a glass.

“Just a little bit? I’m not sure I like red wine.”

“Maybe you just haven’t had the right red wine.” I pour a little into her glass.

She picks it up and gives it a swirl, then sniffs it. “I’ve seen people do this in the movies, but I don’t really know what the point is,” she admits, then tips the glass back and takes a tentative sip. Her expression turns thoughtful; then she takes another, slightly more robust sip. “This is actually really nice. I like it. Maybe the red wine I had before was bad.”

“Maybe. Some of the cheap stuff tastes pretty awful.” I pour more into her glass before filling mine. I hold up my glass and wait for her to raise hers.

“To chance meetings.”

“To new adventures and great company to share them with.” We toast and take a sip, each smiling behind the rim.

***

My skin burns.
My heart stutters.
I should tell him my own truth.
But for now we’re tied: a lie for a lie.

ALL. OF. THE. SWOONS.

This series couldn’t have started with a better book. I’m totally hooked, line and sinker, and already salivating for more. I’m head over skates in love with Rook and this swoony hockey romance about a reformed NHL star playboy and the quirky nerd that makes him fall.

On this plane I’m not the NHL forward and team captain with a history of being a player on and off the ice. I’m just a guy, and she’s just a girl.

Rook is an NHL star and a former manwhore. He’s a man that’s used to puck bunnies doing anything to get his attention and then getting even crazier to keep it. So when he meets a beautiful woman on his flight to Alaska that ends up being his neighbor, he loves the anonymity of getting to know someone as just him. Lainey is a bit of a nerd and a lot of adorable. She’s a quirky, shy, sweet, and although slightly sheltered in her home schooled ways has also seen things that changed her irrevocably. They don’t see the other one coming but it doesn’t take long at all for them to being a whirlwind romance in the small town of Alaska. But then Rook has an emergency that forces him to leave and as fate would have it they lose touch due to a number of circumstances. Only to be reunited 14 months later in Chicago. This time, Rook knows that he’ll do anything to keep Lainey, if only he can get her to forgive him for the lie.

This was so wonderfully sweet. It was brimming with emotion and sweet heat. I couldn’t get enough of Rook and Lainey. I also loved Lainey’s friendship with Eden, who made for a wonderful secondary character. All of your favorites make a cameo here and I loved how Helena brought it all together. I loved this sweet second chance romance and can’t recommend it enough for all Helena Hunting fans. And if you haven’t read any books by her yet, this is a great one to start with!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. Helena writes everything from contemporary romance with all the feels to romantic comedies that will have you laughing until you cry.

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Review: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

MEET CUTE
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: April 9, 2019

Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran – quite literally – into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either…

Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner.

The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?

AMAZON

she seems to have a pretty serious hate-on for me. That rivalry used to amp me up back then, and apparently it still does.

So full disclosure; I’m not sure why, but after reading the blurb and seeing the ADORABLE cover, I was expecting a steamy, laugh out loud rom-com. This book was not quite that. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While it wasn’t quite what I expected, I still fell in love with this story and these characters.

This was an incredibly sweet, character-driven, heartfelt romance. And while it had it’s humorous moments, mostly it managed to tug at every heart string for me.

When Kailyn first met Daxton Hughes, she almost had a fangirl heart attach. It’s not every day that a girl gets to meet the teenage star of her dreams from her favorite TV Show. But this Dax is fully grown and happens to be at the same law school she’s at. So of course she makes a total fool of herself in a way that will make you giggle and feel for her at the same time. But then something happens to turn her fangirling infatuation to hate when Dax betrays her. She never expects to see him again. And then he walks into her law office years later to set up a trust with his parents for his younger sister.

The story takes a bit of a morose turn after the meet cute. The author does such a phenomenal job with the character development. Dax is a hero that’s impossible not to love. There’s just something so incredibly endearing and approachable about him. He’s not your stereotypical cocky lawyer. He’s sweet with this undercurrent of vulnerability that you simply can’t help but fall for. His relationship with his sister is sure to tug every heart string. I absolutely loved her as the secondary character.

Kailyn is not the fumbling fangirl that Dax first met in college. She hates him and he doesn’t know why. There’s plenty of great banter between these two. but mainly its Kailyn giving him hell and Dax taking it all with a smile and charm. The romance is a slow build with plenty of chemistry to keep you completely invested in the characters. I seriously couldn’t get enough of these two. I loved how Kailyn slowly begins to see a side of Dax that she didn’t realize was there. A sweet, vulnerable and endearing side that he shows to her in the way he cares for his sister and even pursues her.

This was a slower paced story with plenty of feels and just a touch of sizzle, and this reader loved every page of it!

Review: Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting

THE GOOD LUCK CHARM
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: August 7, 2018

Is it love, or is she just his good luck charm?

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting absolutely delights with this witty and fun standalone contemporary romance.

Lilah isn’t sure what hurt worse: the day Ethan left her to focus on his hockey career, or the day he came back eight years later. He might think they can pick up just where they left off, but she’s no longer that same girl and never wants to be again.

Ethan Kane wants his glory days back. And that includes having Lilah by his side. With her, he was magic. They were magic. All he has to do is make her see that.

Just when Lilah might finally be ready to let him in, though, she finds out their reunion has nothing to do with her and everything to do with his game. But Ethan’s already lost her once, and even if it costs him his career, he’ll do anything to keep from losing her again.

AMAZON

You’re in my soul, Lilah. That will never change.”

This book is comfy yoga pants with a glass of wine, chilling by the pool sort of easy. It has all the warm and fuzzies wrapped in a sweet and steamy second chance romance. It’s a light, feel-good sort of read that had a smile on my face from beginning to end.

But nothing could ever prepare me for being this close to the man who took my heart, crushed it, and gave it back to me in pieces.

Ethan and Lilah were childhood friends turned high school sweethearts. They had all the makings of forever, until Ethan left to pursue his professional hockey career and broke Lilah’s heart.

Eight years later, Ethan is back, after being traded to the team in his hometown. But he’s never forgotten or gotten over Lilah and he’s determined to be back in her life. But Lilah never got over the pain this man once caused her. Coming from a broken home with an absentee father, Lilah never lost touch with Ethan’s parents, even though their son shattered her fragile heart. I loved the relationship she had with his parents and the way they cared for her as well. But even though his parents adore her and Ethan is swearing he’s not the naive boy he was when he left her, Lilah isn’t so eager to open her heart to him again.

Nothing you say is going to change the past.” “It could change the future, though.”

I loved the way that Ethan is slow and patient with Lilah. He’ll take anything he can, even friendship, while he yearns for more from the girl he never stopped loving. He was such an easy hero to fall in love with. He’s sweet and patient, sexy and playful, with this incredibly endearing boyish quality to him that I couldn’t get enough of.

I adored their slow burn reconnection and the way that they slowly find back to each other.

He’s slow and careful, he’s sweet and gentle. He’s the boy I fell in love with as a girl, grown into a man I don’t think I ever fell out of love with, between the then and now.

This was such a sweet romance with just the right amount of tension thrown in to make it interesting. There’s no crazy drama. No painful angst. Just two people that never stopped loving each other, discovering what it means to love and sacrifice. It was a perfectly charming romance that I recommend to anyone looking for a perfect read to spend a warm summer evening with.

Review: Hooking Up by Helena Hunting

HOOKING UP
Series: Shacking Up #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: November 7, 2017

Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception ― but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.

Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him. They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical.

Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.

AMAZON

He’s sweaty, I’m sweaty, we’re both glistening from the exertion. I glance down, checking out his abs as they ripple. His body is unreal. He should never wear clothes again. Ever.
“Hungry?” He’s grinning.
“That was my vagina asking for more orgasms. We need to know how long it’s going to be before ‘Oh God’ can provide more of those.”

It’s official: I’m obsessed with Helena Hunting’s words. This series has become my go-to when I need a sexy and feel good romance that’s full of laughs and sizzle. It just never disappoints and I will never get enough of it. Admittedly I did things a little backwards by reading I Flipping Love You before this book, but since these are all interconnecting standalones, I never felt like I lost anything in the story by doing that.

Hooking Up was a totally addicting read full of laughs and sizzle. The premise of the story was a delicious page turner. I was riveted to the pages from beginning to end with a goofy smile on my face the entire time. I simply couldn’t get enough of these characters.

What could be the worst thing to happen on your wedding day? For Amalie Whitfield, it’s hearing your brand new husband getting a bj from someone that’s not you over the reception loud speakers. Talk about your embarrassing disaster. So what’s a girl to do? Cut herself out of her dress with shears and proposition her soon to be ex-husband’s incredibly hot cousin in the bridal room, of course. What? A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Besides, she did Lex before her groom. It just happened to be that he looked like the epitome of bad boy and too good looking to be good for her. She’s not exactly known for her great choice in men. Her current predicament is a prime example. In an embarrassed and devastated fog, she decides to go on her honeymoon alone to recover…only for Lex to end up on the same tropical island to work a deal for his family’s hotel business. Suffice it to say, steamy moment ensue.

Can I just tell you all of the ways I adored Lex? God, this man was utter perfection. He’s sweet with a side of dirty talker, tatted, muscled, and totally gone for Amelie. They know that all the odds are stacked against them, but a tropical temporary fling can’t hurt, right? Until feelings get involved. And then things get a whole lot more complicated.

Amelie was a great heroine. I loved her sass and how she took no sh*t from her cheating “husband”. As for Armstrong, the douche? I have never wanted a character to be killed off more than I did him. I swear I spent half the book hoping he’d be hit by a bus. Talk about your king of douchebags. This man took the cake. I absolutely hated him.

The romance was fantastic! I loved Amelie and Lex together. I loved their chemistry, in and out of bed. I loved their banter and watching them fall hard for each other.

If you’re looking for a lighthearted, feel good romance that’s full of steam and humor, this series is an absolute must read. Hooking Up was another amazing addition to this addicting series, and I’m already itching for my next fix.

Review: I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting

I FLIPPING LOVE YOU
Series: Shacking Up #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: May 29, 2018

A new kind of love story about flipping houses, taking risks, and landing that special someone who’s move-in ready…

SHE’S GOT CURB APPEAL

Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in The Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous, but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she inadvertently catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off…

HE’S A FIXER UPPER

Pierce Whitfield doesn’t normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman’s dreams. He’s just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance — without burning down the house?

I FLIPPING LOVE YOU, set in the Shacking Up world, follows two people, both working in real estate, who find themselves vying for the same properties in the Hamptons, leading to a sometimes-not-so-friendly competition.

AMAZON

That is what wanting someone is. This is the pinnacle of desperate attraction. This is the chemical reaction that ignites and burns until there’s nothing left but ash.

*dreamy sigh and googly eyes*

This book was so flipping cute. I have an newly found obsession with all things Helena Hunting, but most especially her Shacking Up series. It’s the perfect blend of rom-com, steam, and feels. It’s just one of those easy, feel-good sort of romances that will leave you with a big ole’ goofy and satisfied grins on your face when you’re finished. And it had quite possibly one of the best meet-cutes I’ve read in quite a while. I mean, how funny when the gorgeous man staring at you in the grocery aisle is actually mistaken you for your fraternal twin sister that scratched his car and drove off? Well, Rian doesn’t find it very funny, but I did. And the sparks were immediate between her and Pierce!

We’re having a sleepover. We’re going to do this all night, and I’m going to cuddle you like a motherfucker after I finishing sexing every last orgasm out of you.”
“Okay.” I mean, what else can I really say to that?

I loved Pierce’s slow and thorough persistence in going after skittish Rian. Rian is done with gorgeous man and their defined bodies. She needs a 9/10 match, and that seems to set her up with boring but safe man that she has zero chemistry with. And of course it would figure that Pierce’s mere presence makes her entire body tingle. But he’s everything that shouldn’t give into. She’s focusing on getting her life back together, her real estate endeavors with her sister, and the gorgeous man that tempts her beyond reason doesn’t fit in that picture. Unfortunately for her, he refuses to take no for an answer.

Did you do that math in your head?”
“Yes.” He crowds me.
“You need to stop that.” I have to tip my head up so I can meet his serious gaze.
“I need to stop doing mental math?”
“In public places, yes.” I bite my cheek to keep my smile in check.
“Do I want to ask why?”
“Because I find it sexy, and it makes me want to do inappropriate things to you in this aisle.

Pierce was absolutely delicious. I loved his unrelenting pursuit of Rian almost as much as I loved to see her unsuccessfully fight the connection between them only to inevitably give in to the explosive fireworks. Pierce was the steady force to Rian’s somewhat indecisive and skittish nature, and it was the perfect balance.

Everything about this book worked for me; the chemistry, the pacing, the character development. It was funny and steamy and absolute romcom perfection. I enjoyed it thoroughly and cannot recommend it enough. I’m also hoping to get a bit of redemption for Lawson with the next book, because he drove me crazy with his mood swings in this one and I’m itching for the details of why.

Read the first chapter of HOOKING UP by Helena Hunting

HOOKING UP
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: November 7, 2017

Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception–but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.

Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him.

They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical.

Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.

AMAZON

One

Wedding Unbliss

Amie

This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”

My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?

I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.

I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.

The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.

“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.

Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”

Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.

I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?

I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the deejay, or whoever is behind the mic, he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.

I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.

Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”

A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.

“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”

My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief is as vast as the ocean.

Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.

I clutch Ruby’s hand. The next sound that comes from him is a hybrid between a hyena laugh and a wolf baying at the moon. And every guest at our wedding is hearing the same thing I am. Our wedding. Someone other than me is blowing my husband at my own wedding. My mortification knows no end.

I grab the closest bottle of wine and dump the contents into my glass. Some of it sloshes over the edge and onto the crisp white tablecloth. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty more where it came from. I chug the glass, then grab Ruby’s.

People lean in and whisper to each other, eyes lift to the speakers. A few people, the ones who are probably just here for the social-ladder-climbing potential, question who it is.

“Is the deejay watching porn?” That comment comes from a table full of mostly drunk singles in their early twenties.

Several eyes shift my way as I carelessly down Ruby’s wine and someone asks where the groom has disappeared to.

The grunts and groans grow terrifyingly louder. This is nothing like what I’m used to in bed with Armstrong. The dirty words aren’t something he ever uses with me, mostly it’s just noises and sometimes a “Right there” or “I’m close,” but that’s about it. He’s never talked to me like he is to the woman currently providing oral pleasure. And I’m very adept at oral. Although with Armstrong it’s very polite, neat oral, with no sounds other than the occasional hum. Slurping is uncivilized and a definite no-no.

I reach past Ruby for the bottle of red since I don’t really give a flying fuck about purple teeth right now. As I sink low in my seat I pour another glass of wine, surveying the people in the ballroom from behind the cover of the centerpiece. The centerpieces are huge and excessive and I don’t like them at all, but at least provides a protective barrier between the guests and my disgust, which I’m certain they must share. He sounds like a wild animal rutting. It is entirely unsexy. I have no idea who he’s getting intimate with, but I’m suddenly very glad it’s not me.

And doesn’t that tell me more about our relationship than it should.

It’s only been about thirty seconds—the most humiliating thirty seconds of my life—before Armstrong comes. How do I know this? Because he says, very clearly, “Keep sucking, baby, I’m coming.”

And “baby,” whoever she is, makes these horrific gurgling noises. It sounds like some form of alien communication. It’s way over the top, and apparently Armstrong is loving it, based on the string of vile profanity that spews from his asshole mouth.

“Holy crap. Is this for real? That was really fast,” Ruby mutters.

I guzzle my glass of wine. Then decide the glass is unnecessary and take a long swig from the bottle before Ruby snatches it away. Wine dribbles down my chin and onto my chest, staining the white satin purple. My dress is ruined. I should be freaking out. But I really don’t care.

“Come on,” Ruby tugs on my hand. “We need to get you out of here while people are still distracted.”

My older brother Pierce and the emcee are standing in the middle of the hall, gesturing wildly to the speakers above us. My other brother, Lawson, is on his way toward the podium in an attempt to do something. I don’t think there’s anything he can do to stop this train wreck from there.

Ruby tugs again, but I’m frozen, still trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Well, I know what’s happened. I just can’t believe it.

The sound of a zipper and the rustle of clothes follows. “Thanks for that, now I’ll be able to last later tonight,” Armstrong says.

“What about me?” A female asks. Her voice is nasally and whiny.

“What about you?”

“Well I helped you, aren’t you going to help me?”

“Didn’t you come with a date?”

“Well, yes, but—” God her voice is familiar. I just can’t figure out where I know it from.

“My cousin, right? He loves my sloppy seconds. Speeches are starting. I gotta get back to my ball and chain.”

Gasps of horror ripple through the room, followed by a few giggles. These people really are assholes.

I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t believe he’s going to come out here and pretend nothing just happened. Like some other woman didn’t just have her lips around his cock. His distinctly average cock. Maybe even slightly below average in length, if I’m being one hundred percent honest.

A door opens and closes.

Lawson turns on the mic behind the podium and taps it, sending screeching feedback through the room, making people cringe. Too bad no one did that a minute ago.

Murmuring grows louder and glances flicker to the head table and then away as Brittany Thorton, a seriously skanky debutante, comes strutting through the doors, using a compact to check her lipstick. She’s made it her mission to attempt to get into the pants of half the eligible men in this room. She’s followed, not five seconds later, by a very smug-looking Armstrong.

“I’m going to kill him.” I grab the closest steak knife, but it appears my hasty, and possibly felonious, plan is unnecessary. My brothers leave their respective posts and stalk toward him. Across the room my mother is gripping my father’s arm, whispering furiously in his ear. Great. Just what I need, additional family drama.

“Oh shit,” Ruby gasps.

I follow her gaze to find Bane converging on Armstrong with my brothers. Bancroft is a tank and he used to play professional rugby. I’ve seen him with his shirt off, he’s built like a superhero and he’ll probably crush Armstrong, or at least break something. Possibly multiple somethings.

For a second I consider that Ruby should probably stop Bane from destroying Armstrong’s pretty, regal face, but then I realize I don’t actually care. In fact, the possibility that he might break Armstrong’s perfectly straight nose fills me with glee. Armstrong’s wellbeing is no longer my concern, it’s more about Bane ending up in prison for murder.

“I hope Armstrong has a good plastic surgeon, he’s going to need it once Bane is done with him.” Ruby echoes my internal hopes and her chair tips as she jumps up. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.” She nods to the right.

I notice my mother and father engaged in a heated discussion with Armstrong’s parents. I really don’t need this right now. Not the drama. Not the humiliation. All I wanted was a nice wedding. Instead I end up with a husband who gets a blow job during our reception—and it’s broadcast to everyone attending.

Ruby urges me into action. “Don’t worry about them. Get your stuff and we’ll get you the hell out of here. I’ll have the limo meet you by the entrance near your bridal suite as soon as I can.”

I nod and stumble unsteadily to my feet, thanks to having consumed the better part of a bottle of wine in the last minute and a half. It’s amazing how ninety seconds can change a person’s entire life.

All hell breaks loose as more men jump in to either pummel or extract Armstrong from the pummeling. I grab my clutch and phone from the table, gather up my stupid, too puffy gown, and head for the bridal suite, where I had prepared for what was supposed to be the most amazing day of my life. And now it’s likely the worst, at least I hope the mortification level I’m experiencing can’t exceed this. I feel like the foulest version of Cinderella ever.

I rush down the empty hall and grab the doorknob as I fumble around in my clutch for the key. I’m surprised when it turns. I thought I’d locked it before we left for the ceremony. Regardless, I need to get away from everyone before I either lose it or commit a felony. Maybe both. Murder in the first. Armstrong will be my victim. And maybe that horrible skank, Brittany.

I thrust the door open and slam it closed behind me, locking it from the inside. Tears threaten to spill over and ruin my makeup. Not that it matters since there’s no way I’m going out there again. I can’t believe my forever lasted less than twelve hours. I can’t believe the man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life loving couldn’t be faithful to me for even one day. What the hell is wrong with me? With him? I’m as devastated as I am angry and embarrassed. Once I annul this farce of a marriage I’ll become a spinster. I should probably go ahead and adopt six or seven cats tonight.

“I need to get out of this dress,” I say to myself. I reach behind me and pull the bow at the base of my spine. Instead of unfurling, it knots and I only succeed in pulling it tighter. Of course my dress has to be difficult. I growl my annoyance and rush over to my dressing table where my makeup and perfume are scattered from earlier today. Half a mimosa sits unconsumed beside the vase of red roses Armstrong had delivered.

The card read: I can’t wait to spend forever loving you.

What a load of bullshit. I drain the contents of the champagne flute, not caring that the drink is warm and flat. Then I throw the glass, because it feels good and the sound of shattering crystal is satisfying. Next I heave the vase of roses, which explodes impressively against the wall, splattering water and shards of glass across the floor.

I yank out a couple of the drawers and find a pair of scissors. They actually look more like gardening shears and seem rather out of place, but I don’t question it. Instead I reach behind me with my back to the mirror and awkwardly try to cut myself free. It’s not easy with the way I have to crane my neck.

“Goddammit! I need to get out of this stupid dress!” I yell at my reflection. I think I might actually be losing it just a touch now. I stop messing around with the laces in the back and shove the scissors down the front. I nearly nick myself with the blade—they’re a lot sharper than I realized—but that doesn’t slow me down. I start hacking my way through the bodice; layers of satin, lace, and intricate beading sliced apart with every vicious snip.

I just want out of this nightmare.

Review: Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

SHACKING UP
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Author: Helena Hunting
Release Date: May 30, 2017

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

This man is like a nuclear bomb of sexy, just waiting to go off. I’m honestly surprised women aren’t super-gluing themselves to his body like in one of those men’s spray deodorant commercials. He may actually need women repellent.

Girl, you tell NO lie. Bancroft “Bane” Mills was a whole different level of hotness and I’d lick the hell out of him….erm…LIKE. LIKE. I mean like the hell out of him. OK. No. I didn’t. But whatever. Moving on.

Every time I pick up a book with a ridiculously hot cover, I’m always extra nervous. Is the story going to live up to the cover? Is it going to overwhelmed by too much sex with a hot half nekkid dude on the cover. Yes, I just asked that. Quit giving me the stink eye. Even us perverts have standards. For the most part. Anyway. Moving on again.

I’m happy to report that the story was even better than the cover, and that cover is pretty freaking spectacular. It’s full of zingers, hilarious banter, slow burn romance, adorable pets, and awesome chemistry.

Did you kiss him back?”
I shrug.
“You didn’t even know who he was!”
“I was caught off guard. He’s a good kisser. And have you seen him? That man could revive a corpse with his hotness.”
“Sometimes you’re very creepy, you know that?”

Ruby is determined to make her dream of starring on broadway happen. But being a triple threat and the daughter to the man running a pharmaceutical empire hasn’t given her a boost. She walked away from everything to chase her dreams, even her father’s financial support. Everything is riding on her making the audition the next day…until a sexy, drunken and sick stranger proceeds to kiss her and sneeze on her, effectively infecting her with the flu from hell.

When Ruby realizes that the sexy stranger is none other than her best friend’s finance’s cousin, uber rich, ex Rugby superstar Bancroft Mills, she’s not exactly thrilled. But she’s also now homeless with no roles in prospect and no job, and Bane happens to have her solution in his very sexy hands; move into his apartment to take care of his pets while he’s away on a business trip. Sounds simple, right? Until their shacking up leads into an unlikely friendship with a heavy underlying of sexual chemistry that’s so thick, it’s practically suffocating. Add into the mix Tiny the tarantula and an adorable ferret, an it’s a recipe for a laugh out loud romance.

I love a good slow burn and the one here was perfection. Ruby and Bane’s relationship goes from texts to FaceTime to something much, much more…

Bancroft shirtless is a vision. Bancroft naked is damn well fucking phenomenal. “Oh God, that is huge!” I say when I finally reach the visual destination of Erectiontopia.

With just the perfect amount of steam, Shacking Up was a laugh out loud, feel good romance sure to put a goofy smile on your face and a swoon in your heart. Helena Hunting effortlessly mixes humor with undeniable chemistry and endearing characters to create one delicious story that enjoyed from cover to cover.

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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