“I only hired him so I wouldn’t have to sit at the singles table again. It was just pretend. He wasn’t supposed to kiss me.
My heart wasn’t supposed to pound.
We weren’t supposed to spend the night together—the hottest night of my life…
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! It was FUN, SEXY, and LIGHT-HEARTED, but also had seriously DEEP FEELS that really balanced the story out beautifully. If you’re a fan of broken Alpha heroes, you’re going to fall in love with Theo! Everything from the romance to the healing kept me glued to the page. I highly recommend this as a new favorite!
On the surface, you could put this book under the ‘pretend relationship turns to real love’ category, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though the story seemed quite light-hearted at first, the emotions went very deep and I was so impressed with the way the author rounded out the characters and their relationship.
So the story started out with the heroine, Claire, who was tired of being banished to the singles table at weddings, feeling judged for being single, and being hounded by everyone and their mother about whether she was dating anyone, when she would be dating anyone, why she wasn’t dating anyone, and so on… and when her friend, the latest bride-to-be, asked her if she’d be bringing a plus one to her wedding, Claire lied point blank and said yes.
“I’d met some OK guys. But I’d never felt that thing — that pulse-quickening, breath-taking, Hallmark-channel thing. I knew it existed because I’d read about it in books and seen it in movies and even witnessed it in real life… and I didn’t want to settle for anything less. I believed in soul mates, and I wanted my own.
But where the fuck was he, already?”
To complicate things further, she even described her imaginary boyfriend in painfully clear detail making finding a real person to play said boyfriend infinitely harder now that he also had to fit a particular physical framework.
“I have to go. And now it’s even worse because I told her I was bringing my boyfriend.”
Jamie choked on her martini and set the glass down on the bar so roughly it sloshed over the rim. “Your what?”
“My boyfriend. You know, the one who looks like Ryan Gosling and fucks like a rock star.”
Luckily, thanks to the glory of the Internet, she found her self a pretend boyfriend for hire. Except the person she found was nothing like what she expected. He was gorgeous, charming, exasperating, and easily flustered her with his antics.
“What’s in the contract?”
“My rate, the details about when and where, the Platonic Promise.”
“The part of the contract where we both acknowledge that there will be absolutely no sexual contact whatsoever.”
“Oh! Right,” I said, feeling my face warm even more. “Of course.”
“If you think you might have a problem with that, Claire, I can’t book the date.”
Flustered, I flapped my hands. “No, no! Of course, there won’t be a problem with that. I —“
He burst out laughing and grabbed my wrist. “Jesus, I’m kidding.”
“Oh.” I laughed at myself a little, shaking my head. “Sorry. I’m just really tense about this.”
“I can tell.” He squeezed my wrist before dropping it, and I noticed how big and strong his hand was.
“It’s gonna be fun,” he said, standing up. “I promise.”
Their arrangement was meant to be business only. No emotions, no attachments. Just one night of pretending to be in love. But what neither of them expected was their intense chemistry and how strongly they were drawn to each other.
“I never hooked up with clients [and I’d never been attracted to one before. And none of them had ever tempted me to break the Platonic Promise — Claire was a different story…”
They both tried their best to keep things professional but that soon became nearly impossible…
“I promise you, Claire, what you almost did on the dance floor was nothing compared to what I want to do to you right now.”
My jaw dropped. “What?”
“But, Claire.” Whatever he said next was swallowed by the thunderous pounding of my heart. “Wait a minute. Wait a minute.” I help up one hand. “What do you want to do to me right now?”
His jaw twitched. “It’s a long list.”
They let their guards down and gave into their feelings. But things weren’t that easy. Behind his charming, smooth-talking, sexy exterior, Theo was hiding years of pain and damage so deep that it had left emotional scars on his soul. Allowing himself to fall in love was hard and this is their story of finding a way to make their relationship work.
“Stay. For her, I’d stay.”
I really want to say how impressed I was with the way this author wrote Theo’s character. He was a genuinely damaged hero with a lot of baggage and a lot of guilt weighing him down. While he helped Claire in many ways, I feel like the biggest hurdle in this story was HIS healing and I really have to applaud the author for making his mistakes feel so understandable. Without proper explanation, many of the things he did would have frustrated me to no end, but in the chapters that were told from his POV, she really did a fantastic job of showing WHY he kept fucking up, how badly he was hurting, how deeply he really cared for Claire, and how, even though he might not be making the right choices, that he was trying to heal and trying to be better… for her. So instead of being annoyed, I became incredibly sympathetic to his character. His pain tugged all my heart-strings and I loved seeing him heal.
But this story isn’t all serious. There’s a lot of sexyyyyyy hotness and fun banter!!! Theo and Claire had fantastic chemistry and for those of you looking for a steamy romance, theirs certainly delivers!!
“Uh, are we still observing the no-touching rule tonight?” I asked as she kissed her way up my chest. “Asking for a friend.”
“It’s after midnight,” she whispered, her breath tickling my ear. “Tomorrow is here.”
“Oh, thank fuck.” I flipped her beneath me.
This is a standalone romance. It is ever-so-slightly interconnected with After We Fall (my review) but you absolutely do not have to read the other book before, or even after, this unless you want to. I mean, I loved them both but basically the connection is that the heroines know each other and that’s it. You can read either book as a completely separate standalone with no problem at all! Also, the story is told in first person perspective from alternating POVs.
And OMG!!!!! There is such a swoooooooooony epilogue!!! For what started out as such a light-heart story, it sure took some turns that delivered many strong feels! And it was all worth it for the beautiful ending!!
She looked up at me, and even though it was dark, I knew what her eyes said.
I trust you.
I trust you not to hurt me.
I trust you not to lie to me.
I trust you not to break my heart.
I absolutely adore Melanie Harlow’s writing! Her books are always fun, light-hearted, witty and they never fail to make me laugh! But at the same time, she often can bring a very serious depth to her stories that really rounds them out beautifully. Her characters feel real, they’re down-to-earth, relatable and compelling. And their romances are sexy, thrilling, heart-melting! I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone!!
Rating: 4.5 stars!! Contemporary Adult Romance Standalone.