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3.8 301
by Lori Foster

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Grade school teacher Carlie McDaniels trades in her frumpiness for the look of an exotic harem girl, at least for one costume party. So long, spinsterhood—and hello tall, dark and handsome Tyler Ramsey….

Even after the best night of their lives, Tyler hasn't guessed the identity of his harem hottie…and Carlie plans on keeping him in the


Grade school teacher Carlie McDaniels trades in her frumpiness for the look of an exotic harem girl, at least for one costume party. So long, spinsterhood—and hello tall, dark and handsome Tyler Ramsey….

Even after the best night of their lives, Tyler hasn't guessed the identity of his harem hottie…and Carlie plans on keeping him in the dark. After all, a gorgeous guy like Tyler would never fall for his smart-talking best friend. And Carlie's not sure she wants to know what would happen if he ever unveiled the naked truth!

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Famous Firsts Series
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"You can't be a coward forever."

Carlie chuckled, despite her nervousness. "Quit pushing, Bren. You're not going to provoke me into rushing out into the party dressed like this."

"Rushing? You're already ten minutes late." She had parked in the back of the house, away from the main flow of human traffic entering the party. Small, twinkling lights surrounded the pool and pool house, even though the weather was too brisk for swimming.

"And that's your fault. What were you thinking, to pick me a costume that was so…so…" Carlie couldn't quite find the words to describe the skimpy harem outfit her best friend had chosen for her. If she had to go to Brenda's stupid Halloween party at all, she would have preferred to be a pumpkin or a witch. Anything that was less revealing.

"So… what? You look fantastic. What's wrong with that? I want you to have fun tonight. I want you to loosen up a little and try socializing. Talk to people."

"You mean men, don't you?" Carlie shook her head. "I'm not a hermit, Bren. I have my students and more than enough school activities to keep me busy." Then she glanced down at herself. "What were you thinking?"

"You said you didn't have time to pick out an outfit yourself." Brenda lifted one shoulder in a halfhearted shrug. "Besides, you make a very sexy harem girl. All the single men here tonight will drool. It'll do you good to realize how attractive you can be when you aren't hiding behind those hideous suits."

Carlie winced. She was feeling far from attractive. Exhibited, displayed and downright exposed was more accurate. She was pretty certain she looked ridiculous more than anything else. "Which single men, exactly, did you invite?"

Brenda waved her hand in dismissal. "You've met almost everyone, I think. Some of Jason's associates, a few neighbors, friends… Tyler."

Carlie went perfectly still for a heartbeat, then frowned at Brenda. "Tyler Ramsey at a costume party? I didn't think your notorious brother-in-law would bother with something so—"

"Don't make fun of my party, Carlie."

"I wasn't. I just thought fancy banquets were more his speed." Carlie couldn't imagine Tyler dressed in a costume. He always seemed so…suave. And he always had a very sophisticated, very elegant woman on his arm.

"Tyler came because Jason asked him, and he would never let his brother down. You know how close they are." Brenda shook her head and added, "You know, you and Tyler actually have a few things in common."

Carlie turned away. "You're dreaming, Bren. We live in different worlds."

"You just don't understand Tyler. He had it pretty rough growing up, too." Then she touched Carlie's arm. "But at least Jason was always there for him."

"My brother had his own life," Carlie said. "And he was right, my problems were my own."

"Jason would never turn Tyler away if he needed help."

"Jason's a terrific guy. But he and Tyler are nothing alike."

"Not now, maybe, but they used to be," Brenda said with a grin. "But then, Jason met me. I think Tyler will be the same. When he finds someone he cares about…"

Carlie narrowed her eyes and stiffened her shoulders. "That will be a little hard for him to do when his relationships rarely last long enough to get to know a woman."

Brenda stared at Carlie, her eyebrows raised. "You seem to be keeping pretty close track of my young brother-in-law."

"He's not that young." But Carlie flushed at being caught. "I mean, he's a grown man. He must be in his early thirties… oh, never mind."

"Tyler's a good guy, Carlie. He may change dates a lot, but that's because the women he usually hooks up with are only impressed by his status in the community and his expanding financial portfolio. Tyler thinks he wants a no-strings attachment, but he's never satisfied with it."

Carlie had a feeling it was Tyler's looks and outrageous charm that really attracted women, but she kept her mouth shut. She certainly didn't want Brenda to get the idea she had a crush on Tyler Ramsey.

Good grief. A crush! No, she didn't. Certainly not.

Carlie was shaking her head at her errant thoughts, even as she said, "You don't have to defend Tyler to me, Bren. What he does is no concern of mine."

"Fine. Then if you're done stalling, can we get back to the party now? I think it's about to rain."

Carlie glanced up at the dark sky and smelled the moisture thick in the air. "You go on, Bren. I think I'll just wait a few more minutes."

Brenda hesitated, then she nodded. "Don't be too long."

Too long? Carlie wondered if another hour or so would be too long. She truly didn't relish the idea of going inside, not that anyone would recognize her. Dressed so differently, no one would see her as Carlie McDaniels, grade-school teacher and spinster extraordinaire. Her persona this evening was as far from her usual self as a woman could get. Even her hair and eyes were different, thanks to the wig that came with the costume, and the colored contacts she was wearing.

She was a coward, true, but it had been two long years since her divorce, and though that had been enough time for her to gain her independence and put some order to her life, it hadn't been time enough to repair her confidence in herself as a woman. Brenda claimed Carlie was attractive and appealing. Carlie's ex had made an entirely different claim.

Shivering, she forced her mind away from the disturbing memories, mustered her courage and started toward the door. She could make Brenda happy by mingling for an hour or so, then she could make her escape. The thought of her small, tidy, empty house seemed very nice all of a sudden.

Tyler Ramsey hated parties.

Looking around in mild amusement, he tried not to appear bored. Everything was the same—the ritual, the games. There were several women, alone and obviously on the hunt, who had been eyeing him since he'd entered. A Cleopatra, an elf, an Indian maiden—they all were playing their phoney roles to the hilt. They were drawn to his reputation, he knew. The funny part was, most of it wasn't even true.

Turning away, he wondered why he'd allowed Brenda to talk him into coming. True, he'd been bored for a while, at loose ends with himself. He needed a spark; he needed someone who could make him laugh.

His brother laughed a lot these days.

Not that Tyler wanted to settle down. He hadn't met a woman yet with whom he could consider spending the rest of his life. Jason was lucky to have found Brenda; she was the best. But women like her were rare. Glancing around the room again, Tyler realized just what a find Brenda was. The house was filled with females, but none of them held his attention. They were all…the same. Laughing, flirting, drinking. They stood poised to best advantage, their gestures predictable.

He'd been told more than once now how dashing he looked in his pirate costume. Everyone knew it was him. He wasn't wearing makeup as some of the other guests did. His only concession was an eye patch, worn rakishly over his left eye. A billowing white shirt that he found extremely comfortable, and tight black trousers completed the costume. His belt—wide, with a huge brass buckle— held a scabbard, with a sword resting inside it. His black boots came to his knees.

He sat in a chair, observing the crowd dispassionately. Immediately, a blond Valkyrie, brass breastplate shining in the glow of party lights, came to perch on his knee, and gave him a sly smile. He recognized that smile. It belonged to his ex-companion, Valerie. It was a smile that signaled her intent, and he used to respond to it appropriately. All he felt now was irritation. She leaned close, and he forced a polite expression to his features. They'd shared something brief, and by her insistence, with no strings attached. The outcome had been predictable.

She'd wanted a man who knew the score, who could afford the best, who moved in certain circles—her circles. She liked his sports car, his professional connections, and sex. In that order.

And he'd needed someone to help him fill his time, to give him something to think about other than his legal cases and the fact that his personal life was basically…empty. But it was over.

He knew it. Why didn't she?

"Don't you recognize me, Tyler?"

There was no place to put his hands, so he rested one on her back, the other on her naked thigh. "Of course. You're a beautiful Norse goddess." His legendary innate charm surfaced through his impatience.

Valerie chuckled throatily "You make a very believable pirate. Have you made any plans to plunder the party and steal away with female captives?"

He didn't feel like playing, so he conjured the lie without hesitation. "Actually, sweetheart, I have."

She pouted, and ran her fingers through his hair. "You look so dashing, Tyler."

He barely restrained himself from rolling his eyes. He thought of going home to his empty house—and the thought no longer seemed so unappealing.

He glanced up, and saw his sister-in-law, Brenda, standing by the kitchen door, talking with a man dressed as a Roman general. Tyler was just deciding to go home and nurse his discontent in the privacy of his own home, when Brenda turned toward the kitchen with an expectant look on her face. She gave a wide smile, and the Roman nearly dropped his glass of liquor.

Tyler felt anticipation for the first time that night. He stared, waiting. Brenda suddenly appeared to be very delighted, and he wondered why. She seemed every bit as impish as the fairy she was dressed to be.

Slowly disengaging himself from Valerie's clinging hold, Tyler stood, his curiosity swelling. He was so intent on watching Brenda, he didn't hear Valerie's complaints. His eyes were glued to the kitchen doorway.

And then he saw her.

His knees locked and he felt his thighs tense. The woman stood uncertainly by Brenda, apparently oblivious to the stares she was drawing. She was magnificent.

Long, dark curly hair fell to her shoulders, and her costume left little to the imagination. Lush, was the first thought to come to mind.

She wasn't slim, but her curves were in all the right places. Her long legs were beautifully shaped, lightly muscled, teasingly displayed in the wispy, transparent harem pants. Her waist was trim, her navel a soft shadow in the gentle swell of her belly. Her shoulders, straight and broad for a woman, were held proudly, despite her obvious reluctance, and her pale breasts were very full, firm and high. She was wearing an ornate mask, that covered her face from her nose to her hairline. He didn't care.

She bent and whispered something in Brenda's ear. Brenda lost her smile, and looked around the room as if seeking encouragement. Her eyes passed over Tyler, then seeing his rapt stare, she turned to the harem girl. Her eyes soon followed.

He caught her gaze, literally. Even from the distance that separated them, Tyler could feel her nervousness. She seemed startled by his awareness, and displeased. She was poised for flight.

He didn't smile. He pulled off his eye patch and started toward her. She seemed unable to move, her eyes widening. As he came closer, he saw that she was very pale and that her eyes were a startling, unnatural shade of vivid blue. Contacts? As part of her costume?

He was intrigued.

With only a few feet separating them, he was pulled to an abrupt stop by Valerie.

He glanced at Valerie with stark impatience. "I have to go."

"Tyler, wait! I wanted to talk to you." Her hand slid up his arm to grip his shirt. Her voice lowered to a purr. "I need a date tomorrow. For a banquet. It will be… fun."

He didn't have time for this. Valerie always came around when she wanted something from him. He had no doubt she needed him to gain entrée into the charity banquet. With plates going at a thousand dollars apiece, she knew there would be influential people there.

He wasn't interested.

Shaking his head, he turned back toward the woman in the harem costume… but she was gone. He moved to the kitchen in time to see her ducking out the back door. A hundred thoughts flew through his mind.

She was exquisite, exciting, and she was evidently running. From him?

He didn't want to lose sight of her, didn't want to take the chance that he wouldn't be able to find her again later. It was ridiculous, really, the urgency he felt, but he acted on it, anyway.

Brenda caught his arm as he tried to go past her.

"Tyler!" Her grip was firm, effectively stopping him. "Aren't you going to say hi?"

"What?" His question was a bark, filled with impatience.

Brenda stared at him. "What's the matter with you?"

"Who was she?"

Her eyebrows arching, Brenda looked behind her. "Oh… just one of the guests."

Tyler narrowed his eyes. "She's leaving already?"

"No, she…" Brenda shook her head. "She's a little shy. I had to talk her into coming tonight and now she's having second thoughts."

"I think I'll go get some fresh air."

Her smile slipping, Brenda seemed startled by his abrupt statement. "It's starting to rain, Tyler. Why would you… ?"

Starting to walk away, but at a more reasonable pace, he said, "Don't worry about it, Brenda. I promise not to track in any mud." Then he stepped out the back door and peered through the cloudy night, trying to catch sight of her. A lighted path led to the pool house, and more lights, in an array of party colors, circled the small building. Through the smattering of raindrops falling on his face, Tyler was able to see a flash of movement. Ignoring the rain, he followed.

His heart was hammering heavily, his stride rapid on the wet flagstone walk. His muscles were so tight, his movements seemed rough and jerky. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so anxious to meet a woman.

Impatience and anticipation were riding him, and he forced himself to stop outside the door of the small house. He tilted his head back, letting the rain cool his face. He was overreacting. She was only a woman, after all, he told himself.

But then he remembered her wide, startled eyes and felt his stomach clench.

He put his hand on the doorknob, half expecting it to be locked. It opened silently, allowing the muted sounds of the party to intrude.

Colored light filtered through the windows in diminished shades, elongating shadows and playing over various forms and furnishings. He gave his eyes a moment to adjust to the dim interior, and then he saw her.

She had been standing turned away from him, one hand pressed to her forehead, the other knotted at her side. But when the door closed with a soft click behind him, she jerked, then swung around to face him.

Meet the Author

Lori Foster is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author with books from a variety of publishers, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin and Silhouette. Lori has been a recipient of the prestigious RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy, and for Contemporary Romance. She’s had top-selling books for Amazon, Waldenbooks and the BGI Group. For more about Lori, visit her Web site at www.lorifoster.com.

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Impetuous 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 299 reviews.
Amshar More than 1 year ago
This is your typical predictable cliched romance. It's not nearly as steamy as the cover or some categorizing might suggest and it's not a particularly good bit of writing. It's neither great nor terrible and if classic romance cliches in the Harlequin tradition annoy you, this is not the book for you. In the grand tradition of cliches such as sexy librarians and hot nurses, Carlie is a frumpy and secretly hot teacher who has sworn off men because of a single past bad experience. Because she is as convinced of her innate hotness as her frigidity, she wears ugly frumpy clothes to hide herself from the opposite sex. Because otherwise men would jump her only to prove her ex husband's point that she's just no good and all men are vile (except, of course, the ones married to close friends). The setup has been done and worn out and Foster didn't manage to work the cliche to its fullest so that it could have been hot if not good. As it turns out, it's merely cute, and that's if you can get past the fact that Carlie is an oversensitive nitwit and Tyler is a frat boy in lawyer's clothing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carlie McDaniels, elementary school teacher, goes to a Halloween costume party hosted by her best friend Brenda and her husband Jason. Carlie does not normally do things to call attention to herself. She dresses VERY conservatively, wears her hair in a braid and does her best to blend in with the woodwork. But not tonight. She let Brenda rent her a costume, a Harem girl complete with wig and mask. Carlie feels absolutely ridiculous and decides to not join the party but before she can escape out the back door she is seen by Tyler Ramsay. Tyler is Brenda's sexier than sin brother-in-law who just happens to star in most of Carlie's fantasies. Not that he would ever pay any attention to her - normally. But this night is not normal. This night is about fantasies and an instant and total attraction that is so strong there is no denying it for either of them. But when Tyler awakens the next morning Carlie is gone and he is very determined to find out the identity of his mystery woman. At least he is until he and Carlie are thrown together while working with some of her 'problem' students in an after school basketball program. The more he gets to know Carlie the less interested he is in his mystery woman. Carlie can't believe that he is really interested in HER but as it becomes more and more evident that he is, she feels worse and worse about that night. She feels guilty about not telling him but also is afraid of what will happen to their growing relationship if he finds out.

Watching Carlie and Tyler fall for each other was funny because they find out that the things they THINK they know about the other person are WAY off base. The emotions are very intense especially after Tyler DOES find out the truth, the love scenes are steamy yet tender, and the secondary characters add just the right touch of realism.

There is also a short story, One Wicked Weekend, by Julie E. Leto in this book that is fun and VERY sexy. Lauren LaCroix left New Orleans eight years ago after Luc Dupree broke her heart and she swore she would never return. However she is back and she is going to make Luc regret the day that he pushed her out of his life. She works for a popular women's magazine and is doing a feature entitled 'Sexy City Nights' in which she will explore the hottest most erotic places in the hottest cities in the U.S. and she is going to start with her hometown. When Luc finds out why she is back he is determined that he will be the only man to show her the 'hot spots', in more ways than one. Luc knows that he messed up with Lauren but is not going to make the same mistake twice. Lauren comes home looking for revenge but what she finds is something entirely different. Fun, sexy, fast paced. This one will leave you wishing for the next chapter even after the story ends.

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fran2 More than 1 year ago
I've read most of Lori Foster's books and although I liked this (and it was a quick read), it was not memorable. If you are not familiar with this author, I would recommend her series books instead of the stand alone titles.
Vixen-V More than 1 year ago
From beginning to end this has caught my attention. The story line is different from whats typically out there. I highly recommend reading this one, a few hours to yourself with this book and it will take you away from your element.
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Love this story! Sexy and real
WestTexasReaderAK More than 1 year ago
This book was a fun read. I loved how the characters were developed and how their relationship grew. It's a great story of finding love again.
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Kitahug More than 1 year ago
Great book
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