Brilliant, but plain scientist Becca Evans has always done everything she could to make her beautiful sister, Grace, happy. So, when Grace started entering beauty contests, Becca did everything she could to make sure her sister won.
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Becca Evans hated flying. It wasn't that she was scared to fly — okay, maybe she was, but she'd never admit it. She simply knew too much, and that made her nervous. Was her fear based on the fact that the airplane she and her sister were about to board weighed approximately one hundred forty thousand pounds and, somehow, all of that aluminum and composite metal would be cruising at approximately three hundred seventy miles per hour at thirty-five thousand feet up in the air?
Becca understood the laws of aerodynamics. How speed and wing shape enabled an airplane to overcome friction so that all that weight could lift off the ground and remain aloft. What bothered her was that this particular airplane, the Boeing 737, had by far the worst record for fatal crashes. In fact, fifteen times more fatal incidences than the other airliners of its size.
Oh, and turbulence freaked her out. It made her feel out of control, and Becca liked — no, needed — to be in control.
If not for her sister, Grace, being a contestant in the Miss Temptation Pageant at the Playground of Paradise Bay Resort, Becca would not be flying. No, sir. But, this was the pageant to end all pageants, a mash-up between Miss America, The Bachelor, and Survivor, and the whole shebang was going to be streamed live.
It was going to be Grace's big break, and Becca needed her to win.
"Are you okay?" Grace touched her shoulder, a worry wrinkle marring the perfection of her forehead.
"Fine." Becca forced a smile. "Why?"
"You're doing that thing you do when you're thinking too hard."
"Your lips are moving."
Becca was about to deny it when a bored voice came over the PA system. "Zone one passengers may begin boarding. Please have your boarding pass and government-issued identification ready to show the attendants."
"That's us," Becca said over her shoulder to her sister. She'd only taken two steps when — BAM! — she ran into a brick wall of flesh and bone.
"Oomph!" Becca stumbled back.
"Watch where you're going." A tall, well-dressed, and more noticeably, extremely solid man frowned at her before making his way to the priority line at the gate, allowing him to board ahead of everyone else.
"Oh my God!" Grace whisper-squealed. "That was him!"
"Calum Price!" She pulled out the magazine she'd been carrying around the airport and stroked a manicured nail down the cover, which Mr. Price was gracing, wearing an expensive Italian suit and an enigmatic smile. The headline read "Youngest Billionaire, Most Eligible Bachelor." "He's even hotter in person," she gushed. "I can't believe he's the judge for the contest. And the prize."
An all-expenses paid trip to Paris with the billionaire Calum Price was part of the prize for winning the contest, but he was certainly not the reason Becca wanted Grace to win. The one-hundred-thousand-dollar cash prize was more like it, as well as the side benefits of being a contestant in such a big production.
Becca tugged Grace toward the lengthening lineup for non-priority passengers. "Stay focused," Becca said. "Remember why we're doing this."
"I know, I know. It's the prize money and exposure." The sisters inched forward in line before Grace spoke again. "But, Bec?"
"Do you really think I can win?"
There was apprehension in her sister's tone, something very unusual for Grace. "In twelve years of pageants, have we ever lost?"
Grace pressed her lips together before smiling. "No."
"Exactly. We are unbeatable, together. And this contest is no different. The stakes are higher, but we will rise to the challenge." She nudged her sister and grinned. "Together."
"If I win ..." Grace turned to face Becca. "What if I get some kind of contract? What if I need to move to L.A.?"
"Then you move."
"But what about you?"
Becca took a deep breath. This was the perfect time to tell her sister that she'd be moving as well, but not to L.A. To New York City ...
"Why don't you come to L.A. with me?" Grace said, a flush of excitement making her eyes glow. "You know I can't do this without you."
The brief window of opportunity to tell her sister about her fellowship to Cornell University slammed shut.
"We'll worry about that when it happens."
Grace fidgeted and then unrolled the magazine she still had clutched in one hand. She straightened it out to study the man on the cover. "What if Calum Price actually falls in love with me?"
Becca glanced sideways at her sister, who was now smiling dreamily, probably imagining romantic scenarios with her and the rude billionaire bachelor. Ugh! The guy hadn't even apologized for bumping into her. No wonder he was still single.
"Next." The gate attendant held out his hand for their tickets. "Are you two traveling together?"
"Yes," Grace sang the word as if she were Judy Garland — one of Grace's many favorite actresses. "We're sisters."
The man took their tickets and IDs and glanced at them. Frowned. Checked their IDs again and did a double take, giving Grace a once-, then twice-over before casting a bewildered look at Becca. She knew exactly what was coming.
Yep. There it was. Disbelief. It happened all the time because they looked nothing alike. Where Grace was blond, curvy, and gorgeous like an old- school Hollywood movie star, Becca was ... plain. Brown hair. Hazel eyes. Slim figure. Their only similarity was their height, though Grace always appeared taller because she wore heels.
"Sisters and best friends," Grace announced proudly, linking their arms together.
Neither of those things were completely true. They were half sisters, which explained the difference in appearance. As for being best friends? It was more like they were inseparable. Even now, they shared an apartment, and Becca had been by Grace's side in every pageant she'd entered in the last twelve years. But, it was more of a protector/protect-ee situation. Becca had been taking care of her older sister since they were kids. First, it was defending her from bullies — Becca had been small but wiry as a kid — and then, once Grace started dating, the bullies became boyfriends. Becca had taken it upon herself to systematically dispose of every single one. It was never hard. Hacking their computers was child's play. Finding dirt and threatening them had become one of her favorite pastimes.
Come September, for the first time in their lives, Becca wouldn't be around to take care of her sister. After finishing her grad degree in astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin, she'd been offered a research position in the Physics Department at Cornell. Even though it was her dream position, doing research in the fields of astrophysics, general relativity and cosmology, Becca worried about her sister, because Grace had never been on her own before.
That was why she needed Grace to win the contest. So she'd have something more than pageants, maybe an acting or modeling career. Who knew what opportunities could come from this contest?
Once they found their seats in economy, Grace insisted she sit in the aisle seat (small bladder and all that) which left Becca stuck in the middle. A sense of impending doom stole through her, heating the pit of her belly while conversely casting a cool sheen over her skin, making her forget all about New York and instead, reminding her of the 3,657 people who'd died aboard Boeing 737s in the last decade.
Grace covered her hand. "It's going to be okay."
"Here." Grace passed the magazine to her and opened it to an article on sex. "You could benefit from this."
"You know, so you'll think about something other than flying." She shrugged. "Plus, you might learn some important information from this article." She pointed to the title, "10 Health Benefits to an Active Sex Life." "How long's it been, anyway?"
"How long has what been?"
"Since you've had sex."
"Seriously?" Becca glanced around to see how many people had overheard.
Her sister tapped her chin, not giving a damn about anyone around them. "Was it Jerry?"
Becca put an angry finger to her lips. "Quiet."
"And that was, what? A year ago?"
Banging her head against the seat, Becca replied, "I don't need a boyfriend to be happy. I'm perfectly happy as I am."
"Are you?" Her sister gazed intently at her.
"Yes, of course I am."
Full lips twisted to one side. "It's just you've been acting kind of funny lately."
"It's nothing," Becca lied. "Really."
"Well, something has you wound up." She pointed back to the article. "And there's nothing better than a little sexy-time to relax you." A secret smile touched the corners of Grace's lips as if she was remembering her last interlude.
Becca bristled. "You're not secretly seeing Brad, are you?" Brad was Grace's latest loser.
"No. Of course not," Grace replied too quickly.
Dammit. Brad was one of the reasons Becca had been forced to intervene in Grace's life. He was controlling, manipulative, and possessive. It didn't help that her sister was a serial dater and a borderline nympho.
Sex was her favorite topic and favorite pastime.
Grace was also naive, which was a lethal combination, making her a magnet for misogynists.
"I wonder if Calum Price likes sex." Grace closed the magazine so she could gaze at the man on the cover. "He looks like he does."
"Stop worrying about Calum Price — "
"Sex is good for your health," Grace declared, as if she hadn't just browsed the article. "It's good for the metabolism, the hair, the skin ..."
"Can we please stop talking about sex?" Becca whispered, not needing to be reminded of how long it had been since she'd had anything more than her imagination and a vibrator to put her to sleep at night.
"Oh, fine." Grace sighed. "I have to go to the loo, anyway." She dropped the magazine back into Becca's lap before getting up and making her way to the rear of the plane past the last-minute stragglers.
Becca opened to the article on Calum Price. She'd already read it, but she needed to distract herself from the fact that the plane had almost boarded and would be taking off soon. Anything other than a conversation about how long it'd been since she'd gotten laid was her preference.
Even articles about rude playboys.
"Seat 44B? Ms. Evans?"
A flight attendant stood in the aisle, beaming down at her.
"Um ... yes?"
"You are the recipient of a free upgrade, courtesy of Playground of Paradise Bay Resort."
"Please grab your bags and follow me."
The woman didn't give Becca a chance to explain that the seat was in her sister's name and that it should be Grace who was seated in first class. She glanced toward the back of the plane where Grace had disappeared into the tiny cubicle.
"Please. This way. The aircraft is about to depart."
On the other hand ...
Alcohol was free in first class. A drink might calm her nerves, and lord only knew her nerves needed a little calming. Grabbing her things, Becca jostled her way to the front of the plane, feeling a sense of satisfaction when the curtain separating the two classes snapped closed behind her.
"Here's your seat, Ms. Evans."
Calum Price was seated in the chair next to the one she'd been assigned, his expression dismissive as he glanced at her.
She settled her carry-on into the overhead bin and then plopped down, tucking a book into the pocket in front of her and her purse beneath the seat. "Well, hello."
He glanced at her but did not reply — ass — before catching a flight attendant as she was passing by. "What's going on?" He indicated Becca with a nod of his head.
"Upgrade. It's all part of the Playground of Paradise Bay experience, apparently."
Before the attendant could leave, Becca reached across her seatmate and waved to the woman. "Two mimosas please."
"I don't want one," Calum said.
"It's not for you."
He tilted his head at this comment and then pointed to a button on the armrest. "Press the button and they'll walk the five steps required to serve you."
"Fly first class a lot, do you?"
She was surprised.
"I take my own plane. But it's not certified to land at the resort." He shrugged. "So, first class it is."
Unfolding the little table for Calum, the flight attendant set down a cloth napkin, a glass with amber liquid, and a side of sliced pear.
"Scotch?" Becca whispered as she leaned close to sniff his glass, making sure she was calling a spade a spade. Now that she was here, she realized it was the perfect opportunity to determine whether billionaire Calum Price was a decent human being or whether he was just another wealthy, arrogant ass. So far, he was proving to be the latter. "Hmm, a little early for Scotch, isn't it?"
He turned to her, his face emotionless, apart from a single arched brow. "Says the woman who ordered two glasses of champagne."
The mimosas were served in real crystal champagne flutes. Very nice. Becca took a sip. Delicious. She could get used to this.
Maybe this flight wouldn't be so bad, after all.
She glanced sideways at the most eligible bachelor in the world. Who was he, really?
Sure, the guy was good looking. Okay, he was very good looking. Thick dark hair, dark brows framing dark eyes. His lips were nice: full but still masculine. Broad forehead, straight nose, and a jaw that was covered in that stylishly trimmed short beard that most women went gaga over, but which she hated. Was it a beard? Was it stubble? It seemed tragically caught somewhere in between and screamed high maintenance to her.
Her gaze slid lower. There was a breadth to his physique and a masculinity to his hands that spoke of athleticism. He could have been a hockey player, except he was too put together. Probably spent oodles of time in front of the mirror. Primping.
He slowly swiveled to face her, his expression cold. Becca was undeterred. She had a new mission, to learn everything she could about him in the next six hours. The secondary purpose of her mission — though equally important — was to distract herself from the fact that the plane was taking off.
"So," Becca said. "I'm waiting."
"For you to apologize for crashing into me."
Oh, for fuck's sake. Of all the people to have as a seatmate, he had to get some mousy Chatty Cathy. If there was one thing Calum Price loathed, it was useless babble.
"I'm still waiting."
Really? She was the one who had run into him because she hadn't been looking where she was going. But he still had — he checked his Rolex — five hours and forty-seven minutes left in the flight. Fine.
He turned to her and said calmly, "I'm sorry." Then he shook out his newspaper and opened it so that it shielded him from the woman's blatant stare.
Mentally, he brought up the contract his publicist had made him sign with Men's Magazine. Though he'd only skimmed it, he could see each paragraph as if it were an HD photo in his brain. He had no idea how he was able to do it, it was just something he'd always been able to manage. His "super power," as his mother had called it.
Provision 2.1 The Contest: The Miss Temptation Pageant will commence upon arrival, and the client agrees to engage with all contestants equally, amicably, and without bias ...
Little did he know that he was considered to have "arrived" once the flight was in the air. With a sigh of resignation, he folded the newspaper and fit it into the pouch on the back of the seat in front of him.
"Looking forward to Paradise?" he asked with a fake smile.
"Honestly?" She set down her glass — what was that, her fourth glass of champagne? — and shook her head. "No."
"No? Then, why ...? Are you entered in the pageant?"
It was not a feminine sound. It did, however, evoke an unexpected smile from him.
"I'm not really pageant material." She gestured to herself. "As I'm sure you've noticed."
"Oh ... I don't know," he said, trying to muster up a compliment.
"It's okay." She patted his arm. "Don't feel the need to patronize me." She pressed the call button again and then wriggled in her seat. When the flight attendant arrived, the woman asked for a blanket and pillow.
Hopefully she'd sleep the rest of the way and leave Cal in peace. Ignoring her, Calum pulled out his laptop and opened it, calling up the legal documents he would be presenting to the shareholders of the resort during the vote at the end of the week.
He'd only agreed to the whole Miss Temptation Pageant as a cover for a business deal, so when Cal negotiated the contract of the web-based production with Men's Magazine, he'd insisted on the location and the timing of the event. His reason? He was buying the property where the contest would be taking place.
Excerpted from "Bachelor Games"
Copyright © 2017 Daire St. Denis.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Full review appeared on Reader's Edyn on 10/09/17 at http://bit.ly/2fEDvlZ Becca Evans has always been labeled the plain sister. Her half-sister, Grace, has continually been the one in the spotlight; her trusting nature having landed her in a lot of trouble – mostly bad relationships with nasty guys. Consequently, Becca has morphed into protector and goes everywhere with Grace, always looking out for her. But Becca needs Grace to win the reality show they are on so she can get the prize money. Becca has an offer at a University and she doesn’t want to miss the opportunity at her dream job. When she ends up sitting next to Mr. Bachelor himself, she has to find out if he’s good enough for her sister. Additional recon won’t hurt her cause in helping her sister win the competition either. What blind-sides her is the crazy attraction she feels toward him. Callum Price is not much of a willing participant in this farce of a reality show. His only reason for going along with the plan, is because he wants to take over the majority stock and buy up the island as an investment. When Becca lands in the seat next to him, he is annoyed by her questions, but ends up loosening up toward her – just as she too starts to loosen up after each mimosa she drinks. Before too long, he’s finding himself intrigued with the highly intelligent woman. She doesn’t take his crap and insults him right back. He’s used to people groveling – comes with the territory as a Billionaire – but Becca doesn’t seem to give a crap about his money. She challenges him and sparks his interest. Before too long, Callum is having some pretty scandalous thoughts regarding Ms. Evans. This reality show just might be fun after all. Holy Moly! This is quite a descriptive book with crazy hot, sinfully stimulating scenes. The attraction between Callum and Becca is undeniable. I love when two people, who normally wouldn’t get together, end up in an unexpected relationship simply because fate stepped in and pushed them together. Sappy. Love it! I enjoyed learning about Callum and his background. He’s not all you’d expect from a Billionaire Playboy – he still remembers where he came from and while his drive to succeed is fierce, he doesn’t let his status change who he is. Becca is similar in the respect that she’s a freaking genius. While she could show off her talent, she keeps to herself and always lets her sister shine, but staying in the background also doubles as a protection mechanism. Before too long, her past comes back to threaten her future and Callum has to decide if the risk of her reputation being slung through the mud is worth their relationship. Not ready to label what it could be, they both struggle to come to terms with their feelings. Both Callum and Becca were a joy to spend time with. And that crazy hot sex? It was exactly that with little bits of light BDSM thrown in. I didn’t really care for any of the secondary characters except Grace and another, later revealed as familial. He seems like he might have had an interesting story to explore. Grace, however, was a lot of fun. She is the ditzy, blonde sister, but is gifted with some great lines. If I had a half-sister, I’d want it to be Grace; exasperating qualities and all. I often wondered if we would discover that Grace was just as brilliant as Becca, but let her looks do the talking. Instead because she loves the attention. Sadly, that was not the case, but her character was just as entertaining. My only criticism ...
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book This book was so full of everything you want in a book, Humor, a villian, HOT HOT Sex, a drop dead gorgeous billionaire, a woman that may not be as beautiful as her sister but beautiful inside makes you beautiful outside. What a sexy read with a strong woman whose goal is to protect her very trusting sister from unscrupulous men. Her sense of duty takes them on a crazy trip to an island where the sister competes for a chance to win a week-long trip to Paris with a billionaire and $100K. Things don't always go as expected and things start getting crazy pretty quickly as Becca and Calum's paths' collide. And of course you have the evil sleaze from Becca's past to add some color to the whole event. It's an easy read with ups and downs for sure, but also lots of sexy scenes along the way
Received an ARC for my fair review for netgalley. This book was cute. Becca was the smart sister, she was often overlooked when in the company of her gorgeous sister Grace. It had never bothered her, in fact she made it her job to assist Grace in winning pageants, she also protected Grace by helping her getting rid of her loser boyfriends. Now on their next mission to win their next pageant, they come in contact with billionaire Calum Price, and after a disastrous first impression he and Becca start getting cozy and can't help their attraction to each other and eventually begin an affair that they have to keep under wraps from everyone, and it blows up in their face. You have to read this, you have to read about the villain, how they react to it, and how they get back at them and what they do after!
Honestly this one just didn't work for me. I found the whole story just a little weird. Becca Evans, the smart sister, has been taking care of her older sister Grace, the beautiful one, for so long Becca has just about forgotten she needs to take care of herself too. Calum Price may be one of America's most eligible bachelors but he finds himself taken by the intriguing Becca. Too bad she seems set on pushing Grace on him. This entire story read like a cross between reality TV and a soap opera. Just not my thing unfortunately. In fairness though the writing is well done and the characters well developed. It's just the story that I couldn't get interested in.
This is a fun and quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. In it, Becca is the genius behind her sister Grace's success on the pageant circuit. She expects their experience on a tropical island's reality "dating" show to be more of the same, however she didn't plan on falling for the bachelor, Cal, herself. What follows is a fun, sexy, and slightly naughty novel that fans of the genre will love. This is perfect for when you're looking for a light read by the beach or in front of a warm fire.