Ballerina Laura Delgado is just one solo away from a dream job with the New York City Ballet. Then a drunken pas de deux at her cousin's wedding results in the one thing she never wanted-a husband. TV producer Charlie Laughlin may be deliciously kissable, but she needs him offstage now, and out of her life.
Charlie's ready for marriage and kids, and on the lookout for just the right woman. Laura doesn't fit the bill at all-but Charlie can't stop thinking about the sultry way they moved together. And he can't help but wonder if he can change the gorgeous dancer's mind about leaving Miami with heated kisses that promise as much as they demand . . .
Annulling their sham marriage is all Laura wants-until she gets to New York and realizes that leaving Charlie behind is easier said than done. Can a relationship that began as a hot mistake become the kind of love that will last forever?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Stock still, Laura Delgado stared at her Grandpa Rogelio with her mouth open. All the oxygen and all good sense in the universe had been sucked out of the room. Her dressing room had turned into the upside-down. Then, her knees gave out, and she dropped to the couch without meaning to.
Married!? My what!? The word husband echoed over and over in Laura's head. The two syllables sounded foreign and hostile. The disjointed — and altogether frightening — sounds reminded her of a Russian ballet master she'd once studied with. He'd thwacked her with a violin bow when she missed a step. The bow was less painful than the idea that she was actually married.
In her mind, marriage had always equaled death — a slow, painful, wasting disease suffered while handcuffed to the cause of death. And she'd just found out that she was terminal.
"Unless we get his signature, I can't file your taxes." Two days from the deadline. Her grandfather had the audacity to smirk at her as though he found this situation funny. He thought the fact that she was married and only found out about it ... funny. If she didn't love her Grandpa Rogelio so much, she would be tempted to punch him in his still-handsome face. But, given that he was her favorite relative and he'd done her taxes without incident since she got her first paycheck from the company at eighteen, she just clenched her jaw.
And to make things even worse than the mere fact that she was married was the guy she was married to. Charlie Fucking Laughlin. With his artfully scruffy beard, his too-long hair, and naughty-looking mouth. He was smooth-talking and smug. Everyone loved him because he was so nice, but no one was that nice. Laura didn't like nice. Didn't trust nice. And now, nice-Charlie Laughlin was allegedly her husband.
She'd never intended to get married, and she certainly didn't picture ever ending up with someone like Charlie. He was too much everything — too handsome, too tall, and too sexy. By the time she was fourteen, right before she'd left home to join the ballet, she'd decided that she wanted nothing to do with marriage. Her parents had screwed it up enough to put her off the institution entirely.
There was no way she was going to end up tethered to someone like her father. Unlike her father, Charlie had a sense of humor, but he had the same charisma that her father used to try to control everyone around him. No way she was about to give herself no escape but the bottom of a pill bottle. Even though Charlie wasn't an emotionally abusive dick bag, he would end up trying to control her — he would want more of her than she could give.
How many Mai Tais — and how much tequila — had she had to drink? The only way she would have gotten married was if she'd been bombed out of her mind — or if he'd tied her up and dragged her down the aisle. But that would have left a mark.
If she had been on her guard, acting like herself, this never would have happened.
Images of a pink beach and matching pink drinks flooded her consciousness. The soft caress of the Indonesian breeze, the fuzzy joy at seeing her cousin, Carla, joyfully happy on her wedding day, and her disquiet at how much she didn't miss dancing during the three months she was out of commission from a groin injury slammed into her mind from the recesses of her memory. Since returning to the ballet, she'd stuffed thoughts of that night down so far that they exploded back like matter packed too densely in space.
But, every so often, her mind drifted to kissing Charlie at sunset, away from the crowd. It was the craziest thing she'd ever done — kissing a stranger. She couldn't get the feeling of his lips on hers out of her head. It was as though he'd stamped an impression on her, an invisible tattoo of his effect on her. Her entire life up until that point had been about discipline, training, dieting, and taking in criticism. She'd been a changeling at the behest of everyone in her life, and she knew that she could never let anyone know what was underneath her exterior. But there was something about the way he'd looked at her that had penetrated the wall she'd built around herself to avoid the pain of feeling she was never quite good enough, never quite the best. The feeling of his gaze on her skin — the feeling of him really looking at her — lingered along with the imprint of his mouth.
Either that, or she'd been so addled from the champagne toasts and tropical drinks that she'd lost her ever-loving mind. Crazy was the only thing that could explain how she ended up married to a sleazy reality TV producer who was once taped railing drunkenly about "bitches always breaking his heart." She didn't care that he was friends with her cousin and her cousin's husband. Well, technically, their employer — he produced an apparently non-sleazy reality travel show featuring her cousin, Carla, and Carla's new husband.
And he hadn't seemed like a slime ball at all when she'd seen him at the bar. But she'd married him. What the fuck was wrong with her?
Laura stood up and paced her dressing room, trying to figure out how to get out of this mess. She clenched her jaw. No one could find out she was married. If they did — if there was any hint that she was settling down — rumors would start flying that she was about to retire. Every time a principal dancer got married or pregnant, glee was a palpable thing in the rest of the company. Inevitably, a family and a serious career in ballet were untenable. At 28, she really should start considering leaving. The aches and pains that had annoyed her at 18 were nearly debilitating now. Most mornings, she had a hard time getting out of bed.
Nothing like waking up with Charlie — there she was warm and content. A totally foreign sensation.
An image of waking up in Charlie's arms, fully clothed, and cocooned in his warmth and the tropical breeze sent a shiver down her spine. And, even intensely hung over, she'd liked it. She shook her head.
If anyone in the ballet found out she had gotten married, the piranhas in the corps de ballet would start circling for her principal dancer position. And her chance to move to the New York City Ballet — to get a few years in the brightest spotlight in the world before retiring — would evaporate before they even came close to fruition.
"You can't tell anyone."
Her grandfather shook his head, not meeting her gaze. "Of course not." He would keep his promise because her getting married while drunk on tropical beverages and the romance of Carla's wedding to himself because it was embarrassing to the whole family.
He didn't say anything else, but his cheek twitched. Although he'd been around her a lot growing up, her grandfather was a cipher. She had very little idea of what went on in his head, or in his personal life. Her grandfather expressing an emotion would be almost as shocking as her father telling her he was proud of her or showing up to her parents' house and finding her mother sober.
Rogelio had moved to Florida with his two kids thirty-five years ago and rarely spoke of the wife he'd left behind. Since her Grandma Lola had moved to the States, she could see why her grandfather had never moved on. Lola was a force of nature who changed everything she touched.
She could tell that this situation was awkward for him. He'd seemed to inch toward the door after delivering the news. And all she had were feelings right now; disgust at herself, anger at the situation, and most of all — fear. "Seriously, no one."
"I'm required by law to keep our conversations confidential." Always the rule-follower, her grandfather. She got that from him, thriving on rules and routines rather than transient things like love. Though she'd been worried the return of her Grandma Lola would throw off the carefully balanced silence her family had come to over the years, apparently his ex-wife's return hadn't affected him at all.
"That's good." She turned away from himself. "Well, I guess you should file for an extension, abuelo."
* * *
Charlie's back ached and his eyes burned. He'd spent over twelve hours in the editing room, making sure that the footage from Jonah and Carla's wedding looked just right.
Officially, they hadn't shot any of the intimate moments — the actual ceremony or the preparations, but they'd tied in part of the wedding to the shoot they were doing on different parts of the island.
But, for most of the night, until he'd gotten swept up with some very potent tropical drinks and Carla's fetching cousin, he'd gotten some footage of the whole family celebrating his best friend and his lovely bride. Carla and Jonah hadn't planned to have the whole family at their wedding; they'd planned to elope. But Charlie had not-so-accidentally let the cat out of the bag to Carla's great aunt, Lola, who had informed the entire Hernandez clan, which immediately threw them into action.
Carla and Jonah hadn't wanted to deal with the fuss of a big wedding, but now that his friend was finally happy, they deserved to have their family with them for their wedding. Charlie imagined that some military campaigns weren't carried out with the same precision as Molly Hernandez's wedding plans.
Charlie wasn't a stranger to big families — he had five brothers — but the Hernandez extended family made him feel alone even as they'd sort of folded him into the group. All of his brothers seemed happy doing their parts in the family business — television — enjoying all the wealth that came with it. They enjoyed the approval of their father.
During his twenties, he and his father had butted heads so often over the shows Charlie brought into the network that every day had felt like a battle. And then, right after his very short marriage to his college girlfriend — which was an anathema in his family — had ended in her telling TMZ and the world that she'd left him because he was terrible in bed. Depressed, he'd posted a YouTube video of himself talking about how all women sucked. The video had gone viral, and he'd embarrassed his family. Even worse, he'd committed the cardinal sin in his family — he'd become part of the news cycle instead of dictating the news cycle from behind the scenes. The final blow had become when he'd been fired from the family business. He'd earned his reputation as a misogynist asshole with that video, and he'd tried to do penance since. He'd struck out on his own, and gotten out of the public eye. He regretted the distance between him and his family, but he was done being the family fuck up.
And despite the shadow of his shady past, he was happy with his life, or at least, he pretended to be. But in the past year or so, since Jonah had settled down, Charlie found himself wanting more. He wanted more than someone who assumed he was still that guy in the video. Someone who looked at him the way Carla looked at Jonah.
He didn't begrudge Jonah's happiness. His friend had had a long road to finding contentment with his wife and baby Layla; his college football career had ended abruptly and tragically after both his mother and girlfriend passed away. But Charlie couldn't help the pang of longing he felt whenever he was around Jonah and Carla.
Even though he'd been on a date almost every Saturday this year, Charlie had been having no luck finding someone who fit him as a long-term partner. Women either wanted him because they thought he would put them on TV, or they didn't take him seriously because he was a reality television producer. He made fluff. Too bad he was mostly attracted to women who thought the latter and never took the time to get to know him beyond the surface.
Women like Laura Delgado.
He rewound the footage until he saw her. His dick got hard just from the flash of her elegant neck and the side of her sharp jaw. The jaw he could still feel almost cutting into his palm as he held it still for a kiss. Getting Laura Delgado to let him kiss her had felt victorious. He wished they hadn't had so much to drink, and could have done more than kiss and frolic on the beach before falling asleep, wound together on a hammock.
When he'd woken up on the deck of his suite at almost noon the next day, partially cooked from sunburn, she'd been gone. Too bad, because he'd had plans for the lovely, prickly ballerina. And those plans hadn't faded away. If anything, they occupied more and more of his thoughts and his dreams. He'd never craved like this, and it was getting irritating.
Flashes of her gorgeous olive skin, her huge brown eyes, and that fall of thick hair tantalized him whenever his mind wandered. He felt like a crazy person wanting a girl he'd randomly made out with at a wedding so much that it was fucking with his sleep. He must have been living like a monk a little too much these days. All of his dating hadn't led to nearly enough sex; he needed connection for that he hadn't found with anyone but Laura.
When Carla and Jonah got back from their honeymoon, he was going to have to get Carla to give him Laura's number. Carla knew him well enough to know that his reputation didn't fit anymore. He had to see her again.
There was a commotion outside of the editing room where he was working that pulled his attention away from his stupid, dick-torturing memories. When the door opened, he could barely believe his eyes.
A very angry Laura Delgado, face red and breathing jagged, standing there and looking ready to kill him.
"You fucking asshole!"
Funny, he remembered her sounding sarcastic, bored, and a little breathless once he'd finally gotten her to put her mouth to better uses, but the thread of rage in her voice was new — and sexy. He tried to comb his mind for anything he could have done since returning from Bali that would have warranted this entrance and came up blank.
"What did I do?" He stayed sitting, certain he shouldn't make a move right now. His future ability to have children probably depended on it.
Her eyes narrowed into slits, and she slammed the door behind her. She wore a flimsy, cotton sundress, and he had to school himself not to give her the lazy once-over he was dying for. Somehow, he knew that flirting wasn't going to get him out of trouble this time.
"You did it on purpose, didn't you?" She walked toward him, her right hand forming a fist. The light shining from the screens cast part of her face in shadow, which served to make her look even more pissed off, like a cartoon villain. Was she actually going to punch him?
Confused, he held his hands up to cover his face. "I still don't know what I did."
She stopped about three feet away from him, and he was kind of glad. He was down for whatever sort of bedroom shit she'd like to do with him, but face-punching wasn't his kink.
"Are you just playing dumb, or are you just as clueless as I was until this morning?"
Her hand uncurled, and he finally breathed. She was still panting, and he wanted to offer her a seat, but she was a bit like a bomb about to go off right now, and he wasn't sure of the right move.
His brain flickered on and off like the lights during a thunderstorm. She couldn't possibly have said what he just thought she said. He looked at his left hand, wondering if a wedding band had suddenly appeared.
She cocked her head and pursed her lips, regarding him as though he were an idiot. "When do you think, asshole?"
The "asshole" didn't have quite the same sting as the first one, so he guessed he was winning there.
"In Bali?" His brain was a complete blank. Embarrassment crept in over his confusion. He hadn't gotten blackout drunk since college. And, even then, it was once or twice. He even remembered making the stupid video, which was probably a big part of the reason Laura was so upset about being married to him. "I don't remember."
"Well, I don't either." She put her hands on her slim hips, still looking down at him.
"Do you want to sit down?" He gestured at the other editing chair, figuring she might need to take a seat. He'd have been on the floor in a very un-masculine dead faint had he been standing when she'd told him that they were married.
"No. I won't be here long."
"I think we have some things to talk about." Like divorcing him. Fuck. No one in his family but him had ever been divorced. That's not something Laughlins did. His parents would be devastated if he was the family's first and second divorces. He could imagine his mother's tutting over his failure right now. His brothers were all happily married and reproducing at an alarming rate — not him.
"I don't need to sit down for you to agree to an annulment."
Charlie shook his head, hoping to clear the cobwebs, but she must have taken it as a refusal to give her what she wanted.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Before Daylight"
Copyright © 2018 Andie J. Christopher.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
This’s my first book by Andie J. Christopher and I wasn’t too impressed. While the writing was good I just didn’t care for Laura, the female lead. And I couldn’t imagine what Charlie, the male lead, saw in her. The set-up didn’t make sense, either. They are supposed to have met, gotten drunk and gotten married, all in one evening. Neither of them remembers much of the night, and yet when Laura approaches Charlie about it she is on the defensive and blames him. He, meanwhile, having only known her for a night, decides that he’s attracted to her and doesn’t want to end the marriage. Huh? The rest of the book is pretty much Charlie trying to woo Laura, while Laura goes back and forth between wanting to make the marriage work and wanting to cut all ties. It was enough to give me whiplash. Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
It was very interesting drunk get married love story. Ballerina Laura and TV producer Charlie met at the wedding get drunk and also married. And, of course, they completely forget that until is time for taxes. So they are both shocked and they both agree in annulment but Charlie cannot forget the passion and how good she felt under him so he insists on a date with her because he really wants to consume his marriage and wife. Circumstances lead them to stay married a while and they really start to live together until it's all too much for Laura. They are both well-developed characters. Charlie is loving loving loving his dirty mouth and he is ready to fight for Laura. She is a very interesting character. The past had her shape in a strong but also a person who is afraid to let anyone in that until Charlie. She surprised me in the end and it was a positive surprise and I liked her even more. I liked that story is unpredictable and you did not know what to expect. And the passion between Laura and Charlie hot hot hot. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly
4.5 Stars Before Daylight is an "accidentally married" romance between a man with a less-than-stellar reputation from his younger years and a prim ballerina. Having spent the last years improving his reputation, an accidental marriage and subsequent divorce is not what Charlie needs. If Laura has her way, the marriage will be annulled yesterday. Between interfering family and a growing attraction, the annulment quickly becomes a thing of the past. This author immediately pulled me in and had me believing the details of this familiar romance trope. That, and I quickly developed a desire to see these two get their HEA. Even with Laura's initial prickly behavior, I was sold on Charlie's connection to her. He, as well as the reader, are able to see past the mask. Simply put, this was a sweetly romantic, sexy, and humorous love story that kept me invested and wanting more. (This is my voluntary and unbiased review of an advanced copy of Before Daylight via Netgalley.)
Laura, Darlin’ it’s probably not a good idea to get hitched when you’re drunk. Of course, given your attitudes about marriage… Hard lessons you learned growing up… You’d have to be drunk to say “I do.” Never mind. So… What to do? An annulment seems the solution, if you could just get Charlie to go along with it. Easy, peasy. Oops! Maybe not! You see, Charlie has other ideas. It doesn’t help that he’s so… Stubborn. Impossible. Unworthy… Funny… Warm… Sexy mouth… No, no, no! This book is a wildly sweet emotional ride. Charlie and Laura’s journey to each other was difficult and complex. I enjoyed the supporting characters in this book as well. Bottom line: A good read. I would like to read more from this author. 4 stars.
i had thought the one night on south beach series was over once all the hernandez siblings got their happy endings. but there's a cousin and plenty of meddling from tia lola to entertain us in before daylight, a welcome return to the south beach world. when laura delgado learns that she'd secretly married charlie laughlin she's horrified. not only is he a known misogynist and playboy, getting married interferes with her life plans. she's reaching the pinnacle of her dance career. she's still hungry for more. dancing with the new york city ballet is her dream. but word getting out that she's married could nip that all in the bud. when she confronts charlie and learns that he has no idea what she's talking about she's not really mollified. and the thing about charlie is that he wants to get married. he actually wouldn't mind exploring marriage with laura. laura is full of sharp edges and flip-flopping behavior. she thinks she needs to cut out all the love in her life outside of ballet. she doesn't give charlie or anyone else enough credit to know that they'd be happy to love her in spite of it. and charlie is kind of a dreamboat throughout. like there wasn't one thing he did that i thought, oh dude, huge mistake. i'm half in love with him, so it's no surprise to anyone that laura is too. **before daylight will publish on april 17, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical press) in exchange for my honest review.
This book made me feel so many things. Swoony. Angry. Hurt. Weepy. Aggravated. Heartbroken. Hot. Happy. Though I didn't love or agree with everything the characters did, this book made me FEEL. And that's worth a lot. Laura Delgado is a prima ballerina in Miami. She's been fully focused on her dance career since she was about 8 years old. It's the only thing she's ever really wanted for herself, and she's kept her life regimented and planned in order to obtain her goals. Her family is a hot mess. She's not close to her 2 older brothers. Her dad is a horrible jerk. Her mom is a pill head. Her grandfather defected from Cuba many years before when her mom was young. But her grandmother refused to leave. Now her abuela, Lola, is in Miami as well, and no one is quite sure how to handle her. Laura's cousin Carla got married in Bali a few months before, and she met a guy there. She let herself drink entirely too much and get carried away with him. And apparently, she ended up married. She doesn't remember anything about it, but she knows she needs it annulled. And fast. Charlie Laughlin is a TV producer, and the son of a Chicago newspaper magnate. He isn't close to his family. His dad is a nightmare, and his 5 brothers all work for their dad in some capacity. Charlie wanted more from his life. He wanted to strike out on his own, and he has. He moved to Miami a few years before after his failed marriage, which was yet another black mark against him with his family. His best friend since college got married in Bali, and he went to the wedding and met an amazing woman. They had too many drinks and apparently he married her. Though he's shocked to find out he got married, he really doesn't want another failed marriage on his record, and he decides to convince her to give their marriage a real chance. Charlie and Laura had amazing chemistry from the start, but Laura was so prickly, and really fought him on every inch he managed to gain with her. She had this idea of how her life was going to be, and she clung to that idea so hard. To the detriment of everything else. I get that her life growing up was extremely difficult, and she learned to only rely on herself, but at some point you have to grow up and get it together. She was so brittle, and often was just outright mean to Charlie and it broke my heart every time. He really was willing to do anything to make her happy, and it was so painful when he realized that might not be good enough. I don't want to be one of those readers who loves everything about the hero, but judges the heroine for being "difficult", but it was really hard not feel that way here. Laura was quite unlikable for the first part of the story. And even later, once I understood her better, she still managed to make me want to smack her around. I hated how much she was hurting Charlie, and ultimately herself too, in her quest for self-preservation and the protection of the life she had convinced herself she needed. It hurt to watch her convince herself over and over that she was doing the right thing. The side characters here were entertaining, especially Laura's abuela, Lola. And the next book has been set up with Laura's older brother Max as the hero. This was a good story, but I had such a hard time connecting with Laura. That's clearly my own issue, and as I said before, this book made me feel so much, that it was still overall a win for me.
In a world filled with ballets and call sheets, they weren't looking for romance. Until love found them. Remember that saying about the right person coming into your life at the wrong time? Christopher takes that scenario and runs with it. Before Daylight is the tale of workaholics who meet at a wedding and unknowingly find their forever. The road to happily ever after is full of prideful regret and frustrating choices, but serendipity wins out in the end. Ms. Christopher gets the soul of a romantics. It's not about bleeding hearts or exaggerated happy endings. Love is about finding the ending that's right for you.