Oh. My. God. Carrie Morgan can
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Fake Engagement, Real Temptation
The Passion and Protection Series
By Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Joya Ryan
All rights reserved.
Blake Harris had no idea what he was doing staring down the door of his best friend's baby sister. Okay, he did have an idea, he just wasn't loving it.
Carrie Morgan was on the other side of that door, and yes, Blake cared about her. He'd known her brother since they were kids. But this was her wedding. Or it was supposed to be. And now she was on the other side of the door, in tears, because her scumbag fiancé had abandoned her for another woman.
Shit. Blake had never been close to her. He'd been sixteen and she'd been nine when his mom had died, and he'd spent so many afternoons with her older brother, Lane. But hell. Lane was his best friend. He couldn't just let his sister suffer like this.
Blake would go back to his outdoor guiding business in the mountains soon, bury himself in work, but not before he made sure Carrie was okay.
He hadn't even had a chance to see her yet, since she'd not left the bridal suite in forty-eight hours. Ever since she'd gotten word that the groom wasn't going to show. Could have been worse. She could have been literally stood up at the altar. At least the piece of shit fiancé had told her two days before the wedding.
Now, Blake was staring down her hotel room door and asking God to open it.
He knocked twice.
"Carrie?" he called. He heard low music and rustling. "It's Blake. Come on, little girl, open up."
Lane was the closest thing to a brother he had, and neither distance nor time had changed that. Then there was Carrie. The sweet girl Blake and Lane had spent their teenage years playing Uno with and looking after. Until Blake had graduated college and moved to the city.
Shit. He was an ass for not being around more. Poor girl was likely crying, and that made him want to punch the douchebag that had hurt her. Maybe later he'd help Lane hunt the prick down.
Blake took the keycard that Lane had given him out of his pocket. "I'm coming in," he announced. "Just want to check on you ..." He opened the door and peeked in. "Carrie?"
He stepped into the room. It was a massive suite with a sitting area and kitchen. The plush furniture was lined with roses, and unlit candles were scattered around everywhere. Ah shit, so this was her honeymoon suite.
He stepped farther in and heard the low sound of music get louder. It was coming from the open bedroom door. He looked in and found —
"What the hell?" he asked, taking in the scene, or rather the woman before him.
The strawberry-blonde five feet in front of him was moving and shaking in the middle of the room. What was more distracting was the fact that she was in nothing but a pair of panties and a matching white tank top. Her eyes were locked on the wide screen hanging on the wall. He glanced at the television. She was doing ... Jazzercise?
"Carrie?" His voice decided to break a little around the one word he'd said several times but now held a lot more heat. Sure, his blood felt hot, but his skin was cold.
So this is what shock feels like.
She froze and faced him. "Blake?"
He smiled, and her body remained still while her chest heaved with deep breaths. Those inhales made the thin cotton stretch over her breasts in a way that made his mouth instantly water; it was better than her dancing. Because any more bouncing on her part and he might forget she was his best friend's little sister and lose his damn mind, wondering how many more deep breaths it would take to make that tank top nonexistent.
She put her hands on her hips, not bothering to cover up. Something he wasn't completely upset about, since the woman was smoking hot. She wasn't a little girl, he knew that. But he'd barely seen her since she was a teenager. And seeing her now, all woman — worse, his type of woman — that fact hit harder than the last.
He glanced down, attempting to take a break from marveling at her, but all he accomplished was getting flashes of those toned thighs and adorable pink-tipped toes.
Nope. She definitely wasn't the kid he grew up with anymore. She was twenty-six, with a tight body, perfect ass, and breasts he'd just learned had no problem doing a Baywatch slow-motion run in place.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
She'd invited him to the wedding, but he realized she likely meant "What the hell are you doing in my hotel room?"
"I'm here to see you," he said.
She nodded, as if his answer was good enough, and walked to the bedside table. She seemed ... carefree? Not at all the crying woman he'd expected to find. Then she grabbed a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniel's off the table and took a few swigs.
Well that explains things.
"Glad to see you're staying hydrated," he said. She wasn't carefree; she was drunk. And exercising. An odd combination, but he could see the logic. Drink away the sorrows and get the endorphins going. He'd try it out himself next time he felt so lonely he forgot why a relationship was off the table for him.
She winced on her final swig and wiped the back of her hand over her mouth.
"Yep. Hydrating is important," she said. "I've got to stick with my video exercise. Been doing this for six months to get 'bikini ready,' and if I stop now, then ..."
She trailed off and folded her lips together as if to fight off tears.
Ah, hell. Put him between a woman and a man who meant her harm, he knew what to do. Swing until the other guy went down. But a crying woman? One who'd already been abandoned by the guy? Yet another sign Blake had failed by not getting here early. Maybe then he could have caught the scumbag before he disappeared to who knew where.
But nope. Blake's life and job were 100 percent on his time and agenda. Freedom was a heady thing, and he would always be free. Never tied to a woman, never love, because the loss that came with love was too much.
But this woman was different. The protective instinct he had came roaring to the surface at the first sign of water lining her eyes. She was hurting. Her shoulders sinking. And there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. But he so badly wanted to.
She shook her head. "I guess I don't have to do the videos anymore, now that I'm not going to Hawaii." She took another swig. "Guess it didn't matter how hard I worked out; Kevin left anyway. The whole time he was cheating! Can you believe that? With his trainer. I want a refund on all those 'classes' he signed up for to get his own ass 'bikini ready,' because I doubt that nailing your trainer burns more calories than a treadmill."
Blake took a step toward her. Her hair was in a pile on the top her head. Random strands fell down to frame her face. Her creamy skin was flushed and glowing from slight perspiration, and she was ... sad. She was trying to hide it. Trying to find anger. But he saw the deep ache behind her eyes.
He didn't do sad. Didn't do hurt. It was his job to provide adventures and protect. Anyone and everyone. But especially those closest to him. It was a job he took seriously and made a damn good living out of doing. One moment could change your life forever. So a smart person chased every fantasy and adventure they could have. Which was why Blake loved taking out everyone, from hikers to hunters to nature nuts. They wanted adventure, and he gave them the safety to do the craziest things.
He shook his head, thinking of the one woman he couldn't keep safe back when he was a kid.
"Tell me how I can help you," he said. It was the same sentence he said to his clients before helping them to fulfill their fantasy adventures. While this situation might be outside of his norm, it started with the same basic principal — how could he make Carrie feel better?
"Can you make the last two days go away?" she whispered. "Undo the fact that the man I trusted lied to me and cheated on me? Make tomorrow happen, where I get on a plane and enjoy my honeymoon?"
Blake frowned. "I wish I could, little girl." He stepped closer and took the bottle out of her hand. Her head fell and her glossy eyes fused to the floor. He knew body language, and hers was screaming defeat. She was embarrassed. Heartbroken. Shrinking.
He couldn't allow it.
That's when reality hit him.
"You're in your honeymoon suite," he said.
She nodded, like duh, moron, and he grinned. There was a bit of that sass left in her. He just had to tap into it.
"And you were supposed to go on your honeymoon tomorrow."
Again, she nodded.
He looked around. "Seems to me you're trying to have the adventure you wanted. So why don't you keep doing that?"
"What are you talking about?" she asked, blowing a lock of hair out of her eye and reaching for the bottle, but he held it out of reach. Just like when they were kids. Only thing missing was him placing his free palm on her forehead while she swiped at the treasure he held.
Instead, he gently cupped her chin and lifted her face. Those bright eyes met his.
"Unfortunately, I left my magic wand in my other jacket," he said. "I can't make the last two days go away. But maybe there's one thing I can do."
She looked at him with wide eyes and so much hope that he knew he was on the brink of the best and worst idea he'd ever had.
"I can't make that asshole unhurt you, but I can make it so you do get on a plane and enjoy your honeymoon."
"What?" she asked breathlessly.
"You should go on your honeymoon," he said. "Go have your adventure."
When those lush lips parted and the hint of a smile crept up, he knew that this was a bad, bad idea. But the alternative of her wallowing in sadness wasn't an option.
"I wouldn't enjoy it," she said. "I've always wanted to go to Hawaii, but ... I can't. It'll just remind me how alone I am. I want this fantasy ... but instead I have ..." She lifted her arms up and motioned to the room. "An empty room. A broken promise."
"You can make it your own," he said, and before he thought better of it, he added, "Tropical island, beautiful woman, you'll be fine. I bet Lane will even go with you."
She frowned. "My brother is not part of any fantasy ever."
"I meant to protect you."
She huffed. "I don't need protection."
"Well someone should look after you. Especially if you're going to drink and bench press."
She laughed, and that one sound made his chest swell like he'd won a victory. "Yeah, well, I don't need Lane to be my spotter. But maybe you're right about going anyway," she said.
Good. Progress. Now he just needed to find Lane, because he knew there was no way he'd let her leave the mainland in this vulnerable state. Yep, she needed a spotter for her trip.
You could go with her.
No. Hell no. Where had that voice come from?
He'd done his job. Cheered her up and gotten her to leave the room. Success. He'd take it. And he'd not think about how that damn tank top was mocking him right now with little glimpses of creamy cleavage.
"Spotter," he repeated. "I'll go talk to Lane and —"
"Bye," she said, pushing him toward the door. Clearly not liking the turn of conversation. But she was out of her mind if she thought she was getting out of the state alone.
Only as she shoved him out the door and blew him a kiss, Blake wondered if he'd just helped or made things a hell of a lot worse.
"For the love of all things holy ... and pink," Blake muttered to himself, standing at the front of the church, trying to strategize a way past the angry mob that stood between him and his best friend, Lane. After talking with Carrie earlier, it took several missed calls and a few texts to find Lane and talk strategy. He'd run around town looking for him and finally got intel that he was at the church. Where Carrie was supposed to be getting married today.
And judging by the look of people, not everyone had gotten the memo that the wedding was off. Which put Lane in the middle of the shit storm. That was so him. Damage control. What Blake would give to have Moses part that sea of pissed off people right now.
Judging by the endless waves of flowers lining the church pews, you'd think baby Jesus decorated from the Rainbow Brite collection. Nope, bride-to-be Carrie Morgan was the one who loved the color enough to clearly buy out every florist within the hundred-mile radius of Denver, Colorado. Only there'd be no wedding today, and Blake really needed to talk to Lane about his conversation with Carrie. He'd be damned if she left for Hawaii on her own.
Blake reevaluated the mob. He needed to get to Lane without hitting these people who were throwing anger bombs. Like great-aunt Mae yelling at Mr. Morgan about how her rotary telephone never got the message about the wedding being off.
He'd feel bad for Lane later, and the fact that he was currently talking Great Grammy Morgan out of having a heart attack from the distress of sweet Carrie calling off the wedding. Yep, Blake could help in other ways ... just so long as it got him out of this church, away from all this love and marriage crap, and back to protecting Carrie. He'd get Lane on the plane with her, and then he'd return to his business. Where things were nice, safe, and predictable. Yeah, people went with him for an adventure, but it was always a fantasy. He'd never put anyone in any real danger.
This whole wedding day debacle just proved his point. You couldn't open your heart to something real. Not without watching it suddenly die. But poor Carrie had opened her heart. He almost envied her for having the courage to take a chance.
Shit, were the walls closing in on him?
"Blake!" Mr. Morgan called. Lane and Carrie's dad was yelling at him as he rallied around Lane. The man was like a father to him. With Blake having spent most of his childhood after his mom died at the Morgans' house, he knew almost everyone at the wedding. Which was why he really, really didn't want to go to the mob. He just wanted to get Lane on the airplane with Carrie.
But the particularly pissed off father of the bride — the guy who'd shelled out a pretty penny for these endless flowers, on top of God knew what else, only to not see his daughter walk down the aisle — called him over again.
Maybe if I slip through ... stay near the window ... I can head Lane off at the altar ...
There. An opening. Like a running back, he broke hard right and hustled to his target, dodging all the family members he'd known since elementary school, and leaned in to Lane's side.
"Did you talk to Carrie?" Lane said quietly into Blake's ear.
"She's not opening her suite door," Mr. Morgan said, coming to stand by Blake and Lane. "I knocked and she isn't answering. My baby girl is barricaded in there, isn't she?" Mr. Morgan said, and Blake hated to see him worrying so much. The Morgans were his only family. And even though he hadn't seen Carrie in over a year — his place out in the mountains kept him busy, and Denver was a shit shot most of the time — he still wanted to help.
"I just spoke with her, sir," Blake said. "She's doing all right."
"See," Lane said, as if reading his mind. "Blake fixed everything. Didn't you, Blake?"
"Absolutely," Blake agreed.
Mr. Morgan slowly nodded. "I'm going to find her mother and let her know our girl is okay. Thank you, Blake." The old man touched him on the shoulder, then went off to find his wife.
Lane pulled Blake aside from the mob, which was firing questions left and right at him, and talked low so only he could hear him.
"Tell me the truth. Now that Dad can't hear. What happened with Carrie?" Lane said.
"I convinced her to go on her honeymoon. She needs to get away from this. It's clear she's walking a fine line of devastation, and I think she needs to get that adventure."
Lane nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense. But she can't go there alone."
Now it was Blake's turn to give the duh, moron face. "I know. That's why you're going with her. Keep an eye on her. Everyone wins."
Lane dropped his head and wiped his brow. "I would. But I have a huge deal I'm closing this week. I have to be here." He sighed hard. "But Carrie can't be alone right now. That asshole wrecked her world." He glanced at the ceiling. "I'll figure it out. I'll find a way to go and keep an eye on her."
"No." Blake sighed now. "I'll go. You take care of the deal."
Lane raised an eyebrow. "You'll go? I don't know. How's Carrie going to feel about that?"
"She won't even know I'm there. I do this kind of thing all the time."
Which was true. He set up the adventures for his clients and then became invisible. Unless something went wrong.
Excerpted from Fake Engagement, Real Temptation by Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2017 Joya Ryan. 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
It is not often that you read a book and the story stays with you for days. Joya Ryan has outdone herself with this story about boundless and true love. Well written, well paced, with thoroughly colorful characters, this is a shut-yourself-in-the-room-'til-your're-done read. One of the best happily ever afters that I have read in a long time! Congratulations and thank you, Joya. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
If you like the fake to real and brother's best friend trope, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Blake and Carrie find they have good chemistry as they pretend to be in a relationship. This of course leads to actual feelings, but Blake being a stubborn male, makes a mess of things. The good news is he makes up for it nicely. Most of the story is predictable, but still fun. Lighthearted and sexy romance perfect for a quick afternoon read! I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own.
Cute, but too short--pretty much every aspect of it just didn't feel quite developed enough to be credible. Both Blake and Carrie are likable, and the reader wants them to get together, but even for two people who have known each other for years (it's a best friend's little sister story) everything here moves waaaaay too fast--especially since they haven't spent much time together since he'd graduated college; Blake admits to himself that they've "never been close" when the story begins. (Which makes Carrie's "he did know her. And she knew him. Far more than Kevin or anyone else" a few days later a bit problematic.) Still, there are some really sweet moments and other pretty funny ones sprinkled throughout--and it is a very quick read. If you're able to suspend your belief for a few hours, especially if fake relationship and/or best friend's little sister troupes are your "thing" or you already love the author,then by all means, give it a try. Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B- I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Real , Sexy and Sassy come to thefront of this Joya Ryan Read Joya Ryan has written an engaging romance story about friends who come to realize that they have “feelings” for each other. And all this happens after Carrie is left at the alter by her scheming and lying ex boyfriend/fiancée. He left her for Carrie’s trainer that SHE got to work out and look good for the wedding, well her ex and her trainer sure were knocking boots when Carrie caught them. No worries, she cut the ex-loose and decided to go on her honeymoon alone. Since she pretty much paid for everything. She is going to go to Hawaii alone but nope, her older brother and by extension, his best friend Blake are worried about why she is leaving. So Blake offers to go and keep an eye on her. Blake and Carrie are friends but she is bound and determined to do things her way. Blake has always wanted Carrie but he has known he has to keep his mind clean and hands to himself around her but Carrie doesn’t care. Either they give in to the passion and see where things go or he can go off by himself because she doesn’t plan on letting him go with her. There is a lot of twists and turns in this book that wheat my interests and when the ex happens to just show up at this Retreat. Its time for these two to come up with something to throw the ex off Carrie’s back and also make the ex think she has moved on and fallen in love and he ( the ex) is totally forgotten. Oh what a total wrong idea for these two. They elicit a hot chemistry whenever they are around each other. Blake keeps telling himself he is there to protect Carrie but that fake excuse falls by the waste side when Carrie is around. There are many twists and turns in this book that will keep you entertained and you will fall in love with the MC and their problems. Will they or wont they is the question. You have to read to find out,. My rating: 4.5 stars **** "I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
Wow! I do love a take charge man, and Blake fit that role to a "T!" My heart hurt for Carrie and so many times throughout the story I wanted her to fight back, yell, or slap Kevin. But she took the high road and I was more impressed with her then. Blake offered her the deal of a fake relationship, but dang if that didn't turn hot and sexy real quick. Those two had some very nice times. My favorite scene was the bathroom - Yowza!!!. Overall I loved how they worked together as a couple. She helped him realize what he truly wanted. And he helped her see that she was strong and had support even when she felt alone. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
3 stars Fake Engagement Real Temptation was an okay read. The writing was well done and the storyline engaging. Blake and Carrie were likable, endearing characters and the sexy times were hot & steamy. My only issue was with the time frame of the relationship, I found it hard to believe their feelings after such a short time together. If you're looking for a quick and steamy read you'll enjoy Fake Engagement Real Temptation by Joya Ryan.
Fake Engagement, Real Temptation is perfect combination of sexy, sweet,and witty! I enjoyed reading this book :) Joya Ryan has an amazing writing style!
carrie and blake have known each other forever. blake is carrie's brother's best friend. and when carrie decides to go on her honeymoon by herself after being stood up at the altar, blake can't stop himself from tagging along. after all he's been charged to protect carrie, and an all-inclusive resort in hawaii is dangerous? okay, so the set-up here doesn't necessarily track, but who cares? fake engagement, real temptation is a classic category romance, with all the tropes in place and they work beautifully. i mean, i've said before how i love the fake relationship trope. it works for me. blake and carrie don't start the trip with the intentions of faking a romance. but when the fake romance leads to a first class upgrade, and then later when it leads to one-upping the jerk ex-fiancé, it's all in good fun. except things get heated pretty quickly. and as always sex complicates matters. especially since carrie is dying for love and marriage and the baby carriage, while blake is running scared from anything like responsibility for others that could lead to heartbreak. he's messed up because his mom died of cancer while he was young after his father abandoned the family. he irrationally feels like he failed her because he couldn't fix the problem back then, so that he lives his life in such a way that he runs toward every danger so that he can be the hero, except in his relationships where he runs away from real intimacy. this is the real conflict in the novel, and blake needs to get over his hang-ups in order to fight for the connection that he and carrie share. because what they do share couldn't be less fake. and even though there are some super over-the-top public declarations that make me want to die of embarrassment on the characters' behalf, it is super romantic and totally dreamy how these two end up together. definitely a total call back to the wedding singer. **fake engagement, real temptation will publish on january 30, 2017. i received an advance reader copy from netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for an honest review.
Fake Engagement Real Temptation by Joya Ryan is another win for this fabulous author. This is an older brother’s best friend turned lovers story and is off the hook. There is just so much to love in this fast and fun read. With Fake Engagement, Ms. Ryan delivers a story that engages the reader from the very first page and has so many feels. You will never be disappointed when picking up a book by Ms. Ryan...wtg!!! An ARC was generously provided in exchange for an honest review of which this is both honest and completely voluntary.
I really enjoyed reading this book, love the cover.I can't wait for her next book.
Fake Engagement Real Temptation was a lot of fun as long as you don't take it too seriously. It's a sort of forbidden romance because Carrie is Blake's best friend's little sister. The chemistry between the two of them is hot and makes for some steamy scenes. I said that you can't take this one too seriously because there are so many coincidences, cliches, and unbelievable moments. The ex and his new mistress happen to show up on the same vacation as Carrie and Blake. Not only that but their room is also right next to theirs...and they share a bedroom wall so you can probably guess what kinds of sounds are coming through the wall. They also happen to show up ALL THE TIME during different activities because they happened to plan the same ones as them. The ex was the typical cliche "bad guy" right along with the "evil" mistress. I really don't see what she saw in him to begin with. There were a few times that the story was a little unbelievable, in my opinion. Carrie admits that her and her ex-fiance hadn't slept together in at least a year, and for some reason she never thought that was weird?? Also, when Blake finds out Carrie's ex proposed to his mistress, he decides he's going to propose to Carrie to make her ex jealous... Because that won't seem odd. He just happened to propose right after finding out that the ex did?? Pretty sure the ex would have figured out it was all fake at that point. ** I received an ARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. **
After being dumped on what was suppose to be her wedding day by her cheating ex, Carrie Morgan decides to pull herself up and show the world she's over it. Honeymoon tickets in hand she's off to Hawaii. Couple of problems though. Her overprotective brother has sent his best friend Blake Harris to keep an eye on her. Second problem - her ex decided to come as well. Things prove real interesting when Carrie persuades Blake to play along and fake being together to get back at her ex. While the overall story was slightly predictable, I did find it very enjoyable. Blake was such a great guy and while he was trying to be good and stay loyal to his friend, Carrie was tempting him all along the way. The ex was just a douche and she should have been happy to be rid of him. The characters definitely made the story great. I would recommend this one.
3.5 Fake Stars! I liked the fact that we got a brother best friend trope that doesn't start out with a secret crush. Yes, they are both attracted to each other but there was no longing to be together. They bickered back and forth and that was pretty comical. Things change when they find out Carries cheating ex came on what should have been their honeymoon with the woman he cheated on her with. To save face, Carrie asks Blake to pretend to be her new lover. The duration of the story is Carrie and Blake competing with the cheaters while they all are stuck doing the same excursions. It was funny in some places and a bit much in others. Overall, it was a cute read with a sweet ending. ARC provided by NetGalley.
ARC Review: Fake Engagement, Real Temptation by Joya Ryan Joya Ryan creates sensual delights. With Fake Engagement, Real Temptation she shows her skills as a triple threat. Blake and Carrie not only enticed with their bubbling attraction. Their friendship showcases the right amount of humor and memorable moments for a stroll down memory but the developing distance between them is enough to break the heart. It was obvious the motions were deep but the self -doubt were real. There is more to these characters than the start of an attraction, but will the insecurities doom the happy ending?