Ryan Rose and her fellow Spartans are finalists in a high-profile entrepreneurial competition. They're competing for life-changing money and for their futures. They have a solid plan to win. All they need to do is trounce the competition: rich frat boys from an archrival university. Easy, right?
Jett Trebuchet's first mistake was not realizing that Ryan and her friends were the competition. His second was expressing his unabashed confidence in his team's ability to win. After all, everyone knows the only thing MSU does better than U of M is produce beautiful, easy women…oh, and he almost forgot to say "dumb." And boy, does his team pay for that one.
As each side tries to game the other, something else seems to be getting in the way—attraction. Now Ryan and Jett must keep their teams from getting distracted by the opposite sex...and each other. All is not fair in love and war when it comes to winning this game.
Each book in the Pretty Smart Girls series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Lace Up
Book #2 Fearless
About the Author
Shae Ross grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. She discovered a passion for romance novels while on summer vacations, reading by the shores of Lake Huron. Shae attended Michigan State University and Detroit College of Law and spent the majority of her career practicing corporate law and running a title insurance business. She now writes romance full time and lives with her husband and three children in the greater Lansing area.
Read an Excerpt
Pretty Smart Girls: Lace Up
By Shae Ross, Candace Havens, Nicole Steinhaus
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Shae Ross
All rights reserved.
"I can't believe I let you guys talk me into this," Devi says.
We're sitting on top of our suitcases along with our friend, Jade. Devi is whining about how we scammed her out of a real spring break. Across the street, the Beta Pi sorority girls are loading SUVs. Words are painted on the side panel of each vehicle: Betas—Head—2—Florida—Spring Break 2015—Live—Beta—Love—Life!
"I'm sure we'll have some free time. We can still have a little fun," I offer, trying to sound enthusiastic.
Devi cranes her neck and pins me with a you can't be serious look as three more Betas stream out of their house, swinging Vera Bradley bags. She points a finger toward them. "Daddy's condo in Miami Beach would have been fun, Ryan—not some business school-entrepreneur competition in New York."
"Yeah, well, we're not those girls, Devi, and we don't have those kind of daddies," I say. Devi's dad has been out of her life since she was three, Jade's dad spends most of his time in an alcohol-induced stupor, and my dad died of pancreatic cancer when I was in grade school. "We're from the south side and that's exactly why we all need this win. This competition has huge potential for us."
The Betas are shouting back and forth, "I want to get a frappe for the drive," "I need gas," "We're still waiting for Hannah." Finally they agree to meet up at the gas station and half of them load up. Horns blast and hooting erupts as part of the ten-car caravan pulls out.
"You two owe me," Devi says in a resigned tone.
The SUV with the word "Head" painted on it swerves toward us and stops abruptly. I recognize the driver as the royal witch that had Devi's car towed last month for being half a foot over their driveway. Your car's spilling over like your back fat, she had said to Devi. I'm sure the only reason she's still alive is that there was a police officer present, writing the ticket.
The window slides down and the witch hangs a forearm against the door.
Super, this is just what we need right now.
"Ya know, girls, it works better if you put it up. Like this." She arches a hitchhiker's thumb into the air.
Devi yells back, "Does everyone have their herpes medication? I heard there's a real shortage in Miami."
The thumb flips into a raised middle finger and they cruise away. Devi's glare is so focused on the royal witch she doesn't notice that with the cars out of order, the caravan now reads: Betas—Love—Head—Spring Break 2015.
I pull out my iPhone and click a series of pictures.
"How far do you think they'll get before they realize they're a rolling advertisement for blow jobs?" Jade mutters.
"Probably Atlanta," I respond, handing Devi my iPhone. "Here, this will make you feel better."
"Oh my God." She rolls her head back and laughs hysterically. "This is soooo going on my Facebook page!" She wipes the tears from the corners of her eyes and squeezes me into a hug. "I love you, Ryan Rose, my beautiful, wicked friend."
A white limo is easing up next to the curb in front of us. Its lacquer finish gleams in the morning sun as the engine hums to an idle. The chauffeur pops up from the driver's side. "Pick up. Team Ryan," he says with a thick accent I can't identify.
"Yes," we chirp in unison, turning to load our bags.
I pull the door open and Jade half laughs, half gasps, as she falls onto the seat. "And here you thought we weren't going to have any fun on spring break," I say to Devi, presenting her with a triumphant look.
We high-five each other as the limo circles onto the entrance ramp.
"We are on our way to victory, girls."
Jade lifts a file folder out of her oversized purse. "Did you guys get a chance to read the paperwork?" She peers at me from beneath thick black lashes and pauses for my reaction.
"I read it," I say, pretending to be as aloof as an overfed alley cat.
Out of the sixty teams that competed for a slot in this competition, it figures we'd end up facing off with a team from U of M. The rivalry between our schools is legendary—and for me, it's personal. The team we are competing against is an all-guys team, and they'll be riding with us to Detroit Metro Airport.
Devi glances at her fingernails. "I despise them already."
Jade flips the page. "We should probably reserve judgment until we've met them, don't ya think?"
I lower my chin and raise my eyebrows. "Oh, I'm pretty sure we've met them—probably arrogant, probably think they're better than us ... in everything ... probably have a trust fund and a name with roman numerals after it." I glance out the window. "Yep, pretty sure we've met them."
"Did you know at the game last week we chanted, "GO GREEN, GO WHITE" and they responded, "CAN'T READ, CAN'T WRITE?" Devi says, and her mildly amused tone becomes more indignant. "Can you believe that?"
I hold up a clutched fist. "All the more motivation for us to crush them."
Jade continues reading. "On behalf of the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, welcome 'Treps! Your first mission is to relax and get to know your competing team members as you enjoy your first-class travel experience." She pauses and skims the paper. "When we arrive in Manhattan this evening, we'll be attending a cocktail reception. The teams will have an opportunity to meet business leaders from the Manhattan community ... seven p.m. tonight in the lobby of the Met."
"Aren't the Mets a baseball team?" asks Devi.
"The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It houses one of the most significant art collections in the world," Jade responds, giving her a flat look.
Devi shrugs her shoulders. "I'd rather see a game. Well, at least a cocktail reception sounds kinda fun."
"We're not here for fun, Devi. We're going to work our tails off and win this thing. And when we do, I'll have enough money for law school, you won't have to move back to your mom's house after graduation, and Jade will finally be able to help her mom." Jade gives me one of her "You don't have to do this for me" looks. It's that same look I'd seen a million times in elementary school. But this competition is about more than just defending Jade from school kids who didn't understand the quiet Asian girl with downcast eyes, who never wore clothes from Abercrombie, and had ingredients packed in her lunch most of us had never seen. This competition is about winning a $100,000 employment contract and giving all of our lives a major overhaul.
I put my hand on Jade's knee and nudge Devi with my shoulder.
"Oh, all right," she grumbles, smacking her hand on top of mine. "I didn't give up Miami Beach to lose. Hell yes we're going to win!"
"Hey, have you noticed we all match today?" Jade asks, interrupting our laughter.
We have on white button-up shirts and black pencil skirts. "Very businesslike." We nod, admiring each other.
An hour later the limo is exiting onto Main and turning down Huron. We've crossed enemy lines and are now entering the U of M campus. I strain to see over the dashboard, feeling the first sparks of anxiety flickering in my stomach.
I know the city of Ann Arbor because my jackass ex-boyfriend attends U of M. I stare out the window as we roll by neon signs, parking garages, and students carrying plastic bags. The limo turns, then we're driving past old, Tudor-style homes and columned estates—likely built by an auto mogul and now occupied by one of the many sororities or fraternities on campus. I squint and swallow. This route is looking way too familiar. My knuckles rap on the window, and the driver slides it down. "Are we picking up at a frat house?" What are the odds?
"Michigan ... University Michigan ..." he mumbles in a high-pitched accent, handing over his clipboard.
"Phi Sigma." Shit. "That's Phil's house." I throw my head back against the soft leather interior, my stomach churning with the dread and shame of a nine-month relationship that ended badly. Very badly.
"Would he be there now?" Jade asks with concern.
"He's probably on his way home to the East Coast for spring break, but I don't know for sure."
I glance at the clipboard and notice it's just one pickup, labeled "Team Jett: Phi Sigma Fraternity House." They must all be from Phi Sigma. Great. God, I hope I don't know any of them. In all the time that Phil and I dated, I was only at this house a handful of times, and always after hours to accommodate Phil's baseball schedule—or so he claimed. I rub my index finger over my lips as the limo eases up to the tri-level house. Prominent Greek letters hang above the double doors like a hood ornament. My breath suspends in my chest as we lean to the edge of our seats, anxious to size up our competition. A cell phone chirps crickets. Our limo driver shifts into park, blasts the horn, and answers his phone. We stare at the double doors, waiting. And waiting. Five one-more-minute hand signals later, our driver is still on the phone.
Devi clicks her tongue against her cheek. "What's taking them so long?"
"Probably picking out their matching polos," I reply.
Jade casts a look at our driver and I see her facial muscles tighten with annoyance. "Someone's gonna have to go up and get them or they'll make us late."
I ease back behind the tinted windows. "Well, it's not gonna be me."
Jade sighs. "I'll do it." She grabs the clipboard, shoves the door open, and marches forward like a soldier to the front lines.
A fleeting memory flashes through my mind: my own disheveled self, arguing with Phil on this front lawn at midnight, freezing my ass off in the snow, his new girlfriend lurking on the porch, frat guys pressing their faces to the windows watching the crazy ex-girlfriend have a complete meltdown. A chill moves down my spine as if I can still feel the icy imprint of his hands on the back of my neck. I squeeze-blink my eyes shut and suppress the thought.
"I can't believe this," I say to Devi.
"It's a big house. Maybe they won't recognize you ... and if they do, you have nothing to be ashamed of, Ryan. It's not your fault you call your boyfriend out for cheating and he shakes you until your brain rattles and throws you to the ground."
She's right. I know she's right. I'm just embarrassed that I actually put up with that much crap from Phil and that I was dating someone who was volatile enough that I needed a restraining order to get him away from me. I used to think I was smarter than that. I rest a fisted hand over my mouth and watch Jade on the porch.
One of the dark doors has opened and she's speaking to someone. She pauses and motions toward the limo and then pauses again. The door shuts, and she shakes her head, her fingers opening and closing as she marches back.
"They need five minutes." She ducks into the limo. "They're not ready."
Devi's forehead creases. "What a bunch of divas."
"I think they're hungover."
Jade nods. "They may still be drunk. The one who answered the door thought I was an escort from the limo company."
My mouth drops open.
"What a complete tool," Devi sneers. "Did you tell him to bite it?" Jade looks at her as if she's grown rabbit teeth. In all the years I've known Jade, I'm quite certain she's never told anyone to bite it.
"I just walked away," she says.
"Whoa!" Devi gasps, gripping my forearm with startling intensity.
"Holy Mother of Maud."
"What?" I follow her gaze and focus on the mass of raw male sex appeal coming off the porch as if they're stepping out of a Hollister billboard. A trio of pop-collared studs sauntering down the walk, their heads turning left, right, and left again as if looking for someone to challenge their badass-ness. Gorgeous and fit, coming our way and exuding a frat-boy confidence they are way too young to have earned.
"I call the tall one," Devi says, a lilt of excitement in her voice.
"Devi! You can't call any of them. They're our competition."
She snorts and belts out a guffaw. "My perspective on this spring break has so totally changed."
"They're the enemy. Our mission is to outplay them in the corporate setting Mr. Trott establishes. Don't get too chummy." I bite my lip and glance back at the studs. "No matter how good they look."
"Well, you know that old saying, "Keep your friends close and make out with your enemies."
My head snaps to her bulging eyes and smiling lips, checking her expression for seriousness.
"That is not the old saying," Jade says, and then tips her head. "Do you recognize any of them, Ryan?"
As they draw closer, I strain my mind for a shred of recognition. Nothing.
"I don't think so," I reply, feeling some measure of relief. If I don't remember any of them from my "Phil" days, they're not likely to remember me, right? God, I hope not.
The limo door swings open and the big blond that Devi "called" pokes his head inside. "Oh man," he says upon seeing us. He turns back to his cronies and fist bumps them. Their words are barely audible over the laughter ... something about traveling in style ... beautiful women.
Devi laughs and shakes her head. "I think they think we're escorts."
"Oh my God," Jade whispers in a horrified voice.
Seriously? If they had read the literature, they'd know the limo and plane trip were intended as a "get-to-know-your-competition- better" trip, not a "we-provide-girls-for-your-eye-fondling-pleasure" trip.
We watch them pile in, bouncing with the enthusiasm of little boys loading into Santa's sleigh.
The faint smell of bar smoke covered by a spritz of musky cologne invades our space. It slowly dissipates as they settle onto the bench seat across from us. We all exchange panning glances—three of us and three of them—summing each other up with completely opposite purposes in mind. A moment of awkward pause hangs in the air. I know I shouldn't do this, but I can't resist. I bounce to the edge of my seat, plastering my best escort-girl smile on my face.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen. Mr. Trott requested we accompany you as you travel to compete in the ACE's Entrepreneur competition." I swipe my hand across the air like the game show model displaying the washer and dryer no one wants.
Devi catches on to my game, and her grin widens. She moves to sit next to the tallest one. He responds to her with the enthusiasm of a Labrador retriever who hasn't seen his owner in weeks. She crosses her legs, puts one hand on her hip, and presses her shoulder forward. Jade and I know this pose as "The Devi." There's hardly a picture of her anywhere where she isn't in this position. Someone told her the Devi stance represented the most flattering angle for her generous curves, and it stuck in her mind like bare feet on a frat house floor.
"So, do blondes really have more fun?"
I turn to the dark-haired guy. He's been staring at me since he sat down. I'm sure that's the lamest line I've heard in my entire four years at Michigan State, but I pretend I'm charmed and acknowledge his question with a smile and quick raise of my eyebrows.
"I'm having fun now," I say.
He takes it as his invitation to maneuver his six-foot-something frame onto the seat beside me. For an unexpected moment I'm drawn in. His eyes are a mix of blue and charcoal, reminding me of liquid steel. A sharp emotion runs through me that I can't place. He feels ... familiar, but I'm certain we've never met. I would have remembered him.
The closer he gets, readjusting next to me, the more I want to stare. I feel as if I could let my eyes keep rolling upward until they sink into the back of my head and I fall over. Heat rushes up my neck and the escort- girl mask is draining from my face. I blink hard. Snap out of it, Ryan. It's not as if I haven't sat next to good-looking guys before.
"I'm Jett," he says, offering his hand to me.
Just in case he has read the materials or anything about the winning team at Michigan State, I use my last name. "Rose." I place my hand within his. His fingers feel warm and strong as they close completely around mine, sending a tremor up my arm and into my stomach. His gaze moves over my face with admiration. He looks as if he's inspecting me, searching for something. For a moment I think he might know I'm more than just an escort. Then again, maybe it's just me hoping. Devi's voice breaks my trance.
Excerpted from Pretty Smart Girls: Lace Up by Shae Ross, Candace Havens, Nicole Steinhaus. Copyright © 2015 Shae Ross. 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
Lace Up is the first book in Shae Ross’ Pretty Smart Girls series. This book is about three women from Michigan State University, and three men from the University of Michigan who compete against one another in an entrepreneurial competition in New York City. I had already read the sequel, Fearless, earlier this summer so I knew I would enjoy this book before I started. The second book focused on two of the other members of Teams Jett and Ryan (Ben and Devi), so this time around I got a chance to know more about how those two met, but also how Jett and Ryan ended up together. Being from Michigan and a U of M grad, myself, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the school pride and competition between the characters. I also got the inside jokes, and local references, which helped to enhance my enjoyment of this series. Jett and Ryan’s relationship was very well-developed. So much so that I forgot they had only known each other for a week by the end of the book. Their relationship follows a natural progression, so it made the development more realistic than it might have otherwise been. Jett and Ryan’s relationships wasn’t the only one that I found to be well-developed. The relationships being formed between Ben/Devi and Vaughn/Jade also felt realistic, and now that I already know what happens between Ben and Devi, I can’t wait for the third book to see what happens with Vaughn and Jade. I loved Fearless, and have no problem recommending Lace Up as well. Both books could be read as standalones, but if you’re looking for a good new romance, then you’ll definitely want to read Lace Up first. However, if you don’t there isn’t any worry. Author Shae Ross does a really fantastic job of catching new readers up to speed so they won’t feel lost. As for the sexy scenes, there are a few, descriptive scenes, but Ross doesn’t drag them out, and they can feel a bit more rushed then I’d like. Yet, I’m happy she doesn’t use any of the sex scene descriptive words that make me yak (i.e. moist), so I’ll give her a pass. I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I have to say, I really liked this book. Right from the beginning this book had me laughing! Ryan, Devi, and Jade have signed up to participate in an entrepreneur competition that not only ends with a job with the company but also 100,000 sign on for them to split. Thing is, they are up against Jett, Ben, and Vaughn from their rival college. Right from the start of these six meeting I was laughing and immediately liked all of the characters! They were relatable. Smart as hell, but easy to relate to. I think what I liked the most is how the girls really did fight for everything and so did the guys. The fun part begins when things start to heat up. After all these people are working together for a solid week and competing. It would be hard for them not to become friends. There are a few OMG moments but I saw it coming. But that's okay! I think it actually made this group of people better! This is my first book by this author but it will not be my last! ***Complimentary copy provided in exchange for my honest review.Thank you!***
"Pretty Smart Girls: Lace Up" by Shae Ross was a really good story. I loved how it was filled with so much pranks and laughter. Yes, the story had those deep feeling moments, but I think over all if was a light fun read. "Pretty Smart Girls: Lace Up" is defintiely a fun and fast read. Over spring break, two teams from rival schools compete in an apprentice competition. They get to try their hands at several parts of the business and compete to see which team will be offered jobs with the company. Team Ryan is an all girls team from Michigan State and then Team Jett is an all male team from University of Michigan. I think the characters are really what made of this story. Their interactions together were great. I couldn't help but fall in love with them. Ryan has so much hurt from her past relationship that Jett keeps bringing it all to the surface. Now Ryan is trying to figure out how she feels and Jett and Jett is trying to figure out how he feels about Ryan. Jett,Benn and Vaughn completely fit Ryan, Devi, and Jade perfectly. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters are watching them fall for each other. I think Ross did a wonderful job with this novel. It was fun and entertaining. I felt like I really got to know the characters. I do hope that she continues with these characters and brings them back in another novel.
This book is a good read. Ryan and Jett story is life isn't all fun and games. Finding someone to love is better then any game.
Loved this one! Filled with laughs, pranks, and a bit of angst made it a very enjoyable read. Over spring break two teams from rival schools compete in an apprentice type competition. Team Ryan is an all girl team and Team Jett is all male. Both teams want the win badly and will do just about anything to win. This is a fabulous book and one I would recommend to everyone.
Pretty Smart Book, too! This is a great contemporary romance, with smart teams of characters in a competition that could easily change their lives and who make assumptions about the other team that dramatically influence their initial interactions. Ryan Rose and her two female friends really are pretty, they are also usually classed as very smart girls. In fact they are so great they’ve landed themselves places as finalists in an entrepreneurial competition against just one other team! The competition, however, are from the nearby rival university and Ryan has a history with someone from there – complete with a restraining order to stop him seeing her – that colours the girls’ attitudes to the boys. Jett Trebuchet is the leader of the all male team and manages to put his foot in his mouth when first meeting the rival team, assuming they are escorts rather than competitors, by making derogatory comments about girls from Ryan’s university! This validates Ryan’s feelings about their rivals and so the competition rivalry starts before team Jett even realise they are in a limo with team Ryan! The competition is lively with great challenges to test the ability of these entrepreneurs but the chemistry between them is also a key element and potential distraction! Misunderstandings, past events, family and friends all play their part. All the characters on both teams have their own issues, reactions and problems which make them well rounded and realistic, with significant impacts on events and relationships. I hope the read more about them all in future books! Thanks to the author and publishers for letting me read a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The story is about two teams, one competition. Ryan and her friends have entered into a corporate competition which will earn them much needed money and also a contract with the firm hosting it. Three girls really need to win this competition. They are all brilliant and more than deserve this chance. Jett and his friends have also entered into the competition. All three guys come from rich families and apparently do not need to win this competition. At least that is what the girls thought when they first met them. Similarly guys also made some presumptions about their rivals. Things started badly and then the rivalry between both teams kept increasing especially because Ryan and Jett were taking things pretty personally. Both were attracted to each other as well. It was very difficult for them to not act upon this attraction. There are some LOL moments in the book and some very irritating scenes between Ryan and Jett. Sometimes both acted like children rather than grown people. But all in all it was an interesting read. i will recommend it to all romance lovers, especially people who love romance between nemesis/rivals.