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Planning for Love

Planning for Love

3.9 88
by Christi Barth

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Hopeless romantic Ivy Rhodes and anti-Cupid Bennett Westcott request the pleasure of your company for their disaster of a courtship

Wedding planner Ivy Rhodes is the best in the business, and she's not about to let a personal problem stop her from getting ahead. So when she's asked to star in the reality TV show Planning for Love, it doesn't matter that the show


Hopeless romantic Ivy Rhodes and anti-Cupid Bennett Westcott request the pleasure of your company for their disaster of a courtship

Wedding planner Ivy Rhodes is the best in the business, and she's not about to let a personal problem stop her from getting ahead. So when she's asked to star in the reality TV show Planning for Love, it doesn't matter that the show's videographer happens to be a recent—and heartbreaking—one-night stand.

Bennett Westcott admits he didn't handle his encounter with Ivy very well. But looking at her beautiful smile— and great body—through a camera lens every day? He can't be faulted for suggesting they have some no-strings fun.

The more time they spend together, the more Ben realizes Ivy isn't the wedding-crazed bridezilla he'd imagined. But if he doesn't trust himself to make a relationship last, how can he convince Ivy to give him another chance?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Barth’s contemporary trilogy launch charms readers with a delightfully intelligent heroine who believes firmly in the power of love. Handsome cameraman Bennett Westcott coaxes wedding planner Ivy Rhodes to appear on the reality TV show Wild Wedding Smackdown, saying it will help her business. Sparks fly and the two jump in the sack. Despite a fabulous “sexual marathon” followed by a near-perfect day exploring Chicago, Ivy’s professed faith in old-fashioned romantic ideals sends Bennett running to the airport. When he returns as the producer of another wedding planner–centered reality show, Ivy agrees to go on a single date with him while strategizing how to “convince him dating isn’t an evil, soul-sucking tool to rob him of his masculinity and independence.” Fans of wedding bells and sassy contemporaries will love the well-drawn chemistry and a heroine with brains and heart. (Aug.)

Product Details

Publication date:
Aisle Bound Series
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ivy Rhodes lay sprawled at the bottom of the stone steps, feet tangled in the straps of a large black duffel bag. Everything hurt and, to top it off, she thought she'd heard her dress rip. At the very least, the pale pink satin had to be smudged from her ungraceful slide down the sweep of old stones dominating the foyer of the Great Hall at Cafe Brauer. Worst of all, the round lens of a video camera bobbled less than an inch from her nose.

"Are you kidding me? You're filming this?" Ivy's voice rose to a high squeak on the last word. Her famous, unflappable composure threatened to crack. Because who wouldn't be flustered when their humiliating clumsiness got recorded for posterity on a wedding video? She dropped her cheek back to the cool stones and waited for a wave of dizziness to subside. Hopefully, if any of the caterers needed to walk by her to finish setting up the ballroom, they'd avoid stepping on anything important, like her dress or her head.

"Ollie, you idiot! Get out of the way." The deep, baritone voice issuing the command buzzed with almost as much annoyance as Ivy felt.

A pair of highly polished dress shoes entered her limited field of vision, replacing the scuffed loafers belonging to the cameraman. Hoping this indicated the camera was gone, Ivy lifted her head once more. Not only had the camera disappeared, but an incredibly handsome man now crouched in front of her.

Although it was true almost every man looked good in a tux, this one in particular was downright yummy. Broad shoulders filled out his jacket. Impeccable tailoring emphasized the vee shape of his torso. His chin had a movie-star cleft deep enough to anchor a small boat. A streaky thicket of blond hair set off piercing blue eyes. Combined with his unusual-for-April-in-Chicago tan, it gave him a bit of a surfer look.

"Are you okay? Here, let me help you up," he said, without waiting for an answer. Strong arms lifted her off the floor, cradling her against a very firm chest. Her long dress, albeit possibly streaked and torn, cascaded down to his knees. It was like a scene out of a movie: the formalwear, the romantic pose, the Prince Charming lookalike carrying her. Or, to be perfectly honest, one of several favorite fantasies she mentally thumbed through instead of counting sheep. Ivy's heart did a quick flip flop. These things never, ever happened to her. This moment was well worth a few scrapes and bruises.

"Not that I'm complaining, but where are we going?" she asked.

"To find you a chair. We need to assess your injuries before you try to stand."

What a strangely technical thing for him to say. Not at all the warm, charming words she'd hoped to come out of his lips. "Are you a paramedic?"

"Nope. But I am certified in advanced first aid. I just don't want you to sue me."

"What?" Ivy craned her neck around to meet his eyes. "You're being nice to me to sidestep litigation?" And with that, her personal ocean of humiliation snaked out a riptide, sucking her even deeper. Prince Charmless was more like it. "Put me down right now," she demanded.

"As soon as I find a damn chair!" He turned left into the Great Hall. Early afternoon sunlight beamed in through the wide windows, casting a golden haze across the top of the enormous room.

Ivy waved her hand at two hundred gilt Chivari chairs framing the round banquet tables in perfect arcs. "Take your pick."

He toed out the nearest chair, dumped her on it, then planted his hands on his hips. "Well? You hurt anywhere?"

"Pretty much everywhere." Like black ink from an enraged octopus, the sexy stranger oozed with annoyance and attitude. Ivy just couldn't figure out why her tripping down the stairs had set him off. At the most he looked to be in his mid thirties. Far too young for a case of terminal crankiness.

"I meant did you break anything?" The man knelt on the floor and looked at her with expectant eyes.

"I only fell the last few…hey!" He'd pushed the hem of her dress to her knees and rotated her left ankle. She jerked in response and tried to pull her foot out of his grasp.

"Like I said, I'm certified in first aid. Stop wriggling around and let me check you out."

His touch was surprisingly gentle, and the warmth of his hands soothing. Wonderfully big, deft hands. She wondered how many other of her body parts he planned to handle in a similar fashion. Whoops. Far too long since her last date if her body responded this quickly to someone so disagreeable. "Usually I get at least a cocktail before someone gropes under my skirt."

He ignored her quip. "Good movement on this side." In short order he checked her other ankle, and performed an equally thorough examination of her knees and wrists. She hissed in a breath when he found the cut on her arm. "Doesn't look too bad. More like a deep scrape."

"Yeah, well, you're not the one wearing it." Irritated equally by his demeanor and the stinging pain in her arm, she shook him off. "Who are you?"

"Here we go." He let out a long sigh and pushed to his feet. "Bennett Westcott, True Life Productions." After a quick rummage in his lapel pocket he produced a business card. "Obviously you're a bit shaken up, but overall I'd say you are fine. However, if you feel it necessary to contact a lawyer regarding this incident, I understand."

Confused, Ivy took the card, glanced at the bold red and black lettering. "Did I miss something? I fell down a couple of stairs. Unless you totaled my car in the parking lot or plan to kneecap me later, it's safe to say litigation isn't even a remote possibility."

"Look, I'm trying to step up and do the right thing by not denying responsibility for your fall."

A few wisps of hair brushed her cheek when she slowly shook her head. "Still not a clue where you're coming from."

"You must've tripped over our tripod bag. Ollie kicked it in front of the stairs right before you landed."

Aha! Now it made sense. In this crazy world where people sued over coffee being too hot, she understood at least a little of his paranoia. "Bennett, I slipped on an ice cube. The caterers dropped a bag of ice earlier, and missed a few when they cleaned up. Your duffel bag didn't help me stick my landing, but it didn't cause the problem, either."

The scowl dropped off his face and everything in his body relaxed. "You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that. Ollie!" he bellowed. "Get your butt in here and apologize."

A thin, wiry man who barely looked strong enough to support the video camera propped on his shoulder shuffled slowly through the entryway. His eyes were downcast, his entire demeanor that of a beaten puppy. "I'm really sorry," he mumbled.

"We're in the clear. She's not going to sue," her rescuer announced, relief pinging in every word. His speech pattern also changed. The witness-on-trial formality of his speech pattern relaxed into a normal, conversational tone.

"I promise. Truly, I don't blame you at all. Do you need me to sign an affidavit to that effect?" Ivy asked, at this point only halfjoking.

Ollie swung the camera to the floor and rushed forward to pump Ivy's hand. "Thank you so much. It was an accident, you know. I kicked the bag behind me without looking, and when I turned around you were on the floor, so I started filming. Reflex, you know?"

"You can make it up to me by erasing that footage." No response. Ivy watched Bennett and Ollie exchange a glance loaded with subtext. Too bad she couldn't translate it. "The wedding hasn't even started yet, so you won't need to edit much," she continued, letting a pleading tone slip into her voice. Their persistent silence was a bad sign. Petty though it might be, there was no way she'd allow her ungraceful tumble to be saved on some random cousin of the bride's wedding video. "Come on, guys, this is ridiculous. I'm not even a guest at this wedding."

In a blur of unexpected speed, Ollie retrieved his camera from the floor and aimed it at her. The record light glowed red. "Can you say that again, and look straight into the camera for me?"

"What? I will not," she fumed. "Bennett, what's with your friend?" Enough was enough! As the wedding coordinator, it was her job to handle crazy relatives. A deft mix of courtesy, charm and humor usually did the trick. But there were times a line had to be drawn, and this was it. No way could she do her job with this nut shoving a camera in her face every two minutes.

To her surprise, Bennett gestured to Ollie to keep recording. "Are you confirming you did not receive an invitation to this wedding? And you got all dressed up and came anyway? That you are, in fact, a wedding crasher?"

Ivy lifted a hand to her mouth to halt an onslaught of giggles. She couldn't wait to tell her assistant, who would laugh her ass off at the accusation. "Oh, my God. Is that what you think?" No wonder the two acted so weird. And really, who could blame them? Catching an unwanted guest in the act could've guaranteed their footage ending up on the local news. Plus, they'd be touted as heroes for "saving" the wedding. The truth would be a huge letdown.

"Didn't you admit as much?" Bennett countered.

Ivy vigorously shook her head from side to side. "Hardly! I'm not a guest, but I'm certainly not crashing, either. My name is Ivy Rhodes. I'm doing day-of coordination for Tracy and Seth."

"You're the wedding planner?" Ollie turned on his heel without another word and left the hall, head down and shoulders rounded in disappointment.

Bennett's reaction was the complete opposite. He pulled out another chair and straddled it, arms crossed over the back. "Sorry. The kid's young, and is sure every gig we do has the potential for major drama. Instead of paying his dues, he plans to catapult to stardom on a clip of the bride falling off a chair during the Hora.

Anyway, it's a huge relief to know you're one of us. No wonder you took the whole thing in stride. Now we can relax and get to know each other before all the craziness starts." He flashed a killer grin. It revealed the matched set of dimples bracketing his lips.

It was the kind of grin certain to charm a woman, and Ivy was no exception. Absolved of the threat of pending litigation, his personality had done a complete turnaround. Standoffish, irritable guy now exuded warmth and friendliness from his sky-blue eyes. If she read the signs correctly, he was trying to hit on her. Temptation and harmless flirtation beckoned.

Then her mind caught up to her hormones and told her something was off. He spoke as if they were in this together, but she'd reviewed all the vendor contracts just this morning in preparation. She'd stake her entire paycheck for this event on not having one for a vid-eographer. "Back up a minute. Now I need to turn the question back to you. Aren't you a wedding guest?"

"Nope. I told you, we're with True Life Productions." He reached forward and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. His glancing touch sent a shiver down her spine. Ivy wanted to dismiss it as an unwelcome distraction. Oh, who was she kidding? There was nothing unwelcome about his fingers trailing softly from her ear down the side of her neck. Irritated at her body's betrayal, she swatted his hand away.

"But the bride and groom didn't hire a videogra-pher." Ivy took a deep breath and smoothed her hair to make sure the triple layer of hairspray still held the majority of her French twist in place. "Look, I didn't plan this whole wedding. Day-of coordination means I only show up to run the rehearsal and actual wedding day. But Tracy and I met last month to discuss all the details. We went over every vendor contract. You must have your dates or venue wrong," she insisted.

"Chicago. Great Hall of Cafe Brauer. Sunset. Third weekend in April." Bennett ticked the points off on his fingers. "It all adds up to me. Why do you care, anyway? Got something against videographers? Cause if that's it, you can relax. I'm also the director, and as a rule, we're much more suave and exciting." He waggled his eyebrows at her.

Ivy bit back a smile at his antics and mustered a stern glare. "I care because this wedding cost a fortune, and I'm sure your services run into the thousands." Then she remembered a seminar on con artists from her last association meeting, and another possible angle flashed through her mind. "Are you the ambulance chasers of the wedding world? Do you follow catering trucks around to find the hot weddings? Is this a scam, where you show up and tape everything, and then strong arm the bride and groom into paying?"

"Oh, they aren't paying for us. We're paying them."

Utter confusion swamped her. They were talking in circles. The clink of glassware filtered in from the hallway. It was a timely reminder the caterers had yet to place the wineglasses and water goblets on the tables. Once they finished, she would set the place cards in their Star of David-shaped holders and hand-written menus. In other words, lots to do and the clock was ticking. A glance at her watch confirmed less than two hours before the wedding march began. Her to-the-min-ute itinerary didn't include a time slot to solve the mystery of the uninvited, albeit borderline irresistible video guy! "Bennett—"

"Call me Ben." He rose from the chair, and Ivy was forced to tip her head back a little to maintain eye contact. Easily several inches over six feet, most of it was in his legs. The satin stripe on his tuxedo pants only emphasized his height. "I can see what happened. Tracy didn't tell you she won the contest. Probably thought you'd flip out or something. Most wedding coordinators aren't wild about us interfering with the big day."

"What contest?"

"Our show holds a contest every year. Whoever wins not only gets featured on the show, but we pay for their honeymoon. The only catch is that if they do win, we have to tag along and film the whole thing."

"What show?" Suspicion reared inside her. Reality wedding shows were a dime a dozen, and Ivy loathed most of them. Her profession tended to be portrayed in an unflattering light.

He ran a hand back and forth along the ladder-back chair. Carefully pushed it back into place at the table, tucking it neatly under the bright yellow tablecloth. "WWS. You know, Wild Wedding Smackdown" Ben, anticipating her reaction, at least had the grace to wince.

It took a concerted effort not to let her jaw drop to the floor. Without a doubt his show was the worst of the lot. It featured two couples, each trying to upstage the other with lavish ceremonies and over-the-top receptions. The brides invariably sniped at each other on Twitter, made horrible catty remarks in behind-the-scenes video diaries, or stole a great band right out from under the other's nose. Really, it was like watching high school students fight to have the best prom.

"Please tell me you're joking." Her head reeled. How could one of her weddings be featured on that classless catfight? The millions of people who watched wouldn't know she was hired at the last minute to only do day-of coordination. They might even assume she pushed the bride and groom into participating. This broadcast could ruin her reputation in Chicago, the reputation she'd carefully honed and polished over the past six years. It was a nightmare, pure and simple.

Meet the Author

  • Christi Barth writes sassy, sexy and smart contemporary romances. She earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Christi is lives in Maryland with her husband.

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Planning for Love 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book has over six hundred pages. I found that it was too long and became boring. I skipped pages because there were too many repetitions and even then I couldn't finish the book. I did not connect with the characters and the story was not believable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book dragged on and on. I love to read but this one took me forever to get through. Def would not recommend.
ReadYourWrites More than 1 year ago
Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews Planning for Love is the first book I’ve read by Christi Barth. I am SOOOO glad this book is part of a series. This will so NOT be the last book by Christi I will read. Ivy Rhodes is a twenty-nine year old wedding planner and co-owner of Chicago’s Aisle Bound, a wedding consulting company, with her best friend Daphne Lovell. Ivy is a hopeless romantic and believes in happily ever after, long-lasting love. Her parents have been happily married to each other for forty years. Ben Westcott is a cynic who doesn’t believe in marriages lasting past the “I Do’s”. Bennett’s entire family is full of un-happy ever afters. He believes his family has been cursed by his great-great-grandmother a hundred years ago. Interestingly enough, Ben is the cameraman for a wedding reality tv show. When I started reading this book, I actually found the author on Twitter and asked if I was supposed to be laughing as I was reading it. I was expecting a romance, but I wasn’t expecting to find myself laughing at the characters. This was one of those rare books where I actually liked ALL of the supporting characters. By the end of the book, Ben and I both realized that this statement was true, “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.” I loved that the book started each chapter off with an advice quote like, “Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans. - John Lennon” or “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing. - Goethe”. Yes, I’m a planner and a hopeless romantic as well. This isn’t one of those books that’s going to make you cry. But it is one of those books which will make you go, “Awwww.” Ernest Hemingway said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” To that I can say, Ivy and Ben do realize that they love each other and Ben is finally willing to put down roots and take a chance on love and the elusive happy ending that his family has never had. The journey that this book takes you on to get there is the magical part of romance that I love. Did I mention that I was doing the happy dance, when I found out that this was part of a series? I can’t wait for the next book, A Fine Romance. Source: Net Galley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story line, a nice read for travel, vacation or destressing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked that the premise of the book was centered around reality tv. That made the story seem very current and relevant. However, it seemed to drag in places and i didn't like that it promotes the idea that people will change for love. In my experience, adults dont change dramatically and it is unfair to expect them to. If you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, it should be someone who is already a good match for you. Dont expect someone to become your perfect match just because they love you. That may work temporarily but you will probably be disappointed in the long run.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very sweet, well written story. I liked the characters and the plot was fun. If you are looking for sex scenes, this book isn't for you.
lucky42368 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adored this book!!! I love the razzing between friends! I loved how they all helped out...especially in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great characters. Looking forward to the next book.
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
Planning for Love is a light flaky pastry with heavy cream inside. Ivy and Ben are at the opposite ends of the marriage spectrum. She’s all about weddings and romance and love; he wants nothing to do with any of that, especially the love part. Ivy is wedding planner extraordinaire and just happens to end up featured on “Wild Wedding Smackdown”, a reality TV show about bad weddings, the worse the better, because of one of her brides. Ben happens to be behind the camera for it. After the wedding, Ben and Ivy burn up the night only for Ben to walk away. Now Ivy is being featured on a new reality TV show “Planning for Love” and is working toward her dream shop. Without warning, Ben is thrown back into her life as the stand in cameraman for her new show. Though hurt by Ben’s previous actions, Ivy can’t stop herself from falling in love all over again. But Ben has some skeletons in his closet – a family curse, a ruined career, and a whole lot of pride. Ben’s angsty brooding is more than a match for Ivy’s sweetness. It is this tug of war that keeps Planning for Love from becoming overly saccharine and too light and airy. Ben and Ivy complement each other very well. Along the way, we meet a set of secondary characters all of whom could easily be protagonists in their own books. They are as well crafted and finely drawn as Ivy and Ben. RATING: 4 REVIEWED BY: Monique Neaves,My Book Addiction Reviews
GHott More than 1 year ago
Hott Synopsis: How can a man who has no belief in the romance of life be the creative genius behind the most popular reality wedding shows on television? Ivy Rhodes was born to be a wedding planner – she picked her colors before she picked her college – even though the right man hasn’t walked her down the aisle. She not only sells romance she believes in it. So, when she finds that the man of her dreams just doesn’t have the heart for long-term she makes a plan to change her mind. It’s not devious when you’re Planning for Love. Hott Review: I devoured this book. I absolutely could NOT put it down!! I can’t believe I waited so long to read it!! What I liked: This book was just plain fun. It was a hilarious tale of a hopeless romantic and a cynic who both are smart alecks & sarcastic. What I didn’t like: The single tryst wasn’t terribly graphic but some of the language and the obscene references will turn some off. They weren’t prolific but definitely noticeable. More… Author: Christi Barth Source: Harlequin Reader Sruvey & Amazon Free Read 2/14/2013 Grade: A Steam: Adult + Setting: Chicago, Il Series: Aisle Bound #1
lrhubble More than 1 year ago
A Fun Read Contemporary, Chicago Ivy Rhodes is a hopeless romantic and the best wedding planner in the business. She isn’t going to let anything get in the way of getting ahead and most certainly not a personal problem. She isn’t about to let a heartbreaking and recent one-night stand get in the way when she is asked to star in the reality show Planning for Love. Bennett Westcott is a videographer that didn’t handle his encounter with Ivy well at all. Watching her smile and great body through the camera every day makes him want to try for some no strings attached fun with her. The more time they spend together shows Ben that Ivy isn’t at all what he imagined her to be namely a wedding-crazed bridezilla. He has never trusted himself to make a relationship work let alone last. Now he has to try and convince Ivy to give him another chance. This is a romance that takes the reader on a very fun ride. The situations at times are comical and seeing how the character react makes for a very enjoyable read. It is also interesting to see how the characters overcome their respective pasts to get the future that they find that they really want to have with each other. This story kicks off a series that if they rest live up to this one should prove to be a wonderful series to read and enjoy. It also gives a fun spin to both weddings and reality shows.
GailHollingsworth More than 1 year ago
I received this ebook free from Harlequin as a Tell Harlequin member.  I was not required to review it, only do an email survey, which I've completed.  However, I've made a policy for myself to do reviews on every book I read.  Planning for Love was hard to get through.  It wasn't one of those books that I just couldn't put down, as a matter of fact,I  put it down quite often!  The premise was a wedding planner, Ivy, who was good at her job, employed several people in her business and was interested in finding true love herself.  She also had a dream of starting another business, a romance shop.  Ben was a newsman that had been ousted from his job from a misunderstanding and was now filming weddings for a reality show.  Ivy was looking for a happily ever after just like her parent's marriage of 40 years, Ben was only looking for one night stands.  I didn't like some of the language the author used.  The story would have gone along fine without it. I also don't like to read explicit sex scenes, whether between married people or especially between singles.  The imagination is a wonderful thing that a lot of authors do not grasp.  This book wasn't one of my favorites, it was just an O.K. book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christi Barth is a new author for me. "Planning for Love" was a decent read. The story focused on a wedding planner who meets a man who she believes could be the "one". The story has the usual ups and downs that are in all romance stories with a few twists and quirks. I gave this book 3 stars as I felt the book would have been more interesting if consolidated into 300 pages or less. I haven't read a book that had more then 600 pages in a long time.
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