Robyn Tindall’s new boss has a penchant for running off new personal assistants before lunch, but she’s not about to let herself be fired by the billionaire with a bad attitude, no matter how good he looks. She’s determined to be indispensible and unflappable, until he surprises her with a crazy proposal.
Curtis Frye is impressed with his new assistant’s dedication and decides she could be the answer to his publicity problems if only she’ll agree to marry him. It’s the perfect plan. He can offer her the world—everything he thinks a woman desires. But Robyn doesn’t want anything money can buy. She wants a happily ever after with a man who loves her. If only he can convince her love is off the table, not to mention convince his heart of that…
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The Billionaire's Runaway Fiancée
Invested in Love Series
By Jenna Bayley-Burke, Heidi Shoham
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Jenna Bayley-Burke
All rights reserved.
Robyn Tindall stared at the back of the tremendous leather office chair. Since it just barked at her, she assumed someone sat there, but it was too big to be sure.
Wiping her damp palms against her black skirt, she took a deep breath. The temporary employment agency had warned her Golden City's CEO burned through executive assistants daily. She got a full day's pay no matter how long he kept her. So far, no one had made it to their coffee break. Robyn had no intention of kowtowing to someone who would fire her within the hour.
"Your clock's off. My agency was told eight, and according to my watch I'm thirty-two seconds early."
The black chair turned slowly, revealing the most gorgeous man she'd seen off a movie screen. Deep brown hair, a strong uncompromising jaw, and black-fringed eyes that sparkled a surprising aquamarine. She'd expected a crotchety old man. Her pulse jackhammered as a smile played on her lips. Too bad he didn't have the same response.
"You think that's funny?"
Oh damn. She'd make the record for being fired the fastest. She cleared her throat. "Where would you like me to start?"
"I don't know. It's your job, not mine." He spoke with a mocking slowness that made her wonder if he was teasing or truly an ass.
"There's a desk in front of your office door. I'm guessing that would belong to your assistant."
"It did until two months ago when she retired."
"She didn't train someone before she left?" He must have run her off, too.
"There was no time. Her daughter adopted triplets, and if anyone can schedule three babies, it's Carla."
"She's not coming back?"
He raised a straight eyebrow. "I've seen them. They're cuter than me."
Robyn smiled, doubting looks had anything to do with it. He wasn't cute by any means. Handsome, jaw dropping, mouthwatering. Robyn sucked in a cooling breath and dragged her mind out of the gutter.
"And you have no idea what it was she did for you." Fan-freaking-tastic. No wonder he'd been so short with the parade of assistants who'd been through the revolving door. Carla had made it seem effortless, so he didn't consider it a demanding job.
"Not the first clue." The sensual promise of his smile surprised her.
She pushed her wire-rimmed glasses tighter against her face, reminding herself men like him did not look at girls like her that way. He probably dated models and debutantes. Her last boyfriend had been a house painter.
"I'll check out the desk and see what I can decipher."
"Don't bother. You're not what I need."
He turned to his computer and began to work. Robyn blinked and checked her watch. She'd been fired after one minute on the job. That had to be a record, and not one she had any intention of making. She'd never been fired before, and this clown wouldn't break her streak, no matter how handsome or dynamic he seemed.
With a shake of her head, she turned on her heel, making sure to close the door behind her. She had half a mind to finish the day to teach Mr. Boss Man to give people a chance before dismissing them on sight. She didn't even want this job. The temp agency hoped she could mollify him until they found the ideal candidate and found her the event-planning position they'd promised in July, when she'd given up on finding a job on her own. Three months and still nothing.
She had a marketing degree for goodness' sake. Not that she'd used it yet, but she had ideas brewing for corporate events that would wow someone, anyone, if they cared to give someone without job experience an interview.
With a huff of breath, Robyn plopped down into the adjustable desk chair and surveyed the mess that lay in stark contrast to the pristine office. Curtis Frye's inner sanctum was decorated in the same style as the other two floors of Golden City Property Development offices she had been led through like Charlie through the Chocolate Factory. Everything echoed money and success, from sleek computer systems and black leather armchairs to the giant windows and Ansel Adams prints in heavy black frames. With as many walls as were in this company, she guessed they'd bought every photograph the man had ever taken.
They shouldn't have bothered with the art — the breathtaking view impressed and inspired. From this high up in San Francisco's financial district, you could see all the buildings in town. Working late would become a treat. The skyline lit up would make it worth the extra time.
Just like the other desks she'd seen, chrome and glass stretched before her now. Terribly ineffective. No one could hide chocolate in this place. Pushing her feet against the thick charcoal carpet, she propelled herself toward the bank of black filing cabinets, staying seated as she tugged on the drawers. The bottom one opened, empty save for a black binder labeled Duties.
With a sigh of relief, Robyn dropped her purse inside the cabinet and lifted the binder. Either Frye's assistant didn't do much, or she'd been so busy she'd never had time to type up more than the single-spaced page outlining everything required before Mr. Frye's eight a.m. conference call. She'd been getting up mighty early if she'd had to do all that.
Still, it was better than being unemployed. With no other way to make rent in too-expensive San Francisco than to accept the temp jobs, Robyn had learned a thing or three about adapting quickly.
The desk was piled high with memos and files, random faxes and reports. Thanks to her parents' real estate company back home, she knew the basics of the business. By the time her stomach growled, she'd sorted everything and round-filed most of it. She procured the key to the filing cabinets from the metallic cup holding pens atop the desk and took care of everything but the few items she wasn't sure if Mr. Frye had cared enough to cast his eyes on.
"What have you done?" His tone was as harsh as a whip, stinging her pride. He loomed over the desk, his face tight with irritation.
"You're welcome." Robyn smiled brightly.
His dark brows shot up, and her smile widened. This man needed to be taken down a few pegs.
"I'm going to head out for my lunch hour. I'll tackle the computer when I get back." She grabbed her handbag, but Curtis stood between her desk and the door to the outer office. For an instant, she thought about trying to run around the other side of the desk to get past him.
"Why are you still here?" he said in spite of his clenched jaw.
"You called the agency and said you needed help. Voila." Robyn lifted her arm like a spokesmodel selling a sedan.
"I told you to go. You'll be paid for your time."
"About that," she started brightly. "You can't fire me, since you never actually hired me. If the agency is going to pay me for a day's work, I'll do the work."
He glanced over her shoulder at the clean desk. "What did you do with everything?" "Filed it, except for these." She handed him the papers. "I noticed you usually initial memos before they are filed, so I held these back."
He leafed through them, his eyes widening as he read one. "This is a month old."
Robyn bit back the smart reply she itched to give him. She'd made her point.
With a huff, he leaned across the desk and plucked a pen from the cup to initial the pages. Robyn's mouth went dry at the sheer proximity of him. She gave herself a mental shake. This would not do. She'd never been attracted to someone she worked with before. Taking him up on his offer to fire her would save her from any awkwardness that might come from fantasizing about her boss. She opened her mouth to tell him she wouldn't be coming back, but before she could utter a sound, he straightened up and spoke.
"You really want to be my secretary?"
Jolly holly sticks, did people really use that term anymore? "Executive assistant."
He had the nerve to roll his eyes. "You really want to be my executive assistant?"
"No. I want to be an event planner, but nothing like that has come up." She'd spent the whole summer jumping from job to job every week, covering vacations for a multitude of people in different careers while she sent out résumés.
His lips tilted in a grin. "Are you always this honest?"
"Of course. If you play games, someone has to be the loser. Better to say what you mean."
"Honesty is very important to me. But I don't think you are right for this job."
Robyn nodded, glad she'd set a record by making it to lunch. And the next person who came in would have a better shot since the desk had been cleared.
He stared out the window like he'd never seen the view before, the silence growing awkward before he spoke. "You'll stay on until I find someone with experience, or until you find your event-planning job. Agreed?" He held out his hand to her.
Her palm slid against his, tingling as his hand closed over hers in a squeeze of affirmation. Sensations whirled through her like a hurricane, her insides quaking so hard she could barely manage to shake his hand. He relaxed his grip, slipping from her grasp.
"It's settled then. I'll see you after lunch." He turned, marched back to his office, and closed his door.
Robyn wilted, grabbing the chair for support. If she reacted this way to a simple touch, she really should refuse the offer — walk away before someone got hurt. Like her.
* * *
Curtis stared at the résumé the agency had faxed over, trying to do the math to figure out whether his new assistant was even legal to drink. He needed someone with enough life experience not to be rattled by the unexpected, and they sent him an adolescent.
Maybe. She could be as much as twenty-two. Discrimination laws obliged him not to ask. Little Miss Sunshine certainly took to the paperwork quickly, and she had tenacity. He needed someone dedicated, hardworking, and above all, trustworthy. Young people had a tendency to say more than they needed to, and that could blow a deal. He winced — he was thinking like one of the seventy-year-old board members, and he was half that old.
Curtis heaved a heavy sigh, tossing the fax into the trash. She'd bail soon enough. Most of his assistant's workload had been parceled out to the rest of the support staff. Once Robyn had the full picture of the duties required, she wouldn't be so eager. But in the meantime, she'd earned her chance. Anyone that determined deserved a fair shake.
Curtis lifted the phone from its cradle and punched in the numbers for the staffing agency, telling them Robyn would stay on until they found him someone with actual experience. If Robyn did well, he'd recommend her for a job here at Golden in whatever department handled event planning.
Whether she opted out or he moved her to another department, she wouldn't work for him long. Couldn't. She set him off-kilter, looked at him in a way that wasn't entirely appropriate and yet was completely innocent. He had a knack for knowing how people would react before they did, but she'd completely surprised him today. He did not like surprises.
* * *
Once Robyn got things sorted, she found the systems were well organized, and it took her only a few weeks to get Mr. Frye's life back to normal. The rest of the administrative team eased her into her position, handing tasks back one at a time. As she went, she finished writing the manual his last assistant had started. Hopefully, it would keep him from having to go through a blip like this again.
By November she'd learned everything he needed. Which newspapers he took — she separated out the front page and business section for him to read on the treadmill, how he liked his coffee — Americano every hour from eight until noon. Lunch was delivered then — soup in paper cups so he could drink without having to stop working.
The job of his executive assistant was to do everything to make sure he could work as much as possible. She paid his bills, so she knew his social security number, bank accounts, and birthday. Learning he was a Gemini cleared up so many things.
Curtis was actually his middle name, but she never asked him why he'd ditched a strong name like Jason. His clothes were ordered every season, but Robyn did have to trek down to Needless Markup with his credit card to pick up his wardrobe. The lot of it barely fit in her compact sedan.
A hairstylist came every three weeks and did something to his hair during a conference call with his partners in New York, but she never knew what. His hair always looked exactly the same. The day-to-day matters of his life took a back seat to his business.
He didn't take a moment for himself, but he did make time for others. Every month, his mother phoned in charity events he needed to attend and to schedule the family dinner. He'd rearranged a meeting in Prague just so he could have dinner with his parents.
Her parents had been so impressed she was working for Golden City and Curtis Frye. He's brilliant, they'd told her. Shrewd, aggressive, insightful, sure to be one of the biggest real estate moguls the country had ever known by the end of the decade. But at what cost?
By the time the employment agency came through with the event-planning job she'd waited for, she'd already appointed herself in charge of making sure Curtis Frye was taken care of. Not just his coffee, suits, and travel arrangements. She tried to get him to play more golf, telling him it was a great way to network when she really wanted him to experience the stress relief of the exercise. She arranged for him to have no meetings on his birthday. Granted, he used the day to catch up on paperwork, but he went home in the daylight with a smile on his face. She couldn't leave him now. He needed her.
It had taken the better part of a year to get him to soften his tone, first with her and then with others. The man who'd hired her eight months ago didn't use please and thank you, had never praised her for catching mistakes or coming in on a Saturday. Every day he became more pleasant than the last until they worked in harmony and had actual conversations when he came in to work. Wonderful and wretched at the same time because, as he grew more open, her attraction had bloomed into a full-on crush. And there wasn't a thing she could do about it. He'd never given her even a glimmer of hope. Which was how it should be, but a silly part of her wanted ... things she could never have.
"Robyn, when you have a minute, I need to ask you something." Curtis hadn't bothered with the squawky intercom like he used to.
She saved the spreadsheet her mind had wandered away from and headed toward his office, straightening her pantsuit as she went. Dressing for work made her uncomfortable, always aware that by buying secondhand she might be wearing a co-worker's castoffs. The complete opposite of Curtis, who replaced his entire wardrobe every season. She clasped her hands behind her back, awaiting his latest errand. Would it be dry cleaning or trading his cell phone for the latest model again?
He'd looked up when she entered but finished his call. She didn't mind waiting at all. It allowed her to drink in the sight of him, all put together and perfect in his ice-blue shirt and silver tie. He'd rolled up the sleeves like he always did this time in the afternoon, his cufflinks beside him on his desk along with his watch. He didn't usually take it off, which meant she'd be headed to the jeweler for repair. Hopefully, he didn't want her to stay until it was fixed. She'd hate to miss Chinese takeout night with her roommates and the only man in her life, General Tso.
She stepped to his desk and reached for his watch, but he slid his hand over hers to stop her. Only the heat of his touch spun her mind through fairy-tale fantasies of being swept off her feet, right into her own personal happily ever after. A very satisfying, adult version of happily ever after. She pressed her thighs together as he ended his phone call, and her fantasy.
"Sorry about that. I didn't think you'd come so quickly." He gifted her with an irresistible smile that brightened his ever-changing blue eyes. Some days dark, some light, and when he wore gray she'd swear they were green. "I'm not sending you on an errand. I have a proposition for you."
Did he have to say proposition like he was about to ask her for the real thing? Gadzooks, her hormones were out of control today.
"I overheard you inquiring about an event-planning job, and I know you intended to go into that field. But you are very good at what you do." His disarming grin softened his features, making him even more handsome than before. "I'd like for you to stay here at Golden and work for me, not the agency. We'll compensate you for giving up the opportunity, and you'll be eligible for profit sharing at the end of the year."
"That would be nice." Being hired on by the company meant security, benefits, and not having to worry about making rent. She drew a circle in the lush carpet with the toe of her boot. She considered telling him she'd already extended her assignment with the agency, but she liked being appreciated, noticed by him at all.
"We'll double your salary and lease you a car for errands."
Excerpted from The Billionaire's Runaway Fiancée by Jenna Bayley-Burke, Heidi Shoham. Copyright © 2017 Jenna Bayley-Burke. 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
I liked this sweet little fairytale. It was good not to read a lot of unnecessary vulgar language. The intimate scenes were steamy but tolerable since they weren't jumping at you from every page. It was nice that this author kept them tasteful to a point. Simone24
3.5 stars The Billionaire's Runaway Fiancée was a good read. The writing was good, the storyline entertaining, and while Robyn and Curtis were likable and entertaining characters I failed to feel the connection/passion between them. Unfortunately this played a role in my overall enjoyment.
3.5**** At first I had a hard time getting into the story. It seemed to jump around between Robyn and Curtis quite a bit. It could have been my own mind racing around as I read. But I am glad I stuck with it. Robyn was a uniquely fresh character. She was honest to a fault and a heart of gold. I love how she was all in and would not accept less than what she gave. Curtis grew on me throughout the book. And when he finally had his "aha" moment, it was very sweet and loving. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Robyn had a marketing degree and the temp service was suppose to find her an event planning job but as of yet hadn’t and it had been a couple months already. She was sent to temporarily hopefully fill an assistant's job until the temp person found the right person. Curtis Frye- CEO of Golden City Property Developments. Robyn had fill the position fine. It was about eight months Robyn had been working for Curtis when the temp service finally offered Robyn a event planning job but she turned it down But Curtis had overheard her. Dishonesty always made Robyn uncomfortable . She had planned on telling Curtis she planned on staying and not taking the other job when Curtis thought she had been dishonest with him and changed his schedule as he had trusted Robyn. She did tell curtis so everything was cleared up. Then one morning Curtis showed up at Robyn first thing in the morning and said he had Brought the SUV and he would turn the lease over to her once they got to work. After work Curtis took Robyn to a restaurant that he had it out so they were the only customers and he asked Robyn to be his fake fiancee as it was the best way to get the media off his back if he was already engaged. Robyn hoped that before the time came to call it quits Curtis would love her like she did him. I read a story very similar to this a couple of days ago so was very familiar and kinda took some of the enjoyment but still a four. I think Robyn was a little naive in this story but fit. I enjoyed the story and it surprised me when she finally took a stand with their first kiss. But her back and forth annoyed me a little if you are going to take a stand take a stand. But anyway the plot was good and I loved the characters and the ins and outs of this story. I recommend.
This is a great romance in which to indulge yourself! Robyn Tindall has dreams of becoming an event organiser but, until a suitable opportunity arises, she will go where her agency sends her. The latest post is to work as the personal assistant for Curtis Frye. His reputation for firing assistants before they’ve even been there long enough to have lunch has definitely preceded him and Robyn is determined that won’t happen to her – and it doesn’t! In fact, she proves so efficient and indispensable that he suggests she pretends to be his fake fiancée to help him with his publicity problems. Needless to say, he thinks money is the answer to everything. However, Robyn isn’t after monetary gain, she’s looking for her happily ever after with a man who truly loves her. Curtis doesn’t believe in love and sets out to prove it but sometimes love has its own revenge! This is a lovely fairy tale type romance, blending classic and contemporary into a delightful read. The author brings her imperfect characters to life in her own inimitable manner and making it easy for readers to empathise with them. This is an easy read and a great story to escape into. Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for gifting me an ARC of this novel with no obligation. This is my honest review.
I liked the start of this novel but it deteriorated in the middle and despite my best efforts to finish the book I had to DNF at 64%. On re-reading the start of the book to see why I liked it I can see some of the signs I missed earlier. What modern woman says "gadzooks" and "jolly hockey sticks"? I mean really. Robyn Tindall is temping as a PA until she can land a job as a corporate event planner. Curtis Frye is a CEO who is too busy to train his new PA and his old PA has left suddenly. His boorish behaviour and unreasonable behaviour have run several PAs off in tears but Robyn is made of sterner stuff. Fast forward a year later and Robyn has given up her girlish dreams of a career in event planning and is now totally content to act as a work housefrau to Curtis, encouraging him to play more golf, making his coffee, paying his bills, collecting his new clothes from the tailor, making sure he has no appointments on his birthday. Of course, Robyn wears ugly boxy suits and is a total plain Jane. Curtis is being hounded by the gossip columns about his love life so he decides a fake relationship with Robyn would get everyone off his back and allow him to devote himself to work 24/7. The fake relationship develops into a fake engagement and soon Robyn is dragged into planning a wedding which will quietly be called off at some point in the future. Robyn however is a complete doormat, she has fallen in love with a total jerk and acting as his personal slave for a year has only made things worse. She realises she can't continue to pretend to marry Curtis any longer because she is soooo in love with him. Cue Robyn saying she can't marry/ have sex with Curtis because he doesn't love her and Curtis saying he is incapable of love. Over and over again. This was where I bailed. I didn't find either character sympathetic, sorry. I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
3.5 Stars! Jenna Bayley-Burke has become one of my go to authors. I devour whatever she writes because the tropes that she immerses herself in are my absolute favorites. The Billionaire's Runaway Fiance is an engagement of convenience romance, between wealthy CEO Curtis Frye, and his new executive assistant Robyn Tindall. I enjoyed this book, in spite of the fact that the story did not flow very well at times. Robyn Tindall is an incredibly honest woman, and when she finds her true love, it will be forever. She is very good at her job, even though she dreams about a position in event planning. Overtime Robyn falls for her boss, the bachelor of the year according to the press. So when Curtis proposes a faux engagement in order to get the paparazzi off his back, Robyn takes the plunge because she thinks he will develop feelings for her eventually. Curtis believes he is not capable of love or a commitment of any kind, so he continuously hangs onto the evolving feelings he does not understand. Robyn and Curtis have lustful chemistry, and the author does a nice job of creating the sexual heat between them. This is both a fun and emotional read. It is chock full of twists and turns in all the right places. So if you are looking for a solid romance that has good character development and a solid story-line, give this book a shout. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Enjoyed this one so much! Curtis Frye appears to be the typical get whatever he wants billionaire boss but he was so much deeper than that. With his own personal demons he has sworn off ever getting too involved with women. The media is making things hard for him though and having a fiance would solve most of his problems. That's were his assistant Robyn comes in. She's hardworking and dedicated. Perfect for his plan. He may promise her the world but he can't give her the one thing she wants the most....to own his heart. This one is very well done. Great writing and interesting characters with a bit of depth I didn't expect made this one a wonderful read. I highly recommend it.
Loved this book! I loved the characters - especially Robyn - and how they interacted with each other. Robyn is working as a temp as she searches for a position as an event planner. She is sent to Curtis's office where she is one of many in a long line of temps. He fires her literally seconds into the job, but she doesn't leave. He is stunned when she is still there and by what she has accomplished. Before long she is managing his time and his life, so when his life events get out of control, he looks to her for help. Robyn agrees to his odd proposition because she has fallen in love with him. She knows he is out of her league, but a tiny kernel of hope remains. Before she even realizes it, she is in over her head and doesn't know what to do. What follows is a very entertaining read that fans of the genre will love. Is it predictable, yes, but it is so well written that you will enjoy the journey. I have added the author to my must read authors' list.
He's a jerk. She's a dreamer. Simple right? NOT! There is more to Curtis and Robyn. He wallows in regrets. She needs a reason to hope. Both are searching for that missing part of themselves. Perhaps, they've already found it. The Billionaire's Runaway Fiancee is part childhood fairy tale, part heartwarming romance. Ms. Burke is not afraid to blend the classics with the modern. She has a style that works for her and gets the heart involved every time.