The Real Deal: A Novel

The Real Deal: A Novel

by Lauren Blakely

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250165930
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 77,023
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With many New York Times bestsellers, her titles (like Big Rock and Mister O) have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller lists more than eighty times, and she’s sold more than 2 million books. She enjoys comedies, cake and good company.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

April

If the phone rings, it's bad news.

Why else would someone call?

Texts are for topics both easy and emotional, from I'll meet you at Jane's at 7 to I got the new gig to Don't let that jerk get you down.

An email means a friend snagged a great deal on makeup, a massage, or a flight out of town, so she's forwarding it to you. It might also mean one of your crazy relatives is trying to pitch you on a blind date with her butcher.

But a ring-a-ling-ling? That means someone died, or someone's going to disappoint you so badly, it'll feel like death.

Fine, perhaps I'm being dramatic. Some might say I have a penchant for theatrics. But let's get real — who the hell uses the phone function anymore besides telemarketers or the insurance company? And, for the record, insurance companies don't call with good news.

Point proved.

When Xavier's high-cheekboned, so-pretty-I-covet-it face flashes on my phone, my Spidey-senses flare.

I adjust the strap on my fifty-ton bag of paint, makeup, and brushes. It's digging into my shoulder, but that's what it does. It dents me daily as I walk around Manhattan. I slide a finger across the screen and answer. "You're in prison and you need me to post bail?"

Xavier's laughter rings bright in my ear. "Love, you know you'd be the last person I'd call. You never have enough cash on hand for that."

"Not true. I always carry at least two hundred dollars." I lower my sunglasses over my eyes and weave through the afternoon crowds on Seventh Avenue. "Usually in small bills, though. In case I need to slip any in the G-strings of hot men at strip clubs. Oh, look. There's the Magic Mike bar. Gotta go make it rain for some hotties. But seriously. What's up, handsome? Are you all right? You never call unless you're bemoaning the loss of a hot date."

Okay, fine. I've spoken to my good friend a few times on the phone, but we always make arrangements for a call via text first. See? My point still stands.

A loudspeaker crackles from his side of the call. "Attention in the boarding area. We're about to begin boarding for Flight 405 to London."

All the air leaks out of me as I stop in my tracks outside a wig shop in the Village. A mannequin sporting a purple bob stares at me.

"April, I have good news and bad news." Xavier's tone is cheery. It's the official tone one adopts when delivering news that will feel terribly devastating to the recipient. Three, two, one, go: "The good news is I landed a last-minute opportunity and I'm heading to London for a photo shoot for the new Timeless Watch."

His news is devastating to me, but even so, I shriek. A woman in a sharp gray suit raises an eyebrow as she marches past. "That's amazing!" I can't mask my excitement even if I would like to swat him with a makeup brush for leaving me high and dry at the worst possible time.

"The bad news —"

"You can't be my date at the family reunion," I say because, yes, this is horrible. But even if I'm out the hottest piece of arm candy, I'd be a total doucheberry if I wasn't excited for this huge opportunity. Generally, I strive to avoid being a doucheberry, a douchecanoe, or douchenozzle. And honestly, if there are other types of douches one can be, I don't want to be them either. "This is amazing for you. You're on the cusp of breaking into the big time."

"Do you really think this could be my big break?"

I nod resolutely. "Of course. The Timeless shoot is huge. It's only the hottest watchmaker in the world. Have you ever seen a guy wear one of those watches? They basically send all women into heat."

He laughs. "Some men, too."

"There's just something ridiculously sexy about a man wearing a big fancy wristwatch."

I resume my path to the subway, staring longingly at the cabs, Lyfts, and Ubers zipping by. I want to hail a taxi or order up a car stat, but I remind myself that all this damn walking with my makeup and paint is akin to a CrossFit workout. Those people who toss tires in parking lots in suburbia? Pssh. I'll show them. Try trudging through Manhattan with a bag full of body paint and hordes of harried New Yorkers to battle your way through. I'm the baddest badass in all of Fitnesslandia. I don't need a stinking gym membership.

"And now I'll be the man wearing the big fancy wristwatch in the ads. I'm so excited about this." Xavier lets out a small scream of his own, then reins it in. "My group is about to board. Listen, you have to know I was so looking forward to playing your new boyfriend in front of Aunt Jeanie, Cousin Katie, and — who's the other one who fancies herself a matchmaker?"

"My sister, Xavier. My sister, Tess."

"Right. Her. I was looking forward to pretending to be your man. It would have been a true and challenging test for me."

"Thanks," I say dryly.

"You know what I mean, love."

"I do, and now I just have to find someone else," I say, letting some of my frustration trickle into my voice.

The thing is, I can't just suck this up and go dateless to the Hamilton Family Reunion, which comes complete with a day at the amusement park, a Hula-Hooping contest, lawn bowling, and Lord only knows what additional activities my parents have planned. Probably rock climbing, rope swinging, necklace beading, strawberry picking, and T-shirt tie-dyeing.

I'd rather take a cruise in the Arctic with ten thousand time-share salesmen than go solo to this extravaganza. My sister is already chomping at the bit to set me up.

"Are you seeing someone?" she asked in an email last week. "If not, I can ask Mark to be your scavenger hunt partner at the reunion. He's fabulous, and guess what? He's added tri-tip steak to the menu. It tastes absolutely amazing with pesto sauce. You must try it. Mark can tell you all about how the pesto is made."

Mark runs the local sandwich shop in my hometown. He's nice, and exceedingly boring.

"I'm not going to leave you in the lurch," Xavier says as the tinny speaker crackles once more in the background, alerting everyone in the terminal — and possibly the entire five-mile radius of Kennedy Airport, judging from the decibels — that Boarding Group B needs to get its collective ass on the plane.

"Did you put out a casting call for me?" I joke as I near the subway entrance. This is the toughest obstacle course portion of today's Manhattan CrossFit workout — successfully navigating the steps at the Christopher Street entrance. But I've mastered it. Just try to swing a dumbbell over your head as well as I can Frogger it down these steps, CrossFitters.

"No. Better. A good friend of mine can do it. He's available, and interested. He works next door. He tends bar."

"Code for 'he acts'?"

"Aren't we all acting all the time?"

Except for me. I might run with the same crowd as actors and models, but I don't pretend to be someone else. Instead, I paint them so they can become someone else — a leopard, a goddess, a swan, a woman in gold, a playing card, a nest with a baby bird in it. My hands are slicked with peach-orange and midnight-black from the cheetah I painted this afternoon on a fit, toned track star for a magazine spread advertising sneakers.

"Yes, he's an actor, and wait till you hear his voice," Xavier tells me amid the hustle and bustle of the boarding. "You might want to mate with it. I know I do, but lucky for you, he's straight, so he won't have to act as much as I would. You'll have to pay, though."

I don't bat an eye.

What choice do I have at this point? I need a date for the reunion like a bowl of cereal needs milk. Besides, a guy with a sexy voice could work as my reunion date if he can make it believable that we're a thing. Though, honestly, what I really need is a big vial of Stop Trying to Set Me Up with Men Who Are Wrong for Me formula to waft under the noses of the wannabe matchmakers in my family. Which is pretty much every single person in my family. But the apothecary I usually go to is fresh out of any potions to calm the overactive matchmakers in the Hamilton clan. Hence, my quest for a man who can be my buffer. If Mr. Phone Sex Operator is that guy, bring him on. "Name and number, please."

"His name is Theo." He rattles off his phone number, and I repeat it back instantly, since I'm good with remembering numbers. "But I'll text you his info in five minutes just so you have it. I won't leave you hanging. Hanging is for Christmas tree ornaments and other assorted unmentionable items, not lovely girls with flawless skin."

I roll my eyes and laugh. "You have perfect skin, too, since you're just as religious as I am about your lotions and potions. Have fun in London. Wow them at Timeless. Make them love you like a teenager loves her iPhone."

"When I'm through, it'll be more like how a teen worships selfies."

"I have no doubt."

I end the call and heave the sigh I've been holding in. I'm beyond happy for him. Truly, I am. But we're all a little selfish, aren't we? And the selfish part of me wishes my friend were still playing the part of my date.

But really, my greatest wish is to not show up at my parents' home without a plus-one. The women will smell blood. They'll swarm me. I'm the fresh meat for the matchmaking grill. I'm one of the last single women left standing, and this single woman needs to stay standing.

I'm happy being single, and that seems to surprise my family. They're not traditional or even old-fashioned. They're just old-school. They're "small-town" and love it, and they want me to love that lifestyle, too.

Xavier would have been perfect as a temporary boyfriend. A true gentleman, he's the darling of parents, and mine would figure once and for all that I hadn't landed a dud. I can only hope his friend will be as good. I hoof it down the steps, and then I sprint ahead of a slinky gal in a pink halter top, swipe my subway card, push through the turnstile, and make it to the platform in two minutes flat, and without once knocking a single other person with my bag.

I peer down the tunnel to see if the train is coming, when my phone buzzes from my pocket.

I'm expecting Xavier to deliver a phone number.

But it's not a phone number that I get. It's a link, and a note:

Once I click and read, a strange little thrill zips through me. I don't think I want a gentleman anymore. No, I don't want a nice guy to take home to the parents at all.

I want this one.

CHAPTER 2

Theo

"Please don't laugh."

Whenever someone says those three words, you're almost guaranteed to chuckle. Chances are the person is going to tell a ridiculous tale that makes him or her seem like a complete fool. You'll want to guffaw.

But I've mastered the art of giving people what they want, and the lady at the bar wants my straight face.

"I won't laugh, I promise," I tell the woman with red glasses and shoulder-length, TV-anchor-style black hair. Lori is dining solo today. She dines solo most days. She considers me a confidant.

"This is going to be a weird request," she warns.

I highly doubt her request will be weird to me. "I can handle it."

She takes a deep breath, then exhales. "Can you make sure — like, absolutely positive — that the nachos won't be steamed?"

Who the hell steams nachos? "You have my word the nachos you just ordered won't be steamed. And the gin and tonic won't be toasted either." My face is deadly serious, because I do know how to act.

She clasps her hand to her chest. "Thank God, Theo. Because that happened to me the other night. It was awful."

As I reach for the gin, I fix my gaze on her. "Tell me everything about the steamed-nacho debacle."

People tell me things. They always have. It's not just because I'm a bartender. It's that I have brown eyes, too. I've studied this phenomenon. People with brown eyes are more likely to be considered trustworthy.

Ironic, isn't it?

This trust has nothing to do with whether I'll spill a secret or not. Spoiler alert — I'm a vault. The trust issue has to do with the fact that having brown eyes also means you're more likely to have lips that turn up more frequently at the corners. Translation — the eyes come in a safe face, so you can trust me with your nacho secrets. Evidently, a smile is the number one social lubricant.

Lori drums her chipped peach fingernails along the edge of the bar. "I went to my favorite taco shop and I ordered the mini nachos, like I always do. Only, they brought me the full-size plate instead," she says as she eyes the drink longingly. She's on the fast track to becoming a regular here. "But do you know what the waitress did when I pointed it out?"

My phone vibrates in my jeans pocket. I grip the gin bottle tighter, because my fingers itch to check my messages. "What did she do?" I ask as I finish pouring the gin. I grab a napkin and set it in front of her, then place the glass on it. I can check the message later.

"They took the plate back, scraped off half the nachos, stuffed the plate in the microwave, and zapped it. To rewarm it," Lori says, taking her time with each awful word.

My nose crinkles. I swallow harshly. "And you not only had steamed and soggy nachos. You had hot sour cream as well." I shake my head, disgusted with how her food was treated.

"The guacamole was broiling. It had steam curling off it."

That actually sounds quite foul, especially because the image of a steaming pile of guacamole has now been planted in my brain. I shudder. She smiles so damn wide that her eyes crinkle behind her glasses. It's sweet, really. It makes me wonder if she has anyone to talk to besides the guy who fixes her drinks and takes her orders for apps. She usually doesn't even finish her drink when she comes here. I've often wondered if she wants me to join her on the other side, grab a stool, and chow down.

Sometimes I'm tempted. She seems like she needs someone, and she's nice enough. But I know what happens when you start opening up to someone. They let you down. Some of them stab you in the back. "Let me get you the best nachos you've ever had."

I head to the kitchen and turn in the order, and then I check my watch. I have a five-minute break, so I push open the heavy, rusted door that drops me into the alley behind the Two A.M. Club. It's six in the evening. One of the busboys leans against the wall, one foot parked behind him on the bricks, a cigarette dangling limply from his lips.

He gives me the barest of nods.

I do the same, then walk a few feet away. I unlock my screen with ten digits. Four digits are never enough. Once I click on my notification, my shoulders sag. Turns out the buzzing in my back pocket was the sorry sucker kind. You know how you'll get excited for an email, and then it's just a store with a sale, a news site with a new subscription offer, or a deal on Viagra. I don't need any little blue pills, thank you very much.

The buzz is for a notification that my credit card bill is due in three days. No shit, Visa. Tell me something I don't know.

I'd been hoping it was an email from GigsForHire, a notification that I'd been contacted by a potential customer.

I log into the site anyway. It's become an addiction. Most of the time it disappoints, because scoring a gig from here comes with the same odds as a slot machine payoff. You don't get three cherries terribly often, but when you do, man, they add up to a delicious treat.

Looks like someone viewed my ad, but there are no replies. On his way to the airport, Xavier called and told me he had a sure thing. What's odd, though, is he said I'd be a replacement for him. I love the dude, but we're hardly interchangeable, and I'd never peg my buddy as the bad boy. But that's what his friend needs, he told me when he asked if I could fill in for him at a family reunion.

"I can't let her down, but I can't let this job go. Any chance you could fill in for me for five days?"

"Five days," I'd said, surprised. Most gigs don't last that long. "I have the weekend off, and if the pay is right, I can swap shifts for the rest."

"Perfect. She's a darling, and you're the only one I know who can cover in a pinch."

"But she knows there's a fee?"

"Did you think I was going out of the goodness of my heart? April took a vow to tell me for the rest of my life if my jeans ever make me look fat. I'll be sure to let her know you require old-fashioned greenbacks."

"Tell me what she wants."

"If I know April, she'll go bananas for the ex-con ad. It's hilarious. Let me show her that one, 'kay?"

With a name like April, you'd figure she'd want the guy next door. But hell, maybe she's the good girl who likes the black sheep.

I've slipped into that skin for Thanksgiving dinners, wedding dates, even bat mitzvahs. I've slipped into other roles, too. I've been a salesman, a pimp, a swindled fool, a beleaguered boyfriend. It's all in the eyes, and in the heart that you put into the role.

But the slot machine idles quietly as my break ends. No payouts come. Maybe April has cold feet. Perhaps she decided to try it solo rather than shell out for a rent-a-date.

I head inside as the busboy sucks the last ember of his cigarette. The nachos are ready. I grab the plate, spoon some extra guacamole on, and serve it to Lori.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Real Deal"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Lauren Blakely.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Dedication,
Prologue: Theo,
Chapter One: April,
Chapter Two: Theo,
Chapter Three: April,
Chapter Four: Theo,
Chapter Five: April,
Chapter Six: Theo,
Chapter Seven: April,
Chapter Eight: Theo,
Chapter Nine: Theo,
Chapter Ten: April,
Chapter Eleven: Theo,
Chapter Twelve: April,
Chapter Thirteen: Theo,
Chapter Fourteen: Theo,
Chapter Fifteen: April,
Chapter Sixteen: Theo,
Chapter Seventeen: April,
Chapter Eighteen: April,
Chapter Nineteen: April,
Chapter Twenty: Theo,
Chapter Twenty-one: April,
Chapter Twenty-two: Theo,
Chapter Twenty-three: Theo,
Chapter Twenty-four: April,
Chapter Twenty-five: Theo,
Chapter Twenty-six: April,
Chapter Twenty-seven: Theo,
Chapter Twenty-eight: April,
Chapter Twenty-nine: Theo,
Chapter Thirty: April,
Chapter Thirty-one: Theo,
Chapter Thirty-two: Theo,
Chapter Thirty-three: April,
Chapter Thirty-four: Theo,
Chapter Thirty-five: Theo,
Chapter Thirty-six: April,
Chapter Thirty-seven: Theo,
Chapter Thirty-eight: Theo,
Chapter Thirty-nine: April,
Chapter Forty: Theo,
Chapter Forty-one: April,
Chapter Forty-two: April,
Chapter Forty-three: Theo,
Chapter Forty-four: April,
Epilogue,
Acknowledgments,
About the Author,
Copyright,

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The Real Deal: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book was not worth 8 bucks. It was slow and a little boring. Bummer.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I love Theo because he has a past. We all do.
Crazybooknerd 9 months ago
The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely (Audiobook) Narrated by: Zachary Webber and Erin Mallon 4 Stars - I quite enjoyed this fake boyfriend plot line and the characters involved. The dialogue was witty and filled with fabulous tension. The story slowed a bit for me part way in the last quarter, but picked up again with a wonderful ending. Zachary Webber did a wonderful job narrating as usual. Erin Mallon’s male character voices were great and her regular voice is easy to listen to, however she tends to dragout some of her syllables at the end of the words. Example: “Chapter Twelllvvvvve- Aprillllll”. Not sure if she is doing this on purpose for this character or not? Either way I found that distracting and didn’t care for it. That said, I would still listen to her narrations. ~Paragraphs and Petticoats~
Anonymous 9 months ago
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Anonymous 9 months ago
I love the sassy girl and the bad boy story.
Cynthia181 9 months ago
I won a copy of this book from the author and was not required to give a favorable review. This was a great story of how a young women and youngest child an moved away from home and is making a wonderful career for herself in NYC. The friend who was suppose to be her plus one for the family reunion weekend got a job out of the country and told her about a friend that is a rent-a-boyfriend. He is a bartender/actor and is trying to pay off some debts from college and other things. So when this opportunity arises he takes it and hopes it will clear everything up. But little did there little acting job get them to become closer. I loved the writing and it really makes you feel for the characters.
Lisa-Lou 10 months ago
The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely is a standalone contemporary fake lover romance told in dual POV and complete with a happily ever after. Sweet and Sexy, Spicy and tantalizing, this book was a page turning read. I just HAD to know how these two would resolve their issues, hangups, doubts and feelings... April needs a buffer for her trip home. It is reunion weekend and her ENTIRE family is trying to set her up with one or another all with the special qualification of being from her hometown - where she no longer lives and does NOT want to move back to. When her male best friend cancels on her at the last minute he gives her an option via his friend and his craigslist ad. Theo has been hustling since he was a teenager. Aside from bartending he is a platonic date for hire and can be whatever type of date you can imagine someone needing. He has been a fake fiancé, a bad boy, he has made other guys jealous, made dad's mad, you name it and he has a plan for it. When his friend asks him to consider helping April it comes at a time when he is in desperate need for the cash. The only problem, this may the first client he has ever been attracted to. Hot and sexy, angsty and unexpected - It was a pleasure to read. Enjoy!
Anonymous 10 months ago
Equally fun & naughty, this book has everything you could want in a rom-com and more!! Theo is a charming, social chameleon with a slightly shady past who uses his talents by hiring himself out as a pretend boyfriend. April is the aspiring artist who hires him to get well meaning family off her back with their unwanted matchmaking attempts. Both characters are smart & quick witted, effortlessly weaving together stories of their make believe past. They fight their attraction, but the chemistry leaps off the page & you know that this couple is destined to be together. This slow burning romance makes for a cute, light hearted & hot summer read.
SmutCrazy 10 months ago
April Hamilton needs a fake boyfriend stat, before she goes to her family reunion in Connecticut! It seems every female relative is trying to set her up with either the butcher, the accountant, and so on. They all want her to get married and move back home and leave New York City behind. No such luck, since she loves Manhattan and her job. Now that her bestie has a modeling job in Europe and left her hanging as her fake boyfriend, she’s desperate. However, he did give her name to a guy he knows that works at a bar and is also an actor that does side gigs as fake boyfriends. Well what does she have to lose. So they make plans to meet in a park on the middle of a Saturday, plus two of her friends will be there to help her out, just in case. Wow, when she meets Theo Banks she’s thrown for a loop. He is drop dead gorgeous and not only do they hit it off but they have sizzling chemistry. Theo Banks knows he’s in trouble when he meets April. She is beautiful and everything he looks for in a woman. He’s got to keep telling himself that he can’t go any further with her, that it’s just a job that he desperately needs the money to finally pay off some family debts. On the train ride from New York to her hometown, things get verbally heated as they play a pretend game of how they met and things they did. The last thing he expected was sharing a bed with her. What surprised him the most was the fun he was having with her family. What starts out as a gig develops into something else for him. But when she learns about his background and that he’s really not an actor, April will not even give him the time of day. He’s got to come clean and tell her everything before it’s too late. This was an amazing book, as in anything that Lauren Blakely writes!
Anonymous 10 months ago
It kept my attention. I didn’t want to put it down.
AboutThatStory 11 months ago
This was so incredibly sweet, fun and flirty! A seriously entertaining and heartwarming read! Theo and April were so wonderful and I loved their vibe. They had this amazing dialogue happening right from the start that was so cute, I just couldn't stop smiling. They're in the middle of a crazy circumstance and I ate it up. There was such a great build as feelings emerged, histories were learned, and sexual tension simmered. I loved this pull they had on one another, a real connection and how it built and built. I adored the awesome banter between Theo and April and all their sharing moments. It was just so incredibly sweet and sincere and playful. This story had a slow burn feel to me and it was so worth it, I was filled with so much anticipation and couldn't wait for them to really connect. There was such a great cast of characters as well. Their family and friends were all so fun. There were just so many great things happening throughout, it made my heart happy. Also, I'm a super huge fan of texting dialogue and this had it in spades and made it even more entertaining. This was a fun and easy read with just the right amount of drama and emotion mixed in to the fun and flirt. Sometimes a feel-good read is just what a person needs and this was it! This was a story that leaves you feeling full and happy with super sweet characters, a really interesting storyline, and a wonderful HEA. Complimentary copy received for honest review.
ljtljtljt 11 months ago
3.5 Stars! The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely, is a relationship of convenience romance with two very unlikely characters. The plot is good, however, I found the pace to be a bit slow during the first half of the novel. This book may be read as a standalone. April Hamilton paints humans for a living. She is an up and comer in the entertainment business and her next project should put her on the A-list. She loves her family very much, but they are quite traditional when it comes to ways to earn a living. Body painting is something her parents do not quite understand, and furthermore, they are not fans of her residing in New York City. Since her parents want her to find a guy and settle down near them in the suburbs, they plan on setting her up on a few dates while she is in town attending the family's annual reunion. April has no desire to date or settle down, so she hires Theo Banks to be her boyfriend for the reunion weekend, therefore getting her family off her back. Theo is a good-looking and kindhearted man that will do whatever is necessary to pay down his older brother's debts. He is a bartender and an actor, and he hires himself out via Craigslist to earn extra cash. Despite his troubled past, Theo is a go-getter. The money he earns as April's boyfriend will really help make a dent in his financial situation. Theo has done the boyfriend-for-hire gig many times, so when he finds himself falling for April, he is a bit confused. April is falling for him simultaneously. April and Theo are well-defined characters and I enjoyed getting to know them. They are hot couple, both in and out of the bedroom. Overall, a solid read. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Dalitza 11 months ago
With The Real Deal, Lauren Blakely delivers a compellingly feel-good story full of humor and delicious chemistry that will make you smile and swoon. April Hamilton loves her family and their summer reunions, she just doesn’t want to go alone to the next one because she knows everyone and their mother will try to set her up with a nice man from her home town. Even though it comes from a good place, they don’t understand her career and desire to live in the big city so when her sends her an ad link with the title “Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m the REAL DEAL,” she knows she found her man. Theo Banks has a past which includes a debt. He does well as a bartender but what will get him out of trouble is his job as a fake boyfriend. But after one look at April he knows he’s in more trouble than he ever thought. He’s never been attracted to his clients, not once was he tempted to cross the kiss on the lips line, much less want more with any of them, never wished the false romantic stories to be true, until her. Could she be feeling the same? And even so, can she look beyond his past and be able to have a shot at a true love? Theo and April’s love story will grip you from the very start. From Theo’s wacky boyfriend for hire ad, to their sexy banter and chemistry, the easy rapport between them, and the fun activities the play during their weekend together will thoroughly entertain and have you cheering for them to get their happy ending. The Real Deal is a standalone, contemporary romance by Lauren Blakely. It is fun, flirty and sexy told from both points of view with a happy ending.
BeckyRendon 11 months ago
I am sporting a big toothy grin with a side of doopey glee. The Real Deal has a snort inducing ad for the perfect guy. Don't mock me! I'm serious. I laughed my butt off (if only) reading that ad and personally would have gone to find said stud if April hadn't. The Real Deal is super cute with instant chemistry and off the charts storytelling. You can't help but be drawn into the story.
Susanmc81 11 months ago
Another great Rom-com from Lauren Blakely! April Hamilton is dreading going to her family reunion as her family will be trying to set her up after her last boyfriend forgot to mention he was married. She decides to hire Theo Banks, bartender and part time rent-a-boyfriend. Theo’s part time gig is strictly platonic, but he and April are attracted to each other from the moment they meet. April and Theo have to get through his checkered past, her family’s distrust of him or any man from NYC, and the crazy reunion competition. The Real Deal brings both laughs and an HEA. I was given an ARC of this book by NetGalley for my honesty review.
aschae 11 months ago
Lauren Blakely has done it again! What an incredibly sweet and charming love story about two people who find that pretending can sometimes be just as exciting as the real thing! Imagine a reversed Pretty Woman story... In preparation of going home to see the family in Connecticut, April has decided that hiring a pretend boyfriend to keep the family off her back is the next best thing after her bestie stand-in has to bail for a job. Tired of being set-up with every guy her family comes across, all in hopes of leading her back to her hometown and everything she is not interested in... she heads to the family reunion with her Craigslist hired boyfriend on her arm and a great backstory. Turns out, Theo is perfection from the moment they meet. Ready to create any story she requires, it's obvious the sparks fly immediately with these two. Creating fun backstories that feel all too real for a couple that met only a few days ago. Can't forget the family aspect here... some people have family and never see how wonderful they are and never know how good they have it. Some have no family and only dream of being "harassed" by those who love you and it was beyond heartwarming to watch such a loving group of people together. April clearly has a wonderful family and they so lovingly welcome Theo and his family into theirs. So heartwarming, this book brought a smile to my face over and over. Didn't want to put it down yet I didn't want it to end!? Such wonderful characters, I loved April's strength, and determination and listening to the two of them together was beyond adorable. Loved that she was so quick, funny and smart and he was just a sweetheart, afraid of his past, afraid of letting her down, afraid this would never be more than a fake weekend... boy was he wrong!? ;-) Highly recommended read and author!!
UpAllNightBB 11 months ago
4 Stars Review by Morgen Late Night Reviewer Up All Night w/ Books Blog The Real Deal is a stand-alone romantic comedy by Lauren Blakely, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author. This story is about family and the lengths you’d go to be able to please them and make their life easier. Theo is a bartender as well as professional arm candy. He can be anyone, whether it be a loving boyfriend who wins everyone over, billionaire extraordinaire, nerdy coworker who is just a friend, or the bad boy. He’ll be whoever you need. To him it comes easy, he’s confident and sure he can tackle any role. April is kind, compassionate, caring, understanding, fiesty, and independent. She paints people for a living. She knows it may sound weird at first, but there’s nothing she can imagine giving her the same amount of pride and joy. She comes from a small town and her family doesn’t really understand her career choices. They want her to move home and settle down with a nice guy. April has a family reunion coming up so she decides its best to bring a fake boyfriend to show her family she’s happy in the big city. From the moment Theo and April meet you can feel the connection between them. They fight it and try to keep their relationship as professional as possible while they’re pretending to be together. The story is captivating, their witty banter and easy chemistry set the pages on fire. With each touch it gets harder to ignore. The more she gets to know him the more she wonders if it’s all fake. Her last relationship ended badly and it hurt her. She’s been on a dating diet ever since. It only makes her question herself more. Rooming with a guy she barely knows for a few days under her parents roof, what could go wrong? The characters have great development while still keeping a little mystery at the same time. The story has a great flow and the pacing is great. I loved all the jokes. They were placed well throughout the story and really hit the mark. What pulled me in most was how perfectly they complimented each other but how hard they fought that connection. Theo has always kept these fake dates professional and doesn’t want to ruin something he is so good at and enjoys so much. She is career driven and doesn’t want any distractions. Neither one has much faith in love, they would rather focus on achieving their goals. I would definitely recommend this for anyone that enjoys a few jokes with their angst.
Arys 11 months ago
The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely is a fun and flirty story. April Hamilton needs a boyfriend to bring home to meet her parents so that they will get off her case. Luckily for her she finds Theo Banks' ad. Theo is an expert at exactly what April needs. Coming across as the real deal boyfriend, but just pretending, really well. The idea of this story is reminiscent of the movie, The Wedding Date, but these characters are very different. While there was an immediate connection between them, dealing with April's crazy family gives them real experiences with each other and as the lines between pretend and real start to blur we get to see April and Theo really grow and blossom together. Overall I had a lot of fun reading The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely and recommend it if you are looking for a fun, fake to real, romance story. The characters really connected and brought the whole thing together. (I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
B2BKristina 11 months ago
This book...was fantastic! Pretty sure I have a girl crush on April. She's one of those quick-witted, smart, creative women and I was instantly drawn to her. Theo was equally charming, sexy and smart and funny to boot, I love me a funny man. I devoured this book. The witty comments, just the way the two interacted, their back and forth banter, it was sassy and flirty and had me smiling from ear to ear because it was just fun to read! You could literally feel April and Theo's connection dripping off the pages. Plus it helps that the author has a way of writing that keeps you glued to the pages making it so hard to put the book down. I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book. Really, April's family was as spunky as her, they had me cracking up with some of their dirty talk, I know I would've been blushing if I was in April's shoes at some of the things those ladies said. Too funny! I think April is one of my favorite book characters I've read in awhile. April and Theo might just be my favorite book couple this year as well. They both draw you in and though their backgrounds are quite different, Theo's is utterly tragic and heartbreaking in certain aspects, I'd say they most definitely found soulmates in each other in the short amount of time it took for them to get to know each other. Ms. Blakely definitely knows how to spark a fire and keep it crackling, because this book was a freaking slow burn like no other. When I finally get the blaze I'd been waiting for, I was not disappointed. There were quite a lot of steamy scenes, and a few of them didn't even involve "hula-hooping" *wink wink*. Both April and Theo have quite the vivid imagination and I thoroughly enjoyed their tale-spinning. How they would switch back and forth between stories and real life...loved that. Awesome summer read and I will most definitely be reading more by this author in the near future. Her writing is addicting and I'm a new-er fan. So good! #B2BKristina
carvanz 11 months ago
Do you remember when you read The Real Deal and fell in love with Theo and April. Remember how they were so perfect together and how they played out little scenes about remembering things they had done together…things they had never done together but that fed the little lie they were telling her family? It was freaking awesome! I absolutely loved Theo and April. Their chemistry was instantaneous and despite the deal they had going neither of them could keep things platonic for long. This was a low angst read with plenty of mature humor that had me smiling the whole time. April hired Theo to act as her boyfriend during a family reunion that is chock full of competitions. The games aren’t the problem, the problem is her family is determined to set her up with one of the locals so she’ll stay in Wistful where they all live. Finding Theo was the perfect solution even if their “remember whens” and their pretend relationship did start to feel very real. This was a very upbeat read with some incredible secondary characters and plenty of laugh out loud moments. The steam is sizzling although this couple don’t get down and dirty until 80% into the story. That doesn’t mean there isn’t teasing and tension…lots and lots of tension. So, remember when I gave this five stars because it was exactly what I wanted, when I wanted it and it left me with the best feel good feeling one can expect from a book? Yeah, I remember that too. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book provided by NetGalley and St. Marin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
KaraS 11 months ago
4.5 stars! The book is more than the blurb in this one. April and Theo have chemistry to spare. What starts out as a boyfriend-for-hire gig turns into so much more...the real deal! This book has all the wittiness you expect from a Lauren Blakely novel. It was cute, witty, hot, steamy and just all around enjoyable. Of course there's some bumps in the road and April gets a dose of reality at the part she's playing in deceiving her family, but all is right in the end. Enjoyable read for sure. I voluntarily requested and reviewed an uncorrected advance reader copy from the publisher via Net Galley.
AmandaKozi 11 months ago
4.5☆ The Real Deal is absolutely adorable! April and Theo are trying to fake their relationship, but they can't fake their fantastic chemistry. I love well they play off each other and their slow burn. I really like the build up with their story and enjoy the storyline a lot! Theo has a very interesting background and I really liked what that element added to the story. These two were so freaking cute together and I just adored their story!
JackiesBookWorld 11 months ago
I’m always excited to read any of Lauren Blakely’s books, they are so full of life and charm. The Real Deal was no different, it was witty and romantic. It’s a story that will certainly leave you waiting for more. At the beginning of the story we get to meet April Hamilton, she is a body-point artist who has worked really hard to establish a successful career in New York. Being from a small town, she was used to being around her family all the time until she decided to break away from her small-town life and travel to New York in hopes of making it big. But no matter what she does in her career, it will never be a real job to her family. They don’t see body-painting as an actual career and they want her to go back home where she belongs. After going through a really bad break-up, April decides to not date at all and focus on her career instead. This makes things a lot more complicated with her family and to help her see their side they decide to set her up with every eligible bachelor in their small town in Connecticut. But when she has to go back home for a family reunion, April doesn’t want to go alone and ends up hiring a fake boyfriend to take home with her. Meeting Theo for the first time wasn’t what she thought it would be like. There is an instant connection between them right away that’s sizzling and sexy! They understand each other and the more time they spend together, the more she starts to realize that he might just be the one. Theo Banks never aspired to be an actor, but he is really good at it and if it pay the bills he’ll do just about anything. When he needs the money to pay off a debt, Theo posts an ad on Craigslist in hopes of getting hired. When his friend calls him for a gig, he immediately accepts and decides to meet April the next day. From that moment on, he has been going crazy over her and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He needs the money and he can’t get himself involved with a client. But when he meets her family, they are all nice to him and he feels like he belongs with them. Something that he hasn’t been able to feel after his parents passed away. Yet there is something that he is not telling April, something that could damage what they have and he’ll have convince her that he might just be the right guy for her before it’s too late. I absolutely loved this book, it was sweet and funny! Lauren Blakely knows how to deliver a great story and she did it again with The Real Deal. April is the creative one in her family and wanting to make a career out of it makes her relatable to anyone who has felt the same way. It’s clear that she has a loving family that want the best for her, yet they don’t understand what she does. In the story we get to see them interact and it was so much fun to read. Their family reunion is not your typical reunion and that’s what made the story that much more entertaining to read. What I love the most about this story was the moments that we get with just the two main characters. It was romantic and swoon worthy. Theo is not your typical bad boy, he is just very charming and likable. There are problems along the way, but they help each other and it all works out in the end. The ending was very creative and it totally fit the vive of the story very well. I highly recommend reading this story and any others by the author. You will not regret it! :) ***ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.***
tsmb02 11 months ago
April Hamilton is living in New York City much to the dismay of her parents. They want their little girl to find a great guy and settle back in their hometown of Wistful, CT. Too bad April enjoys her life in NY, especially her job of painting people. When April has to go back home for the annual family reunion, she decides to hire a pretend boyfriend for the weekend long celebration that her friend Xavier recommended. Enter Theo Banks. He will play any part, bad boy, guy next store, etc based on each person situational needs, but never anything emotional or physical. So what happens when Theo first meets April.....BAM....instant attraction. This attraction will make the job easy to pretend, but also hard because he wants more from April than what they agreed to. Over the course of the weekend, April and Theo are having a hard time keeping their hands off of each other. When they finally give in to their desires, the past will come back to haunt them. This was such a great, fun, sexy story that I laughed out loud at many times. I just adored both Theo and April. They were both jaded from events in their pasts, but together they were able to move forward. Read this, you won't regret it!
astroyic 11 months ago
Fun, Entertaining and Hot! This is the first book that I have read by this author but it definitely won’t be my last. This was such a fun, entertaining, sexy, and heartwarming story. 
With lovable, and unique characters and a utterly, charming and entertaining, family reunion that keeps the funny times coming and coming as her family, falls, for her fake date, and their fake date, turns into the real deal. But when secrets come to light, will love save the day? 
It was LOL. hilarious, full of rapid, fire, wit and flirty banter as well as exquisitely playful and enticing moments that made me giddy and breathless. It was so easy getting lost in these characters and their wonderfully crafted conversations and their special connection and I didn’t want it to end. Loved and so will you. 
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.