New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers tale featuring a troubled playboy and the woman he can’t resist…
Beck Ockley is ruthless in the boardroom...and the bedroom. He's never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.
Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck's home—her ancestral estate—for food, she's shocked by his early return...and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.
For the first time in Beck's life, he can't get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he'll have to break her heart...or surrender his own.
“I’d like to hire you to paint my portrait.”
Harlow almost bounced out of her seat, but caught herself with a single thought. Can’t appear too hasty. “Okay,” she said, playing with the edge of a piece of paper. “If you insist. And if the price is right.” She’d drawn countless images of Beck, but the thought of painting him to scale and seeing him in full color intoxicated her. She could play with different shades of gold, brown and bronze, and even a wealth of greens to get the emerald flecks hidden so deeply in his eyes just right.
Maybe Kimberly had nailed it. Maybe Harlow had stared at Beck for reasons that had nothing to do with the job.
“Name a figure.” He slowly, leisurely, walked back to the couch and eased down, the whiskey in hand. “Whatever it is, lollipop, I’ll pay it.”
The new endearment startled her, considering he hadn’t used one these past three weeks. The fact that he’d gone with lollipop, something sweet and edible he’d never called the others…
I’m special to him.
Oh, no, no, no. Red alert! Red alert! That was the true danger of him. Somehow, he made everyone feel special.
“That’s a daring thing to say,” she stated quietly.
“But true nonetheless.”
She placed her elbows on the desk and leaned forward. “Very well. The price is…” Inspiration struck, and she smiled evilly. “You can’t have sex for a week.”
His eyes narrowed to tiny slits, but he appeared far from angry. “Why do you care about my sex life?”
“I care about you, and I think abstinence will help build character.”
He didn’t miss a beat. “You care? Very well, I accept.” No time to celebrate. “With two caveats,” he added. “The week won’t start until the painting is done.” He smiled now, and it was a wicked one. “Also, I want the painting to be a nude.”
Her breath caught in her throat, only to exit on a gust. “I…you…excuse me?”
“A nude. Meaning I won’t be wearing any clothing. If you want to strip down, that’ll be okay too.”
This was punishment for daring to impede his sex life, wasn’t it? “I’ve never actually painted or even drawn what you’re suggesting, and I’m not sure I have the skill.” Or if she would survive.
“I have complete faith in your ability. And as an artist, a professional, I’ll expect you to view me strictly through objective eyes. You can do that, can’t you?”
“Of course,” she said. She could absolutely, one hundred percent view him through objective eyes…if he wore a cloak of invisibility. But even then it would be iffy. “Why do you want a nude?” she demanded, hoping to shame him into retracting his request.
“Maybe I enjoy the thought of disrobing for you.” His voice had gone low and husky, a caress of unfettered temptation, making her shiver. “Maybe I like the thought of your eyes on my bare skin and your hands forming the shapes of my body.”
She gulped. Having only ever dealt with boys, never with men, she had no idea how to respond to so blatant a statement.
“Or,” he said, his voice returning to its normal fun, flirty tone. “Maybe I’m narcissistic and want to immortalize every inch of myself. How is one to know?”
How indeed. “When would you like to start?”
I’m going to hate myself for reminding him of this, but… “What about your date? I can’t—won’t—hurt Kimberly.”
“I think we both know she was about to cancel on me. Which makes me wonder what the two of you were discussing.”
Shifting uncomfortably, she said, “I will never betray a confidence.”
“I could change your mind, but I won’t. I admire your mindset.” His gaze dropped to the pulse fluttering in her neck. “I’ll arrive at seven, and I’ll bring dinner.”
“Yes. I’d like that.” A lot. And it wasn’t the thought of food that made her heart race, but the thought of having him in her space. Alone…naked. Within reach.
She sucked in a breath. Oh…crap. The worst had happened, hadn’t it?
Kimberly had figured it out, but Harlow had done her best to deny it until the truth practically vibrated in her bones. How had she ever fooled herself into thinking she could fall for West…when she’d already fallen for Beck?
“What’s wrong, dove?” he asked gently. He came around the desk and sat at the edge, turning her chair to trap her between his legs. “You were twinkles one moment, sullen the next.”
He always read her so well, while she always struggled to make sense of his moods. Life wasn’t fair. “It’s nothing I want to discuss right now,” she said, refusing to lie to him. But she had to talk to someone about this.
Who? She had no confidants, and any secrets she revealed to others could be used as a weapon against her. A game of “humiliate Harlow for sport.”
“What will it take to get you to trust me, hmm?”
Was he serious? “Beck, for the past three weeks you’ve treated me like I’m a carrier of cholera. Why do you want my trust?”
“You’re my friend.”
But I want to be more. “Yes,” she said, and cleared her throat. “You’re right. I am.”
“So talk to me like a friend. Share your past with me. Tell me what changed you in high school.”
Her mouth went dry. Always they circled back to this. “Forget I agreed to be your friend. We’re enemies.”
“You’ll tell me what’s easy, but nothing that’s hard.”
“I don’t like to think about what changed me. It hurts.”
“Pain fades. Rip off the bandage and give the wound a chance to heal.”
“No.” If she told him, she’d have to show him. If she showed him, he’d never want her again. And right now he wanted her. He had to. The way he was looking at her…
He leaned down until his nose almost brushed against hers. “One day, Harlow, you’ll open up to me.”
“One day,” she whispered. “Maybe. But probably not.”
He cupped her nape, the heat of him making her gasp. “Definitely. And in more ways than one. I’ll make sure of it.”
My thoughts.......4 stars
Reformed mean girl Harlow Glass meets unrepentant one-night-only bad boy, Beck Ockley and more than sparks fly.
Harlow Glass has fallen about as low as a body can. The former Queen of Mean dropped out junior year and has been reclusive ever since. Why? Not that anyone has missed her or even cared what became of her. The town of
Strawberry Valley is pretty
united in their vehement dislike of Harlow. Now, having
lost her home to foreclosure after her mother’s death, she’s living rough in a
tent hidden on land that used to belong to her. When she uses a “found” key to
break into her former home and steal a pie it puts her dead in the sights of
one of the new owners, Beck Ockley.
Beck Ockley aka sex walking is smooth, practiced, and devastating when he focuses his considerable charm. One night of bliss and a killer morning after breakfast is what he offers. He knows what to say, how to look, where and when to touch, but more than a night, emotions, or heaven forbid-a relationship simply aren’t in his repertoire; no way, no how, nothing doing. Beck isn’t a fan of change either. In fact, moving to
with his “brothers”, Jace and West, has
been enough change to last him a lifetime, thank you very much. Strawberry Valley,
And then he comes face to face with the woman whose life, chronicled in pictures and placed in a box, he discovered in his room at the farmhouse. The little girl hunched to appear smaller, the defiant teenager, her eyes have haunted him since he saw the first picture. She’s in his house, with his pie in her hands……
From their first encounter and throughout THE HOTTER YOU BURN Beck and
Harlow keep readers flipping those pages. Their
banter is quick and funny, reflecting how they keep each other on their toes.
While some of the push-pull between them is par for the course there are plenty
of surprises and situations that keep them from being a predictable paint by
number couple with a typical romance.
With a supporting cast that’s just as quirky and unique ~ Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? ~ playing off and complementing each other wonderfully, readers are skillfully drawn into their lives and the delightful (most of the time) town of
It’s always exciting when a story or character throws you a curve or two and THE HOTTER YOU BURN has that in spades along with some serious bite. It managed to surprise me, tug at my heart, and leave me clamoring for more. Looking forward to where West and the next Original Heartbreakers book takes me….
Gena Showalter is a New York Times and
Today bestselling author whose works have appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines, as well as Entertainment
Weekly. Her novel Red Handed has
been optioned by Sony Television. Critics have called her books “sizzling page-turners”
and “utterly spellbinding stories,” while Showalter herself has been called “a
star on the rise.” Her mix of humor, danger and wickedly hot sex provides
wildly sensual page-turners sure to enthrall. USA