Series: The Original Heartbreakers #2
Published by Harlequin on July 28, 2015
Genres: Contemp Romance
Source: Advance Reader Copy
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New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers story featuring a troubled playboy and the woman he can’t resist…
Beck O'ckley 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
You know, I have yet to read a Gena Showalter book I haven’t liked. This new series of hers has blown me away!
Beck Ockley is hot. His reputation of Mr. One Night Stand is hotter. All the women know he only wants one night, and yet they all want to be the one who stays for more.
Harlow Glass is known as the town bully, and even though that was years and years ago, she’s still got that reputation. Unfortunately for Harlow, it doesn’t seem to matter how much she tries to change her reputation, no one is having it.
What her bullying exterior hid during high school was a terrible home life, and her own pain. By making others feel like crap, she felt better for a few moments. But all that changed one day, and it only intensified her reputation when she pulled out of school to be homeschooled.
So fast forward several years, and Beck, Jase, and West own the old Glass house. Harlow hates that her house was foreclosed on, but due to her reputation, no one will hire her. So the bank took the house. Harlow still thinks of it as hers, though, and she sneaks in every now and then, and today she sneaks in and steals a pie.
But Beck is there with another woman and he sees Harlow. He recognizes her instantly, because he found a box of her old pictures and things in his room (which was Harlow’s old room). Beck chases her down, and tackles her. And finds himself not wanting to let her go.
Their relationship is full of ups and downs, it’s definitely not smooth. I liked Harlow’s desire to change, and drive to work. I also like how she wasn’t above taking a hand-out when she needed it. I also really REALLY loved how she became friends with Brook Lynn, and her group.
I know that the romance is forefront in this book, but the relationships between the guys, and the new friends Harlow made really stick out to me. They push this character-driven romance into the unforgettable category. You have characters you like, and you want to see them succeed. All of them, not just the main Hero and Heroine. I really can’t wait for Jessie Kay and West’s story, but wow, do they have a hard road ahead of them. And knowing Ms. Showalter, it’ll be the most rewarding story yet.
With Ms. Showalter’s trademark sense of humor, her likeable characters, and her addictive writing, you won’t want to put this down.
***ARC courtesy of HQN
“I’m leaving, that’s what,” Harlow said. Determined words, snotty tone. She attempted to wrench herself from Beck’s grip.
“Oh, no.” Beck merely tightened his hold. “We’re going to have a glass of sweet tea while you two crazy kids get to know each other better.”
Harlow anchored her hands on her hips. “You know what? You’re right. We are going to get to know each other. But your presence is unnecessary, Beck. Leave.”
“Not gonna happen.”
“We don’t need—”
He cut her off, whispering, “If you and West get married and live happily ever after, you’ll have to get used to having me around.”
She snapped her mouth shut, then lifted her chin and grumbled, “That’s a very sad point.” She flashed a too-bright smile at West and eased into the chair Jase had vacated. “I’m game if you are.”
Beck vibrated with irritation as he carried a pitcher of tea and three glasses to the table and settled between the pair. “My girl here has certain ideas about the kind of man she wants to end up with,” he explained, “and I’d like to know if the two of you are compatible.”
Understanding dawned on West’s features, a smile nearly breaking free. He cleared his throat and donned his most uncaring expression. “Sure. Whatever.”
Beck poured the tea, handed out the glasses, and Harlow clutched hers as if it were a lifeline.
“Kick us off, sweet pea,” he said. “Tell my good buddy Lincoln—that’s his first name, in case you didn’t know—a little about yourself.”
“Well.” There was a slight tremor in her voice. “I’m twenty-six, and I’ve never been married.”
“Would you like a medal?” West muttered, while staring down at his cell phone, playing one of the games he’d created.
She glared at Beck, but he merely arched a brow.
Don’t make plans with men you don’t know.
“Yes, actually, I would like a medal, considering I’m hot but don’t realize it, which makes me even hotter.” The tremor had vanished, the snotty attitude firmly in its place. “It’s a miracle no one’s snatched me up. But then, most men are idiots, so…”
West smiled, realized his mistake, and glowered at his screen.
Beck braced elbows on the table. “You’re suggesting outward beauty is all that matters.”
“Hardly. My personality is hot, too. But Beck, darling.” Sugary-sweet tone now. Too sweet. “You aren’t part of this get-to-know-you session, even though you insist on being a total third wheel, so do us all a favor and zip your stupid lips.”
Then, she dismissed him. Looking to West, she traced her fingertips over the collar of her shirt, so feminine Beck’s every masculine instinct growled, hungry for the next meal. “So. Lincoln. How old are you?”
West played the video game a little longer before deigning to answer. “I’m twenty-eight, but I’ve got the stamina of an eighty-year-old coma victim. Horrible lover. Even worse cuddler.”
“Well, those skills can be taught,” she said, reaching over to caress his shoulder. “Anyway, you’re quite young to be so successful. It’s impressive.”
It was impressive. Beck wasn’t sure where he would have ended up without the guy.
West shrugged. “I work hard,” he said, then added, “probably too hard. I tend to ignore the people in my life. Especially women.”
“Well, I understand how taxing such a busy work schedule can be, and I commend you for it.” She gave his shoulder another caress, and Beck almost jerked the two apart. “I hope the lucky ladies in your life are as understanding as I am.”
“I guess,” West said and shrugged again.
“Wow, just look at these muscles, West. You are amazingly strong, aren’t you?” She cast another narrowed glance Beck’s way, presumably to make sure he was watching as she scooted her chair closer to West’s. “You know,” she said, the tip of her finger toying with the rim of West’s glass. When she caught a bead of condensation, she brought it to her lips and sucked, causing Beck’s groin to twitch behind his zipper. “I have a skill of my own, but it’s quite naughty.”
West glanced up, phone forgotten. “Do tell.”
“Yes. Do.” Beck simmered with renewed anger—even more desire. He smoothed a lock of hair from Harlow’s face. One touch, but he was greedy for more.
Her breath caught, but she leaned away from him, getting closer and closer to West, until her mouth was poised at the shell of his ear. In a husky voice low enough to be considered a whisper but loud enough for Beck to overhear, she said, “I’m super good at parking.”
Stick a fork in me. I’m done. Done with the conversation. Done with watching the object of his obsession doing her rock-solid best to arouse another male. “West doesn’t need to hear about that. Let’s go—”
“Even boys from two counties over dreamed of making out with me in the backseat of their trucks,” she continued with an effortless sensuality. “I’m very bendy.”
Beck slammed his glass on the table, tea sloshing over the sides of the rim. “Harlow here is looking to settle down forever,” he barked. “She thinks you’d make an awesome groom.”
“Marriage?” West sneered with distaste. “Me? Hell, no. Never.”
“He’s all for others tying the knot, but when it comes to himself he thinks the Newlywed Game should be called the Dig Your Own Grave game,” Beck explained, relaxing now that the conversation had taken a new direction.
Harlow unveiled a brittle smile. “Maybe you just haven’t met the right person, Lincoln. You don’t mind if I call you Lincoln, do you?”
“Call me whatever you like, but I have met the right person.” His voice cracked. “She died.” He stood, his chair skidding behind him, and strode out of the kitchen.
Harlow rounded on Beck, all hint of supple, willing female gone. “I hope you’re happy with yourself. You did this.”
“Yes, you.” The words were nothing more than a hiss. “You wanted me to know I can’t win the affections of anyone else, that I’m stuck with you, destined to be your newest conquest.”
“Stuck with me?” he snarled.
“Yeah, that’s right. You aren’t the prize you think you are, Beck Ockley, but maybe West is. Maybe he’s worth fighting for. Maybe, unlike you, he has a heart and the ability to care for someone other than himself.”
“I have a heart. I care.”
She didn’t seem to hear him, plowing ahead. “You know, there are plenty of guys in town. Why focus all my efforts on just one? I’m sure lots of guys would like a chance to get to know the new me. I can bring them back to my RV—”
“—and practice being married, just the way you suggested.”
Beck would burn the RV to ash first.
Too far gone to fight his sense of possession, he hooked his foot around the bottom of her chair and forced her chair closer, closer still. Their thighs touched, and she gasped, perhaps at the force he’d used, perhaps with a desire of her own.
He grabbed her by the waist and easily hefted her onto the table, on his feet and between her legs a second later, glaring down at her.
“I want you, and it’s past time I showed you how much. You’ll keep your sweet ass parked on this table and you’ll show me your skills. Me. No one else.” And then his hand was cupping the back of her neck, drawing her forward.