I was prepared for this to be a fun, light rom com, but… it was SO MUCH better than I anticipated! This is my first time reading one of Annika Martin’s books, and that cover and title give the impression that this is going to be a surface-level rom com – which, don’t get me wrong, is something I love to read – but Martin managed to build incredible depth to the relationship, pairing angsty moments with some fantastic, playful banter. I loved the grumpy the hero with a heart of gold – Captain Sternpants might not be great with emotions, but Martin is excellent at writing those quiet moments where you can tell the hero has feelings he’s unaware of. It was an outstanding read from start to finish, and now I’m going to have to check out more of this author’s books.
The story follows Rex, a workaholic finance guy whose troubled past has shaped his personality. He’s grouchy, growly, and commit-phobic, but when a business deal hinges on him shedding his playboy image, he finds himself in need of a fake fiancée. In an effort to not get distracted from his work during a two-week business trip, Rex asks his assistant to find a fake fiancée with qualities that Rex finds distasteful. Little does he know that the woman who epitomizes that list is none other than his bubbly, soap opera-loving hairdresser, Tabitha. As Rex and Tabitha spend time together, they find themselves becoming unlikely allies and blurring the lines of their relationship.
It’s got all the tropey goodness we know and love, heightened by some tongue in cheek humor relating to soap operas and the over the top drama that come with them. Martin does a fantastic job in building the intimacy, with a relationship that starts off with sassy heroine and a growly hero before transitioning into a deeper, more heartfelt read. I really loved Rex, aka Captain Sternpants, who took a little while to work through his emotions but then embraced them in a big way. Martin did a great job showing the reader how he feels even while he was in denial – that’s one of my favorite things about the book. I even love the potential romance the author has set up for her next book – and I can’t wait to read it. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and am voluntarily leaving a review of this opposites attract romance.
The Billionaire’s Fake Fiancée, a sexy romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Annika Martin.
I’m no Prince Charming, and the last thing I want is a Cinderella.
My instructions were simple: scour the city for a fake fiancée who’s not my type at all. Have her on my jet Monday morning, dressed appropriately for a yacht vacation.
I need a woman believable enough to convince a certain client that I’ve changed my playboy ways…yet nothing like the supermodels and socialites I usually have on my arm.
Somebody too annoying to tempt me—no emotional entanglements, thank you very much. This is business only.
If she’s unfazed by my looks and wealth, all the better.
Should be easy. Right?
Apparently not, because my people go and hire Tabitha. My hairdresser.
What were they thinking? Yes, I said annoying, but I didn’t mean her, the most frustrating woman in the world.
Tabitha is sunshiny. She has a pet hamster. She loves Hello Kitty, and she gets under my skin like nobody else.
As if that’s not bad enough, the minute we step on deck, she thinks that certain people on the yacht are up to something shady—based completely on her soap opera knowledge.
She won’t listen when I tell her she’s being ridiculous.
But as the days go by, I find that we’re actually having fun. And our fake kisses are heating up. And suddenly her wild theories aren’t sounding so strange after all…
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“We need a practice kiss.”
My gaze falls to her lips and my mind goes blank. “Did you not read the contract?” I bite out. “This relationship is to be purely platonic.”
“Oh, I know. And before you think I’m jonesing to kiss you, please know, I’m just trying to do a professional job at this, and the kiss is important. Because I can tell you right now, when people do the fake engagement ploy and get busted, it’s often because they’re forced to do a first kiss in front of suspicious people. Everybody can tell a first kiss.”
“Have you been involved in other fake engagement situations?” I ask.
“No, but, you know, it’s a thing. Trust me.”
“It’s a thing?” I ask, incredulous.
“Well, on soap operas,” she adds.
I groan. “Jesus Christ, save me from your ridiculous soap opera wisdom.”
“What? There is a lot of life wisdom in soap operas.”
I give her a hard look.
“And the fact is, with people who have never kissed, there’s a lot of trepidation. They’re like, How do I start off? Where do I put my hands? Which way should I tilt my head?”
“Those are not questions that would cross my mind during a kiss. Ever.”
“Please. Spare me from the knowledge of what crosses your mind when you kiss a woman,” she says. “I’m just telling you, people aren’t stupid. They’re capable of recognizing a first kiss. We need at least one practice round. Unfortunately.”
I swallow. Somewhere down on Wall Street, trading is in full swing. I have rates to check, reports to analyze, spreads to monitor, but the idea of pulling her to me and kissing her crowds all of that out. My hands flex.
A practice kiss. I can’t think of a worse idea. “We’re not a couple who enjoys public displays of affection.”
She does her playful wince. “Okay, buuuuuut…what happens when they toast our engagement? We can’t exactly shake hands.”
Will people do that? Gather around and expect us to kiss in front of them? I focus on the window. The whole idea here was not to be tempted or distracted.
“If I decide we need a practice kiss,” I inform her, “then and only then will we have a practice kiss. And I’ll do the kissing.”
“It has to be more than a peck,” she says. “Just in case that’s what you’re imagining.”
“Rest assured, a kiss from me would be the opposite of a peck.”
“The opposite of a peck,” she echoes, as though she finds it funny.
“The polar opposite.” My gaze has gone back to her lips. They’d taste like some sort of sugary berry. Her dark hair would be thick and cool in my grip, her ass soft and firm. My mind won’t stop spinning on kissing her, now.
“I’m trying to help you pull this off,” she says. “Think of the times you’ve had a first kiss. The wild rush of it. The buzz of it. It’ll be so obvious.”
I frown. Who the hell has she been sharing these mind-altering first kisses with?
“Don’t worry, I get this is business,” she says. “You’re not at all the type of guy I go for, either.”
“No? Do tell—what type of guy do you go for?”
“For one, he would scoff at the idea of a private jet. And he would never wear or even possess cufflinks. Or if he did, there’d be a string attached to the cufflinks because he would’ve made them into an awesome toy for little Seymour. That would be a guy for me.”
“Sounds like a loser,” I growl.
Meet the Author:
Annika Martin loves fun, dirty stories, hot heroes, and wild, dramatic everything. She enjoys hanging out in Minneapolis coffee shops with her writer husband, and also likes birdwatching at her bird feeder alongside her two stunningly photogenic cats, especially when she should be writing. She’s heavy into running, music, saving the planet, taking long baths, and consuming chocolate suckers. She’s worked a surprisingly large number of waitressing jobs, and has also worked in a plastics factory and the advertising trenches; her garden is total bee-friendly madness and her most unfavorite word is nosh or possibly fob. A NYT bestselling author, she has also written as RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.
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