As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and that includes Call Me Crazy by Melanie Harlow! While every book in the Bellamy Creek series was excellent, this marriage of convenience romance is easily my favorite. These childhood frenemies turned spouses have no idea what they’re getting into when they start their fake relationship, and watching this arrogant playboy fall hard for his wife was so fun to watch. There’s tons of bickering/bantering and a playfulness to the story, which pairs perfectly with the sexual tension and steam throughout. I loved these two together, and this book is the one that really cemented the Bellamy Creek series for me – though the quality did not falter along the way. I’m looking forward to more from Harlow in 2022, because she certainly knows how to build intimacy and bring the heat.
Read on for my original review, details on the series, an excerpt, and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!
Who would’ve thought that the Italian playboy would have the SWOONIEST love story? Not me, I’ll tell you that. Though I’ve been loving this series so far, I was a little bit nervous about Enzo’s book, because last we saw him, he was dating a twenty-year-old and still giving smoldering looks to every woman who walked by. But he is just a big ball of adorable in this, and I loved every minute of it. The perfect combination of sweet, sass, and steam, this leads with the sexual tension before transitioning into a heartfelt, emotional read that excels at subtlety. I loved the honesty, the juxtaposition of viewpoints, and the build from (almost) loathe to lust to lasting love.
The story follows Enzo, a man from an Italian Catholic family. His parents expect him to settle down and get married sooner rather than later, and the family business is on the line. A playboy at heart, Enzo still doesn’t feel ready to get married, but he’s willing to make it happen if it gets him the business. Things don’t go according to plan with his first proposal, but they start looking up when Bianca enters the picture. A frenemy from a family with similar values to his own, Bianca is the kind of woman who stirs up all kinds of feelings in Enzo. Not the sexual kind, of course. Enzo still remembers Bianca as the quiet bookworm he knew in his teens, but she’s always known how to push his buttons. When Bianca agrees to temporarily be his wife – as long as she can try for the baby she’s always wanted – Enzo doesn’t see the harm in a business transaction between frenemies.
The friction between these two is fantastic – a bit of sexual tension that isn’t readily apparent to either character, but builds along the way. They seem like opposites on the surface, but the better they get to know each other, the more commonalities they find. I loved some of the subtler moments – the peek into married life, the strain infertility can have on a relationship, and how both Enzo and Bianca shoulder the “blame” for not getting pregnant. This has plenty of light and steamy moments, but there are some emotional ones as well. There’s a little of everything, and that’s what makes this such a great read. So, I’m happy to say that Enzo was everything I could’ve hoped for and more – a sweet, loving, arrogant man who still knows how to smolder.
It was the perfect plan.
I needed a wife–temporarily–in order to inherit the family business.
And she needed a favor–the kind that takes nine months to deliver.
We had it all worked out, from the no-touching policy on our wedding night (her rule) to the no-falling-in-love decree (mine). She’d marry me, I’d give her the means to have the baby she’d always wanted, and one year later we’d amicably part ways with no hassle, no demands, and certainly no regrets.
After all, Bianca DeRossi and I are experts at infuriating one another–we’ve been doing it since we were kids. Trouble is, she grew up gorgeous and feisty, and she still knows exactly how to get under my skin.
And that wedding night? Well, it doesn’t exactly go down hands-free.
Then she moves in with me, and I really start to lose my mind. From her sexy little pout to her wicked sense of humor to those meatball sandwiches she makes just because she knows they’re my favorite . . . I find myself wanting to break every rule we put in place.
Our story was never supposed to end with happily ever after.
But call me crazy, I just might be in love with my wife.
“So how’s your ego tonight? A little bruised, huh?”
“It’s fine,” I said, tightening the knot in my tie. “Reina obviously wasn’t the right choice for a wife. I’m glad she said no.”
Bianca started to choke on her olive. “Wait a minute.” She fanned her face and managed to swallow. “You proposed to—to—what was the little girl’s name?”
“Reina. And you’ve got no room to call someone little, Tiny.”
As I’d hoped, the old nickname drew a brief scowl from her. “We’re talking about you right now. Did you actually propose tonight? Like with a ring?”
I exhaled, regretting I’d mentioned it. “Yeah. I did.”
Her eyes lit up. “Let me see it.”
“Because you just want to rub salt in my wound.”
“For fuck’s sake, Enzo. You’re not wounded. You don’t even love this girl, you just needed to put a ring on her finger so your dad would put your name on the company letterhead.” She held out her hand. “Now give it here.”
Something told me I was going to be sorry, but I reached into my jacket and pulled out the ring box.
She took it from me and opened it up. “It’s pretty,” she said with grudging admiration. Then she squinted at it, pushing her glasses up her nose. “Did you have it engraved?”
I picked up my bourbon and took a hefty swallow. “No.”
“But it says . . .” She set the box down and pulled the ring from the velvet to examine it closer. Then she started laughing. “‘Love Always, Ricky?’”
“Give me that.” Leaning forward, I tried to swipe the ring from her hand, but she held it out of my reach.
“Just a second! I want to try it on.”
I thumped against the back of the booth, picking up my drink again and tossing back the rest of it. Could this night get any worse?
Bianca slipped the ring on her finger—it fit—and held out her hand, studying it. “So what did you say?”
“But how? Like, did you say, ‘You’re the love of my life and I want to be with you forever’ kind of thing?
”“Uh, not exactly. I didn’t want to lie to her. I just, you know, gave her the ring.” I made a grand, sweeping gesture with one hand.
“But you must have said something.”
“What difference does it make?” I asked irritably.
“Look, I’m only trying to help you. You obviously blew it tonight, and by your own admission, you need to find a Lucy for your Ricky sooner rather than later, right?”
I looked around for Lara. I needed another drink. And then a ride home.
“Right?” Bianca prodded me with her foot under the table again. “So let me help you.”
“The only way you could help me is to marry me,” I grumbled, waving Lara over. “And since that’s out of the question, this discussion is over.”
“Well, wait a minute. Who said it’s out of the question?”
I stared at her like she’d sprouted horns. “Huh?”
Bianca continued to study the ring on her finger. “I’m just thinking out loud here. But it seems to me we each have a goal, and they could both be accomplished with one simple—fake—relationship.”
I shook my head, as if to clear it, but the fog remained. “I know I’m drunk, but what the hell are you talking about?”
She sighed and picked up her martini for a sip. “I’m talking about the fact that you need a wife to get what you want. I’m willing to be that wife—temporarily, and under the strictest of conditions—if you’ll agree to give me what I want.”
I shook my head. “Oh, no. No fucking way. I see what you’re doing here. I’m not paying you to fake being my wife.”
Bianca rolled her eyes. “Give me a break, Enzo. I don’t want your money. Nor do I need it.”
“Then I don’t understand, ”I said, feeling—once again—completely baffled by a woman. “What could you possibly want that I could give you?”
The smile that crept over those hellfire lips should have been a warning. “A baby.”
Start the series today!
While Call Me Crazy will definitely read as a standalone, the first two books in this STEAMY, intense series are excellent! They both received a 5-star rating from me, and the vibes are completely different. The characters are interconnected but the actual storylines are largely independent, so feel free to read in any order. Drive Me Wild features a grouchy, commitment-phobic hero, while Make Me Yours has a swoony, single dad hero.
About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like Schitt’s Creek, Homeland, and Fleabag. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.
Melanie is the author of the CLOVERLEIGH FARMS series, the ONE & ONLY series, AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
Connect with Melanie
Facebook Reader Group: https://bit.ly/3mYzBBo
More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
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