Beauty and the Bachelor
Release Date: 08/11/2015
She may be the highest bidder, but this bachelor’s price is blackmail and passion…
Billionaire Lucas Oliver is hell bent on revenge. And his plan begins when Sydney Blake—the stunning daughter of his enemy—is tricked into bidding on Lucas at a bachelor auction. Then he serves up a little blackmail…followed by a marriage proposal Sydney has no choice but to accept.
Sydney has been controlled by her family her whole life. When Lucas threatens to reveal her father’s shady business, she is once again forced to do her duty for her family. But worse—oh so much worse—is the rush of lust that Lucas ignites in her blood.
Lucas is determined to make Sydney suffer, but it’s tough when he can’t keep from touching her–or thinking about touching her–all the time. She’s not fairing much better since she’s engaged to a darkly handsome beast intent on destroying her entire family…along with her heart.
*Keep reading for an excerpt, teaser, review, information on the author, and giveaway and buy links *
From Beauty and the Bachelor by Naima Simone:
Lucas slid a hand up Sydney’s arm, over her shoulder, and cupped her nape. The warm, vulnerable skin seared his palm while the sleek, thick ponytail of dark hair caressed his fingers. He pressed his fingers into the side of her throat, the tips stroking the tendon running under the graceful column. She shivered. Standing so close together, no way in hell he missed the tell-tale tremor. From where did it originate? Fear? No, not fear. Though she trembled against him, her glare condemned him to the same pit she’d ordered him to seconds earlier.
But there was something else mingling with the anger. He peered closer. Desire? Desire demanding he back her up against the wall, unwrap the dress held together by two simple ties, and unveil the body he’d been fantasizing about for two long, frustrating-as-hell nights?
Maybe. After all, there was a thin line between love and hate. Or in their case, lust and loathing.
“Been to hell, sweetheart,” he whispered. “Have the T-shirt and refrigerator magnet to prove it.” When her gaze flicked toward his scar, he smirked and added, “That, too.” His fingers paused mid-stroke, his grip tightening. “If you betray me, I’ll make your life miserable.”
Long, feminine fingers skimmed up his arm…circled his neck. Squeezed. “Ditto.”
For the first time in more years than he could remember, laughter—true, clean laughter—rolled in his gut, past his chest, and burst past his lips. Even to his own ears, the rumble of it sounded rusty, worse for wear. Few things surprised him, much less genuinely delighted him. Even fewer people challenged or braved the Beast. She’d done all three.
Again, that blast of warning ricocheted through him.
Caution. Evade. Leave. Don’t—
He nipped her bottom lip. She stiffened, jerked away, but he’d anticipated the move and cupped the back of her head. When she didn’t resist, he smoothed a palm up her throat with his other hand. Rubbed his thumb over one of those glorious, patrician cheekbones.
“One last item on the agenda, Sydney,” he murmured. “You’re demanding fidelity, and I’ll give you that. But if I intended to be celibate, I would’ve become a priest.”
Her lips twisted. “So you want conjugal visitation?”
He chuckled. “Cute.” Swept another caress over her skin. “That’s the second time you’ve intimated I’m taking away your choice. Does it make you feel better to believe I’m forcing you? Have you been giving in to people’s wishes so long, believing I’m taking away your power is comfortable and safe for you? Sorry, you have choices. Even in marrying me. Even in coming to my bed. But, baby, let’s not pretend you don’t want to be there. That you haven’t wondered what being under me…over me…would be like.” Her breath hitched against his mouth, and he nodded, that small reaction as good as a resounding yes. “Yeah, you have,” he growled, then surrendered to the need clawing at him since she’d walked into his office. Hell, since he’d heard her voice on the phone.
So he took. Conquered. Devoured.
*ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review *
First impression: Great characterization, well-written, and engaging.
Beauty and the Bachelor by Naima Simone starts out as a story of one man’s quest for revenge and retribution, and how holding onto the past can skew a man’s viewpoint so much that nothing seems too far when seeking to avenge a hurt. Including blackmailing the daughter of his perceived enemy into marrying him.
I really liked this read. Lucas is a powerful, revenge driven hero, yet he isn’t so hardened that he’s unaffected by the heroine. He doesn’t want to be affected by Sydney, of course, but there is no denying that he is. She gets beneath his skin and makes him curious about the woman he’s blackmailed into marrying him, and sleeping with him.
If the author wasn’t so skilled at writing and storytelling, this kind of plot could’ve gone wrong in a hurry, but it didn’t because the author knows how to weave her character traits and story elements together to create a seamless, natural-flowing tale. The intensity of the hero, Lucas, pulls you right into the story and makes you want to know why he’s so determined to get his revenge, why he’s so determined to use this woman to make his statement. And more to the point, why is she allowing this to happen to her? Why is she allowing this man to treat her this way?
One of favorite things about reading romance is the varying degrees of characterization and personalities. How some authors can layer their story people so well, can give them so much psychological depth, they all but come to life on the page. You learn what makes these people tick, and in turn, you begin to understand how someone’s background will help shape who they will later become. It’s probably my law enforcement and psychology degrees that makes me almost giddy when I find a story and character capable of drawing me in and making me want to know why the characters are the way they are. Beauty and the Bachelor is one of the stories for me, and Lucas Oliver is most definitely one of those characters. Sydney Black is another one of those characters.
Both Sydney and Lucas have a lot of emotional baggage to contend with, different kinds, in different ways, but linked by the same source. For Lucas, he’s grown up hating an enemy and vowing to get revenge for what was done to his family, even though it will only further damage his soul to do it. For Sydney, she’s grown up knowing she’ll never get her father’s approval and yet still trying to do what’s expected of her anyway, regardless of how much it hurts her in the process. Separately, these two people are emotionally scarred and trying to survive, but together, they’re almost combustible. Intense, passionate, contradictory.
This was a great book. I loved both characters, both separately and together. They each had some issues to contend with, and yet, they had so much depth to them, their every action made sense at the time, for who they are, and for the reasoning they had. It’s books like this that keep me glued to my seat, determined to find out how they will fix things in themselves and in their lives. It’s books like this that make me think, and make me extremely glad that I’m a reader.
If you love sexy, steamy, revenge-minded, enemies-to-lovers stories with blackmail and forced marriage, you’ll love Beauty and the Bachelor by Naima Simone. It’s fast-paced, well-written, sexy, and intense. I loved it!
This is tour-wide giveaway for:
Naima Simone’s love of romance was first stirred by Johanna Lindsey, Sandra Brown and Linda Howard many years ago. Well not that many. She is only eighteen…ish. Though her first attempt at a romance novel starring Ralph Tresvant from New Edition never saw the light of day, her love of romance, reading and writing has endured. Published since 2009, she spends her days—and nights— creating stories of unique men and women who experience the first bites of desire, the dizzying heights of passion, and the tender, healing heat of love.
She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.
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