NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Insta-love only happens in the movies.
Insta-lust? That she’d buy into.
Until she meets take-charge club owner Landon Bennett and falls head over heels at a glance.
When hot as sin Landon Bennet offers sexy songstress Vivienne Clark a summer residency at his popular Manhattan nightclub, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and she can’t resist. Add in the man’s obvious interest and seductive attention and life is perfect. Until she puts together the pieces of his past. Fate might have brought them together, but is the intimate relationship they’ve been building strong enough to overcome one painful fact. She’s the sister of the man who killed his twin.
After all the trouble at Club Ten29, things are starting to look up again. With summer coming Jason, Tanner and Landon want to be sure to keep the momentum going. Landon has come up with the idea of a summer residency like they do in Vegas, offer the artist a place to stay plus salary and amenities for the season. Jason finds a video Faith had been watching and all of them agree, especially Landon, that the gorgeous and talented artist would be perfect, and a big draw.
Vivi has been struggling to make ends meet, she needs to pay her band, her recording studio time and her assistant. Not to mention rent, food costumes etc. When the video of her performing at a local coffee shop goes viral, the offers start coming in, much to the delight of her manager Owen. She does have stipulations, she’s not leaving the area. Her Mom needs her near for support since her brother has just gone back to jail for more heinous crimes.
When she meets with her manager and Landon, she is stunned by the very attractive owner of Club Ten29, perhaps even more than the offer itself. However when she realizes the connection between the club and her brother, she turns the offer down.
Landon of course isn’t going to take no for an answer and manages to get her address from her manager so he can convince her in person to take the job.
This is a favorite scene.
When the knock sounded on Vivi’s door the next day, she wasn’t surprised. She hadn’t thought Owen was going to let this go with a voicemail message and a follow-up phone call. Even so, Vivi had made up her mind. After what her brother had done to Landon and his partners, it wasn’t fair for her to take the job. She also had no intention of revealing who she was to them and subjecting herself to their disdain. She didn’t know Landon, but she knew she’d fall apart if he turned his rightful hurt and anger on her.
Preparing herself to deal with Owen, she flung the door open and came face-to-face with Landon instead. “Oh.”
Wearing a pair of jeans and a collared tee shirt, he looked sexy instead of uptight like Owen when he wore a similar outfit. The top two buttons were open, leaving his tanned chest and a sprinkling of dark hair visible for her to see, and she imagined her hand settled there, her fingers running over his skin.
She pulled her gaze upward and met his stare, glad she was dressed in jeans and a tee shirt of her own. Being fully clothed put her on more equal footing than her skimpy gym wear. And it covered her body’s instant reaction to merely looking at him.
“Hi.” He greeted her with a grin.
“Hi.” She didn’t ask how he’d found her. She knew Owen would cross any boundaries to get her to take this job.
“Can we talk?” he asked.
It would be rude if she said no without hearing him out, so she nodded. “Sure. Come on in.” She led him into her small apartment, all too aware of the shabby furniture and chipped paint on the walls.
It wasn’t going to make sense to him why she lived in such a run-down place and was turning down his offer. She gritted her teeth and hoped she could find a way out, short of explaining who she was.
“We can sit here.” She led him to the sofa and they sat across from each other. She clasped her hands together, trying to hide her nerves. “So what can I do for you?”
His addictive grin did funny things to her insides, and she trembled beneath that seductive gaze.
“I’m not here to ask why you said no to my offer,” he said, his words taking her by surprise. “But I am going tell you all the reasons you should say yes.” He leaned back against the sofa and held her stare. “My partners and I have been through hell these last couple of months.”
She stiffened in shock. Of all the things she’d expected, him confiding in her hadn’t been on the agenda. “I’m sorry,” she said, twisting her fingers together.
“When we were younger, we went through an … unimaginable experience and my twin died.” He paused, glancing away, his eyes clouding over. “Actually he was killed.”
Jesus. “Landon, I’m so sorry.” Her throat swelled and the truth swirled around in her head, but she knew better than to admit it now.
He shot her an appreciative glance while running a hand through his hair, messing the long strands. “Then, a few months ago, the bastard who killed him got out of prison and came after us,” he said, jaw tight. “I don’t want to get into the specifics, but the point is the club took a hit. People stopped coming in. The Tangled Royal concert was a way to bring the customers back and to make them feel safe.”
“I assume it worked?” she asked.
He nodded. “To a point. But summer is coming. People go away, leave for the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore. We want to keep our numbers up, and we believe you’re the key to that.”
She stared at her ugly flowered sofa. “I’m sure there are other artists who could step in and accomplish the same thing.”
But despite her words, she had to admit he was persuasive. She wanted to help him, if for no other reason than to undo a small measure of the problems and pain her brother had caused, and she couldn’t deny the money he offered would help her personally and the job itself would build her brand and get her name out to the public.
He leaned in closer, as if sensing he was getting to her. “Your numbers on YouTube prove how much people like you. Imagine building your presence on a stage in one of the biggest up-and-coming clubs in Manhattan?”
The idea was exciting and everything she wanted, but she felt guilty accepting knowing who she was. “I don’t know.”
He looked around her apartment, and she didn’t have to follow his gaze to know what he saw. Peeling walls, stained carpet, scuffed floors. “I assume you aren’t making much now. Have you looked at the contract?” he asked in a nonjudgmental voice.
She shook her head. She hadn’t wanted to be tempted by a lucrative amount of money.
He narrowed his gaze in confusion, as if he didn’t understand her, but continued. “We’re offering you an apartment above the club for the summer. The place is immaculate. A fully stocked fridge with anything you want inside it and weekly deliveries. We’ll cover your incidentals in addition to pay per performance. And your manager mentioned you want to record your music. I’m willing to cover your studio fees for the duration of the residency. And I’m assuming you have debt? The salary will help alleviate that without you having to pay rent and utilities.”
Oh, God. He was offering the world, at least the world she wanted. “Why me?” She blurted out the main question circling her mind. “I mean there are any number of artists in the city. Why are you offering all of this to me?”
He blew out a breath and she sensed his internal struggle, as if he had more to say than he wanted to admit. “I used to play. Piano, guitar, whatever.”
She blinked in surprise.
“I know talent,” he said with a shrug. “I can feel that you’re meant for big things and I can help. It’s a leg up. Promoters and better managers than Owen will stop by Club TEN29 over the course of the summer. Do you have any idea what this can do for your career? Not to mention how much you’ll be helping us out?”
She hung her head and sighed. How did she take this job knowing what she did about their connection? Yet how did she turn it down?
When she hesitated again, he waited until she met his gaze. “Now I have to ask why. I saw the initial interest in your eyes. What changed your mind?”
She dug her nails into her skin. “I … I don’t think I deserve it.”
He eased in closer until his legs touched hers. “Of course you deserve it. You just have to reach out and take the chance. Accept the opportunity. Help me and my partners,” he said, his tone imploring her to say yes.
She blew out a long breath, doing her best to ignore the heat of his body so close to hers. He was distracting her with his masculine presence and scent, and his argument was compelling and alluring.
He added to her confusion by taking her hand in his bigger, warmer one. “My club needs you. My partners and I need you. And we’re giving you back so much in return.” He turned those gorgeous blue eyes on her. “Say yes, Vivi.”
Her internal struggle wavered. Bottom line, she needed this job as much as he said they needed her, and she reasoned that it was only a temporary gig. A few months and she could pay off her bills, finance her career, and move on without them knowing the truth.
“Yes,” she finally said, hoping if he ever found out who she really was, he’d understand why she’d withheld the information. With luck, the truth would never be brought to light.
Carly Phillips. Better Than Sexy (Kindle Locations 350-408). Carly Phillips.
Now I knew that once she took this job there would be major emotional conflicts. I also knew that the guys would be more than just a little upset when they found out who her brother is.
There are plenty of ups and downs, a simmer to sizzle and back again romance, so many emotions especially tears.
I look forward to the next book and also seeing this crew in other Carly books.
5 Contented Purrs for Carly!
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Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love.
Carly’s career spans over a decade and a half with various New York publishing houses, and she is now an Indie author who runs her own business and loves every exciting minute of her publishing journey. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.