The Groom – A Keeper Book 1 By Melissa McClone

The Groom
A Keeper Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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He broke her heart on national television, but can they team up to win a million dollars?

Falling in love with Jace Westfall on The Groom was never part of Millie Kincaid’s plans. However, she’s learned a valuable lesson about trusting handsome men—don’t! She returns to her teaching job to forget the devastating rejection. But her school needs money, so when Millie receives an offer to be on another reality TV show, she can’t refuse.

Hurting the sweet and shy Millie was the last thing Jace wanted to do, but he had his reasons. Too bad going from being the fans’ beloved hero to the world’s worst villain cost him endorsements. Now, he’s on the verge of losing everything. To save his floundering business and family who rely on him for support, Jace agrees to do another reality show.

Forced together, Millie and Jace race from country to country. Their only goal—to win. As cameras capture their every move, one thing becomes clear: Money isn’t the only thing at stake. Now, they must overcome their past to win not only the prize but maybe each other’s heart, too. Will they cross the finish line as a couple, or will they end the race alone?

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Millie was heartbroken when ‘The Groom’ ended and Jace picked Desiree, In spite of all the offers she received after that debacle she wasn’t tempted take any. Until this one, ‘Cash Around the Globe offered something she really wanted, thirty days without her phone, without people asking how she was doing all while traveling the globe. Any money she wins she would donate to her school to help offset budget cuts affecting her students.

Millie was feeling confident and excited as the race begins, but of course the show has a major twist.

This is a favorite scene.

Ten feet from her blue backpack, she noticed a round zippered pouch with a globe imprinted on the front. Inside, she found fifty dollars, a small key on a chain, and a clue card.

“Make your way to Coit Tower,” Millie read for the camera’s sake. “You must travel via public transportation. Look for the green and blue flag. There you will find your next clue and something to take with you on the race.”

Take with her?

Her excitement swelled. A GPS unit would be great. Useful.

Millie reread the clue.

“Coit Tower?” She’d never been to San Francisco but had heard of the landmark. Heart pounding, she surveyed the surrounding buildings. High-end department stores, boutiques, and hotels. She saw a uniformed security guard and ran to him. “Could you please tell me where to catch the bus to Coit Tower?”

The guard led her to the bus stop. “Take the 30 or 45. Grab a transfer ticket when you board. Get off at Washington Square. Take the 39 to the top of Telegraph Hill. You can walk, if you’d rather, but it’s a steep climb.”

“Thank you,” she said as the 30 bus pulled to the curb with a squeal of brakes.

The bus passed through Chinatown and North Beach, also known as Little Italy. At Washington Square, she transferred to bus number 39 and rode to the top of Telegraph Hill. She exited. The camera crew followed her.

Tourists milled about the base of Coit Tower, snapping pictures. Not even the overcast skies detracted from the lovely view. Millie searched for a flag but came up empty. She hurried up the steps to the tower’s entrance.

Inside the circular lobby, she found colorful murals but no clue box. That meant she had to go up. Millie disliked— okay, hated— heights, but that didn’t stop her from purchasing three tickets from the gift store. With the camera crew and two students from Brazil, she crammed into a small elevator.

At the top, the doors opened. Everyone spilled out.

She climbed a winding staircase to the upper viewing area. A breathtaking panoramic view of jutting skyscrapers greeted her through arched windows, but she stayed far away from the edge.

For a moment, she felt very much like a small-town girl in the big city. And then Millie remembered… the race. Self-preservation kicked in. She located a blue and green banner flapping in the breeze.

“There’s the clue box.” A lock, however, kept her from opening it. “Good thing I have a key.”

Millie stuck her key in the hole, but the lock wouldn’t open. She tried again. “Why isn’t this working?”

She peered closer. “Two holes.”

Millie inserted her key in the other hole. No luck.

Fear pulsed through her veins. If she couldn’t open the box to get a clue, she would be eliminated. Over her dead body.

Leaving the key in the lock, she examined the clue box. “What am I missing?”

“This,” a male voice said from behind her.

She turned. A dangling silver key caught her attention. Millie focused on the man holding it.

Jace Westfall.

The air rushed from her lungs.

No. He couldn’t be here. With her. Now.

Millie felt wobbly, off-kilter, as if she were standing on the top of a mountain or a tall tower which she was. She struggled to breathe but managed only a few gasps.

Falling.

That was all she could think about.

She was going to fall.

Fail.

Again.

Millie thought she had prepared for everything. But not for this.

For him.

“What are you doing here?” Her voice sounded ragged. Well, she felt ragged. But losing control would only give the show what they wanted. Drama. Obviously they had arranged for Jace to meet her here.

He waved the key. “Bet this opens the lock, Freckles.”

Millie winced at his use of the endearment. She couldn’t answer. She wanted nothing to do with him. If he were the last man on earth, she would gladly die a virgin. She gnawed on the inside of her mouth.

A second cameraman, one she didn’t recognize, moved closer.

She wrapped her arms around her stomach.

“You okay?” Jace asked quietly with a quick, concerned look.

Millie wished he’d stop pretending. His compassion was an act. He only cared about how the show portrayed him. She wouldn’t be taken in by his good looks and charm again.

Yes, she might have been heartbroken the night of The Groom finale, but she’d quickly realized everyone had gotten carried away on the show. Nothing, not even her feelings, had been real. “I’m fine.”

She stared at his jacket and his pants. They matched the ones she wore. Why would he be wearing…?

The answer hit her like a shot put to the head. The clue had said she would find something to take with her on the race. Jace wasn’t only here to give her the key.

Millie’s heart dropped to her tennis shoes and kept going over two hundred feet to the ground below. Splat. “You’re a contestant on Cash Around the Globe?

He nodded once, his mouth tight.

She cringed, feeling duped. Used. Manipulated. Again.
Melissa McClone. The Groom (Kindle Locations 177-216). Cardinal Press, LLC.

Angry but resigned, she accepts the fact that in order to continue, it would be Jace by her side.

I want to say here that I hate reality shows, but reading about it totally different! I loved the progression as these two work their way through the obstacles set by the show. I laughed and cried and screamed at my kindle.

I can’t wait to see what Melissa has in store for the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

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Melissa McClone

USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.

With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.

Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.

Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!

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