NY Times Bestselling Author
There isn’t a woman in town who’s immune to the legendary Chandler charm. Yet so far single cop Rick Chandler has managed to fend off the marriage-minded advances of Yorkshire Falls’ entire female population. A past mistake has taught him never to put his heart on the line . . . until he answers the SOS of a real-life runaway bride. In spite of her pearly gown and tiara, Kendall Sutton vows to never wed — which makes her the ideal pretend lover who can ward off Rick’s legion of admirers. When their passionate charade flames into the real thing, Rick is suddenly thinking about two words that spell forever after. But will Kendall ever say “I do?” Can a woman who’s had it with weddings tie the knot with the town’s most popular playboy?
With his brother Roman now married, their mother has set her matchmaking skills on Rick. Rick one of law enforcements finest in this small town, isn’t interested in settling down. He’s dated most of the eligible woman in town and frankly none of them have that long term feel. Although some of those women think otherwise, case in point, Lisa Burton a school teacher, she just doesn’t seem to take no for an answer and she’s crossing some lines she shouldn’t.
His brother Chase is waiting for him back at the station so they could head to their mother’s for dinner, but a call comes in that Rick needs to handle first. A woman stuck on the highway.
I think I started giggling from the moment he realizes she’s wearing a wedding dress. The conversation that ensues is full of innuendo and snark. All of which have nothing to do with his mother or her matchmaking.
Kendall came here to figure out what to do with her aunt’s property, not start anything. But the rumors are going to fly since said property is where Elton and Pearl live.
This is a favorite scene.
A woman fresh from a broken engagement, one who affected him this strongly, was dangerous. She also was fun, something he just now realized he hadn’t had in a long while. Life had become routine. It was a sad commentary if he could consider his mother and her small female army of recruits routine. But Kendall wasn’t one of his mother’s women and he liked her more for it.
He strode up the walk, leaving the luggage behind and even managed the steps leading to the house with her in his arms. Without warning, the door opened wide. Pearl Robinson, the female renter of her aunt’s house and one half of an elderly couple living in sin, as Pearl was so fond of telling everyone in town, stood before them.
“Eldin, we have company,” Pearl called over her shoulder. She’d been with Eldin Wingate forever. She smoothed her gray hair back in a bun. “I was expecting Crystal’s niece, but not two of you.” Her gaze traveled over both Rick and the woman in his arms. “You’ve been holding out on us, Rick. And you’ve been holding out on your mother too. Why just this morning, she was lamenting her grandchildless fate.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not surprised.”
Pearl glanced over her shoulder. “Eldin, get your lazy behind out here,” she yelled, since Eldin hadn’t arrived quick enough to suit her. “And hurry up before he drops her.”
“There’s no chance of that,” Rick whispered in Kendall’s ear, not so much to reassure her as to allow himself another heavenly whiff of her fragrant hair.
“But you won’t mind if I don’t take any chances. Just in case.” She gripped her small, soft hands tighter around his neck.
He liked the feeling.
“I’m coming, woman.” Pearl’s other half came up beside her, a tall man with white hair and all his own teeth. Or so he claimed. “What’s so important you couldn’t bring our guests inside—” He took one look at Rick and his words came to an abrupt halt.
“Hey, Eldin.” Rick resigned himself to the inevitable questions.
“Hot damn, Officer.”
“Didn’t I tell you?” Pearl asked, looking at her significant other. “That’s the reason I won’t be marrying you anytime soon.” She turned to Rick and Kendall. “We’re living in sin,” she said, lowering her voice, not that there was anyone else around to hear.
“Damn woman won’t marry me for the most asinine reason.”
“Eldin has a bad back and I refuse to marry a man who can’t carry me over the threshold. Did I tell you we’re living in sin?” She dropped her voice again.
As Kendall laughed, her breasts brushed against Rick’s chest and his body completely overheated. “Can we come in before I drop her?” he asked.
“Excuse my manners.” Pearl pushed Eldin back and they cleared a path. “You go on now, Rick, carry your bride over the threshold.”
He’d never live this down. Rick paced the inside of the stifling hot guest house behind Crystal Sutton’s main house. Eldin had brought them over so they could “get settled,” while Pearl had insisted she needed to go to town for some groceries.
“Groceries, my ass,” Rick muttered. She wanted to tell the world that she’d seen Rick Chandler carry his bride over the threshold. Never mind that there’d never been a ceremony or that the bride and supposed groom had just met. Pearl hadn’t been listening.
The tightness in Rick’s shoulders increased. All he could do was hope that when his mother heard the gossip, she’d put an end to the foolishness. Raina would know that Rick hadn’t married or eloped again. She knew better than to buy into unfounded stories.
But the news would spread, everyone in town speculating about Rick Chandler and the lady in the wedding dress he’d carried over the threshold.
He groaned and for the first time considered moving to a huge city where he could be anonymous in a large crowd. He shook his head, knowing it would never happen. Despite the memories here, he loved his family, friends, and the small-town feel of Yorkshire Falls too much to leave. But a man could dream, couldn’t he?
He glanced at the closed bathroom door where Kendall had gone to change. His bride. He rolled his eyes at the absurdity and swiped a hand over his damp forehead. Damn but it was like a sauna in here. He’d have to make sure Kendall got over to the General Store and picked up an A.C. unit.
Where was she, anyway? She said she’d needed to change out of the gown but that had been over ten minutes ago. He strode to the bathroom door and rapped twice. “You okay in there?”
“Sort of,” came the muffled reply.
He jiggled the handle and found the door locked. He knocked once more. “Open up for me or I’m kicking the door down.” He hoped it wouldn’t come to that. His back and shoulder muscles remained sore from the dive onto the driveway.
The door creaked open wide. He stepped inside in time to see her lower herself back onto the closed toilet seat and hang her head low between her knees. “I am sooo dizzy.”
He glanced at her, concerned. “It’s no wonder with that damn dress cutting off your circulation. I thought you were going to get out of it.”
“I tried, but it’s hot in here and I couldn’t unbutton the dress on my own, so I sat down for a minute. Then I got to thinking about my aunt and all the years she spent here. I stood up, got dizzy again . . .” She managed a shrug.
She liked to ramble, something he’d learned from talking to her by the side of the road. Her thoughts jumped from topic to topic, but one thing stuck with him. Her pain. Rick had lost his father when he was fifteen. He’d been young, but not young enough so he didn’t remember the man. He’d been a hands-on father, attended all his boys’ baseball games and back-to-school nights.
“I lost my father a while back. I can understand what you’re going through now,” he said, compelled to open up to this woman for reasons he didn’t understand. Reasons that made him wary. But he didn’t censor himself. “It was twenty years ago. I was fifteen,” he said, remembering. “But sometimes the pain is as fresh as if it were yesterday.”
Rick met Kendall’s moist gaze and his heart twisted with understanding. He hadn’t expected to connect with her on any level, especially not on the emotional one he normally walled off. He was surprised he understood this stranger, this woman, so well. “I’m sorry about your aunt.” He hadn’t said so earlier and meant to.
“Thanks.” Her voice held a rough timbre. “Same with your dad.”
He nodded. She and Crystal had obviously shared a special relationship. Family bonding was something else Rick could relate to. The Chandlers were closer than most, bonded by shared memories, both good and bad. With Kendall’s pain both new and raw, he found himself wanting to be the one to ease her anguish— and not because to serve and protect was in his job description.
He swallowed a groan. He’d been down this road once before and received a punch in the gut for his efforts. “Once you got light-headed, didn’t it dawn on you to call for help?” He directed them back to the problem at hand.
She tipped her head to the side. “Such a simple solution. Gee, why hadn’t I thought of that?”
He chuckled. “Too weak, huh?”
“Something like that. Help me?”
Carly Phillips. The Playboy (Kindle Locations 332-389). CP Publishing.
Not able to help himself, Rick offers to help her with getting the property ready to sell, if she in turn would agree to pretend to be dating him. You all know that’s a mistake, right?
Kendall has more of a problem than just what to do with Crystal’s property when her sister walks out of her boarding school in Vermont. Then there’s her instinct to run when the going gets tough, something that isn’t going to go over well with her teenage sister.
There’s plenty of fun, some entertaining pranks, lots of love and a simmer to sizzle relationship.
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.