Author: Tawna Fenske
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 13, 2016
PR specialist Miriam Ashley makes her living cleaning up bad boys. Mountain climber-turned-CEO Jason Sanders should be an easy fix. And with a nephew to care for, he’s motivated. The problem? Every time she tries to help Jason get his head in the boardroom, they end up in the bedroom.
What the hell is she thinking? He’s the definition of off-limits. Not just because he’s a client—he spends his free time risking his life mountain climbing. The same thing that got her father killed. She’s not going to open her heart to a guy who could disappear at the drop of a…well, she’d rather not finish that thought.
She needs to leave complicated alone, but every time she sees Jason, something tells her it’s her who might fall…
“Homeless?” He quirked an eyebrow at her, which made more cracks in the mud on his face. “I’m not homeless. I just bought a place down the street. Two blocks away—it’s the blue duplex with the white shutters.”
He pointed toward a shady, tree-lined section of the neighborhood, and she recalled seeing the glossy “sold” sticker tacked up on the real estate sign a few weeks ago.
She looked back at the man. Okay, upon closer inspection, she could see he wore expensive running shoes and trendy, designer athletic apparel, even if it was covered in mud. What the hell?
“I just did the Tough Mudder,” he said, answering her unasked question. “You know, the big race with all the mud pits and obstacles?”
“Right,” Miriam said, and recognition dawned as the guy turned around to show her the dirt-covered number pinned to his back. At least, that’s what she assumed he was showing her, though her eyes strayed down to one of the most impressive asses she’d ever seen.
Even if it was covered in mud.
The guy turned back around before she thought to avert her gaze. The result was an awkward five-second pause where she found herself staring at his crotch.
Also very impressive.
She gave herself a mental slap and met his eyes again. “So what are you doing walking around looking like a giant malt ball? Don’t they have showers or something at the finish line?”
He grinned, flashing a set of perfectly white teeth that contrasted with the mud. “Just hoses. Hoses with really cold water. I figured since I only lived a couple miles from the race course, I could just run there as my warm-up and run home as my cooldown, and then I could grab a warm shower at home.”
“Right,” Miriam said, trying to wrap her brain around the idea of willingly running four miles on top of whatever the hell they ran in the actual race. People really did this on purpose?
“The thing is,” the guy continued, “I lost my key somewhere in the racecourse, and now I can’t get back in my house to shower off in time to make it to a doctor’s appointment.”
Sympathy fluttered through her belly, or maybe that was anxiety. Probably anxiety. The mention of doctors and hospitals and anything medically related tended to send her spiraling down a path of panicked memories and despondent terror, and she found herself gripping her keys a little tighter. “You have to get to the doctor?” she asked.
“The appointment’s at two. Please, I just need to borrow your phone to call a locksmith. Then I’ll be out of your hair, I swear.”
She glanced at him, then back at her house. Her phone was back on the entry table, but right beside that was her guest bathroom with a shower the guy could use without stepping more than five feet inside her place. Ordinarily she’d think twice about inviting a strange man into her home, but there was something about this man that made her consider it. She could always stand there with a butcher knife, ready to stick it in him if he tried anything funny. She hesitated, then looked back at the guy.
“I’m Jason, by the way,” he said, smiling wider. “Jason Sanders. I’d shake your hand, but I don’t want to get mud on you.”
“Miriam.” She added polite and considerate to his list of attributes. His eyes were kind, and he seemed sweet and well-spoken.
That’s probably what every serial killer’s victim thinks just before he strangles her with her own panty hose.
But she wasn’t wearing panty hose, and she did have a soft spot for friendly, burly, blue-eyed, stubble-jawed guys in need.
“Come on,” she said and turned toward her walkway.
“Follow you where?”
“My house. You can’t stand out here being dirty.”
He quirked one eyebrow, which caused the mud to crack on his forehead. “You’d rather I be dirty in your house?”
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I have to admit, when talking CEO heroes, I immediately think of domineering, and perhaps a little conceited guys who, with the help of their heroines and perhaps some ass kicking from them, become the more polished versions of themselves, and discover their inner teddy bears. And though I enjoy that transformation, I do try to keep a controlled dosage of those heroes in my reads. Jason Sanders, though? I certainly did not expect. I totally wasn’t prepared for his goofiness and his adventurous side, the playfulness. He was neither domineering nor any level of conceited. In fact, he was quite the charmer. I think it’d be safe to say I warmed up to him much quicker than I did to Miriam, though that was no fault of the poor woman. And in her defense, it took me only maybe a paragraph longer than Jason.
As one who prefers a reading order in series, this was another rule breaker for me, but one I definitely don’t regret. I liked Miriam and Jason’s flirtations, their bonding over adventures that were a tad too much for a city girl like Miriam that I could relate to. They were sweet and sexy at the same time. There was chemistry there that made me melt a little with envy, hot weather be damned. And the best part that made this gal swoon- yep, you heard it, swoon– was the part with Jason’s sister and her son. The forever infallible turn-a-girl-into-a-puddle-of-goo elixir that was a child in a story. I was sold. For good. Seriously though, is there anything sweeter and sexier than a guy caring for a child? Oh Sanders, you playful, sexy, adventurous CEO.
A series second that made me want to go back a book and wish for the next one at the same time, this was a great read. I can’t wait to read more of Tawna Fenske and get to know more of her characters and her storytelling.
I’m adding five spoonfuls of this fun story into my hodgepodge and kinda wish there was a gorgeous outdoorsy guy around to appreciate my skills in running screaming away from spiders that come in the house from the garden. Hey, I can run pretty fast!
Tawna Fenske is a USA Today bestselling author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Her offbeat brand of romance has received multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, one of which noted, “There’s something wonderfully relaxing about being immersed in a story filled with over-the-top characters in undeniably relatable situations. Heartache and humor go hand in hand.”
Tawna lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband, step-kids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets. She loves hiking, snowshoeing, standup paddleboarding, and inventing excuses to sip wine on her back porch. She can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year.
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