As one of my most anticipated reads of the year, I was itching for this book from the moment I knew we’d be getting Naomi’s story, too, and if the number of times I’ve already re-read it is any indication of how much it did not disappoint, then surely my stalkerish tendencies towards any visual inspiration the author has ever shared in relation to this story should do the trick. Tessa Bailey brings her smooth-as-silk writing style and an engaging cast of characters to a runaway-bride scenario in this red-hot follow up to the dazzling Getaway Girl, and if you’re anything like me and go weak at the knees at the mere mention of a dirty-talking alpha hero falling for the ‘good girl’, you’ll lose your mind over this book. The tale of a pampered Southern belle running away from her picture-perfect life in order to find herself, only to end up falling for a man her parents would never approve of, this is the kind of book you read in one enraptured sitting. And then wonder how soon you can read it again.
My attributes were all selected from a pull-down menu. Pageant queen. Check. Hostess skills. A must for any Southern housewife! Writes a mean thank you card. Why, of course!
Naomi Clemons’ path in life was set from the start. Born to a wealthy Southern family, she’s been groomed from childhood to be the perfect little debutante, the perfect daughter, and then one day, the perfect wife. But while working hard to fulfil her parents’ expectations of who and what she should be in life, Naomi became a stranger to herself, and someone she felt had very little to offer to her husband-to-be. We meet her on her wedding day, minutes away from marrying a man she does not love as she should. Wedding dress in hand and her veil blowing wildly in the wind, Naomi makes a spur-of-the-moment decision and instead of walking down the aisle towards a man who barely knows her, she runs away.
I want to be more than someone’s blonde Stepford Wife. I want to be…more like Addison. More like the black sheep cousin who walked with her chin up into a church full of people who dislike her. I want to be brave like that. Before that can happen, I need a reason to be brave. I need to see and learn and do.
Quickly realising that she has no means of supporting herself or career to fall back onto, Naomi is forced to rely on the only marketable skills she possesses—those of a beauty queen. But when she answers a no-frills ad in the paper for a pageant coach, the last thing she expects is for her new employer to be a grumpy, hot-as-sin Special Forces soldier with more emotional baggage than a luggage carousel.
“Good evening. You must be Jason,” I say brightly, holding out my hand. “I’m Naomi Clemons. Charmed.”
He props a meaty forearm on the doorjamb and shakes his head. “Yeah. This isn’t going to work.”
As a member of the armed forces, Jason Bristow has seen more than any man should in a lifetime and very little surprises him anymore, but nothing could have prepared him for the sight of a blue-eyed beauty queen on his doorstep looking for a job as his baby sister’s pageant coach, or his visceral reaction to every single thing about her. Poised, perfectly put together, and polite to a fault, Naomi might appear like a typical silver spoon-fed, Southern belle, but from the get-go, she holds her own against the grouchy soldier, and from the moment she enters their lives, she begins to breathe life back into everything she touches, including the heart of a man who remains torn between the only life he’s ever known and the one she makes him dream of. But with the weight of her family’s expectations still looming over her head and reminding her of her responsibilities, Naomi’s expedition of self-discovery is short-lived, even though she’s never felt happier, freer, or more seen in her whole life.
I’m never going to settle for being unhappy. I’m never going to be someone who is settled for. I’m more than that.
There are so many aspects of their romance that are truly unforgettable, but I won’t lie, Jason’s dirty mouth was a heart-stopping experience all of its own. His brazen, alpha persona is offset by his gentle, loving heart, and together with all the blush-inducing goodness that regularly comes out of his mouth, he is to die for in every possible way. Tessa Bailey weaves her spell as always by combining great character chemistry with a compelling storyline in this tender, erotic love story that leaves you feeling all warm and cuddly inside.
“You finally going to let me throw you up on this cock and bounce you on it until you get vocal fry?”
The dose of heat in my voice brings her eyes back snapping up to mine and there’s no help for it, I have to get closer. This woman is not available to me, but I want her anyway. I can’t imagine anyone else having her, frankly. Especially when she’s moistening her lips, clearly aware I need to kiss her. Christ, she’s such an impactful combination of vulnerable and funny and brave and empathetic. And seriously, since when does empathy make my cock hard? If I pushed forward with my hips, Naomi would feel the erection she conjured up with her nearness. Again.
“You’re a good man for staying home with Birdie,” she whispers, forcing me to lean down to hear. “For giving up your calling and focusing on hers. You might not even be aware of the difference you’re making, but I am.”
I’m going to kiss her. I’m going to kiss her ex-fiancé out of her mind. Her eyelids droop a little more with every inch I close in. She wants it—
There’s a clatter of mugs in saucers on the bar behind Naomi and she jolts forward, her tits flattening on my stomach. On reflex, I reach out to steady her, but she’s already cradling my hard cock, her lips popped open in surprise.
“Come on, baby, you knew it was there,” I rasp into the crown of her head, my hands shifting the dress up her thighs. “It’s always there, hoping you’ll need it.”
Naomi seems to gather her will, whirling to face the bar. But that only drags her ass into my lap and I feel the moan pass through her. Hear the low answer of mine, right as the food arrives. It’s indecent and it’s fucking torture, but that’s how we eat our meals. The crowd grows, pushing us closer together. Closer. Naomi’s tight little backside rests against my cock, one of my hands gripping her hip, the other operating my fork. Hell if I taste a goddamn thing when I’m more turned on than I’ve ever been in my life.
I can feel every inhale and exhale she takes. Can feel her swallowing, can hear her breaths. I’m salivating to bite and lick the back of her neck, but I sense she’s looking for any reminder she’s doing something bad. Any excuse to pull away and be faithful to someone else. That only makes me want to fuck her more. Claim her.
We eat in record time and I dig into my front pocket, grazing the curve of her ass as I retrieve my wallet. Another moan shakes her, but the spell is broken when I toss money onto the bar and we’re forced to separate. It’s agony. Agony not having her curves on my lap any more. I need to know she’s suffering, too, but she doesn’t look at me as I guide her to the exit. I walk home beside her in a fever state, the flesh angry and neglected in my pants. The closer we get to home, the more obvious it becomes that I’m going to suffer alone. She’s composed and serene where I’m hot and bothered. She proves me right by running up her apartment stairs as soon as we hit the driveway.
I curse vilely, all but ripping the door off its hinges getting into the house. As soon as I determine the house is definitely empty, I unzip my jeans and take my cock in my hands, jerking root to tip, root to tip as I stumble blindly into my bedroom, groaning the name of my torturer.