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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Three Day Fiancée by Marissa Clarke 💕 Book Blitz & Gift Card Giveaway 💕(Contemporary Romance)



“Some things can’t be faked…”

Helicopter pilot Taylor Blankenship’s time schedule is maxed out. Between his job, his one hundred and fifty-pound slobbering mess of a dog, and his matchmaking grandmother, he has no time for anyone or anything-especially a woman. If only there were a way to get Grams to back down.

The job of New York City dog walker suits Caitlin Ramos perfectly while she preps for her CPA exam—steady, scheduled, and requiring very little human interaction; a huge seller since she’s still on the mend from a toxic relationship. Men suck. Especially her bossy hot client with the Saint Bernard that thinks it’s a lap dog. No way will she go for his plan to pretend they’re engaged to get his grandmother off his case. Down, boy.

Offered a bargain she can’t refuse, Caitlin finds herself playing the part of fiancée to Taylor. Fortunately, it’s only for three days. All she has to do is fake a relationship with Mr. Bossy Pants in front of his entire family, survive a fierce game of truth or dare with an unscrupulous pair of octogenarians, endure a one-on-one round of Twister with Taylor, and not lose her heart to a guy who turns out to be a lot more than she’d bargained for.



Chapter One
The perfect day for Caitlin Ramos started with a steaming
shower at exactly fve ffty-fve, a double-shot espresso from
Zeke’s Deli at six forty-fve, and a twelve-minute walk up
Sixth Avenue where she’d begin her frst appointment clean,
caffeinated, and on time.
Today was not a perfect day.
She’d known it was off to a crappy start when she
discovered there was no hot water in her building, so she
broke the land speed record with the quickest (and coldest)
shower in the history of mankind. Then, her ancient hair
dryer tripped the breaker, forcing her to not only lose time,
but wake her roommate when she stubbed her toe on the
desk chair on her way to get to the breaker box in Fiona’s
bedroom closet.
What got her through the icy storm of both her roomie
and the shower was the idea of a delicious, hot espresso, but
that was a point in the loss column too. Zeke’s Deli had a
hot water issue because it was in the same building, and due
to some health code BS, they couldn’t serve anything but
pre-packaged food and cold bottled drinks.
Mourning her missed espresso, she shoved the chilled
can of Mountain Dew into her coat pocket and bolted out
the door that slammed behind her with a clatter of nervejangling
bells. Taking a deep breath, she assured herself
this was the last break in the day’s routine. All was well.
Caffeine was caffeine, right?
A garbage truck ran the red light as she crossed Sixth
Avenue, thankfully missing her by inches. However, the
mixture of mud and whatever nastiness had oozed into the
street from the trashcan outside a newsstand didn’t miss her.
“Watch it!” she shouted, returning the driver’s hand
gesture. She was grateful to be out of Georgia, but New
York City would take some getting used to after fve years
away.
She pulled out her phone and checked the time. Still on
schedule.
Tucking her coat tighter, she picked up her pace. And
then, in keeping with the rest of her morning, the sky
opened, drenching her from head to toe with icy drops.
Good thing she’d fought so hard to get her hair dry this
morning. She gritted her teeth, cursing her bad luck and
her prodigal umbrella sitting warm and toasty next to her
apartment door. At least the rain would wash off the nasty
brew splashed on her boots by the garbage truck.
Shivering, she ducked under a small awning, crammed
her phone in her pocket and zipped her coat, for whatever
good that did at this point. Water slithered down her spine
and between her breasts. Raking aside the wet, blond hair
plastered to her forehead, she took a deep breath. So far,
today had sucked big time. Nothing had gone right, and
Caitlin was pretty sure the suckitude was only beginning.
With a growl, she pulled her coat hood over her head and
dashed the remaining half block to her frst client’s building.
The rain stopped right as she hit the door, of course.
At three minutes to seven, she entered the lobby and
nodded at Fred, the doorman. He’d seen her come and go
twice a day for the last three months, so she didn’t even need
to check in or out anymore. Animal Attraction, SoHo’s
premier boutique pet care service, had a contract with
several clients in this building, which made her job much
easier than that of a typical New York City dog walker.
Dog walker. She shook her head as she mashed the
elevator button. Who’d ever have thought it? She should be
a licensed accountant by now with a nice salary and benefts.
But no. She had to get all stupid and quit college to run off
with the “love of her life.”
She’d trusted her heart and Gary Southwick, and both
of them had let her down big-time, leaving her with a broken
heart, a broken career plan, and a broken bank account.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” she chanted, stepping off the
elevator. But she’d never be stupid again. Never, ever, ever
would she let a man control her again, and she knew it would
be a long time before she’d ever trust a man—or her heart.
Which was why dating was out. Not that she’d had time for
it since she’d returned. After fnishing her degree online
while working full-time, she dove right into her CPA exam
prep. Maybe she’d have time for dating after she sat for the
exam in April. Until then, she was following her mom’s
orders from when she used to take Caitlin to the store as a
little girl. “Look, don’t touch.”
Her boots made squick-squick noises as she strode
down the long hallway to the unit at the end.
She liked to snap the leash on Beauregard, a huge
Saint Bernard, at exactly seven. Labeled a problem client,
Beau was on his third agency and had blazed through his
fair share of walkers, the latest of which was Rick, a coworker
from Animal Attraction. Caitlin and Beau had hit
it off immediately, and he’d never given her any trouble, so
she’d found Rick’s stories of the dog’s misbehavior hard to
believe. She checked her phone when she pulled out her
keychain. She still had one minute. At least one thing was
going right—she was on time. She slid her key in the lock
and froze.
Bark-bark! Crash.
She’d never known Beau to break anything before.
Heck, he usually just laid around and slobbered. Sometimes
even getting him to go out for a walk took a treat or two.
Crash. Thump-thump-thump. Ahoooooooo! Woooo!
WOOF!
Great. A cold shower, stubbed toe, blown breaker, no
caffeine, close encounter with a garbage truck, soggy feet,
wet hair, and now this. Whatever this was.
A chill shot down her spine as she lifted her hand to
knock, then stopped. Beauregard’s owner was never home
at this time of day. He left for work before she arrived. What
if someone had broken in?
Her fngers tightened on the key as she debated whether
to call 911 or go tell Fred in the lobby.
“Beauregard, stop! Sit! Stay!” a male voice shouted
from inside. Well, at least it wasn’t a burglar unless he was
doubling as a dog trainer. Score one in the win column this
time. She relaxed fractionally, silently unlocking the door
and opening it just a crack to peek in.
Oh, man. Score ten in the win column.
The hottest guy she’d ever seen was chasing Beauregard
around the living room wearing nothing but a bath towel—
and the towel was hanging on for dear life…not that she
blamed it; she’d hang on to that fne backside for dear life,
too, given the chance. He was tall, with dark hair and a
build that was lean and toned and screamed long-term gym
membership. She bit back a laugh as Hot Guy and his sixpack
abs hurdled the coffee table in an attempt to catch
Beau, who lumbered to the far end of the room, drooling.
She might have been drooling, too, as he lunged for Beau
and missed.
“Look don’t touch.” Yep. And she was getting a good
look. She grinned, realizing her crap day had fnally turned
around.
And then a couple of things happened at once. Beau
noticed her in the doorway and launched toward her at full
steam, no doubt to give her his customary slobbery greeting
with uncustomary zeal. As the dog passed the center of
the room, Hot Guy reached out and grabbed his collar,
causing the muscles across his broad chest to bunch up
as he attempted to slow the dog—the attempt didn’t slow
anything, especially Caitlin’s heartbeat. The day had done a
total one-eighty. Win all around. No need for caffeine now.
“Woof!” Beauregard barked.
Yeah, woof! Caitlin was too stunned to do anything but
stare, heart pounding, as the dog and towel-clad Hot Guy,
still clinging to Beau’s collar, hurtled in her direction like
a runaway locomotive. Bring on that train wreck, universe.
It was obvious Hot Guy hadn’t noticed her until that
second, because his brown eyes grew huge as Beau reared
up, his paws landing on her shoulders, tongue nailing her
cheek as she slammed back against the doorjamb.
“Oh, shit,” he said, only inches from her. So close she
could smell his aftershave or soap or whatever mouthwatering
scent clung to his body. Releasing the dog, he
tightened the towel and took a couple of steps back. “I’m
sorry, I…”
Caitlin strained to peek around Beau’s huge head as the
guy backed up another step, gave a smile, and said, “I didn’t
see you there.”
Well, no way could she say the same, and she certainly
wasn’t sorry. Heck, the last few minutes warranted
completely forgiving the universe for conspiring against her
all morning.
Beau gave her face another slurp as she snapped the
leash on his collar. “I’m your dog walker.”
“Yeah, I fgured that out. It’s a good thing you’re here.
I’ve got a real problem.”
Yeah, so did she, like a runaway libido. Whoa, the guy
was fne.
No handshake, no intro. He simply blurted out, “You
have to stay with Beauregard today. He can’t be left alone.”
You have to… Icy prickles danced up her spine as the
order dredged up all manner of “no freaking way.” She
didn’t even know this guy, but after Gary, it was hard to not
paint everyone with the same brush. Even half-dressed hot
guys. “I’m sorry. I have six other clients today.” Resisting
the urge to look back at him, she slid her fngers into the
loop at the end of the leash.
“No. You have to do this.”
Never, she’d sworn to herself when she left Gary, would
she ever again let a man tell her what she could and could
not do. The only thing she had to do was whatever she
damn well wanted. And right then, she wanted to get out of
that apartment. She also desperately wanted a cappuccino.
“Come, Beau.”
“No.”
No? She narrowed her eyes. “So, you don’t want me to
take him out?”
“No.” Simple and to the point. This was a guy used to
giving orders and she was a woman who would no longer
take them.
She unsnapped Beau’s leash. “Suit yourself,” she said,
hanging the leash on a hook by the door. As she closed the
door behind her, a pang of guilt fared. She knew she was
being unreasonable, but she refused to give on this. What
had being reasonable gotten her in life other than a world
of hurt?
Boots squicking, she tromped to the elevator and mashed
the button, replaying the conversation in her head. Unlike
Gary, this guy hadn’t acted all domineering and angry. He’d
seemed…desperate and a little panicky. The pang of guilt
turned into regret. He’d set her off unintentionally. Most
people didn’t carry this much baggage. Most people toted
duffe bags of issues. She was wheeling a steamer trunk and
this guy had unwittingly popped the lock to Pandora’s box
of bad vibes.
The elevator dinged and slid wide right as the door
of his apartment opened and then slammed shut. Half-
dressed now in dark blue pants, he was struggling into a
long-sleeved white dress shirt with funky striped do-dads
on the shoulders like she’d seen on pilots walking through
the airport when she few back from Georgia. On one sleeve
was a patch with a round logo with AE in the center. A navy
blue tie dangled from his fngers. “Please, don’t go.”
Yeah, she’d heard that before. She crossed her arms
over her ribs.
He draped the tie around his neck and deftly buttoned
his shirt. “Hear me out.”
And that, too.
Brow arched, she waited. From inside the apartment,
Beau scratched the door. He was several minutes late for
his walk now.
With precision, he began to knot his tie. “You and I got
off to a bad start. I’m sorry.”
Actually, the start had been pretty spectacular—
especially the gold medal round of sofa hurdles in the Bath
Towel Olympics. It’s what had followed that threw her
morning back into the toilet. She scraped her wet bangs
from her face and shrugged, frustrated by her fascination
with his ability to perfectly knot his tie without a mirror.
He smoothed the ends of the tie fat and she kicked
herself internally for letting her libido remind her of how
his tall, muscular body looked sporting only a bath towel.
Wide shoulders tapering to narrow hips. Damn. She drew
her gaze from his long fngers to his dark eyes that looked
completely sincere.
“I need your help. It’s really important. Beauregard
swallowed something super valuable.”
Aaaaaand, now it’s about money. It’s like the guy was
going through her Piss-Me-Off-Playbook. She put her hands
on her hips, resisting the urge to roll her eyes, remembering
her last huge fght with Gary.
“It has sharp edges and I’m worried it’ll hurt him.”
That got her attention. Despite her love of number
crunching, animals had always been her true obsession—
ever since she cooked up plans for a pet care shop with her
best friend,s Jane and Fiona, back in grade school. Jane
had made that childhood dream happen a year ago when
she opened Animal Attraction and brought the three of
them together again. Jane ran the place. Fiona provided vet
services, and there were two groomers, one receptionist, and
three dog walkers—well, she was only doing this until she
passed her CPA exam. Then she’d do the books for the shop.
She’d be doing them now, if it weren’t for some silly clause
in Jane’s investor agreement that required a licensed CPA.
Her gaze fitted to where Beau scratched the door again.
“What did he swallow?”
“An engagement ring. I left my dresser drawer open and
he got hold of the box, and all I can fnd are the shreds of the
box. No ring. I’m sure he ate it.”
“That’s why the couch high jump was in process when I
opened the door.”
“Yeah.” He glanced at his giant watch—the kind with
all the little dials that had always struck Caitlin as overkill.
“I thought he had it in his mouth, but it was only a shred of
velvet from the top.”
She drew her eyes from his shiny watch to his glossy
brown hair. Thick, rich hair like dark chocolate, which
she could use two pounds of right about now. Instead, she
settled for pulling the Mountain Dew out of her pocket.
Caffeine would help her looming headache. “So, you want
me to what?” She knew the answer, but wanted him to have
to say it.
He suddenly found his bare feet fascinating. At least he
had the good graces to look embarrassed. “Wait for it to
pass.” He glanced at his watch again.
“That could take a long time. Maybe even days.” She
popped the top of the Mountain Dew, and of course, in
accordance with the rest of her morning, it fzzed out the
top and some drops splattered onto the shiny marble foor
in front of the elevator. The loss column was almost totally
full. “Maybe I should call our vet. Beauregard probably
needs an X-ray.”
The guy seemed fxated on her lips as she slurped from
the top to keep more from spilling out. He shook his head
as if to clear it. “He’s terrifed of vets. Loses it completely.
I really don’t want to put him through that unless it looks
like he’s having trouble. I’ll be back sometime before dark.”
She fought the urge to wipe her sticky hand on her coat.
Before dark? She thought he’d ask her to stay a couple of
hours, not the whole freaking day. She shot a glance down
the hallway both directions before blurting out, “You expect
me to drop all my other clients and hang out until he poops
an engagement ring?”
He guided her back to his apartment door and ushered
her inside, no doubt to get her out of the way before a
neighbor came out to see what was going on. Beau helped
out by licking the sticky soda off her hand while she held the
can out of reach with the other.
The guy gave an exasperated huff. “I’m asking you to
stay until the ring…appears or I get back. I’ll be home as
soon as I can, and you can leave.” And then he said the only
thing that could have turned off her anger like a wall switch.
“I love this dog.” He ran his hand over Beau’s huge head.
“He’s my best friend.”
Well, crap. She dug in her pocket and pulled out her
phone, trying to dial with her free hand. “Lemme see if
someone is available to cover this.” Before he responded,
she rang her boss and longtime friend, Jane Dixon.
Jane picked up on the frst ring. “What’s up, Caity?”
“Um, we kind of have a situation.” She shot a look at the
guy who was sitting on the sofa putting on socks. “Is there a
way we can get someone here to stay with Beauregard for the
day? I have two other appointments in this building and one
a block over before lunch, then four more in the afternoon,
two of them with multiple dogs. It would be easier for me to
pick up someone else’s appointments than for them to take
over all of mine since I have so many today.”
“Tell me what happened.” Jane’s voice was more intense
than Caitlin had expected for something like this.
“Beauregard swallowed a piece of jewelry, and the
owner wants me to retrieve it when it passes.”
“Yuck,” Jane replied.
“Yeah.” She glanced over her shoulder to see the guy
tying on a shoe. “We just need coverage for the dog while
the owner’s at work. Someone to handle it so I can make my
other appointments. I’ll take Beauregard to the park, and
then someone just needs to sit with him until this resolves.”
Which, since it just happened, could be a long time.
“Listen, there’s nothing more important than this client,
and you’re the frst walker his dog has ever liked. I need you
to stay. I’ll fnd someone to take your other appointments,
even if I have to do it myself.”
Well, that was surprisingly dramatic. “Are you kidding
me? Someone just needs to sit here while I make my
appointments. No biggy. Pretty sure Beau just sleeps all day
anyway.”
“This man is my most important client. The dog doesn’t
trust people, but he trusts you…and so do I.” Jane said.
Caitlin found herself mesmerized as she watched the
guy slip a belt through the loops on his pants and buckle
it with sure fngers before picking up his phone from the
coffee table in front of him. What was wrong with her? Her
body was reacting as if he were taking his clothes off, not
putting them on, which brought up images of him reversing
the process. Slowly. For her. Dang.
Jane’s voice brought her back to their conversation.
“Are you listening to me, Caitlin?”
“Uh-huh.”
“Taylor Blankenship works for Anderson Enterprises…
as in the Anderson brothers who funded Animal Attraction.
They’re why we’re in business right now. He’s best friends
with Will Anderson. They served in Afghanistan together.
You have to keep him happy.”
Caitlin turned her back to him, hoping he was as
fascinated with whatever he was looking at on his phone as
he appeared to be. “He won’t even be here,” she whispered.
“It doesn’t matter who watches the dog.”
“It matters to me,” Jane said
She shot a glance at him over her shoulder. “C’mon,
Jane.”
“You know that dog’s history. He’s been through two
companies and half a dozen dog walkers before you.”
Caitlin spun at the sound of the door opening. “Thanks
for staying,” Taylor said with a smile. And just like that, he
left, closing the door behind him with a confdent click.
Of all the…
“Caity?”
“That bossy jerk just left. Walked right out the door,”
she grumbled into her phone.
“He fies the Anderson Enterprises helicopter. He
probably had to leave for a scheduled fight or something.”
She understood that. Sticking to a schedule was the only
real control she had that was constant, and he’d just screwed
that up.
“I’ll get your other appointments covered. This could
be good. You need to relax, Caity. I’m worried about you.”
“I’m fne.” Well, she would be.
“Are you really? You don’t seem fne. Since you’ve been
back, you only work and study. It’s like you’re punishing
yourself for making a mistake.”
No, she was just making up for the time lost because of
the mistake. “I’m all good. Really.”
Her friend sighed. “Okay. Sit back, watch some TV. Call
if you need anything. Bye.”
“Bye.” The only thing she needed was a total do-over
of this morning. That, and a double espresso—no, a triple.
And maybe a dry change of clothes…and a hairdryer.
Beau whined from the door, tugging at the leash on the
hook.
“Yeah, you like a schedule, too.” She shoved her phone
into her coat pocket and grabbed the leash. “Let’s go fnd a
Starbucks.”


    


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Harlequin Junkie Top Pick "Delightful... What a wonderful start to a new series."

Jane Dixon is a dating disaster. Flammable tablecloths and broken arms are just a typical evening for her unlucky companions. No wonder Jane never gets past a first date. But luckily her co-worker and new bff says he's got loads of friends who'd date her more than once. If only she could stop thinking about how much fun he was to hang out with. And she'd never dropped a bucket of ice on his junk. Win.

All attorney Eric Blackwell has to do to make junior partner is not screw anything up for six weeks, which seems like a slam dunk until he finds himself matchmaker to the office "One Date Wonder" aka the boss's daughter. It's hard to stay focused when setting up the hottest girl he's ever met with everyone but himself. Maybe he could just set her up with all the wrong men, and keep his hands off his new friend... Yeah. His promotion is toast.

   


Marissa Clarke is a multi award-winning, RITA® nominated author of romance for adults and teens. She lives on an island in the middle of a river. Seriously, she does. When not writing, she wrangles her rowdy pack of three teens, two Cairn Terriers, and one husband.

Inexplicably, her favorite animal is the giant anteater and at one point, she had over 200 "pet" Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The roaches are a long story involving three science-crazed kids and a soft spot for rescue animals. The good news is, the "pet" roaches found a home... somewhere else.

   


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