Published by Entangled Publishing
Copy for review provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
He promised to stay away…but some promises are made to be broken
Plain-Jane computer programmer Khloe Richardson needs a date—one to make the prince of her dreams jealous. Maybe then he'll finally see her as a desirable swan and not the ugly duckling in the second office from the left.
But when she bids on a bachelor at a charity auction, the man she wins is millionaire Niall Hunter—who once made intense, passionate love to her and then left without a word. She's determined not to let her guard down again—among other things—around the infamous Irish lothario.
Niall never imagined his penance for one hot-as-hell night with his best friend’s little sister would be transforming her from a shy wallflower to a sultry siren. Helping her attract another man is torture...especially when he promised his friend he’d stay away. Plus, she wants forever, and he's not a forever kind of guy. But Niall can't stop wanting her. Can't stop touching her. Can't stop, period. And damn if he can remember why he has to...
This second story in the Bachelor Auction series (easily read as a standalone ) is a sexy ‘best friend’s little sister’ trope romance. Niall blames himself for his best friend Michael’s death, and though in a grief filled haze he turned to Michael’s younger sister Khloe to forget, he’s never forgiven himself for their one night of passion in which she gave him her trust (and her virginity). Wracked with guilt, he cut off all contact, leaving Khloe alone and grieving not only her brother but the loss of her friendship with Niall too. Three years later, he’s one of the bachelors at a charity auction and unwittingly is ‘purchased’ by Khloe’s friend Morgan, his mask concealing his identity until the deed is done and Khloe finds herself face to face with the man who broke her heart. Determined to fix her mistake, Morgan insists that Niall step up to the bargain and be Khloe’s plus one for a work function, one at which she’s hoping to catch the eye of Bennett, the sexy and handsome CEO of her company. But Niall discovers that pretending to be Khloe’s partner only inspires his own jealousy as he must come to grips with the realization that he wants Khloe now more than ever. And when she undergoes a makeover to boost her self confidence, he knows that any man worthy of her should have been able to see her beauty and spirit no matter the outward trappings. Will Niall let this opportunity of a second chance with Khloe go to waste?
This story had a fair bit of angst in it, as Niall has the emotional baggage of a poor relationship with his father, combined with the death of his best friend and alienation of their family. He’s stayed clear of Khloe for three years, and would have continued staying away if not for the bachelor auction that sees him back in her life once again. He felt that staying away was the best way to honor his friend whose wish was to have Khloe meet and marry a man worthy of her (and he definitely doesn’t see himself in that role). But now she’s trying to get the attention of Bennett at work, and helping her show off her beauty in a more physical manner (by outfitting her with new clothes to show off her curvy figure instead of letting her hide her delectable attributes in baggy clothing) only serves to remind him of their one passionate night together, a night he should regret but can’t forget. As a result of their spending time together, he sends her mixed signals, expressing his desire for her that leads to some steamy scenes between them, then pulling back and trying to distance himself from her. But he soon comes to realize that he’s making a big mistake and has to prove to Khloe that he’s worthy of her trust and her love.
I really liked Khloe’s character, as she may have moments of weakness where Niall is concerned due to her intense desire for him, but at the same time realizes that it’s not up to her to convince him to give them a chance. He needs to get over his issues if they are to end up happily together. Khloe is a smart and intelligent woman, with some self esteem problems due to her figure, but when she changes her hair and makeup and dresses in clothing that suits her, she comes to realize how physically attractive she really is, mirroring her inner beauty. I loved seeing that transformation that brought with it her new sense of self confidence. With a combination of emotional moments and super sexy scenes, this was an entertaining and enjoyable romance. 4 stars.