by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Manwhore. That's what the board of directors-and the tabloids-thinks of billionaire bachelor Reese Crane. Ordinarily he couldn't care less, but his playboy past is preventing the board from naming him CEO of Crane Hotels. Nothing-and no one-will keep him from his life's legacy. They want a settled man to lead the company? Then that's exactly what he'll give them.
Merina Van Heusen will do anything to get her parents' funky boutique hotel back-even marry cold-as-ice-but-sexy-as-hell Reese Crane. It's a simple business contract-six months of marriage, absolute secrecy, and the Van Heusen is all hers again. But when sparks fly between them, their passion quickly moves from the boardroom to the bedroom. And soon Merina is living her worst nightmare: falling in love with her husband . . .
Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon is the first novel in the Billionaire Bad Boys series. A Haters’ to Lovers Arrangement between two hotel owners had me laughing, crying and ultimately smiling. Highly addictive with plenty of chemistry I devoured this a single afternoon.
Jessica Lemmon is quickly becoming a favorite here at Caffeinated. Her stories offer swoon-worthy heroes and strong female heroines.
The Billionaire Bachelor quickly drew me in as Reese Crane is thrown off guard when Merina Van Heusen storms his office when she discovers he owns her hotel.. Reese is determined to be named CEO of Crane Hotels, but the board cannot see beyond his playboy lifestyle. After Merina leaves his office, he devises a plan to give them both what they want. If she agrees to a six month marriage he will turn the Van Heusen over to her. Reese draws up a simple business contract between two professionals. What could possibly go wrong? Bwahaha!
I absolutely loved the feisty, heated chemistry between Reese and Merina. These two have it all worked out but soon find themselves tumbling between the sheets. I laughed at their banter and cried over their pasts. Lemmon really brought them to life. I cannot say that Reese Crane is really a bad boy. Yes, at times he came off as cold and methodical but Lemmon pulled backs his layers and seriously….. I completely swooned!
Merina is all class. If you piss her off, she will cut you down to size with grace. Think Audrey Hepburn. She was brilliant and more than once, she had me cheering aloud at her antics.
As I said, the chemistry was off the charts and the tale delivered plenty of fiery heat, mixed with smoldering kisses, playful banter and warm-hearted conversations.
Angst in the form of fear, feelings and growth racked up the tension for the last three-fourths of their story. Lemmon managed to provide all the FEELS without making me completely pull out my hair. Both of their back-stories felt genuine and I felt for Reese on so many levels. His ex-girlfriend and best friend added interest, as did the media.
We meet Tag, one of Reese’s brothers who will star in the next book. Oh boy! Did I mention how much I adore books with BROTHERS? I cannot wait to see him fall. The Crane family is proving to be interesting. Lemmon has hooked me again!
Filled with heart, humor and characters you will both admire and adore The Billionaire Bachelor delivered the perfect escape.
Read an Excerpt of Billionaire Bachelor
“Welcome to a real hotel, Crane,” Merina called from the doorway of the bar. “We can talk about your proposal in here.”
He turned to face her, his expression registering surprise that faded quickly into his usual take-charge façade. “Very well.”
His steps were sure and strong, his body moving like it’d been crafted to walk toward a woman. Merina expected Reese to look at home only in his whitewashed hotel with no personality. But he also looked like he belonged in the warmth of the Van Heusen, with its deep, rich woods and tapestry-style chairs. The soft lighting warmed his skin and made the flecks of gold stand out in his facial hair.
He was alarmingly attractive tonight, and she decided to blame that observation on her always-present sleep deprivation.
“How does it feel stepping into a place with soul?” she asked as he followed her in.
“You mean where I’m served milk and cookies rather than aged scotch?”
“We have both.”
“I’ll have a scotch.” With a nod, he moved to the bar.
“Sorry. Bar’s closed.” She wouldn’t allow him to come in here and boss her around. He was on her turf.
For now, anyway.
Glancing at her mug, he looked as if he was weighing his options of whether to argue about the bar being closed or not. He must have decided against it. He said nothing more.
Nothing. Even though he’d called this after-hours meeting.
“Would you like to sit?” May as well start the ball rolling.
His expression turned slightly amused before he nodded. “Sure.”
She led him away from the bar—no way was she propping up on one of those hard wooden seats after the day she’d had—and slid into a booth. He sat across from her, and with half the lights off in the lounge, the seating arrangement felt intimate.
He regarded the bar, his mouth twisting in indecision. Like he was debating on what part of it to tear out first.
“Okay,” Merina interrupted to take his mind off destroying her second favorite room in the hotel. She wrapped her hands around her mug of steaming tea. “What did you need to see me about?”
“A proposal.” His eyes snapped to hers. “I’m willing to let you and your parents keep your jobs and leave the Van Heusen as bohemian as you like.”
It was everything she wanted to hear. Like a miracle had occurred. Had he grown a conscience? Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What’s the catch?”
He smiled, then said two words that made her go temporarily blind in one eye. “Marry me.”
In all the imaginings she’d ever had about a marriage proposal, absolutely zero of them included billionaires she barely knew. A small, slightly hysterical laugh left her lips.
Reese didn’t flinch.
“Did you just say…” She closed her eyes and pushed the rest from her constricted chest. “Marry you?” Surely not. Surely she’d hallucinated that.
She clutched her mug. Voice tight, she asked, “What in the hell are you talking about?”
“My father is retiring soon. The Crane Holdings board of directors isn’t convinced I’ll make a good replacement due to my dating habits.” He stated it clearly and unapologetically, though really, what did he have to apologize for? He was a grown man who could see whomever he wanted. In her opinion, he saw way too many whomevers. A string of silly women who were likely chasing after his wallet. “The shareholders are displeased with the fact that I have a reputation for being…”
“A playboy?” she finished for him.
He curled his lip and corrected with, “Not monogamous.”
“Are you capable of being monogamous?” It was easier to needle him than address the gauntlet resting between them like a huge pink elephant.
“I don’t prefer it.”
Which was no answer at all.
“So this is a bribe.”
“It’s a proposal.” One eyebrow lifted slightly. “In this case, literally.”
“You think the first time I walk down an aisle it’s going to be an arrangement with a coldhearted snake whose only goal in life is to deepen his pockets?” There was no way. No way she’d agree to this. Even if it meant she was fired, she wouldn’t sell her soul. “I’m not going to let you bribe me into marrying you. I don’t even like you.”
“You don’t have to like me. You have to pretend to like me.”
My God, he’s serious.
“No, I don’t.” Her neck prickled. Maybe this was an elaborate scheme so she stopped fighting him. “I don’t have to do anything.”
“You do if you want your job. If you want to keep the Van Heusen intact.” He grimaced as he studied the bar. “If you turn me down, I might raze it just for fun.”
Her blood moved from chilled to boiling. There were not enough swear words—in every language in the universe—to sum up her feelings. She had to say something, however, so she went with, “You asshole.”
“Six months.” He dipped his chin and trained those heady navy eyes on her. “We get engaged, then married, make a few public appearances for show. The media starts writing favorable things about me instead of lies, and the board will see I’ve changed.” He shrugged one big shoulder. “Once I land CEO, we quietly divorce.”
Six months. For a split second she entertained the idea. Keeping her job and the Van Heusen intact would only cost her half a year of her life.
“This isn’t the sixteenth century, Crane,” she snapped. “Can’t you find a woman to date monogamously from the collection of dolls you’re always parading around the city? The senator’s daughter. That underwear model. Oh, what about that really short, cute niece of the famous designer?”
“No,” he answered, his lips cradling the familiar word. “I need someone who will keep up the ruse. Someone who is smart and savvy, who the media will believe I’ve settled down with long-term.”
She was pretty sure there were a few compliments in there, but damned if she knew what to do about them.
“Forget it.” She put her hands on the table and moved to stand.
“I’ll sign the Van Heusen over to you free and clear,” he said, holding her eyes with his.
Her currency. He’d found it.
She lowered to her seat again, palms sweating on the wood where they rested.
“It’ll be in your name as a settlement of the divorce. What you do with it—keep it or return it to your parents—is up to you.” His gaze stuck to her like superglue. “Everyone wins.”
She was completely speechless. Not only would she salvage everyone’s jobs and retain the integrity of the VH, but she’d also get to own it? It was…well, it was insane is what it was.
“Are you seeing anyone?” His voice dipped, slicing her hectic thoughts into more pieces. The energy between them intensified.
There was a charge there. A spark in the air when he was this close to her. She thought it’d been a by-product of her rage when she’d huffed into his office last week. But no. It was real. Which made his proposition a million times more volatile. Because she did not like him—not even a little—yet that hadn’t quelled the physical attraction…
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