It started off as a battle of wits. Me: the ordinary girl with a big mouth against Him: the sexy bastard with a big...ego. I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I was upgraded to first class on my flight to London. That is until HE sat down next to me. Gabriel Scott: handsome as sin, cold as ice. Nothing and no one gets to him. Ever. He’s a legend in his own right, the manager of the biggest rock band in the world, and an arrogant ass who looks down his nose at me. I thought I’d give him hell for one, long flight. I didn’t expect to like him. I didn’t expect to want him. But the biggest surprise? He wants me too. Only in a way I didn’t see coming. If I accept his proposal, I leave myself open to falling for the one man I can’t manage. But I’m tempted to say yes. Because the real man beneath those perfect suits and that cool façade just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I just might be the only one who can melt the ice around his heart. Let the battle begin…
In all this time, I had yet to see Gabriel without a shirt. He hides his body like a pious Victorian, never letting me see anything other than him fully dressed and polished. Now I know why. Had he let me get a glimpse, I might never have been able to form a coherent thought around him. This man’s chest is a work of art. It’s every fantasy I’ve had about a man’s body made real. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but I’m not about to complain. God, he looks touchable. Olive skin, tight little brownish nipples, a smattering of dark chest hair over the most incredibly honed— “You’re staring.” His tone is dry. “Yes, I am.” I drag my eyes up and find his expression bemused. A thick brow lifts. I try to mimic the look and fail when both of my brows lift as one. His lips twitch in amusement. He shifts his weight, causing his abs to clench. Good Lord. He’s not some overdeveloped gym worshiper, just solid and strong, that perfect balance between defined musculature and healthy male— “You’re still staring, Sophie.” “You think it’s easy looking away from all this splendor?” I ask his belly button, licking my lips when he huffs out a laugh and just a little bit more of his lower abs are revealed, slanting toward the thick bulge of his cock, which is lamentably hidden behind his slacks. “You’re impossible,” he mutters, though there is humor in his voice. He strolls farther into the room and then practically kills me when he sits in one of the low-slung armchairs. That body, sprawled out on display, those thick, long thighs braced as if to take me in his lap—it’s too much. I want to straddle him and lick my way from the hollow of his throat to the tip of his cock. He eyes me as if he knows what I’m thinking, and the air thickens. So many things we left unsaid. I’m remembering his lips now, surprisingly soft, but strong with purpose. From the way his lids lower, I wonder if he’s remembering things as well. But he doesn’t move. Tension glides over his body and snakes around the room. I feel it in my throat and down my spine. We’re closing up again, retreating. Slowly, I toe off my shoes and set my gear down, never breaking eye contact. “I was being completely honest,” I tell him. “I see you like this and I want to stare forever.” He snorts, shaking his head even as he rests his temple on his knuckles. “What do you mean ‘like this’?” “Undone.” He tenses. It does lovely things to that chest. I focus on his face, mainly to maintain some semblance of decorum. “You think this is me undone?” he asks quietly. “It’s a start.” I reach for my camera bag. “Will you let me photograph you?” There is safety to be found with the camera between us. A way for both of us to hide until we’re comfortable around each other again. “You’re serious?” “You sound surprised.” Holding my camera, I sit in the sofa opposite him. “Don’t tell me no one has asked to take your picture before.” “They’ve asked. I never saw the point.” He shrugs. “I’m not the story.” You’re my story. You always were. “This is just for me,” I say instead. “No one else.” His shrewd gaze pins me. “Why do you want this?” So I can have a bit of you forever. “Pictures capture moments in time. I want this one—when you finally let me see a sliver of the man behind the clothes.” His nostrils flare on an indrawn breath, and he slowly lets it out. When he speaks, his voice is a rasp. “Take the pictures.”
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.
“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t manage,” comes his tight reply a few seconds later. Not bothering to take the mask off, I extend a hand his way. “Sophie Elizabeth Darling.”
That opening airplane scene?? I fell. Hard. Dizzy, giddy, happy feels were all over those pages. It was love at first sight....er...banter. The chemistry these two had was instantaneous and done to perfection. Gabriel "Scotty" is an exacting man, and used to intimidating people and getting his way. Sophie is a woman who is free with her opinions and isn't shy about cutting pompous men down to size. They were destined to clash. And oh, how they did. Enough to have me laughing out loud and feeling that magic "click" when you connect to two characters completely effortlessly.
“I’m stuck next to the one afflicted with an apparently incurable case of verbal diarrhea.” “Says the man who is socially constipated.”
Scotty, or Gabriel as he allows Sophie to call him (inexplicably as he gives no one else the honor), is closed off from people for self-preservation. Losing his mother at an early age has left its permanent mark on him. He's driven and structured which has led to a successful career leading the band to fame. But when it comes to his private life, he doesn't allow anyone close enough to have the ability to hurt him. At least, that's what he tells himself.
He may be a strict taskmaster, but he's also fiercely loyal to these men who accept him and his tough exterior. They've known each other since their school days, and been there for each other ever since. Not until Sophie has he felt like someone has broken through his defenses. And she has, with spectacular colors. Bringing laughter and a strange addiction that he can't curb.
I want this woman more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life. But I want to keep her. I have no idea how to keep anyone close to me. Because I have no idea how to expose my heart.
Sophie is a fun-loving, bright, and warm person. She flits from job to job, living life wherever it is that makes her happy. She has shame and regrets from her past, and her job handling the band's social media forces her to face those parts of herself she wishes were buried. And Gabriel? He's a complication that rattles her cage at every opportunity. As she's given a rare window into his hidden depths, their attraction flares brighter and hotter with every night spent on tour together.
God, it burns, the way he watches me. It’s covetous and possessive. He looks at me as if he’s mentally stripping off my clothes. With his teeth. He looks at me, and the bottom falls out of my belly.
Their attraction was a slow burning ember. Though he had an unexplained need to be close to her early on, it was a hard-earned culmination. They didn't jump into bed early and grow into their feelings later. It was the opposite, and that was something that I appreciated. Gabriel was resistant to his growing feelings and he fought the hard fight. But when they finally did make the leap into a physical relationship, they were both all in. Seeing him open up and grasp onto her with both hands tight...it was thrilling. She softened him, relaxed him. He gave her a safe place to be herself with, someone who doesn't always have to be shiny and happy.
The band dynamic was highly entertaining and is sure to put a smile on your face. Each supporting character was given enough development to see their individuality and the potential for their own stories. I don't have many complaints about this book. If I had to nitpick, the conflict that arose in the last 10% did seem rushed from appearance to resolution. I could have done without it. But at the same time, it served the purpose of showing Gabriel's struggle to put his full trust and faith in those he loves. So, I'm not necessarily complaining about it. Maybe it just could have been introduced a bit earlier and explored more.
This latest installment of the VIP series hit all the right marks with me. It was infused with loads of witty humor and enough heat to make your pulse flutter and your breath catch. I am without a doubt continuing on with the next book and I encourage anyone who hasn't started this series to get started.
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