Protect Me Not (Un)Professionaly Yours, #2 by Natasha Ander’s is NOW AVAILABLE!
Some temptations are just not worth the complication.
Victoria Hollingsworth does not need a surly, uncommunicative bodyguard cramping her style, following her everywhere, and intimidating any would-be male callers. She’s a florist for goodness sake, not a princess or a pop star. Having a massive, mysterious bodyguard always hovering is an inconvenience. And yet… there he is, Tyler Chambers, her unwanted protector, ultra-serious, no-nonsense, and off-the-charts hot. Vicki doesn’t want, or need, him as a bodyguard. Yet, disturbingly, he may be everything she wants, and needs, in a man.
Ty hates his current long-term assignment. It’s mind-numbingly tedious. Vicki Hollingsworth is a pain in the butt who talks too much, laughs a lot, and frequently tests his patience. And her life isn’t exactly filled with intrigue and action. Ty is ready for this job to be over. He has a couple of months left before reassignment. So close to being out of here he can taste it. The last thing he needs is to suddenly find his cute-as-a-button charge irresistibly attractive. She’s not his type. Wholesome, adorable, and sweet, Vicki is the kind of woman who needs long-term commitment. And all Ty has to offer is a few short weeks of far-from-wholesome pleasure.
How much chaos can one little florist introduce into his regimented life? Ty is about to find out.
“Hey, Garrett,” I returned with haphazard enthusiasm after he made it to the circle booth and nudged me over with his hip. Garrett and I used to be close. We were the same age and had been the best of friends until hormones, other friends, and teenage angst—mostly mine—caused us to drift apart somewhere around age fifteen. We’d remained cordial to each other during our high school years, often running with the same crowd and sometimes even hanging out, but we’d no longer been best friends. I hadn’t spent a lot of time alone with Garrett over the last decade and a half; he’d blown out of Green Valley after graduation to go to college, then enlisted in the Marines right after. He’d been back for about four years and the laws of small-town living dictated that I saw him all the time. Small talk was our thing now—chitchat, a gathering of mutual friends here at Genie’s, the occasional family barbeque, that kind of stuff. “I got stood up, there are too many assholes named Chris in Green Valley, and now I’m totally freaking drunk and alone.” I felt like I could admit it to him. Garrett had always kept my secrets, and he’d know everything soon enough anyway.
His gaze warmed on me as his easy smile slid to the side. “Well, whoever he is, he’s a fool. And, weirdly, I’ve only met one Chris who was worth a damn. The rest? All pricks. So, it seems like you’re better off.” He was decisive as he stole my water and took a sip with his eyes twinkling at me over the rim of the glass. I watched him set the glass down and my own eyes narrowed as his grin broadened and his dimples deepened within the dark whiskers that covered his square jaw. He was close to having a full beard. He was also pretty dang close to being the finest man in the whole stinking bar too. He leaned in, right into my space. “You should have stayed married to me,” he murmured into my ear, then his eyes met and held mine as he pulled away. My eyebrows hit my hairline and I barely managed to prevent my jaw from dropping before I shot back a response that I hoped conveyed the proper amount of flippant wit
and not the fact that he had completely flabbergasted me. He hadn’t flirted with me like this when I saw him at the Piggly Wiggly last Saturday. No, he surely did not. “We were six years old, Garrett. I don’t think it was legally binding, since your dog performed the ceremony. Plus, you never even gave me a ring. Ring Pops don’t count.” I mean, two could play at whatever strange game this was clearly becoming.
Instead of answering me right away, he winked and studied my face with a grin. That wink hit me right between my eyes like a Nerf dart from our days of yore—I didn’t just see it, I felt it. Bam! Tingles shot from my head to my toes. My brain scrambled inside my head and my mouth opened to say something smart, but nothing came out. Freaking tequila! I shook my metaphorical fist at the liquor that had stunted my normal standard of witty banter.
“But we pinky swore it, Coop.” His comically exaggerated pout was adorable. I felt my cheeks heat as I found myself staring avidly at his mouth in lusty contemplation, rather than just merely reading his lips. Why had I never noticed how full and bitable his lower lip was? I bet it was tasty too. “Remember how we spit into our palms to seal the deal?” he asked. I shook my head while my eyes roamed all over every inch of him I could see above the table.
“How soon they forget.” His chest rose and fell as he let out a huge sigh, and to my shame, my eyes bugged out at the sight. All my thoughts fluttered around in my brain like drunk, demented butterflies. Why was winky-flirt Garrett messing me up? I decided to place the blame on the tequila instead of the fact that he was looking ten different kinds of hot tonight. I finally managed to haul my gaze from his broad chest, which was currently testing the strength of his black T-shirt, and back up to his whiskey brown eyes that were still freaking twinkling at me.
Ugh! There was nowhere to look on him that wasn’t sexy, damn it.
And was he flirting with me?
We’d known each other since babyhood, for crap’s sake. We used to take baths together—me, him, and Mr. Bubble. We’d never flirted before. Ever.
“4 – You don’t have to be healed to be loved, Stars!”
PUBLICATION DATE: September 28, 2021
This is a wonderfully written small-town romance about two childhood best friends who find themselves in a situation where they share one kiss that has them thinking there might be more than just friendship between the two of them.
I really love the friends-to-lovers trope. I love the history, the friendship foundation, the already established trust, and of course the constant worry of “what if this doesn’t work out” will our friendship survive or will it be awkward, or lost forever?
Molly and Garrett were sweet together. I loved Molly’s quirky character (her internal dialogue was really funny), her shyness, and her loyalty and the love she has for those she claims as her own.
Garrett was just an amazingly patient and kind character. He was perfect for Molly and he understood and listened to her fears and respects why she acts the way she does.
The growth of their relationship from friends to lovers was a great read and a wonderful journey. Molly and Garrett’s chemistry was believable and I really enjoyed their story.
“An ARC of this book was provided by SmartyPants Romance in exchange for an honest review.”