Lauren Layne brings all the unpredictable heat of her USA Today bestseller Blurred Lines to an all-new cast of characters! Country music’s favorite good girl is hiding away from the world—only to find herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.
Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.
Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.
Even in my shitty mood, I don’t fail to miss the look Finn and Vaughn exchange, which means trouble. These two have hated each other forever. If they’re joining forces, it means absolute shit for me.
“Sorry,” Vaughn says slowly. “But when my best friend tells me he’s headed out to a remote property he didn’t know he owned to get it ready for a tenant he’s never met . . . I’m going to tag along.”
“Never thought I’d say this,” Finn says, reaching into his back pocket for the ever-present cigarettes. “But ditto to what Country Club said. You really didn’t know this place was out here?”
“If I did, you think I’d’ve let it turn into this?” I say, halfheartedly lifting a hand to indicate what must have once been a rather impressive master bathroom but is now seriously run-down.
“Why not just tell this chick no? That the place wasn’t available?”
I shrug. “Apparently she came here for some musician’s retreat thing when she was a kid. She wants to come back now that she has some money. Sentimental bullshit, sounded kind of desperate.”
Vaughn’s eyes narrow. “What’s her name?”
“Don’t remember,” I lie.
Every man knows the name of Jenny Dawson. Every woman too. Even if you don’t like her music, you can’t escape the fact that she’s a household name. She’s one of those nightmares that crosses all genres. Whether you like country music or hate country music, you can’t turn on your radio and not hear her.
And more recently, you can’t turn on the TV and not see her.
The spoiled little princess apparently got caught in a married man’s bed and thought that Glory, Louisiana, would make for a nice hideaway. She’s probably right. Glory had a population of 991 at last count.
Any other day, I likely would have ignored her email. I have zero interest in playing savior to a pampered princess, and certainly have no need for her money. But, although she couldn’t have known it, spoiled Jenny Dawson had impeccable timing.
Her email came on the exact day I was desperate for a distraction from my real life. And getting a mansion I didn’t even know I’d inherited ready for a tenant seemed as good a distraction as any.
Still, as I look around at the fading wallpaper and well-worn floorboards, I realize I might be a little out of my depth. I sent out a cleaning crew yesterday, and they called to tell me that they’d done what they could, but that their services don’t include fixing leaky plumbing and broken windows.
At least the place will be sparkling clean if it collapses.
Which it very well might.
“Somehow I can’t see Preston Walcott Sr. hosting a bunch of kids at a musical retreat,” Finn says snidely as he pulls a lighter out of his back pocket.
“Dude. Not in the house.”
He gives me an incredulous look as he waves his lighter around. “Yeah, because cigarette smoke is really the problem here. I nearly broke my neck on a half dozen missing stairs.”
“A pity about the nearly part,” Vaughn mutters.
“Pretty sure a professional singer’s not going to love her bedroom smelling like smoke,” I say as I make a mental note to fix the stairs.
Finn swears under his breath and goes to the window, wrestling it open before lighting up, keeping his arm out the window as he idly blows the smoke outward.
“Classy,” Vaughn mutters. “Still, the guy has a point. Does this girl know what she’s getting into?”
“I told her I didn’t know what kind of condition the house was in. She said she didn’t care.”
“Huh. Fucking weird, if you ask me.”
“I didn’t ask you.”
“Yeah, well, how about you start?” Vaughn says. “You know I’ve got your back no matter what, but I’ve gotta tell you, it looks like you’re on a downward spiral here.”
“Just because he’s got better things to do than play golf with you every morning doesn’t mean he’s in a downward spiral,” Finn says.
“Shut up, Reed. You don’t like this any more than I do,” Vaughn says.
I glance at Finn. “That true?”
Finn shrugs, his shoulders big and bulky beneath the tight black T-shirt. “I’m not complaining about you ending things with the ice princess, but you’ve been actin’ weird ever since.”
“At least tell us what’s up,” Vaughn says as I bend down to pick up the toolbox. “Yvonne called, said she couldn’t get ahold of you. You getting cold feet?”
“I don’t wanna fucking talk about it,” I mutter.
My word choice always becomes less precise when I’m around Finn.
The guy brings out the other side of me. The one that doesn’t belong with Vaughn at the golf course, the one that doesn’t marry women like Yvonne Damascus. The one who spent the first half of his life living in a two-room trailer and the second half of his life trying to balance weekends in that same trailer with weeknights in a sprawling mansion in snobby Village St. George.
Finn represents one side of my life; Vaughn represents the other. It’s a juggling act even on the best days to fit into both worlds.
These are not the best of days. Lately I haven’t been sure that I want to fit into either.
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About Lauren Layne
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart–cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.
In 2011, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan, and never looked back.
In her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.