Book Title: All Jazzed Up (Book One: Love, Lies, & Ninja Missions)
Author: Tracy Ellen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 15, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
A PRETEND MARRIAGE.
A REAL DESIRE.
BEING FRIENDS WITH NO BENEFITS HAS NEVER BEEN HOTTER!
All Jazzed Up is the stand-alone, first book in a brand new series–Love, Lies, & Ninja Missions by bestselling author Tracy Ellen.
Jazy is freaking out. But waking up one day to the sickening realization she’s fallen in love for the first time in her life with a man-whore, who also happens to be her best guy friend, would be enough to freak any girl out. Even worse, Jazy has to face the difficult fact her love is totally one-sided because the wealthy, incredibly scrumptious Max Byrd is just not into her that way. To Max, she’s his best, and only, platonic girl friend.
But Max has problems, too. He suspects another woman is trying to trap him into marriage. Max begs Jazy to help him out by quickly marrying him first. After reluctantly agreeing to enter into a marriage of convenience with Max, the outspoken, straight-shooting Jazy is caught up in a whirlwind of lies posing as Max’s loving wife, while inside she’s dying from hiding the frustrated, aching desire for her pretend husband.
About to go insane, Jazy takes control. After all, she is a horse-whispering, Celtic Cursing, potion-mixing, sex-loving Axelrod woman. There’s nothing an Axelrod woman can’t accomplish if she sets her mind to the task, and Jazy wants Max! Armed with determination and her unique talents, can Jazy seduce the cynical player in just a few short weeks to believe in her and happily-ever-after? Or does Jazy learn real love needs no convincing? A rollicking fun, sexy read!
Gaze intent on my face, Max quirked a brow in weary amusement. “Look, I know what I’m asking you to do is underhanded and somewhat nuts, but doesn’t my continued mental health count for something?”
I laughed shortly, shaking my head. “So, let me be sure I’ve got this right. Instead of you being shanghaied by your mother into a marriage you don’t want, you want to shanghai me into marriage I don’t want to protect you?”
“Yes,” Max replied succinctly, not even having the grace to look a little bit embarrassed.
“My God, such a deal.” I rolled my eyes and tugged to release my hand from his warm grasp. “Thanks a helluva lot for putting me on the spot. As a wedding gift, can I expect to be bitch-slapped by your mother, too?”
“Ah, Jaz, you can take Angela.” Max flashed his killer grin. “Besides, your sentence will only be for a few months, not for life.” His voice lowered huskily. “I’d never ask something like this of you if it wasn’t vitally important. Will you help me?” He squeezed my hand and entreated, “Please?”
I’d known the moment it was uttered Max’s proposal was fake, but the last little flame of hope fluttering inside me had died at his explanation. Ruthlessly, I stomped out any lingering sparks that Max and I would ever go out on a real date.
Max hadn’t coerced me into falling in love or broken any promises. My hurt feelings were the direct result of taking a known womanizer seriously, something I knew all to well a woman with a speck of self-preservation should never do.
I accept Max is sometimes a dickhead. But he’s also my dickhead friend–nothing more, nothing less.
Still, pretending to be married for real to Max in the name of friendship for a few months, when I’d just vowed to get over him, would be a special kind of torture.
Am I that big of a masochist?
Or could accepting Max’s fake marriage proposal in the name of friendship be my chance to prove, once and for all, that I am willing to forgive, forget, and finally get the fuck over his ass?
With his black good looks oozing animalistic charisma and his strong, muscular body, Max is the sort of large man who instantly makes a girl feel femininely sexy and protected, yet so turned on at the same time by his aura of underlying power.
As a member of the female species, I’m actually rather disillusioned by how easily women fall for Max. They’re always miscasting him in the hero role, as well. Girls seem to love their heroes, and like any intelligent player, Max loves giving women what they want to get what he wants.
Sure Max is big and strong and would never mistreat a woman, but at his core, he isn’t hero material. My friend Max is an aggressive, tough man with a huge, lusty appetite for life.
Besides, I’ve always thought being protected by Max would be akin to having the Big Bad Wolf as your bodyguard. Only imagine thinking a man’s tame, yet deep down, you suspect he could eat you right up at any time.
Oh, man. I pressed my thighs together at this latest tingle, and I couldn’t blame the cold wind for my shivery goose bumps. It was totally the fault of the hot idea of rolling around and wrestling with the powerful, untamed wolf man, Max.
“I can have sex with other men when we’re married, right?”
“Hell no you can’t have sex,” Max ground out between clenched teeth. “We’re supposed to be newlyweds in love. What if Angela found out?” He shook his head at my puffed out lower lip. “I’d have to divorce you. That would defeat the whole purpose of everything, now wouldn’t it?”
“Jesus, I hope you’re not going to be this grouchy when we’re married. I thought since you get to have a pregnant girlfriend running around, I could have a little dick on the side, too.” I laughed a little and corrected, “Well, not a little dick, but some dick.” At his continued glare, I spread my hands palm up with a belabored sigh of acceptance. “Okay, okay, but if I can’t have sex, then you can’t have sex.”
“Neither of us can fuck during our marriage.”
After he delivered that F bomb, we stared at each other in shocked silence for a few moments.
Max recovered first, tugging slightly on the collar of his shirt and clearing his throat. “So we agree. It’s a marriage of friends with no benefits.” Max shrugged, as if it was no big deal that his cock saw ten times the action of your average penis on the streets.
Double shit. I closed my eyes for a second at his words, trying to imagine months and months with no sex. I’ve gone nearly insane after these last four days of erotic dreams, even the odd one.
I try to be a good friend to those I care about. But what was I getting out of this damn deal, other than the guarantee of carpel tunnel in both wrists from a future filled with massive amounts of masturbation?
I nodded jerkily.
“Was that a yes?” Max demanded in a pissed tone.
“Yes, dammit.” Not that I blamed him for being irritable, since I was also feeling the pinch of the no sex rule already. “What about my big money?”
“What about it?” Not missing beat, Max went on, “Since we’ll be living together, I’ll pay all our living expenses. Agreed?”
Putting a hand to my forehead at what living together meant, I moaned, “Oh dear God.” I dropped my hand and sighed in defeat. I didn’t eat much or use much electricity, so Max’s normal bills wouldn’t increase much, wherever we lived. “Okay, agreed.”
Still somewhat reeling that I’d actually said yes to his idiotic scheme, but seeing no way out now that I’d given my word, I wriggled in my seat feeling incredibly put upon. Whenever I feel put upon, I tend to get belligerent.
Max laughed, but there was a challenging edge to his voice. “Why do you look mad if you agree?”
I blurted, “I’m not teasing about the money. I think it’s only fair I be compensated for my role as your wife.” At his blank stare, I continued hurriedly, “I mean, I know we’re friends, and generally I wouldn’t charge a friend for help, but I’m putting myself at your disposal for ten months. Ten months! I’m giving you all my time and my acting skills.” Thinking of the no sex mandate, I choked out, “I’m putting my whole life on hold to help you.”
Eyes unreadable, Max responded evenly, “True. So what do you think is fair compensation for posing as my wife for ten months?”
A straight jacket in a fucking insane asylum was the correct answer, but I replied briskly in a business-like manner, “A new furnace, a new roof, new insulation for my house, a new fridge,” I glanced at my wrists, thought for a second of my pitiful health insurance plan, and went for it all before I lost my nerve, “and some cash set aside for possible future surgeries.”
He raised his brows at that but only murmured, “How much cash you talking?”
“Umm,” I scrambled to recall my deductibles, “uh, five thousand?”
“You don’t sound sure.”
“I’m sure.” I nodded, as if I hadn’t noticed his small smile.
He shrugged. “Deal.”
“Good.” I nodded brusquely again.
Letting out a breath at his easy agreement, I didn’t care if Max was amused. I was happy the negotiations were over–asking for money did not come easy for me.
In the past, James Byrd had offered me business loans to get ahead. Max had offered me cash, no strings attached. I’d stubbornly refused both of them. I liked standing on my own two feet. My take has always been accepting money from friends was the quickest way to lose them, but this was different. This marriage to Max will be the job from hell and I’ll deserve every penny.
“Okay, I’m in. I’ll help you, if you are willing to agree to a few points and sign a contract.” I flashed my dimples and poked him in the chest. “And speaking of big money, my friend, what’s my help worth to you?”
Max’s wide shoulders relaxed and he closed his eyes, bringing our joined hands up to his mouth while saying fervently under his breath, as if in prayer, “Thank you, thank you!” He opened his eyes, smiled broadly, and pressed a kiss to my knuckles. The sexy black stubble around his mouth tickled softly against my skin and I gulped. “You’re help is worth my life. I’ll sign anything you want.” Over our hands, his dark eyes narrowed warily. “You’re not mad at me anymore?”
I decided to start off our pretend relationship on the right foot and forced a light, flirty little smile while tugging again at my hand in his tight grip. “Why, do you want me to be?”
“Hell no,” he responded firmly. “I trust you, Jaz. You’re the one woman I count on not to be crazy.” Eyes dancing, he amended smoothly, “At least, not that kind of crazy.”
Squeezing my hand, he finally let me go.
“Gosh darn, all these compliments are going to turn my head.” I scooted my chair a few inches away. “Why do I feel manipulated by an expert and think I should say something to you like…” I drawled out in a countrified voice, “Well, aren’t you slicker than a greased pig at a county fair?”
“I have no idea why you’d want to say such an odd thing to me.” Max frowned, placing a hand to my forehead. “No fever.” He softly flicked my cheek. “Not that you aren’t cuter than a bug’s ear, Dimples.”
I chuckled, smacking his hand away.
Women rarely hate Max, he’s too charming. They do get pissed off when they eventually want more than he’s willing to give them, which was anything more than his penis a few times. In fairness, Max warns them ahead of time he’s strictly out for a good time. Whereas I, wanting nothing more from him than friendship, until I was possessed by the Devil in December, rarely have had a reason to be upset at him about anything.
“No, I’m not mad at you.” I also had never lied to Max when my feelings were platonic.
First jealous rage and horrible cramps, now lying through my teeth–it seems love keeps bringing out the best in me.
I had no time to think, worry, give my permission, or work up a wet mouth. Suddenly Max’s lips were hard on mine.
Stiff with shock, I was vaguely aware Max’s hands were fisted in my hair and held me imprisoned against the back of the seat while his kiss ravaged me. Then I lost track of any thoughts of fists, prisons, or ravaging. And then I lost track of time and place. I only felt as Max Byrd kissed me passionately, his tongue tasting me and his mouth feasting on mine like a starving man at a banquet.
When Max ended our first kiss with a final soft lick to my clinging lips, I wasn’t sure who emitted the low, protesting moan in the overheated hush of the minivan–me, Tre J, Kenna, or hell, it might have even been Mustang the dog. The kiss was hotter than anything I could have dreamed, and regardless of how long it had lasted, was over way too soon.
I patted my thigh to be sure my jeans were still on.
Tracy Ellen was born in Indiana to middle-class parents, the third out of five hellions. She’s lived in the Midwest her whole life–in a small town, on a farm, and in the big city. Currently, she resides in the suburbs of St Paul, Minnesota with her incredibly tolerant, awesome husband and family. Always an avid reader of all genres, her writing career began in 2012 with the debut of A Date with Fate, a blend of contemporary-romance/ romantic suspense / and romantic comedy. Tracy’s goal as a writer will always be to create worlds readers can’t wait to dive into for a few hours of fun and excitement. She thrives on trying to come up with the witty banter, steamy love scenes, pulse-throbbing action, and belly-laughing humor her reader fans have come to love and expect in her novels. Please let Tracy know how she’s doing!