Wednesday, April 15, 2015

**New Release Review** BEAUTIFUL SECRET (Beautiful Bastard #4) by @ChristinaLauren



New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Christina Lauren’s Beautiful and Wild Seasons series hook up in Beautiful Secretfor an erotic intercontinental romp that celebrates the best of both worlds!

When Ruby Miller’s boss announces he’s sending her on an extended business trip to New York City, she’s shocked. As one of the best and brightest young engineers in London, she knows she’s professionally up to the task. The part that’s throwing her is where she’ll be spending a month up close and personal working alongside—and staying in a hotel with—Niall Stella, her firm’s top urban planning executive and The Hottest Man Alive. Despite her ongoing crush, Ruby is certain Niall barely knows she’s alive…until their flirty overnight flight makes him sit up and take notice.

Not one for letting loose and breaking rules, recently divorced Niall would describe himself as hopeless when it comes to women. But even he knows outgoing California-girl Ruby is a breath of fresh air. Once she makes it her mission to help the sexy Brit loosen his tie, there’s no turning back. Thousands of miles from London, it’s easy for the lovers to play pretend. But when the trip is over, will the relationship they’ve built up fall down?


A silence fell over the table as everyone turned to watch Ruby leave the bar and head upstairs to bed. She had been utterly charming throughout dinner, and the group had groaned in unison when she’d excused herself because of our early morning. I, too, had been quite sad to see her go.
“Well, well.”
I looked up to see my brother’s smug expression.
“Now that we’re alone,” Will began, “I think we can all agree to drop any pretense that we’re not ruined for civilized conversation, yes?” Each of them nodded in agreement and beside me, his glass now refilled, Will raised his tumbler to take a small swallow of scotch. “I also think we can all agree Bennett will be an important consultant on this case.”
Max snickered.
“The conference?” I asked, confused.
“It’s an all-too-common predicament,” Bennett added dryly. “Knockout intern. Boss in denial. I’ll draft up a step-by-step plan of containment.”
I blinked, swallowing thickly as I realized what they meant. “She’s not my intern. I have absolutely no say in her career.” I shook my head, frustrated because it was exactly the wrong thing to say. “I’m not . . . that is to say, she’s not interested. Nor I.”
All four men laughed.
“Niall,” Will said, leaning his elbows on his knees. “She nearly dropped her drink in your lap when George asked if she was interested in anyone.”
“Was going to say the same thing,” Bennett said.
“And something tells me she’d be first to volunteer to clean it up,” Will added.
“Well, maybe that’s because she’s interested in someone who works with us at R-C.”
“Yeah. You.” Max lifted his glass and finished the last of the amber liquid.
“Sincerely,” I said, fighting a smile. “She’s a fantastic girl, but she’s certainly not a romantic option for me.”
Tilting his head, Bennett asked, “What color are her eyes?”
Green, I didn’t say. I shook my head as if I didn’t know.
“What was she wearing?” Will asked.
A blue dress that hit just above her knee, I didn’t say. A delicate gold chain around her neck and a ring on her right ring finger that I had to resist asking her about until George bulldozed in and asked about a boyfriend.
I rolled my eyes, and my brother laughed again, this time pointing his drink at me. “Blokes don’t notice these things unless they’re interested.”
“Or George,” Will added, and George reached over to grab the back of his neck and try to pull him in for a kiss.
“Well, it’s apparent I needn’t think on this any further,”
I said. “You’ve all decided for me.”
“It’s what we do,” Will said, adjusting the skewed collar of his shirt as he settled back into his chair. “It’s a sickness, we know.”
“I thought we’d lost that muscle, honestly,” George said.
“It’s a relief to know we still have it in us. The ladies will be so proud.” Max rapped his knuckles on the table as he made to stand. “Alas, I’d best be off. New routine: Sara gets the baby to sleep; I do the midnight bottle feeding.”
“Finally taking a bottle from you then? Guess you smell like a woman, too,” I said to Max, reminding him of the little dig he’d thrown my way on my last visit.
Max laughed and patted me on the back, and we all stood, a silent agreement in place that we were ready to call it a night. I watched my brother gather his things and say his goodbyes, feeling the same mix of pride and longing for what he was headed home to: a wife, a daughter. A proper home.

“Kiss the girls for me,” I requested as he made his way out of the bar. He waved a hand, retreating, and then disappeared from view. 



Confession:  I read Beautiful Bastard two years ago when it came out and since then I have been hoarding all the books in this series instead of reading them.. UNTIL Beautiful Secret came to my Kindle.  Niall Stella peeked my interest so much that I decided to skip all the other books and novellas in this series to read this next.  Good news!  You can read this book out of order and not feel left out of the loop.  Yes other characters (Bennett, sigh) show up briefly but you are still good to jump right in and read Niall and Ruby's story.

Beautiful Secret is so different than what I was expecting that I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.  Sad, when a male character in a book is such a gentleman that it throws me, lol.  Niall Stella was delicious.  I really enjoyed his kind of stuffed-shirt personality and the references Ruby makes that compare him to Mr. Darcy (double sigh).  Christina Lauren did a fantastic job of creating a story with incredible sexual tension, great dialogue and very memorable characters and flipped it all on its head.  Niall and Ruby are not what you expect, their roles are unique and play such a fun part in this story.  I know, I know you are rolling your eyes and saying "Boss + intern is not new", but THIS one is!  I won't tell you why it is different, that is half the fun, but trust me you haven't read a romance novel quite like this one!

I love Christina Lauren, the Wild Seasons series, is one of my favorite series ever, so I knew picking this up it was going to be a great story with tasty characters.  What surprised me was that level of heat in this book.  Yes, this book has great chemistry and tension (and great sexy flirting) but it wasn't as filthy and/or dirty as some of their other books, which fits this story line perfectly, so no complaints from me on that.  Beautiful Secret had me turning pages until the Kindle hit me in the face (meaning I fell asleep reading) and once that humiliation abated I dove right back in and read until there was no more story left to read.

While Ruby made me crazy toward the end of the book, I loved that she sticks to her guns and knows what she is worth.  Niall, poor sweet, Niall.  I loved you and you frustrated me to no end!  Niall's character was refreshing to read, but sometimes he almost came off as too naive and too restrained.  However, never doubt the brilliance that is Christina Lauren, every personality trait, quirk and overthinking tendency had a reason and that reason made for a delightful story that reminded me why I love reading Christina Lauren stories.  

Beautiful Secret was a great read, whether you are a fan of this series or not, I recommend picking this up to meet Niall, a real gentleman in the world of crazed alpha males.  


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