Series: Happily Ever After Inc. #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: April 20, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: Review Tour
Buy Online: Amazon
Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely mine.
Once upon a time, there was a grumpy CEO who met a wedding planner who never stopped smiling…
You could say that I live and breathe weddings and love, and as a wedding planner, a happily ever after is the main event. So when I learn that Theo Abbot absolutely hates weddings, that should be my clue to run for the hills as fast as my sexy little black stilettos will take me.
But I digress.
I’m on the hunt for my own epic love story, one T-Swift herself could write a song about. Which means unavailable and seemingly uninterested CEOs are off limits. Even if the man oozes sex appeal and his grumpiness turns me to mush.
A little flirting never hurt anyone.
Cassie Winters shines so bright I need a pair of Ray-bans to look directly at her. Problem is, once I’ve set my eyes on her, I can’t seem to look away. The woman is a walking, talking promotion for all things love and happiness.
Hand me an antacid.
Counting, on one hand, the amount of times I’ve failed in my life, leaves me knowing I won’t ever do “love” again. I’m set in my ways and not even this sexy little spitfire could sweet talk me out of my decision to never get married.
Yet it only took one drink to derail that plan.
But, things aren’t always as they seem and when real life gets in the way of this fairy tale, we’re both forced to take a hard look at what we truly want.
Are we both ready to wed or is this a wildfire that’s about to burn out?
This is my first book by this author and the fun, colorful cover was the first thing that caught my eye. This was for the most part a cute and enjoyable read.
Cassie is a sunny and bubbly wedding planner who dreams of meeting her own dream man and settling down with the 2.5 kids and white picket fence, but she wants to do so organically, instead of being matched by a matchmaker. Theo is grumpy workaholic who channeled all his energy into his work and taking care of his younger sister after a series of unfortunate events in his life.
When these two meet, the inevitable explosion happens. However, beyond that is an attraction that they cannot resist, but with very different personalities and outlooks on life, do they have a chance of a future?
This was a low angst, medium drama story and I like that the characters were both a little older than usual. I liked reading this book from the first page and I always enjoy the nice cast of secondary characters that round out a romance. However, I have two things that were not so enjoyable:
- the lack of professionalism in getting involved with the person signing the checks while on a job,
- I personally do not enjoy pushy and meddlesome characters so while the sister’s machinations were mildly annoying, the grandmother’s more obvious pushiness was a little off-putting.
I’m a bit interested in Layla and Cole’s story and would love to read how that plays out.
I hear my sister and Mateo agree with her, and the woman continues.
“I mean, just look at the stage. It features more than fifty hand-painted scenic backdrops. It’s just absolutely remarkable.”
Despite the fact that I could get lost in this woman’s voice, I don’t appreciate that she barking up the wrong tree trying to sell this space to my sister.
I come to a stop behind the three of them, my attendance going unnoticed. I resist the urge to clap for her performance, but interrupt her words with my own instead.
“Well done, sounds like you could sell religion to the damn Pope.” Harsh, but I don’t like when people think they can take advantage of us just because we have money.
Both my sister and the woman startle. Mateo snorts. I glance at Nora and the glare I’m getting could cut ice, but I’ve survived the look before. I nod a hello at Mateo before sliding my gaze to the best damn saleswoman in the world.
Taking in the woman standing in front of me, no goddamn joke, my heart skips a fucking beat. I draw my hand out of my pocket and slowly rub my chest absentmindedly.
The woman is utterly exquisite. Her soft blond hair is braided in a way that is messy but perfectly styled and falls over her shoulder with strands of soft gold framing her face. A face that at first glance looks flawless. I’m unable to continue my perusal as I’m stopped in my tracks by two sparkling blue eyes staring back at me. Taking in all of her, I see that the smirk she wears tells me she’s not about to let me get away with what I’ve just said.
“No doubt you are correct, Mr. Abbot. However, I wouldn’t attempt something so outrageous.” Her eyes gleam. “I was just telling Nora and Mateo some very well-known facts about this beautiful cathedral.” She glances up and waves her hand around as if to encompass the whole space.
“Theo, this is Cassie Winters, our wedding planner. It’s nice of you to join us,” Nora bites out in a pleasantly terse tone. She walks up to me and kisses my cheek. As she pulls away, she whispers, “Be nice.”
I ignore her and focus on the wedding planner. Cassie.
“Well, I’m just confused as to why we are even here, Ms. Winters. Or is it Mrs.?” I ask.
She doesn’t miss a beat. “Ms. Thank you. And we are here because the couple getting married”—she gestures to Nora and Mateo—“wanted a tour.” Her tone straddles the line of condescending and courteous. And it’s sexy as fuck.
Nora punches me lightly in the side, typical sister shit. “Yes, I asked if we could check out the cathedral as well as some other places. We’ve already ruled some out due to availability, but this place has an opening twelve months from now,” she informs me as she walks back over to Mateo, lacing her fingers through his. His eyes flash as he looks down at her.
“I thought you didn’t want to wait a year,” I say, my eyes darting back at Cassie. She stands there, smiling with fucking stars in her eyes at Nora and Mateo.
“True, but places book up quickly, and I wasted too much time floundering before hiring Cassie,” Nora says.
I nod. Makes sense. I take a second to look around this place. I want to vomit, it’s so extra. We may have grown up with silver spoons in our mouths, but we didn’t grow up around such fancy-ass stuff such as weddings in the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
“Why the grumpy face?” Cassie’s beautiful voice breaks me out of my stupor.
“Oh, no, that’s his normal face,” Nora tells her.
“I don’t understand why you picked this place. It’s a church…”
“Are you not religious, Mr. Abbot?” Cassie interrupts.
“I’m not sure why that matters to you,” I snap.
Her eyes widen a tad at the venom in my tone. “You said it’s a church.”
“You didn’t let me finish, Ms. Winters. I was saying, it’s a church that was built in the ’20s and this place fits, like what? Twelve hundred people? Do you even know that many people, Nora?” I stuff my hands in my pockets out of frustration.
“No,” Nora offers shakily.
“Mr. Abbot, the theater space is only one of the locations available for a ceremony. This was our first stop. I wanted them to get the full tour,” Cassie says and I so badly want to ask her to call me Theo, but I don’t know if I’ll like the way she says my name more than the way she calls me Mr. Abbot.
I grunt, not having time for this argument. “Okay, then let’s look at a more accommodating space.”
“You know what, I think this place has lost its magic for me,” Nora grumbles. “Let’s check out that last place on my list. I know Theo has a busy schedule.”
“If you are sure, we can head over to INDUSTRY then,” Cassie says as she follows Nora and Mateo toward the exit.
I’m not into games. I’m not going to ask Nora if she’s sure or apologize for raining on her parade with this place. It’s not a good fit for her. She knows it. I know it. And this ridiculous wedding planner needs to learn it if she wants to keep my sister as a client.
Cassie walks by me, her shoulder nearly brushing mine, and my senses are immediately taken over by a soft smell of amber and vanilla.
“I’m so happy that you were able to join us today,” she says softly. I look down at her. She’s a few inches shorter, and the sparkle in her eyes is mischievous.
Clenching my jaw, I don’t reply as she walks on by, but the urge to wrap my hand around her arm and pull her back to me is strong.
I think what gets under my skin the most is that she has yet to drop the smile this whole time. Is it stuck on her face? Is this a Botox gone wrong? She doesn’t look like the type of woman to be obsessed with Botox, but what the fuck do I know?
I close my eyes for a minute to gain my wits.
One, two, three…
Copyright 2023 @Lauren Helms