4 Stars / Contemporary / Review

Review: Tease by Melanie Harlow

Felicity I didn’t mean to say I was engaged to a hot billionaire–it just slipped out.

In my defense, I’d had a really bad haircut, a really strong drink, and I was trying to save face in front of the Mean Girl at my high school reunion.

Lucky for me, I happen to know a hot billionaire. Hutton French and I have been friends forever, and even though big social gatherings are not his thing, I called him from the coat closet and begged him for a favor–show up and play my fake fiancé for the night.

Except that word of our engagement spreads like wildfire. Our families are ecstatic. We’re front page news. My little food blog is launched into the stratosphere.

Of course, I offer to set the record straight right away, but Hutton wants to give it a little time–the phony engagement is keeping his matrimony-mad mother and every matchmaking granny in town off his back.

He even suggests I move in with him to make the ruse more real.

And we don’t stop there.

We practice kissing. Undressing each other. Saying things–and doing things–we’d never dare if we weren’t pretending. Because it’s all for show, right? We’re just role-playing. Hutton doesn’t want a real relationship, and I don’t want to get hurt. But the more time we spend faking it, the more I start to wonder.

Could Hutton French and I actually be right for each other, or is it all just one big tease?

Author:Melanie Harlow
Series:Cloverleigh Farms (Book 8)
Category / Genre(s):Contemporary
Trope(s):Friends to Lovers
Fake Relationship
Temporary Relationship
Billionaire Romance
Point of View:First Person, Past Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)
Release Date:11th July, 2022
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Fun, sexy and satisfying

4 stars

Despite this being the 8th book in Harlow’s Cloverleigh Farms series, it’s actually the first of hers I’ve ever read. So I can attest that despite (presumably) previous characters popping up in this story, it does stand completely alone, with it’s own HEA.

This story kicked off and I was 100% in from the very first page. Felicity is having a tough time in her love life and with her business and her coping mechanism actually makes the problem worse. Despite her issues, I couldn’t help but like her. She’s quirky, fun and it’s really easy to root for her. Oh, and she’s been in love with her best friend, Hutton, since high school, but never had the guts to tell him.

Hutton is a hot, introverted billionaire with a whole heap of anxiety. He’s back in town on a temporary basis and of course that means spending time with his best friend, Felicity, who he’s been in love with since childhood but never had the guts to make a move. I liked Hutton – I mean, you had me at hot, introverted billionaire – but I have to admit that there was something holding me back. He was a bit of a contradiction that just didn’t feel accurate to me. What did feel accurate was the explanation of Hutton’s anxiety. So much so that, sharing many of the same traits as Hutton (except, sadly, I’m neither hot nor a billionaire) it was quite difficult reading at times. Plus points for accuracy and attention to detail but, on the other hand, definitely triggering.

I cannot tell you how much I adored Felicity and Hutton when the begin their ruse as a newly engaged couple. I was on the edge of my seat with excitement. And that first sex scene? WOW! The chemistry, the heat, the tension – I hardly have words. All the practicing? Mmm mmm mmm! But after that, they both kind of acknowledged that they liked each other and all that delicious tension melted away as we changed from an unrequited love, let’s play pretend with everyone else and each other to a let’s have sex and play pretend to our families. I admit it took the edge off my excitement some.

“…an engaging writing style, some fun and detailed characters and a sweet and satisfying story…”

And I feel I do have to mention the “kink” that Hutton has and is teased (no pun intended) throughout the first half of the book. While I know that people can be both introverted in real life while preferring to be more dominant in the bedroom, I just didn’t believe it of the Hutton I’d come to know. And when it finally played out, it was pretty damn tepid to tell the truth. It wasn’t edgy, it wasn’t particularly kinky and, for me at least, it wasn’t hot. Not that I want things so hard core in a book such as this, but it felt out of place.

I really love Felicity and Hutton as a couple and adored the way that they fit together, got each other and loved each other FOR their quirks and issues, and not in spite of them. It was a heartwarming story of every pot having a lid, and how your best friend could be the person that you were looking for all along, even if you already knew that! As I mentioned before, I felt comfortable with how the mental health aspect of the story was portrayed and there was a maturity and knowledge (for the most part – there was one comment by Felicity that annoyed me) that really endeared me to this author. These weren’t character traits to make someone fun or quirky – they were real issues that weren’t magically sorted by the end of the story.

I have to also say that I laughed out loud on a number of occasions in this book, not least about the conversations about safe words. I’ll probably never have need of one, but my own safe word will now definitely be ‘Roy Kent’. But do Americans honestly still use fax machines? We kicked those annoying things out back in the 90s! But I digress.

All in all, an engaging writing style, some fun and detailed characters and a sweet and satisfying story (and epilogue – yay!) made this a book I very much enjoyed. I might be tempted to pick up some earlier Cloverleigh Farms stories, or hopefully, some future ones, too. 4 stars from me for this book.

4 stars

“Sweet, funny, sexy, REAL romance.”

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. Her stories are about modern couples falling in old-fashioned love, and even though romance is a fantasy, her heroes and heroines are everyday people with real problems who stumble on their way to happily ever after. She lifts her glass to readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

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