Dare to Love
December 15, 2015
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Dare to Love
Lucy Fairchild is a confident, successful lawyer and heiress to the Fairchild fortune. Her father thinks he can choose who she’ll marry, which Lucy finds ridiculous. She might be thirty and still single, but she’s perfectly capable of finding her own man.
Jake Dalton owns a construction company and has built his life from nothing to something he can be proud of. His father might have once thought him a failure, but Jake has worked his entire life to banish those demons from his past. And he’ll never let anyone make him feel less than capable ever again.
So when Lucy and Jake have a run in on his construction site, the sparks fly. Lucy’s had a bad day and Jake just finds her amusing, but for some reason they’re both attracted. Jake throws out a dare for a date. Lucy accepts. Jake might be the perfect fake boyfriend to run interference for her father, a way out of her father’s ridiculous notion that she needs a husband. They’re both all in on this charade.
But what starts out as a dare—a game—suddenly builds into something much deeper for both of them. And what neither of them expected—love-might be the final outcome.
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Jake’s face tightened for an instant. Lucy recognized the look that crossed his face. She’d seen it enough times when she looked in the mirror. That empty expression, the one that signaled lonely.
“I’m too busy to settle down.”
She let out a small laugh. “Now you sound like me.”
“But I don’t have a father trying to marry me off, either.”
She grimaced, hating that they’d gotten back on that subject.
There had to be some way to get her father to let loose of this ridiculous marriage idea. Otherwise, every event she attended she’d be hounded by Alex, and her father.
“Maybe I need to find someone to parade around, let Father think I’m involved,” she mumbled to herself.
“It would have to be someone he didn’t know. Otherwise he could manipulate the situation.” She drew figure eights in the condensation on the beer bottle.
“Got someone in mind?”
“Not really. He knows everyone I know.”
“You could use me.”
She snapped her gaze up at him. “Pardon?”
“Use me. To keep your dad from playing matchmaker.”
Had she missed a vital part of their conversation? What in the world was he talking about? “I don’t understand.”
“It’s simple. You let your father think you’re dating me, and he won’t be able to throw this Alex guy at you anymore.”
She took a quick gulp of her beer, hoping the cool liquid would melt the lump in her throat. “You want to date me?”
He laughed. “No. Just help you out. Appearances and all.”
This whole night had been a surreal experience. Had she just stepped into some outer dimension? She had to get her mind around the thoughts swirling through her. Her father. Jake. Alex. It was all too much.
“Why would you want to do that?”
He grinned. “Maybe I want to annoy your father.”
Okay that made perfect sense. Her father had been anything but gracious to Jake. She still burned at his condescending manner.
The thought had merit. It was ludicrous of course, but still, parts of it intrigued her. How long had she fought against her father? Against his ridiculous notions of society and classes? How many times had he tried to drum into her head that the Fairchilds were the elite? The elite who did not, under any circumstances, mix with the lower classes.
Yes, her father was a snob. She’d spent her entire life trying not to emulate his actions. He would positively have a fit if she started parading Jake around as her boyfriend.
“Are you certain you’d want to do this?” Her mind spun with ideas.
“Why not? Might be fun to get a few digs into your old man.”
She didn’t really understand Jake’s motivation in all this, but if she brought him to a few events and let her father know she wasn’t going to be bought and sold like a piece of property, maybe he’d back off and let her make her own decisions. It wasn’t like she and Jake would really be dating.
“I’d ask you to attend some social events with me. Just enough to let my father, and Alex, see us together.”
“Whatever. As long as it doesn’t interfere with my work.”
“My father will not be pleasant about this, Jake. He can be rude, downright nasty at times.”
Jake shrugged. “I’ve heard worse. Doesn’t bother me a bit.”
“We wouldn’t be actually dating.”
He nodded. “Right. Not dating.”
“It might work. And it probably wouldn’t take long. Once my father sees me with you a few times, he’ll know I’m not interested in Alex, and maybe he’ll drop all thoughts of trying to marry me off.”
“No problem. And besides, after being with me, anyone you pick after that will be a huge relief to your father.”
That thought hadn’t occurred to her. Sadly, he was right. But how did Jake feel about that? His expression was unreadable. She didn’t know if he was amused or annoyed, but either way, she was grateful for his help. She had to take control of her life, make her father understand that she would choose the man she would marry. Not that Jake was that man. But her father didn’t need to know that.
Guilt niggled its way into her heart. This could be rough on Jake. Really rough. People in her circle looked down their noses at those who weren’t born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths.
“Jake, I don’t know. I’d feel awful if someone hurt your feelings.”
He laughed. “Believe me, no one could hurt my feelings. I’m immune.”
She didn’t know how someone could become immune to being insulted. “What’s in this for you?”
He shrugged. “Other than irritating your father, nothing. I need to get out more, anyway.”
Somehow she didn’t think he really meant that. “I’ll bet you have a lot of dates.”
He laughed. “I have a few now and then.”
She shouldn’t do this. She really shouldn’t. But the more she thought about it, the more it seemed like the key to her freedom. Her father was a smart man. Surely he’d see right away that she wouldn’t allow him to choose her husband.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this for me, but I appreciate it. And I’ll try not to take up too much of your time.”
He shrugged. “Whatever gets you off the hook, sweetheart. I’m glad to help out. And if it irks your old man in the process, all the better.”
Okay, this was starting to sound like fun. And spending time with Jake wouldn’t be a hardship at all. He was great looking, had a good sense of humor, he was smart, and, admittedly, she liked him. She really liked him. He made her feel good. She liked touching him.
She snapped her gaze to his. “What?”
She barely heard the music playing in the background. Jake stood and held out his hand. “Dance. Practice being together for when your dad sees us. You might as well get used to it now.”
She stood and let Jake lead her to the… well, there really wasn’t a dance floor in the place. Jake took a few steps away from the table and drew her against him.
Solid, warm, he wrapped his arm around her back and entwined his fingers with hers, then swayed to the music of a ballad.
“You’re stiff as a board, Lucy. Your father will never believe we’re dating if you don’t loosen up.”
He was right. She hadn’t been ready for this. She really did need the practice.
“Look at me.”
She tilted her head back and was instantly lost in the warm depth of his eyes. They held a sensual promise she’d love to explore, if only they had a real relationship.
So she’d pretend it was real. She could do that, couldn’t she? She’d fantasize that Jake really did care about her, that he really was interested, that the spark of attraction she felt for him was returned.
The way he looked at her, the way his lips curled in such a sexy manner, the way he leaned in as if was going to—
His lips brushed hers, casual, a soft caress. Lightning struck and she was rooted to the spot, unable to take her next breath. Then he pressed more firmly. Shocked at first, Lucy did nothing but freeze up.
Jake leaned back. “Don’t tell me this is your first kiss.”
“No. Of course not. I just… I didn’t know you were going to kiss me.”
He arched a brow. “Was I supposed to ask for permission?”
Her heart pounded, her hand began to sweat in his. Really, no wonder he thought her inexperienced. What an idiot. “I can do better.”
“I’ll just bet you can.”
Could all men lower their voices and whisper in a way that made a woman melt, or was it just Jake? She shivered as he leaned in again, and this time she was ready.
Or she thought she was ready, but not for the power of a kiss that rocked her right off her feet.
She’d expected more of the same, a light sweep of his lips against hers, a chaste, get-to-know-you kind of kiss.
Instead, he leaned her back over his arm and took her mouth in a kiss that spoke of possession, of demand, forcing her mouth open to slide his tongue inside.
Every part of her body exploded with sensation, with desire, with a hunger that hadn’t been satisfied in far too long. She felt every part of that kiss in every nerve ending of her body.
When Jake raised her up and pulled away, she was dizzy, turned on and ready for more.
“Now when we’re together in front of your dad, we’ll act more like a couple,” he said, taking her hand and leading her back to the table.
Disoriented, Lucy grabbed her beer and took a couple deep swallows.
Jake nursed his beer and grinned at her, seemingly unaffected by what had just happened.
He sure could turn it on and off easily, couldn’t he?
But could she? Because she was hot and bothered as hell, and not at all ready to stop what he’d just started.
This game she’d agreed to might be more than she could handle.
A lot more.
End of Excerpt
Dare to Love
December 15, 2015
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Dare to Love
“Jaci Burton is a fantastic storyteller and Dare to Love keeps you glued to your seat from the very beginning. I read this all in one sitting – I could not put it down. The characters are so real and believable. Lucy's initial reaction to Jake is charming and funny. They both struggle with their own issues of insecurity and together they discover a lot about themselves. I am Joyfully Recommending Dare to Love and it is definitely one for the keeper shelf.”
“Ms. Burton has done it again. What a great story. While you wouldn't think that arranged marriages still happen in this day and age, they do and Ms. Burton told the story to perfection. The infuriating father, slimy husband to be and all. Ms. Burton has created a wonderful world full of vibrant characters and an entertaining plot. If you enjoy an entertaining contemporary romance that is so full of heat that it may scorch you, this is definitely the book for you. Dare to Love is a fun, fast-paced romance full of love, life and everything in between.”
“Jaci Burton is one author you can always count on to write wonderful, sexy romances. Dare to Love is a great story where opposites attract... Dare to Love has some nice love scenes and Jake is one man you wouldn't mind taking home to meet your parents. If you haven't had the chance to pick up a Jaci Burton novel, I recommend you start here with Dare to Love!”
“Dare to Love is a fascinating read. Jaci Burton's latest offering is certainly one for your book shelf.”
“This was an excellent novel! A well thought out plot, great back stories and several lessons in patience and love.”