I am a big fan of Christine Bell. Her Dare Me series is a great example of her writing which combines dirty, bad boys who think they aren’t good enough for the woman they love with heroines who bring a Samsonite collection of emotional scars. Her trademark sense of humor always shines through her characters’ dialogue and thoughts but her writing never ceases to impress. She makes a clever turn of phrase that encapsulates a scene or emotion look effortless. Love her.
With my fangirl chops established, it goes without saying that I was looking forward to the release of the second book in her Perfectly Matched series focusing on a dating service in Salem, Massachusetts. Grace Love, the business founder (and owner of the requisite “tingles” that let her know when a perfect match has been made), found her true love in the form of her playboy best friend and SWAT leader, Patrick Mathews, in the first book of the series, Dirty Trick. Business co-owner and socialite, Selena Elliott, was due to take a fall from her love ’em and leave ’em ways and that future is delivered in the pages of Dirty Deal via the form of Dr. Bryan Metcalf, army ER trauma doctor and auctioned bachelor.
Bryan can’t believe that he’s let his professional party-planner sister talk him into doing this bachelor auction, but considering that it’s to benefit the hospital, he could hardly say no. While walking out in some little leaf costume and nothing else makes him wish he could chose Afghanistan again, he still goes out, and is frozen in place when a bidding war breaks out between his stalker ex-girlfriend, Piper, and Grace Love, the owner of the dating service who wants him to do an ad campaign for her company. At the last minute, a stunning platinum blond grabs Grace’s paddle, delivers some smack talk to Piper, and saves the day with the winning bid. Thinking he might just have won the dating jackpot, Bryan is disappointed to find out that the woman who won him for the night is Grace’s business partner, Selena.
But he quickly realizes that while he can’t take his eyes off Selena’s gorgeous body and beautiful face, she actually is the real deal – funny, smart, and just as anti-commitment as he is. Considering his philandering military father scarred him with the prospect of ruining any relationship he might attempt while he’s still in service, Bryan has made a point of keeping things light. The times he didn’t ended in disaster. Not only is Piper still stalking him nine years later but he’s had women attempt to kill themselves or make other grand stunts that just embarrassed themselves and him. Selena’s cool demeanor and healthy sexuality reassure Bryan that he won’t have to worry about that reaction and he can’t deny the strongest attraction he’s ever felt for a woman. He finds himself agreeing to be the ad campaign boy for her dating business and the phenomenal sex that follows on the beach melts his brain.
Selena isn’t sure exactly what Bryan uses to mesmerize these crazy women other than an unusual dose of intelligence, good looks, and a great sense of humor, but she knows how to keep her distance from guys. Her parents may have left her a massive trust fund and palatial home, but what she really inherited was a disbelief in real love and family after seeing her parents’ affairs and being raised by a series of boarding schools. Despite telling him that their awesome sex was a one-off, Selena finds herself spending all her time with the sexy doctor and hanging out with his great family seals the deal – she’s in big trouble. When her attempt to tell him how she feels dredges up all his phobias about clinging women, she thinks her chance at love is over. But Bryan needs to figure out who Selena is and get past his own history in order to embrace what might be the best gift he’s ever received.
I loved seeing Selena’s character fleshed out in this book and Bell does a great job showing us all her insecurities and damage while also letting us admire Selena’s confidence and the way she managed to raise herself with the help of her one caring relative, her grandmother. Selena literally doesn’t know what to do with herself around Bryan and the feelings he stirs in her, but she finds a measure of bravery even as her fight or flight instincts are telling her to run in the opposite direction and protect herself. Bryan has spent so long avoiding a real relationship (and his avoidance is part of the reason why he still has the psycho contingent around him since a nice restraining order would have given the feedback some of these women needed), that he also is off-kilter with Selena, especially after seeing how great she gets along with his sister and grandmother. Selena’s big moment and Bryan’s gut reaction is heart-wrenching, as is his grand gesture to try and get her back.
Dirty Deal is classic Christine Bell. Not only do I heartily recommend it to lovers of contemporary romance but I strongly exhort them to also sample the Dare Me series as well since this author offers readers delicious characters and fabulous writing in all her novels. The summer might be waning but Bell will always bring the heat!
Happy reading! 🙂