Ever since being dumped by his brother four years ago, Phoebe Garrison has been good friends with Rand Alexander. She's always been attracted to him. Over time, though, her feelings for him have grown into something more, but he doesn't seem to see her as a woman. Phoebe would do almost anything for just a week in his bed, and when she accidentally lets that cat out of the bag at an event they're both attending and he overhears, he offers to fulfill her wish in exchange for the deed to an island she owns.
When he made his outrageous offer, Rand wasn't intending on actually playing stud for hire. He simply wanted to get a rise out of his stepmother and Phoebe's aunt. But since her island contains a rich deposit of lithium he needs for his business, he does need to cut a deal with Phoebe for mining rights, and he wants to do it before his brother beats him to it. When she stubbornly keeps insisting that a deal is a deal, Rand decides to comply with her wishes. However, bedding Phoebe is going to be a delicious torture, because not only is she giving him her virginity, he knows she deserves far more than a week of rolling in the hay. She's a forever kind of girl, but ever since his wife and son died six years ago, Rand has had his heart locked up tight, and he's not about to risk the pain of loss again to let someone else in.
"A Deal Is a Deal" is the first in a trilogy of connected novellas about three half-brothers. This one features Rand, the oldest of the three, as the hero. Although the specifics aren't mentioned, he lost his wife and child six years ago, and ever since then, he's had his heart locked up tight. He still goes out with women and even sleeps with them from time to time, when the need for physical release becomes too great, but he has no intention of ever falling in love again. His heroine, Phoebe, was engaged to Rand's brother, Carter, but it ended four years ago. After that, she became close friends with Rand, and ever since, her feelings for him, both physical and emotional, have gradually been growing until she'd give anything for just a week in his bed. When she accidentally blurts out that fact at a charity event they're both attending and he overhears her, he offers to fulfill her fantasy in exchange for the deed to an island she owns that has a rich lithium deposit he needs for his business.
I really liked Phoebe, because she's the perfect mix of sweet and sassy. She tends to speak her mind, but she's also one of those seemingly rare, modern-day virgins, and there's no one she wants to introduce her to the pleasures of the flesh but Rand. She's tired of just being friends and wants so much more from him. Even though she knows he's kept his heart off limits, she can't help hoping that maybe he'll open it up for her. Rand is an intensely sexy alpha male. Most of the time I liked him. He's an excellent lover and takes good care of Phoebe, but he has a few moments where he says things that border on cruel and made me want to smack him. It was at those times, I found myself wishing he'd dial back on the alpha a little, but overall he showed enough gentleness and vulnerability to stay in my good graces.
With this being a short novella, things move rapidly between our hero and heroine. It all takes place in the span of only one week, but I wasn't overly bothered by that. Rand and Phoebe's long-standing friendship played into their emotional connection a lot. Phoebe was totally in love with Rand before the story even started, and while Rand fought it for a bit, I could tell from the start that he knew Phoebe was a keeper and not one of the loose women he usually tended to go for. It's one of the reasons he'd kept their relationship friends-only up to that point. The love scenes are smokin' hot, and there's a decent little plot for a novella, with Rand and Carter both vying for the rights to Phoebe's island, as well as Carter trying to mend the troubled relationship with his brother. So overall, "A Deal Is a Deal" was a really fun story. It was originally published along with its two companion novellas in the anthology, 3 Brides for 3 Bad Boys, but it has since been republished as a stand-alone ebook, simply titled Rand.
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