Authors: Anna Banks
Tags: #revenge, #matchmaker, #forced proximity, #Entangled, #Bliss, #contemporary romance, #Anna Banks, #enemies-to-lovers
Revenge was never this much fun…
When Rochelle Ransom auditioned for the dating show Luring Love, she had big plans for winning the prize money to help her favorite charity–and if she won the hot bachelor’s heart, even better. But at the last minute she finds out the hot bachelor is her ex-boyfriend, Grant Drake. Desperate to keep her distance from him, she’ll do anything–and everything–to get voted off.
Years ago, Rochelle broke Grant’s heart, and he’s out for revenge. There’s no way he’ll vote her off.
After all, vengeance is a dish best served red-hot…and on live television.
When her hilarious antics to get kicked off the show escalate, Grant’s reminded why he fell in love with her the first time. Now he isn’t sure which might be more fun… Seeing how far Rochelle is willing to go to get away or how far he will to keep her forever.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Anna Banks. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
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Fort Collins, CO 80525
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Bliss is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC. For more information on our titles, visit
Edited by Liz Pelletier
Cover design by Heather Howland
Cover art from iStock
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition October 2015
For my sister Tami, who loved the idea, but never got to read the story.
ochelle Ransom hadn’t worn a dress like this since…actually, she’d never worn a dress like this. Short, tight, lots of cleavage. Hooker red. Any judge would kick her out of the courtroom if she traipsed in looking like this, hauling a briefcase and with a mortified client trailing behind her. Of course, she’d never make it to the bench. Not in these ankle-breaking stilettos.
But this wasn’t a courtroom. This was the set—or rather, the dining room of a humongous mansion—of
, the reality show she’d signed up for six months ago. Oh, at first, she’d thought it was funny that the show was auditioning in her city. She thought women had to be desperate to put themselves out there like that, and chase after a man. The last thing she needed in life right now was a man interfering with her career and the time she spent working for her favorite charity, Helping Hands. But as the audition date drew near, she began to think of a very good reason to try out. Of course, there was the prospect of meeting an attractive man who was probably only interested in sex (and Rochelle’s sex life was nonexistent), but there was also the exposure on national television for Helping Hands, and the prize money if she actually won the show. Yep, she was all in when she realized the possibilities. She could sacrifice some pride in order to raise funds for a good cause couldn’t she? Of course she could. And so, after dozens of interviews and near-painful home videos outlining the very boring details of her life, she’d somehow made it as a finalist. She was going to be on TV. But more importantly, nothing was going to stop her from winning the grand prize money for her charity.
Oh yeah, and the bachelor’s heart or whatever.
But seriously, the winnings would free up time to take on the cases that meant something to her—instead of all the time she wasted making rich corporations even richer. Sure, being a corporate attorney paid the bills but representing penniless, battered women who came through Helping Hands was her real passion. After most grueling workdays, she would head over to give the last of her energy to the incredible women staying there. It was a shelter without other connections or financial options, and she would often find herself rotating between the roles of pro bono legal advisor, amateur therapist, and housekeeper depending on the daily needs and demands.
Becoming a contestant on this show put her in a better position to meet those needs and demands.
It was a shallow means to a worthy end. Her closest girlfriends could tease her all they wanted about “ulterior motives” but Rochelle stubbornly refuted them. This was NOT about finding love. That ship had sailed—and sunk and was rotting on the ocean floor.
She took a generous sip of champagne, wondering how many times she’d have to tell herself that over the course of the next twelve weeks.
I’m whoring myself out for money, after all
. She’d never even seen an episode of
, but she’d overheard her assistant Jennifer and her paralegal Gemini talking about past seasons, and the word “scandalous” came up every few sentences or so. Who slept with whom. Who threw a colossal temper tantrum and got voted off. Who had the bikini “mishap.” (Apparently there was always a bikini mishap.)
One thing she had already decided, though, was that there was no way she was sleeping with the guy. He was lucky enough to have all these women vying for his attention, but to expect them all to sleep with him, too?
You’ve got to be freaking kidding me. We might as well inject ourselves with an STD cocktail.
But all else was fair game. Charm him, wine and dine him. She was even willing to do her own version of a bikini mishap in order to rouse his, er, heart—or at least, borrow his affection for the duration of the show. Maybe after the show, they could even be friends. As long as she could talk him out of his half of the prize money.
Either way, this poor guy didn’t stand a chance. Jennifer and Gemini saw to it that she knew all the ways to win his heart and all the ways to avoid getting voted off the show. If there was one thing Rochelle had cornered the market on, it was persuasiveness. Her track record in the circuit court system was evidence enough of that. How hard could romancing a bachelor be, anyway?
A man was a man was a man. They were all the same. Clean-shaven sasquatches dressed in suits and ties.
She glanced around the room with a self-satisfied grin and began sizing up the competition as she sipped her champagne. And her confidence abruptly faltered. She was the least attractive out of the entire bunch—and that was
she’d put more effort into her appearance than ever before.
Oh crap. The nine other women were nothing short of gorgeous, each in their own way. And “gorgeous” was something Rochelle had never considered herself. Not even now, in her prostitute uniform.
But the one who worried Rochelle the most was the tall woman who lingered shyly in the corner, acting oblivious to the fact that she was the most striking female in the room. Long, straight black hair. Smooth, dewy skin the color of a perfectly crafted cappuccino. Legs that went on for decades, and lips that formed a perfect come-hither pout without even trying.
I’m so screwed
. Rochelle took an unfeminine gulp of her drink, downing the last of her champagne and motioning for another. The waiter paused as she switched out the empty glass for a full one on his tray. Down the hatch it went.
The waiter gave her a startled look. “No need to be nervous,” he whispered in an Australian accent. “He’s actually quite nice.”
“Who?” Why would he think she was nervous? Didn’t everyone, on occasion, guzzle champagne?
“The Bachelor.” The waiter turned on his heel. “I think you’ll find him to be decent.”
“Oh. Right.” The Bachelor. The poor sucker who was about to be subjected to irresistible temptation by the sumptuous Nubian princess over in the corner.
I might as well go home
And that was when she realized why she had been chosen for the show. Someone had to represent the ninety-nine percent of women who didn’t make the cut for this show.
The waiter left, making his way around the room, catering to all the other women who probably were well aware Rochelle was there for a quota, but didn’t have a clue they were about to lose this competition to the shy black woman in the corner.
After the second glass of champagne kicked in, Rochelle decided to be proactive. And why shouldn’t she? After all, she had more to lose than these other women. Attracting rich bachelors was probably just their hobby. Risking her life in the six-inch stilettos, she eased her way around the dining table, hobbling in the heels like a newborn calf, one graceless step at a time, until she reached the hands-down winner of
“Hi,” she told the princess.
Even I’m irritated by how perky I sound
. In fact, she was usually allergic to perky people herself—especially before 9 a.m. and two cappuccinos—but she suspected dry sarcasm wasn’t going to win her any points on the show or with the beauty queen standing next to her. It wasn’t wise to piss anyone off just yet, because her assistant had told her—over and over again—that would be asking for immediate sabotage by the other contestants. So perky it was. “I’m Rochelle.”
I’m here to represent the normal Americans who couldn’t make it today.
The princess smiled, revealing the teeth of a dentist’s daughter.
. “I’m Maya,” she replied. “I like your dress.” Maya swirled the champagne in her glass. “Are you nervous? Because I’m about to pass out.”
So Maya was lovely and honest. “Don’t be nervous. The waiter tells me our bachelor is a nice guy. So, no need to poison him just yet.”
Oops, too morbid.
But the other woman laughed. “Honestly, I’m more nervous about the competition. He’s just a man, right? But look at you, for instance. You’re rocking your dress. And have you seen the twins? What’s up with that?”
Lovely, honest, and humble.
Triple threat, which means I’m doubly screwed
. “They’re really twins, you think?”
“I know so. I asked.”
“So if one of them wins…”
Yep, she officially liked Maya. Which wasn’t good, since she was going to have to be ruthless in getting her voted off. Preferably first.
Just then, the producer, Richie Odom, a buttery-smooth-talking man with a slicked-back hairpiece—and an ego the size of a tank—interrupted Rochelle’s strategizing. Holding up both his hands, which revealed that his tacky red velvet jacket was a bit too short in the sleeves, he announced, “Okay, ladies, we’re about to start filming. The bachelor is going to enter through the door behind me. When he does, I want you to act naturally. Do whatever pops up first into your head when you see him—which I hope looks a lot like insta-love googly eyes. Remember, there are ten of you and only three cameramen, so if we’re going to get a shot of his first impression of you, you’ll have to hold your pose—in the most natural way possible, of course. Remember, this is a reality show. Everything is real. So make sure real looks good.” He consulted the stopwatch in his hand. “We’ve got a twenty-second countdown.”
“Here we go,” Maya whispered.
Rochelle took the opportunity to swap out another empty glass of champagne for a full one from the waiter’s tray as he passed by. He shot her a disapproving look but continued on his way.
Yeah, that’s right. Keep walking. You’re not the one about to trade your dignity for cash
“Ten seconds!” Richie yelled.
All eyes focused on the entryway, waiting for the moment when the small talk would end and the rivalry would begin. The second that Bachelor hit the door, he’d be the center of attention for the next twelve weeks.
And for the next twelve weeks, Rochelle was going to have to be perky. Likable. Non-snarky.
Think of the money, think of the money, think of the money
Rochelle hadn’t realized she’d been holding her breath—until Grant Drake stepped through the entryway. Then she let it out in a heaving gasp.
And her champagne glass plummeted to the floor.