ARC Review: Kiss and Fake Up by Carrie Aarons

This summer was supposed to be an escape from the city and the demons lurking within it. Too bad the minute I arrive at the beach house I’m sharing with friends, the guy I swore I’d never talk to again in my life walks through the door.

Now I’m not only stuck hiding out from an ex who won’t leave me alone, but with someone who screwed me over before he could even be considered an ex.

That’s right, two years ago Campbell Whitlock double booked me on our fourth date. As in, had a girl show up to the table where he was feeding me off his own fork and barely disguising it as foreplay. Meanwhile, my head and heart had been completely on board to make our relationship more serious.

But a leggy blonde foiled that plan, and I’ve hated him on sight since. The ex-Marine turned millionaire restauranteur didn’t even have the decency to follow me with an apology as I ran out of his own establishment.

It’s just my luck that I’m forced to room right next door to my nemesis, who couldn’t be acting more like a saint if he tried. And then the impossible happens; my ex hunts me down to deliver loaded threats and the fear I thought I’d left behind in Manhattan. Who is the only person to witness it? Campbell, of course.

His apology tour apparently extends to offering himself up as my fake boyfriend to scare off my stalker. While the plan is moronic and means having to spend more time with him, the danger I feel is real. Having a hulking, intimidating boyfriend, fake or not, might be exactly what I need.

With every passing day, pretend date, emotional gaze and midnight run-in, our relationship starts to feel less like a deal and more like something very similar to the connection I thought we had years ago. Even though I promised myself I’d never give him a second chance.

But what happens when the person protecting me starts to feel like the one I want to trust forever?
And how
will I recover if his favor was done only to gain forgiveness, instead of a chance at falling in love?

Heather’s best friend is married to Campbell’s best friend and when they set the two up, Heather fell hard for him. They only had four dates but she had high hopes for where things were headed, until the night he double-booked her. She walked out on him and never forgave him. They still have to see each other and it’s always uncomfortable for everyone because Heather can’t let go of her anger. He’s tried to make amends but she’s not interested.

It’s been two years and she’s as bitter as she was the day it happened but when her ex starts making her life miserable, Campbell steps in to intervene. He’s the last person Heather wants to spend time with but she doesn’t want to admit to anyone what’s happening. That would make it way too real and she’s in denial about the situation.

Campbell knows she’s in danger but can tell she’s not ready to fight, or even really acknowledge the problem, so he takes matter into his own hands to keep her safe. She slowly realizes he’s nothing like she thought and her defenses slip. One she lets go of her anger, they’re great together. I liked the characters and sympathized with Heather initially because Campbell did her so dirty, but she was annoying when she was still outraged two years later. She made social situations uncomfortable for the whole group, which is childish and self-centered, so I didn’t love her as much as the story went on. I still liked her once her behavior improved but I would have preferred more detail about the crazy ex and the potential danger instead of her childish tantrums.

Despite his initial screw up, Campbell is actually a great guy who’s had a tough life and is harder on himself than anyone else could be. He’s regretted screwing things up with Heather from the moment it happened, so I was happy to see him get a second chance with her. Once they finally get past all the barriers between them, including her issues with her ex, they really connect and they’re great together. This is a sweet, funny and steamy HEA with a fun cast of supporting characters. I received an ARC from Grey’s Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

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