"a delicious bite of Southern seduction with chemistry that sizzles."
- Rebecca Yarros
a Love Unexpectedly novel
Released May 17th, 2016
New York Times BESTSELLER • Lauren Layne brings all the unpredictable heat
of Blurred Lines to
an all-new cast of characters! Country music’s favorite good girl is hiding
away from the world—only to find herself bunking with a guy who makes her want
to be a little bad.
Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music,
not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s
suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal
connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking
her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next
album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker
named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and
Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston
Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer
has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed
break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is
indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet
pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he
is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their
problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.
ON SALE .99 CENTS
“Sweetie . . . ,” Amber says in a gentle voice that has me tensing.
I love Amber to death, but she’s not usually one for sweet-talking. She’s more the type of friend who will actually tell you that a certain pair of jeans absolutely makes your butt look big.
I go very still, wondering if I’m going to need more chocolate chips for this. “What? Tell me.”
“Have you ever hooked up with Shawn Bates?”
I make a face. “Yuck, no.”
“But you’ve hung out?”
“No. I’ve met him, like, twice. Maybe three times.”
“When was the last time you saw him?”
My heart is pounding now, because there’s an urgency in Amber’s voice that I’m not used to hearing. “I don’t know. The Grammys, I guess. We had our picture taken together, I think.”
Shawn Bates is one of those ridiculously good-looking guys who’s also been blessed with a decent voice. He won best pop vocal album three years in a row.
He was up against me for album of the year. I can’t imagine he was thrilled about losing, but he was friendly enough. A little skeevy, but maybe that’s because I only know his reputation. And I, of all people, know not to believe everything you hear.
“Do you have your laptop handy?” Amber asks in that scary quiet voice.
Oh, crap. Instinctively I know this is bad. Really bad.
I stand, heading into the kitchen, where I left my iPad, Dolly trotting along at my ankles, happy and oblivious with her little chipmunk in her mouth.
“Which site?” I say as I turn on the tablet.
“Any of them.“
As it turns out, I don’t even need to go to a celebrity gossip site. I was reading Google News this morning with my coffee, and it’s still up on my browser window.
Only this time . . .
This time I am the news.
I stare blindly, clicking on the top article, my eyes reading the headline about a dozen times before my brain finally registers it: “Does America’s Favorite Good Girl Have a Secret Seductress Side?”
Below the headline is a picture of me and Shawn at the Grammys, both of us with awards in hand. My head is tilted back in a laugh, and even though I know my happiness comes from winning the award rather than my proximity to Shawn Bates, I have to admit that I look semi-smitten with the guy.
His eyes are locked on my cleavage, his smile far more intimate than it has a right to be considering that our conversation lasted only a split second longer than the picture itself.
At the time, I’d thought the shimmering pink dress the perfect combination of sweet and sexy, but looking at it now, with this headline, it seems garish. My smile’s too wide, my posture too open, my smoky eye makeup too much . . .
“Jenny. Talk to me,” Amber says.
“It’ll pass, right?” I say, still unable to look away from the photo to actually read the article.
Amber doesn’t reply, and Dolly lets out a sad little whimpering noise before sitting on top of my foot as though trying to shield me from what’s to come.
“It’s just another stupid rumor,” I say. “The tabloids are getting exceedingly bold. I can sue, right? And Shawn can sue, and we’ll—”
“Shawn confirmed it,” Amber says.
My ears buzz. “What?”
“This morning. Coming out of the gym, the vultures were all over him. Instead of keeping his mouth shut, Shawn said, and I quote, ‘Look, I’m not proud of my actions, but I can’t be the first guy to get pulled into Jenny Dawson’s vortex, and I’m sure I won’t be the last. At this point, all I can do is look forward and try to make amends.’”
“What is he talking about?” I squeak, my eyes closing as I pull hard on my ponytail in frustration. “Make amends for what? My vortex? Is that a thing?”
“It gets worse,” Amber says, her voice miserable.
“I don’t know how that’s even possible.”
“He’s not the only one who’s confirmed the story.”
I blink. “Someone else is also delusional?”
“Yeah. His wife.”
“Oh my God,” I whisper.
I don’t know much about Shawn Bates’s wife, but pretty much everyone knows their story. Childhood sweethearts who started dating in middle school, they got married right out of high school, shortly before Shawn got famous.
There are always rumors that he’s cheating, but like I’ve said, I don’t put much faith in rumors.
One thing I know for sure is that if he is cheating, it’s not with me.
“She posted a tearful selfie on every single social media platform along with a big old statement about how she and Shawn are going through a rough patch, but their love is stronger than any country-singing home wrecker.”
“I’m not a home wrecker.”
“I know that, J. But you have that song, and there’s that picture—”
“The song was euphemistic!” I say, referring to my first hit single, a song I wrote about all the things that can come between a couple once the honeymoon period’s over: the TV, bills, iPhones, work. Those are the home wreckers.
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart--cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.
In 2011, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan, and never looked back.
In her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
For a list of all her works, please be sure to check out her official website!