If I Say Yes
by Brandy Jellum
Elizabeth Lewis was the child of Hollywood’s darling couple, until her father murdered her mother.
Six years later, she has traded her flashy, luxurious lifestyle for one of safe anonymity as a literary agent. With a different name and appearance, Liza Winter is living the life of her dreams—one where she’s known for who she is instead of what her father did. Except her apartment should be condemned, her car only starts when it wants, she hates the romance genre she has been assigned, and the CEO’s deliciously attractive nephew is out to ruin her carefully laid plans.
Reid Harder has never met an obstacle he couldn’t overcome. When his new position in the romance department comes with a benefit his uncle didn’t mention, he decides to wage a war against the intelligent, beautiful Liza to destroy every argument she has for turning him down. Still, the closer he gets to winning the prize, the more he realizes that the woman is keeping secrets that may endanger not just her life but his.
Will Liza overcome her mistrust of Reid to reveal her secrets before he learns the truth and walks away? Or will a grudge-wielding apparition from her past make her the next deadly Hollywood headline?
The elevator opens up to a small desk just outside a set of large wooden double doors. Jennifer smiles at me as I step out of the elevator. Her sleek blonde hair is pulled back into a tight bun, and she wears a black skirt suit. Mr. Harder has a thing for blondes. Luckily, I have a head of unruly black, wavy hair. It’s reassuring knowing that I was most likely not hired on for some sick, perverted idea of his. The man could be a pig, but he is the best businessman out there. Jennifer nods at me as I walk past her desk and push open one of the doors. The door swings inward into a large office with nothing but windows overlooking the bustling city below. Near the furthest wall is a large modern desk with steel legs curved into arches and a glass tabletop. The oversized, overstuffed leather chair behind the desk is facing towards the window, blocking my view of the man.
“Mr. Harder.” He doesn’t turn around. I clear my throat and take a deep breath. “Mr. Harder, I really appreciate the opportunity you have given me to work for your company, but my particular skills would best serve you and the company outside of the Romance department. Each query letter I read leaves me wanting more, and I fear that we’ve lost a number of potential authors due to my misplaced skills. I believe a transfer to Horror and Thriller would serve the company best as my talents lay in that area.”
The words spill out of my mouth in a frantic rant. When I finish, I stand glued to the floor, waiting for what is about to come. Nothing. The room is quiet. My body is shaking, and I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I really just said all of that to Mr. Harder like that. I probably just secured my name at the top of the next-to-go list. I am finally able to move and turn to leave. I might as well start packing up my office now, what little I do have in there. “What is it about Romance that you don’t like?” The voice doesn’t belong to Mr. Harder. The leather chair turns around and reveals that it is definitely not him, but a much younger, more handsome man.
“I-I-I’m sorry,” I stutter. “I thought you were Mr. Harder.”
“Of course you did.” The man stands up, walks around the desk, and leans back on it with his arms supporting him. He crosses his legs out in front of him, and he smiles. His is the kind of smile that is utterly alluring, one that melts a girl’s heart and sweeps her off her feet. He’s gorgeous, with his dark brown hair and nearly black eyes, and he knows it. His white button up dress shirt tightens around his chest with his arms extending behind him, showing off the curves of his muscles. His black dress pants aren’t tight in the way that he should be humiliated but rather in a way so that they conform to his legs. I’m sure the view from behind is just as nice as the view from the front. “So…what about Romance novels is it that you don’t like?”
My heart flutters. His voice is smooth and deep, one I could sit and listen to for hours. What is going on with me? No man has this kind of effect on me. Not anymore. “I just don’t,” I say sharply.
“I see.” His smile falters for a moment before returning to full-wattage once more. “Care to elaborate?”
For some reason, I feel compelled to do just that. “The plot is the same in every book.” I glance away. My heart is beating rapidly just looking at him, and I can’t let him get under my skin. I’m a girl with a list that has to be followed down to the very last bullet point and I can’t be bothered by the likes of a man like him. “Boy-meets-girl, girl-meets-boy, one has a dark past that makes them feel they are unworthy of love. The two endure a long challenging road, facing inner demons. Eventually, everything turns out alright, and they find the love that they didn’t even know they were searching for.”
The words sound cold and bitter.
“That’s the beauty of it, though, isn’t it? That’s what keeps the readers coming back for more, time and time again.” He sounds so sure of himself.
“What?” I snap my head back towards him. “For what? A happy ending? One that doesn’t truly exist. One that everyone in this world secretly hopes happens for them. It’s a bunch of crap. It’s just fiction, not the real world.” I stare into his eyes as if to prove to him I mean every word I say. “Life isn’t like any of the Romance books. There are no happy endings. Nothing ever turns out the way anyone plans. At least, not in my world.”
“Ah, I get it,” he murmurs, causing me to pause. To my dismay, he pushes off the desk and crosses the distance between us in four long strides. Stopping just in front of me, he brushes back a strand of my wild, black hair. His touch causes me to jump, but I refuse to pull away. The man is standing too close, close enough to smell the rich scent of his cologne and to notice the stubble on his chin. He leans forward, close to my ear. A chill runs down my spine as his breath caresses my face. “Tell me, who was it that broke your heart?”
I turn away, walking as fast as I can without glancing back over my shoulder. He’s struck a nerve. I don’t know how he did it. I don’t know how he figured it out so quickly, but he did. I need to get out of here as quickly as I can. With my head hanging low, I can’t see where I am walking and walk right into someone. I look up and find Mr. Harder standing in front of me. “Oh my, I didn’t see you there,” I say quickly. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s quite alright, my dear,” he says in his deep voice. “I see you met my nephew, Reid, my brother’s son. He’s just come back from overseeing our branch across the Atlantic for the last four years.”
Of course, it has to be his nephew. Though my boss has salt and pepper hair and green eyes, I can see a bit of resemblance between the two of them. My face heats up. and I am sure that it is beat red by now. “I’m a lucky man to have met such a bold and beautiful woman,” Reid chimes in.
I glance over at him only to find he is now standing right beside me, grinning wider than before, if that’s even possible. Irritation courses through my body at the sight of his smile. I do my best to grin at Mr. Harder. “Your nephew was quite enchanting.” Irritating is more like it. I still want to know how he figured out so quickly something that I have been working hard to keep hidden. I am not an open book or anything. I don’t mope around, acting like a woman who has had her heart stomped on, even if it was six years ago. Something about the man standing beside me that sets my veins on fire.
“So, what can we do for you, Lisa?” Harder Senior asks.
I groan inwardly. “It’s Liza,” I say softly.
“What was that dear?” Mr. Harder raises an eyebrow and stares at me curiously. I can feel the heat of Reid’s eyes on me. My chest tightens, and I struggle to breathe. He is standing so close that when he makes the slightest movement his arm brushes against mine and sends electricity dancing through my veins. I. Need. To. Get. Out. Of. Here. Now.
“It’s Liza,” I say louder. I clear my throat and take a breath.
I feel Reid wrap his arm around my shoulder, the touch startling me, and I hear him laugh softly. He drops his arm and I don’t dare look at him. “Liza here came to talk to you about working in Romance,” he says.
“Oh, really?” My boss raises his eyebrow again. “Now remember, Liza, it’s going to take some time, but I think that you will find it a very good fit for you there.”
“Yeah, who doesn’t like a good story about love and overcoming your demons?”
I glare at Reid. Did he really just use my own words against me? I feel the heat rushing to my face again, only this time it’s anger I’m feeling rather than embarrassment.
“Besides, I’m sure Reid here will be able to make the transition smoother from here on out.” I glance at Mr. Harder. I must have seemed scared, because he laughs loudly. “Don’t fret, darling; you are in capable hands.” Still confused, my eyes dart back and forth between the two men. What is he talking about? “Silly me! I forgot to mention that Reid is filling the open Senior Agent position on your floor.”
Oh boy, Harder’s nephew is my new boss, which means I will be seeing him every day. This is not good, not good at all. I need to get out of here quickly, by any means necessary.
“So what do you say, Liza? You up for giving Romance another chance?” Reid flashes his million dollar smile as my heart flutters and my knees feel like jelly.
“What choice do I have?” I barely manage to say.
“That’s the spirit.” Mr. Harder says as he claps a hand down on my shoulder. I smile softly, tell them I had to get back to work, and walk as quickly as I can out of his office.
I love reading a good thriller and when you throw some romance in, you’ve created a book that I just can’t resist. I also fancy myself a great solver of the “whodunit” genre! If I Say Yes by Brandy Jellum kept me frustrated as I tried to guess who the bad guy of this story would turn out to be and kept hitting the proverbial brick wall! Brandy Jellum has written a romantic suspense novel that deserves a place in the annals of romantic suspense history. I didn’t figure out who it was until Brandy literally spelled it out for me at the end! Boy, do I feel like an amateur now. I am ashamed of myself for the thoughts that passed through my mind about the poor innocents!
If you are a fan of good romance and a lover of sleuthing you will truly enjoy this novel. The characters are well developed, full of intrigue and endearing at the same time!
I highly recommend If I Say Yes by Brandy Jellum and give it
~Patricia, Room With Books~ © July 29, 2014
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Brandy’s passion for writing began long before she actually sat down to write. As a child, she has had an obsession with reading, everything from the classic stories by Jane Austen to YA Fiction by Richelle Mead. Finally, in 2012, she decided to create her own stories for people to fall in love with. Brandy bounces back and forth writing both Romance and Young Adult Fiction (which is mainly just for fun).
At the beginning of 2014, Brandy signed a contract with publishing company Booktrope. She is very excited about the next chapter of her life and cannot wait to share her books and passion with readers.
When she isn’t writing, she can be found chasing after her husband, her four children and her black lab, Diesel. Or curled up on her favorite corner of the couch with her newest book.
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