Charlotte McKendrick is your typical thirty-something stay-at-home mom. She has three beautiful children, a loving family, special friends, and the most wonderful, adoring husband. Her life is a dream.
Er . . . let’s try this again.
Charlotte McKendrick is not your typical thirty-something stay-at-home mom. Yes, she’s got three beautiful children, a loving family (all of them lingerers—you’ll see), and her friends are special, all right! As far as her wonderful, adoring husband, what a joke! That bastard abandoned her and the kids six months ago.
Now, she will do anything she can to survive and provide for her children. Even if it means signing on the dotted line . . .
Mitch Colton is the CEO of Colton Technologies. Most of his year is spent traveling around the world, bringing companies the latest innovations in automobile technology. He doesn’t have time for a traditional relationship and the BS that comes with it. He doesn’t do the “marriage” thing, the “kid” thing, and he certainly doesn’t do the “falling in love” thing. All that said, he still wants someone to come home to. Someone who will offer everything he wants, and nothing he doesn’t. He realizes loyalty paired with these kinds of demands won’t come cheap. No problem. What he doesn’t realize is that once Charlotte McKendrick signs that dotted line, he’ll be paying with a lot more than money.
When Charlotte McKendrick’s asshole ex-husband walked out on her, it was a pretty good day. Her ex was all about the appearances but not so much about the reality of a family and responsibilities. Having him gone is emotionally awesome but not so much financially awesome. As a stay at home mom of three, Charlotte is used to working hard and not getting a paycheck. The hard work doesn’t bother her but the lack of her ex’s income certainly does. Her bank and other creditors are also bothered by her lack of income and so, in an effort to alleviate the financial burden her family is now carrying, Charlotte makes a very surprising decision to become a high-end call girl.
Mitch Colton is an asshole with a past that has dramatically tainted his present and future. He is the CEO of an enormously successful business, he spends the vast majority of the year abroad for business and yet, he is still a man with needs. Mitch wants a woman but only on his terms: she needs to available when and where he wants her, she needs to be both beautiful and intelligent, she needs to be accommodating to his sexual desires and, she needs to understand that the “relationship” will never move beyond the physical. In his own warped way, Mitch has determined that the only way to get exactly what he wants from a woman is to treat her like and employee, contract her services and, make sure she signs on the dotted line. Enter, first-time call girl, Charlotte McKendrick.
Charlotte’s two overriding thoughts as she prepares to meet her first client are: 1) I can do this for my kids and; 2) I hope he’s cute. Charlotte is in no way prepared for Mitch Colton whose cold and very business-like demeanor are the armor he wears over his delectable suit and body. Charlotte is instantly grateful for Colton’s appearance and the fact that she is undeniably attracted to him. Colton is likewise unprepared for Charlotte and is surprised by not only her beauty but her quick wit and keen intelligence. Charlotte not only agrees to the terms of Mitch’s contract but skillfully negotiates a few changes to the document. With the business out of the way, Mitch and Charlotte adjourn to the awaiting hotel room where the two proceed to blow the other’s mind in what is the first of many, many sexual escapades. What neither are prepared for is the intensity of their feelings – which were NEVER meant to a part of the contract – for one another and their shared and incredibly intense desire to take their relationship to far, far deeper levels.
For Charlotte, the relationship with Mitch is beyond anything she has ever experienced. The problem is how hot and cold Mitch tends to run: the sex is white hot and always beyond pleasurable but any time anything even resembling a feeling comes into play, Mitch closes himself off or goes full-blown asshole and reminds Charlotte of her contractual obligations. Mitch has a lot of issues from his past to deal with and until the moment when he realizes he is on the verge of losing the best thing he has ever known, he has no intention of dealing with those issues. Luckily, Charlotte has her totally brash, uncouth and, completely awesome sister, CiCi to back her as well as the gaggle of GEGs (green-eyed girls) who know nothing of Charlotte’s contract with Mitch but absolutely understand her heartbreak. Between the GEGs, Cici and, her family Charlotte has a lot of support and advice coming her way in the wake of Mitch’s total and complete dumbassery.
The Bottom Line: Under Contract is not at all what I expected and I was thoroughly pleased with what I got. While Mitch is a complete asshole, he does gives good naughty, is a dirty-talking fiend and, is finally smart enough to pull his head out of his ass and deal with his issues. To be fair, his past is tragic and his wariness is well-deserved but it also cripples him in his present and virtually ensures he has no future with any worthy woman. Charlotte is one seriously tough woman and I liked her instantly. Charlotte is determined to fight for and provide for her children no matter what it takes which is how she finds herself involved with Mitch. Mitch is damn lucky Charlotte sees some redeeming quality in him and is willing to stand by him as he works out his issues. To be completely fair, if Charlotte were flying solo and didn’t have the support of her friends and family, she may well have bailed out on the whole situation. The back and forth between Mitch and Charlotte is completely entertaining, completely sexy and, completely frustrating. For me, Charlotte never really misses a beat and is a worthy partner for Mitch – she isn’t intimidated by him, his attitude or, his money and she certainly doesn’t let him get away with his bad behavior very often. In all, Under Contract is a strong, emotional and, funny read (CiCi!!!) that reads smoothly from start to finish. A fine start to the GEGs series.
CiCi O’Brien has a weapon of mass destruction—her mouth. It’s always loaded and ready to strike, whether the situation calls for laughter or a professional smartass. It’s been her strongest defence against unwanted feelings over the past fifteen years. If she acts like she doesn’t care, then she won’t, right? Yeah . . . keep telling yourself that, Ceese! Luckily for CiCi, she’s surrounded by friends and family who can easily see through her façade. They (and the furballs she takes care of at work) are who enrich her life, have been the ones she’s needed. That is, until the day her life changed—when she grabbed it by the balls. No, seriously . . . she grabbed him by the balls. Not kidding. Kyle Cooper has it all. He’s smart, handsome, and a ninja (not really, but that’s what Mitch likes to call him). As vice president of Colton Technologies, he travels around the world with Mitch, bringing companies the latest innovations in automobile technology. At home, he’s a force to be reckoned with, always hanging out with his parents and sister or . . . working. Oh. Kyle Cooper does not have it all, and he’s ready for a change. He just isn’t sure where to begin. That is, until CiCi O’Brien walks into his office and grabs this bull by the . . . horns (wink), which causes a spark to ignite in both of them. Kyle embraces it. CiCi does everything, short of calling the fire department, to put it out. Who will prevail? And what will that win truly mean?
**Review is slightly spoilerish for Book #1: Under Contract**
Bloody Hell, CiCi O’Brien may be one of the funniest female characters to come along in a long time! I loves me a woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, owns her make-a-sailor-blush mouth and, is fiercely loyal to those she calls her own. From the moment In the Mix opens, CiCi is on fire and she doesn’t stop until the moment the story ends.
CiCi is introduced in Under Contract, book one of the GEGS series when she staunchly, loudly, and dramatically defends her sister, Charlotte against Mitch and his dumbassery. CiCi is fearless and in her efforts to defend Charlotte she approaches Mitch’s best friend and business partner, Kyle Cooper. And by approaches I mean she storms into his office, grabs him by the balls (literally!) and, threatens him. While most sane men would call the cops and have the tiny terror arrested for assault, Kyle finds himself totally intrigued and more than a little turned on. Now all he has to do is convince CiCi he is the man for her and she is meant to be his.
Though CiCi certainly isn’t shy about her position, opinions and, beliefs, she uses her loudness and her mouth to hide a shameful and hurtful past. On the outside, CiCi seems to be tough as nails, confident and, sure of her path in life but in reality, she has a business she loves but it is failing, her home is her sanctuary but it is falling apart, her mother is her closest confidant but she is desperately sick again and, she enjoys Kyle in theory but is petrified of allowing him into her world. The last time CiCi allowed a man to get close to her, he didn’t just break her heart, he damn-near broke her spirit. Since that horrifying event, CiCi has guarded her heart with warrior-like defenses.
For the most part, Kyle has an excellent life: he is extremely (though not creepily) close to his family; he is extremely (though not obsessively) good at his job and, he is extremely (though not ostentatiously) wealthy. Kyle is the total package and all his life is missing is a beautiful woman to share forever with. Kyle is not shy about his desires, he wants a woman to settle down with, to love with all he is and, have children. See? The total package and completely terrifying to the one woman Kyle wants above all others. For his part, Kyle is clear in his intentions toward CiCi and is totally willing to wait out her fears and help her understand he is not only not her ex but a man worthy of her and capable of handling all her crazy.
The Bottom Line: My only complaint about this read revolves around how damn stubborn CiCi is. I totally understand why CiCi is so stubborn and why she feels the need to protect herself but Kyle is true at every turn and it is just her fear that keeps her from Kyle. Once CiCi conquers her fears and truly sees Kyle she becomes truly confident. CiCi’s confidence makes her even more likeable and I say this after adoring her in book one! Kyle is truly a highlight in this read with his patience, his kindness and, his devotion to CiCi. Another strength of this read (and Under Contract!) is the author’s willingness to put her characters through an extraordinary amount of distress only to come out on top and stronger for the struggle. I like this! The distress isn’t ever angsty and obnoxious but genuine distress born out of serious situations. Finally, I like that the GEGs are in full force in this read and supporting CiCi as they did Charlotte in Under Contract. Strictly speaking, one doesn’t have to read the GEG series in order but I found In the Mix to be a much more satisfying read for having already read Under Contract. Yet again, another solid and entertaining read from Jacquelyn Ayres.
I am a domestic engineer (born and raised in NJ) whose sole responsibility is to guide three young, impressionable kids into becoming phenomenal adults. This challenging yet rewarding work requires a lot of love (coffee), patience (wine), and determination (periodic exorcisms). I work this magic from the beautiful state of New Hampshire. Before becoming a domestic goddess (not really), I spent over a decade in the medical field, where I wore more hats than the Queen. I have loved the written word and the great escape it provides since I was a little girl. When I wasn’t reading about people and the places they lived, I was creating my own characters and adventures. Finding myself again through my writing in The Lost & Found Series, The One, and The GEG Series has been nothing short of a dream come true. Also, it makes people feel better when I laugh randomly or talk to myself, knowing it’s my characters and not “the voices” . . . that would be creepy.