Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Black Tie Optional (Wild Weddings #1) by Ann Marie Walker

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Everything about Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface he’s pure perfection.

Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time.

Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.

So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.

Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.

It's the best feeling in the world when you pick up a book by a new-to-you author and you enjoy it. Black Tie Optional is not only fun but also gives the fake marriage trope some freshness. 

Cole and Olivia are like oil and water. Cole is a successful businessman running his empire and Olivia is the humanitarian/environmentalist thorn in his side. Every morning she greets him as he arrives at the coffee shop to get his coffee, ready to launch into one of her speeches where she decries his latest attempt at destroying the habitat of one creature or another because of his developments. It's a routine now - she berates him, he responds with sarcasm and acts unmoved. That opening scene sets up their contentious relationship perfectly. So nobody is more surprised and annoyed than these two when they run into each other in Vegas. But it's Vegas so, party hard, right? Well, they partied a little too hard, wind up blissfully drunk and in the same hotel room the next morning. Horror! Rather than freak out, Cole sees this as the perfect opportunity to propose. Literally. And he does so in the most unromantic way by making her a promise to support one of her causes if she marries him and stays married to him for a few months. Olivia doesn't immediately jump for joy over this but reluctantly agrees because the end justifies the means. But don't worry, she finds a way to put her own spin on things and one thing is for sure with these two - they'll never be boring!

"The gown you chose is very becoming on you," he said.
She looked at him and laughed. "Becoming? You just have to dress like you're from the nineteen forties, Cole, not speak that way."
He frowned. "Always busting my balls, aren't you? Even when I'm merely attempting to pay you a compliment."

Olivia and Cole have one of the most combative relationships I've read and that's what makes Black Tie Optional such a treat. Olivia is extremely adversarial, everything is up for debate. If Cole says one thing, she has a remark for that. Everything is contentious. Cole catches on though and simply messes with her most of the time but there also also moments when you see that it gets to him. I liked getting to know the characters better just as they were doing the same, and seeing the subtle shifts in their dynamic. 

Black Tie Optional gave me exactly what I needed - a sexy enemies-to-lovers story filled with laughs and sharp quips. You bet I'm reading Icing on the Cake next!

~ Bel

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