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Book Spotlight: Her Crazy Rich Fake Fiancé by Jennifer Youngblood

Her Crazy Rich Fake Fiancé by Jennifer Youngblood

Haven Lockwood’s Christmas takes a nosedive when she discovers that her mother and identical twin sister, Brynn, ditched her, leaving her to spend Christmas alone in their New York City apartment. To make matters worse, Brynn’s boyfriend Wyatt shows up, ready to take Brynn on a road trip to Atlanta to meet his family.

Haven is fully prepared to tell Wyatt the hard news—that her flighty twin sister jetted off to Ireland with a movie star, leaving him high and dry—however, when she finds herself staring into his mesmerizing blue eyes, all explanations fly out the window. Not only is Wyatt devastatingly handsome, but also charming and witty with an adorable Southern accent that rolls like a ballad off his tongue.

Haven knows that when Wyatt looks at her with adoring eyes it’s only because he has mistaken her for her glamorous clothing designer sister. She wants to tell Wyatt the truth, but she can’t stand the thought of spending Christmas alone. As one thing leads to another and Haven and Wyatt share a near-kiss, Haven makes a split-second decision to accompany Wyatt to Atlanta—as Brynn!

When the sizzling attraction deepens to something real, Haven faces an internal dilemma—should she come clean now, before Christmas, or wait until afterwards? Will the truth destroy Haven’s chance for happiness … or will it be the very thing that brings two searching hearts together?

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What readers are saying:

This story caught my interest from the very first chapter. I didn’t put the book down until I finished reading it!!!!

5 stars….wish I could give it more.

This Book would make a fantastic Hallmark movie! I started it and finished in one sitting because I couldn’t wait to see what’s next.

Short, Sweet, and Puts the Spirit Right Into Christmas!

Engaging characters and an interesting plot, along with the authors usual good writing, make this sweet clean romance an enjoyable read.

This is a absolutely fun and sweet romance with kind and charming characters that will steal your heart and make you believe in true love again.

Excerpt:

Haven wound a finger around her purse strap as she looked out the window at the busy streets, which were a tangled mass of people and cars going in all directions. How was it even possible to crowd so many people into one small place? The entire population of the town of Red Rose was probably less than the number of people presently standing within in a few city blocks. Crazy!
The taxi driver glanced in his rearview mirror. “This your first time in New York City?” he swaggered in a thick, Italian accent.
She chuckled under her breath. “Is it that obvious?”
The sixty-something-year-old man had kind eyes that twinkled beneath his bushy brows. He offered an indulgent grin, revealing a gold tooth. “The deer in the headlights look gave you away.”
“I feel shell-shocked,” Haven muttered, her misgivings pressing a heavy weight against her chest. It was a mistake to come here. She’d known it from the minute she boarded the plane. Dad had meant well, not wanting her to be alone after his death, but Haven had absolutely nothing in common with her mom and twin sister. She thought of the quiet main street of Red Rose, Tennessee—the lamp posts adorned with red-ribbon wreaths, the village and toy train set in the window of Wilson’s Appliance Center, the brightly colored, Christmas, sugar cookies prominently displayed in the cases at Marigold’s Bakery. How boring and dismal it all seemed a few weeks ago, when the prospect of spending another Christmas alone in the sleepy town loomed over her. Then, out of the blue, Haven got a call from her mother Demi inviting her to spend Christmas in NYC.
Maybe Haven shouldn’t have been so hasty to buy a ticket and come here. The quiet, predictable town of Red Rose didn’t seem so bad right now. Haven’s eye caught on an emaciated, heavily pierced man with spiky hair, wearing nothing but a ragged, jean jacket, a pink tutu, and black, Converse, tennis shoes. He was standing on the outer edge of a tight cluster of people, waiting their turn to cross the street. The young mother, hands curled around the handle of a stroller, the business man in a custom suit and crisp, white shirt clutching his briefcase, a paper tucked underneath his arm. Both were oblivious to the ridiculous-looking man in the tutu. Haven suppressed a giggle as she looked at the man’s knobby knees. NYC might as well be another planet. She reached for her phone and snapped a picture to send to her friend Trinity, a fellow first grade teacher.
“Nothing prettier than New York at Christmas,” the taxi driver said, interrupting her thoughts. “You should go see the tree at The Rockefeller Center.”
“I’ve heard it’s incredible.” Haven’s spirits lightened. In the event she had zero things to talk about with Demi and Brynn, she could go sightseeing, even if it meant venturing out on her own.
“Here we are,” the driver said a few minutes later. Haven handed him her credit card.
“Thanks,” he chirped after running her card and handing it back. “Have a nice holiday.”
“Thanks. Merry Christmas,” she responded automatically, catching herself as the words slipped out. Was it appropriate to wish the driver a Merry Christmas? Some people didn’t celebrate Christmas. Then again, the guy was Italian. Surely, he celebrated Christmas.
“Merry Christmas,” he said heartily, putting her at ease.
She reached for her suitcase and smaller bag, slipping her purse strap over her shoulder, as she exited the cab and piled the luggage at her feet. As the taxi drove off, Haven looked up at the handsome, brownstone apartment identical to all the other buildings on both sides of the street. Greenwich Village was an upscale area, commanding exorbitant prices for its real estate. Haven had looked it up before coming, her jaw dropping when she saw a whopping $2,900,000 price tag for a two bedroom, two bath apartment—not a house, but a small apartment. And, the one she saw online didn’t even have a washer and dryer. Rather, the appliances were located in the common area of the complex. A person could buy several mansions in Red Rose for that amount of money. Why people wanted to live crowded together like ants on concrete blocks was beyond Haven.
The wind picked up, sending goosebumps over her arms. She wished for a heavier coat. Tiny snowflakes swirled in the air and stung her cheeks like cold wasps. Haven straightened her shoulders, reminding herself to have a better attitude, as she approached the building. A doorman held open the door with a polite greeting. When she told him her name, he nodded and pointed her to the eighth floor, apartment 819.
Haven’s heart thudded in her chest like a rock band trapped in a tin can as she punched the doorbell and waited. The handle of her carry-on bag felt heavy in her hand as she shifted on her feet and pressed the button again.
No answer.
She was about to put her bag down on the floor and call her mom, Demi, when the door opened and she found herself standing face-to-face with Brynn, her identical twin. Haven could count on one hand the number of times she’d been around Brynn. It always jolted her to see another person who looked exactly like her—same long, straight tresses of mahogany hair, same large, walnut-shaped eyes framed with thick lashes. Well, their features looked alike, but Haven felt like the plain humdrum version of her stylish sister. Brynn’s makeup was expertly applied, her hair styled to perfection. Haven fought the urge to touch her own ponytail that she’d pulled together before rushing out the door to the airport this morning. Brynn had on a snow-white, cable-knit sweater, matching leggings, and tan, high-topped boots, which were impossibly high-heeled.
An impish smile curved Brynn’s lips. “Hey, sis,” she chimed casually like they’d seen each other only yesterday. She reached out her arms. Haven assumed they would hug, but Brynn air-kissed her on both cheeks. She stepped back and motioned. “Come in.”
Haven stepped in and closed the door behind her. Her gaze took in the modern, sparsely decorated apartment with crisp, white walls and large, floor-to-ceiling windows, the frames painted black. The view revealed the imposing building across the street. The shades were pulled to the top of the windows, making Haven feel exposed to the world. Geez. Weren’t Demi and Brynn at all concerned about privacy? Anyone looking from the other building had a bird’s-eye view of the apartment.
“The view from Mom’s bedroom is better,” Brynn said, following Haven’s gaze. “It overlooks the historic section of Greenwich Village.” She motioned. “Take your coat off and make yourself at home.”
Haven placed her coat on the couch. She pulled at her sweater and touched her hair when she realized Brynn was staring at her. Yeah, she looked like a thrift store special compared to her glitzy twin. Especially today. She’d gotten up and thrown on something comfortable before darting out the door. At least she’d put on a little makeup. Of course, most of it had probably worn off by now.
Haven glanced around, surprised and disappointed that there weren’t any Christmas decorations. For Haven and her dad, selecting the perfect Christmas tree was a ritual they looked forward to every year. Her heart sank. Not anymore. Her dad died suddenly in a car accident, two days before Thanksgiving, the previous year. Haven still had a hard time wrapping her mind around the fact that Dad was gone. She swallowed the tightness in her throat. “Where should I put my things?”
“You can stay in Mom’s room.” Brynn motioned. “This way.”
Haven halfway expected Brynn to help with her luggage. No chance of that. Haven lifted the handle of the suitcase and pulled it behind her as she followed Brynn down the hall to the master bedroom. She felt like she was in some strange dream. Looking at Brynn’s slim shoulders, her dark sheet of hair, the nimble way she moved—it was like looking in a mirror and seeing herself. Too bad she didn’t feel more of a connection with her twin. Maybe that would change over the Christmas holiday. She had to have a positive attitude. I’m trying Dad, she said mentally, glancing at the ceiling.
Haven stepped into the room and looked around. She was disappointed with how tiny the space was, more like a regular bedroom than a master suite. It was decorated in various shades of white like the rest of the apartment. “Where’s Demi?” Haven didn’t like the idea of having to share a room with her mother. She needed her own space to breathe, her own space to figure out how she fit in with these strangers, who shared her same blood.
Brynn laughed, reproof flickering in her eyes. “It sounds so weird to hear you call Mom that.”
Heat crawled up Haven’s neck. “To me, she’s Demi,” she countered, not liking the condescension in Brynn’s tone. “Where is she?” Haven repeated.
A trace of irritation flickered in Brynn’s eyes as she quipped, “Living it up in Greece with her friends.”
Haven tensed. “When’s she coming back?”
“I dunno. Sometime after the first of the year, I suppose, when the filming for her TV talk show starts back up.”
The bus came to a screeching halt. “What?” Haven’s throat went impossibly dry like she’d scarfed down a stack of saltine crackers in one bite. “If Demi isn’t here, why did she invite me to come for Christmas?” Her gaze flitted around the cold, sterile room. She swore she could feel the walls closing in on her.
Brynn laughed lightly, shooting her a look of pity. “Did you really think Mom would follow through with something?”
Haven let go of the handle of the suitcase. It toppled sideways. She left it there and sat down on the edge of the bed. It boggled her mind to think her mother would invite her to spend Christmas in New York when she had no intention of being here.
“Oh, don’t look so glum. Look at the bright side.” Brynn spread her arms wide, her voice going an octave higher. “You’re in New York City, the epicenter of the Universe, and you’ll have the apartment all to yourself. Think of the parties you can have.”
Haven’s head shot up. “What do you mean? I won’t have it all to myself. You’re here.” At least she’d get to spend some time with Brynn. Yes, they lived in different worlds, but surely, they had something in common. Brynn tilted her head to the side and touched her earring. Haven recognized the body gesture. She did the same when she was nervous. She braced herself, waiting for Brynn to explain.
Brynn wet her lips. “I’m spending Christmas in Ireland.” Her eyes sparkled with unbridled excitement. “With Malcolm Chase.” Her words gushed out and collided as she giggled, bringing her hands together.
This kept getting better and better! Haven’s emotions already cycled through disappointment, frustration, and hurt. Now she was ticked! Something clicked in her mind. “Wait a minute. Are you talking about the actor Malcolm Chase?”
“Yes!” Brynn exclaimed, letting out a trill. “The Malcolm Chase. Hollywood’s hottest star, who was voted by Glamour Weekly as one of the top ten most handsome men in the world, wants me to go to Ireland with him for Christmas.” Her words rushed out faster. “Get this—Mal’s publicist tricked the paparazzi into thinking he’s visiting family in Seattle. We’re going off the grid in Ireland. Can you imagine how glorious it will be? No internet. No reporters. Just me and Mal.”
No, Haven couldn’t imagine any of it—how she could have a clothing designer sister dating Malcolm Chase or how her mother could’ve invited her here. How she’d spent her hard-earned money on tickets and come here, fully expecting to spend Christmas with these selfish, narcissistic people. A feeling of complete and utter isolation wrapped around her, making it hard to breathe. “Y—you can’t just leave me here,” she sputtered.
“Y—yes, I can,” Brynn responded, making a point of stuttering. She laughed lightly. “I thought you would’ve outgrown that by now.”
A heat wave blasted over Haven. When they were kids and their parents divorced, Haven had a painful stutter. Not wanting to deal with it, Demi took Brynn with her and left Haven with her dad. The stutter was long gone, but the scar from the hurt remained. Brynn was determined to rub her nose in it.
Brynn’s phone buzzed. She pulled it out of her pocket. “The limo’s downstairs.” She bounced happily on her feet, her hair swishing. “Wish me luck.” She tapped the buttons on her phone, sending a reply.
Haven clamped her lips together, remaining silent.
Brynn was so fixated on her phone that she didn’t even notice. After she’d finished texting, she looked at Haven. “Well, it was good seeing you,” she said breezily. “Make yourself at home. The key to the apartment is on the kitchen island. I would let you drive my Mercedes, but it’s in the shop. Public transit’s great here though.” She waltzed to the door and stopped, glancing back over her shoulder. “Oh, I almost forgot. There’s a good chance Wyatt Black my—”she wrinkled her nose “—somewhat boyfriend, might stop by.”
“Your somewhat boyfriend?” Haven let out a disbelieving laugh. What did that even mean? Brynn obviously played by a whole different set of rules than what Haven was used to.
Brynn let out a labored sigh like she’d been severely put upon. “Wyatt’s been bugging me to go to Atlanta with him to meet his family. I told him I’d think about it. He’s driving there.” Her face puckered like she’d slurped down a dozen pickles. “Can you believe that? What kind of person spends two days on the road when you can hop a plane and be there in a few hours?”
“I like road trips,” Haven countered.
Brynn smirked. “You would.”
“What does that mean?” Haven’s jaw tightened. Brynn’s better-than-thou attitude was sitting like a truckload of bricks in Haven’s stomach.
“Nothing.” Brynn shook her head, her hand flicking through her hair. “Never mind. If Wyatt comes, tell him I changed my mind.”
“You have a boyfriend, and you’re leaving with Malcolm Chase?” Haven had to say it out loud to believe it.
Brynn rolled her eyes. “Well, duh. An opportunity like this only comes along once in a lifetime. It’s Malcolm Chase,” she gushed. “Wyatt will just have to understand.” She twirled her hand in a flourish. “Be a dear and give Wyatt my apologies, won’t you?”
This was going too far. Enough was enough! “I refuse to get in the middle of your love disasters,” Haven countered, giving her sister a hard look. Just because she was a nice person didn’t mean she was a doormat.
“Love disasters. That’s funny,” Brynn laughed. She looked Haven up and down with a keen eye. “It really is remarkable how much we look alike. I don’t think I could even tell us apart.”
Something in the way Brynn spoke let Haven know it wasn’t a compliment.
“Well, except for the casual look you’ve got going—sporting the I just got out of bed and scraped my hair back in a ponytail thing.” She motioned. “And the jeans and sweater.”
Haven sat up straighter. “What’s wrong with my jeans and sweater?”
“Nothing,” Brynn said lightly. “It suits you.” Her phone rang again. “I’m coming,” she muttered, rushing out of the room. “Ciao.” A couple minutes later, Haven heard the front door of the apartment open and close.
She was alone.
Haven sat on the bed, a curious feeling of numbness settling over her. A part of her wished she could cry, but no tears would come. She thought of the presents tucked in her suitcase and how she’d painstakingly selected them for her mom and Brynn. Haven was tempted to send her mother a scathing text, telling her how disappointed she was. Then again, it wouldn’t do any good. Demi was even more clueless than Brynn when it came to other people’s feelings. No wonder Haven’s dad couldn’t make their marriage work. Her dad hadn’t talked about Demi much. From what Haven gathered, Demi and Benjamin had a whirlwind romance for a couple of months before getting married. Their marriage was rocky from the start. Benjamin was a solid, stand-up, salt-of-the-earth guy and Demi was a free-spirited socialite who’d come from money. They made it work the first several years and then had a falling out when Haven and Brynn were five years old, at which point the family split. Haven dearly loved her dad, but a part of her had always wondered what it would be like to grow up in New York with Demi. She scowled. As an adult, she was coming to realize how selfish Brynn and Demi were. Haven still couldn’t believe the only immediate family she had in the world shafted her.
She pushed the hurt aside, willing herself to look at this analytically. The cab driver had encouraged her to visit the tree at The Rockefeller Center. There were so many neat things to see in New York. She could look up places online. Crud! She’d not thought to get the wi-fi passcode from Brynn. Maybe it was written down somewhere. If not, she could text Brynn or Demi and ask them to give it to her. If that didn’t work, she could use her phone as a hotspot. She laughed inwardly, thinking how insane it was to be thinking of internet access at a time like this. Then again, she was a creature of habit. Her life revolved around normal things like teaching school, making dinner, getting together with the occasional friend, watching Netflix, falling asleep, and getting up to do the same things the next day. When school was in session, Haven dealt with a classroom full of precocious first graders and had little time to think how monotonous her life was. Now, with two long weeks looming over her, that fact hit her full force. She had to find a way to stay busy or else she’d go nuts.
After several more minutes dragged by, Haven stood. She couldn’t sit here, wallowing in self-pity. Maybe she’d stay a few days in New York, then see if she could change her ticket to return home sooner. She might even call Curtis and see if they could have dinner. She’d put her relationship with Curtis on hiatus because she could tell he wanted to get serious, and she wasn’t ready for that right now. Maybe she wouldn’t call Curtis. The last thing she wanted was to give him the wrong idea. Okay, she’d have to think of something else. For now, she’d focus on sightseeing … after she got a feel of the apartment.
A short while later, she found herself in Brynn’s room. It was painted white like the rest of the apartment, but her comforter and pillows were happy colors of bright red and orange. Colorful, abstract pictures hung on the walls. Haven was surprised at how similar Brynn’s taste was to hers. She wondered how different things might’ve been had they grown up together. She went to the dresser and picked up a bottle of cologne. She sprayed it into the air and stuck her nose in the mist. Yuck! It was incredibly musky and fussy. Okay, they didn’t share the same taste in colognes. She went to the closet, which was jam packed with some of the most exquisite clothes Haven had ever seen. She ran her hand along a red shirt, the silky fabric feeling cool and soft under her fingertips. She removed the shirt from the hanger and held it up to her. Next, she selected a swanky, royal blue dress and went to the mirror, studying her reflection.
“I could be Brynn Lockwood the notable designer,” she mused, removing the ponytail holder as her hair fell around her shoulders. She looked inside the dress. No tag. It was probably one of Brynn’s creations. She went to the closet and pulled out more clothes, draping them over the bed. Feeling like a kid playing dress-up, she began trying on Brynn’s clothes.
“Hello, darlings,” she sniffed, her hair tossing on her shoulders. “I’m going to Ireland with Malcolm Chase,” she said in Brynn’s sophisticated tone. “We’re going off grid to fool the paparazzi.” Brynn had a trove of makeup on her dresser. Haven took the blush and dusted it over her cheeks. She applied her makeup heavier than normal and fluffed her hair. Once she added a pair of dangly earrings, the transformation was complete. She put on a pair of Brynn’s heels and nearly twisted her ankle as she attempted to walk across the carpet. Yeah, that wasn’t going to work. She could wear Brynn’s clothes, while in New York, but not her shoes.
Haven was rummaging through the refrigerator when the doorbell rang. She froze, trying to decide if she should answer it. It rang again. This time, more insistently, followed by a rapping of hard knocks.
She went to the door and looked through the peephole. Her heart pitched. It was a man. She had no idea who this person was, or if it was safe to let him in.
“Brynn, it’s me, Wyatt. Open up,” he said as if he could sense Haven was on the other side of the door, staring at him.
Wyatt. The boyfriend! Great, just what she didn’t want to happen—to have to tell this poor sap that her selfish, twin sister dumped him for a movie star. She reached for the doorknob, steeling herself for the task as she opened the door, pasting on a polite smile. “Hello,” she said, ready to just come out with it. Better to pull the Band-Aid off quick. Her sister was a jerk, but that wasn’t Haven’s problem. Any guy who got tangled up with her sister had to know what was coming to him.
Her world stopped as she found herself staring into the bluest set of eyes she’d ever seen.