Always the life of the party, Luca Vasilakis needs to prove he’s capable of taking over his father’s billion-dollar corporation. The perfect opportunity falls in his arms in the form of the reserved but sexy social worker Constance McMurty. What better way to improve his reputation than to get engaged to a do-gooder who is raising six orphans?
Constance wants nothing to do with Luca. But a poorly timed paparazzi photo lands her in the middle of a media nightmare, and Luca is her only way out. He proposes an idea that will help them both—be his fiancée to gain him some respectability and he’ll make a huge donation to her organization…and save her reputation.
But when their lie starts feeling like the truth, and the chemistry just won’t stop, they have a hard time separating what’s real and what’s fantasy…
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
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Pretending with the Greek Billionaire
By Kira Archer, Alethea Spiridon
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Kira Archer
All rights reserved.
Luca Vasilakis stirred, sensing someone's presence near his ear. He really should open his eyes and see who it was, but the pounding already starting in his head made him rethink that decision. The faint aroma of garlic wafted over him and he grimaced, his stomach churning. It had to be Joseph, his personal assistant. The man put garlic in everything.
Before Luca could shoo Joseph away, he heard a quick intake of breath and then the word "Sir!" was shouted so loudly in his ear he was certain his head would explode.
Luca reared up from the chaise, his eyes squinting against the sun that seared his corneas. He brandished the champagne bottle in his hand like a weapon, hoping he'd get lucky and make contact with some part of Joseph's anatomy. Unfortunately, Joseph, pristinely put together as always in an impeccably tailored suit, his graying hair gelled into submission, stood out of range, waiting for Luca to pull himself together enough to remember where he was.
"What the hell are you doing, Joe?"
"We need to discuss the meeting with your father, sir."
Luca waved him off and took a swig of the champagne, grimacing when he swallowed it. "Cancel it."
"I did that moments before waking you, sir. You didn't look up to it. It has been rescheduled. But I was only able to buy you a few hours, I'm afraid."
He gave Joseph a wry smile. "I knew there was a reason I keep you around. Get someone to clean this up, will you?"
"Already done, sir."
Luca surveyed the utter destruction around him. Servants picked their way through the mess with garbage bags, rousing his guests and setting things back to rights. He let out a long, slow breath. Looked like last night had gotten a little out of hand. The raven-haired beauty who'd curled herself around him on the chaise stretched, the movement shifting her bikini in what should have been a tantalizing fashion. Luca barely noticed. He couldn't remember her name or anything else much about her. The only thing he was certain of was that they hadn't had sex.
He didn't do public displays of affection. Any displays of affection, really, and certainly not where some hidden paparazzi lens might capture it. He ran a hand through the unruly mane on his head, frowning when his fingers snagged. Apparently, someone had braided several clumps of his shoulder-length hair. He glanced down at one and swore under his breath at the bright blue ribbon threaded through the black strands.
"You have got to be kidding," he muttered. He made a new resolution — no more getting so drunk that someone could braid his hair with pretty ribbons without him noticing.
"Sir," Joseph said, picking his way through empty bottles and passed-out partygoers. "This can't continue. Your father is quite determined. You will lose everything if you keep on this way."
Luca waved him off, knowing he spoke the truth but not wanting to hear it at the moment.
"Sir," Joseph persisted. "The meeting with your father was rescheduled for later this afternoon. He also asked me to remind you ..."
"I'm aware of my father's ultimatum, Joe. I shape up, grow up, find a nice girl, and settle down, or I'm out of a job, family, money ... did I leave anything out?"
Joseph smiled. "No sir, that about sums it up."
"Well, then, let's save the rest of the dire threats for my father then. Wouldn't want to leave him with nothing to say."
Luca rubbed his hand over his face. He'd better get cleaned up and over to his father's office. Keeping the old man waiting had never improved his temper. And while he'd made these threats before, something was different this time. His father seemed ... fed up. Sad, even. This time, he might actually follow through.
Not that Luca had a damn clue what to do about it. He'd tried to curb his partying. Well, he could try harder in that department, but he certainly wasn't going to find himself a wife and settle down just to make his father happy. The last thing in the world he wanted was to be tied down to some nagging harpy determined to make his life hell. Time enough for that when he was past his prime and too old to have any more fun. For now, he'd say what he needed to appease his father and get on with his life.
Easier said than done.
Within moments of walking into his father's office he knew he was screwed. Augustine Vasilakis wasted no time on pleasantries. Not even a hello. He leaned back against his desk, his hands tucked with deceptive casualness in his pockets, and gave Luca the barest nod when he entered the office.
"Father, I already know —"
"I'm aware of what you know. Now, let me tell you what I know. I know that despite all the advantages you've been given in your life, you've done absolutely nothing with them. I know if I don't do anything, you'll continue to waste that life on frivolous nonsense. And I know if I were irresponsible enough to hand this company over to you, you'd squander it away as well. So now let me tell you something you don't know."
Luca sat in silence. He'd never seen his father like this before. Oh, there had been the lectures on his poor life choices. More than he could count. But never had his father had such a cold, determined anger about him. Anxiety took a leisurely stroll through Luca's veins and set up camp somewhere in the vicinity of his sinking stomach.
"A meeting with the board has been scheduled for one month from now to announce the completion of our new locations in New York and Madrid. During that meeting, I am expected to formally give you control of our New York offices. I have no intention of doing so as things stand."
"What?" Luca nearly jumped from his chair, his stomach bottoming out. "You can't do that!"
His father's frown deepened. "I can, and I will." He sighed, his shoulders slumping a bit. "Luca, I did not come to this decision lightly. You are my son, but I will not allow you to destroy the company I spent my life building. I started from nothing and now I run one of the most successful international real estate firms in the world. The opening of our new offices could triple our holdings. New York is especially critical and with the right management should do very well, hopefully beyond our expectations, but not with you in charge. I can't jeopardize the future of this company."
"I wouldn't do that. I can run New York. Well."
"And why should I believe that? You've done nothing since your mother died but party and drink and whore around the Mediterranean with an ever-increasing string of gold-digging party girls. Getting your face plastered all over the damned tabloids, and for what? I don't even know what it is you're supposed to be famous for. Dating some actress? Partying with musicians? Throwing your money around to impress people who don't care about you? If you want the fame, you should at least do something for it! Make something of yourself. Be successful at something other than managing to make a career out of being stalked by paparazzi."
"I don't encourage them. They just follow me."
"They'd stop if you'd stop giving them dirt to smear. I know it's too much to hope that you'll find some nice girl somewhere who will tame your wild ways, but it would be good if you'd try to find someone who won't make your mother roll over in her grave."
Luca took a deep breath, anger burning through him with such intensity he couldn't speak. Sitting there being reprimanded like a misbehaving child rankled worse than he'd thought possible, but beneath the anger, a thread of shame smoldered. He didn't like what his father was saying, but he wasn't wrong. And there was nothing worse than being called out on your shit when you knew you deserved it.
"I know I haven't always made choices you agree with ..." His father snorted but Luca ignored it. "But I'm your son. I've been preparing for this my whole life. I know I haven't been around much lately, but I do keep up with things. I read all the reports, follow everything that's going on. I know this business inside and out."
His father sighed and walked back around his desk to slump into his chair. "Like I said, you've got one month to prove to me that it wouldn't be a mistake to hand you my life's work. I won't stand by any longer and watch you drink yourself to death. I'll fire you if I have to, if it means not financing your destructive lifestyle. You can live on your trust fund and whatever you've got left from your mother, for as long as that might last. You're almost thirty years old. You either pull your life together, or the job will go to someone else, and so will the company when I'm gone. Now get out."
Luca didn't argue. He didn't even open his mouth for fear of what he'd say. He simply stood and marched from the office, his father's words ringing in his ears.
Joseph drove him home in silence, Luca's mind too much in turmoil for conversation. When they arrived, Joseph opened his door. "You have a dinner tonight with Miss Lexington at eight o'clock and drinks and ... entertainment following at Club Phoenix, then —"
Luca stalked into the house, waving him off. "Cancel everything. I'm staying in tonight."
"Sir?" Joseph said, his brow furrowed.
Luca almost laughed at his confusion. It was probably the first time he'd ever been told cancel plans. Luca, however, was in no mood for the frivolous company of his friends at the moment. And the beautiful Tiffany would have no trouble finding someone else to escort her to dinner. In fact, he wouldn't be surprised if she'd been meeting someone else later that night anyway.
"You heard me, Joe. Cancel everything."
Luca tossed his sunglasses onto a table as he headed toward the back. With his so-called friends gone and the house peaceful and quiet, he could actually relax and think for a change, not something he generally liked to do, but he needed to come up with some way to get his father off his back that didn't entail changing his entire life. Maybe a few minutes soaking up the sun and staring at the amazing ocean view he paid through the nose for would spark a few ideas.
His shirt and shoes followed his glasses and his pants were halfway unbuttoned when a shriek of laughter stopped him.
"Joe! I thought you got rid of everyone this morning."
"I did, sir," Joseph said, his forehead crinkling as the party-like sounds floated in from the backyard.
"Then what the hell ..."
The nearer he got to the door, the more the shrieks and laughter filtered to him. Luca stepped off his back deck and down to the lower deck where the infinity pool looked out over the turquoise ocean and pristine white sand of his private beach. He stood, completely dumbfounded by the scene before him.
Half a dozen children splashed about in his pool while a woman in a white T-shirt and knee-length khaki shorts, wearing insanely ugly Velcro-strapped sandals, tried to haul them one at a time out of the water. She seemed to be succeeding more at soaking herself with water than she was getting the little heathens out of his pool.
"What is going on here?" he shouted.
The woman's head whipped toward him, the movement loosening the bun that held her dark red hair atop her head. She tucked the escaping tendrils behind her ear.
"Out of the pool, girls, now," she said, her voice brooking no argument.
The girls immediately obeyed, filing one by one from the water to stand behind their caretaker. Six pairs of young, terrified eyes looked up at him, a few pairs of lips quivering in the process. One little girl with a thick braid of black hair peeked out from behind the woman to stare at him. His eyes narrowed and she darted quickly back under cover.
The woman patted the girl on the head and whispered something to her as she pried the little one off her leg and handed her to one of the older girls. Then she straightened like she was off to face a firing squad and marched, chin in the air, toward him.
A grudging respect mixed with the anger coursing through him. There weren't many women who could stare him down when he was angry. He crossed his arms and waited.
"I'm very sorry," she said, her voice with its American accent somehow firm and soft all at the same time. "I realize we are probably trespassing ..."
"Probably? How did you even get in here? Do you make a habit of sneaking onto other people's property and — you! Get out of there!" He pointed at one child who was hip deep in his bushes, several flowers clutched in her hands. "Joseph, do something."
"What did you have in mind, sir?" Joseph asked, eyebrows raised.
"I don't know. Just ..." He waved his hands like he could make the whole scene disappear. It didn't work.
"Elena, get down from there! Put those down right now," the woman said, hands on her hips like some anal-retentive schoolteacher.
"Look, I don't know who you are ..." Luca said.
"Constance McMurty," she said, sticking her hand out like she was at some job interview.
He shook it automatically before he realized what he was doing. Her fingers were warm and soft against his own, but she shook his hand with a firm grip, no nonsense. Exactly two pumps and then she let go.
She looked at him expectantly with deep sapphire blue eyes that gazed directly into his. Those eyes narrowed and he realized she'd asked him something, but he hadn't a clue what.
"This is Mr. Vasilakis," Joseph said, reliable as always. "This is his property."
"Luca Vasilakis?" Constance said before taking a slow, deep breath.
Good, she'd heard of him. Well, maybe not so good. None of the stories that circulated about him were entirely true. Most were grossly exaggerated if not downright fabrications, and none of them were flattering. Luca frowned, wondering where the sudden urge to put his best foot forward was coming from. What did he care what this woman thought of him?
"I'm so sorry," she said. "One of the kids wandered in and I ..."
"Thought you'd bring the others in for a dip in the pool?"
"No, of course not."
He raised an eyebrow, taking in the six dripping wet children gathered behind her.
"Well, they did go in the pool, but they weren't supposed to. Elena wandered in," she said, pointing to the smallest child, the little girl with a dark braid running down her back who had been digging up his flowers. "I had to come in after her, and I couldn't leave the other children outside the gates by themselves. So ... well, I ... we came in and then they saw the pool and they were hot and one of them went in and then the others ... well ..."
"How did you even get in? Climb the gate?"
Her mouth dropped open with a gasp of outrage. "Of course not! I would never. The gate was open."
Luca shot a glance to Joseph, his anger spiking. It was hard enough keeping the paparazzi and curious tourists at bay. The last thing he needed was for his gates to be opened wide and welcoming them in.
Joseph frowned. "I will check on it, sir."
Luca glanced back at the girls, his frown deepening. He didn't like being around children. It wasn't that he disliked them especially. They were just so small, and messy, and noisy. And destructive, he thought, looking at the one who'd torn up his flowerbeds.
"Well," he said, clearing his throat, unnerved a bit by all the feminine eyes staring at him. The bright, blue pair belonging to the crazy mother hen of the group in particular. "If you all have finished with your swimming for the afternoon, perhaps you could ..."
Before he could finish, the buzzing noise he'd heard faintly in the background grew to a roar.
"What the fu —"
"Mr. Vasilakis, watch your language, please!"
Luca stared down at Constance in astonishment. Had she really just chastised him for swearing, in his own home, where she was trespassing? His lips cracked into a grin, despite himself. It had been a long time since anyone had surprised him.
The roar grew louder as a helicopter rose from behind the rock hills his house nestled against, close enough the blades sent gusts of wind tearing through the backyard. The girls all shrieked, some scattering toward the house, the others tackling Miss McMurty's legs. Knocked off balance, she threw out her arms and he reached to catch her. She landed neatly in his embrace, clutching at his biceps for support.
Excerpted from Pretending with the Greek Billionaire by Kira Archer, Alethea Spiridon. Copyright © 2016 Kira Archer. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was short but a feel good story all around
What is there to not love about a sexy Greek billionaire with a quick wit and adorably cocky attitude? I loved Luca from the minute he woke up hungover all the way to the minute he became domesticated. Constance, the House Mother/foster mother of a group of girls on the island of Mykonos who finds herself "engaged", is a good match for him and I loved that she never backed down. She had an obvious need to take care of people that will endear her to the reader, though also a stubbornness that makes her extra relatable. Luca having to deal with paparazzi often, and how that affected his entire life, was an interesting angle and it made me sympathize that much more with celebrities who live in fishbowls. Despite the title and Luca's sizeable wealth, there wasn't a lot of money flashed around in the story, which I appreciated and felt made it just the right blend of indulgence (Hello Greek Billionaire and gorgeous beaches) and real life (Hello foster children and those who enjoy a simpler life). They went out to dinner, went to the beach... Not extravagant outings. The sapphire engagement ring was also a nice touch. The kids were also cute, though I didn't get a big connection with any of them but Elena. The girls are otherwise just a group ("6 girls") and not individuals. I understand why and don't feel that something is missing, per se, but it seems like having all of them forever is unnecessary. The heat is high with these two, despite their physical intimacy being limited to mostly steamy kisses for over half of the book. Once they cross that threshold, watch out! There are some HOT sexytimes that are fresh and fun, including sex on a motorcycle! This is one not to be missed! I received a digital ARC from the publisher for an honest, unbiased review. This in no way influenced my review. My opinion is my 100% own.
3.5**** This was a very light, sweet story between a wild playboy and a nice woman in charge of six girls. I liked Luca from the beginning with his flirtatious, yet funny banter. He was a but arrogant and demanding, but I think that added to his charm. By the end of the book, I really liked him. He grew as a person tremendously. Constance had a huge heart and wanted to take care of people. She wanted to right the wrongs of the world. But Luca brought her to life. They complemented one another perfectly. I only wish there was more familial interaction because what was there was heartwarming, but I would have lived more.
What a delightful story! The combination of committed playboy Luca, and caring and kindhearted Constance, mother to six orphans (that she's already practically adopted) on a picturesque Greek island sounded like a fun and unique premise (if rather fanciful) so I was excited to read this. Having to pose as an engaged couple to save Constance's reputation and improve Luca's due to an inopportune paparazzi photo sets them up to spend time together and discover they are more than just what's on the surface. Luca goes through quite the evolution in the story, from his carefree and somewhat arrogant attitude to a more responsible and considerate man. Plus he's a real sweetheart underneath (a guitar serenade on a moonlit beach - 'sigh'). Constance comes across as more proper for sure, not surprising since she's taken on the task of raising six young orphaned girls, a consequence of her own orphaned status and adoption early in life. But who wouldn't succumb to Luca's slow and steady seduction! It is a slow burn romance as Luca and Constance have to move from a pretend engagement to something more real, but the eventual love scenes are well written and pretty steamy! The presence of the six girls doesn't take over the story. For the most part they are in the background, other than one young girl, Elena who takes a liking to Luca and vice versa. Luca suddenly finds himself wanting the instant family that's taken over his life to be a real one. The press are the bad guys in this story, a constant in Luca's life but one Constance will have to adjust to if their relationship can ever move forward. Things get a little rocky for the couple at the end but they do get their happy ever after in some moving scenes and overall it's a very entertaining and fun story.
This book is amazing. I loved the story, and characters. I enjoyed reading it a lot. It's funny, romantic, and very entertaining. The best thing about it is Constance McMurty. I adored her character. She is my favorite kind of heroine. It's definitely a 5 Stars book, totally worth reading.
Another great read from Kira Archer that is funny, steamy, and entertaining. I loved this book. It was so much fun and enjoyable to read. "Pretending with the Greek Billionaire" by Kira Archer is Luca Vasilakis and Constance McMurty's story. Luca has a reputation for being a playboy and the life of the party. He needs to find a way to improve his reputation. Luca needs to prove that he is capable of running his father's billion dollar corporation. He just hasn't figured out how. Constance is a social worker who is raising six orphans. Luca and Constance end up in a paparazzi photo the doesn't put either one in a good light. To solve both of their problems they pretend that they were engaged. Somewhere along the way, the lines start to blur between what's pretend and what's real. Will Constance and Luca be able to ignore the chemistry between them? Constance and Luca's story had me laughing and crying at times. I loved the banter between them. Once I started this book couldn't put the book down. A fun read! FYI, includes mature content. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley/Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
A fun different type of fantasy. Could it happen? probably not, was it awesome to read? YES! Ms. Archer has woven a tale of Spoiled rich party boy meets his match, only up that with 6 KIDS! The change in Luca we see is amazing. He's a spoiled brat you just want to hate to start off with who starts to soften as the book goes on and you fall in love. Really well done and brings light to a great organization also that helps orphans. Book received in exchange of an honest review
LOVED this book! Constance finds herself in a compromising situation with a rich playboy. Unfortunately for her, the stakes are very high and could cost her the children that she fosters/is guardian of. The playboy has his own issues and an urgent need to appear grown up and over his partying days. He suggests an odd idea to Constance and she is desperate enough to accept it. What follows is an engaging romance that I just loved. If you enjoy the genre, you will love this book.
This was a very painful review to write. I love Kira Archer for her originality in making old tropes sparkling new, as was the case with Totally, Sweetly, Irrevocably, which a adored, but I was hoping the author would be as brilliant with PRETENDING WITH THE GREEK BILLIONAIRE. Pretend engagement is a difficult trope to pull off in contemporary romance, and I wondered how Constance and Luca would maintain their charade and make it believable in my eyes. Well, as you can see with my rating, it wasn’t very successful. I loved how Ms. Archer could translate Luca’s slight accent on the page, and make Greece vivid, and how frightening the author made the paparazzi appear. Even though the premise was a bit shaky at the beginning – the reason as to how Constance and the children happened to be on Luca’s grounds – I was willing to gloss over it and go on. One of the problems I had was that I never felt anything beyond lust on either Constance’s and Luca’s parts; he came off as rather two-dimensional, and with Constance there was so much blushing, shivering and trembling, she would have put a medieval maiden to shame. Not to mention one particular condition of the terms Luca insisted on, which required a lot of suspension of disbelief. I was TOLD so many times so many things, and yet I didn’t feel any of these. I was TOLD they had unbelievable chemistry, I was TOLD that Luca was such a good man, but it never felt it was happening; I was being TOLD it was. I was hovering towards a 3-star rating, but towards the end, a revelation about who was leaking information to the paparazzi brought the whole thing down to 2 stars; that was one thing too many, utterly unnecessary, and let’s be honest, just plain silly. I so wanted to love this book, but I just couldn’t. However, I will be looking forward to Kira Archer’s next book on the force of what I had thought of the previous one I read and loved so much. Unfortunately, that is what is called an honest review; I could have lied, written just a few words about what I liked, but I have integrity, and so be it. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Awesome fun read! He's a fun loving carefree playboy, she's a serious house mother to six small children. Together they are they oddest of odd couples but they need each other. He needs to prove to his father that he has settle down and given up his playboy ways. She needs to prove to the mother superior at the orphanage that the pictures the paparazzi took were innocent and her reputation is safe. As they spend time together their relationship begins to change but can they really count on each other?? This was a great read and definitely a book I recommend to everyone.
I loved escaping into this book! I’ve yet to find a book by this author that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed – and I certainly enjoyed this one. It tells the story of Greek billionaire and heir Luca Vasilakis and the young lady he finds trespassing on his supposedly secure property, Constance McMurtry – and she had her six young girls with her! Constance is acting as house mother to the girls, all of whom are orphaned or fostered and only ventured onto his property to retrieve one of the children but when the paparazzi take incriminating photographs of them she’s in danger of having the children removed from her care! Luca offers to help her keep them because that will also help him, too. His father is adamant that Luca needs to change his playboy ways and find himself a decent young woman instead of bed hopping and partying his life away, and sees Constance as a brilliant way to improve his reputation and restore hers – by her agreeing to be his fake fiancee! The only problem is, they really are attracted to each other and, as the lines between fact and fiction become blurred, their attraction escalates. Can two such different people become a couple in reality? How will she cope with the intrusive paparazzi? When someone else meddles, seeking revenge, will it tear them apart? This is a fun read with a somewhat self centred, over indulged alpha male lead and a feisty, caring and determined young lady as his counterpart. During the story both of them are influenced by the other, growing in maturity, self confidence and love. I read it in a day and enjoyed doing so. It has many humorous events to bring a smile to your face as well as other dramatic episodes to keep you guessing. The television appearance near the end is brilliant (not saying any more about that, I don’t want to give spoilers, but I’m sure you’ll know what I mean if you read it). This is an engaging romance in every sense of the term and one that I have no hesitation in highly recommending if, like me, this is a genre you enjoy reading. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Count on Kira Archer to take life's awkward moments and turn them into romance gold. A playboy billionaire makes a desperate bid for good publicity and ends up getting the family he never bargained for. Luca puts the word party in "party animal". Fun, women and booze are constant companions for this rich kid until an ultimatum leaves him trying to clean up his act. Constance is the total opposite. She takes her responsibilities seriously and cares about her charges like her own family members. When a serious situation rises due to a mischievous charge, against her better judgment she agrees to help Luca and herself by posing as a couple. Sparks fly, hearts are at risk and a world of possibilities open up. The little girls were an adorable touch. There is nothing sweeter than a man out of his league due to a handful of little girls.