I’m so excited to host this spotlight for The Whole Package by Marie Harte. Harte is one of my favorite romance authors and this book delivers everything I like about her; confident heroines, hardworking heroes, banter and family. The Whole Package is out right now. Scroll below to read an excerpt and learn more about this new series !
Synopsis: Always the caretaker, former Marine Reid Griffith wants to help his brother adjust to civilian life…and help other former servicemen. What better way to utilize their brawn, discipline, and charm than a moving company that hires veterans? But although Reid prides himself on being strategic, he certainly doesn’t plan to fall in the spotlight of one brilliant—and beautiful—PR whiz…
PR expert Naomi Starr is determined to bring Vets on the Go! into the spotlight. But when she meets Reid, it might mean breaking her rule to never mix business with pleasure. Especially once she discovers that underneath Reid’s sexy rough-and-tumble exterior is a vulnerable man who just might need what she’s got to give.
No way in hell his body should be so keyed up at eight-thirty in the morning sitting across from Naomi Starr.
Two days after first meeting the woman, Reid swore under his breath and subtly uncrossed his legs, growing uncomfortable. Sitting across from Naomi at herdesk in her tidy little office, he took a moment to glance around.
The place fit her. Frames of local businesses accented the slate blue walls of her office. Bold, clean lines in her furniture and in the way the small room seemed to be so much bigger than it actually was indicated a woman who knew how to show her best side. And that was to say nothing of the woman herself.
Naomi sat in a navy jacket and form-fitting skirt that reached her knees. Personally, Reid wouldn’t have minded if she’d hiked the thing higher, because damn, but she had some nice legs. The understated blouse she wore under the jacket covered her from the neck down while giving tantalizing impressions of the full breasts beneath.
Sadly, Reid had always been a breast and leg man, and Naomi continued to tick off all the boxes on his “ideal woman” list.
A knock at the door interrupted them, fortunately before Reid got caught staring.
“Sorry,” her assistant apologized. “Naomi, I need your help with something that’s urgent. It won’t take long.”
“Take care of whatever you need to,” Reid said to her and held up the decadent coffee she’d offered him. “I’m just going to nurse this for a while.” Because he needed the caffeine. Who the hell voluntarily scheduled appointments before nine if they didn’t have to?
She gave him a tight smile. “I’m sorry about this. I’ll be right back, and while I’m gone, take a look at my proposal.” She pushed a blue folder toward him.
He looked through her ideas, agreeing with the direction she intended. Yet his concentration remained on the woman who’d left, as well as the amazing cup of coffee he’d been given upon arrival.
In his office, when Reid had asked if he could get her something to drink, he would have offered her bottled water or some crap coffee from the tiny refreshment station he’d insisted they add to the office. It was a step up from car dealer coffee but several steps down from Storyville, one of his favorite coffee bars in the city. Naomi could give them a run for their money with her gourmet coffee, served in a fancy ceramic mug. He’d also noticed the spring water in the hallway in a water cooler she no doubt paid through the nose for.
Probably why her fees were a little on the high side. To him, at least. According to Evan, she had more than reasonable prices for what she offered. Her clients couldn’t say enough about all she’d done to help their businesses. The woman was a workhorse, no doubt about it. They had that in common. And, if he wasn’t mistaken, a mutual attraction.
Or that could just be wishful thinking.
She returned, appearing as poised and put-together as she’d been before the interruption. “I’m so sorry for that. A new client panicked about something we’d already agreed upon then wouldn’t speak to anyone but me about it.” Naomi shrugged. “But it’s no big deal. Now, back to you.”
He watched her saunter back to her seat, enjoying the sight. When she sat and faced him, he kept his gaze above her chin at all times.
She nodded to the folder open in front of him. “This is the proposal I’ve outlined for you. Like I said, we’ll do three months and revisit the terms. But I think this is what you need to get started.”
He glanced back down at it. “Looks solid. I wanted to ask what you thought about TV ads, too.”
“They can be expensive but worth it. I’d definitely like to see your people on television. Cash and Hector stood out on the news, because they sure as heck grabbed my attention. If I needed movers, I’d hire them from that segment alone.”
Of course she would. Cash had that kind of presence about him. Competent, protective, mission-oriented… So long as he kept his big mouth shut, they might make things work.
“Yeah, about that. I’ve had a request for an interview, a spotlight on our company.”
She grabbed a pen and pad of paper. “When did you schedule it for?”
“I didn’t, not yet. Thought I’d see what you thought.”
“Do it.” She stared at him. “From the small group I saw at your office, you’ll represent well. Now, if you’re all photogenic too, we’re golden. We know Hector and Cash look great on camera. Hector is much more charming than your brother. As appealing as your brother may be as the strong type, he’s not exactly silent. A lot of censoring in that piece the news ran on your company.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
Her continuous stare made him a little uncomfortable. “Something wrong?”
“Hmm. I think we need to brand you as a family company first. You and your brother, together, would really work to sell Vets on the Go!.”
“My cousin’s also a partner. We all kind of look alike, so you’d see the family resemblance.”
“Even better.” She made a few notes. “So we highlight you three, then pepper the interview with your brawny, good-looking employees. And bam, you’ve already made an impression on the hundreds and thousands of single women needing to move.”
“Now we’re targeting women?”
“Yes. And families, and veterans themselves. You have an original appeal, and not just because you’re handsome.” She flushed and hurried to add, “And by you, I mean your team and your business.”
“So I’m not handsome, then?” he asked to tease her, loving that blush.
Naomi cleared her throat and said dryly, “I think you’re well aware of your looks. My point is we use every weapon in your arsenal. You have fit, appealing employees who’ve served our country. That’s three for three. Now looking at your rates…”
She swiveled her computer monitor so he could see it. “Leo, our data guru, sent me a comparison to see who your major competitors are.”
“We went through this before we started the company,” he said.
“Bear with me.” They went over more numbers, enough to make his head spin. In certain demographics, they seemed to hit the mark, while missing entirely in others. “So you see, if you raise this rate but drop this fee, you’ll still come out even.”
“That’s if this marketing works.”
She gave him another of those penetrating looks that caused the sparks in his belly to start up and dance. “Oh, it’ll work.”
“Confident in your abilities, huh?”
“You know what, Reid? I am. Now, I’ve got the same issues as most women.” Her charming smile disarmed him. “I often wonder, does this outfit make me look fat? Is my hair the mess I think it is? Will he call like he said he would?” She smiled then turned uber professional between one breath and the next. “But one thing I’m not is deluded about my professional abilities. I won’t promise what we can’t deliver. I know how to help businesses grow and flourish, and yes, I’mdamn goodat what I do.”
He believed her a hundred percent. “Okay then.” He studied her right back, noticing the plump curve of her lips. The sparkle in her blue eyes.
He took his pen and signed the contract, then pushed the folder back to her, irritated that he had to work to maintain control, aware of his racing pulse. Reid was man enough to handle being attracted to a beautiful woman. Didn’t mean he had to follow his dick where it led. “But for the record, the outfit is flattering, your hair is beautiful, and if he’s dumb enough not to call back, he doesn’t deserve you.” He stood before he made a bigger fool of himself. “I’ll set up the interview with the news station and let you know.”