The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely | Release Day Review + Excerpt

Hello everyone,
I'm so excited to be part of Lauren Blakely's release celebration for her newest release, The Real Deal. Read on for my review and an excerpt from Theo's POV as he sees April for the first time.

Publisher: St. Martin Griffin
Release Date: July 10, 2018 (TODAY!)
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
My Rating:

April Hamilton wants you to know she hasn’t been on GigsForHire since that time she sold her futon after college. She doesn’t even spend that much time online. And even if she did, she would not be looking up personal ads. But going home alone for her family's summer reunion is an invitation for every single relative to butt into her personal life. She simply can’t handle another blind date with the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker from her hometown. So when she finds the GigsforHire ad for a boyfriend-for-hire, she’s ready to pay to play.

Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m the REAL DEAL.

Theo Banks has been running from the past for years. He’s this close to finally settling all his debts, and one more job as a boyfriend-for-hire will do the trick. He’s no gigolo. Please. He’s something of an actor, and he knows how to slip into any role, including pretending to be April’s new beau -- the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Even if it means sleeping in close quarters in that tiny little bed in her parents’ inn. Even if it means spinning tales of a romance that starts to feel all too true. What neither one of them counts on is that amid the egg toss, the arm wrestling, and a fierce game of Lawn Twister that has them tangled up together, they might be feeling the real deal.

She only wanted to show her family once and for all that she had no need to settle down.

He didn’t expect to have the time of his life at her parent’s home.

They didn’t plan on loving every single second of the game.

But can a masterful game of pretend result in true love?

Ever since reading my first Lauren Blakely book (Big Rock) a couple of years ago, she has become my favorite contemporary romance author because I can count on her to deliver the most fun and most swooniest rom-coms featuring heroes you can't help but fall in love with and heroines you want to be BFFs with. It took a little bit because of formatting issues, but this is exactly what I got from The Real Deal.

Speaking of, before I get into my actual thoughts on the book, I have to say that I had a hard time reading the e-ARC because of formatting issues. The formatting was really off, it was very distracting and I couldn't fully immerse myself into the story until I sort of trained myself to ignore it. But, yeah, that sucked.

I don't know if it's because of the formatting issues, but it wasn't until almost the halfway point that I truly got into the story. April's character I did like right away. I thought her job was really cool, I liked her group of friends, and I loved that she has a great relationship with her family even though they drove her crazy with their matchmaking efforts and they don't really understand what she does. She's not without her personal issues, but she still has this sunny and happy personality that I really like and makes me want to be her BFF.

I guess my issue was with Theo. I liked him too, but it took me a while to connect with him because I couldn't understand what his deal was. You know he has a past and he's dealing with something big because he'd reveal little pieces or clues, and you're like, uh oh this boy is in trouble. But, what kind of trouble? *Shrug*

It took me a while to figure out Theo, and I think it's safe to say he'll never be one of my favorite Lauren Blakely heroes, but I still end up liking him. It's basically impossible to not like a Lauren Blakely hero or heroine. I rooted for him and April because they were a perfect match in humor and personality. Their thing was inventing sexually charged stories about their past as their foreplay and that was different, but perfect for their situation and amped up the tension and chemistry between them. The reunion competition was really fun, and I love how Theo charmed and won over April's family even though they were determined not to like him, still hoping they can set her up with a nice hometown boy so she'll move back home.

Overall, The Real Deal was another entertaining, fun, swoon-y, and just the right amount of feels to round out another satisfying read by the queen of rom-com contemporary romance. If you're in the mood for a sexy and fun romance read, look no further than The Real Deal.

The audiobook is available now ➜ Audible


When I clock out and head for the park, anticipation runs through my veins like a good buzz on a night out. A reunion booking could be my way out of trouble. A five-day gig might bring me very close to the finish line.

Along the way, I stop in front of a dry cleaner, check my reflection in the plate-glass shop window, and reckon that I look the part April wants: dark jeans, motorcycle boots, and well-worn T-shirt that shows off the ink on my arms. Tribal bands, a sunburst, and a compass. I haven’t shaved in two days, and my stubble is rough. If she wanted clean-cut and business attire, I’d have covered up the tats with a crisp white shirt and a fine silk tie, then slid a blade across my jaw in the a.m. If she wanted sophisticated, I’d have given her the smooth, James Bond voice to boot. She could have me as a country boy, even, in a pair of steel-toed cowboy boots and with the drawl to match.

But April wants the guy who might have screwed her in the restroom of a bar.

She wants gravel and sandpaper, ink and danger, shades and leather.

The more you give someone what they want, the more you get in return.

When I reach the park, I head to the Terrace Bridge. She’s not here, but I’m early, since I like to get a read on any and every situation. I scan the surrounding area, noting the benches, the nearby tables, the cool placid water gurgling under the bridge. June in New York City can seduce you or it can trick you.

What it has in store today is anyone’s guess. I lean my hip against the stone railing, and I wait. Two minutes later, I spot a threesome walking in my direction. My heart thumps, and I groan quietly.

Why does the universe do this to me?

Blond curls, lips like a bow, a tight trim waist. Even from several yards away, I can tell she wears little makeup—she has that fresh-faced, rosy glow about her, and something innocent yet knowing in her expression. Like Lily James, whom I developed a wicked crush on when I watched her in her latest movie.

April’s not tiny, but she’s not towering either. Maybe five-three, five-four. A delicious dream. Which translates roughly to “just my type.” She wears tight jeans, a long black shirt that clings to her figure, and a huge silver necklace with a heart charm that dangles between her breasts.

As if I wouldn’t already be checking them out without the pendant between them.

I’ve had many clients. Keeping it platonic has never been an issue since I’ve never been attracted to a customer.

Until now.

Looks like I’ll be getting familiar with how to resist temptation.

About the Author
A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that's hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than eighty times, and she's sold more than 2 million books. In August she'll release Unbreak My Heart, an emotional second chance romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter!

Happy reading,

P.S. Lauren is running a reader's choice giveaway: Everything you need for Date Night except the date. Find the perfect date in The Real Deal! $100 gift card to the restaurant of your choice, $50 gift card to the movie theater of your choice, and $50 gift card to the retailer of your choice. ($200 value)

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