by Ivy Owens
Published by Gallery Books
Exhausted and on deadline with a story that could make or break her career, investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on the verge of a meltdown when a cancelled flight leaves her stuck in the airport overnight.
But when a familiar face appears—the older brother of her childhood friend—and offers help, Gigi seems to have caught a break.
Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind—exactly the sort of man that Gigi has forgotten existed after her own painful heartbreaks. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason he seems so familiar to her.
Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal.
Investigation and discussion of sexual assault and rape
What do you do when you have 3 arcs to read and review, and over 2000 books your tbr to read, but your best friend harasses you until you read the book she just read and loved?
Well, I bend to my best friends will, obviously.
Once again, it totally paid off, because I loved this book.
It was sweet.
It was romantic.
It was funny.
It was hot. Like ... insanely hot.
Did I mention hot?
I was immediately drawn into the story. The immediate connection between Georgia and Alec is intense, and doesn't let up the entire book. It happens quick, which I usually don't like, but the way this book is written, I adored it. The chemistry between these characters BURNS through the pages. The banter is perfect. While the relationship between them happens quickly, its obvious how strong that connection is right away, and it adds a tension knowing their time together is limited. Its the other parts of this story that just adds more to the romance. The arc of Georgia's investigative journalism, and how Alec is involved in it, is interesting.
Swoon worthy romance, hot, intense sex, and a great plot?
Why did it take me so long to read this?
Now, I'm not unfamiliar with this authors work. Ivy Owens is the pen name of half of the Christina Lauren writing duo, and I haven't read a Christina Lauren book I haven't liked yet. So I'm not surprised to love this book too.
Scandalized was an unexpected delight. Most of the books my bff recommend I enjoy, but I tend to like a lot of books she hates, so sometimes there will be that rare book that she begs me to read that I'm not in love with. But I loved Scandalized. And you will too.
Georgia: "What kind of stories do you think I write?”
I ask, grinning at him.
Georgia: “Stuck-in-a-strange-city, there’s-only-one-room-left-at-the-inn? I don’t write for Penthouse.”
He stares at me, expression straightening in surprise, and my words slowly reach my own ears.
Georgia: “Oh my God.”
I press my hands to my face.
Georgia: “I can’t believe I said that.” Georgia: “You’re a hot guy. You should be dating.”
Alec: “You’re a beautiful woman. You shouldn’t be lied to.” Alec: “Georgia, hello,”
he whispers, and points to his chest. Alec: “I’m waiting to be scandalized.”
So I blurt it out,
He nods slowly, gaze heating but—to my surprise—not showing any sign at all of being scandalized.
Alec: “I am also intensely conscious of this.”
Georgia: “You knew?”
Alec: “Of course I knew.”
He sips his drink again.
Alec: “You took only a carry-on for a weeklong international trip that extended for another week and were planning to be home tonight.”
He leans back and adds in a quiet rumble,
Alec: “Besides, Gigi, I’ve studied every inch of you in that dress.” Alec: “Pervert? Says the one who can’t stop staring at my hands.”
I open my mouth to protest, but his eyes shine with amusement.
Georgia: “True. But they are indecent, Alec.”
He smiles around the word. How many women must he get into his bed this way, simply by being sweetly playful and forthright? He lifts a hand, holds it palm up, and slowly turns it, wiggling those long, graceful fingers.
Alec: “How is this indecent?”
Georgia: “Watching you play a piano would be like watching porn.”
This makes him smirk.
Alec: “Is that what you’d like to watch me do?”
Georgia: “Frankly I’d watch those hands flip through an encyclopedia if it was my only option.”
Alec: “It’s not your only option.”
These words land seductively between us.
Alec: “But sure.”
He lifts a finger, pretending to flag down the waitress.
Alec: “They probably have a book behind the bar somewhere.” He angles his body toward me, nostrils flared.
Alec: “Do you blush like this when you come?”
Georgia: “I don’t know,”
I admit with a fragile edge to my voice.
Georgia: “I feel…”
Alec: “I know.”
The elevator dings, the doors open, and Alec bursts forward, catching my wrist in his grip and pulling me out after him. Alec: “It’s weird, right? Am I being weird?”
Georgia: “It’s incredibly sweet,”
I say, laughing,
Georgia: “if not a tiny bit weird.” Georgia: “I think I’d be more bubbly about it if he’d been honest about who he was.”
Eden: “But maybe he liked that he could be anonymous with you.”
I nod, chewing my fingernail and thinking about what he said again.
I’m really happy to be here with you. Exactly how it was… Whatever happens after this, I want you to promise to remember that.
Georgia: “I just feel a little used.”
Eden: “I would let Dr. Minjoon Song use me however he damn well pleased.”
Georgia: “I know you would. And I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s everything you’d hope.” Alec: “I liked that I could just be a man with you. That I didn’t have to live up to some expectation and that you weren’t nervous with me. I liked that you were real. I never get real, ever.”
He stares at me for several tense seconds.
Alec: “But I’m sorry I lied to you.” Alec: “Come on. I’m trying to make things right.”
Unexpectedly, my heart tightens in a painful pinch.
Alec: “Because I’ve thought of nothing but you for the past thirty-six hours.” Alec: “How mad can you be if you’re looking at me like that?”
Georgia: “Very mad.”
He swallows a laugh.
Alec: “Your ‘very mad’ is not very intimidating.”
He kisses his fingertip and gently rubs it over my heart. Georgia: “What are we even doing? We barely know each other anymore.”
Alec: “That’s not true. We may have changed a lot in the past fourteen years but just as with renovations…”
I grin up at him as we both register that he’s committed to the terrible metaphor.
Georgia: “We’ll always be part of each other’s foundations?”
I guess. He nods, laughing in self-deprecation.
Alec: “That was bloody awful.”
Georgia: “No, it was surprisingly cute.” Georgia: You should rest today.
Alec: No way. I’ll exist on California sun, caffeine, and Gigi. Georgia: “What?”
I look down, trying to see what he sees. Nothing there but the vague sheen of sunscreen.
Alec: “Just thinking,”
he says, dragging his touch down over my breastbone, between my breasts.
Georgia: “Thinking what?”
He exhales slowly.
Alec: “That I’ve felt you here. That I fucked you here.” Georgia: “What are you doing?”
Georgia: “You’re thinking very deep into my personal space.”
Alec: “Should I move?”
I lift my hand and rest it on his abdomen.
Georgia: “No. I like it when you invade my personal space.” Eden: “I have to say this,”
she says, voice tight.
Eden: “I’ll do my best to be cool, but I’ve seen everything you’ve ever done, and it won’t be easy for me to not lose it a little that you’re standing in my apartment.”
He smiles sweetly.
Alec: “I get that. I still get nervous around actors I like, too.”
She makes a hilarious sound—half moan, half yelp—as she covers her face.
Alec: “What can I do to make you feel more comfortable?”
She laughs from behind her hands.
Eden: “Probably nothing.” Does he feel it, too? This anticipatory giddiness? It’s a little like being ten and handed a crisp twenty-dollar bill outside a candy store. There’s something delicious in my future and I don’t even know where to sink my teeth first. Alec: “You’re so beautiful it makes me feel this sweet sort of anguish. I’m desperate for you, Gigi.” Alec: “Before I return to London, I’d like to state for the record that I claim this bottom lip.”
He shifts his touch.
Alec: “But also this single freckle on your shoulder. I’ve gone hunting and it’s your only one.”
He gives me a thoughtful once-over.
Alec: “Your eyes when you laugh—they’re also mine. The curve of your spine when you’re coming. The soft skin of your thighs against my neck.”
His hand returns, cupping me between my legs.
Alec: “And this, right here. I’m greedy for these things.”
Georgia: “My turn.”
I reach up, tracing his mouth.
Georgia: “I claim your bottom lip.”
He blows out a breath against my touch.
Alec: “You have to pick something new.”
Georgia: “Shh. You don’t make the rules.”
Moving my fingertips down over his chin, I stroke lower.
Georgia: “Your throat. I have a thing for throats and yours is perfect. The back of your neck.”
I trace down.
Georgia: “Collarbones. This muscle right here,”
I stroke just inside his hipbone, and he shifts away, ticklish. I pull his hand up, kissing his palm.
Georgia: “And your hands.”
Alec: “Of course my hands.”
I squint at him.
Georgia: “I’d say your dimples, too, but everyone says that.”
Alec: “Do they?”
he asks, already knowing.
Georgia: “There is a Twitter account called AKDimples that has, like, three hundred thousand followers and it’s almost entirely just pictures of your dimples when you’re smiling in various photos.”
He laughs again.
Alec: “You’re making that up.”
Georgia: “You know I’m not.” Alec: “You wouldn’t need a ticket, Gigi. I’m not suggesting you go stand in line for an autograph. You’d come as my guest. Bring Eden.”
I cover his mouth.
Georgia: “Careful what you offer. She kept it surprisingly bottled up last night. If you invite her today, she might show up wearing a shirt with your face on it. Or even worse: a shirt with your torso on it.”
Alec: “It’s all fine, as long as she’s aware the dimples are taken.”
I cup his face, kissing each cheek.
Georgia: “Gigi’s bottom lip approves.” I hear another man’s voice greeting him and then a car door closes.
Alec: “In the car now,”
he says quietly. Formally.
Alec: “You’ll need to walk me through this from here on out.”
My hand stills on my breast.
I open my eyes, blink up at the ceiling.
Georgia: “You want me to get myself off while you just listen?”
Heat floods my cheeks.
Georgia: “I don’t usually talk.”
Alec: “I honestly can’t tell you how thrilled I am about this collaboration,”
he says with a laugh in his voice.
I laugh into the phone.
Georgia: “You’re serious?”
Alec: “Very much so.” Georgia: “I’m excited,”
I sing. He leans down, pulling the suit free.
Georgia: “I get to see you in a tuxedo.”
He slants an amused look my way.
Alec: “That’s exciting?”
Georgia: “Don’t play dumb with me. You’re gonna look like the world’s hottest cake topper.” Alec: “I have a few hours until I need to be at the AP gala. I was hoping we—”
I burst out laughing.
Georgia: “No way.”
Alec: “Yes… way?”
Georgia: “That’s where I’m going with Billy.”
Alec: “We’ll be at the same event?”
His shoulders slump, and I immediately understand.
Georgia: “Without the ability to talk to each other,”
I say, nodding.
Georgia: “Or make out in the corner.”
Alec: “Get a really ugly dress,”
Georgia: “No way, I’m going to get something slutty.”
Alec: “Wool turtleneck.”
Georgia: “Short enough to find religion.”
I grin at him.
Georgia: “Imagine the sex we can have later after intensely ignoring each other all night.”
He walks to me, pulling me into a hug.
Alec: “You’re a horrible tease.”
Georgia: “It’s why you like me.”
I tilt my face up for a kiss, and he delivers a loud smooch. Georgia: “Is this what it always feels like to be five-foot-seven? I am drunk with power. The air is thinner up here.” An unfamiliar brand of adrenaline swarms my blood, a jealous one. I want to crash through the crowd like a possessive Kool-Aid man and drape his long arm around my shoulders. Isn’t he gorgeous? He likes me. We have sex. Georgia: “You’re going to make me love you, aren’t you?”
He doesn’t even falter, in step or breath. He says only,
Alec: “I’m sure going to try.”
Alec: “Anyway, so here I am, wandering LA, doing absolutely nothing, letting this problem fester. Retracing our steps the past two weeks and wondering how on earth it is that I could fall in love in a matter of days. But I did. In fact, I think I fell in love in a matter of minutes, with the woman sitting opposite me at a hotel bar. She was exhausted but mesmerizing, wearing a red dress and nothing else.” Georgia: “I have no idea what the hell is going on.”
Yael rolls her eyes.
Yael: “Then for fuck’s sake, Georgia, let us in.”