Wilder at Last
Author: Serena Bell
Series: Wilder Adventures, #5
Publication date: February 7th 2023
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
Falling in love with my frenemy? Out of the question.
Easton: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been giving Hanna a hard time—and she’s been giving it right back. So we’re both shocked to find ourselves on the same side of a project: helping Hanna win the heart of the celebrity chef hired by my family’s business to give summer workshops.
It shouldn’t be a big deal. A wardrobe evaluation. A shopping trip. Maybe some how-to-get-the-guy advice. I’m an expert on matters of the heart—or, at least matters of the mattress.
But as Hanna starts to trust me and open up, I see her differently. She’s not so much blunt as refreshingly honest, not so much a plain Jane in baggy clothes as… deliciously curvy. And hidden under that spiky, steely exterior is a soft heart she doesn’t show anyone.
Suddenly, the project includes ogling Hanna in dressing room mirrors. Offering her kissing lessons. And desperately trying not to give in to the sizzling heat between us.
I have to let her know the plan has changed: I’ll still help her get the guy she wants. I just need to somehow convince her that it’s me.
A steamy, opposites-attract, enemies-to-lovers (or is it friends-to-lovers? So hard to tell with these two!), mountain man small-town rom com.
Shopping with Easton turns out to be far different from what I was expecting.
I had pictured him leaning against the wall with a bored expression on his face, grudgingly passing judgment on me, my body, and fashion choices in an effort to keep me from ratting him out to Gabe.
Instead, I’ve discovered that what Easton means by “I hate shopping” is very different from what I mean.
“Too big,” he says, shaking his head when I show him the first outfit. “You need at least one size smaller.”
“This is my size.”
He shakes his head. “Stay right there.”
He’s back a minute or two later with smaller sizes. “And I found this, too,” he says. “The shirt looks like something you’d like, and these leggings were with it, so I grabbed them.” He surveys the clothes already hanging in the dressing room. “That tank top will work,” he says, pointing.
He yanks the curtain closed between us, dismissing me before I can object.
“Hidden talents,” I call to him. “Do your brothers know?”
“They know I can dress myself, unlike certain other Wilder brothers, who never wear anything except base layers, wool sweaters, and hiking pants.”
It’s true that Easton is the snappiest dresser—well, the only dresser who could reasonably be categorized as snappy—in the Wilder crew. Unlike his brothers, when he’s off duty, he usually wears jeans and a button-down. While theoretically I don’t give a shit what Easton wears, I have once or twice noticed that his clothes flatter his frame.
And he definitely has a knack for choosing jeans that draw attention to his ass…ets.
Needless to say, I would never tell him this, because it would give him a big(ger) head.
I try on the outfit that Easton picked out. It’s a pair of dusty-rose yoga pants and a black tank top. They’re much more form-fitting than anything else I’ve chosen. Part of me wants to pull them off instead of showing Easton, but the whole point of this enterprise is to get things that aren’t baggy, right?
And I don’t give a crap what Easton thinks, anyway.
I sweep the curtains open.
“Do you think he wants to see this much of me? Does anyone want to see this much of me?”
Although in truth, I’m fascinated by how I look. Round, curvy, and real.
I kind of can’t take my eyes off myself. Look at me, people!
Look at me, Bear Warden! I dare you to look away.
If I’d known how awesome ridiculously expensive clothes could be, I would have spent more money on them sooner.
I twirl in front of the mirror, assessing, then look up to find Easton’s eyes on my reflection.
“The whole world definitely wants to see that much of you.”
His voice sounds just-woken-up rough, and he clears his throat.
I tip my head, trying to gauge if he’s teasing or not, but my Easton mockery radar doesn’t blip. I think he’s just being charming, because Easton is extremely good at that. He basically can’t help himself, which is why he almost got beaten up by Gabe when Lucy first came on the scene and by Kane when Mari did.
“Try that purple thing with it,” he says, pointing to a drapey purple thing.
I do. It’s basically like a baggy sweatshirt, except somehow… hotter. It’s tight in the arms and exposes my collarbones and everything from the belly button down.
I look good.
Easton’s eyes snag mine in the mirror, then fall away before I can think about that too much.
“Okay,” I say, turning to face him. “I’m going to wear this on Monday, and then I’m going to—what? What am I going to do? Trip and fall in his lap? Ask him if he wants to get naked with me on the next hike?”
The corner of Easton’s mouth turns up. “There might be a subtler first step,” he allows.
“Right, this is why you’re helping me! I need strategy. I look superhot, he stares at me longingly, and then… I…?” I open my palms.
“Ask him out.”
Easton mulls this. “Drinks? Dinner? A hike? Could be anything.”
“This is all assuming that the outfit does its job,” I say.
His eyes rake over me, and I brace for at best neutral appraisal, at worst judgment, but I get neither. Instead, his gaze warms with approval, clinging to my curves, setting off a blaze of liquid heat in my body. My body stretches and purrs like a kitten under his regard.
about the author
USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes contemporary romance with heat, heart, and humor. A former journalist, Serena has always believed that everyone has an amazing story to tell if you listen carefully, and you can often find her scribbling in her tiny garret office, mainlining chocolate and bringing to life the tales in her head.
Serena’s books have earned many honors, including an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Apple Books Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Year for Romance.
When not writing, Serena loves to spend time with her college-sweetheart husband and two hilarious kiddos—all of whom are incredibly tolerant not just of Serena’s imaginary friends but also of how often she changes her hobbies and how passionately she embraces the new ones. These days, it’s stand-up paddle boarding, board-gaming, meditation, and long walks with good friends.