Thank you to for the advanced copy of SHACKING UP by Helena Hunting. All opinions are my own.

Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet.

Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

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Shacking Up

series: Shacking Up

Review

There are rom-coms, and then there are Helena Hunting rom-coms–hers are in a league of their own, in my opinion. I love her Pucked series and all of her quirky-but-loveable characters, so I was a little worried about reading a new set of characters from her. I’m happy to report that my hesitation was completely unnecessary! 

Shacking Up is a fun and flirty, hilarious and heartfelt, sweet and slow-burning romance with fantastic characters and writing. I loved every minute of the ride!

Ruby Scott was born into a family with a pharmaceutical empire, but her heart belongs to Broadway. Determined to make it on her own, she heads to New York and works her tail off to make it happen. After a string of bad luck, Ruby is down to her last few pennies and eating Ramen noodles for every meal. She has great friends, but she’s going to need a lot more than that to make ends meet.

Bancroft Mills (aka Bane) was also born into wealth but, like Ruby, he decided to pave his own path and played professional rugby for years. After being sidelined with a knee injury, he’s back to working for his family and helping to improve properties within their hotel dynasty.

Ruby and Bane have a bit of an unconventional first meeting, but it sets the trajectory for the entire storyline. What starts out as a mutually beneficial arrangement becomes much more after weeks of video chats that are steeped in sexual tension and unresolved feelings. I thought that was the perfect touch since Bane is out of the country for weeks. I could feel the connection, rather than just read about it, and made me want to root for them.

Ruby is a fantastic heroine, and I loved all of her attributes. She’s hardworking, independent, and sassy at every turn. She a bit of a rebel and I enjoyed that part of her character. Bane, on the other hand, is more buttoned-up and proper, but he’s so sweet, understanding and supportive. Not to mention, he’s got a bit of a dirty mouth (that’s an understatement, actually), so once they finally get together, things get very interesting indeed.

This book had me grinning like a fool and swooning at all of the sweetness from beginning to end. Helena Hunting has created another cast of characters that I can’t wait to get to know better while feeding my need for banter, awkwardness, heart, and humor. If those are things you are looking for, too, I can’t recommend Shacking Up enough!

9 Questions with Helena Hunting

1.) Describe Shacking Up using no more than 140 characters (a la Twitter).

Sexy, quirky, with enough sexual tension to light your underwear on fire.

2.) Where did you get inspiration for the character’s names, particularly Bancroft aka Bane?

Once I met a police officer (I wasn’t doing anything illegal) who introduced himself as Bancroft. I thought that was his last name, so I sassily introduced myself by my last name as well. Then he corrected me, telling me that his first name was Bancroft, and I felt obviously ridiculous. He was a mammoth man. He practically had to duck through doorways, so I put that one in the name bank for a rainy day. I also thought it was rather hilarious that it could be shortened to Bane—as in the bane of my existence, which we know Bancroft certainly is not. Ruby is a spunky name and I thought reflected the heroine’s fiery personality.

3.) Shacking Up is hilarious! How easily does the banter between the characters come for you? Do you ever struggle writing the humor in your books?

With Ruby and Bane the banter came easily because there weren’t a lot of social constraints or limitations for them. At the beginning they’re working under the premise of a business arrangement, so the pressure is off and Ruby isn’t really one to hold back,. Neither is Bane for that matter. I have such a fun time creating off the wall, sometimes sexually tense scenes, especially with these two.

4.) Do you ever make yourself laugh when writing a scene?

Yes. I feel weird saying that, but there are times when I’m imagining what is happening as I’m writing and thinking “this is just ridiculous”. My hope is that if I think it’s ridiculous, so will other people, and it will inspire the same reaction. Francesca certainly helped make it a lot easier to fit in fun, light-hearted situations.

5.) What inspired Bane’s exotic choice in pets?

Ferrets are freaking adorable, but they are menaces if they’re left to their own devices. They’re also a lot like dogs and cats, but they require a different kind of care, the fact that they’re illegal in NYC also helped. As for Tiny—I think a lot of people would be reluctant to take care of a giant spider, no matter how cool they are as pets. I felt like both of them would be lend for some funny situations.

6.) The heroes in your Pucked series are all hockey stars, and Bane in Shacking Up is an ex-rugby player. Is it safe to say you have a thing for athletes?

I guess you could say I have a fascination with athletes. That level of physical fitness takes an extraordinary amount of discipline, plus STAMINA!!! More than just being an athlete, I have an affinity for heroes who show loyalty and determination and who are just as much about brain as brawn.

7.) Ruby is a bit of a rebel, defying her family to go after her dreams. What do you love most about her?

I love that despite things not always going her way, she refuses to take the easy way out. Our paths are not always linear and Ruby is very willing to make concessions where she needs to in order to prove to herself and her family that she can attain her goals.

8.) Why are Bane and Ruby so perfect for each other?

They’re both very goal oriented people with the same core values. Ruby is a firecracker and Bane needs someone with that level of sass to challenge him. For Ruby, Bane is an inherent caretaker, BUT he tries not to force that care on her which is something she can appreciate.

9.) Are there any books or authors you’re really excited about right now?

I’m excited for Ann Marie Walkers BLACK TIE OPTIONAL. I recently devoured Jana Aston’s Grind Me Series and Debra Anastasia is writing the most awesome book right now, and I can’t wait until it’s ready for public consumption.

Excerpt

She taps the arm of her chair and regards me for a few seconds. “So . . . that woman you were with at the engagement party, I’m guessing she’s not your girlfriend or anything? I don’t need to worry about her freaking out because another woman is living in your condo?”

“You mean Brittany? Uh, no. She’s definitely not my girlfriend.”

“Good to know.”

“With all the travel a girlfriend hasn’t been all that practical.”

She cocks her head. “What do you mean?”

“When I played professional rugby I was on the road a lot. And now it seems like I’ll be on the road more than I anticipated. At least for a while. It makes it difficult to get involved.”

“Ah. I understand. Theater is challenging like that, too. The hours are odd since performances are typically in the evenings and on the weekends. Unless you’re dating another actor it’s not very practical.” She dips her spoon in her dessert again. “So that Brittany chick was just meant to be a hookup then?”

I’m sure Brittany would’ve been good with the hookup part, but I don’t mention that to Ruby. “I went out with her as a favor.”

She grimaces. “Wow, that’s some favor.”

“She’s not that bad.” I’m not sure why I’m defending Brittany, other than it seems to irritate Ruby.

“She called me a slut!”

“Well, you were kissing me, so . . .” I have to bite back the smile at her incredulity.

She points her spoon at me, her annoyance clear. “You kissed me.”

I shift an arm behind my head. “You didn’t put up much of a fight.”

Her mouth drops open and snaps shut just as quickly. It’s the same reaction I got out of her the other day when I brought the same thing up at the restaurant.

Her eyes narrow into slits. I bet she’s a real firecracker when she’s angry. I sort of want to push her buttons just to see what happens when she goes off. I bet angry f*cking with her would be incredible. I wonder if she’s a hair puller, or a biter, or a scratcher. Wow. That got dirty fast.

She narrows her eyes. “We are not talking about this.”

“About you kissing me back? I wasn’t going to bring it up, but now that we’re on the subject—”

“Consider it un-brought-up.” Her cheeks flush.

I can’t help myself. I keep pushing. “No way. You as much as admitted that you kissed me back, right there. You opened the door. I’m walking through it. Why would you kiss a complete stranger?”

“I said I wasn’t talking about this.” The pink in her cheeks rises to the tips of her ears.

This is way too much fun. She’s got one hell of an angry glare going on. “I’m leaving you in my house for more than a month, alone. I need to be certain you have sound judgment.”

“I’ll have you know my judgment is usually very sound. However, when an incredibly attractive man surprises me with his tongue in my mouth, the most logical response is to kiss back.”

“You think I’m incredibly attractive?”

She rolls her eyes. “Of course that’s the part you choose to focus on. You see yourself in the mirror every day. You can’t tell me you don’t know you’re nice to look at. I’m just stating a fact.”

My ego inflates a little at this. I know I’m not unattractive, but my nose has been broken a couple of times, and there’s a bump I can’t ever get rid of without plastic surgery. I’ve had knee surgery and I’m not great under anesthetic, so I’d prefer to avoid that scenario. I also have a few small facial scars from playing rugby all those years, which, in the environment I grew up in, takes me down a few points on the desirability scale. Not that I give a f*ck. It’s my mother who seems to be worried about it, as she does about every line and gray hair. It’s a blessing I don’t have any sisters.

I see. So you’re telling me if any incredibly attractive man did what I did, you’d respond the exact same way.”

“Now you’re generalizing. It’s circumstantial.”

“What do you mean by circumstantial?”

“Well, I guess I assumed you had to be a guest at the engagement party.”

“So that made it okay to kiss a stranger? Because we were attending the same event?”

She pauses with her spoon at her lips. “That’s not what I said.”

“It sounds like that’s what you’re implying.” That spoons slips into her mouth and she licks it clean before she responds. The entire time I’m thinking increasingly dirty thoughts about that tongue of hers.

She flounders a little. “It’s not like I was at some seedy bar with seedy douches. It was an engagement party.”

“So that makes me better somehow?”

“Are you always this antagonistic?” She throws up her hands. “You kissed me. You smelled good and you’re good with your tongue so I went with it. Stop judging me.”

“I’m not judging, I’m just asking. So on top of being incredibly attractive and smelling good I’m also an excellent kisser.”

“I never said excellent, you added your own adjective. And if you keep talking about how attractive you are you’ll go from a ten to a nine pretty fast.”

 

About Helena Hunting

NYT and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She's writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.