Hi Lucy and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Virgin for His Prize!
Hi, Sara! Big hugs and many thanks for having me!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Romi is not your typical old money heiress. She’s an activist, trying to make the world a better place while she takes care of her dad, who has been in a slow downward spiral since her mom’s death. Her dream is to open a charter school with her best friend that caters to an economic bracket well below her own.
Max is a self-made tycoon with a ruthless streak only matched by his arrogance. He’s also a man with secrets and vulnerabilities no one sees, even himself. He’s fascinated by Romi and he wants her, but she wants the one thing he’s refused to give to to this point. Commitment.
When Max decides he will have Romi, whatever the cost, he discovers convincing her is going to be even harder than it was to convince himself. He opts to use a blackmail style of persuasion, but it isn’t long before he realizes he is not the one in control, no matter what kind of bedroom games he’s always liked to play in the past.
Please share the opening line of this book:
Fury fighting with the pain of betrayal, Romi Grayson set her phone down on the table beside her with careful movements. The temptation to throw the mobile device across the room was staggering.
That lying, manipulative, opportunistic tycoon!
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
Max drives a Maserati Ghibli, the manufacturer’s powerful and luxurious nod to going green. It’s their first diesel powered engine.
I listened to Michael Buble the entire time I was writing this book. You could say his entire song collection (including the Spiderman theme) is this book’s playlist.
I visited San Francisco with my daughter to do research for the Ruthless Russians duo and rode in a pedicab across the city…amazing!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Romi is very much like many of the women in my life. Giving, stubborn, strong and determined to make the world around her a better place. It was Max that surprised me the most. I expected him to be all tycoon arrogance and discovered hidden depths to him as I wrote their story. He has his own broken pieces inside where no one can see, but that doesn’t stop him from figuring out just what it would take to give Romi what she truly wants and making sure it happens. His commitment to family wasn’t something I realized until it started leaping off the pages at me from his actions. He’s a complex guy that I I really enjoyed getting to know.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I love researching everything from the type of cars my characters will drive to the places they will live. For this book (and the other one in the Ruthless Russians duo), I also traveled to San Francisco to immerse myself in the city and its unique culture as it plays a definitive role in both stories. My youngest daughter went with me and we had an amazing time window shopping Tiffany’s and Cartier. She also talked me into going into the Armani store and I bought my husband his first ever clothing from the designer I’d dressed so many heroes with. (A fun bit of info, but The Chatsfield – San Francisco in my book Sheikh’s Scandal was inspired by the hotel my daughter and I stayed in.)
The First kiss…
She couldn’t hold back a few mocking words however. “Too bad my dad wasn’t selling my hand in marriage, huh?”
Van tugged her close, his head tipping down. “I was thinking that exact thing.”
“You jerk.” She was laughing as she said the words, not meaning them, just responding in kind to his sarcasm.
But it meant her lips were parted when his mouth landed against hers.
Heat suffused her as her traitorous body melted into his without forethought or even permission from the thinking part of her brain. Forced suddenly into blatant recognition of a year’s long starvation of her senses, she returned his kiss with a hunger she’d done her best to pretend did not exist.
Voracious now, she had no hope of holding back the tide of feeling crashing over her.
It was the cost of ignoring emotions rather than facing them.
She wanted this man with every fiber of her being, no matter how much her brain told her it was a bad idea.
A spectacularly, out of this world, really bad idea.
Her lips did not agree as they moved against his, her tongue eager as it met his, her body pliant to his touch.
She skimmed her hands up his hard chest, mapping the shape of muscles honed by workouts that would make a triathlete pause. Singeing her fingertips with electric warmth, the heat of his body translated through the smooth fabric of his dress shirt.
She brushed over tiny, hardened nubs and she reveled in the proof of her effect on him.
With a feral groan, Van flexed his lower body toward hers and she had even more potent proof in the press of his clearly excited, intimidatingly large shaft against her. It couldn’t be comfortable for him to be trapped in his clothes in that condition, but he didn’t complain or pull away.
Unheeded, his expensive, handmade tuxedo jacket fell from her shoulders as she wrapped her hands around his neck and pressed into him chest to thigh. Was it possible to feel sparks in every single nerve ending of where her body met his?
She didn’t know if it was some kind of domino effect, but that’s what it felt like to her.
As her body exploded with delight in that simple but very intimate touch, the kiss went nuclear.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing while writing it?
This one made me giggle. He’s asked her about her ideal honeymoon. Max is so out of his depth with Romi in ways he doesn’t even realize.
Not something they had to discuss right now however. “Tell me about building houses in Haiti.”
“It could be anywhere in the world really, but Maddy and I did it three summers in a row in Mexico. We always said we wanted to participate in a Haiti build though.”
“I’m having a hard time picturing Madcap Madison and Romi Grayson, well-known activist heiress, building houses in the Mexican heat.”
“It was the most amazing experience. Everyone works like dogs to get these really simple dwellings built in a week, but the families are so grateful. The children…they’re incredible. I loved working with them even more than working on the house team.”
He could well imagine and said so.
She smiled, mischief glinting in her gaze. “You know what I can’t imagine?”
“You pouring concrete in the Haitian sun wearing scrubs and a sun hat.”
Neither could he. Surely he could wear something else.
She must have read his look because she laughed. “Some people wear jeans and long sleeved t-shirts, but scrubs are the most comfortable. They let air circulate and are easy to get clean. Both are important.”
He wondered if his tailor did scrubs. “I see.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include and why?
This scene shows so much about both Max and Romi, though neither realizes it at the time. It’s when Max first tells her what he wants, after she’s made a proposition he would have accepted with alacrity a year ago:
“You want to make a deal for your virginity?” he demanded, sounding almost impressed.
“Not for, about. One night. You and me.” He could read between the lines and get what she was offering.
“You want to have sex for one night?” he clarified, his voice strained.
“And then what?”
“And then we go our separate ways.”
“Why only one night?”
“Because I don’t want my heart broken.” She just might survive a single night with him.
Any longer and she was going to be lost to love. How could she help it? Just looking at him told her he was her ideal man, but she had the taste of pleasure from a year ago to back that up.
“You are too honest for your own good.”
“You’re not going to pretend that you didn’t know I was falling hard for you a year ago.” She would be so disappointed if he tried to prevaricate on that point.
Good. “So, there wouldn’t be any point in lying about it.”
“No, I don’t suppose there is.” He turned on a familiar street and she realized they weren’t headed to any of his usual haunts.
“So, what do you say?”
“To one night of sex?”
“Yes.” Sheesh, what else were they talking about?
“I say no.”
“Good, so…” Her voice trailed off as his denial registered. “What? After all that… Are you kidding me?”
He wanted her. She knew he did. He hadn’t denied it either. What was wrong with him?
“I assure you, I would not joke about this.”
“Well, why the heck not?”
“One night would be in direct conflict with my own plans. I have my own deal for you to consider.”
“What is it?” she asked with very little grace and even less patience.
She was still choking on her own breath in shock when they turned into the parking garage for his apartment building.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Words and actions don’t always match. Look at what the other person is doing before deciding how they feel about you.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2015?
I’m working on my Northern Fire series for Grand Central Forever Romance. These contemporary sexy single titles are all set in the small town of Cailkirn, Alaska. I’m loving the ability to share settings between books and have recurrent secondary characters. You can read the first in the series, Wild Heat, April 2015.
As for my other 2014 releases, I’ve got the digital reissue of my Corporate Information Systems duo out next month. I’ve retitled them as the original titles were really long and I’ve updated them for newer technology, etc. as well as adding back in scenes my then agent suggested I delete, but the stories are essentially the same as the originals (Come Up and See Me Sometime & Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It). These books have never before been available in digital format and readers had been asking for them, so I was really happy to get the rights back and be able to release them.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m happy to give away 3 copies of the first book in the Ruthless Russians duo “An Heiress for His Empire” and will ship internationally if the winner is outside the US.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I fell in love with San Francisco while I was there. Where is someplace you’ve visited or always wanted to because you read about it in a book?
Fury fighting with the pain of betrayal, Romi Grayson set her phone down on the table beside her with careful movements. The temptation to throw the mobile device across the room was staggering.
That lying, manipulative, opportunistic tycoon!
Donovan Black had made it very clear to Romi that he wasn’t in the market for a long term relationship, but that hadn’t meant he wasn’t interested in something else. His generosity in and out of bed with his lovers had been the fodder for gossip for years. As were the unexpectedly amicable breakups.
Van had promised Romi sexual pleasure beyond the scope of her imagination.
He’d said she would be the sole focus of his interest.
Until he was done with her.
The über wealthy tycoon-playboy had offered Romi absolute fidelity with a time limit.
She’d walked away.
From the promise. From the possibilities. From the certainty of a broken heart.
They’d only dated a few times, but he’d sparked a depth of emotion in her that was both immediate and frightening. Terrifying for its intensity, Romi’d had no doubts that she wouldn’t survive a break-up down the road with her heart intact.
Walking away after their short, almost platonic association had been painful enough. Almost being the operative word. Van had given Romi her first taste of sexual pleasure with a partner.
Awed by the sensations he evoked, she’d been close to giving into Van’s offer.
Ultimately, she’d had no choice though. Not with his attitude.
For all her “free spirited” ways, Romi was a traditionalist at heart. She wanted a home, a family and the man she loved to be looking at the future, not the expiry date on their relationship.
That same man had been prepared to marry Romi’s sister-by-choice, Madison Archer.
For a payoff!
Shares in Archer International Holdings and the prospect of taking over when Jeremy Archer retired had tempted Donovan Black to break his “no commitments” rule.
The mercenary cad.
It was an old-fashioned word, but man, it fit.
“Romona!” Her dad’s wavering call came from the den he spent most of his time in these days.
He only made it into the office about two days a week, his longtime director of operations running Grayson Imports in everything but name.
Some might have expected Romi to take over the family business, but not her dad. Stanley Grayson had always made it clear he expected his daughter to follow her own dreams.
Filtered sunlight from the single window on the north side cast the den in gray light. Her father sat on the sofa facing the dark screen of a wall-mounted big screen television. The high-ball glass in his hand was empty but for a couple of ice cubes. Bloodshot, red-rimmed hazel eyes testified to the fact it hadn’t been empty for long, or often in the past hours.
She walked forward and took the glass from his unresisting fingers. “It’s only afternoon, daddy. You don’t need this.”
There was a time when he hadn’t picked up a drink with alcohol in it before the cocktail hour. He’d drunk steadily from that point so that he went to bed every night so inebriated, walking up the stairs was a danger.
But the drinking hadn’t gone on during the day.
Over the past few years, the drinking had gotten worse while she was away at school. Her father now started at lunchtime with a glass of wine that often became a bottle.
But drinking hard liquor this early in the day was still something new.
Recognition took seconds to register in his rheumy gaze. “Ramona.”
“Yes, daddy. You called me.” Something he never would have done sober.
Graysons did not do common things like shout through the house for one another. They used the intercom system.
But Stanley Grayson didn’t look in any shape to cross the room to the intercom. His brows drew together in an exaggerated effort at concentrating. “I did?”
“Yes, daddy, you did.”
He looked with confusion around the room, like the answer might leap out at him. “I think I lost the remote.”
Romi bent down and picked up the small electronic device from the floor at his feet. “Here it is.”
“Oh, thank you.” He frowned. “It’s not working.”
She swiped her hand on the screen and spoke the command to turn the T.V. on. The sound of afternoon news commentary filled the room from the surround sound speakers.
“It’s working just fine.”
“Wouldn’t turn on for me,” her father slurred.
She wasn’t surprised. The remote was programmed to take voice instruction with recognizable commands, not speech blurred by alcohol.
“You look upset, kitten.”
That was the thing about her dad. Even with his brain pickled by too much drink, he cared about her. He paid attention. She had no trouble remembering that even drunk, her dad was twice the father than a man like Maddie’s dad could ever hope to be.
“No, you’re not.” He was careful to enunciate every word.
And for some reason that made Romi feel like crying. “It’s nothing, really.”
“No, I know it’s something.” For just a moment, her dad wasn’t a drunk bent on destroying his liver.
He was the man who had loved her mother so much, he’d married her against his own family’s wishes. He was the guy who raised Romi from the time she was three, refusing the easy road of allowing other family members to take on her care.
“It’s an old story.” And she’d fallen for it.
“I fell for a man.”
“You didn’t tell me.”
Romi ignored that, incapable of coming up with a response that wouldn’t hurt one of them. “He told me he didn’t do commitment.”
“And you found out he’s married?” her dad asked, looking as angry as emotions dulled by over-imbibing would allow.
“No, but I did find out he’s willing to get married. For the right price.”
She couldn’t help smiling at how her father’s word echoed her own thoughts just a few minutes before. “Exactly.”
“You’re better off without him.”
“Of course.” If only she could convince her heart as easily as her head.
Donovan Black was bored. Attending these functions rarely provided anything but a few mind numbing hours interspersed with brief moments of useful networking.
Oh, he believed in the cause. Tonight’s gala was dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of the plight of hunger among school age children.
Considering the focus of the evening, he might have an opportunity to indulge in one of his favorite pastimes. Watching Romi Grayson.
Touching her was more satisfying, but she’d turned down his offer of a liaison in no uncertain terms.
In a rare show of restraint, he hadn’t continued the pursuit.
There was something different…almost special…about the old-money San Francisco heiress, a vulnerability he was unwilling to exploit.
A first for him, he’d stayed away from her as much out of self-preservation as anything else.
He felt protective toward her in ways he did not understand, ways that could be manipulated if she knew about them. So, she would never find out.
Even so, plans and intentions changed and he was coming to the conclusion that he and Romi might have a future after all. So long as Donovan dictated the terms.
The soft scent of jasmine and vanilla he always associated with the heiress activist reached him before she did.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Donovan Black, master tycoon.”
Squelching the urge to turn quickly, he slowly faced her.
Black, silky chin-length hair framed Romi’s pixie-ish features, her bow shaped lips set in an uncustomary flat line. Her makeup was dramatic tonight, bringing out the gentian blue of her eyes. Eyes that snapped with accusation he did not understand.
Or perhaps he did.
“Good evening, Romi. You look lovely tonight.”
The elegant peacock-blue evening gown accented her modest curves, highlighting Romi’s particular brand of delicate femininity. Fragility at odds with her gung ho approach to life. Romi didn’t consider any cause too great, or any opponent too intimidating to take on.
Borderline petite at five-foot-five, with a personality that more than made up for her smaller stature, Donovan had found Ramona Grayson intriguing from their first meeting.
“Thank you.” She frowned at him, but offered grudgingly. “You’re very handsome yourself tonight. Not a designer I recognize. A tuxedo from one of the tailors on Saville Row?”
He smiled, impressed by her power of observation. Having his clothing made to fit could be considered a luxury by some, but for Donovan it was more than that. Tailored Armani impressed, but having a bespoke suit (patterned and constructed entirely to his specifications) made another kind of impression, one in line with Donovan’s reputation for utter control in and out of the boardroom.
“My suit-maker is local, but he apprenticed with a Saville Row tailor.”
“Of course. I notice you don’t give his name.”
“Why? Are you looking for a new tailor for your father?” Not that Donovan thought his would take Grayson on.
The tailor was both expensive and extremely discerning about his clientele. An alcoholic on the verge of taking his company down to the bottom of a whiskey bottle had no chance.
Romi’s barely there grimace was quickly masked. “No.”
“The waiting list for his services is a year out.” Donovan found himself offering the truth as an excuse, an unaccustomed effort to spare her feelings.
“No doubt you subverted it somehow.”
Donovan smiled. “Not a chance. The man’s a martinet about his schedule and his client standards.”
“Still, I’m surprised,” Romi said, her intent to bait him obvious.
Something was definitely bothering her. “Are you?”
“You’re a very opportunistic man.” The edge to her voice was sharper than a chef’s cleaver.
He couldn’t deny it, didn’t want to. His ability to identify and take advantage of opportunities was something that had helped Donovan to build his business and his fortune to what they were today. A multi-millionaire personally, his company Black Information Technologies (BIT) was valued at ten times his personal assets.
Not bad for a thirty-two year old bastard having no acknowledged ties to wealth like Romi had been born with.
However, it was clear something about that character trait had upset Romi. Recently, if he wasn’t mistaken. Since there was no way she could know about the plans he’d been considering for her father’s company, it had to be something else.
Mentally going back through the events of the past week that others were aware of, Donovan thought he might know. “You’ve spoken to Madison Archer.”
“I talk to Maddie every day, several times a day.” The increased annoyance in Romi’s voice left no doubt he was on the right track.
Though he still was not sure why Romi would be upset with Donovan for being offered the marriage based business contract by Jeremy Archer.
“I can hardly be held accountable for her father’s actions.” Though he wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of the auspicious conditions Archer had provided, even if not for the opportunities the president of AIH had intended.
Romi crossed her arms, leaning back in a classic pose of annoyance. “Only your willingness to participate in them.”
He took a moment to appreciate the way her stance pressed her small breasts together to create a shadow of tempting cleavage. Everything about her body turned him on. Thin, with modest curves, she was nevertheless one-hundred percent enticing woman.
“I went to a meeting where Jeremy Archer offered a very lucrative contract and your so-called sister-by-choice held her own very well.” Though he wasn’t prepared to tell Romi how Madison had kept her father in line.
Donovan had plans for that information. Because he was an opportunistic bastard. Literally and figuratively.
Unless he’d misread Madison Archer, she had not shared her actions with her best friend.
Which created leverage for Donovan with Romi. She would do anything to prevent her SBC from being harmed in any way. Even by Madison’s own precipitous actions.
“You were willing to break your own rules for a price,” Romi sneered.
Ah. Now he understood. Donovan was actually a little surprised that Madison had shared his offer with Romi. The Archer heiress had never seriously considered it and he hadn’t expected her to. That didn’t mean he would deny himself the opportunity to give Viktor Beck a few seconds of doubt.
They’d been friends and competitors since early childhood.
Still, Romi was upset Donovan had made the counteroffer. That might bode well for his own plans where she was concerned.
“And that price wasn’t love.” He laced the last word with his own brand of disgust.
The overly emotional and incredibly naïve heiress thought that sentiment the only motivation worthy of note. Even after the loss of that love had nearly destroyed her own father and what remained of their family.
“More like thirty pieces of silver.” Her blue gaze snapped with fire he wanted in his bed.
The small taste he’d had of her had only whetted an appetite Donovan had come to accept would not be satisfied by anything but unfettered access to this woman alone.
“Your inference would imply I betrayed someone. I didn’t.” He and Romi had gone their separate ways nearly a year ago.
“Your own integrity maybe.”
“What is dishonest about a business deal where the terms are laid bare for everyone involved?”
“So, your no commitment rule was only for me?” Romi’s voice betrayed pained disappointment.
He didn’t like hearing that from her. Even less than he’d liked the sound of no thank you spoken with a catch of desperation in her voice. “I didn’t offer Madison the kind of commitment you believe you need.”
“You offered to marry her.”
“I offered a business arrangement without conjugal rights or the promise of fidelity.”
“That’s horrible.” Romi was getting genuinely upset, her voice rising in agitation.
Soon, those around them would notice.
He took her by her elbow and began leading her toward the balcony doors. He was hoping the evening drop in temperatures would mean it was deserted.
“Where are we going?” she asked, though she didn’t try to pull away.
“Someplace more private than here.”
Memory slashed across his brain…a similar question, an almost identical answer, but for very different purpose.
He’d wanted to kiss her.
She’d been seething with an emotion very different from anger that time. She’d wanted the kiss too.
Her response had nearly caused him to lose control of his own body for the first time since his initial foray into sex.
The balcony was as deserted as he’d hoped it would be, with only one other couple tucked away into the corner shadows at the opposite end. The low level lighting and thirty feet separating the two couples insured a certain level of privacy so long as he and Romi did not raise their voices.
She shivered in the cool air and he moved them into the corner, where strategically placed potted greenery acted as both a privacy screen and wind barrier.
Anyone looking closely would see them, but only from certain angles. The other couple was not at that angle.
Even without the wind, the evening air was still chilly.
He removed his jacket and tucked it around Romi like a cape. “Better?” he asked.
Nodding, Romi bit her lip in a gesture of vulnerability that nearly derailed his intention to talk.
“You didn’t need to give me your coat.” She pulled it closer, a clearly unconscious action in direct opposition to the words she spoke. “We won’t be out here long. I’m not even sure why I came with you in the first place.”
“Because you are angry I considered Jeremy Archer’s business proposal and we need to talk about that.”
“I don’t know why.”
He merely waited in silence.
Romi huffed out a sigh. “Maddie deserves better than a business marriage.” She glared up at Donovan with a mix of emotions he couldn’t quite read. “You do too.”
“I do not find Madison particularly attractive. Foregoing conjugal rights would not have been a great sacrifice.”
“I find beauty in a different package.” The red-headed Archer heiress was undeniably pleasing to the eye, but she did nothing for Donovan personally.
He liked willowy figures, usually going for taller women because of his own six-foot-five-inch height. Though despite the foot difference in their height, Romi fit with him surprisingly well. He preferred dark hair and found her black tresses particularly appealing. Sharp elfin features were also unexpectedly attractive.
Before Romi, he’d never been drawn to blue eyes, but hers were so striking, so expressive he found them intensely alluring. He liked knowing everything his sexual partners were feeling and thinking. Romi’s eyes revealed what her charming verbal honesty did not.
And unlike her SBC who rarely blushed at all, Romi’s frequently pink cheeks (at least in his presence) that had nothing to do with her makeup were equally expressive.
“I just don’t understand how you were willing to marry her.” With a sound of frustration, Romi put her hand over her mouth, a sure sign she wished she hadn’t said that out loud.
“I was willing to entertain the idea, but she wasn’t interested in me as her future husband and I knew that before I ever made the offer of a marriage in name only.”
“What? How did you know?”
“Madison Archer may be better at hiding her emotions than you, but there can be no doubt that only one man in that conference room had the remotest of chances in fulfilling the contract her father had drawn up.”
Romi’s smile was soft. “They’re good together.”
“Let’s hope so.” Viktor and Madison’s engagement had already been announced, along with the whirlwind date set for their wedding.
He didn’t know Madison Archer well, but what he knew of her, he respected and liked. And while many would look on Viktor as Donovan’s lifelong rival, the man who shared his Russian heritage was one of a select few Donovan called friend.
Considering the fact that both people appeared to be entering the agreement with poorly hidden (to him at least) romantic aspirations and a long term future together as their goal, Donovan hoped it worked out for them.
He didn’t believe in permanent romantic ties. He considered marriage like any other contract – to be kept in place for the duration of the benefit of both parties.
His mother had taught him from an early age to see romantic relationships as a means to an end. Natalya Black had always told her son that love was the biggest fairytale of all.
She’d believed in Donovan and told him he could do anything he set his mind to, but never give into “so-called” love. It only weakened the afflicted and made them lose their focus.
Donovan didn’t know where his mother’s life lessons had come from, but he knew his own and he’d discovered early on she was right.
Leaving Russia and her disapproving relatives for a new start in America had not included Natalya giving up her tendency to line her nest with the golden straw of cleverly chosen bed partners of defined duration.
The transience of the men in his mother’s life had taught him one thing. There was no such thing as forever and anyone who believed in it was a fool.
They’d only come close one time. One man had made Natalya glow with something besides satisfaction in a well-chosen partner. The man had also taken a paternal interest in Donovan as none of his mother’s other affairs ever had or been allowed to.
For three years, Donovan had a father-figure show up at his activities, someone as interested in teaching him what it was to be a boy raised in America as his mother and those at the cultural center had been in exposing him to bits of his Russian heritage, someone besides a neighbor the school could call when Donovan needed to go home early with the flu.
Then Carlyle’s estranged wife had returned, along with his real son and daughter and Donovan never saw the man again. Natalya lost her glow, but not her determination to give Donovan every chance life in America had to offer.
“Madison said she thought something about Perry’s claims intrigued you.” Romi frowned, her gaze searching.
Broken out of the unexpected reverie in his past, Donovan took a moment to catch up. Then he said, “You know I like control in bed.”
Yes, he hadn’t hidden his preferences during their kisses and the touching. “I had no desire to take her to bed, therefore it follows my preference for control wasn’t my reason for intrigue.”
“Oh.” Romi’s frown turned to puzzlement. “Then why?”
“I found it interesting that Perry made the claims he did.”
“The more salacious the story, the more money they would pay for it.” The lovely heiress’ tone dripped cynicism.
Donovan’s was a bit more derisive when he said, “Perry Timwater isn’t capable of upholding a more dominant role in sex.”
“How would you know?”
“I’ve met him.” And what Donovan had seen of the other man had neither impressed, nor inspired a desire to further their association. “He has neither the confidence, nor the attention to the needs of others to succeed in that role.”
“I’m sure he’s a selfish lover,” Romi said with her customary direct honesty. “He was a very selfish friend.”
“You are probably right.” Donovan felt his lips quirking as they often did in her presence.
Romi Grayson always entertained him, even when she didn’t mean to. She intrigued him as much because of the attraction he felt for her as the fact she was so unlike him. He didn’t understand her.
That was not something Donovan was used to.
Understanding what motivated people was what made him so good in the business world. He knew how to identify a need and exploit it, without compromising his own sense of honor.
It might not be as shiny and uncomplicated as Viktor’s, but Donovan did have one.
Romi’s mercurial nature made her an enigma. He’d been sure she would go for his offer of monogamy of limited duration, but she hadn’t. Even more inexplicably, her reaction had told him the offer had hurt her in some way, which he hadn’t expected and found he did not like.
“So, why were you intrigued?”
“Why do you think?” he prodded, wondering how much she’d really learned about him during their brief time of dating.
She paused and thought, which wasn’t something anyone else would have expected from her. She came off as passionate and impetuous, but he’d learned that as much as she might appear to act without thought, Romi rarely ever did.
Finally, she said, “You’ve got more curiosity than any man I’ve ever met. The situation didn’t make sense to you, something you aren’t really on a first-name basis with. So you wanted to understand it.”
He nodded, not really surprised she guessed his reaction so easily. He’d learned that she studied him with as much attention as he had any business rival in his career.
“The stories themselves were a puzzle,” Donovan agreed. “Despite both you and Madison Archer’s penchant for making it into the media spotlight, neither of you are known for sexual exploits.”
Something he should have paid closer attention to before making his offer to her. He should have realized that the reason her sex-life was never speculated on in the media was because she didn’t have one.
That innocence wasn’t going to leave her open to the kind of liaison Donovan was used to negotiating with his lovers.
Which meant that if he wanted Romi, and the year apart had shown him that at present no one else would suffice, he would have to figure out a different arrangement.
One they could both live with.
If his plans included a measure of what he thought might well be irresistible persuasion, well his honor didn’t require a level playing field.
Winning was key. Full stop.
Her awakening: San Francisco heiress Romi Grayson has only had a taste of Maxwell Black’s addictive brand of seduction and knows she should stay away…especially having discovered just how determined he is to possess her!
His proposal: Max prides himself on always being in control, yet somehow Romi sneaked under his cast-iron defences, then walked away. Now he is driven to finish what they started….
The ultimate prize! This Russian tycoon will stop at nothing, even blackmail, to have Romi warm and willing in his bed. And her innocence will make his long-awaited possession all the sweeter….
With more than 7 million copies of her books in print worldwide, award winning and USA Today bestseller Lucy Monroe has published over 60 books and had her stories translated for sale all over the world. While she writes multiple subgenres of romance, all of her books are sexy, deeply emotional and adhere to the concept that love will conquer all. A passionate devotee of romance, she adores sharing her love for the genre with her readers.
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