Hi Madeline and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, His Billionaire Bride!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Carrie Morgan is a self-made billionaire. She’s been burned by life and love, so throws her all into business investment and does a damn good job. When her sister asks her to pose as a bride for a wall mural, Carrie reluctantly agrees—anything for her sister—even though the portrait artist is her secret crush, Edwin Prince. Cue long painting sessions into the night, intense sexual chemistry, and the bold suggestion of a fling…
Please share the opening lines of this book:
(The first three lines are very short, so I’ve given the first three paragraphs instead!)
Carrie Morgan was unprepared for him.
He didn’t belong here—not now.
She halted on the street corner, disarmed at the sight of his back. He stood in the side street not ten strides away. On any other Monday, she found San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter peaceful in the early morning. A pause before her working week unleashed its howl—a final respite from pressure, hustle, and men puffing their chests at her like territorial pigeons. A pause to help her cope with upcoming interviews, an industry panel, and her fast-approaching startup conference. It was going to be a hell of a fortnight.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- My goal going into this story was to write a socially powerful heroine. Billionaire heroes are ubiquitous in romance, but I rarely read about wealthy, successful-in-business heroines. Along came Carrie and she owned the role.
- The hero’s hair distracted me constantly! I don’t normally give much page time to my characters’ appearance, but Edwin blindsided Carrie in every scene with just how gorgeous she found him. His hair though, she (and I) couldn’t get enough: ‘It was the brightest copper of a red fox. Short at the sides, with top curls that always spilled over his forehead. Ridiculous, obviously, but also vibrant and buoyant and breathtaking….’
- We first meet Carrie in The Wedding Obsession (the Morgan Sisters book 1) as one of Emmie’s sisters. But I refer to Edwin in book 1, too—I gave him a sneaky mention in Emmie’s POV early in the book. See if you can spot him!
- My writing playlist for His Billionaire Bride included:
- Confidence by Ocean Alley (for Carrie’s swagger)
- Everyone’s Waiting by Missy Higgins (for Edwin’s personal conflict)
- Arty Boy by Flight Facilities (for the way Carrie thinks of Edwin before they officially meet)
- Dance Money by Tones and I (for Edwin and the final scene you’ll have to read for yourself!)
- I Can’t Give Everything Away by David Bowie (for everything)
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Carrie and Edwin are opposites. She’s a high-level businesswoman, no-nonsense, with her guard up against people who want to put her ‘in her place’. Edwin is an artist still studying at college, vibrant and open and accepting. Before I started writing, I could visualize how to make them a couple, all the differences and similarities that needed to blend to form a match, but I was surprised at just how perfectly they fit together. I couldn’t have paired them with any other character—these two belong together.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
Ooh. This is a tough choice! I think it would need to be a scene that would showcase the actors’ onscreen chemistry, because Carrie and Edwin crackle with sexual energy. I think they’re first real argument would be a great audition scene, because it would show Carrie’s confidence and Edwin’s strength of character to stand up for himself despite wanting what she’s offering. Snippet below!
“You think—because what? I’m younger than you—you can mess me around?”
Eyes wide, her answer was mostly breath. “No.”
Yet, she’d messaged him all that stuff last night. Sent him a photo, the most precious image he’d ever own, and then come today to offer moral support she didn’t ordinarily give. For you, I do.
If this wasn’t being strung along, he didn’t know what was.
“What are your plans for me, Carrie?”
“I—” She silenced herself.
“Sorry?” Finally, anger teamed up with his hurt, lending him the strength to step toward her. “What am I to you?”
She shook her head, as if he didn’t want to know.
“Go on,” he said.
Finally, quietly, she murmured, “A guilty pleasure.”
Stung, he froze.
“We’re incompatible.” Now it was her turn to take a step closer, and he couldn’t make himself retreat. “I shouldn’t be doing any of this. We’re not made for each other. You’re made for someone so much better, more capable of matching what you give, but I can’t stop myself. From taking what you’re giving. That’s my guilt. And the pleasure is…obvious.”
“Don’t come closer,” he muttered.
She fixed her stare on him. It reacted inside him like a solar flare as she took another step.
He felt his cheeks flush. “I swear to God, Carrie.”
“No one commits to a relationship this soon,” she said. Now there were only three strides between them. Close enough his attention fell to her body, remembering his fantasies, the imagined feel of her. “It’s unrealistic.”
“I don’t expect forever.” Magnetic. It was magnetic when she took yet another step, a physical full-body haul that threatened his resistance. “But I don’t want someone who already knows I’m not their finish line.”
“Does a finish line matter if it’s only short term? No promises. No false hopes.” Another step. “Just sex.”
He swallowed. “Even then.”
And she took it—the final step. Directly in front of him, body heat curling against him, her lips parting as her attention shifted across his face and down to his chest.
She said, “I think you could handle it.”
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I’d like readers to delight in these characters and the way Carrie being in a position of power does not in any way emasculate the hero. Edwin might be an artist, but he’s strong and bold and a match for Carrie in every way.
Edwin conveys this takeaway succinctly when he says: “Being with a successful woman can’t make me less of a man. It’d make me less of a man if I was bothered by your success.”
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m planning book 3 in this Morgan Sisters series (Lizzy needs her HEA!) while writing book 2 in my Cowboy Princes series. Her Cowboy King came out in July this year, a luscious, trope-heavy romance set in a world where cowboys rule with fair hearts, and Her Cowboy Prince (book 2) is due out mid-2020.
Due to me being an exceptionally slow writer, book 3 in the Morgan Sisters doesn’t yet have a release date—but stay tuned!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Copy of His Billionaire Bride ebook by Madeline Ash
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Carrie poses as a bride for Edwin’s portrait. If you had your portrait painted and could dress up however you wanted, what would you wear?
Excerpt from His Billionaire Bride:
The drive back to the office was torture. She sat still and silent so the initially chatty ride-share driver wouldn’t start talking again, all the while her sternum collapsed in on itself and the seatbelt strapped across her chest added downward pressure. The buildings moved too quickly outside the window, so she closed her eyes, disoriented by loss.
She’d broken it off with him.
“It’s okay,” she said under her breath.
It didn’t seem possible a man she’d scarcely touched could destroy her, but her whole body crawled with an anxious, nervy kind of deprivation. She’d handled it badly—knew mortification would creep in when her mind cleared later. When she’d walked into that spare room, her goal had been simple. Stay level and be honest. Then he’d accused her of using him, and she’d stumbled. Panic at not seeing him again pounced on her moment of weakness, and she’d propositioned him, closed in, been one word away from kissing him.
She loosened her tie as she entered her office building, needing air at her throat.
In the elevator, trapped on all sides, she battled a hot rush of claustrophobia. Stuck in this life alone. Isolated, with no hope of letting herself out.
Finally, in her office with the door locked, she sank into her chair, digging her fingertips into the sharp pulse beside her temples. It was okay. She was okay. These were withdrawals. Symptomatic of how close she’d come to crossing the line, yet nothing compared to true grief. Already too attached to him, this was proof she’d been right to shut it down.
She’d been right.
No more sitting for the portrait. He’d sketched enough that first night to paint an entire series. Emmie would get her two-story bride, and Edwin would have a significant addition to his portfolio.
And Carrie would go on as always.
“Okay,” she breathed, tipping her head back and staring at her office ceiling. “It’s okay.”
And it would be.
Carrie was buttoning the top of her blazer. The fabric was black. A shade so absolute, so final, nothing could pass through it.
It matched her eyes.
Edwin dropped his brush in the water jar, swirling, when a knock came from his door. “In here,” he answered, attention still on the painting as he pulled the brush back out.
It opened behind him. “Prince?”
He kept his back turned. “Yeah?”
“We’re leaving for Carpe now.” Rose sounded concerned. “You’re not coming?”
“Not tonight.” Not because Carrie might be there. She’d probably never attend her sister’s venue again. “I don’t feel like dancing.”
“Oh, my God.” Rose’s exclamation made him turn. She was gaping at the painting. “What happened?”
Grim, he turned back. Captured from the bust up, Carrie glared from the canvas. It was an exercise in expression. Resentment clamped her unseen teeth, sending tension from her chin right up to the hinge of her jaw. He could practically see the indignant slide of her jawbone. Her mouth was hard, lips pressed together on some cutting remark. And her eyes, dark and burning with challenge, threatened any viewer who dared to look down at Edwin’s trademark inclusion of white paint. Glowing, vivid, it was the last visible sign of the wedding dress she wore underneath the blazer. She’d extinguished most of it beneath the black, the suit designed to fend off the outside world while simultaneously concealing the delicate lace she kept close to her heart.
He knew it was there—her hint of white.
I don’t commit to anyone.
He’d heard it, a single fracture in her tone. Vulnerability. The reason she didn’t commit, hidden inside that crack. It had made up his mind. Nothing else could have stopped him from reaching for her, from succumbing to her proposition with fire in his veins.
She was damaged, but she refused to be fixed.
And he valued himself more than to get caught up in that.
“But…” Rose was still at his door. “I thought she met your fam today.”
“It went badly.”
She made a sound of sympathy. “Five-second summary?”
“She refused the possibility of a relationship. Not the commitment type. Offered the next few weeks instead.” He tapped the brush against the lip of the jar. “I refused. She left.”
“That is the worst news.”
“Agreed.” He dipped the brush in dark purple paint. The background needed to be heavier.
She hesitated in the doorway. “You’re not happy about it.”
He sent a wry glance over his shoulder.
“No, but like…you’re already unhappy. And you two haven’t even slept together. I assume she offered the next few weeks to rectify that?”
“Okay. I get you like her, Prince. Really like her. And you wanted it to turn into something. I mean, just seeing you two together felt epic, so I can’t imagine how it felt to be inside that kind of chemistry. This isn’t how it was supposed to go. But you’re miserable. And if you’re going to be miserable, why be sexually frustrated at the same time?”
His brushstrokes slowed. Why? Because it would be treating himself the same way he’d resented others for treating him. Good for nothing but short-term sex.
“No,” he said.
“I assume you still want her?”
More than anything. He lowered the brush entirely. He should ask Rose to stop talking. To leave now and take her pragmatic suggestions with her. But a part of him had been praying for this—a loophole, a justification, a way to see Carrie again that wouldn’t feel like surrender.
Surrender or not, it would be torment.
He took in a breath. “Look—”
“You still want to kiss her for hours at a time?”
He tensed. For hours and hours and hours—
“You still want to remove her tie with your teeth?”
“Obviously,” he answered quietly.
“You want to feel like this hasn’t all been building up to nothing?” Before he could answer, she said, “Well, you don’t have to live with that regret.”
He swore under his breath. “Rosie…”
“I know. But it sounds like this is your only chance, and I don’t want you to regret this more than you have to.” There was the sound of her reversing her wheelchair, lightly knocking it against the door. “We’re leaving now. As your friend, it’s my duty to take you dancing if this is really the end of you and Carrie. I’m not leaving you alone like this.”
He angled his head at her.
She arched a brow.
“Or is it your duty,” he said, “to support my choice to be alone?”
Her brow sank, and she looked sorry.
“Heartbreak fuels strokes of creative genius.” He did his best to smile. “Go have fun while I stay here and be brilliant.”
“But you’re always brilliant,” she said, voice gentle, and closed the door.
Sighing, he stared into Carrie’s uncompromising glare.
Not brilliant enough.
Carrie didn’t see the text until she’d ended her late-night phone call with a client. Their industry’s trajectory was set to be exponential, and she’d just invested an additional ten million to ensure supply could meet demand. Her home office had a view of the marina and ocean beyond, and she’d been drenched in an orange sunset hours ago. Regardless, she had follow-up tasks and preparations to make for her upcoming conference before she could even think about going to bed.
Then she noticed the notification.
One word, embedded in the text alert, sent forty-three minutes ago.
Disbelief had her swiping the screen, opening the message. Hey. That was all it said, yet adrenaline pumped her pulse as she spun her chair away from the desk, fixing all her attention on the phone. He’d contacted her. It was a few seconds before she realized she was saying, “Please, please, please,” under her breath.
Her entire afternoon had been like talking to someone while trying to listen to the conversation beside her. Every task, interaction, and outcome had been less important than thinking about Edwin. She’d pretended to focus on work and colleagues, going through the motions, but her mind had been stuck on the man she’d denied.
Now, it was a relief to stop pretending to be interested in anything but him.
The tone was impossible to decipher. It could be the start to any kind of text, from a drunken accusation of her cold heart to a polite update the macaroons had gone down well with the family.
Hands shaking, she matched his ambiguity. Hey.
For several minutes, there was no response. She waited, hardly breathing, touching her screen whenever it started to dim. Then—an ellipsis appeared.
You’re still up?
No. I’m mid-REM.
He didn’t respond. She cursed herself for the self-sabotage of using sarcasm two lines in.
Yes. Late work call, she texted. Finishing up now.
Unlike the other night when she’d paced restless laps of her garden while waiting for his next message, she sat frozen in place. She couldn’t get out of the chair while the ellipsis was on her screen. While she was in this exact spot, he wrote to her. How could she possibly risk moving?
If you had to recap today, how would it go?
The question gave her a bellyache. She spent minutes drafting and redrafting her answer. Then, she shared: I went to lunch to support you. Instead, I hurt you. And it can’t be a recap because it doesn’t feel like it’s stopped happening yet.
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed you’d be okay with casual.
Her foolish assumption had strung her up all afternoon. This sweet-hearted man hadn’t discounted the possibility of a relationship based on their differences. He didn’t see life in black and white the way she did, compatible or incompatible. He liked her—was very sure about her. And that was all that mattered to him.
Her heart swallowed that truth, like the earth taking in a seed that would never grow.
He liked her, and she had to let him go.
But then, he replied.
“What?” she demanded aloud, thoughts scrambling. About that?? Too many question marks, but she’d already sent it.
Maybe I’m not sure, he replied.
She sat so straight, she almost stood. Was he changing his mind? Unexpected hope expanded inside her. More time—could she have more time with him? Not sure…?
About my decision.
“Don’t presume,” she ordered herself. Your decision?
From this afternoon.
Okay. This was killing her. Which part aren’t you sure about?
All of it.
For heaven’s sake, he couldn’t have been more vague if he was—
She let out a breath. You’re doing this on purpose.
He sent a laughing emoji.
Sly fox, she sent, please stop playing and tell me what you want.
Her pulse skipped. Even after I screwed up?
I just endured the longest day of my life, believing I’d never touch you in all the ways I need to touch you. So I’ll go with yes, even after that.
Still sitting straight, she pulled her feet and knees together, bracing for this next exchange. I don’t want a relationship.
She’d expected a long delay. Maybe an end to the conversation entirely. Instead, he responded near instantly. I know. So we’ll keep it short. Like you said.
My exhibition is just over two weeks away. Until then.
Two weeks. Two incredibly busy weeks. Such little time. Frustration finally pushed her out of the chair, out of her office. She paced the length of her penthouse. Why have you changed your mind?
I’ve already experienced the rejection. It was like getting it out of the way ahead of time. I’ll miss you after my exhibition, but I already miss you, so why wouldn’t I say yes?
She held the phone to her chest for a moment. Her heart was beating unnervingly fast.
If you’re sure, she texted.
I am. You said you were busy until Sunday?
Yes. With their limited schedules, any moment apart seemed like a devastating waste. For sitting. But Mom and my sisters are coming over for dinner tomorrow night. Low-key, nothing fancy. It’s—she hesitated—an annual thing. You want to come?
I see. Maybe another time.
Funny. What can I bring?
She’d written nothing, but she caught herself before sending it. Erased, and then texted, Berries would go well with dessert. Perhaps that?
Are you sure?
Berries aren’t that hard to find.
She came close to smiling. I mean, are you really sure? About all of this. It’s not what you want.
I’ll deal with it. What time tomorrow?
Text me your address?
Her gut hardened. Oh. Right.
Actually. Hold off on the address until tomorrow, he texted. It wouldn’t be the wisest thing to send me right now. It’s likely you need sleep tonight.
She blushed, body heating at the thought of Edwin turning up in the night. Dark-eyed and serious. Not saying a word, just moving in to kiss her the second the elevator doors opened. Pressing her against the nearest surface, hands beneath her shirt, his body hot under her own explorations…
She blew a breath up over her face. Good call.
Sweet dreams, Pea.
I don’t want them to be sweet.
There was a slight delay. Where’s a devilish grin emoji when you need one?
She smiled. And in a moment of rare abandon, she raised her phone and captured that smile, sending it to him without hesitation.
His message came fast. What did you say your address was?
It’s just that I need to kiss you now.
She bit down on her bottom lip. She could do it. Send him details to her penthouse, then wait for him to arrive. But she was still shaking, and she knew she’d be too overwhelmed if he came over now. She hadn’t slept with anyone in a long time, hadn’t trusted anyone enough to let them so close. Allowing herself to be that vulnerable would take preparation.
Tomorrow, he promised.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
She’s got it all… on paper
Business investor Carrie Morgan is guarded for a long list of good reasons. She’s battled her way to the top of her industry, dealt with enough bad sex to put her off men, and if her painful past has taught her anything, it’s that commitment always ends in heartbreak.
When Carrie’s sister asks her to sit for a portrait—as a bride—she uneasily agrees. Anything for Emmie. Even if it means intimate nightly sessions with her secret fantasy: artist Edwin Prince.
Rejected by his family and treated as temporary by past lovers, Edwin will settle for nothing less than commitment — and wants that and more from the beguiling Carrie Morgan. Startling them both, she allows him to unwind her emotional bindings one intense interaction at a time, until their chemistry builds so high, she’s blinded to the fall.
And the only way out is to break both their hearts.
Meet the Author:
Madeline Ash is an Australian contemporary romance author and two-time RITA Award
finalist. She has won Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year award (RUBY). She delves
deep into the hearts and minds of her characters, creating flawed and compassionate
leads—who are always rewarded with a happy ending.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |