Spotlight & Giveaway: His Secretary’s Surprise Fiancé by Joanne Rock

Posted March 10th, 2016 by in Blog, Spotlight / 102 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Joanne Rock to HJ!

Hi Joanne and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, His Secretary’s Surprise Fiancé!

Hello!! Thank you so much for letting me visit during my release month for my FIRST-ever Harlequin Desire release. I’m so excited to be a part of this series!

Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge using the title of the book:


Stuns him!
Ending her
Run as his
To start
A business of her own!
Reynauds don’t take kindly to being thwarted!
You’ll learn


Escapades …


What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:

Intellectually, he’d always known she was an attractive woman. Of course he had. He wasn’t blind. But maybe her workday wardrobe had helped minimize an appeal that damn near staggered him now. He dragged his attention away from her body to meet her gaze. Only to find a simmering heat …


Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

The hero and heroine have known each other since they were children. The heroine has always been attracted to the hero for his sense of honor– he rescued her in a playground incident and he’s been her hero ever since. But the hero sees her as off limits because she’s his friend and she’s also become invaluable to him as a work asset. He refuses to see her in “that” way… unwilling to jeopardize what they have. But when she forces the issue, his old view of her starts to unravel…


When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?

This was my 1st Desire story! There is always a fear factor when you stretch your writing to try something new, and I definitely felt the weight of expectation for this story. The readers of the series are used to wonderful books! And, of course, I wanted mine to deliver what they’ve come to love about Harlequin Desire, plus offer something unique that reflected my voice and storytelling. That’s both exciting and scary. I had so much fun crafting this story.


What, in your mind, makes this book stand out?

This is part of the Bayou Billionaires series and I think the four books are unique because they are set in the world of professional football. My hero coaches an NFL team, and it’s a profession we don’t always see in romance.


The First Kiss…

“You’re jealous.” He tested the idea aloud by saying it out loud as he studied her in the moonlight while the music ended. The song came to an end.

He didn’t let go of her.

“And you’re mine for four weeks, Dempsey Reynaud.” She tipped her chin up at him. “I suggest you act like it if you want to pull off this ruse of your own making.”

Heat rushed up his spine in a molten blast. The need to offer her what she’d asked for made him grip her tighter, pulling her hip to hip, chest to breasts.

And if that was a little too much PDA for a charity event, too damn bad. It wasn’t anywhere near enough for what he wanted to do with her. She felt even better up close than he’d imagined, and his head had been full of inventive scenarios all week.

“Careful what you wish for, Addy,” he warned her, grateful for the night shadows that kept them hidden.

He’d been a gentleman for her sake. At least now she would know exactly how much he was feeling like her fiancé. Her hips cradled the hard length he couldn’t begin to hide.

And that’s when things got crazy. Because instead of storming off like his affronted best friend, Adelaide gripped the lapels of his tuxedo and pressed a kiss to his lips.


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

“Half of all small businesses fail and the ones that don’t require considerable investment. Work for one more year,” Dempsey explained. “You can suggest a raise that you feel is equitable and I’ll approve it. You’ll have a financial cushion to increase your odds of growing the company large enough to secure those merchandising rights.”

And he would have more time to persuade her to give up the idea. Life was good for them now. Really good. She was an integral part of his success, freeing him up to do what he did best. Manage the team.

The voices and laughter in the hallway outside grew louder as members of the media moved from the locker room interviews to the scheduled press conference. He needed to get going, to do everything possible to keep their future locked in.

“Damn it, I don’t want a raise—”

“Then you’re not thinking like a business owner,” he interrupted. Yes, he admired her independence. Her stubbornness, even. But he couldn’t let her start a company that would fail.

Especially when she could do a whole hell of a lot of good for her current career and for his team. For him. He didn’t have time to replace her. For that matter, as his longtime friend who probably understood him better than anyone, Adelaide Thibodeaux was too good at her job to be replaced.

He reached around her for the doorknob. She slid over to block him, which put her ass right over his hand. A curvy little butt in a tight pencil skirt. Her chest rose with a deep inhale, brushing her breasts against his chest.

He. Couldn’t. Breathe.

Her eyes held his for a moment and he could have sworn he saw her pupils widen with awareness. He stepped back. Fast. She blinked and the look was gone from her gaze.

“I’m grateful that working with you gave me the time to think about what I want to do with my life. I got to travel all over and make important contacts that inspired my new business.” She gestured with her hands, and he made himself focus on anything other than her face, her body, the memory of how she’d felt pressed up against him.


If your hero had a sexy-times play list, what song(s) would have to be on it?

Hmm… Dempsey Reynaud was born and raised in New Orleans, so I picture him listening to something like John Legend’s So High or a Harry Connick Jr. classic.


What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I hope to give them a taste of New Orleans, a glimpse into the larger-than-life world of the NFL and a supremely *romantic* read. This book has one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever penned, even if ends on a heart-rending note. I hope readers check it out and sign on for more of the Bayou Billionaires. With four books on the series, we’re hoping you can check them all out:

Bayou Billionaires – Secrets and scandal are a Cajun family legacy for the Reynauds…

Book 1: His Pregnant Princess Bride by Catherine Mann
Book 2: His Secretary’s Surprise Fiance by Joanne Rock
Book 3: Reunited with the Rebel Billionaire by Catherine Mann
Book 4: Secret Baby Scandal by Joanne Rock


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?

After my next sexy Cajun hero in Secret Baby Scandal (Harlequin Desire, May 2016), I’ve got another visit to Heartache, Tennessee for my fourth book in my Superromance series, Whispers Under a Southern Sky (September 2016). Currently, I’m busy on my follow up Harlequin Desire series, tentatively titled The McNeill Magnates, for Desire in 2017.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Book #1 in the Bayou Billionaires series, His Pregnant Princess Bride by Catherine Mann, plus book swag- 2 copies available for two separate winners!
Open to INTL readers.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you’re married… how did your husband propose to you? If you’re single… what’s one of the more fun or romantic proposals you’ve heard about?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from His Secretary’s Surprise Fiancé:

The card had invited her on a date to an undisclosed location after Sunday’s 1pm one o’clock game against Atlanta. A jaw-dropping Versace gown awaited her in their suite, burgundy lace with a plunging neckline that kept everything covered but—wow. The Louboutin sky high heels that accompanied it were the most exotic footwear she’d ever slid on, the signature red sole dazzling her almost as much as the satin toes with hand-crafted embellishments.

If she looked down her crossed legs now, she could see the pretty toes peeping out from the handkerchief hem of the tulle skirting.

He folded her hand in his, the crisp white collar of his shirt emphasizing his deeply tanned skin gained from spending every day on the practice field. “I owed you a date night. You were kind enough to be my date for the Brighter NOLA ball, so it seemed like you ought to have a night that was just for you.”

His Tom Ford tuxedo was obviously custom tailored, since off the rack sizes never fit an athlete’s body the wayand the black fabric skimmed his physique perfectly. The black silk peaked lapels made her hand itch to smooth run her hand up and down the material.


For now, she just wanted to know where they were headed. She’d never seen Dempsey race out of a stadium so early. She hadn’t even attended the game, taking her time to dress in the hotel, then taking the limo to VIP pickup outside the stadium. Traffic had been slow at first, but it wasn’t even six o’clockp.m. yet. Almost two hours before sunset.

“I’d be surprised if there are many restaurants out this way,” she observed, peering out the windows as they drove toward Stone Mountain, winding through quieter roads.

It was early yet, but her invitation had mentioned a special “sunset dinner.”

A mysterious smile played around his mouth. A mouth that had brought her such pleasure.
“There’s a surprise first. I hope you’re not too hungry.”

“I think I’m too excited to be hungry.” She felt the first flutter of nerves, because Dempsey looked so serious for a date night.

She wanted to ask about him about that. About his grandfather’s health. Maybe that’s what had been bothering him all week. But just then, the limo came to a clearing in the trees and a flash of rainbow-colored silk fluttered through the sky.

“How beautiful!” She clutched his arm, pointing to a hot air balloon being inflated on a nearby field.

At the same moment, the limo slowed and turned into the same field, heading right toward the balloon.

She stilled.

“Don’t tell me…” She turned toward him, and saw the first hint if of a smile on his face. “Is this the surprise?”

“Only if you’d like it to be.” He squeezed her hand.

She squealed, scarcely able to take her eyes off the huge balloon that looked like as if it would burst into flames any moment from the blazing blasts that shot into the bottom, of it and filled filling it with air. Or helium. Or whatever did that magic trick that made it go from half on the ground to a big ball in the sky.

“Yes!” She risked her lipstick by kissing him through a shocked laugh. “It’s amazing! I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Here.” He produced a silk satin drawstring bag as the car rolled to a stop and their driver came around to open the door. “Better wear these for now and save your pretty shoes for later.”

Opening the bagsack, she pulled out a pair of silver ballet slippers. Just her size.

“You thought of everything.” She had to have him help her because she fumbled the shoes twice, distracted by the sight of yellow, blue, red and orange silk rising higher just outside the car.

“I would have tried to get us here earlier if I’d known you wanted to see this part.” His warm hands tugged her shoes into place before he helped her out of the car. He reached back in the limo and withdrew a length of fuzzy mohair and cashmere that at first she thought was a blanket, but he unfurled it and laid it around her shoulders. A burgundy colored pashmina fell around her. “The pilot said it will be cooler once we’re up there.”

A red carpet lined her path from the car door to the balloon basket. While the limo driver exchanged words with the team crew that operated the balloon, Adelaide had a moment to catch her breath and take in the full extent of her surprise. Blasts of heat passed her shoulders in rhythmic waves each time the pilot pulled the cord to unleash flames into the air that kept the balloon filled.

“I just can’t believe how huge it is up close.” She’d seen hot air balloons in the sky before and admired their beauty, but she’d never dreamed of riding in one. “And I can’t imagine what made you think to do this tonight, but I’m so excited I feel…breathless.”

He tucked her close to his side as they walked the carpeted path together. “The best part hasn’t started. I hear it’s incredible to go up in one of these things.”

“You’ve never done this either?” That made it feel all the more special, that she could share a first with him. She felt like a medieval princess, traipsing through the countryside in her designer gown, the layers of handkerchief hem blowing gently against her calves as they walked.

“No. This is just for you, Adelaide.” He stopped as they reached the balloon basket, his eyes serious. Intense.

“Any special occasion?” Curious, she wasn’t sure why he’d put so much effort into a special night for them now.

As much as she wanted to believe that he’d planned a fairy tale date just to romance her, a cynical part of her couldn’t help but wonder why.

“I’m sorry I put you on the spot when I announced our engagement. Consider this my apology since that’s now not how I should have treated a friend.” He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it.

Her heart melted. Just turned to gooey mush. She would have swooned into his arms if the pilot hadn’t turned to them right then and introduced himself.

While the pilot—Jim—went over a few safety precautions and briefly outlined the plan for their hour hour-long flight, Adelaide stared at Dempsey and felt herself falling faster. She’d tried to keep herself so safe with him, from him. But her mother was right, and this man had always had a piece of her heart. How on earth could she maintain her defenses around a man who bought her a Versace gown to take her on a hot air balloon ride?

She hadn’t heard any of Jim’s speech by the time Dempsey lifted Adelaide in his arms and set her on her feet inside the basket. He vaulted in behind her, their portion of the basket separated from Jim’s by a waist-high wall. And moments later, the ground crew let go of their tethers and the balloon lifted them into the air so smoothly and silently it felt like magic.

Her heart soared along with the rest of her.

Impulsively, she slid her arms around Dempsey’s waist and tucked her head against his shoulder. He’d said he wanted to apologize for not being a better friend. Could that mean he wanted to be…more?

Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Book Info:

Adelaide Thibodeaux grew up with Dempsey Reynaud, and she’s worked for him for years. But when the billionaire football coach springs a surprise engagement to keep her from resigning, it’s a low blow. Just as she’s ready to strike out on her own, she’s stuck in a fake relationship with her boss, biding her time…

But soon Adelaide faces a second blow: she’s actually falling for the man! Can a relationship founded on a lie become the real deal? Or will they fumble before the end zone—and stay in the friend zone?
Book Links:  

Meet the Author:

Joanne RockThree-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn’t like. The author of over seventy books enjoys writing contemporary romance and medieval historicals alike. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly–love is worth fighting for. A frequent speaker at regional and national writing conferences she enjoys giving back to the writing community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing skills to her intensive study with fellow author and friend Catherine Mann. When she’s not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded sons.
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102 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: His Secretary’s Surprise Fiancé by Joanne Rock”

  1. isisthe12th

    We were already living together. Then on Valentine’s day he proposed to me in the kitchen with a diamond ring and I said yes ♡ that was back in 2014 we got married in 2015.

  2. janinecatmom

    My husband really didn’t propose. We were at the jewelry store because I needed a couple things inspected and I always look at jewelry while we wait. We ended up looking at diamonds and a salesguy came over and said it doesn’t cost anything to see it up close. I couldn’t say no even though I knew we couldn’t buy anything. He ended up using the money that he inherited from his grandmother and opening a credit card at the store and bought me a ring.

  3. Elizabeth T.

    My husband planned a lovely day for us, and we ended at a rose garden, where he proposed!

  4. glam009

    i´m single…. I see one video ..the groom recorder 1 year of their life proposing and then on the vacation time with the family he show the video and then kneel and propose to her…was very touching…

  5. Veronika

    Single here. I think the most romantic proposals are when he doesn’t actually ask at all, but just puts the ring on her finger.

    • joanne rock

      It’s a moment you never forget, no matter how it arrives! I saw a man kneel down on the beach the other night and propose to his girlfriend while they were surrounded by about eight of their friends. It was romantic…. all the girls in the group were squealing and excited.

    • joanne rock

      Like the guy I saw at the beach the other night (in comment above)…. there was no mistaking what he was doing. It’s a beautiful tradition, I think.

  6. Diana Tidlund

    He put a heart shaped ad in the newspaper for Valentine’s asking me to marry him and then he had a heart shaped diamond ring waiting for my answer

    • joanne rock

      I hope we are giving you ideas for the future!! I like the car ad that’s out where the guy takes his girlfriend to the mountains to propose and she drops the ring in the snow… i would so do that.

  7. Kara

    Single, I heard this one story about how this guy and girl loved legos, and he proposed to her at some kind of lego entertainment park, I thought it was cute.

    • joanne rock

      Mary, we always said it’s not about the wedding… it’s about the marriage. Our wedding– and the ring– wasn’t what we invested in. We put all our focus on the relationship and the family, and it was very well spent.

  8. laurieg72

    My future husband was in grad school so he didn’t have any money. I had started my first job as an RN. Friday nights we went out for a cheap buffet at the local Howard Johnson’s. Afterwards we went walking through Tenny Park. This is a beautiful park on the shore of Lake Mendota. While we were crossing a little bridge, he stopped and asked me to marry him. It was spontaneous, no ring. When we told my parents they offered my paternal grandma Catherine’s ring. I still have it. We will be married 39 years in July.

  9. kermitsgirl

    It’s a really silly story, actually. I was getting ready to move in with his parents for a job 2 hours away (we already owned a house together, and his parents offered to house me while we figured out our future living situation), and so he took me out for one last lunch together before I left.

    It was a few days before my best friend’s wedding, and she had chosen these killer spiked 6-in heels for the bridal party, so I was trying to break them in. He took me to my favorite Mexican restaurant, where I proceeded to gorge myself on food.

    As we were walking back to the car, he wanted to walk a certain way around this large fountain in the middle of the shopping area, but I was like “Absolutely not, my feet hurt, I’m gassy, and I need to get back to my last day of work.”

    At that, he dropped down to his knee and was like “I think I have a rock in my shoe.” I responded with “I’m going to be late, come ON already!” (Once again, I remind you, I was gassy, in pain, and was a little stressed about the upcoming wedding, move, new job, living with my (future) in-laws, being two hours away from my (future) husband, and leaving behind a job I loved.)

    Finally, I turned around, frustrated, and he held up the ring and shouted “BOOM.” And I laughed and said yes, and then he said sweet things I don’t remember (he had wanted to walk around to the other side of the fountain to the bench where he first told me he loved me), but I remember the boom and I can’t wait to tell our future children how silly and loving their father is, how he is a man that won’t even let my occasional grumpiness give him pause 🙂

  10. Michele Hayes

    We were out to dinner and he just asked. I think I knew it was coming so it wasn’t any big deal.

    • joanne rock

      It’s The Question though! Did the other people in the restaurant know? It’s fun to see couples as they are getting engaged while you’re out for dinner. Fun to share in someone’s moment!

  11. Debbi Wellenstein

    My husband didn’t actually propose. We met each other, and a month later started planning the wedding, We married exactly 6 months after we met. 44 years later, we are still together.

    • joanne rock

      Love this, Amy. There’s something so sweet about that. I saved cards my husband has made me over the years– usually in crayon, always in super corny rhyme 🙂

  12. Natasha Persaud

    I’m single and honestly where I come from people don’t propose lol haha but I want a proposal for myself I don’t want it how it’s done where I come from

    • joanne rock

      The right man is worth waiting for…. and there’s no right way to propose. I like seeing all these different, creative ways guys have gone about it!

  13. Colleen C.

    I think my parents’ story is cute… he bought my mom one of those plastic rings from those coin machines and put it behind his back… told her to pick which hand it was in… she chose the correct hand, but then he says or would you like the one I have in his other hand… it was an engagement ring! 🙂

  14. Peggy Clayton

    My husband proposed on my first seeing him I had heard about him for 20+ years his ex-mother in law came out to Ca for a visit and we were pen pals ever since. She complained about him in every way then I met him in person in Ia when I went to a wedding before that I met him and he asked me to marry him. He also heard about me and sometimes I went through well it was love at first site and maybe I should of listened to some of the things but I can ignore well, It meant leaving my adult kids and move to Ia but was ok to do as I visit when I can and now that my disease has gotten bad to the max they have to come here to see me now .

  15. Diane Sallans

    there’s lot of fun proposals that appear on line these days – I love the flash mobs – that really takes a lot of effort to put together

  16. Suzanne Dye

    Bob got down on one knee in the living room and said “I don’t make much money but I have really good benefits at my job. Will you marry me?” I said yes.

    • joanne rock

      Men sure put pressure on themselves to be providers…. it touches my heart that he pointed out the good benefits ;-). My husband made a bit of an overview speech about where we stood in our relationship and the kind of life he thought we could have together. I wished I’d been able to listen better, but I was already thinking I was going to say yes, so I was looking forward to the question itself .

  17. Joanne B

    Not really a proposal. We were in a jewelry store and he said, “how about that ring and then we’ll go with the rest?”

  18. Jo-Anne Boyko

    I just saw an ad on TV where the couple went to a lodge to go skiing. The man got down on one knee in the snow and proposed. Then dropped the ring in the snow!

  19. ndluebke

    We had just gotten back to the parking lot of where I lived. We had been out to eat. He had a tape in the tape deck of the car (This was 42 years ago). Anyway all of a sudden our song came on which is My Love by the Beatles. After that is when he proposed.

    • joanne rock

      Very romantic. I miss the romantic element of good night kisses in the car– especially when “your song” was playing…. that’s an aspect of a relationship that fades once you’re not dating anymore and there are kids in babyseats that you need to get in the house. Congratulations on 42 years!

  20. Ellen C.

    My husband proposed after 4th of July fireworks. Later on, we picked out a ring. He hid the ring in a box of Cracker Jacks, in the prize envelope, and presented it to me. We will be married 30 years in September. I love his romantic streak and his sense of humor.

  21. sylve T.

    i am single, unfortunately lol and honestly i havent really heard of any new really fun or romantic proposals.

  22. Patricia B.

    He had come to the Philippines to visit them (his parents’ best friends) at Clark AFB. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the country and had gone with them after they visited my assignment. We were sitting on the sofa watching TV at their house. He asked me to marry him even though this had been only the second time I had seen him in 7 years and had another 5 months before I would be back home. We hadn’t even dated. I told hime I would think about it.

  23. Cathy Phillips

    He never proposed to me. We just starting talking about marriage, got engaged, and set the date.

  24. Jen B

    My parents engagement wasn’t at all romantic – my cousin was calling Mum “Auntie”, Mum said to Dad “If I’m her aunt we’d better get married” and he said OK (they had known each other 6 months). My Dad has a cousin who’s husband said he was going to marry her about 20 mins after their first meeting though. Both couples have been married over 30 now though, so I guess it is romantic.

  25. Irma

    I’m single. But I love watching those videos where a guy does a cover song video and then he proposes.

    • joanne rock

      If I get the second proposal I now want from my husband (just for fun…. to see what else he’s got in his bag of tricks) this is sooo what he’d choose. He loves to sing and play guitar.

  26. Kathleen O

    One of my nieces was proposed to at The Eternal Flame in Ottawa. Which is the capital of Canada. She was going to school there and her husband wanted something she would never forget.

    • joanne rock

      That is a beautiful idea, Kathleen! A marriage that came to be at the eternal flame seems baptized in fire and bound to last forever. What a thoughtful man.

  27. Pennie

    We were living together and he kept asking until I finally gave in 🙂 …almost 27 years later now…

  28. rachael constant

    ive seen afew on you tube.
    there was one where the man had pretended to be in a major accident (had fake paramedics). as they were putting him into the back of the ambulance he suddenly bounce back to life. personally didn’t think that was particularly romantic.
    ive seen some others with flash mobs (large group of dancers) that were pretty good

  29. Delia C

    I’m not married but I seen a really cute video of someone who purposed to his girlfriend everyday for one year in a video and then showed it to her on her birthday it was really sweet!!!

    • joanne rock

      My husband hid my wedding ring in a box under his sleeping cat. The cat moved before he asked me and he couldn’t find the ring for a few moments. I smile to look back at this since he still loses things regularly…. and I help find them. But his tribulations never dim his enthusiasm for trying something splashy. Definitely a part of his charm. Thank you for stopping by the thread, Nicole!

  30. Amanda

    My husband pissed me off By taking me ring shopping and hating everything. He had already picked out the ring.

  31. joanne rock

    What a fun treat to visit this week. I can’t thank you all enough for sharing your stories with me and making this such a fun thread. I sure have a lot of ideas for my next HEA involving a wedding ring!! 🙂

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