Spotlight & Giveaway: The Playboy’s Dark Secret by Madeline Ash

Posted April 25th, 2014 by in Blog, Spotlight / 43 comments

Today it is my pleasure to welcome romance author Madeline Ash  to HJ!


Hi Madeline, welcome 🙂

5 Random Facts about Me

MadelineAsh_Profile1. I can open door handles with my toes. Comes in handy when I’ve got a cup of tea in one hand, book in the other, and decide that I want to consume both outside!

2. I have an irrational dislike of piano accordions and circles. Not spheres – just circles. Even as a kid watching Play School, I never wanted them to choose the Circle Window. I have since learned that this is odd.

3. I’ll always support the beta hero in a love triangle.

4. After being vegetarian for over seven years, I still crave roast chicken. And chicken Kiev. And sometimes steak. Ooh, and mini frankfurts.

5. I use music to influence the mood of my writing. The soundtrack to The Playboy’s Dark Secret included a lot of Lana Del Rey, Sigur Rós and 360’s Boys Like You.

5 Random Facts about The Playboy’s Dark Secret

TPDS1. I have written this book twice before. Both drafts were very different, but had a runaway heroine and were set on a vineyard.

2. Dean’s secret past is impossible for him to get over. Thankfully, he has a younger brother, Rue, who doesn’t stand for bottling issues. Rue is a genuinely gorgeous guy – and I’m currently writing his book, which will hopefully be out at the end of the year!

3. I’ve been in love with the Yarra Valley since childhood. My grandma has always lived in Healesville, so driving past the rolling hills lined with vineyards brings me a long-formed sense of peace. While Dean’s vineyard is fictional, knowing the region has hopefully given a strong sense of authenticity to the setting.

4. When planning this story, I knew Rafi and Dean needed something in common. Something that had shaped both their lives; that people without that shared something wouldn’t really understand. And so they both ended up with a physically demanding passion, requiring dedication, skill, and sacrifice. Dean loved soccer, and Rafi, ballet.

5. Rafi is twenty-one at the start of the book (‘Twenty-two next Sunday’), and Dean is thirty-two (‘I’ll be thirty-three in November. You can’t catch up, Rafi.’) The connection between the characters is so undeniable that this age difference doesn’t matter. However, Dean’s dark secret prevents him from wanting to get close to her, so he uses their age gap as the reason they can’t be together.


This scene is from Rafi’s point of view. Dean has ended up in her cabin, at night, giving her a back massage on the couch.

‘What did you mean by those thighs?’ The question sounded innocent as he resumed mending.
‘Nutri-grain thighs,’ she said to her lap.
He paused to lean forward, chest hard against her back. Would it be so bad, she wondered, aching, if his arms circled my middle? ‘Pardon?’
‘Nutri-grain thighs,’ she answered, no louder. ‘Ironman thighs. Power. Muscle. Endurance. I’m a thigh girl.’
She felt his chuckle deep in her belly. ‘Pity,’ he said, still close. ‘I’ve been told my abs are something else.’
‘I’m ambivalent about abs,’ she lied.
‘Maybe. You’ve been told you have nice arms too?’
He gave a soft laugh and she wished she could coax the sound into a seashell and press it to her ear for the rest of her days.
Then he asked, ‘What about you?’
She tensed. ‘Me?’
‘Don’t leave me feeling like an egotist.’ His hands lifted from her shoulders to flutter down her sides. Tiny touches that prickled her skin with wanting. They settled lightly on her hips. ‘You’ve been complimented, I know it.’
Rafi stared at floor. The compliments she’d received didn’t warm the heart. They were practical. Judgemental. Beautifully done, Rafaela. Now again. And watch your ankles. Or, God, look at your waist. I could snap you in half.
So she said, ‘I wouldn’t want you to feel inadequate by comparison.’
‘Consider it a topic of interest.’
‘Well,’ she said, at a loss. ‘Lucy’s father called me perfect.’
He paused. ‘That sounds about—’
‘Too perfect.’
‘I was too perfect. I outshone him.’ She clipped her words. ‘Other than that…my ballerina boobs, obviously.’
Her poor attempt at a joke didn’t make Dean laugh, nor did it cut the tension that kept his chest against her back and his hands on her hips. His chin came to rest on her shoulder. ‘What about your eyes?’
She shook her head, ignoring the way her hair caught on his stubble.
Another shake.
‘Legs. Waist?’ His fingers shifted to span the tops of her thighs. Thank God for the dressing gown. The nightshirt was all she wore underneath, aside from cotton briefs. If he touched her thighs with his bare hands, the concept of denial would cease to exist. ‘He must have loved your laugh.’
‘He didn’t make me laugh.’
He stiffened.
‘He didn’t make me happy.’
Dean leaned back without warning, and Rafi had no choice but to lean back with him, not losing a moment of contact. He made a sound, a low growl of frustration, as the back of her head rested on his shoulder and her temple brushed his jaw. He was hard and swollen beneath the pressure of her spine, and she shifted, aching to turn her head and take his mouth with hers. It would be hot. Salty. Hungry.
‘Rafi.’ His tone was all warning.
‘I’m stuck,’ she whispered.
His swallow was sharp next to her ear. ‘I can’t do this,’ he said. ‘You’re too young.’
‘I – I think I want to.’
‘If we weren’t touching, you’d remember that’s not true.’ But his hand crept a little closer to her bare thigh. Arousal replaced the blood in her veins, pumping, foaming. ‘Rafi. Please get off.’
Rafi didn’t move. Couldn’t move. Wanted to move as one with him.
‘I said please,’ he murmured. The tips of his fingers found her thigh.
On a rough exhale, Rafi shoved herself off. It was like hauling herself out of a canyon. She crossed the room to her bed and sat on the edge of the mattress, shoving her shaking hands between her legs.
Dean leaned forward, elbows on his knees, face in his hands.
‘I should get some sleep,’ she said, and climbed beneath the covers in her dressing gown.



To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: There are varying opinions on acceptable age differences between people in intimate relationships. For instance, there’s the common rule, ‘never date anyone under half your age plus seven years’. Whereas I know of a couple who married when the woman was 28 and the man 72 (and no, he didn’t have much money). They were undeniably in love. Do you have an opinion on age differences?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Leaving behind an international career and an elite party lifestyle, soccer star Dean Thorn has returned home to run the family vineyard after thirteen years abroad. Tormented by a dark secret, he has vowed never to get close to a woman again.

No stranger to hard work, Rafi Dalton is too busy for love. Since running away from her career as a professional ballerina, she has been building a new life for herself as a seasonal worker with little money and no fixed address.

Rafi is nothing like the women Dean left behind. She is strong, independent and not remotely interested in his fame or money. The attraction between them pushes him right to the edge – but can he trust her enough to leave his past behind?

The Playboy’s Dark Secret is a tender, sexy romance set on a beautiful Australian vineyard.

43 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: The Playboy’s Dark Secret by Madeline Ash”

  1. belindaegreen

    Age is only a matter of numbers. It has no bearing on who you fall in love with. Oh wait…lets use some common sense! No on under legal age, please.

    You need to understand yourself and what you want and live for yourself not the opinions of those around. As long as you are both happy go for it.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

    Belinda G

    • Emme

      I think up to fifteen years age difference doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine what they would have in common to talk about if the age difference is more than that.

  2. Glenda

    Honestly, It all depends on the people and the age difference. Five years is a bigger stretch when the younger person is barely (or not yet) a legal adult than when they are both in their late 20s or 30s. The same can be said for 10 or more years. Although the 72/28 thing is a bit much for me.

  3. Cathy Phillips

    I prefer couples to be around the same age or between 10-15 years older or younger. The reason I say that is because if there is a large age difference, the older one is more likely to die and leave their spouse widowed, as well as maybe not having that much in common.

  4. Tracey Parker

    I don’t. Love is love, you cant hr l.p. who you fsll in love with. I think as long as both are happy and don’t care who am I to judge.

  5. Cyn S.

    I believe anyone can fall in love no matter their ages… that being said I don’t think someone is truly an adult until they are 22 or 23 years old. So a 20 year old with a 30 year old is more of a problem for me than a 23 year old with a 33 year old. I agree with Glenda that the older you are the less the age difference matters.

  6. Winnie Lim

    I don’t think age is a issue. Many couples are of the same age but they still end up in divorce. As long as both are of legal age and they truly love each other, I don’t find anything wrong with it.

  7. Taswmom

    It seems that the younger you are, the more the age gap matters. 15 – 25, ugh. 18 – 28, I guess, maybe. 22 – 32, who cares?

  8. KateS

    Age can be an issue when you get to what they have in common…. What a 30 year old and 60 year old are looking for is usually very different… however, there is always the exception…

  9. Leisl Leighton

    Lovely interview, Madeline. I’ve downloaded your book already and am really looking forward to getting stuck into it soon. I love the idea of another book following on from this one – I love series and being able to see what happens to secondary characters and also touching on the hero and heroine from previous books. Congrats on the new release and good luck with it all.

  10. DebraG

    Love is love and age should not matter. The only thing that bothers me is a common interest.

  11. Lori Meehan

    Well I read a lot of historical romance so there’s usually an she difference. I’m not big on the huge age difference because really what would you have in common?

  12. Emme

    sorry, wasn’t meant to be a reply to belindagreen..

    I think up to fifteen years age difference doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine what they would have in common to talk about if the age difference is more than that.

  13. Cari White

    Sometimes… I do the 72 – 28 your friends are, honestly… But that’s MY problem, not theirs. I recognize that. If the younger person is in their early 20’s or younger, then if the person is in late 30’s or older, that’s my main problem area.

  14. Debra A

    I think 10 to 15 years different is ok…That being said 15 years is the furthest out there for me. Now me myself married someone 15 months younger.

  15. bookskater9

    I would have to say yes and no. My dad is 16 years younger than his wife and I have no problem with that but my daughter is 22 and there was a guy who was 35 that wanted to date her and I thought that was to old. I think the catch with my daughter is that I am only a few years older than the guy who wanted to date her.

  16. Kathleen Nichols

    Age differences to me depends on several factors such as the maturity of the individuals involved. I have have/had 6 sisters – 1 my grandmother the other 5 my great-great aunts and they all married younger men each of them that were least 5-10 yrs. As people get older I think the differences in ages decline. I only have a problem when men/women are involving themselves with very young individuals like 15-19 and their at least 15 yrs older. That’s just creepy!

  17. ndluebke

    When there is a big gap in age, there is a chance on a lot of lonely years when the older one passes. For instance, my father- in-law was 10 years older than my mother-in-law. He passed when he was around 70. Now my mother-in-law is almost 90 (nest month). A lot of lonely years.

  18. Jen B

    I agree that more than 15 years apart is a bit strange. But then I have a family member who married a man who was only about 3 years younger than her dad and the have been married more than 15 years now and have 2 lovely daughters.

  19. Erika

    Age usually doesn’t matter to me unless it seems inappropriate like 18 and 40. One of my favorite books is On the Island and they have a 13-14 year difference.

  20. Cindy Hamilton

    Well, seeing that my husband is 20 years older than me, I see no problems. But I was 33 and he was 53 when we got married! Now married 23 yrs.

  21. Nicole Potter (@NiiArt)

    Hm…while I don’t mind age differences too much, I know if the age gap is extreme I usually question it a bit. But as long as they’re happy and in love, it shouldn’t matter right? 🙂

  22. Madeline Ash

    I’m loving these comments. All align with my belief that age doesn’t matter if the intentions are pure between the couple. Admittedly an 18 year old and 40 year old could be a bit sus…but, it all comes down to those involved.

  23. janinecatmom

    I really don’t. I think it’s all a matter of taste. but, I do know, I could never see myself with a younger guy.

  24. mrsmac19

    Age differences in relationships are really none of my business. Personally, I’ve found dating (& marrying) a few years older to be ideal. I’ve dated both younger (horrible!!!) and older men, and I prefer a little bit older. Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  25. Amy Rickman

    I don’t have an issues with age difference but I do agree with above mentioned comments that 10-15years difference is the max I can typically find believable.

  26. Kate I.

    I’ve harbored crushes on men who were significantly older, but the widest gap in my relationships was 7 years (which sometimes felt like more because I was 19). My parents are 12 years apart, which we’re all feeling now that my dad is 80. Though my own limit would probably be about 10 years, as long as a couple truly is in love I say more power to them!

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