SECRET HEIR SEDUCTION (TEXAS CATTLEMAN'S CLUB: INHERITANCE) BY REESE RYAN
Release Date: March 1, 2020
Can he tell her the truth… this time?
Will he risk everything for a reunion? Will she give him the chance?
Discovering he’s a long-lost heir isn’t the only surprise awaiting Darius Taylor-Pratt in Royal, Texas. He’s next door to his ex after five long years. Darius broke off his red-hot relationship with designer Audra Covington without explanation. He still has regrets…and truths he’s hiding. Rekindling their flame may cost him…especially when new secrets surface to threaten their second shot at seduction.
REVIEW: SECRET HEIR SEDUCTION (TEXAS CATTLEMAN'S CLUB: INHERITANCE) BY REESE RYAN
Secret Heir Seduction by Reese Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Secret Heir Seduction draws the mind into a mystery. Ryan tapped into my inquisitive nature with a tale of secrets and the thrill of romance. Darius and Audra have a past to work through, a present to figure out and a few big secrets that threaten to topple everything. Can a love that ended in heartache survive the drama that haunts their second chance? A revelation that entrances from start to finish.
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Audra slid into the driver’s seat of the Bentley Continental GT convertible her parents had gifted her four years ago, after her business cleared a million dollars in profits in its first year.
She glanced back at the diner. Darius sat motionless in the booth where she’d left him.
Of all the people in the world that she could run into, she had to run into Darius Freaking Taylor-Pratt. The man who’d broken her heart five years ago.
She’d been madly in love with him, and she’d believed he loved her, too. Right up to the moment he’d said things had gotten too serious between them, and he needed space.
There had been no discussion. No evidence he’d fallen for someone else. And no real explanation.
She’d been devastated.
They’d met at a party during grad school at Harvard. The attraction between them had almost been instant. She’d told her friend that she was pretty sure she’d met the man she was going to marry.
Sure, she’d been a little buzzed when she said it. But every day they were together made her believe those words to be true.
Darius suddenly ending things had come of out nowhere. It had left her reeling, wondering what she’d done wrong.
But that was the past. It’d taken some time, but she’d gotten over it and moved on.
Or at least she’d always believed she had. But seeing Darius today made her feel as if things between them weren’t finished at all.
He was more handsome than ever in his navy Tom Ford suit, a white shirt and a navy print tie. His story about being in Royal on business was undoubtedly true. Never a fan of suits, Darius would require a damn good reason to wear one.
And the bald head he was rocking…on him it was sexy as sin. Her fingers had itched with the desire to run her palm over the smooth, brown skin on his clean-shaven head. She’d balled her hands into fists, her fingernails leaving marks on her palms.
Darius’s dark brown eyes registered a mix of emotions she couldn’t quite read.
Sadness. Anger? Maybe even regret.
The only thing she knew for sure was that she’d desperately wanted to lean in and kiss him. If only to remind him of what he’d walked away from five years ago.
Her cell phone rang.
Audra smiled, thankful for the distraction. She hit the call button and pulled out of her parking space, heading back toward the house she was renting while she stayed in Royal.
“Hello, Sophie. Back in town yet?”
“We arrived a couple of hours ago. Nigel, my fiancé, needed to stay a couple more days to take care of a staffing issue with the show.”
Audra couldn’t help smiling. Sophie was doing that thing that many newly engaged women did where they referred to their intended as their fiancé, as frequently as possible. It was adorable. And everything about Sophie’s bubbly excitement and the warmth with which she talked about him spoke to just how in love they were.
For Sophie’s sake, Audra truly hoped that their love would last.
“No worries. I’ve been keeping myself occupied. I sketched out a few designs. I’ll show them to you when we get together.”
“Are you busy now? We’re going to grab a bite with friends over at the Glass House in an hour or so. You should join us.”
“Thanks, but I just picked up a salad.” Hopefully, Sophie didn’t think her rude for turning down her offer.
“Is everything all right?” Sophie’s voice was laced with concern.
“Yes. I’m just a bit stunned. I ran into my grad school ex just now.”
“A local?” Sophie asked.
“No, in fact, I got the impression this is his first time here, too. So it was weird to run into him.” Audra bit into the sucker she’d teased Darius with.
She was pretty sure he’d nearly fainted when he caught a glimpse of her pierced tongue.
She might be over Darius, but she wasn’t above reminding him that he should be sorry he’d walked out on her.
“Oh? Who is he?” Sophie’s voice sounded less jovial.
“Darius Taylor-Pratt. He runs the athletic performance clothing company Thr3d.”
“That must’ve been quite a surprise.” Sophie laughed nervously, then quickly changed the subject. “So the venue where I’d like to have my wedding got damaged during the recent wildfires. The damaged portions have been rebuilt, but there’s still a lot of work to do. If you could spare the time this Saturday, we could definitely use the help. Besides, it would be a chance for you to get to know some of the folks you’re creating custom jewelry pieces for.”
“Sure.” Audra shrugged. “And maybe we can meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss your custom designs?”
“Come to my place tomorrow afternoon at one. We’ll have a late lunch and go over everything.” Full-blown giddiness had returned to Sophie’s voice. “See you then!”
God, I remember what it felt like to be that in love.
Seeing Darius and talking to Sophie made her even more certain she’d done the right thing when she’d broken it off with her most recent ex a few months ago.
Cassius “Cash” Johannsson was exactly the man her mother and United States senator father wanted her to marry. A perfectly nice gentleman from the right family with ambitions to one day sit in the Oval Office. But she wanted more than just “perfectly nice.”
She wanted a man who made her laugh. Who was her friend as well as her lover. A man who understood the manic craziness that often accompanied a creative mind. A man who made her body burn for his.
Cash had never engendered that kind of spark in her. Nor had she ever gushed over Cash the way Sophie did over Nigel. The way she once had over Darius.
In the end, she’d broken it off with Cash because she was just settling. He deserved someone who would feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be on his arm.
Audra entered the beautiful gated community where her rental house was located. She was traveling with sample jewelry pieces and loose diamonds, the value of which easily topped two million dollars. So she required the additional security afforded by this gated community and the safety measures of the home she was renting from the Blackwoods’ family friend—Dixie Musgraves.
She grabbed her meal, courtesy of the Royal Diner, and headed inside, determined to banish all thoughts of Darius.
About REESE RYAN:
Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary romance featuring a diverse cast of complex characters. She presents her characters with family and career drama, challenging love interests and life-changing secrets while treating readers to emotional love stories with unexpected twists. Past president of her local RWA chapter and a panelist at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Reese is an advocate of the romance genre and diversity in fiction. Visit her online at ReeseRyan.com.
AUTHOR Q&A (REESE RYAN)
Did you always want to write romance novels?
I’m a latecomer to the genre of romance. But I’ve known from a very young age that I wanted to be an author, and a love story always played a central role in the stories I wanted to tell. When I started writing seriously again as an adult, I was really into chick lit. So I saw myself writing stories that fit into that genre. It was actually my critique group (which by that time had dwindled down to three guys and me) who pointed out that I was writing romance.
Please share in your own words what it means to get That Harlequin Feeling?
Growing up, I was an avid reader. What I loved most about reading was the rollercoaster ride of emotions and the chance to vicariously discover new worlds and life experiences that ventured beyond my local neighborhood. To me That Harlequin Feeling embodies much of the same. It means getting a glimpse into other worlds, exploring new experiences—good or bad—which expand my world perspective and deepen my empathy for others. But always leaving me with a sense of hope.
Can you share a recent book you have read that you would like to recommend?
I recently listened to the audiobook of LUSH MONEY by Angelina M. Lopez. It’s a marriage of convenience story about a rags-to-riches billionaire businesswoman who makes a deal with the prince of a bankrupt kingdom to spend three nights together a month for a year because she wants to have a child. It’s five-alarm-fire hot, but also just a really wonderful, lush love story with characters who have a lot of depth. I listened to a lot of the book while on the treadmill at my gym, and I can’t recommend the book/audiobook enough.
REVELATIONS OF A SECRET PRINCESS BY ANNIE WEST
Release Date: March 1, 2020
A princess in disguise…
To find her precious daughter, stolen from her at birth, Princess Carolina will do anything. Including masquerading as a nanny! Jake Maynard, her daughter’s uncle, is all that’s standing in the way of the reunion Caro has yearned for. If only her body got the message he’s the enemy…
Caro knows this powerful billionaire won’t give up the only family he has left. Yet after years of emotional numbness, Jake is reawakening her! He shows Caro a life filled with passion, not protocol, but what will happen when Jake discovers her true identity?
REVIEW: REVELATIONS OF A SECRET PRINCESS BY ANNIE WEST
Revelations of a Secret Princess by Annie West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A mother's love, an uncle's devotion and the secrets that could be their undoing. Revelations of a Secret Princess is a heartbreaking trek through past mistakes, present deception and the redeeming power of love. Caro and Jake are complicated. From young love to adult secrets. There's a ton of baggage they need to work through. West does away with the fairy tale and delivers hard hitting emotion that is unpredictable, relatable and unforgettable. These characters stay on your mind and in your heart, long after the last page is through.
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‘Jake, did you say it was St Ancilla Caro you went to?’
Reluctantly Jake looked up from his emails. This project grew more complex by the hour and he wasn’t devoting as much time to it as he should. He’d spent the morning with Ariane.
On the other hand, his niece’s ease with him felt like victory. He owed her thawing, in part, to Caro, who’d done an amazing job in a short time. He’d been right to hire her.
Neil sank into the chair on the other side of his desk. His expression was unreadable, yet the fine hairs on the back of Jake’s neck stood to attention.
‘That’s right. What’s happened?’
Jake leaned back in his chair. A tough early life, a stint in the army then years devoted to wheeling and dealing in the turbulent field of international finance meant it took a lot to unnerve him.
‘I tracked down another on our list of potential investors and discovered they were in St Ancilla for a big event.’ Neil passed his tablet across the desk. It displayed a news article. If you could call it real news. Some royal event.
‘So? Wait a few days then make contact.’
‘Check out the photo. The second one.’
Jake looked again, scrolling past a photo of a young, formally dressed couple smiling at the camera with all the animation of marionettes. Prince Paul of St Ancilla and Princess Eva of Tarentia, just engaged.
Beneath was a group photo. An ornate balcony on an imposing building, crammed with elegant women and men in heavily decorated dress uniforms.
‘And?’ Jake had no interest in aristocracy. He did business with them but his personal experiences with them hadn’t been happy. First had been the entitled foreigner who’d lured his mother away, on condition she abandon her kids. Then just months ago, his own girlfriend suggested he put Ariane in an orphanage rather than bother with her. Both had been uncaring of anyone else, expecting the world to revolve around them.
‘Look closely. The one in blue.’
Jake frowned. Several of those uniforms were blue, plus a blonde in ice blue and…
He stared. It couldn’t be.
Of course it couldn’t. The woman in the deep blue dress was a vibrant redhead, not a brunette. Yet Jake felt adrenaline burst into his blood with a jolt.
He zoomed in on the woman, amazed at the likeness.
‘Princess Carolina of St Ancilla. The King’s eldest child.’ Neil’s voice was flat with suppressed excitement.
‘Princess Carolina?’ Carolina. Caro.
No. It was impossible. Mere coincidence.
Yet the buzz in Jake’s bloodstream didn’t abate.
‘Yes, but she’s not his heir. Her younger brother is. Carolina isn’t in the limelight these days. She lives
fairly quietly in the north of the island though she’s very active in a number of charities, especially relating to children.’
Jake peered at the woman. She was a ringer for Caro, except for the clothes and hair. And the royal connections.
‘Maybe our Caro is a distant relative.’
Our Caro? His choice of words made her sound—
‘There’s more.’ Neil took the device and opened another page, handing it back. With his usual efficiency he’d collated a precis on the woman.
The Princess had a string of names, had been born almost twenty-five years ago and lost her mother early.
Her father had remarried when she was two and she had three half-brothers. She’d studied in the US but didn’t finish her degree. There’d been a scandal. He read headlines about wild parties and drug use. Jake wasn’t surprised. Most of Fiona’s privileged friends preferred parties to work. What did surprise him was that after returning to St Ancilla, Princess Carolina had all but dropped off the radar. She didn’t live in the palace, merely appearing in the press at charity events or major royal celebrations like this, her half-brother’s engagement.
He scrolled lower, studying the shots Neil had collected. Stiff and formal on the same balcony with her family when she was a little girl. Again in her teens, looking almost gawky despite her expensive clothes and with her flame-colored hair now turning auburn, her head turned towards her father, her expression curiously closed. A shot of her with one of her brothers, both smiling for the camera but neither looking happy.
Jake began to feel almost sorry for her. Had the wild partying been rebellion after an unhappy childhood?
Then he scrolled lower and his breath caught.
This photo was different. Candid. He doubted she knew it had been taken. She wore casual clothes, her hair in a ponytail and she was in a crowd with other young people. At a party, by the look of it. She was half turned away, looking over her shoulder, but there was no mistaking the warmth in her expression as she smiled at someone beyond the camera. Her eyes, a remarkable deep violet, glowed. She glowed. Jake felt the impact of her joy judder through him.
He swallowed, mesmerized by those eyes. They were so like Ariane’s that for a moment everything, his pulse and his breathing, seemed to stop. He’d always thought the color rare. Maybe not so on St Ancilla.
He touched the screen, enlarged the photo and then his breath really did stop.
There, on the back of her shoulder next to the strap of her top, was a small birthmark shaped like a comma.
Jake had seen that mark three nights ago.
It had peeked out beneath the strap of a grey camisole when he’d held Caro in his arms.
About ANNIE WEST:
AUTHOR Q&A (ANNIE WEST)
- Did you always want to write romance novels?
A: From an early age, I wanted to write, but I thought that was a daydream rather than a real career option. When, in my teens, I started reading romances, these were the ones I read and loved. Harlequin Presents has always felt like my home, so when I finally took the leap and tried writing my own stories, that’s exactly where I wanted to be published. And now I am a full-time career author – Yay!! I’m currently working on my 42nd Presents story.
- Share in your own words what it means to experience That Harlequin Feeling:
A: No other books give me the same emotional experience as a good romance. When I’m deeply immersed in a Harlequin Presents book in particular, I actually feel the emotion, like a punch to the heart. I love opening a book and being taken on a journey to somewhere far away, where the characters seem so different to me, but experience the same strong emotions. Reading Harlequin is a feel-good experience but so much more too – cathartic, refreshing and always leaves me feeling optimistic.
- Can you share a recent book you have read that you would like to recommend?
A: I just finished Their Royal Wedding Bargain by Michelle Conder from Harlequin Presents. It starts with a proposal for a fake relationship that becomes real. This time though, it’s the heroine who’s after a pretend-fiancé for the short term. That was a hook from the start, and then there’s the ever-increasing tension between hero and heroine, all in the hothouse world of royal expectation.