The lovely Jennifer Hayward is back! 😀
Today I have an exclusive excerpt & giveaway for you from her second novel,
AN EXQUISITE CHALLENGE.
“First move’s yours, Lex,” he murmured. “After that, all bets are off.”
Wine magnate Gabe De Campo has fired his PR company three weeks before the wwmost anticipated launch event the industry’s ever seen. Enter Alexandra Anderson—the last woman he should ever work with, but the only woman who can help.
Gabe and Alex have always been a lethal combination, and with so much at stake for them both, failure is not an option. Can they ignore the powerful attraction between them in order to maintain their professionalism…or is it only a matter of time before the cork is popped on their passion?
‘Even if I did agree you are the right choice,’ he said evenly, ‘we still need to discuss our other problema.’
‘What other problem?’
She frowned. ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
He lifted a brow. ‘Tell me that was not a distinctly lustful look.’
‘That was not lustful. That was—’
‘Alex.’ He angled his body toward her and captured her gaze. ‘You’ve been jumpy since the minute we walked into this hotel room and we both know why. You keep wondering what it would have been like to have that kiss in Lilly and Riccardo’s garden and so do I.’
Ahh. The almost kiss. The thing she couldn’t get out of her head no matter how hard she tried. She’d been slightly tipsy, standing on a stool unstringing lanterns from a tree after all the guests had left her sister’s welcome to summer party, when Gabe had come looking for her. She’d been so caught off guard by his sudden presence she’d nearly fallen off the stool. He’d caught her and swung her to the ground, but kept his arms around her waist. The knowledge that he had been about to kiss her had made her grab her slingbacks and run.
She scowled at him. ‘I’m working on about four hours sleep, that’s why I’m jumpy. Maybe you should just say yes to the contract so I can get some rest and—’ she stared at him as he moved closer. ‘What are you doing?’
He lifted his hand and splayed his fingers across her jaw. ‘Figuring out how bad this particular problema is before I make up my mind.’
‘There is no problem,’ she croaked. ‘And if we’re going to be working together I—’
‘I haven’t said yes yet,’ he cut in, his gaze purposeful. ‘Right now we have no working relationship whatsoever.’
They did have heat. They definitely had heat. She swallowed hard as it washed over her; made her pulse dance. ‘If I make this really bad you’ll say yes?’
His gaze darkened. ‘It’s not going to be bad.’
No, she acknowledged, heart pounding, it wasn’t.
She curved her hand around the mahogany bannister and took a deep, steadying breath. Her steps down the staircase were slow and deliberate, designed not to attract attention. Gabe was in the middle of the crowd speaking to the head of the local Grape Pickers Union, his attention immersed in his subject as it was always—a single-minded focus his trademark. But as she continued her descent, that familiar awareness flickered across the air between them; charged, electric. Gabe’s head came up. His gaze froze as it rested on her. His eyes widened.
As if he were surprised to see her.
Oh lord. Katya had told him she’d hired her. Hadn’t she?
She started to get the awful feeling that no, somehow her old colleague had not passed along that crucial piece of information as she descended the second flight of stairs, her heart thumping in tandem with each step. Gabe’s thick, dark brow arched high, his gaze not leaving her face. Surprise. Definitely surprise.
This was so, so, not good.
Or maybe, she countered desperately, as he broke off his conversation and strode over to stand at the base of the stairs to wait for her, it was actually a very good thing. Having the element of surprise over control-freak Gabe could work in her favour. Allow her to slide in some sound reasoning before he brought the gavel down.
Her knees, as she descended the last flight and took him in, felt a little too weak for a woman facing a man who was essentially family. Which might have been due to the superbly tailored dark suit that fit Gabe’s tall, muscular body like a glove. Or his black-as-night hair worn overly long with perfectly cut sideburns. On any other man, she abhorred facial hair. On Gabe, it was devastating.
Some women pointed out the sexy indentation in the middle of his chin as ‘outrageously hot’. She preferred the drown-yourself-in-them forest-green eyes. His formidable self-control she was fairly certain would come crumbling down for the right woman…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance and adventure since filching her sister’s Harlequin Presents novels to escape her teenaged angst.
Jennifer penned her first romance at nineteen. When it was rejected, she bristled at her mother’s suggestion that she needed more life experience. She went on to complete a journalism degree and intern as a sports broadcaster before settling into a career in public relations. Years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world provided perfect fodder for the arrogant alpha males she loves to write, and free research on the some of the world’s most glamorous locales.
A suitable amount of life experience under her belt, she sat down and conjured up the sexiest, most delicious Italian wine magnate she could imagine, had him make his biggest mistake and gave him a wife on the run. That story, The Divorce Party, won her Harlequin’s 2012 So You Think You Can Write contest and a book contract. Turns out, Mother knew best.
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