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Saturday, May 18, 2013

EXCERPT FROM HEART RAIDER BY SOPHIA KNIGHTLY




Blurb, you've just got to read on :)
 
Marooned together on Turquoise Bay, hot passion explodes between two unlikely lovers...and nearly destroys them.

Intrepid TV reporter Veronique Whitcomb is the last person reclusive billionaire Nick Cameron expects to show up on his doorstep in the wake of Hurricane Abby.  All grown-up with heart-stopping allure, she is far different from Ronnie, the tomboy he remembers fifteen years ago as her camp counselor. Yet enticing as she is, Nick just wants to be left alone. The burnt-out corporate raider has retreated from the cutthroat corporate world after a scandal he was falsely accused of nearly landed him in jail. Still reeling from his ex-wife's betrayal, Nick has no intention of falling in love, but keeping Ronnie at arms' length is proving impossible.

When it comes to Nick, Veronique doesn't understand the meaning of "No." He was her childhood crush, the gorgeous summer camp counselor who saved her from herself when she was a rebellious kid coping with an alcoholic, drug-addicted celebrity dad and an emotionally unstable mom. In love with him and unstoppable in her zeal, she is determined to vindicate Nick's name and alert him to criminal activity that if not stopped in time, could destroy him.

As danger and suspense builds, Nick must keep the head-strong Ronnie out of harm's way—and out of his heart—but how can he when she's raided his heart in a sweet and spicy way?
Here it is as promised.  The excerpt from Heart Raider:
 
 

Prologue
Thirteen-year-old Veronique Whitcomb gazed at the sparkly stars in the clear North Carolina sky and let out a frustrated sigh. Sitting cross-legged in front of the campfire, she swallowed against the lump in her throat and tried to smile. It was the last night she’d spend with her two best friends at sleep away camp and she wished it would never end. Tonight she’d enjoy their company…tomorrow she’d have to face the disaster called home.
“I hate that we’re leaving tomorrow,” Veronique said, grabbing each girl’s hand. “I’m gonna miss you guys.” They’d first started coming to camp as little girls and none of them had sisters. Tash and Teddy would always be her Heart Sisters.
“I bet you’ll miss Nick even more.” Natasha White’s blue eyes danced as she tossed her long strawberry blond hair. “You’ve been trying to get his attention all summer.”
“I have not, Tash,” Veronique retorted. God, had she been that obvious? The first time her eyes had connected with the deep blue eyes of the cutest counselor at Camp Merry Cascades, her heart had done a cartwheel and was never the same.
Theodora Behr clutched her heart dramatically. “Nick is sooo hot. I can’t stop dreaming about him.” She grinned and nudged Natasha.
“You can’t have him, Teddy. I want him too.” Natasha pretended to swoon. “Admit you like him, Ronnie. We all do.”
“Cut it out, guys.” Veronique’s chest hitched at the thought of not seeing Nick again, but she rolled her eyes to hide her feelings.
Natasha smiled. “Hey, you don’t have to get so defensive.”
“Yeah, we’re just messing with you. We won’t mention him again. No more Nick—I promise,” Theodora said, lifting her right hand in a pledge. “I’m gonna miss you too.”
“We have to stay in touch after we leave,” Natasha said earnestly.
“Pinky swear.” Veronique raised her pinky with the bitten-down nail and ragged cuticle.
“I’m in.” Theodora linked her suntanned pinky with Veronique’s. “I plan to travel the world and marry a hot prince in a foreign land, but I’ll always stay in touch.”
“Me too.” Natasha looped her bejeweled, manicured pinky with theirs. “I’m going to be a famous Broadway actress,” she said dreamily. “Of course…if Nick proposed to any of us today, we’d say yes.”
“You promised not to mention him again,” Veronique reminded her. “Anyway, I’m gonna be too busy reporting important stuff to think about marriage. I probably won’t marry anyone,” she added with a touch of cynicism to throw them off.
“Unless it’s Nick!” Theodora and Natasha added in unison and collapsed into giggles.
 
 
Fifteen years later…
Chapter One
 
Veronique squelched a sharp intake of breath at the dangerous looking man whose wide shoulders filled the doorway. She hadn’t expected to find him looking so untamed and ominous on this steamy August morning on Starfish Island, a barrier island off the Gulf Coast of Florida. He looked annoyed too. She couldn't blame him really—she'd stood there ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door until he finally answered.
Nick Cameron’s cobalt blue eyes locked on hers, flashing with impatience. Veronique’s stomach fluttered nervously as she lifted her chin and stared back, her lips unsteady with the effort to smile. The foreboding glint in Nick’s eyes made her knees knock, yet she was not the knee-knocking type—not by a long shot. Veronique Whitcomb, intrepid reporter for Ace News, was not easily frightened. Still…Nick’s sheer size and intimidating air gave her pause. She held onto the wooden balustrade and gaped at him. Dark stubble shaded his chiseled jaw. The angles of his face were sharper than she remembered, his cheekbones and jaw taut, his nose a hawkish blade. He was almost unrecognizable, save for the brilliant blue eyes pinning her with an intensity that made her smile falter.
“Ronnie?” Nick’s searing gaze raked over her. “What are you doing here?”
Her heart lifted. Nick remembered her. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all. Maybe the large, scowling man would revert back to the childhood heartthrob she remembered. She’d flown into Miami two days ago from New York and driven across to the west coast of Florida in a rental car, stopping to do some interviews in Fort Myers before crossing over the causeway to Starfish Island. She would have driven anywhere to seek him out.
“Never mind. I know why you’re here,” he said caustically. “You’re not getting an interview.” He looked behind her, peering from left to right.
“Relax, I came alone,” she said, guessing that he was checking to see if there was a camera crew waiting to ambush him.
“You’re leaving. Now.” His hand on the door, he began to close it in her face.
“Wait a minute!” She stepped up to the door ledge and he took a step backward. “How did you recognize me?”
He looked at her tousled, layered shag with narrowed eyes. “I’ve seen you on TV a few times—reporting. Your hair’s still reddish brown, but you haven’t changed much from the thirteen-year-old brat with long pigtails and freckles who raised havoc wherever she went.”
“Gee thanks.” Why was Nick making her feel like a gauche tomboy when she’d gotten all dolled up in a floral sundress and pretty sandals? She had even put on make-up, for God’s sake. She did not look like the ragtag, wild Ronnie he remembered from Camp Merry Cascades years ago.
She drew herself up to her full five foot, five inches. “I have changed a lot in fifteen years and you know it.”
Nick’s steely gaze flickered over her flushed face. “Fifteen years or not, I’d recognize your freckles in a heartbeat, especially when you’re blushing.”
She wished her fair skin didn’t turn bright pink under duress. It was one of those things a reporter could do without. Not even the self-tanner she’d applied before coming down from New York could hide her vivid blush.
“Fine welcome after all those years. Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
“No.” Nick towered above her with tanned, muscular arms folded across his chest and solid legs braced apart. His thick black hair was longer and shaggier than any businessman would ever have. She stared at his well-developed arms and the imposing chest straining his cotton T-shirt. His uncivilized appearance wasn’t exactly what you’d expect of a billionaire corporate raider. He looked more like a muscle-rippling wrestler ready to take down his opponent. There wasn’t an ounce of fat or flab on him.
Her pulse quickened as she took in every detail. Nick, at twenty when she’d last seen him, had been lean and lanky, but he’d put on at least fifty pounds of roped muscle since. He’d grown a few inches too.
“How did you find me? Nobody knows where I live and I plan to keep it that way,” he warned, his voice low and tough.
Veronique lifted her hair up and fanned her neck. “Please let me in and I’ll tell you. It’s hot out here and these sandals are pinching my feet,” she said, shifting from one foot to the other. Why had she even bothered to wear the strappy sandals? Oh yeah, to impress the grouch blocking her entrance.
“Make it brief and then skedaddle. Got it?” Nick opened the door and gestured for her to enter his plantation-style mansion.
Veronique nodded, even though she had no plan to skedaddle. Not when she’d managed to get inside his house. Delighted to pass the threshold of his reclusive digs, she followed him past a high-ceilinged portico and into his living room. As Nick ambled ahead, the play of taut thighs and well-formed butt muscles contracting and relaxing in his low-rise jeans snared her attention.
She forced her gaze away from his jeans and studied her surroundings. A mahogany staircase led to an upstairs loft and other rooms at the back of the house. The living room and dining room were decorated in greige tones, a relaxing combination of gray and beige. Other than basic, minimalist furniture and a few abstract paintings, the house was sparsely decorated.
The living room had a plush, square sectional surrounding an oversized travertine stone coffee table. The dining room, with a long sleek table and six chairs, looked like it was never used. A modern, diamond shaped crystal chandelier hung from a high beam ceiling over the table.
“Aren’t you happy to see an old friend?” Ha, she was being delusional. Nick looked ready to throttle her.
His brows knotted over irate eyes. “I wouldn’t exactly call you an old friend. More like a little rebel without a cause. I’m surprised they didn’t send you home, with all the havoc you raised,” he groused. “Especially the last summer you spent there.”
Why did he have to mention the worst summer of her life?
“You forget I had famous, rich parents.” Damn, this wasn’t going as she’d expected…and hoped. She’d wanted him to take notice of the new, grown-up Veronique. “My thirteenth year wasn’t exactly a happy one. After Daddy’s death and Maman’s nervous breakdown, I toughened up real quick.”
From that low point in her young life, she had vowed never to feel so vulnerable again. Her father, Brett Whitcomb, a renowned TV news anchorman, had died of a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol the summer of her thirteenth year. Her genteel French maman, Helene, had always been prone to depression and bouts of paranoia. The more Brett had self-destructed, the worse it had become. She had worshiped her dashing celebrity husband and refused to acknowledge he was an alcoholic and drug addict. When reality finally set in after his death and Helene found out Brett had lost their family fortune in a Ponzi scheme, she spiraled down into a nervous breakdown, leaving behind her frightened, rebellious daughter to cope with the press.
“That was a rough time for you,” Nick conceded in a quiet tone. He knew all about her childhood traumas, he’d witnessed them first hand—especially Helene’s penchant for high drama and histrionics.
Her thirteenth year was the last time she’d seen Nick—until today. She’d kept tabs on him, rejoicing in his triumphs and success over the years. She met a lot of men in her line of work on a daily basis, but no one had held her interest long enough to build a relationship. Maybe she was “commitment phobic” as Maman often proclaimed gloomily…or maybe no one measured up to Nick. He’d been her hero then and still was, albeit a fallen one. Now that she’d found him, she wasn’t about to let things rest until they were set back to right.
Veronique expelled a heavy sigh. “There’s no use dredging up bad memories. Mind if I sit down?” she asked, eyeing the living room couch.
“Matter of fact, I do mind.”
She paused, gathering courage before he booted her out of there. “I have a proposition for you.”
Nick didn’t respond. His gaze was so direct, she had to break eye contact and gather her wits. As the seconds ticked by, she realized he wasn’t interested.
“Don’t you want to know what it is?” She held her breath and waited. He continued to stare at her with a mixture of distrust and skepticism.
“No,” he finally said. “But I have a feeling you won’t leave until I listen to you. I already told you I’m not giving you an interview. What harebrained scheme are you cooking up now?” he demanded.
She thrust her chin high and narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m no longer a kid and prone to what you rudely refer to as ‘harebrained’ schemes. I’m all grown up now, if you hadn’t noticed,” she stated, throwing her shoulders back and puffing out her chest.
Nick’s gaze lowered to her breasts and then back to her face. “I noticed.” He shook his head as if to clear it. “Once a hellion, always a hellion.”
“I don’t remember you being so gruff. You were always nice to me.” The Nick she remembered as camp counselor had been on the serious side, but kind and fair.
His upper lip curled. Damn, how long was he going to make her stand there before him like a delinquent? With his brawny hands braced on his lean hips and his wide-legged stance he looked like a tough detective interrogating a suspect.
Nick was being so patronizing, she felt like filling him in on the past years of her adult life, the ones filled with awards for investigative journalism and documentaries. But more than likely, he knew all about her recent public shame and how she’d been demoted from foreign correspondent to reporting fluff. She had once been renowned for her daredevil journalism, but given Nick’s aversion to the media, it wouldn’t be wise to bring it up now. Especially since he too had been publicly shamed in the media, but for vastly different reasons.
Given the way he was glowering at her, she wasn’t about to tell him the reason she’d landed on his doorstep was to present Ace News with a prized story. An exclusive interview with Nick Cameron, the notorious, sought-after recluse whose fall from grace had landed on every tabloid would do wonders to revive her flagging career after the fiasco of her last assignment.
But that was only part of it; the real reason was to alert him to what she’d found while investigating his recent divorce from tobacco heiress, Elizabeth Remington.
“You still living in London?” he asked abruptly.
His question surprised her. “Nope, I live in New York now.”
“Reporting for Ace News?”
She paused. “Yes. I’ve been reassigned to human interest stories.” Her stomach contracted as she said it. The reminder of her recent demotion and near firing still smarted and she’d rather not get into details with him.
Nick cocked his head and quirked a dark brow, the gesture so arrogantly male, it reminded her of Sean Connery when he’d make a sardonic remark in old James Bond movies.
He was making her feel as welcome as a bloodthirsty mosquito. Veronique locked her determined gaze with his as they faced off standing rigidly apart, throwing sparks off each other. Neither spoke until she finally strolled over and plopped down on a duck white canvas sofa.
“Okay, I give. What will it take for you to stop frowning at me?”
“How about you march your little butt out of here?” he asked in a gravelly tone.
He was definitely out to rile her. “How about we make nice instead?” she said with a saucy grin.
Nick lowered his strapping frame into the big armchair across from her, elbows braced on widespread knees. He leaned in nose-to-nose, close enough for her to notice the thick jet lashes framing narrowed blue eyes. Wariness sharpened the hard edges of his jaw line as he watched her intently.
“Tell me. What is so important that you would disrupt my privacy?” he asked, not taking his eyes off her.

 

Links to HEART RAIDER:
Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00CRQUCSK
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1115291695?ean=2940016439624 

 
SOPHIA KNIGHTLY – BIO
Bestselling author Sophia Knightly loves to cook up hot romance and delicious humor in her feel-good stories. Whether it's romantic suspense, romantic comedy or chick lit, her books are fun and sexy contemporary romances that feature hot alpha heroes and strong, smart women. Her popular Tropical Heat Series books, Wild for You and Sold on You, have consistently been on multiple Amazon bestselling lists. A two-time Maggie award finalist and a P&E Readers' Poll finalist, she believes in love-at-first sight and happy endings, and she always enjoys a good laugh. When not writing or reading, she finds pleasure in walking the beach, exploring museums, going to the theatre, enjoying good food, and watching movies.  
One of her favorite pastimes remains simply watching people, especially those in love!
 
 
~Thanks, Sophia, for being with us this week.  It's been fun! 
LA

 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Leslie - thank you for featuring Heart Raider on your blog. I hope everyone enjoys the excerpt.

    Hugs,

    Sophia

    ReplyDelete

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