Writing every book is a unique experience. Sometimes the words flow and the characters speak loudly, other times it can be like pulling teeth. Writing A Dangerously Sexy Christmas was one of those flowing books, a huge welcome after I’d spent a few months working on another book that was giving my trouble. I was thrilled when I got the news that Harlequin Blaze wanted Rose and Max’s story and I could not be more excited about joining the Blaze line. Even better, the love the security company featured in this book so much that I got the go-ahead to write more stories in this world!
So here’s a first look at A Dangerously Sexy Christmas, out in November 2015. Pre-order links are available here.
Assignment: A Hot Holiday Affair!
Aspiring jewelry designer Rose Lawson doesn’t want a bodyguard. Especially the hot, muscle-y one her father hires after a break-in at the jewelry shop where she works. It’s only when her home is also ransacked that Rose realizes the sexy (but infuriating) bodyguard might come in handy…especially on a cold winter’s night.
Max Ridgeway is a former Aussie cop who’s got something to prove in New York. He’s convinced that someone dangerous is behind the robberies and that Rose needs protection. His protection. But what’s even more dangerous is the sexy tension between them—because a hot little fling could compromise their lives…and his heart
PERSONAL SECURITY DETAIL was a lot like baby-sitting. All Max Ridgeway had to determine was whether the person under his protection would be the model child or the toddler from hell.
“Do you always disregard your personal safety, Miss Lawson?” he asked.
Two cat-like eyes glowered at him. But if he was going to protect her, he needed to know if she would throw herself into harm’s way. Or run. Or walk down a dark alley in the middle of the night.
“You say you don’t want my protection. Tell me if I’ve misunderstood you.” He leaned back in his chair and laced his hands behind his head.
She squared her shoulders against his visitor’s chair and displayed what he imagined was her most dazzling smile. Rose Lawson’s eyes were almond-shaped and a most unusual shade of yellow-green. She had thick curling lashes, a heart-shaped face and glossy pouted lips made for sin. The whole sexy package probably turned other men to goo. But her appearance—while thoroughly enjoyable—would not distract him.
“You’ll have to excuse the mix-up,” she said in a smooth voice that sent a shot of heat through him. Her accent was strange. Definitely American, but the gentle lilt of her words suggested extensive time overseas. London, according to his research. “My father hired you, but he can be a little…overprotective. I won’t be needing your services.”
Her insistence on refusing his protection meant she would be a royal pain in the butt to have as a client. Only she wasn’t the client; her father was. She stood up and raked a hand through her chin-length brown hair, the artfully curled lengths falling back into place as she released them. Her eyes flicked over him, lingering on his face before she checked her phone.
“Sorry to waste your time,” she said in a tone that didn’t sound sorry at all.
The wall clock of his office ticked loudly in the silence. Each second was another he couldn’t have back.
Rose walked toward the door, her heels clicking against the office floor. Skin-tight black jeans accentuated her legs, and a loose top in black silk acted as a canvas to the ornate red, gold and yellow necklace that hung down to her navel. Her file indicated she was a jewelry designer. Perhaps she’d made the necklace herself.
He let her get to the door of his office before stopping her. “I didn’t say you could leave.”
Her shoulders stiffened and she spun to face him. The charming smile slipped and she regarded him coolly. “I wasn’t aware I required your permission.”
She pulled on a heavy black coat. Jewel-studded gold bracelets clinked, making her movements seem musical.
“As of now you’re in my charge.” Max stood, walked over to her and leaned his back against the wall. “Your father hired me to look after you until we can figure out who broke into your store.”
At the mention of her father Rose became wary, distant. “Probably a bunch of kids. I work in a jewelry store. It’s not hard to believe it was a crime of opportunity. Besides, it’s not even my store. The owner doesn’t seem to think she needs protection, so why should I?”
“Your father obviously thinks you need it.” Max tossed the comment out to see what reaction he’d get.
“He doesn’t know what’s best for me.” She gritted her teeth. “Besides, this happened two whole days ago. If someone was after me, wouldn’t they have done something about it by now?”
“Not necessarily. And as for your ‘kids’ theory, the store was broken into, but the perp didn’t take anything.” He cocked his brow. “That doesn’t sound much like a crime of opportunity to me.”
“All the jewelry is locked in a safe, as are the stones in the workshop.” She tilted up her face to his, exasperation clear in her eyes. “They’re high-grade safes, not something that can be pried open with a crowbar. And I lock the safes whenever I close up. We also have a security system, cameras and a duress button.”
Max couldn’t help but notice the way the colored beads around her neck sparkled like fire…the same fire that lit up her eyes. She was feisty, all right. He’d have his hands full keeping her safe, especially if her father’s suspicions turned out to be true.
“The security system was disarmed and the cameras turned off. And yet they left without touching the safe or stealing anything. You don’t find that strange?”
“No, I don’t. Perhaps they were interrupted, or it was just a random act of vandalism.” She stepped toward the door. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…”
If it had been the act of a bunch of kids trying to vandalize the neighborhood, then why had they stopped at her store in particular? A store with a high degree of security. Why not bust up a few windows of the shops next door?
Rose Lawson was definitely in danger. Max pressed a palm to the door frame next to her head, blocking her exit.
“We haven’t finished.”
Her cheeks flushed deep pink, making her fair skin seem even lighter and her yellow-green eyes even more vivid. “Who do you think you are?”
“I’m the guy who’s going to protect you, Rose.” For some reason his heart was beating a little too fast, his blood pumping a little too hard. “And I take that seriously.”
“Look,” she said, jabbing a finger into his chest. “I don’t need anyone to protect me, least of all some beefed-up GI Joe wannabe.”
Ouch. The lady had an acid tongue. That shouldn’t have surprised him. Women as beautiful as she was often had the world at their feet and they didn’t appreciate it one bit. He resisted the urge to tell her just how wrong her assessment of him was, how totally off base and ignorant and narrow-minded—
“Hit a nerve, did I?” She smirked, the pale pink shine of her lip gloss catching the light.
“Sticks and stones.” Max leaned forward, bringing his face closer to hers. “I’ve endured a lot worse in my life. So you can throw those petty little insults around as much as you like, because they won’t change the fact that from now on I’m going to be your shadow.”
In the silence that followed the raggedness of her breath amplified. Her fingers danced at the edge of her necklace, tracing the beads and counting them as if it were a rosary.
“Now,” he said, stepping back and dropping his arm. “I’m taking you home.”
“The hell you are.” Rose glared up at him. “I don’t want a bodyguard, or whatever you’re called.”
“Security consultant,” Max corrected, inwardly laughing as she rolled her eyes.
“I don’t need one of those, either. I’m fine. It was just a one-off incident.” She pushed a stray tendril of hair from her face.
“I’ll see you home anyway, just to be sure.”
He’d been hired to protect Rose, and he’d do just that. Max’s gig with Cobalt & Dane Security might not be the career he’d dreamed of as a young lad in Australia, but the job had come when he’d needed it most. It was all he had. His old career was in tatters, his fiancée was a distant memory and his best friend…
Max swallowed. He would succeed at this, and if that meant following Rose home against her wishes, then so be it.