Hard-working and sensible Claudia Demers meets The One, but is she ready for his unconventional and intimidating lifestyle?
Claudia Demers has found herself in a rut, living the same life day in, day out. All this begins to change the night her best friend, Monique, gives her a makeover and takes her out to a corporate function. An introduction to Sebastian Porter, the captivating, handsome owner of the company is set to alter everything in a way she never thought possible. He instantly dotes on Claudia and she begins to feel sexy for the first time in years.
Sebastian Porter is a powerful corporate executive turned philanthropist, but there is more to him than his extravagant appearance. Fiercely prone to privacy, he struggles to open up to anyone until he meets Claudia, the one woman he feels understands him.
Claudia is catapulted into a completely new existence, one in which she refuses to be the mousy and invisible Milton scholar that she’s been for the past four years. Claudia heads towards a newer, more adventurous and mature phase of her life in which she must ask for what she wants. As Claudia learns to navigate her own desires, she experiences the best sex of her life. But will she be able to let go of her old ways and accept the lavish abundance that Sebastian offers?
General Release Date: 16th May 2014
At five o’clock I knocked on Monique’s door. She lived on the top floor of a beautiful A-frame house from the early 1900s with two bedrooms and a wrap-around balcony. She was definitely the envy of our group of friends that have stayed together since high school, and she knew it. She didn’t show off about it, but when we had a girls’ night, it was always at Monique’s.
“Darling,” she said as I entered. “You are right on time. The pinot grigio is in the kitchen breathing.”
“There’s a strange use of personification.”
“Don’t be nerdy. I took the cork off so that the air will bring out the flavor.”
She took my coat and tossed it on her antique chair by the door. Then she grabbed my hand and led me to her bedroom.
“I have big plans for you, missy.”
“Oh?” I smiled.
When Monique had a plan, there was no point in resisting it. She has great taste. So last week when she’d called and announced she was giving me a makeover, I hadn’t wanted to get in her way. Deep down, I needed this. I needed pampering. It had been so long since I’d gotten dressed up or gone anywhere. It was a struggle to get my boyfriend, Pete, out to anything other than cheap beer and wings night at the pub across the street.
Monique’s bedroom was full of designer dresses and tailor made clothes that fit her perfectly. Although our builds were a little different in that she was taller and slimmer than me, I have been known to fit into some of her clothes. On the bed, she had lain out three different dresses, all of them silky and bright. The colors were bold and intimidating.
“Pick one of these. I’ll be back with the wine.”
I was immediately shy. I lived in my jeans and sweaters when I wasn’t at home in my jammies. Looking at the dresses, I panicked. It had been way too long since I’d shaved my legs or tweezed my eyebrows or any of the stuff that goes along with wearing revealing, attention-getting dresses.
Monique came back with two glasses, passed one to me. We toasted as she said, “To fabulousness.”
I could tell it was meant as a toast to me but I just sipped my wine silently, feeling less than glamorous. This party had seemed like a good idea in theory at the time I accepted the invitation, but I had more research to do, more books to read and a huge deadline looming.
“Monique, I’m having second thoughts about this. I don’t think I belong in your crowd.” I sat down next to the dresses on her bed like I used to when we were teens hanging out in each other’s room.
“Nonsense! And anyway you agreed. Remember?”
“No but. You’re going.” She stroked the middle one, a hot pink satin number that Marilyn Monroe would have loved. “I think you should wear this one.”
“It’s so not me,” I protested.
“How can you say that?” she asked. “It’s totally you. You used to live for hot pink, remember?”
“That was so long ago,” I said wistfully.
“Seriously, Claudia, do you even know who you are anymore?” Monique shook her head at me like she was trying to get me to acknowledge something.
“What do you mean?” I was taken aback by her tone.
“I mean, don’t take this the wrong way. I love you. But have you taken a good hard look at yourself lately?”
“Um...” What was she getting at?
“All right, look. I’ll be the one. None of your other friends will tell you so I’ll take the risk that you’ll hate me but remember, I’m saying this because I love you.”
“What is it?”
“You used to be different. Don’t you remember? You used to be that fun girl who read fashion magazines and went for pedicures and Bellinis. I haven’t seen that girl in ages.”
“Yeah, I’m doing a PhD. I don’t have time for fashion anymore.”
“Can you even hear yourself right now?”
I looked at her, incredulous.
She continued, “It’s not about fashion. It’s about fun. It’s like the joy has gone out of your life or something. I’m worried about you.”
I felt naked. Who did she think she was to tell me this? But in my heart I heard her loud and clear. There are some things only a best friend can say.
“When’s the last time you treated yourself to a new outfit?” she persisted.
“Uh…I guess it’s been a couple of years.”
“It’s been five.”
“Yeah. I remember because we went shopping together and after you bought that outfit, you said you were going to hide the receipt from Pete because he didn’t like you spending money on clothes.”
“It’s true. He doesn’t.”
“Claudia, let me ask you something. Do you love him?”
“Do you want to marry him? Do you see him as the father of your children?”
I hesitated. “Pete’s not exactly the marrying kind and he’s nowhere near responsible enough to have children. Besides, we’re both focused on our careers right now.”
I didn’t tell her that I was also footing the bills at home. Pete’s income consisted of his student loan, and mine came from the paltry sum I got as a teaching assistant in the English Department at the university. Before Pete and I could even consider having children, we’d both have to finish our degrees and find academic work. I was close to finished, but he was still years away. I couldn’t explain that to Monique who’d been out of school with her loans paid off for years.
“I know you take care of him,” she said, as though she could read my mind. “And as your best friend, I need to ask who is taking care of you?”
“You can honestly tell me that you love him and see a future with him?”
Romance heroines have saved my sanity numerous times through break-ups and life changes. I find escaping into a romance both soothing and revitalizing—and even better when there are some steamy scenes to tantalize the imagination.
For most of my adult life, I’ve concentrated on carving out a serious career, but a number of love-hungry, sassy characters keep taking over my mind, insisting that I daydream, live vicariously through them and tell their stories. Watching these women emerge on the page gives me a different sort of satisfaction than I get from my day job. It is a joy to share them with readers.
I live in a tiny apartment in a crowded city and I like to think there is something romantic about this. I did manage to find my soul mate here.