Title: Revelations of a Secret Princess
Author: Annie West
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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?
Rugs lined the floor and padded window seats held bright cushions and dolls. But it wasn’t Ariane or her room that snared Jake’s attention. It was Caro Rivage standing on a small stool, arms raised above her head as she reached for something on a high shelf.
Neil was right. She had spectacular legs. Fabulous legs.
She’d taken off her shoes and stood on tiptoe, the stance accentuating the fine curve of her calf. She’d removed her jacket, Jake saw it draped over the back of a nearby chair. Her white blouse strained over her breasts.
Something dug into his belly, grabbing tight. His nostrils flared on a quick inhale. His gaze tracked down to her toes and up over the loosely fitted skirt to a lithe torso revealed by that taut blouse. Then up the long, feminine arch of her back-tilted neck to her bundled-up hair.
Jake’s breath expelled in a rush that left him almost light-headed.
Stripped of her conservative shoes and unflattering jacket, Caro Rivage was slim, svelte, feminine and intriguing. A different sort of intriguing to the way he’d viewed her earlier.
Except Jake knew that was a lie. Despite her prim pose and drab clothes, he’d been aware from the first of this woman’s magnetism. It was a sly thing. Not overt like Fiona’s blonde beauty and overtly sexy curves.
Even as he’d catalogued and dismissed Caro Rivage’s expertise, at another level, that of primitive male, he’d been aware of the attractive woman behind the pursed lips and downcast eyes.
Heat drilled down from his temples to his gut, boring straight to his groin.
Did this explain his resistance? Was it why he didn’t want to employ her? Because he responded to her as a man to a woman, not a boss to a governess?
He sucked air into tight lungs. Business and pleasure didn’t mix. He had no intention of beginning anything personal with a staff member.
After Fiona he’d found it easy to avoid the charms of the opposite sex. Except to his horrified fascination, he realised sex was the operative word here.
Caro Rivage bit her lip, shifted her hips in a way that shouldn’t be in the least provocative yet turned up his inner thermostat from hot to scorching. The tug of desire dragging at his groin told its own story. It wasn’t one he wanted to hear.
But Jake prided himself on facing facts.
She wasn’t gorgeous like the women he dated. She wasn’t his type. He hadn’t decided if he could trust her, yet he was attracted.
Worse, he felt compelled to give her a chance despite his better judgment because his niece showed every sign of bonding with her. That rankled. Jake made a point of being the one to dictate terms. He didn’t take kindly to being forced into decisions. But little Ariane had held herself aloof from everyone except her teddy since the accident that killed her parents. Seeing her shy excitement with Caro Rivage was a profound relief. It was the first time she’d smiled properly in a month.
What option did he have but to give this nanny a chance?
She expelled an exasperated breath that puffed up the strands of brown hair drifting free of her brutally neat bun. She looked ruffled and pink cheeked and Jake knew a growing curiosity to see her flushed and rumpled for other reasons.
‘Can I help with that, Ms Rivage?’ His voice hit a resonant baritone note that betrayed the trend of his thoughts. He could only hope she wasn’t as adept at reading men as she was little kids.
His deep voice came out of nowhere, lassoing her around the middle and drawing her off balance. Caro teetered on her toes, arms windmilling, then warmth enveloped her. Hard warmth that wound round her and held her steady.
She registered a broad palm and long fingers splayed across her hip bone. A solid body, all heat against hers, and near her breasts a head of tousled dark hair.
She hauled in a shocked breath and wished she hadn’t. This close she could smell Jake Maynard’s skin, warm and scented with bergamot and citrus. Her eyes sneaked shut for a self-indulgent moment, enjoying that fresh, masculine tang.
He was Ariane’s uncle. A potential employer. An obstacle to be overcome. She couldn’t think of him as a desirable man.
She hadn’t considered any man in that way for years. Not since she’d been blindsided by Mike’s smiling attentiveness, then gutted by his betrayal.
Reluctantly she looked down to Jake Maynard standing with his head a whisper away from her breasts. Dark brows contracted over brilliant grey eyes that no longer looked icy. Instead they reminded her of the heat haze she’d seen rising over boiling geothermal pools in Iceland. Heat drenched her skin and sank into her bones.
Still she shivered.
‘You can let go. I’m not going to fall.’
She wondered if he heard her, though his gaze was anchored to her face.
‘Even so. I’ll get whatever you need. I’d rather you didn’t take a tumble.’
His voice was brisk, his movements quick as he lifted her off the stool. Yet when he’d swung her to the floor he took his time releasing her. Caro was inordinately conscious of the weight and size of those hands. Of his tall frame close enough to lean into. Of the tendril of beckoning male scent in her nostrils.
She stepped back and he dropped his hold.
Belatedly she looked at Ariane, who’d turned back to the puzzle on the floor. Was it just Caro who felt the air thicken and clog when Jake Maynard was around? It must only have been seconds since he strode into the room yet it felt as if time had spun out far longer.
Panic whispered through her but she conquered it. She was stronger than this. No man would derail her plans.
What’s your favorite part about being a romance author?
There are two:
Those rare moments when the characters are so alive and their conflict so real, it doesn’t feel like I’m writing a story but simply eavesdropping onto their lives as they play out. Amazing!
Those wonderful times when a reader connects with a story I’ve written and takes it to heart the same way I did. I love hearing from readers who lost themselves in one of my books.
Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
It’s not always the big gestures or expensive treats that make a relationship thrive. Small surprises and instances of thoughtfulness can be both the root of a good relationship but also the romantic blossom on the tree.
1. Take time to do some of things your partner really enjoys – it could be as simple as a cuddle, or spending the afternoon doing something they prefer. 2. Tell them how much they mean to you. 3. Don’t forget to thank them when they do something special for you too.
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