Tall, Dark and Damaged by Sarah Andre is a Book Series Starter pick #romanticsuspense #99c #99cents
Title: Tall, Dark and Damaged, Book 1 in the Damaged Heroes series
Author: Sarah Andre
Genre: Romantic suspense
His Life Changed in a Heartbeat. Disinherited as a teen, Devon Ashby returns home twelve years later as a ruthless CEO, brilliant at negotiating deals, but emotionally stunted. In an instant all he’s struggled to build implodes. Amid the turmoil of saving his company from a hostile takeover, his engagement to a business partner’s high-society daughter hits the rocks. Compounding his troubles, he encounters his high school sweetheart, whose heart he smashed. The vulnerability she awakens leaves him at greater risk than all the crises he faces.
Her Dream Job May Get Her Killed. While restoring art in a billionaire’s private gallery, Hannah Moore is unwittingly drawn into the dysfunctional family’s confidences. When she discovers the rich developer behind her and her sick aunt’s eviction is the family’s black-sheep son—the lover she’s never gotten over—her desire turns to fury. Always one to avoid conflict, Hannah must stand up to Devon and the growing menace of someone who thinks she knows too much.
A Decades-Old Secret Turns Deadly. When a family member is murdered, Devon and Hannah become ensnared in sibling greed, festering jealousy, and a tragic secret that’s divided the family. Amid their reigniting passion they race to expose the killer before they become the next victims in this cat-and-mouse game of survival.
At the arched doors, Devon shot his cuffs. Soft strains of classical music wafted from within. A woman laughed, throaty and melodic. He inhaled deeply and thrust both panels open. The laughter died mid-note. Time came to a freeze-frame halt, as if the guests posed for a portrait. His sister, Francine held a china cup to her mouth. Beside her, his half-brother, Rick, had a chokehold on the slim neck of a Château Latour. Across the room, two men sat in wingbacks, profiles turned to the platinum blonde—the source of the laughter—her mouth still open. And beside her, too close for any misinterpretation, sat his father: majestic, patrician, and grim. No one could ever confuse the etched wrinkles on his face for laugh lines.
The old man broke the spell by glancing at his Rolex. “Ah, the return of the prodigal son. My eldest, who goes by a different name…”
Devon managed a half-smile. “Happy birthday, Harrison.” The irony that he and his father shared a birthdate when they had nothing else in common…
“Honey, Wesley,” Harrison said, “this is my son, Devon Wickham.”
Really? “Ashby,” Devon corrected.
“Grown men don’t use their middle names—unless they’re rednecks from the South.”
“Ashby is my mother’s maiden name.” He looked pointedly at his father. “Or had you forgotten?”
Those ice-blue eyes sparked with animosity, but when Harrison continued, his voice remained affable. “This is Honey Hartlett and Wesley O’Brien.”
A second passed as Devon waited for how they related to the Wickham birthday dinner to be disclosed, but no explanation came. He nodded once to each of them. Honey responded with a thin-lipped smile, and the blond guy studiously ignored him.
“Sit down, Dev,” Frannie said sharply. She patted Rick’s arm, and he rose with a grumble. Devon clapped him on the shoulder, murmuring a greeting as he passed by. The last time he’d seen his half-brother, Rick had been a chubby nine-year-old. Their communication over the years had been infrequent and stilted, a shattering example of the collateral damage from that horrific night exactly twelve years ago.
Devon sat beside his sister, and they exchanged a hug. They, at least, had kept in touch. She was thinner than her screen presence, her skin the bluish pale that came from exhaustion. The divorce must not be going well. He grasped her hand, ice-cold and twig-like in his, and squeezed.
Honey poured Devon a coffee, her cornflower-blue eyes regarding him coolly. Clearly she knew about his black-sheep status. He thanked her, though he didn’t intend to stay long enough to finish it. “I’m actually here for—”
“Drink your coffee,” Harrison interrupted. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my vast years, it’s to enjoy the company of loved ones over business.”
Devon stifled his laughter. Never had a man less deserving of the title “father” walked this Earth. Not to mention the man had run through three wives… Loved ones over business. Yeah, right.
Still, Devon was in his father’s house, and an olive branch could turn into future ventures with Wickham Corp. Why not try to build a bridge across the great divide? “Frannie told me about the fire last night,” he said. He didn’t tack on the butler’s update about the arson investigator.
“Yes, last night was quite dramatic,” his father answered, his tone lacking any drama.
Interesting. The fire had been in the theater, which shared a wall with Harrison’s climate- controlled art gallery, filled with masterpieces. “Is your art damaged?”
“There’s too much soot covering the paintings to be sure.” Another clipped response. His father wasn’t the kind of guy who kept his displeasure under control like this. And back in the day, a three-degree temperature malfunction in that gallery had been considered catastrophic. This was a freaking fire. What had changed? Maybe it was the fact that the perp might be in this very room. Devon glanced at the faces surrounding him, all filled with the usual tension associated with being in his father’s presence.
Francine’s foot nudged Devon’s twice. “I saw workers in the gallery this afternoon,” she said to Harrison, then threw Devon a pointed look.
So? He gave her an imperceptible shrug. His disinterest in art was in direct proportion to his father’s obsession for it.
“A woman with red corkscrew curls,” she added sharply. A buzzing began in Devon’s ears.
“I hired Moore and Morrow Art Restoration.” Harrison poured himself more coffee.
Corkscrew… Moore and Morrow…? Hannah Moore? His Hannah? Something must’ve registered on his face, because Frannie widened her eyes like: Yes, dummy!
The buzzing grew louder. Hannah had been here today? Regret at missing her flashed through him a second before his heart squeezed so hard he squinted. Yet another “twelve years ago tonight” memory. The wreckage he’d left in his wake…
His hearing returned in time for the tail end of his father’s remark: “—company that discovered those Rubens forgeries.”
“I heard the Art Institute almost closed down after that scandal,” Francine said.
Devon pulled himself together, focusing on three details. Based on the company name, Hannah didn’t just work for a restoration firm; she owned part of it. Second, he’d heard about that forgery scandal at some exhibit Nicole had dragged him to. The well-respected Art Institute of Chicago had unknowingly hung three forged paintings, and the discovery sent the staid art world into a frenzy of paranoid speculation over their own works. Third, his father had unwittingly hired Devon’s high school sweetheart yesterday. Harrison had never met her; Devon had gone to great lengths all senior year to make sure of it.
“The restoration firm is gaining a remarkable reputation,” Harrison said. “Next subject.”
Devon sank into the cushion, a warmth settling in him at Hannah’s accomplishments. Followed instantly by the warmer memory of her soft lips, perfecting the art of French kissing. He inhaled unsteadily. What the hell? He was engaged. All that grand passion, roller-coaster stuff was well left to his teens.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
A second chance romance set in a creepy cliffside mansion harkens back to the gothic mysteries of Victoria Holt and Rosamunde Pilcher. Sibling rivalry, greed and the haunting secret of a murder covered up as suicide permeate the household when a billionaire disinherits his children. This romantic suspense is sure to keep you up all night.
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Runs January 10 – January 18, 2023.
Winner will be drawn on January 19, 2023.
Sarah Andre writes romantic suspense that keep you up all night. Her novels have won the 2022 HOLT award, 2020 Writers Digest Honorable Mention and a 2017 RITA® finalist, which is Romance Writers of America highest award of distinction.
She lives in serene Southwest FL with her husband and two naughty Pomeranians. When she’s not writing, Sarah is either reading novels or coloring. Yes, you read that right. She’s all over those coloring books for adults.
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