That Night with the CEO
It was a one-night stand—until her next project has them working side by side!
Entrepreneur Adam Langford always gets what he wants. And he wants the blonde who shared his bed a year ago—then vanished. Now a tabloid scandal whisks Melanie Costello back into his life—as his new PR guru! But the real headline would be if their red-hot secret got out.
Transforming the rebellious image of the soon-to-be CEO will take Melanie’s best makeover skills. But how do they hide their sizzling chemistry? Her PR firm is on the line. Will she risk everything for the one man she can’t resist?
Excerpt from That Night with the CEO
This is the end of Chapter One. My heroine, Melanie Costello, has just arrived at Adam Langford’s mountain estate outside Asheville NC to meet with him about rehabbing his bad-boy image. Adam’s father hired her and because she needed the money and the prestige of the job, she neglected to mention that she and his son had a past—a one-night stand that left with Melanie leaving in the middle of the night. She figured that Adam kept company with so many women she must have been a blip on the map. Well, not so. Adam only agreed to the PR campaign because he recognized Melanie from her picture. They’re playing cat-and-mouse right now…she just doesn’t know it.
A bark came from the far side of the kitchen, the door beyond the Sub-Zero fridge.
Adam glanced over his shoulder. “Are you okay with dogs? I put him in the mudroom, but he’d really rather be where the action is.”
“Oh, sure.” She nodded, placing her things on a side table. “What’s your dog’s name?” She already knew the answer, and that Adam’s dog was a sweet two-hundred-pound hulk—a Mastiff and Great Dane mix.
“His name is Jack. I’ll warn you. He’s intimidating, but he’ll be fine once he gets used to you. The first meeting is always the roughest.”
Jack yelped again. Adam opened the door. The dog barreled past him, skidding on the hardwood floors, taking the turn for the great room. Jack thundered toward Melanie.
“Jack! No!” Adam may have yelled at the dog, but he made no other attempt to stop him.
Jack sat back on his haunches and slid into her. Immediately, Melanie had a cold dog nose rooting around in the palm of her hand. Jack whacked his sizable tail against her thigh.
She hadn’t bargained on Adam’s dog ratting her out by revealing that they shared a past, too. “He’s friendly.”
Adam narrowed his stare. “That’s so strange. He’s never done that with anyone he’s never met. Ever.”
Melanie shrugged, averting her eyes and scratching behind Jack’s ears. “Maybe he senses that I’m a dog person.” Or maybe Jack and I hung out in your kitchen before I left your apartment in the middle of the night.
The only sound Melanie could hear were Jack’s heavy breaths as Adam stepped closer, clearly appraising her. It made her so nervous, she had to say something. “We should get started. It’ll probably take me a while to get back to my hotel.”
“I’m still not sure how you got up the mountain, but you aren’t getting back down it anytime soon.” He nodded toward the great room windows. It was raining sideways. “There have been reports of flash floods in the foothills.”
“I’m a good driver. It’ll be fine.” She really was nothing more than a skittish driver. Living in New York meant taxis and town cars. She kept her license valid only for business trips.
“No car can handle a flood. I have room for you to stay. I insist.”
Staying was the problem. Every moment she and Adam spent together was another chance for him to remember her, and then she’d have a lot of explaining to do. This might not be a great idea, but she didn’t have much choice. She wouldn’t get any work done if she was lost at sea. “That would give me one less thing to worry about. Thank you.”
“I’ll show you to one of the guest rooms.”
“I’d prefer we just get to work. Then I can turn in early and we can get a fresh start in the morning.” She took a pair of binders from her bag. “Do you have an office where we can work?”
“I was thinking the kitchen. I’ll open a bottle of wine. We might as well enjoy ourselves.” He strode around the kitchen island and removed wineglasses from the cabinet below.
Melanie lugged her materials to the marble center island, taking a seat on one of the tall upholstered bar stools. “I shouldn’t, but thank you.” She flipped open the binders and slid one in front of the seat next to hers.
“You’re missing out. Chianti from a small winery in Tuscany. You can’t get this wine anywhere except maybe in the winemaker’s living room.” He cranked on the bottle opener.
Melanie closed her eyes and prayed for strength. Drinking wine with Adam had once led down a road she couldn’t revisit. “I’ll have a taste.” She stopped him at half a glass. “Thank you. That’s perfect.” The first sip took the edge off, spreading warmth throughout her body—an ill-advised reaction, given her drinking buddy.
Jack wandered by and stopped next to her, plopping his enormous head down on her lap.
No. No. You don’t like me. Melanie squirmed, hoping to discourage Jack. No such luck.
Adam set down his glass, his eyebrows drawing together. “I swear, Miss Costello. Something about you is so familiar.”
A zillion thanks for letting me stop by the blog to talk about my debut for Harlequin Desire, That Night with the CEO, and to tell the story of my path to finding a home at Harlequin.
That Night with the CEO has been in the works since late 2013. In June of that year, I received an email from Harlequin editor Patience Bloom about a book I had written called Bring Me Back. She said that she loved the book and that others in the Harlequin New York office also loved it. She invited me to submit something to her if I were ever interested. I’ll be honest—I was floored to receive such an email. I definitely had one of those, “Is somebody playing a trick on me?” moments.
I’ll also be honest in that I had to wonder how much she really liked my book. What did I know? Maybe she sent emails like that all the time. I mulled over some ideas for a Harlequin submission, but it wasn’t with a huge sense of urgency. It still felt like a pipe dream.
A few months went by and a friend tagged me on Facebook saying that Patience had blogged for Barnes & Noble (she was promoting her amazing memoir, Romance is My Day Job) about her top ten favorite romances of all time. She put Bring Me Back on the list! There I was alongside Nora Robert and Helen Fielding and Terry McMillan. I wanted to slap myself. Patience was obviously serious.
So, I got super serious about what I might submit to Harlequin and which line might be good for me. I asked about a zillion questions. I read a ton of books to brush up on everything Harlequin was doing. I decided that Desire was the line for me. It’s right up my ally—wealthy, powerful heroes and plucky heroines who have no problem standing up to (or for!) their man.
I had a few missteps with my first story idea, but Patience was unbelievably helpful, guiding me through the process and helping me understand what would work and what wouldn’t. I reworked my submission and sent it into Patience and then the real waiting began. She loved it, but it still had to pass muster with the Desire team. I was on pins and needles for weeks, trying to tell myself that it was “no big deal” if I was rejected. I could always try again or just be thankful for the chance.
Patience eventually sent me an email on a Thursday or Friday saying that she hoped to have an answer for me the following Monday. Exciting? Yes! Nerve-wracking? Also yes! The weekend seemed to stretch on forever. And of course, that Monday was a total nightmare of a day…I had a dentist appointment in the morning, had to run a ton of stupid errands, take my daughter to and from guitar lessons, and go to “meet the teacher” night at my son’s school. I had a ton of time away from my laptop and my email. It drove me insane.
Well, Monday came and went without any news. This is totally normal for publishing. Still, I was about as nervous as a human could be. Tuesday morning, I got an email from Patience that said, “What’s your phone number?”
I literally screamed. Thank goodness nobody else was home. Nobody in publishing wants to call you to give you bad news. Phone calls are for good news. I sent a text to my critique partner and she was like, “Uh…why are you texting me when you should be giving her your phone number?” I wasn’t thinking straight. I took care of that right away.
Patience and I had a lovely phone conversation, during which she offered me a two-book contract with Harlequin Desire. I might have squealed a few times during that phone call. I might have screamed again when I got off the line. It was an amazing day. The first book is That Night with the CEO and the second book is a follow-up, about the hero’s sister from the first book, which is titled Pregnant by the Rival CEO. That one comes out in January. I have since contracted two more books for Desire, which I’m working on right now. They should come out later in 2016. And that’s it! The story of how I landed at Harlequin!
As I stated on Facebook a couple of days, can I be jealous of an author and proud at the same time? I realize that I read a lot of Harlequin’s and the Desire line is one of my go-to’s at Harlequin. As most know, this blog was created for my love of Harlequin. That said, I couldn’t be prouder of Ms. Booth and her debut. I’m jealous, to a point because I so want to write for Harlequin but have been told by many that I don’t have the “voice” for the publisher. Do you know how rejected and dejected that I have felt over the years? But enough about me.
Go back and read her guest post about how she got “the call”. Again, jealousy but also so very proud. Why am I proud? Because I love Ms. Booth’s voice and her storytelling. What sets the this book from all the others in the line are the characters. Sure you have the typical misunderstood CEO that is a player, the plunky PR heroine that is going to “fix” the hero and a supporting cast that is supportive but not intrusive. Oh and did I mention the tropes? Boss/employee is not one of my favorites but Ms. Booth makes it work here and its totally believable. One reason is because she doesn’t work directly with the hero. But the hero’s dad. Confused? Don’t be. It works beautifully with Melanie and Adam.
In fact, the book is so beautifully written that I don’t really have anything negative or even slightly bad to say expect, I really wanted more of Jack. Getting back to the characters, they are NOT the sterotypical characters that are written for the line. Melanie is a strong woman that does have a weakness for Adam but doesn’t base her entire being around him. In fact, as much as she wants him, she has morals and ethics and doesn’t want to cross that line.
Adam will NOT take no for an answer when it comes to Melanie. She is the complete package for him, he just didn’t know it until she left him after their one night stand. But what’s interesting about him is that he is sweet to Melanie and to his family. He’s not alpha nor beta but somewhere in between. For me that’s the best kind of hero. Firm when needed and a marshmallow, too.
Melanie…one of my favorite heroines. Strong, ethical and totally in love with someone that she shouldn’t want. But that’s what makes her Melanie. She doesn’t question her resolve but in the end decides what she really wants and its Adam. She is also a strong compliment to Adam and to his own wants and desires.
Again, jealousy is an ugly thing but my jealousy is purely professional as a writer. One day I’ll get to the level that Ms. Booth has achieved. She will only go up the ladder and charts with her writing and her Harlequin debut proves it.
Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Now she’s a married mom of two and instead of staying up late in rock clubs, she gets up before dawn and writes sexy, contemporary fiction—big city love stories and rock star romance.
Google +: https://plus.google.com/+KarenBooth