Billionaire’s Matchmaker, an Anthology
by Shirley Jump, Susan Meier, Jackie Braun and Barbara Wallace
Driving Mr. Wrong Home by Shirley Jump: When a handsome man from Gabby’s past agrees to a cross-country road trip, her master plan to re-launch her art career quickly morphs into an unexpected, romantic reunion.
The Sheriff’s Secret by Susan Meier: Marney’s 9-1-1 emergency help arrives in the form of a rugged, blue-eyed cop. Now she has the perfect bodyguard to keep her safe during those dark, steamy nights…
Love Unleashed by Jackie Braun: The last thing Mia wants is a relationship…yet the headstrong florist can’t keep her hands off her sexy-as-sin ex-boyfriend. Will she open her heart before he leaves town for good?
Love in the Shadows by Barbara Wallace: Jenny is a woman on a mission – she’ll even resort to dognapping to make her point! But can she teach a reclusive, emotionally-wounded tycoon that love heals all thing?
EXCERPT FROM: “Driving Mr. Wrong Home” in THE BILLIONAIRE’S MATCHMAKER by Shirley Jump
“That’s what friends are for.” Though he wanted more than that and had for a long, long time. He wasn’t on this trip with Gabby to see if he should forget her. He’d come to see if she loved him like he’d always loved her.
“Is that what we are?” she asked. “Friends?”
The two-word question hung in the air. Hell, the question had sat between them for years, ever since the day they’d met. There’d always been this magnet that drew him to her, a magnet he’d attributed to her being so different from him, so wild, so unpredictable. When really, what he wanted more than anything was Gabby herself.
“I think we’ve always been more than that,” he said. He reached up, let his hand trail along her jaw. Her eyes widened, and her pulse leapt in her throat. “Don’t you?”
“T.J….” She turned away. “I don’t think we should take this any further. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Okay.” He lowered his hand.
A heartbeat passed, another. The temperature rose, heating the space between them. She caught his hand with hers, her fingers warm and tight against his. “I want you,” she said softly. “But I’m so afraid. Of a thousand things, of making a mistake.”
“Oh, Gabby.” Her name slid from his lips, part groan, part whisper. “Don’t be afraid. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”
A long slow smile curved across her face. She splayed her fingers, pressed her hand on his chest. Her touch trailed down the front of his shirt, skipping over the buttons, dancing along the ridges of muscle beneath the cotton fabric. “You’ve changed.”
“We both have. We’ve grown up.” His attention drifted to her curves and the desire that had been on a slow simmer began to burn hotter, brighter.
She laughed, a deep, throaty sound. “I don’t know if I have. But you have grown up. In very nice ways.” A flush of pink invaded her cheeks, nearly as bright as the streak in her hair.
“I’m not that geek you remember.”
“No, T.J., you definitely aren’t. But underneath it all, I think you’re still the same guy. You’re down to earth and honest. At your core, you’re the T.J. I remember. I’ve missed that person a lot.”
“You missed me?”
“More than I realized. You’ve always…tempered me. Brought out the best in me.”
The words filled him with joy. She saw who he was underneath. She always had. “And you’re still the same person who pushes me to step out of my comfort zone, to take chances.”
“I could say you’ve turned the tables in that department this week.” Her gaze softened when she looked at him.
“Maybe we should take this beyond just a road trip. To something more.” He’d said nearly the same thing years before. Back then, she’d rejected him. But this time, he sensed the undercurrent of attraction, the simmer of want, warring with whatever battles Gabby had inside her.
“But…” She got to her feet, and shook her head. “We’re just traveling together for a few days. It wouldn’t be smart to complicate that. What’s going to happen when we get to California? You stay there, I go back to Illinois? We have something long distance?”
“Honestly, I don’t know what will happen then.” He wanted more, wanted it all, but to have that, he had to tell her the truth about who he was…about why he stayed away all these years.
EXCERPT FROM “The Sheriff’s Secret” in THE BILLIONAIRE’S MATCHMAKER by Susan Meier
Dell stood too. “You cooked. I’ll clean up.”
Handing Charlie a treat, she shook her head. “I can’t let you do that. That wouldn’t be very hospitable.”
“What do you say we do it together?”
They stacked the dishes in the dishwasher, chatting a bit more. He made her laugh a time or two and Marney’s stomach clenched. He was smart, funny and very good looking. Not only that, but they shared a lot of similar experiences. Families who suffocated them. Exes who’d dumped them. And he really wasn’t bossy as much as he incredibly sure of himself, confident in a way that was more sexy than manipulative. He really wasn’t like Doug at all.
But he didn’t want to get involved again. She’d invited him to dinner to rectify their former misconceptions. Wouldn’t it be counterproductive to try to start something that might make her look crazy again? Especially since he’d made it perfectly clear he didn’t want a relationship?
Of course it would.
Still, when they stood at her front door, close enough to touch, but not touching, her hormones sat on the edges of her skin, breathlessly awaiting a kiss that she knew wasn’t going to happen.
“Thank you for dinner.”
His soft, sensual voice sent goose bumps down her spine. “You’re welcome.”
He turned to open the door, but stopped and faced her again. His gray-blue eyes sparked with confusion. “I meant what I said about not wanting a relationship.”
“Neither of us should want a relationship anyway after our first failures.”
“I think my ex cured me of that.” But suddenly she didn’t feel like that. Her divorce had been nasty, but she was surprised to realize she was ready for another relationship. Plus, she and Dell had fun together when their attraction didn’t make them both nervous. She wouldn’t mind exploring where this would go.
He stepped close to her, slid his hand down her hair. “The hell of it is I like you.”
The breath that lodged in her throat prevented her from replying. He liked her? She’d guessed that but she never thought he’d admit it.
“We’d probably be perfect lovers.” He laughed. “God knows I’m attracted to you.”
Before she could even think of a response to that, he lowered his head and kissed her. His lips rubbed across hers, coaxing them open. Just like at the fundraiser, her head spun. Her bones dissolved. Her heart thundered in her chest.
His hands slid from her neck to her shoulders and down her back to her butt, sending rivers of molten need through her. He squeezed once, twice, then his hands drifted up her back, massaging until one drifted around front and found her breast.
Her nipples instantly hardened. Her breath stuttered out of her mouth, into his. Their kiss shifted from hot to super nova. Their tongues mated frantically.
And then he pulled away.
The world vibrated around her for thirty seconds before she realized he stood there staring at her.
“I want to sleep with you.” He sucked in a breath. “But you wouldn’t like my terms. No strings. No commitments. It’s awfully hard to have that in a small town unless both of us are ready to be so discreet even our friends don’t know what we’re doing.”
Then he opened the door and left.
She combed her fingers through her hair. What the hell was that? How was she supposed to sleep now? Every hormone she had was on red alert. The man was potent. Like a drug. And ninety-nine-point-nine percent of her wanted to throw caution to the wind and spend a glorious night in bed with him.
EXCERPT FROM Love in the Shadows by Barbara Wallace:
“Would you like my driver to take you home so you wouldn’t have to travel alone?”
She told herself it was relief, not disappointment, falling heavy in her stomach. “I wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble.”
“You’re not putting me to any trouble, and my driver does what he’s told. Besides, it’s the least I can do. It was nice to be able…to have the company.”
“I enjoyed it, too.” She wondered what he was originally going to say before changing his words. “Plus you got a dog out of the bargain.”
“So I did.” Again, she caught the flash of a smile in the dark.
“Thank you for bringing Charlie back.”
“Thank you for not pressing charges.”
“I wouldn’t have anyway. You made some valid points this afternoon. I’ll see to it Charlie gets more attention.”
“He’d like that,” she replied with a smile.
A thick silence settled between them. Jenny wished she could see Nick’s face. She swore she could feel his gaze searching hers. His eyes zeroing in on her lips. Why else would her mouth run dry?
“You really should install some outside lighting,” she said, swallowing hard. “I can barely see my hand in front of my face.”
She didn’t need to see to feel his body come closer. The air around her hummed with his presence. “That so? I can see just fine.” His voice was rough, intimate.
“That’s because you like the dark,” she told him.
“Who says I like it?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe the fact you’re out here without a flashlight or the fact you insisted on meeting in a dark room this afternoon.’ She tipped her face upward. “Why did you act all mysterious today? Were you trying to frighten me?”
She figured he might dodge the question; she didn’t count on his hand reaching out to caress her jaw. “You have such pale skin,” he murmured. “I bet in the moonlight, it would glow silver.”
“I—I—I wouldn’t know.” Jenny suddenly couldn’t think. The seductive growl in Nick’s voice should frighten her. She was alone in the woods with a man whose wealth and power allowed him to take and do whatever he wanted. The realization should not send a thrill shooting through her body. But it did, and that scared her. His feathery touch left her trembling. Had her wanting more. Dear God, if he were to close the gap between them, she would…
She gasped as his arm reached out and yanked her close. Her flashlight and leash tumbled to the ground. Knocked off balance, she had little choice but to grip the front of his jacket with her free hand, fingers twisting in the worsted wool. She felt his erection against her hip. Instead of setting off warning bells, the knowledge he was aroused fueled her own arousal. The hunger unfolded from a place deep in her soul, as though the lessons from five years ago never happened. She was once again wanton, needy.
“So long,” she heard him whisper. He might as well have been reading her mind. When his lips brushed hers, she sighed and allowed him access. His tongue swept into her mouth without warning. Jenny moaned. He tasted of mint and coffee. She clutched his jacket tighter, pulling close, her hips seeking friction. In the back of her mind, she knew this was a mistake, but the voice of reason couldn’t be heard above the rush of blood in her ears. Unable to stop herself, she mewled and clung to him as his hands slid down her back, cupped her bottom.
From far off, she heard a dog barking. Lulu. Charlie. Their baying reached where common sense couldn’t and she came back to earth. What was she thinking? She broke free of Nick’s grasp.
Unable to form words, she turned her attention to fumbling for Lulu’s leash. If it was any consolation, Nick appeared to be as dazed as she was. The minute she pushed away, he’d stepped to the edge of the path. He stood there now, silently watching her while Charlie weaved around his legs. Jenny could hear his ragged breath mixing with hers.
What had she been thinking? For years she’d managed to behave herself, to keep the needy, desperate side of her personality in check, and now here she was, practically climbing up a stranger in the woods. She couldn’t get off the property fast enough. Finally, she located the end of Lulu’s leash. Forget getting a ride from his driver. Calling him would take too long.
Grabbing the leash as well as her flashlight, she stood up. Her legs were still shaking, and she had to hold her arm out to steady herself. This caused the light’s arc to swing wide. The beam shone straight at Nick.
For the first time, Jenny saw the face of the man she’d so wantonly kissed.
Excerpt from Love Unleashed by Jackie Braun in The Billionaire’s Matchmaker anthology
Marney leaned down and patted Charlie’s head. “Bye, boy. Don’t let her do anything I wouldn’t do.” He let out a soft yip, almost as if he understood.
Mia, however, wasn’t sure she did. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Be good.” Marney pointed a finger at the dog. “Charlie’s going to be on his best behavior for me. Aren’t you?” Mia said.
Was it her imagination or did the little dog wink?
“You just keep telling yourself that. Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to run.” Marney was halfway out the open front door when she called over her shoulder, “Oh, by the way, Charlie has a checkup with the vet at five-thirty today. Don’t be late.”
The door closed on Mia’s shocked expression. By the time she made it to the porch, Marney was already in her car driving away. Tires actually squealed. Mia scowled. The only veterinarian in Chandler’s Cove was Gideon Roth, hence Marney’s speedy getaway.
Gideon was a prime specimen of a man with a muscular build, thick sandy hair, rich brown eyes that could undress a woman with a glance, and a mouth that could turn her most wanton fantasies into reality. Mia knew all of this firsthand.
Gideon Roth was her ex-boyfriend.
She’d broken up with him six months earlier. Marney and Gabby, as well as Jenny Travolini—the other woman who formed their close quartet of friends—had been surprised. And no wonder. Gideon was a prize. Not only gorgeous and gainfully employed, but smart, funny, and abundantly decent.
Mia’s reason for dumping him? He’d said, “I love you.”
Three little words that most women longed to hear. Not Mia. Especially when Gid had gotten down on one knee on Christmas Day and backed them up with a diamond engagement ring large enough to have its own ZIP code.
Panic had bubbled up, burning her like lava. God help her, for one foolish moment, hope had as well—a geyser’s worth of it had shot up and then rained down on the old, painful memories. But nothing could wash away the past, which was why Mia had come to her senses.
Why did Gid have to go and ruin a really good thing with a declaration of love and a proposal of marriage?
Mia trusted neither.
The authors will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
AUTHOR Bios and Links:
ABOUT SHIRLEY JUMP
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance and women’s fiction to feed her shoe addiction and avoid cleaning the toilets. She cleverly finds writing time by feeding her kids junk food, allowing them to dress in the clothes they find on the floor and encouraging the dogs to double as vacuum cleaners. Look for her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, on Amazon and Nook, and the debut of her Sweetheart Club series for Berkley, starting with THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN in September 2013. Visit her website at http://www.shirleyjump.com or read recipes and life adventures at http://www.shirleyjump.blogspot.com.
BOOK TITLE: “Driving Mr. Wrong Home” in THE BILLIONAIRE’S MATCHMAKER, Indulgence
About Jackie Braun
Jackie Braun is the author of more than 30 contemporary romance novels. She is a three-time RITA Award finalist, a four-time National Readers’ Choice Award finalist and was nominated for Series Storyteller of the Year by RT Book Club in 2008. She lives in Michigan with her husband, their two sons and a former shelter dog named Pip.
Anthology name and my title: The Billionaire’s Matchmaker/Love Unleashed.
Blogging 2 Tuesdays each month on The Chocolate Box: www.chocolateboxwriters.com
About Susan Meier
In 2013 Susan Meier lived one of her career-long dreams. Her book, THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHER was a finalist for RWA’s highest honor, the Rita! The same year NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS was a Book Buyer’s Best Award finalist and National Reader’s Choice finalist.
Susan is the author of over 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette, Entangled Indulgence and one of Guideposts’ Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.
One of eleven kids, Susan never lacks for entertainment or amusement from her over thirty nieces and nephews. Her family’s Wednesday Morning Breakfasts are the highlight of her summer. And with lots of her nieces and nephews now in their twenties, wedding season is in full swing!
Susan lives in west central Pennsylvania with her husband, son and two crazy cats.
THE SHERIFF’S SECRET in the THE BILLIONAIRE’S MATCHMAKER anthology for Entangled Indulgence
Connect with Susan at
About Barbara Wallace
Barbara Wallace has been a life-long romantic and daydreamer so it’s not surprising she decided to become a writer at age eight. However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed her a romance novel that she knew where her stories belonged. Her first Harlequin Romance debuted in November 2010.
Barbara loves writing sweet, smart, ‘it-could-happen-to-you’ style romances. She lives in Massachusetts with her other loves – her husband, their teenage son, and three very spoiled pets (as if there could be any other kind). She also loves hearing from readers.
You can find her at her website (www.barbarawallace.com), on Twitter (@BarbaraTWallace) and on Facebook.