Completed Manuscripts

MY SWEET ENEMY

A sweet chocolatier competes with a hard-shelled MBA in an internship competition for a permanent job at a chocolate company, but will their enmity prevent her from finding his nougat center?

When a prestigious chocolate company runs a social media contest offering 5 lucky winners an internship and chance to win a high-level job, unemployed chocolatier Charlotte Beecher is thrilled to be selected. Sunny Charlotte has a shot at her dream job and a chance to make four new friends.

Taciturn MBA Luke Wells isn’t fooled by fellow intern Charlotte’s sweet smiles. When he shoots her down in the first challenge, indignant Charlotte transforms from cream puff to jaw breaker and the battle is on. But when these two enemies find themselves distracted by delicious attraction, will pesky feelings get in the way of each one’s plan to win the competition?

My Sweet Enemy Excerpt:

“Damn it,” Luke growled, striding across the small space. He ran his hand over the inside of the walk-in refrigerator door. His jaw ticked.

The metal panel was smooth with no handle.

Oh no. “We’re locked in,” Charlotte said.

He nodded.

“Inside an industrial refrigerator.”

He nodded again.

“The two of us.”

Luke slowly pivoted to face her. “Did you do this on purpose?” he asked, his voice hard.

“What?” Charlotte stared at him. “Are you effing kidding me?” She shivered. It was damn cold in here, and about to get colder.

“No, are you effing kidding me?” he retorted, leaning toward her. In the dim light, his eyes glittered with barely suppressed fury. Charlotte shivered again.

“Of course I didn’t do it on purpose,” she shouted. “If I wanted to trap you in an ice box of death, don’t you think I’d make sure I was on the other side of the door?”

She glared, and their eyes held and dueled for what seemed like an eternity. Charlotte’s neck began to protest her sustained glare with someone a foot taller than her, so she dropped her eyes and stepped back. She wrapped her arms around herself. She’d left her light jacket in the interns’ office and she didn’t even have the extra protection of her apron since that was sitting at her work station in the main part of the kitchen.

“Damn,” Luke said, turning back to the door. His breath puffed in a cloud. It had grown even colder in here once the temperature stabilized with the door shut.

Charlotte’s teeth began to chatter. “I’m s-sorry.”

He turned around.

“I d-didn’t realize about the b-brick propping the door,” she added. Holy hell, it was painfully cold. Her finger tips were growing numb.

“We could freeze to death,” he murmured, his eyes scanning her body.

He sounded almost clinical, but she shivered in response to the look in his eyes anyway. A shiver on top of a shiver. God, she was pathetic.

“W-what do we d-do?” she asked. “Jog in p-place?”

They both started to trot where they stood. Luke rubbed his hands together. Charlotte tucked hers under her arms. Both their breaths came out in white puffs.

“It’s not enough,” he said grimly after a moment. “I think there’s only one option.”

“You’ll s-sacrifice yourself so I c-can pull a Luke Skywalker and climb inside y-your steaming abdominal cavity?”

He narrowed his eyes at her.

She shrugged with a whatcha-gonna-do expression. If you couldn’t make Star Wars jokes as you were literally freezing to death, when could you?

He took a step closer, his arms opening up.

Charlotte’s eyes widened and she took a step back. “W-what are you d-doing?”

“We have to share b-body heat.” Now Luke’s teeth were chattering too.

Charlotte swallowed. Could she do it? Could she wrap herself in the embrace of her sworn nemesis, the evilest man on the planet? Well, there were convicted murderers locked away for life, so the evilest man in the building perhaps?

She shuddered with cold. A sharp ache worked its way through her skin and muscle into her sinew, her veins, her very bones.

Even her brain began to feel frozen.

It seemed her options were to either allow this sexy man to wrap her up in his strong arms or to perish from turning into a human icicle. So…she supposed she’d take the sexy, evil man.

HOW TO COURT A COVERT LADY-  A LADIES COVERT ACADEMY NOVEL

2018 Windy City RWA’s Four Seasons Contest 1st place winner

2018 Greater Seattle RWA’s Open the Book Back Blurb Contest 1st place winner

2019 West Houston RWA’s The Emily Contest 1st place winner and Best of the Best winner

She’s keeping a secret. . . 

For years, Miss Pippa Chester hid away in fear. . . until a covert academy for ladies posing as a charity group taught her to fence. Blade hidden, Pippa confidently reenters London society, but her new life is threatened when a handsome, flinty eyed lord blackmails her. Pippa must help find his missing sister or he’ll expose the secrets of the academy Pippa would do anything to protect.

He’s looking for the truth. . . 

Jack Dashwood, Earl of Hartwick is frantic to find his sister, and when her supposed charity group fails to assist, he takes matters into his own hands. The lovely Pippa is as good at finding clues as she is with a sword, and soon they’re chasing leads. But the double-edged danger of his fascination with the mysterious Pippa combined with the passion that sparks with each kiss threatens to sidetrack their investigation. . .  and overwhelm the control that Jack so desperately needs.

They’ll uncover something new. . . 

As Pippa and Jack battle thieves, a duel, and shadowy powers in parliament, they must trust in the most powerful weapon of all. . . their hearts.

How to Court a Cover Lady excerpt:

Praying he was a deep sleeper, Pippa tucked her gloves into her waistband and uncoiled the length of rope she’d strapped to her side. With fingers light as thistledown, she tied the ends to his wrists.

Jack stirred.

A lock of hair fell over his brow, and she could no more stop her hand from smoothing it back than she could stop the sun from rising in two hours’ time.

His hair was soft as rabbit’s fur beneath her fingers.

She knew she should leave.

She knew staying was the height of folly.

Exhaling, she tried to push the wanting away. It did not leave her.

And so, allowing the inevitable to pull her to the bed like the very force of gravity, she sat beside him and ran her hands through his thick locks.

His eyes fluttered.

She stilled, her fingers entwined in his hair.

His eyes found her, and a spark lit in their sleepy depths.

“A dream,” he murmured, raising his head.

She leaned down to meet him, lips pressing against lips. She twisted so she lay alongside him, stroking his cheeks, his jaw, the strong column of his neck with her fingers. Lazy, drugging kisses filled her senses, filled every empty place in her heart.

This.

This was what she wanted.

He moaned, and the muscles of his chest and shoulders bunched beneath her as he moved his arms.

As he tried to move his arms.

“What—”

He jerked, and Pippa pulled back, regret constricting her like a punishing corset.

Jack’s head swiveled side to side, taking in the ropes.

“What have you done?” he growled.

Pippa shivered, pulling away.

“I cannot let you duel that man,” she whispered.

His arms flexed as he pulled against his bonds.

“Pippa,” he said, voice hard.

I challenged him,” she said, sliding off the side of the bed. “My honor was impugned by his actions.” Her hands clenched at her sides. Already, the soft coolness of his hair through her fingers felt like a distant memory.

“I cannot let you fight him,” Jack said through clenched teeth. He continued to pull at the ropes.

“What I do is not up to you,” she said, feeling the truth of her words once spoken. “What I do is not up to you,” she repeated, voice stronger. “I will duel this man. I will win. I will regain my honor. And then,” she said, stepping closer, “I will return to release you.”

.

THE GOVERNESS’S GLANCE- A WEXLEY SISTERS NOVEL

2017 RWA Golden Heart® Finalist

2016 Toronto RWA’s The Catherine Contest Finalist

2016 Virginia Romance Writers Fool for Love Contest Finalist

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Pleasures. . . 

Desperate to help save her family from financial ruin with her new governess post, Charlotte Wexley assumes her biggest challenge will be the two rascally orphans in her charge, not their handsome, rakish uncle and ward, the Earl of Huntingdon, who manages to spark her temper—and her heartbeat—at every turn.

Lord Simon Preston’s libertine life is upended when the earl’s brother and sister-in-law die, leaving him guardian to his wild niece and nephew who drive away a series of grim governesses.  The newest hire, Miss Charlotte Wexley, is not what Simon had been expecting.  She is young, lovely, and unafraid to put him in his place, and sparks soon fly between the fiery governess and the rakish earl.  Heated words lead to sensual temptation, and soon they cannot resist passionate stolen kisses.  Thoughts of Charlotte tempt Simon to visit the nursery, and he begins to connect with the children.  Charlotte sees glimpses of the real man behind the jaded mask, but she must ignore the yearnings of her heart, for putting her position—and her family’s very survival—at risk is beyond foolish.  When suspicious accidents threaten Simon and the children, Simon and Charlotte must fight together against an unknown threat and for their happily ever after.

The Governess’s Glance excerpt:

“My lord, I assure you that I am a hard worker, and the children shall receive excellent care while I am their governess.  I do know how to be civil despite the bit of evidence to the contrary this morning.  I pray you can forgive me for m-my—” Charlotte stuttered, the next words bitter on her tongue.  “. . . for my insolence.”

In reply, the earl picked up a thick slice of bread slathered in brie and ham and took a slow bite.   Charlotte stared in confusion.  How was she to interpret the man’s silence?  Was he so offended by her forwardness in addressing him that he had decided to completely ignore her presence?  Had his ennui famished him to such an extent that he must eat before replying?

He set down his food, then picked up a second helping of the same.  He stretched his hand out, offering her the snack.

Charlotte walked forward slowly, then reached out to take the food.  Her fingers grazed his, and a strange tingle shivered through her.  She quickly pulled away, taking a large bite to mask her response to the accidental touch.  The creamy brie, salty ham, and thick, crusty bread were a delicious combination, and  she briefly closed her eyes as she chewed.  Her dinner had been hours ago, after all, and the children had required quite a large amount of energy.

“Thank you,” she said, before taking another bite.

“Miss Wexley,” he drawled, leaning his hip against the table.  “It is so very bourgeois of you to apologize in such an earnest manner.  I myself never apologize for anything.  It rather gives people the false impression that I care what they think.”  He took another bite of his sandwich.

Charlotte’s brow furrowed.  What was she to make of that?  “So, I should not apologize to you, since I don’t care what you think?”

One edge of his mouth curled up.  “Brava, Madame Governess.  An excellent attempt at a snub.  However, the reality is that you do care what I think, since I am your employer, and your entire economic fate rests in my uncaring, aristocratic hands.”

Charlotte gasped, but he merely flicked a crumb of bread off his sleeve and continued.

“The truth of the matter is that if you manage to keep the children safe, reasonably well tended, and completely out of my way, you may keep your post until the end of time. . .  or until they reach their majority, whichever comes first.”

Charlotte sagged in relief at the news that her job was safe, even as she pondered the coldness of his words.  She must have loosened her grip on the blanket, for she suddenly realized that his previously indifferent gaze—now looking quite the opposite of indifferent—was locked onto her chest.  She looked down to see the blanket gaping open, revealing her thin chemise and quite a bit of cleavage.

“Oh!” she cried, gathering the blanket together and holding it tightly at her neck.  Her cheeks felt hot, and she glared at him.

“A gentleman would not look!” she accused.

“A lady would not show,” he replied, his soft voice mocking.  Something in her face must have revealed the level of her distress, for his gaze softened infinitesimally.  “Your job is secure, Miss Wexley.  Off to bed with you now.”

Charlotte practically dashed from the room.  The rude, odious, insufferable, arrogant, improper man!  He was. . .  he was. . .  “A bastard!” she muttered to herself, finally thinking of the most appropriate inappropriate word for a man of such low behavior.

As Charlotte crawled into her bed, she told herself that the flare of heat in his eyes when he’d looked at her—not to mention her answering shiver—was surely a figment of her imagination.

OTHER PROJECTS

Wexley Sisters Trilogy, Book 2, The Tutor’s Temptation

Complete, 95k words

Georgette Wexley, a gifted linguist, puts her natural big sister bossiness to use as a foreign language teacher at an elite finishing school in Bath.  When she is hired away to serve as a private tutor to a bullied student, Georgette is grateful for the extra money she can send home, but her charge’s charming, handsome older brother’s request for private French lessons leaves her heart beating rapidement.