Billionaire, boss. . .bridegroom?

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Cherish

March 2016

ISBN 9780373743780

 

Harlequin Romance

March 2016

ISBN: 9780373743780

Gorgeous, rich CEO Hugh Moncrieff might be his office's reluctant heartthrob, but he does not date employees! Until he needs a fake date for an upcoming engagement and decides his quirky new graphic designer Bella Faraday is the perfect candidate. . .

Except Bella is anything but the unsuitable girlfriend she's supposed to be playing! Charming Bella's life might have been shattered by her ex, but with Hugh she feels all the pieces starting to fit back together. . .

Also released as:

  • UK hardback (March 2016, ISBN 9780263263824)
  • UK large print hardback (Date and ISBN tbc)
  • Also released in Australian paperback (March 2016, ISBN: tbc).

 


Behind the Book

This is the first in the Billionaires of London duo about the Faraday sisters and the men they fall in love with, who happen to be best friends.

Bella is a graphic designer who's been badly let down by her ex. She's trying to get her life together, but then she meets her new boss...

Hugh is the CEO of a record label and his ex destroyed his love of music. He hasn't written a song in years - but Bella brings music back to his life.

I wanted to do a fake fiancée book and I had so much fun with this. If you like 'The Sound of Music', you will LOVE the scene where Bella tries being the unsuitable girlfriend. And you might fall in love with the orangery in Hugh's parents' house (I did!). And the office name cards. And the coffee. And the music (I got to write songs for this one, which always makes me happy).

My original working title for this was 'The Unexpected Bride' (to match book 2, which was originally 'The Unexpected Groom') - but sadly I didn't get to keep it. Ignore the buzzwords in the title - this is frothy and fun and I hope you enjoy reading their journey as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Read a bit

CHAPTER ONE

I'm coming to get you, Bella texted swiftly. Hold on.

For once, it looked as if she was going to be the rescuer instead of the rescuee. With her new job to boost her confidence, she thought she might just be able to handle it. For once she would be the sister who was calm, collected and totally together instead of the flaky, ditzy one who always made a mess of things and needed to be bailed out of a sticky situation.

She glanced around and saw a black cab waiting at the kerbside. Relieved, she rushed up to it and jumped in.

'Can you take me to the Bramerton Hotel in Kensington, please?' she asked the cabbie.

There was a dry cough from beside her, and she whipped her head round to discover that there was already a passenger sitting in the back seat.

She'd been so focused on getting to Grace that she hadn't even noticed the other passenger when she'd climbed into the taxi.

'I'm so sorry,' she said. 'I didn't mean to be rude. Look, I realise that you were here first, and technically I ought to leave right now and let you get on with your journey, but I really do need to get to the Bramerton as quickly as possible. Would you mind finding another taxi and… and…?' She waved a desperate hand at him. 'Look, I'll pay for your cab.' It'd mean extending her overdraft yet again, but what were a few more pounds if it meant that she could return the favour for once and help Grace? Besides, she was about to start a new job. Next month, her cash-flow situation would be a bit better.

'Actually, I'm heading towards Kensington myself,' he said. 'I'll drop you off at the Bramerton.'

Relief flooded through Bella. She'd found the modern equivalent of a knight on a white charger: a man in a black cab. She wouldn't have to let her sister down. 'Thank you. Thank you so much.' She gave in to the impulse, leaned forward and kissed him soundly on the cheek. 'You have no idea how much I appreciate this.'

'What's so urgent?' he asked as the taxi drove off.

'It's a family thing,' she said. It wasn't her place to tell anyone about her sister's situation, let alone tell a complete stranger.

'Uh-huh.' He paused. 'Did I see you just come out of Insurgo Records?'

She looked at him, surprised. The man looked like a businessman on his way home from a late meeting, and he was hardly the target market for an independent record label – even though Insurgo's artists were a real mixture, from folk singer-songwriters to punk and indie bands, with a few oddities thrown in. 'Yes,' she said.

'Are you one of their acts?'

In her black jeans and matching plain T-shirt, teamed with a shiny platinum-blonde bob, Bella knew that she probably looked as much like an indie musician as she did a graphic designer. 'No,' she said.

But the man had been kind enough to let her share his taxi, so she didn't want to be rude to him. Besides, making small talk might distract her enough to stop her worrying about whatever had sent her normally cool and capable big sister into meltdown. She smiled at him. 'Actually, I'm a graphic designer, and I'm starting work at Insurgo next week.'

'Are you, now?'

Something about the way he drawled it made alarm bells ring in the back of her head. But he was a total stranger. She was making something out of nothing. 'Yes, and I'm really looking forward to it,' she said with a bright smile. 'I'll be designing website graphics, album covers and band merch. Actually, I'm still trying to get my head round the fact that I've just been offered my dream job.' In an ideal world she would've preferred to have Insurgo as a client rather than as her employer, but working for someone full-time again meant that she'd have a regular income for a while – and right now she needed a regular income rather more than she needed her freedom.

'You don't know who I am, do you?' he asked.

'Other than a stranger who's been kind enough to let me share his taxi? No,' she admitted.

'Allow me to introduce myself,' he said, leaning forward out of the shadows and holding out his hand.

Bella caught her breath. He was gorgeous. Dark hair that was brushed back from his face, cornflower-blue eyes, and the kind of jawline that would've made him a hit in any perfume ad. She really had to resist the urge to reach out and trail her fingertips down his clean-shaven cheek. And that mouth. Almost pouting, the sexiest mouth she'd seen in a while.

Almost in a daze, she shook his hand, noting how firm his handshake was. And she studiously ignored the fact that her palm was tingling; after the way Kirk had let her down, she was officially off men. Even if this one was very easy on the eye and was wearing a beautifully cut designer suit, what looked like a handmade white shirt, a silk tie and highly polished Italian shoes.

No involvement.

Full stop.

Because she was never going to let anyone make her feel as foolish and useless as Kirk had made her feel, ever again.

'Hugh Moncrieff,' he said, and he waited for the penny to drop.

It took five seconds.

'Hugh Moncrieff – as in Insurgo's Hugh Moncrieff?' Bella asked in horror.

'That would be me,' he said. And he looked as if he was enjoying her reaction.

He was her new boss? 'But – you can't be.' Even though it would explain why he'd asked her if she was one of the artists; he must've thought that his second-in-command had signed her up in his absence.

'Why not?'

'Because you – you –' She gestured to his suit. 'You don't look like an indie record label owner. You look like a stockbroker.'

'The bank always likes the company's MD to wear a suit,' he said mildly. 'If I'd turned up to the meeting in ripped jeans and an avant-garde T-shirt, with funky hair, they'd have seen me as less of a professional and more of a risk.'

The bank? That nasty feeling got a lot worse. If he'd been to the bank for a meeting, all dressed up, at this time on a Friday evening, did that mean the company was in trouble and her job would be over before it had even started?

Her fears must've shown on her face, because he said, 'It's our annual review, and I went for a drink with a business contact afterwards. Don't look so worried. So you're my new graphic designer?'

'Bella Faraday,' she said. 'And I'm very good at what I do.'

'I expect you are, or Tarquin wouldn't have hired you,' he said dryly.

'So what are you doing in a taxi, when you own a record label? Why don't you have your own car, or a limo or something to drive you around?' The question was out before she could stop herself and she groaned inwardly. Way to go, Bella, she thought. Just grill your new boss, two minutes after you insulted him by saying he didn't look like the owner of an indie record label. Carry on like this and you'll be picking up your cards on Monday morning instead of starting your job.

So much for never letting herself feel foolish again. Right now she felt like a prize idiot.

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More recent titles are also available from Mills & Boon UK, eHarlequin.com, and Harlequin Australia.

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