I have something SO FUN!!!! Ruthie Knox, author of our of our favorites (actually many of ’em!!) “About Last Night” has just sent over an excerpt from her upcoming release. It’s a new serial series entitled Roman Holiday 1: Chained: A Loveswept Contemporary Romance.
Ruthie Knox’s serial novel, Roman Holiday, is a road trip story. The first episode, Chained, releases November 11 (and it’s already up for pre-order). Just look at that sexy cover!
So… are you ready to taste-test “Chained”? 😉
In this scene, Ashley is chained and padlocked to the palm tree, staging her grand gesture, and the developer, Roman, who she’s only just met, has thrown her a loop by noticing that she’s cold and offering to wrap her in a space blanket that he’s retrieved from his car.
Roman Díaz was ruining her life. He could at least have the decency to be cruel.
He dropped to one knee, wrapped her legs in the crinkling blanket. He smelled good—aftershave or soap, clean and fresh like a very manly breath mint—and she willed herself to stop widening her nostrils and sucking at his smell like an excited puppy.
She was not excited. Or attracted. Or a puppy.
And this was serious business. She had to study him as though she were a detective, or, no, a soldier, because that was what you did with the enemy. Learned his ways. Found his weaknesses and exploited them.
It was beyond unfortunate that she was so awful at exploiting things.
He leaned back to survey his work. “Of course, if we leave that on you, in three or four hours you’ll be crisping up like a cat on a hot tin roof.”
He pronounced roof as though it had a u in it. Ruf.
Not the sort of accent she would have predicted for a Latino developer from Miami. She’d figured Roman Díaz would be Cuban, Honduran, Nicaraguan—and he looked the part. But he had to be second generation, at least. He spoke English too perfectly for it to be anything but a first language.
And even then, ruf? Wasn’t that how they said it in Canada?
“You wouldn’t do that,” she said.
“No.” He tipped his briefcase over, unlatched it, and withdrew a smartphone, which he used to take her picture from several different angles. “I wouldn’t.” He spoke quietly, his words punctuated by the phone’s artificial shutter noise. “Because you are a liability, Ashley Bowman. And I am a cautious man.”
“Why are you taking my picture?”
“I’m documenting you. Six-twenty a.m., Monday, August twenty-seventh. Protester alive and well.”
She snorted. “You can fake those.”
Once again, she couldn’t tell if he was joking. “I meant pictures.”
He put the camera away. “I’m sure I could. But why would I waste my time?”
“Because you’d already secretly done away with me and dumped my body in the ocean?”
“You’d float right back to shore. I’d have to chop you into pieces and hire a boat to take you way out where it’s deep, and even so.” He laid out this plan as though he’d considered it but rejected its impracticality. Then he looked at his watch.
“Bigger fish to fry today, huh?” she asked.
Roman glanced at her legs, and it was possible—just possible—that his eyes stuttered in the vicinity of her breasts as he brought his gaze back up to her face.
But if he’d ogled her, it had been the smoothest ogle in the history of ogling.
“You aren’t a fish,” he said. “You don’t have a tail.”
Ashley wiggled her legs in the metallic blanket. “No, but this is pretty fancy. I feel like you’ve upped my cool factor by about three hundred percent.”
Roman blinked. Frowned.
He looked toward her toes and shook his head slightly, as if to clear it.
“So,” he said. “You have my attention. Was there something you needed to tell me?”
She had planned to make a speech. To tell him what Sunnyvale meant to her—all the time she’d spent here with her grandmother, the people they’d met and the friends they’d made. Their crew of regular renters who came back year after year, Mitzi and Esther, Stanley and Michael, Prachi and Arvind . . .
Her family. Her home.
She tried to think of a way to put into words why she’d come back to live here every winter, even after she left at eighteen. How it wasn’t just a bunch of apartments plunked down on one of the cheaper Keys—wasn’t simply inexpensive weekly or monthly lodging for old folks down for the season and vacationers too strapped to afford Key West prices.
It was magic. The kind of magic made up of canasta tournaments by the swimming pool and long, laughter-filled evenings sitting on the dock surrounded by tiki torches and old friends. The magic of belonging somewhere. Having something.
That’s what she’d wanted to tell Roman Díaz. But he had his arms crossed, and his flat, expressionless eyes made her uncomfortable, reminding her too vividly of how she must look to him. Young and dumb and barefoot. Full of reckless, useless passion.
What did a man like him care about canasta?
“It’s just . . . this is too great a place to throw away,” she said. “It needs fixing up, I know, but if you put the right person in charge . . . I would do the work. I would work hard. You could turn a profit. Why knock it down when it has so many good years left?”
His eyebrows gathered themselves together. He had abundant eyebrows—the kind of eyebrows with the potential to take over his whole face if he didn’t keep them carefully trimmed. Which obviously he did, but still. Somewhere, there was a sophomore-year-of-high-school photograph of this guy with giant caterpillar eyebrows.
The thought made her a little smug, and she cherished the feeling for a moment, imagining Roman in thirty years with eyebrows so bushy and uncontrolled that they crawled right off his face.
“That’s your whole pitch?” he asked.
Oh, no. I have a much better pitch. I just thought I’d start with one that sucked, in case I didn’t need to waste the ringer.
Ruthie Knox’s Roman Holiday – Exclusive giveaway! How to enter for a chance to win?
Ruthie Knox and Loveswept would like to offer three lucky winners a sassy luggage tag of your choice from Anne Taintor! Tell us what you think of the excerpt or answer this question in the comments below: If you could surprise your lover with a trip to anywhere in the world, where would you want to go and why?
Maryse will pick the winners at random on Friday, November 8!