Parker's Price
Parker's Price

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Read the Excerpt, Chapter 1, Excerpt 2
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Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel
ISBN: 9781426890130
Release date: 14 June 2010

WARNING: Graphic language and explicit sex scenes (M/F)


Synopsis

She was sexy, smart...and not for sale. But that won't stop him.

When Parker Quinn is forced to accept an outrageously high bid at a charity auction, she has no choice but to go out with the last man on earth she wants to spend time with. Dean Maxwell may be one of Manhattan's most eligible bachelors, but he's also the man who had an affair with her sister and abandoned her when she became pregnant with his child.

Dean doesn't know why Parker hates him so much, but he's determined to show Parker the type of man he really is. Whisking her away to a private island in the Bahamas for a sensual, sun-drenched week together, Dean leaves Parker's preconceptions shattered and her desires inflamed.

But even as their passion reaches irresistible heights, Parker has a decision to make. Can she allow herself to fall for the seductive magnate, or will family secrets and a dangerous ex tear them apart?


Excerpt

Outside, the air was nippy and Parker pulled the wrap more tightly about her. It was thin, but it was silk so it was warmer than it looked. Still, she couldn't suppress a shiver. A large tuxedo jacket settled over her shoulders, dwarfing her. However, it still retained its owner's warmth, so Parker didn't complain.

"Think you're up to walking two blocks?" he asked, standing close to her so he could be heard over the constant noise of traffic and people.

"I live further away from here than two blocks."

"I want to stop by The Four Seasons."

She went still as warmth spread through her body. She swallowed, tipped her head back so she could eye him warily and said, "You said you'd take me home."

A small smile played around his mouth, like he knew exactly what her thoughts had been.

"The restaurant. I will take you home after you get something to eat. I watched you all through dinner. You had maybe one canapé."

"I had something before I came."

"And that meal is called lunch. Or was it breakfast?"

He was right, but she wasn't going to let him know that. And now that her duties were completed, she was feeling a little hungry.

She nodded at the hotel they'd just exited. "Why don't we go back inside?"

He lifted a brow. "The restaurants inside will be crawling with people who attended the auction. I thought you'd want to get away from that crowd."

She sighed, suddenly exhausted. "I just want to go home and forget I met you."

"Ouch." He winced, but not convincingly. "But you got an extra forty thousand for your cause."

"I can donate that amount instead and we can forget the date," she suggested, already mentally sorting through her portfolio and trying to decide which equity investments would be most advantageous to donate.

He ignored that, placed a hand on the small of her back, and steered her toward the crosswalk. They covered the two blocks in silence. At The Four Seasons, she shrugged off the jacket and handed it back to him. The coolly elegant restaurant was busy with the after-theater crowd, as it usually was in the evenings. Despite not having one of the de rigueur reservations, they managed to wrangle a table in The Pool Room near the windows. The dining room was airy and, to Parker's dismay, rather romantic with its twenty-foot windows and subtle lighting. Water babbled in the white marble pool in the center of the room, but the sound quickly fell into the background to blend with the other white noise. It drowned out the other diners' conversations and the clink of their silverware against china.

They ordered drinks, with Parker cautiously sticking to iced tea, and looked over the menu. Having made her decision, she put the menu down and looked up at the canopy of trees. "I haven't been here in ages. How did you get a table? This room is always fully booked for dinner."

"I had a little help."

It took her a second to decipher his meaning. Then she queried dryly, "Do you always buy what you want?"

The waiter stopped by, slid their drinks on the table, and took their food order.

"Money has to be good for something," he said after the waiter left. "I work hard for it and I can't take it with me when I die." He took note of her frown and chuckled. "I heard you when you said you're not for sale."

She picked up the iced tea. "Good of you to remember," she muttered behind the tall glass.

He caught her gaze and held it. "I remember everything you said," he murmured as he swirled the Scotch in his glass, ice clinking musically.

Getting oxygen into her lungs was suddenly labor intensive. Parker swiftly swallowed a mouthful of iced tea and prayed she didn't choke. Of course, if she spewed iced tea all over him, they might have to call it an early night.

"Didn't the woman you came with tonight get upset with you?" she asked before he could voice the question she saw in his eyes.

His mouth twisted wryly and he allowed her the reprieve.

"No. She was amused."

Parker was genuinely bemused. "She was?"

"My sister thought it was hilarious. She'll be telling this story to everyone she knows. And that's a lot of people."

"Oh, God." She picked up the iced tea, made a face, and put it back down. "I need something stronger."

He offered her his Scotch and, after a brief hesitation, she accepted the glass. Trying not to think of how intimate it seemed to drink from his glass, she took a sip of the amber liquid. It burned its way down her esophagus and she shivered slightly.

"Better?"

"Not yet," she said, and took another sip. The warmth blossomed in her stomach, washing away the sick feeling.

"Look on the bright side."

"What bright side?" she asked, sounding a little forlorn. She noticed the lipstick marks on the glass and rubbed at it with her thumb.

"Your ex won't be bothering you anymore."

"Please." She made a face, an uneven mix of misery and hopefulness. "He's probably figured out we were faking in front of him."

He took back the Scotch, brought it to his lips, and drained it, watching her out of darkened, enigmatic eyes. "It felt pretty real to me."

Parker froze, then wisely decided to ignore his remark.

"But he did buy that Russian model. She should have no problems making him forget about me." She took a deep breath. "And there was only minimal press. The auction won't be anything more than a side note."

He caught the attention of a passing waiter and gestured for another Scotch.

"Who has you so worried?"

"My mother," she blurted out. She glared at him. "Stop laughing."

He swallowed his laughter and cleared his throat. "Sorry. She wouldn't approve of what happened tonight?"

"No," she replied emphatically. "Definitely not."

"Because of what happened or because of this reputation you seem to think I have?"

She hesitated, then said, "Men like you always have a reputation."

"Men like me?"

"Insanely wealthy, under forty, sexy."

Those sexy, sculpted lips stretched into a slow smile that made her feel like she had another sip of Scotch. "I'm glad you find me sexy."

"I'd be dead not to," she admitted truthfully. "But I stopped allowing my hormones to make my decisions for me after I became old enough to drive."

"So, you were attracted to your ex's intelligence? His sense of humor, perhaps?"

Busted.

"Okay, I had a temporary lapse in judgment. It happens. I'm not perfect." She arched a brow. "Are you going to sit there and tell me all the women you date are for their brains and personality?"

The waiter arrived and swapped the empty Scotch glass with a fresh one.

"I never said otherwise," he said, after nodding his thanks and the waiter retreated.

Uncharitably, she wondered if he normally dated women whose names ended with an i.

"However, since I enjoy intelligent conversation, I generally want an IQ that's larger than the bra size."

"So, if I'm a drooling idiot, you'll leave me alone?"

His low laugh sent heat rippling over her skin. "Too late for you to fake it with me."

She blew out a breath. "It's only one date. I can do it. And you'll probably lose interest afterward."

"No other woman's ever needed to give herself a pep talk to spend time with me."

"That you know of," she qualified.

Copyright © 2010 by Ann Bruce. All rights reserved.


Reviews

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"Oh my god Ann Bruce rocked in this book with Parker and Dean."
Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick

"If you like your books to include scintillating sex, passion and a strong and absorbing plot, then this book is a must read for you."
Long and Short Reviews, 4.5

"Steeped in mystery, sensual encounters, and stunning revelations Parker's Price is a thrilling read."
Romance Junkies, 4.5

"Damn but I love her writing... The story kept me fully engaged. And the love scenes--wowzers--very well written."
Ramblings on Romance, 4

"It takes talent to condense a full story into relatively few pages, something that Ms Bruce succeeds at--heck, there's even an epilogue and it didn't annoy me (much)!"
AztecLady, 8

"Parker's Price is a fantastic romp which I devoured in no time at all as I was unable to put it down once I started."
Love Romance Passion, 4

"Erotic and sexy, this story was absolutely deliciously sinful with every word, carrying the reader away with this entertaining plot and emotional love story."
Book Junkie, 4

"Definitely worth picking up."
Everybody Needs A Little Romance, 4

"Clean and engaging. All in all, it's really not a bad read at all."
Mrs. Giggles

"A jaw-droppingly, sexy-beyond-words hero...and some smoking' hot love scenes that bring sexy back."
Wendy the Super Librarian

"All the alpha-male goodness of a category romance combined with all the hands-on, sizzling attraction heat of an erotic romance."
Night Owl Reviews

"If you enjoy fast-paced, sexy reads, you will enjoy [Parker's Price]."
My Disorganized Ramblings

"Ann Bruce's characters are stubborn and independent and pull together an entertaining story."
Romantic Times BOOK Reviews

"Parker's Price has some hot scenes in it and I like the way Ann Bruce writes."
Smexy Books