British expat Ellen Hunter trusts no man and finds her position as the events and conferences manager at a large hotel in Boston the perfect place to hide from her traumatic past. That is, until a business meeting brings her to the office of notorious playboy Kane Fielding. Ironically, his open disdain for monogamy and his storied past make him seem less of a threat. After all, there are no surprises from a wolf in wolf’s clothing.
Kane knows his reputation with the ladies is greatly exaggerated. After his father’s sudden death required Kane to take over the family business at the tender age of 22, he’s been more concerned with keeping the company running than finding someone to settle down with. He’s more than happy to treat Ellen the way she deserves. But the media is writing a different story, snapping pictures of them together around the city and putting her job—and her visa status—in jeopardy.
At the same time, an arsonist is stalking Fielding Paper, threatening the entire family’s livelihood and increasing the public scrutiny on Kane’s every move. Is a fling worth risking everything they’ve achieved—or can the flame growing between them forge a lasting bond?
by Kimberley Ash
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Kimberley Ash holds a bachelor’s degree in French from the University of London (spectacularly useful at PTA meetings) and a master’s in English Literature from Drew University. She writes contemporary romances about fish-out-of-water characters who find home where they least expect it. Find Kimberley on Facebook.
An excerpt from Breathe:
Somewhere beyond the lights, someone probably had a camera pointed at him.
On a normal day, Kane wasn’t bothered by this; on a normal day, he encouraged it. But not tonight. Not while he stood, alone, watching his second building this week collapse into a pile of charred beams and wet ash. The smell in his nostrils was that of the day his father had died: the smell of grief and fear and helplessness.
The site manager puffed over to him, a short, round man, perspiring despite the winds coming off Lake Michigan. “There’s nothing else to see, Mr. Fielding. Let me get you some coffee.”
Kane’s jacket wasn’t thick enough for this October night in Grand Rapids; he could feel the contrast between his freezing back and the heat still coming off the doused building. “You’re right, Art,” he said. But he didn’t look at the man, and he didn’t move.
“I am sorry, Mr. Fielding.” The site manager shifted his feet. “Is it true that the Chicago fire was arson?”
“Yep.” That news would have drawn the cameras here. The press would perk up at the word, look up his company. They’d find out about the explosion thirteen years ago that had killed his father. Swoop down to see what fresh hell Fielding Paper was going through. The presence of the camera-friendly president would help.
He’d been trained to analyze the way he looked when the photographers were around, because Kane, to quote his public relations director, was hot, and that was good for business. His messy dark-brown hair, hardly touched since he’d been woken four hours and a three-hour drive ago, was his trademark. His dark clothes were calculated decisions, worn to emphasize his height. He had deep-set, brooding dark eyes and a chiseled jaw, and all that crap that made his PR man rub his hands with glee—and Kane blush if he caught a description of himself in print.
But he was grateful. These tools had kept Fielding Paper in the news—and the gossip columns—for years. So sure, on the outside it was business as usual. But he hoped to God the camera didn’t have a long enough lens to pick up the muscle clenching and unclenching in his jaw.
The site manager looked at him more closely. “At least no one got hurt,” Art said encouragingly. “And most of the lumber is saved.”
Kane worked to keep his face impassive. He could give a crap right now about the lumber. “Yeah,” he said again, and then, because Art seemed to be looking for conversation, “Maybe the security cameras picked up something.”
“Uh . . . ” Art shifted again. Kane’s own feet were cold, and Art had been out here for hours before him. “Everything shut down when the electric was cut.”
“But the backup generator would have—”
“He killed that, too.”
“Shit!” He spat the word so loudly Art jumped. So much for not looking as if this was getting to him. Kane wondered if he was far enough away from the firefighters to light a cigarette. Then he remembered the cameras and tapped his numb fingers against his thigh instead.
There was a surprisingly delicate whump, and another corner of the building collapsed.
“The forest is good, too,” Art reminded him. Kane had had the trees to their left planted after his father died. They were still several years from maturity.
That had been one of his first acts as CEO. One of the crazy decisions of a twenty-two-year-old, numb with grief, fresh out of college, desperate to save his family’s business. “Buy American,” he’d touted to any news channel and TV show that would have him. “Buy Fielding Paper.” He’d planted acres in the U.S. and given land back to the villages in Central America. The goodwill had been priceless.
People liked him, goddammit! Why was someone setting fire to his mills?
The manager was hovering uncertainly, his breath visible in little puffs. The Fielding family history seemed just as visible.
But he had to get them all back on track. He couldn’t let this get worse than it was. “Thanks, Art,” he said, rolling his frozen shoulders and smiling down at the man. “I’ll take that coffee. And hey,” he remembered, making an effort to shrug off the fear, “Happy Halloween.”