Release date: September 8, 2014
Top art expert Gemma Gilmore can easily spot a fake from across a crowded gallery. So she wonders why the smoking-hot man standing alone in the far corner of the auction room isn’t bidding. She and her killer five-inch pumps vow to find out.
Mac Buchanan is on an undercover assignment that leaves no room for small talk and soft emotions. When one of the expensive paintings Gemma authenticated turns out to be a fake, he’s the prime investigator, and he’s determined not to let her breathtaking sex appeal whitewash a serious crime.
But even facing off over a $50 million art fraud case isn’t enough to contain their blazing sexual chemistry. Time and again, passion draws them together, but they’re driven apart by an ever-increasing web of lies, set-ups, and betrayals.
by Susann Oriel
Sensuality Level: Spicy
Susann Oriel lives with her husband in the beautiful Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, where she divides her time between writing contemporary, spicy romance stories, indulging in caffeine fixes at her local café, and encouraging things to grow in her garden.
An excerpt from The Real Thing:
Gemma didn’t know which was worse, a million goose bumps or old Mr. Rainey.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we start the bidding at $10 million.”
The most important day of her young life, and McCallister’s head auctioneer for the New York branch might as well be selling a paint-by-numbers kit. Why couldn’t the man sound more enthusiastic? After all, this was a K. L. Wentworth watercolor up for sale—a multimillion-dollar work of art that she, clever Gemma Gilmore, had authenticated as genuine.
She should have stayed away from today’s auction. It was too much, especially now that Mr. Rainey appeared to be doubly bored by a phone bid. “We have a bid for $11 million. Do I hear $11.1?”
Okay, enough of that dry, old stick. Just concentrate on who’s bidding.
Snuggling herself back into the small alcove away from the crowd, Gemma scanned the spectators seated in neat rows across the auction room. Two of McCallister’s regular bidders were in their usual row, ten seats apart. One was scratching his nose to place his bid, while the other bobbed his head to keep up. The entire auction room knew who they were. With those two well-known rival collectors of American twentieth-century paintings in attendance, everyone at McCallister’s usually had a friendly bet on who would win. Gemma had already put her money on the Nose Scratcher taking home the Wentworth.
By the time she’d completed her room check, the bidding had picked up pace. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have a phone bid of $14 million.”
She studied the rest of the crowd. As usual, there were more people than seats, but those standing were only here for the ride and would probably drift off after the next big-item lot had sold. No eye-popping bids were likely to come from them. In fact, there was nobody interesting at all.
Oh, except for one. She would have missed him if it weren’t for his impressive height. He stood in the far corner, half-obscured by a pillar and so well separated from the crowd, she briefly wondered why. He was far too broad-shouldered to be a typical art collector. True, they came in all shapes and sizes, but she could usually spot a collector at fifty yards, and they definitely didn’t look like this guy. Under that dark business suit there was a powerful physique, and it hadn’t gotten that way by hanging around auction rooms. A professional athlete, maybe? No, that wasn’t it. Despite that easy stance, there was a strength and control way beyond athletic prowess. The man seemed almost … dangerous.
She knew she shouldn’t stare, but then again, why not? He was just one big aphrodisiac-on-a-stick. And the fact that she could drool over him from the safety of her alcove made it so much more delicious. Almost naughty.