THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL – On sale December 2, 2014
About the book –
For two stubborn people…
Corporate mogul Shane Donovan sees the ultra-cool, collected Cecilia Riley as an ice queen—even if he can’t deny that, on the surface, she’s a work of perfection his body can’t ignore. Forced to spend two weeks in the same house for his sister’s upcoming wedding, Shane senses that deep down Cecilia mirrors his need. And he’s determined to draw her into a sexy game that will melt away her reserve…
Losing is not an option…
Career-driven Cecilia Riley has just enough free time in her schedule to head out of town for her brother’s wedding. But her agenda is thrown for a loop by the presence of Shane. Though his over-confident attitude leaves a lot to be desired, his insanely hot body has kept Cecilia up nights. Unsure what game Shane is playing, Cecilia takes the bait, bent on resisting him at all costs.
A cotton cloud.
That’s what Cecilia felt like. A wonderful, fluffy, white cloud where nothing could hurt her. With the help of something called a Jägerbomb she forgot about her future, her lack of motivation, and her campaign. Forgot her father’s betrayal and her engagement to a man she didn’t love.
Nothing mattered except the country music pounding through her head, these women who’d taken her into their fold, and Jägerbombs.
When they’d arrived, she’d ordered her normal white wine, but Maddie and Gracie insisted this was better. Cecilia had to agree. The drink’s contents were a mystery, but she felt divine. Alert and alive. Ready for anything.
She swung her arms around Maddie and Gracie, hugging them close. “Thank you so much. I never get to have any fun.”
Gracie laughed. “There she is, the Ce-ce I know and love.”
Maddie raised her glass. “Damn, I’m having a good time.”
Sophie whooped, some of her margarita slopping over the sides as she took another gulp.
Penelope shook her head, pressing a finger to her temple as though she was getting a headache. Since she’d volunteered to be designated driver she was dead sober while the rest of them were on the drunk side of buzzed.
A song blared over the loudspeakers, the bass vibrating through her body as a country song came on. The dance floor shifted, the patrons moved into lines as they began an organized dance. Cecilia narrowed her eyes, watching the steps. “What’s this song called?”
“‘Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),’” Gracie said.
“I like it,” Cecilia said.
Sophie grabbed her hand. “Let’s go dance!”
She was so cute and small, Cecilia couldn’t help grinning and patting her on the head.
Sophie scowled, batting her away. “I’m not a puppy!”
“But you’re soooo cute,” Cecilia said in a voice that sounded nothing at all like her.
Penelope grimaced. “Yikes, don’t say that.”
Little Sophie balled her hands into fists. “I am not cute. I’m fierce.”
Maddie gave her a smacking kiss on the cheek. “You are.” She winked at Cecilia. “She used to get me into so much trouble.”
Cecilia was about to answer, but the dancers on the floor turned and clapped, then walked forward two steps before kicking out their heels, distracting her. How long had it been since she danced? Years of lessons perfected her technique as she’d worked relentlessly to obtain an acceptable level of poise. She’d danced at functions all the time, a nice waltz, gliding effortlessly around the room with some random partner, subtly leading when her companion didn’t know what he was doing.
But had she ever just cut loose? Danced for the fun of it?
The dancers took another turn, repeating the steps from before.
The speakers blared the country song.
She studied the dancer’s feet. She could do that. It was easy. Cecilia downed the rest of her drink, slamming the glass on the bar. “Let’s go.”
Sophie, Gracie, and Cecilia made their way to the floor, leaving Maddie behind with Penelope to keep her company.
Freedom sang in Cecilia’s heart in time with the music and alcohol streaming through her blood. For tonight, she had no responsibility. Nobody to approve or disapprove of her. Nobody to please.
Tonight she could be whoever she wanted.
People parted, making room for them as they fell into line. Cecilia studied the dancer’s feet stomping on the wood floor. It took four beats to figure out the pattern and two more to catch the beat of the song, and then she was off.
All the years of practice paid off, because she took to the dance like she’d been born to it. Next to her, Gracie and Sophie stumbled, laughing as they missed steps. Sophie yelled over the song, clutching her hand. “Damn girl, how do you do that?”
Cecilia laughed. “Twelve years of ballet and five years of ballroom dancing.”
She spun, her head going deliciously dizzy, before she clapped.
One song turned into another and the steps modified, but she’d always been a quick study and caught right up. The music washed over her, filled her up with the kind of happiness she hadn’t felt in so long she almost didn’t recognize it.
She let go. Sweated. Laughed.
And in that moment she was free.
The song changed, slowing down in tempo, but before she could be too disappointed, a tall guy in a black Stetson grabbed hold of her waist and swung her into his arms.
He fell into a quick tempo waltz that Cecilia glided into as though they’d been dance partners for years. Under the rim of his hat, he was quite good-looking with his tanned skin, high cheekbones, and full, masculine mouth. He didn’t make her heart beat fast like Shane, but his brown eyes were warm instead of cold, looking at her with interest instead of distrust. Big hands pressed into the small of her back. Lazy in his charm, he smiled at her. “Name’s Levi.”
She thought about protesting. But why should she? It was just a dance. She relaxed into his embrace. “Cecilia.”
He leaned down. Close enough the brim of his hat touched her forehead. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. You’re not from around here, are you?”
She shook her head. “I’m from Chicago.”
His hand slid tighter around her waist. “Well, Cecilia, you sure don’t move like a city girl.”
It might be the best compliment she’d ever received in her life and she beamed at him. “Why, thank you.”
“Hands. Off,” a deep, unmistakable voice said from behind her. “Now.”
Heart lurching into a frantic beat, she craned her neck. It wasn’t the drinks making her delusional. Shane was really there. Big and mean, as though he was ready to pound the first person that crossed him.
She shivered. “What are you doing here?”
“Yeah,” Levi said, pulling her closer. “Back off, buddy.”
Shane crossed his arms, his biceps rippling, pumping up before her very eyes to strain the fabric of his black T-shirt. “I’m going to give you to the count of three before I break every one of your fucking fingers.”
She tried her best to work up some proper indignation over his behavior but couldn’t make it stick. Not with that twisted sense of female satisfaction warming her, going straight to her head and making her dizzy. He was jealous.
Like, super jealous. Dangerously jealous.
A giggle bubbled in her throat and she repressed it. That was wrong. Very wrong. The correct response was outrage, but damned if her body cared about that. Deep down, in that secret part of her, she was thrilled. Nobody had ever been jealous over her before.
She looked at the guy, what was his name again? She searched her memory and finally remembered. “Levi, can you excuse us?”
Levi let her go. “Is he your boyfriend?”
She started to say no but Shane grabbed her arm. “Yes, don’t touch her again. Got it, buddy?”
In surrender, Levi held up his hands. “Sorry, dude, we were just dancing. Maybe she shouldn’t move like that if you don’t want people to get the wrong idea.”
Move like what?
Shane grunted, gripping her arm tighter. “I’ll take it under advisement.”
Cecilia blinked, finally coming back from her ego-drunk daze enough to allow feminism to take its hold. “Hey!”
“Don’t test me, Cecilia,” Shane said, his voice hard. And then he had her on the move, practically dragging her toward the door.
“Shane!” she yelled over the loud music, but he didn’t seem to hear her. He bulldozed past anyone in his way, striding with single-minded focus toward the exit.
He pushed through the heavy barn doors and dragged her outside. Mild spring air hit her cheeks and the Jägerbombs rushed in her head. Danger and lust spiked the air as he stalked through the parking lot and around the corner to the side of the building.
A couple was already there, locked in a hot embrace. He cursed, veered around them, and walked straight into the woods that lined the property.
“Shane, what’s wrong with you? What are you doing?” Branches crunched under her feet as he pounded through the forest.
When he came to a large oak, he pushed her against it, his expression thunderous. “What am I doing? What are you doing, Cecilia?”
His gaze was predatory, exciting and scaring her at the same time. A strange and delicious cocktail of emotions that made her pulse beat fast and wild. “I was dancing!”
“No shit,” Shane said, his stance aggressive. “Quite a show you were putting on there.”
“I wasn’t putting on a show.”
“The hell you weren’t.” He raked his hand through his hair. “Fuck, Cecilia, half the men in the place stopped what they were doing to watch you.”
She waved a hand. “Don’t be absurd. You’re just jealous.”
He stalked toward her, crowding her against the tree. “You’re damn right I’m jealous.”
She blinked. “You admit it.”
Big hands gripped her hips, holding her still. “It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?”
Her breath quickened. He was so close. Closer than she’d ever thought he’d be again and she couldn’t resist the temptation of him. She ran her hands up his arms, bowing her back in offering. “Yes.”
About the author –
Jennifer Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they’re married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog.
Despite going through a light FM, poem writing phase in high school, Jennifer never grew up wanting to be a writer (she had more practical aspirations of being an international super spy). Then one day, suffering from boredom and disgruntled with a book she’d been reading, she decided to put pen to paper. The rest, as they say, is history.
These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer, writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever watchful eye on her ever growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband.
There is are copies of TAKE A CHANCE ON ME and THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL up for grabs – go and check it out right over here: a Rafflecopter giveaway