SHIP OF DREAMS – On sale February 11, 2015
About the book –
Advertising Diva, Laura Armstrong is after Imperial Cruise Lines, the biggest account of her career and the one that will lead to the next step in her Life Plan of becoming one of the most powerful women in advertising. That winning the account will also prove her father wrong is a bonus.
Sexy Southern Gentleman, Nathan Maxwell, is after that very same account, but for completely different reasons. Landing the account means a sizeable bonus just in time to save his family’s farm, and the only stable home his sister’s ever known, from foreclosure.
When the two end up on the same ship in the middle of the Mediterranean for a clandestine reconnaissance mission, Mt. Vesuvius isn’t the only thing that could erupt.
Will Nathan sink her ship of dreams before it ever leaves port, or will the way to love be smooth sailing?
Jackson’s assistant escorted Laura into a modest-sized, but well-appointed office. Behind the mahogany desk sat a man, that although her father’s contemporary, looked years younger. His thick pewter and silver hair, tanned, clean-shaven face, and ready smile gave Jackson Jeffries the appearance of a well-aged movie star.
He rose as she approached his desk, his gray eyes alight with approval as he appraised her.
“Little Laura Armstrong has grown into a beautiful, poised young lady. How did that happen?
Last I saw you you were headed off to college.”
She smiled at the compliment. “That was a decade ago.”
“Has it been that long?” He indicated a group of chairs around a beautifully-restored leather steamer trunk that served as a coffee table. Models of Imperial’s ships, old and new, ranged the office on their own wood pedestals, down-lighting illuminating every detail. Photos of dignitaries from around the world covered the walls.
It was a comfortable office. A well-lived-in office. Not the showplace she’d expected from the CEO of one of the world’s most prestigious ultra-luxury cruise lines. But then again, she had memories of Jackson as a kind, unassuming man. One who actually loved his wife and children and didn’t put the importance of the bottom line ahead of his family.
“And now you’re with an advertising agency, and you’d like to talk to me about Imperial’s business.” He leaned forward, propping his elbows on his knees.
“Yes.” Despite his humble demeanor, he always could cut to the chase.
“All right. I’m game. Tell me about your agency.”
Before she could start her pitch, the office door opened and a tall, good looking younger version of Jackson entered the room. Same thick hair, but light brown with hints of pre-mature gray at the temples, same gray eyes, same ready smile. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
She remembered Jackson Junior, or Jack, from dinners at the Country Club, golf outings, parties at her parents’ house, and high school. She’d tried her sixteen-year-old girl’s wiles on him. Four years older, he hadn’t been impressed, having eyes only for Miss New York and his girlfriend at the time, Stephanie Smallwood. They’d married after college, only to get divorced five years later.
“Jack, you remember Milt’s daughter, Laura.”
“Yes.” His eyes lit up. “Of course.”
Laura was about to tell me a little about her agency–”
“Giddings-Rose,” she supplied.
“Giddings-Rose?” Jack interjected. “Laura, I should tell you, we aren’t looking for a traditional Madison Avenue agency. We already fired Kendall-Moore. We want to move into the digital age, freshen our brand and broaden our consumer base, with a focus on a younger demographic.”
“You’re speaking my language.” Laura said with a grin.
Jackson beamed at his son. “Jack is our Vice President of Customer Relations and he’s been pushing for Imperial to enter the age of social media.” He chuckled. “What I know about social media could fit in a thimble.”
Laura jumped in with both feet. “Imperial has catered to the older wealthy client, but with that clientele dying off, the line needs to refocus its brand on a younger demographic, people my age, with copious discretionary income.”
Jackson Senior and Junior eyed one another.
Jackson spoke first, “We had that in mind when we designed the newest ship–”
“The Nave dei Sogni,” Laura interjected.
“That’s right,” Jackson said, “and its itineraries, shore excursions and onboard activities, but we haven’t been able to reach that client. Now we’re building a new, smaller four-hundred-fifty passenger liner – the ultimate boutique ship–”
Jack spoke up, “Which will offer unstructured cruises that give passengers the feel that they are truly on a personal yacht. This won’t be your grandparent’s cruise. Most passengers on the Sogni have been our usual clientele, perplexed by the offerings. The only people your age we get on the ship are there because it’s their parents’ or grandparents’ anniversary or birthday.”
“Forget what you think you know about Giddings-Rose,” Laura started. “We have the finest creative team in the business, with two Webbys, five Addys, and one Mosaic, and fifty years of experience combined, the media buying power of the large agency we are, but with the digital savvy of an interactive agency. We give you the best of both worlds. Strategic planning, web design and development, search engine marketing, digital lead generation, digital brand development, rich media campaigns, interactive marketing and communications strategy, data mining and ROI assessment.” She took a breath.
“You don’t have a cruise line in your client roster,” Jack pointed out.
“No, we don’t, but we do have an international airline and a five-star hotel chain on our books, plus one of the world’s top travel companies, so we have experience in the high-end travel and hospitality industry.”
Jackson glanced at his son, nodded. “Okay. We’ll give Giddings-Rose a shot.”
“But your initial research and creative is on spec,” Jack added. “We’ll expect your pitch the end of July, but we’ll have a pre-pitch meeting with both agencies before that. We’ll be in touch to set that up.”
Laura stuck her hand out to Jackson. “Thank you.”
“It’s a pleasure to see you again,” Jackson covered their clasped hands with his other hand.
“You truly have grown into a beautiful woman.”
“Thank you, Jackson.”
“I’ll walk you out.” Jack guided Laura through the door. “How did we not know you worked for an ad agency?”
She raised an eyebrow, “Have you met my father?”
Jack laughed. “Right. Then how did you find out we were looking?”
“My father blurted it out, forgetting his daughter was in the business.” If he even knew in the first place.
“Maybe that’s a good thing. A little competition never hurt anyone, and Imperial can only benefit.”
They’d arrived at the elevators. “My father was right,” Jack said, his face earnest.
“About what?” Laura turned to face him.
“That you’ve grown into a beautiful woman.”
Alrighty then. “Flattery will get you everywhere, Jack, but I think I’m the one who should be sucking up to you.”
“Then you can start sucking up by having dinner with me.”
She tilted her head as the elevator dinged. “Perhaps.” She stepped into the elevator and turned around. Just before the doors closed, she said, “Call me.”
About the author –
Rebecca Heflin is an award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job as a practicing attorney.
Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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