I loved writing this book. It's the third book in my Billionaire Romance series. This book is a bit of a departure from the other two as it is set almost exclusively in the heroine’s ancestral home, Ravensdale Manor in Devon, England. The other two books in the series, The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love and Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, feature trips to exotic, glamorous locations like Brunei and Paris. Although, in Billionaire #3 there is a spicy trip to London that plays out in a gorgeous suite at The Savoy. I love that hotel.
I based Ravensdale Manor on the many stately homes I visited when I lived in England. I loved heading out from London on weekends and exploring English history. Visiting place like Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, or Blenheim Palace, the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, just fantastic.
Xavier’s character has been in my head for at least five years. I’m thrilled I’ve finally got him out on the page. I have to admit I’m a little in love with him. He’s suffered so much tragedy and betrayal but gets up and keeps going. I love his determination, passion and his incredible kindness. And Zara. She’s in big, big trouble, but you’ll have to read all about it to find out why!
Here's a taste. The hero Xavier has come to stay at Ravensdale Manor, the heroine Zara family home which she has had to convert into a hotel to pay the bills. The garden is in a mess and Xavier has helped sort out the an ornamental garden bed (he's a celebrity gardener)
Zara opened the French doors and walked across the lawn. The closer she came, the wider her eyes grew. The garden bed looked as if it could win gold in the Chelsea Flower Show. The tangle of weeds was now a mass of reds, yellows, creams and oranges, bordered by tiny blue flowers. Gorgeous. No wonder wealthy Americans flocked to Xavier’s landscape design business.
Her eyes strayed from Xavier’s handiwork to his muscled shoulders flexing under a white cotton shirt. She paused. The sweat-stained fabric gave extra definition to the glory that lay beneath. She grazed her teeth over her bottom lip. All that physical labour and an outdoor lifestyle had given Xavier the body of a god. Sculpted, tanned and hot. So unbelievably hot.
‘You just going to stand there, or come over for a proper look?’ Xavier called without looking up.
Her pulse spiked. God. Had he caught her gawking?
She strode forward as though she hadn’t been sprung ogling. ‘Xavier, this is incredible,’ she breathed.
He rocked back on his heels and threw her a killer smile. Her belly performed a little fluttery dance.
‘Not too bad for a couple of hours’ effort,’ he said, casting a critical eye over his work.
She moved to the far end of the garden to appreciate the splendour from another angle.
‘How did you do this?’ she asked.
‘Nothing a quick run to the local nursery couldn’t fix.’ Xavier’s brow creased. ‘But it’s not finished yet.’
‘What are you talking about?’ She bent down and smelled a gorgeous scarlet flower. ‘What else do you need to do? It’s perfect.’
‘Needs to be watered in and mulched. I’ll do it after lunch.’
He stood and pulled off his gardening gloves and dropped them on the grass. Stripping off his shirt, he wiped it across his sweat-glistening chest. She sucked in a quick breath. The physical nature of his job was evident in his perfectly defined muscles and golden skin.
‘I . . . I can water it,’ she said, trying to focus on the floral display and not his delicious body and the effect it was having on her own. ‘You’re supposed to be writing your book.’
‘You!’ he exclaimed, drawing his arm across his brow, giving her a beautiful view of taut muscle. She ran her tongue across her dry lips.
‘I want the garden to live,’ he quipped. ‘If you step any closer, these flowers will wilt with fright.’
Zara thrust her hands on her hips. ‘I’m not that bad.’
‘Oh no,’ he said with a laugh wrapped up with irony. ‘You just have that magic touch for turning everything green into a nice shade of brown.’
He flicked his finger down her nose. A teasing gesture from their childhood. His simple, intimate touch sent a quiver of delight through her veins. God, she’d missed him. Missed this. Having someone who knew her so well. Someone who knew her inadequacies and found them endearing. Someone who knew the dull pain of grief that never left.
‘Just because I couldn’t grow anything then doesn’t mean I’m a rubbish gardener now.’
‘Oh yes.’ He grinned. ‘I can see how well the place has fared under your gentle touch,’ he said, sweeping his hand around to encompass the almost derelict garden.
‘Hey.’ She slapped his arm. ‘I only took over managing this place six months ago when Dad had to go into care. It takes time and love to build something special.’
A spark of merriment flashed in his eyes. ‘Read that somewhere, did you?’
She swallowed. Oh God. She had. In his latest gardening volume. She couldn’t believe she’d quoted his lines back to him.
‘Ah . . .’
‘Chapter one, page ten of my latest book,’ he said, rubbing his temple in an exaggerated fashion. ‘If I’m not mistaken.’
* * *
I really hope you enjoyed that little scene. The Billionaire's Passionate Revenge is one sale on Tuesday, but you can pre-order now from Amazon, iTunes, Kobo and other good ebook stores.