Mar 10, 2013

Sunday Smooch - Captive in the Spotlight by Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Captive in the Spotlight, but first ...

the winner of the Sunday Smooch Giveaway two weeks ago (with apologies for the lateness of this announcement!) is -- Linda Hills

Can you please contact lee Christine at leechristine59 (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your copy of In Safe Hands

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Captive in the Spotlight.

Domenico has spirited Lucy away from Rome and unwanted paparazzi attention. As the young and pretty woman convicted of killing his brother, one of Italy's richest men, every move she makes is newsworthy. Desperate to escape the press, Lucy accepts the offer of sanctuary, only to discover she's not alone. Domenico, the man she'd once almost fallen for, and who believes he has every reason to hate her, is staying there too and there's unfinished business between them.Note: this is an almost-kiss!

As if sensing him, she turned her head. 'You! What are you doing here?' She spun to face him, legs planted wide and hands clenched at her sides, a model of aggressive challenge.
Except for the robe’s gaping neckline and the flutter of cotton around bare thighs that highlighted her femininity.

Domenico reminded himself he liked his women accommodating. Soft and pliant. Warrior queens with lofty chins and defiance in every sinew held no appeal.
Till now.
His body’s wayward response angered him and guilt pricked. This woman had destroyed Sandro.
‘This is my property. Or had you forgotten?’
‘You implied I’d be here alone.’
‘Did I? Are you sure?’ Of course she wasn’t. He’d chosen his words carefully. Even to his enemies, Domenico didn’t lie. Seeing her skittishness he’d deliberately neglected to mention he’d arrive here today. ‘I fail to see what my travel plans have to do with you.’
He waited for her to splutter her indignation. But she merely surveyed him through slitted eyes. He sensed she drew her defences tight, preparing for battle.
Was she like this with everyone or just him?
‘You came to make sure I don’t steal the silver.’ The sarcastic jibe almost hid her curiously flat tone. Yet he heard that hint of suppressed emotion, as if she was genuinely disappointed.
As if what he thought mattered.
Domenico frowned, instinct and intellect warring. He knew what she was, yet when he looked at her he felt
Abruptly she pulled her robe in tight, as if only now realising the loose front revealed the shadow of her cleavage. Methodically she knotted the belt, all the while holding his gaze. Why did it feel like she was putting on armour, rather than merely covering herself?
Did she know with the light behind her, the wrap revealed rather than concealed her curves? Was it a deliberate ploy to distract him?
His voice was harsh. ‘I leave it to my security staff to watch for thieves.’
Did she flinch? He remembered her rosy flush in court when evidence had been presented about the jewellery she’d been given by or stolen from Sandro.
No sign of a blush now.
‘What do you want?’ Her insolence made his hackles rise.
It was on the tip of his tongue to deny he wanted anything but pragmatism beat pride. He was here for one reason only and the sooner he fixed it the sooner he could put Lucy Knight firmly in the past.
‘I do have some business to discuss with you but-’
‘Ha! I knew it!’ She folded her arms and Domenico had to force his gaze above the plump swell of her breasts, accentuated by the gesture.
‘Knew what?’ To his chagrin he’d missed something. He who never missed a nuance of any business negotiation.
‘That it was too good to be true.’ Her lip curled. ‘No one gives anything for nothing. Especially you.’ Her gaze flicked him from head to toe as if she read his body’s charged response to her. His skin drew tight. Fury spilled and pooled. At her dismissive tone. At himself for the spark of arousal he couldn’t douse.
‘You’re here, aren’t you? Safe from the media?’
‘But at what price?’ She stepped close, eyes flaring wide as if she felt it too, the simmer of charged awareness, palpable as a caress against overheated flesh. ‘There are strings attached to this deal, aren’t there? A price I have to pay?’
Domenico looked down his nose with all the hauteur six centuries of aristocratic breeding could provide. No one doubted his honour. Ever.
‘I’m a man of my word.’ He let that sink in. ‘I offered you sanctuary and you have it. There are no strings.’
Yet if she hadn’t been so stressed yesterday she’d have made sure of that before agreeing to his offer.
Domenico muffled a sliver of guilt that he’d taken advantage of her vulnerability. The stakes were too high, the trouble she could cause too severe for him to have second thoughts.
Her perfectly arched eyebrows rose. ‘I’m free to leave?’
Domenico stepped back and gestured to boats moored in the bay. ‘I will even provide the transport.’
He wished she’d take him up on the offer. Yes, he wanted more from her but instinct warned him to be rid of her. He didn’t relish the discordant tumble of his reactions to her. There was nothing logical or ordered about them. She made him feel…things he thought long dead.
Her eyes bored into his, as if she sought the very heart of him. ‘But you want me out of the limelight.’
‘Of course.’ He shrugged. ‘But I’m not keeping you prisoner. There are laws in this country.’
Her breath hissed and she stiffened, reading his implication. That one of them at least was honest and law-abiding.
Her mouth tightened but otherwise her face was blank. So much for vulnerability. Lucy Knight was tough as nails.
‘If you’re staying…’ He looked at her expectantly but she said nothing. ‘We can discuss business when you’re dressed.’ He glanced at his watch. Eleven o’clock. ‘Shall we say midday?’
‘Why delay? I’d rather know what you want.’
She spoke as if he hid something painful from her. He almost laughed at the idea. Once he made his offer she’d be eager enough.
‘You’re hardly dressed for business.’
She stuck her hands on her hips, her pose challenging and provocative. ‘You’d be more comfortable if I wore a suit? Why can’t you tell me now?’ Again those delicate eyebrows rose, as if she silently laughed at him.
Something snapped inside.
He stalked across till he stood close enough to inhale the scent of soap and fragrant female flesh. Close enough to hook an arm round her and haul her flush against him if he chose. Instead he kept his hands clenched at his sides.
She refused to shift. Even though she had to tip her head back to look at him, exposing her slim throat. Heat twisted in his belly, part unwilling admiration at her nerve, part implacable fury.
His gaze held hers as his pulse thumped once, twice, three times. The artery at her throat flickered rapidly and she swallowed. Yet she didn’t look away.
Charged seconds ticked by. Her pupils dilated. His senses stirred. Did he imagine that hint of musky arousal in his nostrils? The quiver of anticipation in the air?
Her breasts rose with her rapid breathing, almost but not quite brushing against him. The woman staring back defiantly was no modest, unprotected innocent.
The thought pulled him up. He’d almost forgotten this was about her, not him.
She wasn’t as unaffected as she pretended. He saw the fine tremor running under her skin. Her tongue flicked out to swipe her lips and he bit back a smile. For it wasn’t a consciously slow, seductive movement but sure evidence her mouth had dried. Nerves or arousal?
Domenico leaned close, letting the heat of her body drench him. Her lashes flickered and her trembling pulse accelerated. His quickened too.
Holding her gaze, he reached out and snagged her belt. Instantly she stiffened, but she didn’t retreat.
Was that a challenge in her eyes?
Her breath was a warm, sweet sigh against his chin as he tugged the bow undone, loosening the fabric around her.
Domenico bent his head and her pursed lips softened. Her eyes widened and something flickered there. Fear or anticipation?
‘My office in an hour. You’ll be less easily distracted if you’re fully dressed.’
He straightened, spun on his heel and left her.



Annie is giving away a signed copy of Captive in the Spotlight.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Robyn Grady's latest release with Entangled will be posted!


  1. Funny thing: usually I will read all of an author's excerpt/smooch, but with this one, I refuse to do so. Why, you ask? Well, I read a little bit on another blog and was so hooked that, if I read any more, it will feel as if I've read the whole book when I actually sit down to read the book. I hope that makes sense to you. (It's just that I have such a bad memory that, once I start reading a book and think I've read it before, I discard the book as a duplicate without realizing that I had only read the excerpt before.)
    Bottom line is that I'm really looking forward to reading this book.
    It's good to see you here, Annie. Have a great weekend!

  2. Love it, Annie. This is a must read. Gorgeous cover, too. Awesome.

  3. Ooh, I can't wait to read this, Annie! It's at the very top of my tbr. :-)

    And, Laney, I understand exactly how you feel!

  4. Hi Laney,

    You had me worried when you didn't want to finish the scene, but now I know your reasoning, I'm grinning! I'm glad you're looking forward to it!

  5. Hi Sue, isn't it a lovely cover? I'm so pleased with it.

  6. Hi Michelle - that's so good to hear! I hope you enjoy it.

  7. Just a quick note to apologise - I'm having terrible trouble accessing the net here in Qld (no phone or net connection where I'm staying due to an undefined problem) so I may not be around much. Hope you enjoy the excerpt if you have time to read it.

  8. Annie, I'm like Layne - I'm saving myself for the whole book now! I've ordered it, now I'm just waiting and watching the post box!

    ugh on the phone and net connection - makes you realise how much a part of our lives this technology is now! Terrible when it won't cooperate!

  9. What a simply brilliant square off!! What a heroine. And Domenico... There are sparks flying everywhere!
    Can't wait to read it all. I'll keep my eyes peeled for that cover on the shelves :)

  10. Hi Annie - what a fabulous scene... I so want to read this book. And great cover. Uber sexy.

  11. That's quite a heady experience for an almost-kiss. Love it!!

  12. Annie, I have Defying Her Desert Duty on my TBR pile, but I see I'm going to have to add this one as well! Loved their intensity.

  13. Pheww!! Fabulous scene, Annie! Has quite warmed up my chilly morning {;o)

  14. I am about to start reading this book tonight. this is just added incentive to get reading.

  15. Sharon, how lovely that you've ordered 'Captive in the Spotlight'. Grinning here, despite the fact my plane has been delayed. The upside is that I get net access for a little while!

  16. Robyn, they do square off, don't they? One of the things I liked about writing Lucy and Domenico's story is that they are so well matched. I saw the book in store yesterday - yay!

  17. Hi Helen. I'm pleased you like it. Have I said how chuffed I am about the cover? (G)

  18. Thanks, Mary. I was going to post the first kiss but it was pretty steamy and I do like this scene.

  19. Rachel - I hope you enjoy them both. They're quite different stories but the heroes have a few factors in common. I won't add any spoilers here though.

  20. Smiling here, Barbara. Better than a hot water bottle?

  21. Ooh, Kaelee, I hope you have a fabulous evening reading.