Blissfully Yours (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #361)

Blissfully Yours (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #361)

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by Velvet Carter

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Their exotic island idyll is only the beginning… 

Who's the real Saturday Knight? Is she the tempestuous, in-your-face star of Divorced Divas, the small screen's hottest reality series? Or is she the sultry, au naturel temptress Brandon Gilliam meets in Jamaica? It isn't long before the New York director and the woman


Their exotic island idyll is only the beginning… 

Who's the real Saturday Knight? Is she the tempestuous, in-your-face star of Divorced Divas, the small screen's hottest reality series? Or is she the sultry, au naturel temptress Brandon Gilliam meets in Jamaica? It isn't long before the New York director and the woman known off set as Ayana are sharing a passionate interlude that he never wants to end.  

Back in the city, Ayana gets a reality check—when her sexy isle lover turns back into the no-nonsense director on her show. If the secret about her romantic interlude with Brandon gets out, it could ruin her career as the single vamp fans love to hate. There are people who depend on Ayana and the financial gains earned through her TV persona. Is she willing to risk everything for a seductive fantasy, or could what she shares with Brandon be the truest bliss of all?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"... the main characters in this story are relatable and believable..."
-RT Book Reviews on Blissfully Yours

Product Details

Publication date:
Harlequin Kimani Romance Series , #361
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Ayana awoke to a gentle breeze flowing through the screened French doors of her parents' Jamaican hillside home. The delicious smell of ackee and saltfish tickled her nose as she stirred underneath the white cotton sheet. She yawned wide and stretched her long limbs before climbing out of bed. Today was her last full day in Negril and she planned to make the most of her time before heading back to her hectic New York life.

She showered and dressed in cutoff blue jean shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops. Ana—as she was known in Jamaica—pulled her long raven hair into a ponytail before trotting down the small back staircase that led to the kitchen.

"Hmm, something sure smells good," Ana said to her mother, who was laboring over the stove.

"I made ya favorite—ackee and saltfish, callaloo and johnnycakes," her mother answered in a thick Jamaican accent.

Ayana looked at the plate of food that her mother had dished up. "Ma, I can't eat all of that." Having lived in New York for more than ten years, Ayana had adjusted her eating habits and now ate mostly salads, fish and very few carbs.

"Ya too skinny, gurl. Gotta fatten ya up." Mrs. Tosh was a traditional Jamaican mother who believed in eating heartily at every meal.

"I'm not skinny, Ma. I still have plenty of thighs and a butt," she said, looking over her shoulder at her full rear end.

"Yeah, ya are. Don't argue wit me, gurl. Sit down and eat."

Ayana didn't say another word. There was no use in debating. Her domineering mother always got the last word, so Ayana sat at the wooden kitchen table and ate every morsel. She then polished off her mega breakfast with a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. She had to admit that eating some of her favorite childhood dishes felt good and satisfying.

"Ma, do you wanna go with me over to New Beginnings?" New Beginnings was a local women's and children's shelter that Ayana helped support with generous donations of her time and money.

"Me got no time to go to the shelter today. Got too much housework to do," she said, taking Ayana's plate and rinsing it off.

"Ma, I bought you a dishwasher so you wouldn't have to stand there and hand wash every dish. Where is the dishwasher, anyway?"

"Why ya waste ya money?"

Ayana just shook her head. She never stopped trying to spoil her parents, but they were simple people and didn't want the modern gifts she bought. "I don't consider buying my parents gifts a waste of money. Ma, you and Dad struggled for so long. Now that I'm in a position to make your lives a little easier, that's what I'm going to do." Ayana had her own stubborn streak, a trait she'd inherited from her mother.

"Go on, gurl." Her mother waved her away and continued washing dishes.

Ayana kissed her mother goodbye, went to the living room, grabbed her sunglasses and keys off the parson's table near the front door and left. She hopped on her canary-yellow Vespa and took off down the winding road. The lush hillside, dotted with hibiscus and white bougainvillea, whizzed by. Ayana loved jetting around Negril on her scooter. She had driven one ever since she was a teenager. The open air was refreshing and helped to clear her mind. This was where she'd fled to two years ago after her nasty, well-publicized divorce. Ayana thought back to that time.

"If you walk out on me, you're not getting one red cent!" Those were the last words her ex-husband, millionaire Benjamin Lewis, the founder and CEO of BL Industries, had said as Ayana left their sprawling Long Island mansion. The estate was set on three manicured acres, complete with a pool, tennis court and guest house.

Although Benjamin ran one of the world's leading electronic manufacturing companies, making millions in the process, he was a tightwad. After three years of marriage, Ayana had become sick and tired of adhering to his strict budget. He had given her a weekly allowance of two hundred dollars, much less than she had made when she was his secretary. He only increased her allowance when he wanted her to buy expensive outfits for their black-tie affairs. Benjamin loved parading her around. To him she had been nothing more than a trophy wife.

Ayana had become tired of being treated like one of his prized possessions. She couldn't take any more of his selfish ways and filed for divorce, citing cruel and unusual punishment. While the proceedings wore on, Ayana had spent her days in a tiny studio apartment on the Lower East Side, sparsely furnished with a futon, throw rug and nine-inch television.

A few days after she'd moved there, the phone rang, startling her out of her sleep. She'd reached for the cell and pressed Talk. "Hello?"

"You are still asleep? It's eleven-thirty," Reese, Ayana's best friend, had said.

"What's up?"

"You need to get out of that apartment. It's a beautiful sunny day, so let's go to lunch at that new restaurant in the Village."

"I don't have money to waste on lunch. All my cash is going toward attorney fees."

"What happened to all that jewelry Ben gave you?"

"I have a few pieces here. But the rest is in my safe-deposit box. Why do you ask?"

"You need money, right?"

"Of course I need money. You of all people know how stingy Ben was," Ayana had said, sounding irritated.

"Instead of sounding like a wounded victim, you should sell some of that ice."

"I'm not selling my jewelry. That's the one thing Ben did right. He may have been a frugal SOB as far as giving me cash, but he didn't hesitate giving Tiffany, Cartier and Harry Winston his plastic. He loved telling his business associates how much he spent on my jewelry. It was like a competition to see which man could spend the most on their wives."

"Girl, you have a fortune sitting in the bank collecting dust."

"Like I said before—I'm not selling anything. I like my jewelry."

"Have you ever heard of paste?"

"No. What's paste?"

"Basically, paste is leaded glass made to look like diamonds and colored stones. I know a place where you can take your jewelry, have it copied and then sell the originals." Reese had once worked in the Diamond District as a sales clerk, and she still had connections on Forty-Seventh Street.

"I don't know, Reese. This jewelry is the only thing of value I have left. If I sell it, then what?"

"You'll be able to pay your bills and not have to wait for the divorce settlement to get some much-needed cash."

Ayana had digested her friend's words. Reese made perfect sense. Ayana thought about the five-carat diamond engagement ring, set in platinum and sitting in the safe-deposit box. The ring that she had once treasured and wore with pride had little meaning now that her marriage was over. "I guess you do have a good point."

"I have an excellent point. Besides, you'll still have the same jewelry designs to wear—they just won't be the real thing. This jeweler is so good that no one will be able to tell the difference."

"Okay. I could actually sell my wedding set and a few other pieces. That should hold me over until the divorce is final."

That afternoon, Ayana had gone to the bank and taken her five-carat engagement ring, diamondencrusted wedding band and sapphire necklace out of the safe-deposit box, then met Reese at the jeweler's shop on Forty-Seventh Street. A week later, she'd picked up the pastes and couldn't believe how authentic the pieces looked. She'd sold the originals, making enough money to sustain herself for the duration of the proceedings.

"Ana! Ana!" yelled the children from the shelter when they saw the yellow scooter pull into the yard.

New Beginnings was near and dear to Ayana's heart. The small, privately run shelter relied on donations from generous patrons, and Ayana was at the top of that list. She didn't have any children of her own and considered the kids at the shelter her babies.

"Hey, guys! What's happening?" Ayana hopped off the scooter, gathered as many children into her arms as she could hold and gave them all a huge hug.

"Now, now, chilrin, leave Ms. Lewis be. Go now and do yo work," Marigold, the shelter's administrator, said as she came into the yard waving her hands and shooing the children away.

"Did you get the shipment yet?"

"All dose big boxes come, and me didn't know what to do wit all dose clothes." She smiled. "We thank ya."

"You're welcome. It was no problem. All I did was collect clothes from friends of mine who were purging their closets."

"Ya do more than send clothes. Ya send checks too, and dey help keep dis place going."

Ayana looked a bit embarrassed; she didn't like when Marigold praised her for helping. The shelter needed assistance, and she was just glad that she was now in a position to help.

"And dat stuff you send look brand-new. Some of dem tings still had da tags on 'em."

"Yeah, I know. I only select clothes that are gently worn, if not new. Did you see the note attached to that blue dress? It's for you."

"I saw it, but dat dress is too fancy fo me."

"It's only a sundress."

"Yeah, a sundress by Ralph, uh…uh…"

"Lauren. Ralph Lauren."

"Where me gonna wear some designer dress to? After me husband die, I don't go out much."

"Well, you never know what life has in store. Maybe you'll get invited to a party or asked out on a date. It's always good to have a go-to dress in your closet."

"I no want no date. James was de love of me life and after he die, a piece of me died too."

"Marigold, you're still a good-looking woman, and I'm sure James wouldn't want you to be alone for the rest of your life." Ayana sympathized with her friend but always tried to be encouraging.

"James did tell me not to pine away for him for too long," she said with a sorrowful look in her eyes.

"See what I mean. James wouldn't want you spending every night home alone."

"Okay, okay, me keep Mista Lauren. Ya wanna come in fo some lunch? Me make kingfish stew and coco bread."

"No, thanks. I already ate. I have to go back home and pack. I just came by to see if you got the clothes and to see you and the kids."

"We hate to see ya go." Marigold gave Ayana a warm hug.

"I hate to go, but duty calls."

The truth was, Ayana wasn't looking forward to returning to New York, but her hiatus was over. The reality show that she starred in was resuming filming in a few days. She had spent two glorious months in Jamaica, eating her mother's home cooking, taking long walks on the beach and meditating at her favorite place high in the Blue Mountains. The serenity and beauty of the island, and being surrounded by people who loved her, had rejuvenated her soul. Now Ayana was ready to resume her hot-blooded persona and tackle another season of Divorced Divas.

Chapter 2

"We 'll be starting our descent in the New York area shortly, so please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts."

Ayana heard the flight attendant's announcement through the lavatory door. She looked in the mirror and was satisfied with her transformation. Gone was the girlish ponytail, replaced by a long, flowing, platinum-blond lace-front wig. She'd traded in her island uniform of cutoff blue jean shorts, sleeveless T-shirt and flipflops for a sexy black-and-white Tom Ford pencil skirt that hugged her full hips. The matching chiffon blouse with blouson sleeves was secured around her slim waist with a wide black leather belt dotted with silver studs. Black-and-white layered necklaces and a pair of five-inch strappy platforms completed the high-maintenance look. She applied a double coat of ruby-red lipstick to her perfectly made-up face to add a pop of color. Ayana gathered her belongings and put them back in her Prada tote. She exited the lavatory and returned to her seat in first class.

"Would you like anything else before we land?" asked the attendant.

"I'll have a glass of champagne. Actually, make it two."

After the attendant brought the drinks, Ayana drank the two flutes of bubbly and readied herself for any photographers or reporters who might be waiting for her once she deplaned. Divorced Divas led in the ratings due to Ayana's prima-donna persona. The gossip rags were always trying to get dirt on Saturday Knight— Ayana's name on the show—and stalked her on a regular basis. The latest story going around town was that Ayana was the reason Erick Kastell—her love interest on the show—had fled the country.

"Welcome to New York, and thanks for flying with us today. You are now free to use your cell phones," the pilot announced once they'd landed.

As the plane taxied to the gate, Ayana called Reese. "Hey, girl, we just landed. Where are you?"

"In the car, waiting outside of baggage claim."

"Okay. See you in a few."

Once the doors opened, Ayana put on a pair of oversize shades, retrieved her carry-on from the overhead bin and strutted down the pedway, into the terminal and out the door.

"Saturday! Saturday Knight! Look this way!" a photographer yelled, snapping pictures as she strolled past.

"Saturday, is it true you're the reason Moses Michaels left his girlfriend, Lisa?" a reporter shouted.

"Have you read Lisa's tweets? She's calling you a home wrecker," another reporter blurted out.

Ayana didn't even glance in their direction, though that didn't stop them from blurting out questions.

"Is it true that you and Moses Michaels are dating?" another reporter shouted.

Moses Michaels was the hot single moderator of the reality-show circuit. He and Saturday had gone out a few times, but it had not lasted.

She kept walking, looking straight ahead as if they weren't there. She saw Reese's black Benz and concentrated on making it to the car without acknowledging the annoying paparazzi and reporters.

"Hey, girl, welcome home." Reese turned to kiss Ayana on the cheek. "Well, it isn't such a good welcome with the media stalking you and accusing you of breaking up Moses and his girlfriend," Reese said as Ayana settled into the car.

"Their claims are totally untrue. Moses had broken up with his girlfriend before we'd started to date. Anyway, Moses and I are now just friends. The lies remind me of my nasty divorce," she said, remembering the highly publicized proceedings.

During the divorce trial, reporters and photographers had lined the steps of the courthouse, begging for interviews and snapping pictures. Salacious details of their marriage had made interesting headlines. Ayana had been embarrassed to read about their rather unorthodox love life.

Benjamin had leaked photos of Ayana dressed as a dominatrix, beating him with a whip. He'd accused her of dominating him against his will. It had incensed her. The entire bondage and sadomasochism idea had been his. Benjamin had bought her the black latex catsuit, platform boots and whip, and he'd even made her watch an instructional DVD to teach her the nuances of BDSM. Ayana had resisted at first, but Benjamin had insisted. He'd said it was the ultimate thrill to have her beat him. But he'd backpedaled in court, playing the victim. He'd even produced pictures of bruises on his back.

In addition to the accusations of sexual abuse, Benjamin had accused Ayana of spousal abandonment, saying that she spent months in Jamaica. On the stand, Ayana did admit to visiting her parents. However, it was Benjamin who'd insisted that she extend her stay, saying that since they didn't have children, there was no need for her to rush back home to New York.

Meet the Author

VELVET CARTER is not just the name of a luxurious fabric, but the name of one of the world’s leading writers of “exotica.” She’s a prolific novelist who paints pictures with her words. Velvet has her finger on the pulse and knows how to make your heart race with her tantalizing stories. Her novels have been translated into German, and released in London to critical acclaim. Velvet uses the world as her muse, traveling the globe for provocative inspiration.

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Blissfully Yours 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book! Even though i dont watch reality shows, i still enjoyed the story. I did not like the ending. Wanted to know what was next for ayana and brandon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! The characters were real and the story was compelling. I would recommend for those who like a really good romance novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book started very slow, i almost stopped reading it out of frustration. It eventually took off and went wayyyy to fast. There just seemed to have no balance. The romantic scenes, i will admit, were indeed off the charts. #rg