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"An exciting and romantic novel . . . filled with suspense, sexy love scenes, and an adventurous ride into the corporate construction world." —Romance Junkies
"An enjoyable tale . . . a likeable hero and heroine, good dialogue, and a stirring romance." —Romance Reviews Today
"A satisfying romance with just a touch of mystery added." —Affaire de Coeur
"FOUR STARS! Carroll has created a fascinating and cleverly woven plot." —RT Book Club
"Get ready for a suspenseful ride when you read this steamy romance." —The Romance Studio
Only a month had passed since she joined the family company and, due to her dad being under the weather tonight, she represented Grant Development alone for the first time. Her hope this evening was to meet Senator Lawrence Chatsworth, former head of the Bay Area Regional Planning Commission, a man whose influence had opened doors for many.
Though she might feel confident invading the Campbell domain for business reasons, she had trouble setting aside her personal feelings. She expected Davis Campbell's son Rory to be here, she counted on it, but the prospect of seeing the man she'd once loved made her chest feel hollow.
As the sun sank into the molten ocean, a salt breeze stirred her hair. She knewshe should go back inside and look for the Senator, but instead stood compelled by the rugged San Francisco terrain, achingly familiar, yet now more precious for having spent her college years at UCLA, and four more working in Southern California. Virtual exile from her father, but it had been necessary both to pay her business dues and heal the wound inflicted by Rory Campbell.
Fixing her eyes on a deepening ochre sky, she steeled herself to rejoin the party. All the key players in the Bay Area developers' community were here. Hundreds of guests crowded the elegant high-ceilinged rooms, drinking premium liquor and vying for information to help their interests or hinder others.
Before she could turn back toward the house, a hand brushed her forearm. "Mariah."
Startled, she turned and looked up into warm brown eyes. Six-foot-two inches of well-built man in a tailored tuxedo, Rory Campbell brought back all the memories she'd tried to forget.
"It's been too long." His voice sounded familiar, deep, and even though she could no longer replay that seductive tone in her mind, her heart remembered. Treacherous images swirled of being in his arms when she was eighteen and innocent.
Rory's gaze traveled from the straps of her gold sheath down to the curve of her waist. In the San Francisco boutique, the dress had seemed the perfect revenge, but now she wondered if it revealed too much. With a coolness she didn't feel, she looked up at wavy, black hair above dark angled brows, high cheekbones, and a square jaw softened by a sensuous mouth. The scent of his aftershave wafted to her, bringing back a bygone summer when she'd sprinkled the fragrance on her pillow so she could dream of him. He'd been a slim blade of youth then, with a gaunt face composed of angular planes. Tonight, he wore an aura of self-confidence that declared the heir to Davis Campbell Interests had come into his own.
"How did eight years get away?" he asked.
"You were married for seven of them." She failed to state that his rush to the altar indicated how little she had meant to him.
He looked pained. "You know Elizabeth and I ... that I'm single?"
She studied the sea cliffs. "Your divorce made the news."
Last fall when she was visiting her dad for Thanksgiving, the lead story in "On the Spot," the city's video equivalent of the tabloids: "City's most eligible bachelor once more at large."
"The paparazzi are relentless." Rory looked annoyed. "Ten minutes after you joined your father's company, the word was out."
Through the French doors, Mariah spied Davis Campbell's tall frame cutting a swath through the party crowd. "And for the past few months you, too, have been with your father." Her tone hardened. "You swore you'd never work for him."
Rory's mouth twisted. "I remember saying I wanted to run white water raft trips."
They'd played that kind of "what if," sailing on the Bay where sunlight sprinkled diamonds over the water.
"We thought we'd do whatever we wanted when we grew up." Though Mariah knew he'd recently turned twenty-eight, Rory spoke with the sadness of a much older man.
To remind herself, and him, how he'd once caved in to his father, she looked a challenge at him. "What happened to your dream of being your own man?"
"The same thing that happens to so many with a legacy." Though his words rang with finality, his dark expression conveyed something like regret. "At least you're where you've always wanted to be, training to run Grant Development. You said that was your dream, and here you are."
When she was a little girl, her father had taken her to construction sites. While he took notes on his aluminum, weatherproof clipboard and talked with employees, she watched with a child's single-minded fascination. Dreams of a future where she saw her creations take shape had consumed most of her life.
Rory glanced over his shoulder at the crush inside. "I'm surprised you came tonight."
"Dad was a bit taken aback when we both got an unprecedented invitation from Davis Campbell. Then he decided it must have been a business courtesy." Reluctant to mention her father's health lest it get back to his rival, she finished, "I came alone."
Speaking of her father, she realized that the wall of glass on the rear of the house exposed her standing with Rory. If the ever-active grapevine paired them, Dad would be sure to hear and be hurt by his daughter's indiscretion.
"Would you be here if you'd known the invitation was from me?" Rory spoke with a trace of what could not be hesitation, not in the "the city's most eligible bachelor."
Mariah went still inside, afraid of trusting too much in his statement. She had trusted him once before, and look where that had gotten her.
"Why would you invite me?" She tried to sound casual.
He smiled for the first time. It softened his features, making him more like the youth she'd known. "Maybe when I heard you'd come back to town I got curious."
"Curious." She too, had wondered how they would react to seeing each other again. "If you did invite me, why include my father?"
Rory's eyes twinkled. "Asking you both seemed less obvious."
Like his smile, his teasing tone took her back. When his gaze took another tour from the top of her head to the tips of her strappy gold sandals, goosebumps prickled her skin.
"You're chilled." He shrugged off his jacket and draped it around her.
She wasn't sure she wanted the remembered intimacy of wearing his clothes, but with bowed head, she let him cover her shoulders with the coat. His hand brushed her collarbone, left a tingling spot on her skin, and she wondered if it were her imagination that his fingers were unsteady?
Before she could stop herself, she looked up. In his eyes, she found the same smoky look that had so often preceded a kiss. With a flutter in her stomach, she realized how easily he could have her back under his spell.
She tried looking away, at the flagstone, the railing around the turquoise swimming pool, but it was no good.
"Mariah." Rory tipped her chin up so she met his eyes once more. Rather than lower his mouth to hers, he studied her in silence, as though measuring his next words. "You ever think 'what if?'"
Closing her eyes, she rode a wave of pain. Why couldn't she be immune to him after so many years of silence?
"Admit it," Rory's voice was soft. "You remember, too."
Memory held it all, from the times she had raised her face for his kiss to his vow that nothing would come between them, not school, long distance, or their parents. Did she feel his breath, a faint stir of air before her?
Before she could decide, Davis Campbell's imperial tone intruded. "Rory!"
Her eyes snapped open.
Rory stepped back, and turned from her toward the French doors where his father stood.
Davis must be about fifty-eight now, her father's age, as they had been classmates at Stanford. A complimentary scatter of silver threaded his thick, black hair, but he still carried his tall frame proudly. Though undeniably good-looking, his predatory expression chilled her enough to draw Rory's jacket closer around her. Behind him in the great room, his big game hunting trophies festooned the walls.
Davis fixed on Mariah, his dark eyes as hard as she remembered, reminding her of the night he'd caught her and Rory making love on his yacht. Drunk on freedom and the heat of their bare skin, neither of them heard the tap of footsteps on the dock until it was too late.
Though the sea breeze cooled the terrace, the memory of shame heated her.
"What are you doing in my home?" The man she blamed for destroying her dreams glared down at her.
Shaken by the recollection of Davis's unleashed rage upon catching his son with John Grant's daughter, Mariah nonetheless drew herself up. "I was invited."
Davis's scowl deepened; now he would demand she leave. She wondered if Rory might object and admit he was the one who had wanted her here.
To her surprise, Davis put on a calculating expression. "Our guest lists are long," he said at last, dismissing her with a wave of his hand.
Mariah gave Rory an uncertain glance. Had he been playing games about inviting her?
"I told you to visit with Senator Chatsworth," Davis growled at his son.
It was happening again, as it had years ago. Expecting Rory to do his father's bidding, she said coldly, "Your jacket," and held it at arm's length.
Rory took it with a deft motion and slipped it on. Yet, even as her spirits sank, he gave his father a defiant look and took her elbow. "Come and meet the Senator," he urged.
Her instantaneous reaction to his touch reminded her not to risk getting hurt again, but it suited her evening's mission to allow him to lead her through the French doors.
Inside, Rory bent to kiss the cheek of a petite woman. "Mother. You remember Mariah Grant."
Eight years ago, Kiki Campbell had been an attractive, rather plump woman. Now, she wore the ascetic look of a woman who dieted religiously. Her red hair was obviously the result of salon visits, and though her face wore the faintly surprised look that comes with plastic surgery, Mariah suspected she really was astonished to see John Grant's daughter with her son.
With a gulp from her half-empty wineglass, Kiki said, "Love your dress." An out-of-place giggle suggested she'd had enough to drink.
Mariah studied Kiki's lime green bouffant dress, fashioned for a woman half her age. "You look nice, too," she said gently.
Behind his wife, Mariah saw Davis enter from outside, his alert gaze assessing and lingering on the gathering's beautiful, elegant women. Kiki noticed, too, and for an instant her green eyes rested on her husband with what could only be yearning. "On the Spot" routinely implied that she endured his philandering, just as the gossip rags suggested that Rory, too, discarded women like used tissues since his divorce.
Despite that Mariah had agreed to come in with Rory, this reminder of his marriage and the news stories about his recently playing the field made her turn away as though she had business with someone. The next feat was making it happen in a crowd where she knew so few people.
No one familiar was in sight, yet she left Rory and his mother with purpose in her steps. Fortunately, she spotted a man standing next to the buffet of jumbo shrimp, lobster, and caviar, his face familiar from development industry magazines. Takei Takayashi, a hearty middle-aged man with the compact muscles of a linebacker, watched her approach with alert dark eyes.
"Hello, I'm ..."
"Mariah Grant." Takei's broad face broke into a smile. "You're the image of your mother." His California accent suggested he was American-born, but he dipped his head in a series of traditional Japanese bows.
"How are things at Golden Builders?" she asked. A fleeting glance told her that Davis Campbell was taking in their conversation.
"We're now the third largest in the Bay Area." Somewhat importantly, Takei adjusted a silk tie patterned with colorful crested cranes. "I figure on overtaking Grant next and then going toe to toe with Campbell." His smile softened his challenge, and she recalled that, in spite of their rivalry, he was a friend of John Grant.
Mariah nodded, though the much smaller Golden Builders was in no danger of overtaking either of its major competitors. She couldn't imagine why he would think so, except a man was entitled to dream.
Recalling that Rory had worked as an architect at Golden for seven years, she spoke before she could stop herself. "Why did Rory Campbell leave you?"
Takei sobered. "It was time he took his place in the family business, learning the kind of things his father's showing him on the executive floor. You also must identify, after paying your dues in L.A."
"That's true." In southern California, she'd been busy if not happy, running hard in pursuit of her dream to return in triumph.
Rory appeared at her elbow and greeted his old boss. Then he touched Mariah's arm. "There's an opening with the Senator now."
She studied Lawrence Chatsworth, who was shaking hands with Davis. A high-energy man, the Senator's pale sharp eyes were always moving. He wore his light brown hair a bit long in back, perhaps to appeal to baby boomers.
"Excuse me," she told Takei and went with Rory.
When he presented her, Chatsworth said smoothly, "A pleasure, Miss Grant. I don't know your father well, but I was sorry to hear his company isn't doing as well as it once did."
Mariah tried to hide her shock by keeping her chin high. "Where did you hear that? Grant Development is doing fine."
Davis gave a soft chuckle that set her on edge, and she believed she knew where the rumors had gotten started. Takei must have heard them, too.
Looking at the Senator, Davis said, "It's a shame you didn't know the buzz on Grant wasn't true, Larry. Maybe you wouldn't have passed the word in Washington."
Mariah nearly gasped, but managed to press her lips together. From the corner of her eye, she saw Rory's head snap up.
Chatsworth sipped at his drink and mused, "But you know what they say, Davis. Where there's smoke, there's fire."
"True," Davis returned. "And even if we were wrong, there's no place for apologizing in this tough world."
Rory murmured at Mariah's ear, "So he always says."
Davis gave him a black look.
The Senator focused his spotlight on Mariah. "So, what does Grant have in the works to pull things back up?"
Her mind raced. There were several large tracts of ranch land coming up for bid in the late summer. She knew that her father had his eye on at least two of them with Pacific frontage. And as surely, she knew that mentioning any interest in either of them in front of Davis Campbell would be foolhardy. Better he go to the bid table ignorant of which contest John Grant intended to enter.
"I can't discuss our plans," she parried.
Davis shot a sidelong glance at the Senator, and Mariah gave up any thought of further conversation with the powerful politician. His allegiance was clear.
"I see someone I must speak to," she said with as much coolness as she could muster.
Walking away, she was once more aware of the sea of unfamiliar faces that surrounded her. To hide that she was meeting no one, she searched for and found the powder room off the main foyer. The decorator's gem of a bath with solid gold fixtures underscored the difference between Davis Campbell's ostentation and the simpler way her father preferred to live.
A gilt-framed mirror over the alabaster sink showed her color was high. Taking deep breaths, she smoothed her blond hair, wind-blown from the terrace, over her shoulders. Then she washed her hands and pressed a damp paper towel to the sides of her neck. Noting the décolletage of her small breasts in the sequined dress, she tugged at the neckline and blushed at the folly of wearing it to make Rory see what he'd missed out on.
Could it be true that he'd invited her tonight? A flush darkened her already pink cheeks at the memory of his steady regard when he spoke of them being prisoners of their inheritance. Yet, if Davis had been the one to include her on his guest list, as he'd implied, he might have hoped inexperience would loosen her tongue. Prying questions delivered so casually from the Senator could have been engineered to start her bragging about Grant's plans. Then Davis would know where to place his chips against his rival when the next package of raw land came up for bid. The question was whether Rory would have begun his own sly exploration had they not been interrupted on the terrace. If her own dedication to her family company was any yardstick, his allegiance to DCI must run deep.
Excerpted from Children of Dynasty by Christine Carroll Copyright © 2005 by Christine Carroll. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 4, 2005
Mariah Grant and Rory Campbell were in love. However, the ugly rivalry between their fathers, construction company owners, made their relationship impossible. Finally unable to cope with the pulls on her from her dad and the betrayal of her beloved, Mariah fled the Bay area especially when Rory refused to listen to her plea that his sire Davis was dangerous and manipulating him like a puppet on a string. Coaxed by his father, he married Elizabeth on the rebound, but that relationship has since failed. Eight years later, Mariah has come home because her father John needs her. Rory tries to regain what they lost as both remain attracted to one another. However, an on-site tragedy at the Grant Plaza project serves as a reminder to her that his father will use any means at his disposal to destroy his competitor and that Rory chose his dad over her. However, a more matured Rory sees clearly what he must do because he believes that even Mariah is unsafe from his manipulative dad. --- CHILDREN OF DYNASTY is an intriguing romantic suspense. Readers will like the lead couple, whose roller coaster relationship is brilliantly written. Though Rory¿s dad seems throughout the novel to have no redeeming qualities, his hatred of his one time friend John over the late Catharine whom the latter married who he loved and a final twist humanizes him. Fans will appreciate this strong tale in which the sins of the fathers impact their offspring. --- Harriet Klausner
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Posted May 15, 2013
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Posted April 8, 2013
Had the potential to be really good but Mariah's actions turned me off. Rory dumped her and married someone else. He is divorced and has been with other women. They meet again and boom she is in his arms. Cripes make him work a bit before you take him back. I wish the author had made her stronger with more of a backbone.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2013
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