High-Powered, Hot-Blooded [NOOK Book]

Overview

Mr. December: Duncan Patrick, CEO Scrooge

His Objective: Lose the "bah humbug" attitude

His Plan: Find the right (temporary) mistress

A powerful businessman, Duncan didn't like ultimatums, unless he was making them. But the board demanded his public image change. When he encountered sweet kindergarten teacher Annie McCoy, he knew she'd make him look like a perfect angel, ...

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High-Powered, Hot-Blooded

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Overview

Mr. December: Duncan Patrick, CEO Scrooge

His Objective: Lose the "bah humbug" attitude

His Plan: Find the right (temporary) mistress

A powerful businessman, Duncan didn't like ultimatums, unless he was making them. But the board demanded his public image change. When he encountered sweet kindergarten teacher Annie McCoy, he knew she'd make him look like a perfect angel, though it would take some devilish manipulation.

Once he had Annie playing his pretend mistress, Duncan needed to make her his real-life lover. Could a grouchy CEO cultivate the charm necessary to win the woman he'd almost destroyed?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426844560
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Series: Man of the Month Series , #1981
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 36,596
  • File size: 128 KB

Meet the Author

Susan Mallery

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.SusanMallery.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Annie McCoy could accept the flat tire. The car was old and the tires should have been replaced last spring. She could also understand that little Cody had eaten dirt on the playground, then thrown up on her favorite skirt. She wouldn't complain about the notice she'd gotten from the electric company pointing out, ever so politely, that she was overdue—again—and that they would be raising her rates. It was that all of it had happened on the same day. Couldn't the universe give her a sixteenth of a break?

She stood in front of her sagging front porch and flipped through the rest of the mail. No other bills, unless that official-looking letter from UCLA was actually a tuition bill. The good news was that her cousin Julie was in her first year at the prestigious college. The bad news was paying for it. Even living at home, the costs were enormous and Annie was doing her best to help.

"A problem for another time," she told herself as she walked to the front door and opened it.

Once inside, she put her purse on the small table by the door and dropped the mail into the macaroni-and-gold-spray-paint-covered in-box her kindergarten class had made for her last year. Then she went into the kitchen to check out the dry-erase bulletin board hanging from the wall.

It was Wednesday. Julie had a night class. Jenny, Julie's twin, was working her usual evening job at a restaurant in Westwood. Kami, the exchange student from Guam, had gone to the mall with friends. Annie had the house to herself… at least for the next couple of hours. Talk about heaven.

She walked to the refrigerator and got out the box of white wine. After pouring a glass, she kicked off her shoes and walked barefoot to the backyard.

The grass was cool under her feet. All around the fence, lush plants grew and flowered. It was L.A. Growing anything was pretty easy, as long as you didn't mind paying the water bill. Annie did mind, but she loved the plants more. They reminded her of her mom, who had always been an avid gardener.

She'd barely settled on the old, creaky wooden swing by the bougainvillea when she heard the doorbell ring. She thought about ignoring whoever was there, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She went back inside, opened the door and stared at the man standing on her porch.

He was tall and powerfully built. The well-tailored suit didn't disguise the muscles in his arms and chest. He looked like he could have picked up money on the side working as a bouncer. He had dark hair and the coldest gray eyes she'd ever seen. And he looked seriously annoyed.

"Who are you?" he demanded by way of greeting. "The girlfriend? Is Tim here?"

Annie started to hold up her hands in a shape of a T. Talk about needing a time-out. Fortunately she remembered she was holding a wineglass and managed to keep from spilling.

"Hi," she said, wishing she'd thought to actually take a sip before answering the door. "I'm sure that's how you meant to start."

"What?"

"By saying ‘hello.'"

The man's expression darkened. "I don't have time for small talk. Is Tim McCoy here?"

The tone wasn't friendly and the words didn't make her feel any better. She set her glass on the tiny table by the door and braced herself for the worst.

"Tim is my brother. Who are you?"

"His boss."

"Oh."

That couldn't be good, she thought, stepping back to invite the man in. Tim hadn't said much about his relatively new job and Annie had been afraid to ask.

Tim was…flaky. No, that wasn't right. He could be really sweet and caring but he had a streak of the devil in him.

The man entered and looked around the living room. It was small and a little shabby, but homey, she thought. At least that's what she told herself. There were a few paper turkeys on the wall, and a pair of pilgrim candlesticks on the coffee table. They would come down this weekend when she got serious about her Christmas decorating.

"I'm Annie McCoy," she said, holding out her hand. "Tim's sister."

"Duncan Patrick."

They shook hands. Annie tried not to wince as his large fingers engulfed hers. Fortunately the man didn't squeeze. From the looks of things, he could have crushed her bones to dust.

"Or ground them for bread," she murmured.

"What?"

"Oh, sorry. Nothing. Fairy-tale flashback. The witch in Hansel and Gretel. Doesn't she want to grind their bones to make her bread? No, that's the giants. I can't remember. Now I'll have to look that up."

Duncan frowned at her and stepped back.

She couldn't help chuckling. "Don't worry. It's not contagious. I think weird things from time to time. You won't catch it by being in the room." She stopped babbling and cleared her throat. "As to my brother, he doesn't live here."

Duncan frowned. "But this is his house."

Was it just her or was Duncan not the brightest bulb? "He doesn't live here," she repeated, speaking more slowly. Maybe it was all the muscles. Too much blood in the biceps and not enough in the brain.

"I got that, Ms. McCoy. Does he own the house? He told me he did."

Annie didn't like the sound of that. She crossed to the club chair by the door and grabbed hold of the back. "No. This is my house." She felt more than a little panicked and slightly sick to her stomach. "Why are you asking?"

"Do you know where your brother is?"

"Not at the moment."

This was bad, she thought frantically. She could tell it was really bad. Duncan Patrick didn't look like the kind of man who dropped by on a whim. Which meant Tim had done something especially stupid this time.

"Just tell me," she said quickly. "What did he do?"

"He embezzled from my company."

The room tilted slightly. Annie's stomach lurched and she wondered if she was going to join little Cody in throwing up on her skirt.

Tim had stolen from his employer. She wanted to ask how that was possible, but she already knew the answer. Tim had a problem. He loved to gamble. Loved it way too much. Living only a five-hour drive from Las Vegas made the problem even more complicated.

"How much?" she asked in a whisper.

"Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

Her breath caught. It might as well be a million. Or ten. That was too much money. An impossible amount to pay back. He was ruined forever.

"I can see by the look on your face, you didn't know about his activities."

She shook her head. "The last I heard, he loved his job."

"A little too much," Duncan said drily. "Is this the first time he's embezzled?"

She hesitated. "He's, um, had some problems before."

"With gambling?"

"You know?"

"He mentioned it when I spoke with him earlier today. He also told me that he owned a house and that the value exceeded the amount he'd stolen."

Her eyes widened. "No way. He didn't."

"I'm afraid he did, Ms. McCoy. Is this the house he meant?"

Now she really was going to be sick. Tim had offered the house? Her house? It was all she had.

When their mother had died, she'd left them the house and an insurance policy to split. Annie had used her half of the insurance money to buy Tim out of the house. He was supposed to use the money to pay off his college loans and put money down on a place of his own. Instead he'd gone to Vegas. That had been nearly five years ago.

"This is my house," she said firmly. "Mine is the only name on the deed."

Nothing about Duncan's cold expression changed. "Does your brother own other property?"

She shook her head.

"Thank you for your time." He turned to leave.

"Wait." She threw herself in front of the door. Tim might be a total screw-up but he was her brother. "What happens now?"

"Your brother goes to jail."

"He needs help, not prison. Doesn't your company have a medical plan? Can't you get him into a program of some kind?"

"I could have, before he took the money. If he can't pay me back, I'll turn him over to the police. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money, Ms. McCoy."

"Annie," she said absently. It was more money than he knew. "Can't Tim pay you back over time?"

"No." He glanced around at her living room again. "But if you'd be willing to mortgage your house, I would consider dropping the charges."

Mortgage her… "Give up where I live? This is all I have in the world. I can't risk it."

"Not even for your brother?"

Talk about playing dirty.

"You wouldn't lose your house if you made regular payments to the bank," he said. "Or do you have a gambling problem, too?"

The contempt in his voice was really annoying, she thought as she glared at him. She took in the perfectly fitted suit, the shiny gold watch that probably cost more than she made in three months and had a feeling that if she looked out front, she would see a pretty, new, fancy, foreign car. With good tires.

It was too much. She was tired, hungry and this was the last problem she could deal with right now.

She grabbed the electric bill from the in-box and waved it in front of him.

"Do you know what this is?"

"No."

"It's a bill. One I'm late on. Do you know why?"

"Ms. McCoy…"

"Answer the question," she yelled. "Do you know why?"

He looked more amused than afraid, which really pissed her off. "No. Why?"

"Because I'm currently helping to support my two cousins. They're both in college and have partial scholarships, and their mom, my aunt, is a hairdresser and has her own issues to deal with. Have you seen what college-age girls eat? I don't know how they get it all down and stay skinny, but they do. Follow me."

She walked into the kitchen. Surprisingly Duncan came after her. She pointed at the dry-erase board. "You see that? Our family schedule. Kami is an exchange student. Well, not really. She was in high school. She's from Guam. Now she goes to college here. She's friends with my cousins and can't afford her own place. So she lives here, too. And while they all help as much as they can, it isn't much."

She drew in a breath. "I'm feeding three college-age girls, paying about half their tuition, for most of their books and keeping a roof over their heads. I also have an aging car, a house in constant need of repair and plenty of student loans from my own education. I do all of this on a kindergarten teacher's salary. So no. Taking out a loan on my house, the only asset I have in the world, is not an option."

She stared at the tall, muscled man in her kitchen and prayed she'd gotten through to him.

She hadn't.

"While this is all interesting," he said, "it doesn't get me my two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. If you know where your brother is, I suggest you tell him to turn himself in. It will go better for him that way than if he's found and arrested."

The weight of the world seemed to press down on her shoulders. "No. You can't. I'll make payments. A hundred dollars a month. Two hundred. I can do that, I swear." Maybe she could get a second job. "It's less than four weeks until Christmas. You can't throw Tim in jail now. He needs help. He needs to get this fixed. Sending him to prison won't change anything. It's not like you need the money."

The ice returned to his cool, gray eyes. "And that makes it all right to steal?"

She winced. "Of course not. It's just, please. I'll work with you. This is my family you're talking about."

"Then mortgage your house, Ms. McCoy."

There was a finality to his tone. A promise that he meant what he said about throwing Tim in jail.

How was she supposed to decide? The house or Tim's freedom. The problem was she didn't trust her brother to do any better if she mortgaged the house, but how could she let him be locked away?

"It's impossible," she said.

"Actually, it's very easy."

"For you," she snapped. "What are you? The meanest man on the planet? Give me a second here."

He stiffened slightly. If she hadn't been staring at him, she wouldn't have noticed the sudden tension in his shoulders or the narrowing of his eyes.

"What did you say?" he asked, his voice low and controlled.

"I said give me a minute. Maybe there's another choice. A compromise. I'm good at negotiating." What she really wanted to say was she was good at negotiating with unreasonable children, but doubted Duncan would appreciate the comparison.

"Are you married, Ms. McCoy?"

"What?" She glanced around warily. "No. But my neighbors all know me and if I yell, they'll come running."

The amusement returned. "I'm not here to threaten you."

"Lucky me. You're here to threaten my brother. Practically the same thing."

"You teach kindergarten you said. For how long?"

"This is my fifth year." She named the school. "Why?"

"You like children?"

"Well, duh."

"Any drug use? Alcohol problems? Other addictions?"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 81 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 82 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2013

    Sample what?

    Lists of other books? Idiots.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    HERMES CABIN

    God of Thiefs

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Great read

    This was such a romantic story... It made my heart melt a couple of times Im glad I came across ths story :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    Great characters and story

    Enjoyable read, I always enjoy Mallory's books. Warm and fuzzy story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    Mosskithelp daddy!

    Help

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    Super cute!

    Adorable! A must buy! Super romantic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    Wonderful!

    It was funny and heartwarming story. A fast read, 115pgs.

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    Good read

    Quick, easy read...great character and good storyline.

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  • Posted January 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Susan Mallery has another hit on her hands!

    I have to admit to being a Mallery fan, her stories are always romantic and have interesting characters.

    This story has it all and I found myself under Mallery's spell as I fell for the sexy hero and noble heroine. There are real sparks here and the characters are nicely developed.

    A wonderful Christmas story as well, this story reiterates the joy of giving, appreciating the little things and the fun of unexpected gifts and love.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 26, 2009

    A Very Good Holiday Read

    Even if you have read Accidentally Yours by Susan Mallery, you will enjoy this book. Although the plots are similar, it is a great escape while you are lounging during the holidays.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Scrooge meets Mary Poppins

    High Powered, Hot Blooded written by the New York Times best selling author, the enchanting Susan Mallery is a perfect holiday romance. It's the type of book you'll need to read in one seating because it's Mary Poppins meets Scrooge and it's so about love, family, trust and happy endings. ------

    Duncan Patrick is a high powered, successful and ruthless millionaire and he's furious because one of his employees has embezzled $250,000. He goes looking for Tim McCoy and instead of finding Tim he meets his sister, Annie. He finds her sweet and the perfect woman to help him change his image as suggested by his uncle and the board of directors. The very same ruthless image the press has been reporting lately. So, he offers the sweet kindergarten teacher an offer she can't refuse, be his date and act like his girlfriend by attending holiday functions and he'll apply the money to repay half of her brother's debt. Part of the deal is to keep Tim out of jail so Duncan pays and sends him to rehab for his gambling problem. What Duncan doesn't count on is how much of an impact she'll have on his life.------

    Annie McCoy was one of the most charming characters I think I've read all year. Her sense of taking care of her family will warm your heart, especially at this time of year. Since her mother passed away, she's basically raised her brother, and cousins and also has an exchange student and the girls living with her. Plus she helps to pay for their college and food and provides a home for them. So now she has this dilemma, she's agreed to be Duncan Patrick's Holiday date and finds him to be more than a boss. What neither counts on is their attraction for each other and then they take it a step further to becoming lovers. Annie realizes she has no future with Duncan because he's already had one bad marriage and she sees through his toughness and finds him a caring, sweet and very handsome man, the very same man she loves.------

    Duncan definitely doesn't want to hurt Annie and really appreciates her efforts in changing his image. He also believes her to be a woman with a big heart and from time to time his soft side is shown when he does special things for her family but one definitely knows that for him because of his past with his mother and ex-wife leaving him, he's not going to take another chance at love. However, as one might expect, Christmas wishes due come true and to reveal them would ruin the book so I highly suggest you read this beautiful love story or purchase it for a friend because is truly a lovely holiday romance. ------

    Behind the Book from Dear Reader: -----

    "For my hero Duncan Patrick the holidays aren't the least bit special. He doesn't believe in tradition or family or even being nice to anyone. He doesn't see the point. For him, life is all about the bottom line. He's been so successful, he's completely lost what really matters. -----

    Now Annie isn't looking for a powerful, determined, stubborn guy to warm her nights. But that's exactly who she's going to get. I think she'll thank me later." Susan Mallery

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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