A Lover's Mask (Kimani Romance Series #035)

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Overview

Deep down Fernando Ramsey longs for the kind of love his parents never shared--a love based on equality and respect. Sadly, he hasn't met the woman to make his secret yearning come true, until he meets Contessa Warren. Gorgeous and sexy, the Chicago publisher is everything Fernando desires.... Unfortunately, Contessa is out to prove the Ramseys are hip-deep in a scandal that could harm more than their family name. She's also dangerously close to falling for Fernando. The red-hot passion they share in the bedroom ...

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Overview

Deep down Fernando Ramsey longs for the kind of love his parents never shared--a love based on equality and respect. Sadly, he hasn't met the woman to make his secret yearning come true, until he meets Contessa Warren. Gorgeous and sexy, the Chicago publisher is everything Fernando desires.... Unfortunately, Contessa is out to prove the Ramseys are hip-deep in a scandal that could harm more than their family name. She's also dangerously close to falling for Fernando. The red-hot passion they share in the bedroom is making it hard for Contessa to concentrate in the newsroom.

The million-dollar question--can Fernando and Contessa's relationship survive the shocking revelations about to shake the powerful Ramsey clan?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373860104
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 3/1/2007
  • Series: Harlequin Kimani Romance Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.64 (w) x 6.58 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

AlTonya Washington's first contemporary novel, “Remember Love” BET/Arabesque 2003, was nominated by Romantic Times as Best 1st Multicultural Romance. Her novel “Finding Love Again” won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Multicultural Romance 2004. Her fourth novel “Love Scheme” was nominated as Favorite Steamy Novel for the prestigious EMMA Award of Romance Slam Jam. She presently resides in North Carolina.
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Read an Excerpt

Chicago—New Years Eve

Contessa realized she was going to have to make her great escape from this party and soon. She'd just used her last excuse not to dance or engage in con-versation that would only give one of the many avail-able men there the idea that he'd be leaving with her for the evening. She cursed herself for even accept-ing the invite to the NewYear's bash, but it was New Year's.

It was New Year's Eve and she was alone and it was by choice. And it scared the hell out of her.

She'd thought of calling and sharing her woes with Michaela, but knew her best friend was busy with her husband on the special evening. Her husband. Mick being married had put so much in perspective for her. Contessa found herself sick with fear that she'd wind up an old maid with a house full of cats. Or dogs. Or cats and dogs.

"Dammit why am I doing this to myself now?" she raged, looking down to her lap as she hissed the question. This is stupid, County. That life isn't for you. You know that. Then why was she finding herself wishing for it more and more over the last couple of years?

Suddenly, she blinked, tilting her head to get a better look at what had caught her eye across the crowded dining area.

What in the world is he doing here? County silently inquired.

From her spot at her favorite corner table she could see that she had a perfect view—stress on the word perfect. Much as it unnerved her to admit, he'd occupied a great portion of her thoughts since the Banff trip. Actually, it was the drinks they'd shared afterward and the conversation that went along. It felt too good to vent, sheremembered. They spoke of Mick, and County voiced her concerns over wanting her best friend to rest and how the case was just becoming more and more complex.

Conversation wasn't forced or uncomfortable. It flowed. They discussed, they debated, they bantered and the only reason they parted company after three hours was because Mick called worried and wonder-ing when she was coming home. Contessa had always believed she preferred her men leanly muscular, not blatantly massive and powerful. Fernando Ramsey, however, was precisely that.

The caramel toned devil in her sights now was that and more. Besides, she'd always reasoned a power usually lost out on something in more impor-tant areas, right? Of course, she wasn't one to specu-late. Should the opportunity ever present itself for more, verification, she thought she'd be quite willing to investigate.

She had, however, taken the opportunity to evaluate the man during their time together after the Banff trip. A brief time, but enough for her to agree that he was indeed a delicious thing. His skin was flawless—rare for a man to have such perfect skin. Her time around the Ramsey men, though, had told her whatever interior imperfections they might possess, it was im-possible to judge by outward appearances.

As most of the men in his family were dark, Fernando was a rich caramel shade—as if he'd been drenched in the stuff. Everything about him was large and cool, from the mesmerizing shade of his deep-set eyes to the close cut beard of dark brown that added a certain roughish element to his face. Un-consciously, County rubbed her fingers together and imagined what it might feel like to bury them in the silky close cut curls covering his head.

Closing her eyes, County told herself she was getting carried away. This lack of sex, companion-ship or whatever was really starting to get to her. Of course, she was always careful in her choice of men and not nearly as fancy-free as her best friend Mick may have believed. Still, she'd had her share of en-counters. Sadly, true commitment continued to elude her. County couldn't help but wonder if that was the fault of the man or herself.

What the hell? She finally decided, brows rising a few notches as she continued to regard Fernando. It couldn't hurt to send a bottle of champagne to his table. After all, it was New Year's. Besides, she had the feeling he'd want to keep the drinks coming judging from the looks of his two female compan-ions who'd already finished off one bottle of wine and were at work on a second.

Trailing petal pink manicured nails across her bare arms, she again wondered what he was doing there. Chicago was a bit removed from his Seattle stomping ground. She wondered if he knew her friend James Aston who owned the yacht restaurant where the celebration was being held.

"Ms. Warren? Are you all right over here?" County smiled up at the waiter. "Actually, I'd like to send a bottle of champagne to that noisy table over there," she decided finally and cast an airy wave in the general direction.

The giggly, busty beauties at Fernando's table had grown consistently louder. The waiter had no confu-sion about to whom County was referring and nodded.

"This can't be Contessa Warren all by herself on New Year's Eve?"

County rolled her eyes when she heard the question voiced just a few seconds following the waiter's departure. Forcing a smile she looked up to see two more male acquaintances who had been suc-cessful in sniffing her out.

"It's me," she sang, clasping her hands together as Gayle Hubbard and Cory Preston joined her.

"All alone?" Cory asked, sounding as though he couldn't believe it.

County folded her arms across the sequined square bodice of the pink silk and chiffon spaghetti strapped tunic she wore. "Believe it Cory and I'd like to keep it that way," she shared pointedly.

"Ouch," Gayle replied, bristling as though her words cut deep. "Baby, don't start the year off this way. You're much too fine to be all alone on a night like this."

"Mmm, I know," County sighed, shaking her head when the two men chuckled. They launched a debate on which one of them was more worthy of her company for the remainder of the evening. Meanwhile, Contessa's attention and gaze returned to Fernando's table in time to see the waiter arriving there with the champagne.

Confusion registered on Fernando's handsome face, as the waiter motioned toward County's table. Fernando's gaze narrowed as he sought to get a better look at the woman with the two men across the room. He took in her honey toned skin bared by the elegant style of her outfit, the chic boyish cut she now sported and realization rushed forth.

Clearly, Fernando's two companions didn't care who sent the additional refreshment. They began to wiggle in their seats, clinking their glasses in anti-cipation of the bubbly delight.

At her table, Contessa reached for her handbag and the stylish peony burlap long coat. "'Scuse me, fellas," she said amidst their incessant discussion. Her thoughts wholly focused on the devastating Ramsey across the room, she took a stroll to the bar knowing he'd be by her side soon enough.

"When a man buys a woman a drink, it's usually because he'd like to join her. Does that hold true for women as well?"

County smiled at his question, feeling her flesh riddle with goose bumps in reaction to the warm depth of his voice. She turned, tilting her head back to study him as his eyes caressed her face before moving on to the generous swell of her bosom.

County followed the line of his gaze and then looked up and nodded toward the two women he'd been with. "I thought your dates could use a bit more," she said.

Fernando responded with a slow nod and smile. "So you did it just for them?"

"And you too," County quickly added, her ex-pression turning wicked. "I'm sure you want to keep them happy."

"And why is that?"

Again, County cast another suggestive look across the room. "Oh, I'd say you're gonna have the time of your life tonight."

"I'm beginning to think so too," Fernando agreed, still focused completely on her.

County tilted her head, not pretending to misread him in the least. "What about your dates?"

"That was business, not pleasure."

"And what am I?"

"Definitely not business."

County pushed one hand inside the pocket of her black moleskin trousers. "So you think I'm that sort of girl?" she asked in a challenging tone. "To go home with a man I hardly know?"

Fernando drew closer, practically shielding County's view of the room with his massive build. She studied the breadth of his shoulders beneath the gorgeous fabric of his navy wool boucle textured suit coat and wondered if all that size really belonged to him. "We can talk all night, but in the morning you're mine," he spoke just loudly enough for her to hear.

Contessa shut out the voice that sang, "danger, danger" and cleared her throat softly. "Does that line usually work?"

Fernando grinned, leaning closer still to retrieve her coat from the bar. "I've never used it before," he admitted. "I suppose we'll find out in the morning."

Contessa prayed he couldn't hear her breathing and told the singing voice to shut up. She let him help her into her coat, then curved her fingers into the crook of the arm he offered. She prayed again that he didn't hear the low moan she uttered at the feel of the rock solid biceps that flexed ever so gently. Hell, it's New Year's, she reasoned. Together, they left the yacht.

One week later,

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Three stars.

    Not much to say this book was just ok.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    evodiva

    great books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2008

    Deception and Truth beneath the Mask

    Ms. Washington has spun quite an ENGAGING series about a very wealthy and powerful African American family with MAJOR issues! She has masterfully incorporated the heroes and villains within this BIG dysfunctional circle of family and friends. This series gives new meaning to the saying, ¿Keep your friends close and your enemies closer¿. To have to CONSTANTLY be on your toes like that with your own family! NOT being able to trust your own father or uncle. WOW!! Each installment to this series just gets better and better. Fernando and Contessa definitely heat up the pages of this novel with their sexy SIZZLIN¿ encounters. And the mystery and intriguing surrounding their budding relationship only aids in making this an even more intriguing page-turner. Will Fernando and County finally remove their masks and be truthful with each other before it¿s too late?!! Or will another couple be DOOMED to failure due to the many skeletons hidden deep within this family¿s closet?!! I am having a blast ¿watching¿ these scandalous secrets unfold before my eyes. And I CAN¿T wait to get to the next installment to see what other tangled webs Ms. Washington and Ramsey¿s will spin for my reading pleasure!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    I enjoyed that Ms.Washington included updates about Quay and Qest, while opening new story lines for other Ramsey men. The title was most appropriate. We all hide behind a mask to keep others from seeing our true selfs for fear of being hurt. Great job on unveiling a wonderful romance and igniting spark to a good mystery. I can't wait until the next book is released.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2007

    Ho Humm

    I really like Ms. Washington's work but....this one wasn't the best. The mystery of Sera Black's death is being stretched out too long. The chemistry between the main characters Fernando and Contessa is Ho Hum and I found myself waiting for things to pick up but it never did. I don't know how to describe this story but Ho Hum is pretty accurate. This is one novel in a series and this series has begun to get old. In my opinion it is time to wrap this baby up and start on something else.

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    Posted September 1, 2011

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