An Offer He Can't Refuse

An Offer He Can't Refuse

4.4 11
by Christie Ridgway

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Meet Californian Téa Caruso . . . her mother drives her crazy, her sisters give "advice." She has a family just like any other, except for one tiny difference . . .Her grandfather isn't just in the mob . . . he is the mob!

And no one knows this better than Johnny Magee. The Caruso family destroyed his dad. Now, it's payback


Meet Californian Téa Caruso . . . her mother drives her crazy, her sisters give "advice." She has a family just like any other, except for one tiny difference . . .Her grandfather isn't just in the mob . . . he is the mob!

And no one knows this better than Johnny Magee. The Caruso family destroyed his dad. Now, it's payback time—and he's going to need an unsuspecting insider . . . one who won't realize what he's really after.

Téa loves her family but hates what they do. She's tried to stay far away from her notorious relatives, making a legit name for herself as an interior designer. But her grandfather Cosimo's gala 80th birthday is coming up. Every mobbed-up member of the family from San Francisco to Sarasota will be there—and it's time for Téa to face the family or face the consequences.

Intent on using Téa for revenge, Johnny hires her to redo his home, but then she makes him "offers" he can't refuse. Soon he's falling in love with the enemy and when all the secrets are revealed, what will Téa do . . . and even worse, what will her family?

Editorial Reviews

Christina Dodd
“Sexy, smart, sparkling—say yes! to AN OFFER HE CAN’T REFUSE.”
Publishers Weekly
Being the eldest granddaughter of SoCal's biggest crime boss isn't as glamorous as it's cracked up to be. Ever since her father disappeared, presumed murdered, when she was 12, Tea Caruso has kept as far from her crooked family as she can. Now trying to eke out a living as an interior designer in highly competitive Palm Springs, Tea is on a mission to gain some professional recognition by landing the business of Vegas high-roller Johnny Magee, who has just bought a house in the area. Red-hot attraction lands Tea in Johnny's bed, and Tea begins to wonder if she's finally met a man she can trust with her heart. But Johnny has two secrets: he hired Tea because of her mob ties, and his own father was rumored to have killed hers. Genuinely funny moments catapult the reader toward this romance's engaging end, but it's the touching subplot about a retired mobster's goth daughter and the vulnerable but strong main characters that give this suspenseful romp a deeper spin. Ridgway (The Thrill of It All) leaves enough loose ends dangling to swing one of Tea's sisters into her own sequel, and readers who enjoyed this solidly written tale will certainly return for the continuing drama. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Avon Romance Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Offer He Can't Refuse, An

By Christie Ridgway

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Christie Ridgway
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060763485

Chapter One

"Begin the Beguine"
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra Story in Music (1946)

Téa Caruso had once been very, very bad. During a morning spent closeted in the perfume-saturated powder room of Mr. and Mrs. William Duncan's Spanish-Italian- Renaissance-inspired Palm Springs home, discussing Baby Jesus and the Holy Mother, she wondered if today was the day she started paying for it. Toward noon, she emerged from the clouds -- both heavenly and olfactory -- with a Chanel No. 5 hangover and fingernail creases in her palms as deep as the Duncans' quarter-mile lap pool.

Standing on the pillowed-limestone terrace outside, she allowed herself a sixty-second pause for fresh air, yet still managed to multitask the moment by completing a quick appearance-check as well. Even someone with less artistic training than Téa would know that her Mediterranean coloring and generous curves were made for low necklines and gypsy shades, but her Mandarin-collared, dove-gray linen dress was devised to button-up, smooth-out, tuck away. Though she could never feel completely innocent, she preferred to at least look that way.

The reflection in her hand-mirror presented no jarring surprises. The sun leant an apricot cast to her olive skin. Tilted brown eyes, a slightly patrician nose, cheekbones and jawline now defined after years of counting calories instead of chowing down on cookies. Assured that her buttons were tight, her mascara unsmudged, and her hair still controlled in its long, dark sweep, she snapped the compact shut. Then, setting off in the direction of her car, she swapped mirror for cell phone and speed-dialed her interior design firm, Inner Life.

"She's still insisting on Him," she told her assistant when she answered. "Find out who can hand-paint a Rembrandtstyled Infant Jesus in the bottom of a porcelain sink."

Continuing her forward march, she checked her watch. "Any messages? I have lunch with my sisters up next."

"Nikki O'Neal phoned and mentioned a redo of her dining room," her assistant replied. "Something about a mural depicting the Ascension."

The Ascension?

Téa's steps faltered, slowed. "No," she groaned. "That means Mrs. D. has spilled her plans. Now we'll be hearing from every one of her group at Our Lady of Mink."

A segment of Téa's client list -- members of the St. Brigit's Guild at the posh Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church -- cultivated their competitive spirits as well as their Holy Spirit during their weekly meetings. One woman would share a new idea for home decor, prompting the next to take the same theme to even greater -- more ostentatious -- heights.

Three years before it had been everything vineyard, then sea life turned all the rage, and now . . . good God.

"The Ascension?" Téa muttered. "These women must be out of their minds."

But could she really blame them? Palm Springs, California, had a grand tradition of the grandiose, after all. Walt Disney had owned a home here. Elvis. Liberace.

It was just that when she'd opened her business, filled with high artistic aspirations and a zealous determination to make over the notorious Caruso name, she hadn't foreseen the pitfalls. Like how the ceaseless influx of rent and utility bills and the unsteady-trickle-and-occasional-torrent that was her cash flow meant she couldn't be picky when it came to choosing design jobs.

Like how that could result in gaining woeful renown as designer of all things overdone. She groaned again.

"Oh, and Téa . . . " Her assistant's voice rose in an expectant lilt. "His Huskiness called."

Her stomach lurched, pity party forgotten. "What? Who?" "Johnny Magee."

Of course, Johnny Magee. Her assistant referred to the man they'd never met by an ever-expanding lexicon of nicknames that ranged from the overrated to the out-and-out ridiculous. To Téa, he was simply her One Chance, her Answered Prayers, her Belief in Miracles.

"Why didn't you forward it to my cell?" she demanded, her footsteps regaining speed. Between assistants and electronics, not once had she exchanged information with him voice-to-voice.

"And miss out on having the Love Machine rumble in my ear? No way. His "hello'makes me horny. Besides, you don't like interruptions when meeting with a client."

Unless it was him! Sure, if she bagged Johnny Magee's project and their contact progressed beyond fax and e-mail, then the man would most likely prove a major disappointment. But from the instant she'd read "generous budget" and "complete redesign in mid-century modern" on his first communication, she'd decided theirs was the perfect relationship.

"I swear," her assistant continued with all the fervor of a former Catholic schoolgirl, "just the word "bedroom' in that raspy voice of his makes me dream of dark nights, dark passion, and dark velvet stroking over my skin."

"Dark velvet," Téa echoed, as in her mind a more practical brand of fantasy burst to life. "Dark velvet and all other materials billed at forty percent over cost."

What a fantasy it was. Not only would winning this job mean a measure of financial relief, it meant so much beyond that. Respect in the industry. A more sophisticated portfolio to show prospective clients. All of which added up to a future free from marble-cherubed parlors, Venus de Milo verandahs, and Samson-and-Delilah–inspired dressing rooms ...


Excerpted from Offer He Can't Refuse, An by Christie Ridgway Copyright © 2005 by Christie Ridgway. 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.

What People are saying about this

Christina Dodd
“Sexy, smart, sparkling—say yes! to AN OFFER HE CAN’T REFUSE.”

Meet the Author

Christie Ridgway has never lived east of the Pacific Ocean, north of San Francisco, or south of San Diego. To put it simply, she's a California native who loves to travel but is happy to make the Golden State her home. She began her writing career in fifth grade when she penned a volume of love stories featuring herself and a teen idol who will probably be thrilled to remain nameless. Later, though, after marrying her college sweetheart, Christie again took up writing romances, this time with imaginary heroes and heroines. In a house full of males—one terrific husband, two school-age sons, a yellow dog, and tankfuls of fish, reptiles, and amphibians—Christie makes her own place (and peace) writing the kinds of stories she loves best.

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Offer He Can't Refuse 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
risuena More than 1 year ago
More like 3 1/2 stars for me. The backgrounds of the main characters are probably what make this book interesting. Can you love and forgive a person for what happened in their family histories? It almost reminds me of Romeo & Juliet with the families creating the main reason for the couple to stay apart minus the tragic ending. Of course, there's more sex and tension, and the other characters are quite entertaining on their own. You grow to love everyone and hope for the best. I enjoyed Tea being a strong woman and seeing how Johnny fell for her. I thought this was a much better book than the sequel about her sister. Although it was a good fun read, it didn't make a lasting impression, hence the lower rating.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book.....wish I had read before her follow-up which was also fabulous! Tea and Johnny sizzle together---their love and passion was palpable. The characters have a fun and quirky side.....waiting for the next installment featuring Joey
Guest More than 1 year ago
Christie Ridgway is a fast-rising star in contemporary romance, and this luscious tale is the perfect reason why. AN OFFER HE CAN'T REFUSE has it all: wonderful, complex characters, an intriguing thread of mystery, peppy dialogue, and chemistry hot enough to make an August night seem downright chilly. So grab yourself an icy cold martini (shaken, not stirred, of course!) and let yourself be carried to Palm Springs, where the temperatures are hot and the chemistry is hot-hot-hotter... This one is a major winner!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Palm Springs, California resident Tea Caruso is a highly regarded interior designer, who has spent a lifetime or at least since she was twelve and her father vanished, probably killed, loving and hating her family. She loves every member especially her mother and sisters Joey and Eve, even her grandfather Cosimo, but detests what he does for a living as the mob chief. Tea avoids him as if he she might catch the gangster disease. Johnny Magee hires Tea to redo his home, but actually has a hidden agenda. He blames the Caruso family for devastating his father. He has dreamed for years of avenging his sire and now has the economic means to do so but needs someone to get him inside the family. He seduces Tea so that he can accompany her as her boyfriend to Cosimo's eightieth birthday bash. To his chagrin, Johnny believes he betrays his late father by falling in love with the enemy, but fears how she will react when she learns he deceived her. --- This is an intriguing second generation romance in which the protagonists are tied together by a tragedy that cost the lives of both their fathers. Johnny is a fascinating hunk who knows what he wants until he meets Tea as she is nothing like he expected from the granddaughter of the mob chief. Tea is ashamed of her background until Johnny hires her and soon she sees the other part of her family. Though the mob activity is somewhat underplayed and mostly kept off screen, Christie Ridgeway offers contemporary readers a book they can¿t refuse to read. --- Harriet Klausner