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The Ruthless Marriage Proposal (Harlequin Presents #2635)

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Overview

Australian billionaire Sebastian Armstrong thinks he knows his housekeeper well. Emily's prim, proper and dedicated to her job. Outside she's a plain Jane, but inside she's a passionate woman desperate to break out--and to forget that she's fallen in love with her handsome boss.

When Emily quits, Sebastian refuses to let her go. Instead he devises a ruthless plan designed to keep Emily by his side, at his bidding and in his bed!

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The Ruthless Marriage Proposal (Harlequin Presents #2635)

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Overview

Australian billionaire Sebastian Armstrong thinks he knows his housekeeper well. Emily's prim, proper and dedicated to her job. Outside she's a plain Jane, but inside she's a passionate woman desperate to break out--and to forget that she's fallen in love with her handsome boss.

When Emily quits, Sebastian refuses to let her go. Instead he devises a ruthless plan designed to keep Emily by his side, at his bidding and in his bed!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373233991
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Series: Harlequin Presents Series, #2635
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Larger Print
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Miranda Lee was born at Port Macquarie, a popular seaside town on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, and is the youngest of four children. Her father was a country school teacher and brilliant sportsman. Her mother was a talented dressmaker. When Miranda was ten, her father was transferred to Gosford, another coastal town in the countryside, much closer to Sydney.

After leaving her convent school, Miranda briefly studied the cello before moving to Sydney, where she embraced the emerging world of computers. Her career as a programmer ended after she married, had three daughters and bought a small acreage in a semi-rural community.

Following this, Miranda attempted greyhound training, as well as horse and goat breeding, but was left dissatisfied. She yearned to find a creative career from which she could earn money. When her sister suggested writing romances, it seemed like a good idea. She could do it at home, and it might even be fun!

It took a decade of trial and error before her first romance, After the Affair, was accepted and published. At that time, Miranda, her husband, and her three daughters had moved back to the Central Coast, where they could enjoy the sun and the surf lifestyle once again.

Not long into her writing career, Miranda committed herself to writing a six-book series entitled, The Hearts of Fire, with a deadline of just nine short months. Bravely, her husband left his executive position to stay home and support Miranda's writing career. He learned to cook and to clean, two invaluable household skills.

Numerous successful stories followed, each embodying Miranda's trademark style: pacy and sexyrhythms;passionate, real-life characters; and enduring, memorable story lines. She has one credo when writing romances: Don't bore the reader! Millions of fans world-wide agree she never does.

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Read an Excerpt

Sydney airport. Eight o'clock. One Friday evening in March.

"THANK YOU for flying with us, Mr Armstrong," the female flight attendant purred as Sebastian disembarked through the first class exit.

He nodded and hurried on by, anxious to get out to the taxi rank before the hordes descended. Thankfully, he'd only brought a cabin bag with him and didn't have to collect any luggage.

The warm air outside the air–conditioned terminal came as a shock and Sebastian was glad to step into a taxi with minimal delay. He momentarily thought of ringing Emily to let her know he'd caught an earlier flight, but decided against it. It wasn't as though he needed her to cook him dinner, and really, he wasn't in the mood to talk.

All he wanted was to get home…

Emily's hands trembled as she picked up her resignation letter from the computer printer and read it through.

Just a few simple sentences, yet it had taken her over an hour to compose.

But it was done now. Her decision had been made. 'And it's the right decision," Emily muttered to herself as she propped the envelope against her desk calendar. 'The only decision."

For how could she continue as Sebastian's housekeeper, now she realised she'd fallen in love with him?

When he returned home tomorrow morning, she would hand him her resignation, then, first thing next Monday morning, she'd ring the employment agency and tell them she was accepting the job she'd been offered that afternoon.

In truth, Emily had been taken aback at securing such a plum position after just one interview: assistant manager at an exciting new conference centre on Sydney'sprestigious Darling Harbour.Which was why, when the agency had rung her just after five today, she'd asked for the weekend to make up her mind.

But she hadn't needed the weekend. Just a couple of hours of soul–searching, plus listening to her head instead of her foolish female heart.

Of course, Sebastian's being away had helped with her decision making. She certainly wasn't looking forward to his return tomorrow, especially after he found out she was leaving.

He was not going to be pleased. Not pleased at all. Emily knew that Sebastian liked her. Made no secret of his liking her. That was what made it all so hard, her heart squeezing tight as she recalled the many evenings he'd invited her to sit with him over dinner, or a night–cap, clearly enjoying her company.

But not as much as you enjoyed his, came the timely warning. What Sebastian likes most about you, my girl, is the smoothly efficient way you run his house.

Sebastian liked employees who did what he wanted, when he wanted, the way he wanted. When his much valued PA had tendered her resignation last year, Sebastian had offered her every incentive to make her stay with him. More money. Better working conditions. Even a different title.

Nothing had worked. The woman had left anyway and Sebastian had been in a black mood for days. No, weeks!

Emily quivered inside at the prospect of her boss's reaction to her own resignation.

No doubt he would first offer her more money. But more money would not persuade her to stay. Better working conditions would not be possible either, she thought as she glanced around her beautifully furnished bedroom. The desk she was sitting at was made in rosewood, with the most elegantly carved legs. And her four–poster mahogany bed had once been slept in by a European princess. The rest of the one–bedroomed flat which came with her present position was just as exquisite, full of even more antiques, plus many elegant little touches that any female would love. She especially liked the flat's position above the garages, which meant she had total privacy from the main house.

Emily shook her head regretfully. She was really going to miss living here.

But not enough to make her stay. As for offering her a new title…

There weren't many other ways of describing a housekeeper.

Domestic goddess, perhaps? Emily ventured wryly. A musical chiming coming from the adjoining living room had Emily glancing at her watch. Eight o'clock. Time to go over to the house and check all the doors and windows, a job she always did every evening around this time when Sebastian was away. She found it impossible to settle down for the night till she felt certain everything was safe and secure.

Picking up her set of keys from where they lay on her desk, Emily headed for the front door of her flat, startled to find, once she stepped outside, that the night air was still very warm. Obviously, the predicted southerly change hadn't arrived yet.

She stood there for a long moment, staring over at Sebastian's house, saddened by the thought that this might be the last time she would do this.

It was such a beautiful house, a Georgian style sandstone mansion sitting on an acre of land on the Hunter's Hill peninsula overlooking the Parramatta River. Originally built in eighteen eighty, the house had been in serious disrepair when Sebastian had bought it several years ago. he'd had it lovingly restored, filling the grand rooms with antiques and adding a conservatory and heated swimming pool.

Upstairs, there were four spacious bedrooms and two bathrooms, one being the private domain of the palatial master bedroom. Downstairs, all the rooms had French windows leading out on to coolly shaded verandas. On the left side of the hallway as you entered, sat a formal reception room which led into an equally formal dining room, which in turn led into the sunny and much more casually furnished conservatory. On the right side of the front hallway, the first door opened into a billiard room. Next along was Sebastian's study–cum–library, followed by the kitchen and utility room.

Out the back was a sunny flagstoned courtyard, a perfect setting for the new swimming pool. On the courtyard's left was a row of golden pines, which gave privacy and acted as a wind–break. On its right, set back a little from the house, were the garages, Emily's flat above reached by way of a flight of steps attached to the side of the stone building, with a small landing at the top on which Emily was currently standing.

Beyond the pool, the beautifully kept lawns fell away in a gentle slope to the river bank, where there was a boathouse and a jetty. Beyond the bank at this point, the river widened into a great expanse of water. In the distance, directly opposite Sebastian's property, the arch of the Gladesville Bridge formed a wonderful backdrop for what was already a magnificent view. At this time of night, the lights on the bridge, and the city lights beyond, created a magical and rather romantic atmosphere.

Emily had fallen in love with the place on her very first day.

Falling in love with Sebastian had taken longer, she conceded as she started walking slowly down the steps. In truth, Emily hadn't realised she had till he'd announced one day about a month back that he and his supermodel girlfriend had parted company, with Lana planning to marry an Italian count whom she'd met during a recent fashion week in Milan.

Emily's over–the–top pleasure at this news had been very telling, as had her fierce regret that she'd down–played her looks to secure the job as Sebastian Armstrong's housekeeper. At the time, she'd desperately wanted any job and had been advised that Australia's most eligible bachelor was unlikely to hire a thirty–three–year–old blonde with a pretty face and a provocative figure.

Apparently, the mobile phone magnate had been trying to find a suitable housekeeper for some weeks and had expressed his displeasure at the number of applicants so far who'd waltzed into their interviews looking far too glamorous and sexy!

Putting her age up a couple of years, dyeing her hair back to its natural mid–brown, donning glasses and wearing loosely fitting clothes had done the trick: Emily had secured the job.

She'd managed to get rid of the glasses after a few weeks, pretending to take Sebastian's advice to have laser treatment on her eyes. But she'd kept the brown hair, with its plain, pulled–back style, along with the sensible clothes.

Till this last week.

Emily knew better than to go to an interview for a job in the corporate world looking dowdy. So she'd had her shoulder–length hair expertly blow–dried and styled for the occasion. And she'd bought herself a figure–hugging power suit in camel suede, teaming it with a cream cami which showed a hint of cleavage.

Sebastian would hardly have recognised her.

Maybe if she… 'No, no," Emily muttered to herself as she marched along the covered walkway which skirted the pool and led to the back of the house. 'He'll never look at you in that way no matter what you do, so don't go there."

Emily valiantly put aside all thought of Sebastian–plus her non–existent chances of attracting him—till she found herself upstairs in his bedroom. Hard not to think of the man when faced with the intimate setting of his love life, not to mention the lingering scent of the woman responsible for her boss's absence.

Ever since Emily had been in Sebastian's employ, there'd only been the one woman in his life: Lana Campbell. In her late twenties, Lana was currently at the height of her modelling career, in great demand for catwalk work, especially in Italy. A natural redhead, she was statuesque and curvy. The Italians did not like skinny models. Although not traditionally beautiful, Lana was exotic–looking, with startling green eyes and a sultry mouth. She was also extremely intelligent, with a sharp wit which could tip over into sarcasm if she didn't like you.

She didn't like Emily, for some reason. Though she'd been clever enough to hide that dislike from Sebastian.

She also had a temper. In the weeks leading up to their break–up, Emily had often overheard Lana being very vocal in her complaints about their relationship.

Sebastian didn't love her, she'd screamed at him on one occasion. If he did, he would marry her. Or at least let her move in with him.

He wouldn't do either, for whatever reason. Neither would he be provoked.

Sebastian was not a man to ever raise his voice. He had other ways of showing his displeasure. Whenever Lana made a scene, he would look at her coldly and then walk away, after which she would inevitably storm off.

But Emily felt certain that Sebastian did love Lana, a fact confirmed when he'd flown to Italy five days ago, clearly in an attempt to get her back. Not successfully, as it had turned out.

Lana's wedding to the Italian count had gone ahead a couple of days ago, and had been extensively covered by the media.

Sebastian had emailed Emily the following day, his message curt and brief.

Landing Mascot Saturday morning at seven. Home by eight.

Usually his emails to Emily were a bit more friendly. Clearly, he was going to be in a difficult frame of mind when he returned. Not a pleasant prospect.

Still, losing the woman he loved to another man was never going to sit well with him. Although heaven only knew what Lana saw in that Italian count. Compared to Sebastian, he was downright ugly: very short and decidedly overweight, with a weak fleshy face and beady black eyes.

Of course, he had a title. And he had presented Lana with a wedding ring.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Ruthless Marriage Proposal

    It started out ok but went downhill, especially towards the end.

    I think it all has to do with how this book upholds the "nature" of women and men with the ol' women want love and men want sex routine. Here, cheating is presented as an okay thing to do for men, because they can't help it. (Ick.) It was gross that Sebastian had sex with his ex-girlfriend on her wedding day and even more gross that Emily was told by her dad to forgive Sebastian for that, because that's just what men do. (It's also weird how Emily was so open to her dad about her sex life.)

    I also didn't like how Sebastian told Emily to calm down when she found out about his little romp with his ex-girlfriend. Plus when she threatens to leave him, he tells her that she's getting too emotional and isn't thinking straight. (Ugh.)

    So yeah, by the end of this book I was left with an uncomfortable feeling, because surprise, Emily does forgive Sebastian for his actions and ends up marrying him. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone unless you can look past the 'it's okay for men to cheat' belief.

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