Sweet Surrender, Baby Surprise

Sweet Surrender, Baby Surprise

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by Kate Carlisle

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Marriage and kids? Not for confirmed bachelor Cameron Duke. Then an affair with Julia Parrish changed everything. Once he discovered the pretty cupcake maker had borne him a son, Cameron's priorities did a complete turnaround. He would marry and give his child the Duke name. But he'd be keeping his heart.

A marriage of convenience? That wouldn't have


Marriage and kids? Not for confirmed bachelor Cameron Duke. Then an affair with Julia Parrish changed everything. Once he discovered the pretty cupcake maker had borne him a son, Cameron's priorities did a complete turnaround. He would marry and give his child the Duke name. But he'd be keeping his heart.

A marriage of convenience? That wouldn't have been Julia's first choice. Yes, she had always craved Cameron, and becoming his wife could be sweet indeed. But once she said "I do," this new bride and mother realized she wanted more from her husband. She wanted love.

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Silhouette Desire Series , #2058
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All Cameron Duke wanted to do was rip off his tie, grab a beer and get laid, not necessarily in that order. He'd been working too hard for way too long on the current Duke Development project and he was damn tired of living in a hotel suite.

On the other hand, he reasoned as he slid his key card into the door slot, he couldn't really complain about it. After all, he owned the hotel. And the owner's suite of the Monarch Dunes resort hotel was two thousand square feet of luxury: all the comforts of home with a wide terrace, fantastic ocean views and room service. Nope, he couldn't complain about that.

As he stepped inside the foyer of his suite, Cameron vowed that as soon as the hotel's international catering conference was over, he would go fishing. The resort was up and running to capacity, so it was time for him

to take off for a few weeks, get away and do nothing. Maybe he'd rent a houseboat up on Lake Shasta, or grab a raft and float down the King River. Or maybe he'd just make a few calls….

Not to put too fine a point on it, he definitely needed to get laid.

Pulling his tie loose, he dropped his keys on the foyer side table, placed his briefcase on the marble floor and stepped into the living room, where every light in the room was turned on.

"Now, what's wrong with this picture?" he muttered, knowing he'd switched the lights off when he left two days ago.

Not only was every light on in the suite, but the drapes were all closed. Housekeeping knew he preferred the drapes to stay open in order to take advantage of the incredible Pacific view. The room was on the top floor of the Craftsman-style hotel, and the double-paned windows were tempered glass and lightly tinted. It wasn't as if anyone could see inside.

He shrugged out of his suit jacket. Maybe there was someone new working in Housekeeping. They must've left the lights on and closed the drapes without knowing his preferences. It could happen. But it wouldn't happen again.

Taking a few steps into the room, he saw a strange paperback book, opened and facedown on the coffee table. Then his gaze focused in on another foreign object draped over the arm of the couch.

Moving closer, he carefully picked up the soft bit of fabric. Pink, trimmed with paler pink lace around the edges. Lingerie. Expensive. Absurdly feminine. He fingered the fancy silk and the lightest scent of orange blossoms and spice wafted up and enveloped him. The fragrance was vaguely familiar and his groin tightened as an inexplicable need arose in the pit of his stomach.

"What the hell?" He tossed the camisole back on the couch. Not that he didn't appreciate a nice bit of feminine adornment as much as the next guy, but right now he was more concerned with how in the world it got in here.

"Beer first," he decided, and cut through the spacious dining room to get to the kitchen. That's when he saw the high heels. Sexy ones. Red. Tucked under the dining room table.

He hated to repeat himself, but what the hell?

Red high heels? It had to be a joke. Something like this was right up his brother Brandon's alley. And if Cameron hadn't already been annoyed at having his quiet evening interrupted, he might've managed to laugh about it.

He moved cautiously past the bar into the kitchen. No, Brandon wasn't hiding there, waiting to jump out and yell that Cameron had been Punk'd. But that didn't mean his brother wasn't around somewhere. Cameron grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, twisted the cap off, took a long, slow drink, then stared at the row of empty baby bottles lined up next to the sink.

Baby bottles?

"Okay, that's enough," he said, then shouted, "Brandon? Where are you?" There was no answer.

"I know you're in here somewhere," he said as he walked through the double doors and down the wide hall toward the master bedroom.

That's when he heard the singing.

He froze. A woman's voice, slightly off key, singing some old song about pifia coladas and getting caught in the rain. Some woman was singing in the shower. His shower. In his bathroom.

He glanced at his navy polo shirt neatly tossed over the back of the chair in the corner. Those were his running shoes tucked under the chair, too.

Good. He was in the right suite. Which meant that some woman was definitely in the wrong one. Cameron swore under his breath. This had to be Brandon's work. It would be just like his brother to hire a woman as a "surprise." It was the only explanation, because without the approval of a family member, there was no way the front desk would ever allow a strange woman into his room.

He stood listening to the soft singing and wondered what his next step ought to be. He should probably be a gentleman and wait for whomever it was to finish her shower, dry off and put some clothes on before he kicked her out. But then, he'd never claimed to be a gentleman.

Besides, he wasn't the one guilty of breaking and entering. And showering. So he stood at the entrance to the bathroom and waited as the water was turned off and the shower door opened.

One incredibly shapely, bare, wet leg emerged at the same time as a well-toned, lightly freckled arm reached to grab a towel. Cameron pulled one off the rack and handed it to her. "Allow me."

Her scream was shrill enough to peel the paint off the bathroom wall.

"Get out!" she cried, then dropped the towel in her anxious rush to cover herself up.

"Funny, that's just what I was about to say to you," he told her.

Cameron wasn't normally a voyeur. He should've moved away from the door immediately and given her some privacy, but he couldn't. All he could do was gawk like a school kid at her wet-dream-inducing breasts. High, round orbs with tight pink nipples that he imagined would fit perfectly in his hands. And his mouth. His imagination didn't stop there. He wanted to reach out and touch the smooth skin of her stomach, then let his fingers wander down to the delicious patch of dark blond hair at the apex of her curvaceous thighs.

A spark of light drew his gaze back to her navel, where a small diamond twinkled. She had a pierced belly button. For some reason, that made him smile.

"Will you stop staring and get out of here?" she shrieked as she grappled with the towel, finally covering up those spectacular breasts of hers.

Show's over, his rampant libido thought mournfully, and he brought his gaze back up to her face. Whoa. He would know those flashing dark blue eyes anywhere. They belonged to the one woman he'd never quite been able to get out of his mind.

"Hello, Julia," he said.

"What do you think you're doing here, Cameron?"

He leaned back against the doorjamb. "Well, since I live here, I was thinking I'd throw some shorts on, have another beer and watch the football game." He folded his arms across his chest. "A better question might be, what are you doing here?"

She huffed out a breath as she stepped fully out of the shower, the towel wrapped around her like a terry-cloth shield. "I was told this suite would be unoccupied for the next two weeks."

"I seriously doubt anyone on my staff told you that."

"Well, it's true," she grumbled, then walked into the bedroom and over to a small open suitcase on the luggage rack near the window.

He took a sip of beer as he watched her pull out some clothes. "Maybe when you're dressed, we should have a little talk about boundaries."

"Oh, stuff it," she said irately, but her hands shook as she pushed her wet, wavy hair back off her face. "Why are you here, anyway?"

"Me?" He probably shouldn't be smiling still, but after all, he was just a man, and she was gorgeous. "Last time I checked, this was my suite."

"But you're not supposed to be here!"

"Honey, I own the place."

Gripping her towel together with one hand, she pushed past him to the walk-in closet to dress quickly. She emerged less than a minute later, dressed in loose shorts and a T-shirt.

Cameron swore under his breath. If she thought putting on clothes would decrease his desire to stare at her, she was wrong. The small, thin shirt outlined her breasts vividly and Cameron was even more intrigued now than before.

"So, you ready to explain what you're doing here?" he asked, wondering if it was getting hotter in here.

Fluffing her hair with her fingers to dry it, she began in a calm voice, "Look, Cameron, Sally said that—"

"What?" Every nerve ending in Cameron's body began to twitch and not in a good way. "Wait a minute."

Hearing her invoke his mother's name was not a good thing. Sally Duke, the incredible woman who had adopted him when he was eight years old, was a force of nature. Cameron was well aware of her mission to get her three sons married off and knew she wouldn't be satisfied until the deed was done. Damn it, if Sally had something to do with Julia being here, Cameron was in for nothing but trouble.

"Exactly what does my mother have to do with you being wet and naked in my bathroom?"

Julia gazed at him warily, seeming to gauge his temper. "Um, absolutely nothing. I misspoke."

"You misspoke?" he drawled. "About my mother? You're kidding, right?"

"No, I'm not kidding," she said, and straightened her spine in righteous anger. Which caused her breasts to thrust forward. Her wet hair had dampened the T-shirt enough that it molded even more firmly to her skin. But she didn't seem to notice as she persisted. "You're not supposed to be here. And since I was given a key by your hotel management, I think it's only right that you should leave."

"Trust me, that's not going to happen." He prowled toward her, studying her every move. "Now exactly what did my mother tell you?"

Her eyes widened and she took a step back. "Never mind. On second thought, I think I'll just pack my things and get out."

"Not yet," he said, grabbing her arm. "I want to know what my mother has to do with you being here." "All right," she said as she tried futilely to pull away.

"Sally said you'd be gone during the conference and that I would be more comfortable in a suite than a regular room. She told your manager to give me the key."

Her words sent icy tendrils of pure dread down Cameron's spine. Yes, he'd originally planned to stay up north another two weeks, but he'd called Sally yesterday to tell her his plans had changed and he was coming back tonight.

His mother had set this whole thing up.

Did Sally really think that Cameron would take one look at this woman, fall on his knees and beg her to marry him? If so, then Mom was doomed for disappointment.

But as Julia squirmed to pull away from him, Cameron's lower body came to life in a big way. Did it really matter, in that moment, what his mother had done? No. He'd deal with Mom later. Much later.

Right now he had his hands on a lovely, skimpily dressed woman. A sexy woman he'd once known in the most intimate way a man could know a woman.

Holding her close, he again caught that intriguing fragrance of orange blossoms along with something deeper, something exotic. He'd never forgotten her, never forgotten her scent, despite his every effort to do so.

He could still remember meeting her that first time. Talk about lust at first sight.

It all happened after his mother had discovered Cupcake, Julia's bakery in Old Town Dunsmuir. Mom had tried her pastries and cupcakes and had insisted that her sons try them for themselves. They all agreed that her products were incredible and soon thereafter, the Duke resorts began carrying Julia's line of pastries, cookies and breads.

Julia had been invited to attend a one-day vendor orientation at one of the Duke resorts up the coast. She'd planned to stay through the long weekend as a guest of the Dukes. That was where Cameron first saw her, walking across the lobby on her way to the hotel lounge. He'd approached, she'd shown equal interest, and they'd ended up spending that long weekend together.

And that had been the end of it.

She'd haunted his dreams on more than one occasion, but Cameron had refused to contact her again. He had a steadfast rule when it came to women. Once the affair was over, he always made a clean break. He never went back, never looked back. It was safer that way, and simpler. For both parties. Otherwise, women tended to get the wrong idea and hold out hope of a relationship growing. Cameron didn't want to hurt anyone so he stuck to short-term affairs with women who knew the score.

He remembered receiving a few emails from Julia, asking him to call her. He'd thought about it, wanted to, but personal experience had taught him that renewing the affair would only lead to disaster. For her sake as well as his own, Cameron had ignored her requests and eventually, she stopped contacting him.

But here she was, he thought, a year and a half later. In his hotel suite. Wearing those sexy shorts and a practically see-through top. And a belly ring. She gazed up at him with her startling blue eyes and in that moment, he wanted nothing more than to watch those eyes go dark with passion, to taste her lush lips again as well as every other part of her stunning body. Was he honestly going to kick her out of his suite?

Was he nuts?

"Look, I'm sorry," he said in a soothing tone as he ran his hands up and down her arms. "My people must've forgotten I was coming home today. It's late. We can both stay here tonight and I'll find you a room in the morning."

Her eyes clouded with worry. "I suppose I could sleep on the couch."

"We can talk about sleeping arrangements later," he said easily, moving closer. "It's great to see you, Julia."

Smiling tentatively, she said, "Really?"

He skimmed his lips along her hairline and breathed in her fresh scent. "Yeah."

She sighed and closed her eyes, clearly swayed. "But what about your rule?"

Watching her closely, he lowered his head toward hers. "What rule is that?"

Her eyes fluttered open as she whispered, "Once you've finished with a woman, you never go back."

Cameron frowned. "I told you that?"

Nodding solemnly, she said, "It was the last time I saw you. You said you had a great time but you wouldn't call. You said you didn't want me to get the wrong idea." Her voice quavered as his lips hovered within millimeters of hers.

Meet the Author

Kate Carlisle writes for Harlequin Desire and is also the New York Times bestselling author of the Bibliophile Mystery series for NAL. Kate spent twenty years in television production before enrolling in law school, where she turned to writing fiction as a lawful way to kill off her professors. She eventually left law school, but the urge to write has never left her.

Kate and her husband live near the beach in Southern California where she was born and raised.

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Sweet Surrender, Baby Surprise 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
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_Michelle_ More than 1 year ago
A tender romance with mass appeal. Bestselling author Kate Carlisle's second romance is a cupcake for the soul. It's a traditional romance full of love, lust, flawed individuals, a fabulous family and all kinds of sweet treats. Pastry Chef Julia Parrish's parents died when she was eight. With a trust fund to support her, she grew up lonely under the influence of nannies and the house staff. After a weekend tryst with sexy billionaire Cameron Duke, she learns she is pregnant. Cameron's refusal to return her calls or emails leaves her to raise their son on her own, which is just fine with her. When the two are set up for a not so accidental encounter by Cameron's mother, all that changes. Cameron wants his son, Jake, and Julia in his life. He promises her everything but love. The only problem is that love is the one thing she has always craved. Cameron and Julia both had challenging childhoods that put up barriers to their happily ever after. Those backgrounds brought to the story the elements that intrigued me the most. How do you let go of your past and embrace the future? Even in the midst of their own personal struggles to open up, the two found lust and without even knowing it, true love. All along the way, the chemistry was undeniable and the rompin' was rampant. The pacing was slow and steady, in a good way. The journey to their bliss was a sweet and fulfilling ride. This is a mass market book with mass appeal. The perfect thing to grab as you jump on the airplane or sit by the pool. (Hey, I'm in Miami. It's always pool time here.) Or for all you northerners, it's perfect to snuggle up with in front of a fire. I tend to like a little more tension. A little more drama. Maybe a wee bit more steam in the bedroom. In general, I like my books intense and unforgettably uncomfortable. This is so not uncomfortable. It is utterly comfortable and decadent, like Julia's pastries. Which is why I think I could recommend it to just about anyone. Like I said, mass appeal. So, no matter where you will be spending this winter, I feel confident in recommending Sweet Surrender, Baby Surprise for a delicious, feel-good day of decadence. Enjoy!
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LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Sweet Surrender, Baby Surprise is pure romance with wonderful heart that left this reader feeling very happy and satisfied. I had such a fun time reading this story and there were so many moments that truly thrilled me because the writing and characters were so well done. Cameron Duke is ex-military who prides himself on his self control and his mastery of everything and any endeavor he tasks himself. He is a man who, through the love of his adoptive mother, became the man he is from the broken little boy he was. His early emotional trauma however tends to color and twist certain events in his adult life and when he finally meets the woman who could truly heal him, he resists. I absolutely adored this man who deluded himself into rationalizing away his whole relationship with Julia, the heroine. He is scared and has trained himself not to do anything that would jinx his perfect plan which of course is why reading about his decent into love's arms is so delicious and special. Julia is quite the forgiving woman. At one point I thought perhaps she was being written as a weak love-sick doormat. Instead, she's a woman who doesn't hide from her true feelings. She may fight them a bit but she's a realist yet optimistic and hopeful. She actually is a strong woman who knows her mind yet that strength is compromised by elements of self-doubt from her own childhood. She too has to lay to rest certain emotional traumas that happened since the loss of her parents. She has a loving and giving nature and nothing makes that more apparent than when she interacts with her son, Jake, and Cameron's mother, Sally. Seeing these two injured soul-mates dance around each other - wanting and resisting, pursuing and retreating made for an entertaining and endearing read. The best writing in this tale revolves around Julia and Cameron's son, Jake, and Cameron himself. There were many moments of beauty mothers and favorite aunts could appreciate because they've lived through it. At no time was the child a prop but an integral character to the plot as a whole. Little Jake was the catalyst that brought these two lost hearts together and it truly is a heartwarming story. In fact, the "awww" moments are the kind readers would share with each other because they are adorable. I know I would but it's so hard to do it without spoilers. Throughout the book, Cameron and Julia seduce each other with glances, touches, words and tender actions. When they spontaneously combust in each other's arms, it makes for delightful and spicy reading that appealed to my internal romantic. Ms. Carlisle didn't miss a trick in reaching into my innermost emotions and bringing them to life in the relationship between Cameron and Julia in a setting rich with family camaraderie, exotic settings and yummy hot cocoa and frostings. Sweet Surrender, Baby Surprise simply delighted me with its personable characters, sweet romance and spicy seduction. There is humor, hope and a family anyone would be happy to be a part of. I know this review doesn't do justice to the wonderful characters that Ms. Carlisle created and I wish I could share with you the parts that made me giggle and sigh but I want readers to get the full impact. Not knowing what delights await is part of what made me enjoy this book. Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
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GHott More than 1 year ago
Julia Parrish wave up on Duke Cameron almost two years ago. Yes, they had that one fabulous weekend and he did say that when it was over he'd walk away and never look back, but she didn't realize how firmly he held that resolve. Julia had no idea that he wouldn't accept her calls or read her emails. She had no idea that she's be left to raise their child on her own. Not to worry, though. Julia is a strong resilient woman - she handled it. Now, however, with a little help from a scheming mother they've ended up alone in a hotel room... well, not exactly alone and need to figure out how to be parents to their adorable son - if Cameron will ever get it through his thick skull that not everyone likes him for his money! My Thoughts: I love a Kate Carlisle book. They're quick easy reads and I crave the story long after I've read them. There is just something about her stories that compel me to read them time after time. I'm sure that this one will be no different. I know, the single mom making it on her own until a knight shows up to save her even though she really doesn't need him to is a bit of a cliqued plot but I was that mom so I love stories that remind me how happy I am that I'm with hubby because I love him and not because I need him - if you know what I mean. (Though don't try to explain it to him he wants to be needed...) Anyway, this was a fun book that was quick and easy. Grab it for a bit of relaxation and some smiles.
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