The Only Woman to Defy Him (Harlequin Presents Series #3234)

( 13 )

Overview

The fine line between professional…and personal!

Standing outside legendary playboy Demyan Zukov's penthouse suite, shy personal assistant Alina Ritchi is shaking with nerves—she should never have agreed to this job. She's out of her depth, and that's before she's met her delicious new boss.

Demyan's wicked reputation doesn't disappoint—she might be a virgin, but surely one hot glance from Demyan shouldn't ...

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The Only Woman to Defy Him (Harlequin Presents Series #3234)

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Overview

The fine line between professional…and personal!

Standing outside legendary playboy Demyan Zukov's penthouse suite, shy personal assistant Alina Ritchi is shaking with nerves—she should never have agreed to this job. She's out of her depth, and that's before she's met her delicious new boss.

Demyan's wicked reputation doesn't disappoint—she might be a virgin, but surely one hot glance from Demyan shouldn't make her feel so…naked? Exposed, she finds that his gaze ignites her defiance, and soon she's challenging him every step of the way!

But when every shared touch sizzles, how long can Alina keep saying no when her body wants to scream yes…?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373132409
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/15/2014
  • Series: Harlequin Presents Series , #3234
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 230,370
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Marinelli recently filled in a form asking for her job title. Thrilled to be able to put down her answer, she put writer. Then it asked what Carol did for relaxation and she put down the truth - writing. The third question asked for her hobbies. Well, not wanting to look obsessed she crossed the fingers on her hand and answered swimming but, given that the chlorine in the pool does terrible things to her highlights – I’m sure you can guess the real answer.

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Read an Excerpt

Why had she lied?

Alina Ritchie let out a long nervous breath as her taxi neared an incredibly sumptuous hotel.

Pulling her mirror out of her bag for perhaps the fifth time since the taxi had collected her from the apartment she shared with Cathy, she checked her appearance and wished again that, if she had one, her deeply buried sophisticated gene might today make itself known.

So far it hadn't.

Alina had put her toes through her one pair of stockings but thankfully they hadn't laddered and she had simply tucked the hole under her feet. Her carefully applied make-up had all but disappeared and even the short walk to the taxi had seen her pinned, long, dark hair start to coil and frizz in the humid, late-summer air. Alina set to work, taking the shine off her face with a brush and hopefully smoothing her hair with her embarrassingly damp palms.

Today had to go well, Alina told herself.

Even if she had only got this opportunity by default, it was the break that she had been waiting so long for.

Determined to forge a safe career and with her mother's somewhat bitter but terribly sage advice burning in her ears, Alina had put aside her interest in art and opted instead to study for a business degree. 'Ask yourself how many struggling artists there are, Alina,' her mother had said when, at the final hurdle of her application, Alina had wavered. All she had wanted to do was paint but her repertoire, as her mother had all too often pointed out, wasn't particularly vast.

Alina painted flowers.

Lots of them!

On canvas, silk, paper, and in their absence she painted them in her mind.

'You need a decent job,' Amanda Ritchie had warned. 'Every woman should have her own wage. I can't support you, Alina, and I hope I've brought you up to never rely on a man.'

Her mother's disenchantment, the fact Amanda was losing her small working flower farm had sealed Alina's fate-she'd opted for the corporate world but there were more than a few struggling PAs as well, and Alina was one of them. Work had been very thin on the ground and Alina's rather introverted, at times dreamy nature didn't fit in too well in the busy corporate world.

Alina's main source of income came from a restaurant where she waited tables four, sometimes five nights a week. Just before leaving for work last night she had taken a frantic call from a very exclusive agency that Alina had signed on with a few months ago. They rarely called her-Alina, with her rather round shape, didn't quite fit into their rigid square holes…

Until they were desperate!

Alina had blinked in surprise when she'd heard what they had in mind for her. A city hotel had called with an urgent request that a temporary PA position be filled for a very esteemed guest. None of the agency's preferred staff were available at such short notice, especially as the time frame was vague-a couple of weeks perhaps, possibly a month. Not wanting to pass such a plum opportunity to another agency, they had called Alina.

'Your résumé says that you have had some dealings in real estate?' Elizabeth, who had first interviewed Alina, had checked.

'I do.'

Alina hadn't exactly lied.

Rather, she just hadn't specified on her résumé that the sum total of her real estate experience had comprised of helping her mother sell the farm before the bank had foreclosed on it.

Then Elizabeth had told her that the client she would be working for was none other than Demyan Zukov.

'I take it that you do know who he is.'

You couldn't not know who Demyan Zukov was! He actually dined at times at the very elite restaurant where Alina worked, though their paths had never crossed. The last time he had been there she had been home, sick with tonsillitis, and on her return had had to suffer all the staff talking about the very glamorous guest.

Alina had been very tempted to confess there and then that this role was completely out of her league but the thought of having Demyan listed on the credentials part of her résumé had simply been too irresistible to pass up.

The agency had ensured the contracts and signatures were rushed through-Elizabeth had even turned up at the restaurant where Alina had been working that night to ensure that the deal was signed off.

'All our clients are important, Alina, but I hope I don't have to tell you just how important this one is.'

'Of course not,' Alina had said, but Elizabeth had been too worried to be subtle. 'Are you sure that you're up to this, Alina?'

'Absolutely.'

It hadn't helped that when she'd delivered her assured answer Alina could see the doubt evident in Elizabeth's eyes.

You are up to this, she told herself as she stepped out of the taxi and stood for a moment at the entrance to the hotel, trying to will herself calm, watching as elegant men and slim-suited beauties walked by confidently.

Yes, today had to go well because if it didn't…

Alina blew out a breath as she made a promise to herself.

If this didn't work out then she was going to quit even trying to survive the corporate world and just hands up admit that it wasn't for her.

If only she'd kept to her diet, Alina thought, feeling the bite of her waistband.

That was the problem with working at the very topend restaurant at The Rocks-the owner was nice and ensured that all of the staff got a meal from the sumptuous menu on their break.

Who could say no to that?

Not Alina.

She was a country girl at heart and had an appetite to match, yet today she had to play the part of a slick city PA who allowed nothing to faze her.

Not even the formidable Demyan Zukov.

Alina could feel sweat on her top lip as she made herself known to Reception and was asked to show her ID.

'One moment, please.'

Oh, God, Alina thought, she wasn't even going to get past the receptionist! But a few moments later she returned and handed Alina a card for the elevator that would take her up to the presidential suite.

Alina actually felt sick as the elevator hurtled her towards the twenty-fourth floor. Worse, though, was when the elevator door opened at its destination and a very beautiful raven-haired, mascara-streaked woman stepped in as Alina stepped out.

That must have been his date for the night, Alina decided.

Alina had read more than her fair share of glossy magazines and so she was pretty well versed as to Demyan's rather decadent lifestyle.

Or she'd thought she was!

As Alina walked down the corridor a teary, pale blonde beauty teetered on high heels towards her. Alina could see, though she very quickly diverted her eyes, that the woman's left breast was exposed.

Nothing fazes you! Alina reminded herself for the hundredth time, though she was terribly tempted to simply turn tail and run.

Just act as if you've seen it all before, Alina told herself.

But she hadn't.

As she went to ring the doorbell to his suite her hand paused when the door opened and Alina swallowed nervously as she prepared herself to come face to face with the legend that was Demyan Zukov. Instead, it was a gorgeous redhead that stepped into Alina's line of vision, though the woman barely gave Alina a glance as she swept her way out of the master's chambers.

Alina was very used to being looked straight through.

Nondescript-she had actually heard Elizabeth describe her as that on the phone once.

It was an asset at times, Elizabeth had assured her as Alina had sat there with cheeks flaming. Some of their clients actually asked for the most nondescript women, Elizabeth had explained, so as not to inflame jealous wives.

Joy!

'Hello!' Alina knocked on the open door and waited. When there was no response she wondered if she should step inside or wait to be invited in. Her brief from the agency had stated that she was to arrive at eight.

Alina glanced at her phone-it was two minutes to.

'Hello!' Alina knocked and called out again. 'It's Alina Ritchie from the agency.'

Again there was no response.

Perhaps, given his busy night, he'd overslept, Alina thought, tentatively stepping inside.

The place was in utter chaos. There were clothes strewn everywhere as well as plates and glasses still wearing the evidence of having once been dressed with the most lavish food and drinks.

'Hello!' Alina said again, but then her panic mounted and she wondered if she was about to find him dead from his excesses in bed.

Stop it! she cursed her overactive imagination, but really, with all the evidence to hand and with all that she had read about Demyan, it was a distinct possibility.

She stood, trying to work out what she should do, but then she almost shot from her skin as a deep, richly accented voice came from behind her.

'Good, you are here.'

Alina swung around and braced herself-for what, she didn't really know but the sight that greeted her certainly wasn't on the list of possibilities that her mind had produced. Demyan might just as well have spent the night being groomed and pampered in the hotel spa to prepare for this moment. Like a beautiful phoenix rising from the ashes, he stood, looking absolutely exquisite, amidst the chaos.

The angels must have dressed him because his attire was the closest thing to perfection Alina had ever seen-an immaculate dark suit accentuated his tall, lean frame and his shirt was so white it was gleaming, but what drew Alina's eye wasn't just the dark silver-grey of his tie but that it matched his eyes, when first she met them, perfectly.

No, not perfectly, Alina, decided, because colours and hues were perhaps her favourite things.

Nothing could match his eyes-they made even the night sky seem dated. If he wasn't so imposing, Alina could have stared into them for ever.

'I'm Demyan.'

As if she needed to be told.

Alina took his outstretched hand and felt his long dry fingers close around hers. She caught a waft of his cologne, one that would surely mean her weekend was going to be spent in a perfume department just so that she could inhale that heady sent again-bold, clean and fresh yet with a musky undertone. She had never smelt anything quite so delicious before.

'I'm Alina.'

'Alina?' Demyan gave a small frown. 'That is a Slav name, no?'

'No,' Alina croaked. 'Celtic…' She could barely speak he was so stunning. Where was the crashing hangover he should be nursing? His black hair was freshly washed and brushed back and he was clean-shaven. Demyan's skin was smooth and pale-certainly he didn't come up all red and blotchy as Alina did if she drank so much as one glass of wine. On second brief inspection Alina saw that his dark eyes were perhaps a touch bloodshot but apart from that there was no evidence to denote a clearly wild night.

This was his usual, this was how he lived, Alina realised as she attempted to speak on. 'Actually, it can be both.'

'Both?' Demyan checked. He'd already lost the thread of the conversation and desperately needed the kick-start of a very strong coffee. Usually he did not leave his bed without one but, remembering that he had ordered the temporary PA to be here at eight, instead of having his coffee brought to him, Demyan had first showered and dressed for work.

Work always came first for him.

He had never once been late, or missed an appointment. Every facet of his life he controlled to the letter.

Demyan was not at the top of his game by either chance or mistake.

'I think it's both Slav and Celtic. It means…' Alina stopped herself then as she sensed his distraction. What would Demyan care about the meaning of her name? He had merely been making small talk. 'What can I do for you?' Alina asked instead.

'Coffee.' Demyan said. 'A lot of it. And could you also ask that someone comes to sort the place out?'

'Do you want breakfast as well?' Alina asked, heading for the phone to ring down for room service.

'I want coffee,' Demyan said, but halted her as she went to pick up the phone. 'Just press the bell in the butler's kitchen.' He frowned as she blushed and did as asked.

She couldn't even get an order as simple as coffee right but, though Alina had worked with a few overseas clients at hotels, she had never found herself in the presidential suite before, where a butler was just a bell press away.

'Could you organise coffee and for someone to come and sort out the suite?' Alina said, when the butler knocked and she opened the door. She bit back on her need to apologise for the terrible mess as the butler's eyes glimpsed the chaos behind her.

'Certainly.'

Demyan gestured to her to join him at a large walnut table, where he had pushed aside an empty bottle of cognac and several glasses and was opening up his laptop.

'I have allocated all of today to let you know what I expect from you in the coming weeks. I have two properties that I wish to sell…' Demyan hesitated. He had a vast property portfolio and most of his investments were purchased and sold unseen, but all of that took place away from Australia. The two properties that were about to go on the market here were far more personal. 'I want you to speak discreetly with some agents and give me the best two, perhaps three, and from there I will meet them and decide who to go with.'

'I'll ring a few this morning-'

'And say what?'

His tone was suddenly sharp and, looking over, Alina saw that his eyes had narrowed and she realised that she had clearly said the wrong thing.

'Firstly, you haven't even seen the properties. Secondly, you are to be discreet. The last thing I need is the press to find out before I tell…' Demyan hesitated again. He certainly wasn't going to discuss his predicament about Roman.

'You will make discreet enquiries with the agents, face to face, give me a shortlist, then I shall make my selection and then I will speak with them.' He was still frowning. 'You have done this type of thing before?' Demyan checked. 'Because I also have a farm out in the Blue Mountains and it is going to be a complicated sale. I have tenants and they're not going to be particularly thrilled that I am selling. I do not need someone with no experience making-'

'Do they run their business from the farm?' Alina interrupted, blowing out a breath as Demyan gave a small nod, because there she did know what she was doing- her mother's farm had at one stage nearly been sold to overseas investors, which might have meant that her mother could have retained the business. Unfortunately, at the last minute the property had sold to a well-heeled family that wanted a place in the mountains as a weekender.

'I know a very good agribusiness agent,' Alina said. 'One who is very used to sitting tenants and international investors, though of course I'll liaise with others.'

He had been about to tell her to leave.

Even ordering something as simple as a coffee had proved complicated but, just as he was about to dismiss her, Demyan decided to give her another chance.

'You are a country girl?' Briefly he tried to understand her.

'Ex,' Alina said. 'Though you know what they say…' 'No,' Demyan said. 'They?'

'You can take the girl out of the country…' Her voice trailed off. 'It's a saying. You can-'

'I will call the tenants now.' Demyan cut her off in mid-sentence. He was possibly the most abrupt man she had ever met.

Alina watched as he effortlessly, and without so much as a flinch, broke the difficult news. 'I want to clear my portfolio here,' Demyan said, and Alina looked away; it was all just a little too close to home. 'I understand that, Ross,' Demyan said, 'but my decision has been made…'

Demyan stopped talking for a moment as Ross made rapid pleas. 'It will be going on the market as soon as possible.'

He just said it.

It was too close to home because Alina felt tears prick at the back of her eyes as she thought of Ross picking up the phone and how so much had just been dashed in one call.

Alina could hear Ross's voice rising, asking why Demyan couldn't have given them more notice, and then, for the first time, she heard a trace of emotion in Demyan's voice. 'I only decided last night.'

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Good

    Loved this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2014

    Great

    A good one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Great Story

    Loved it. Thought it was great from beginning to end. Infact, did not want it to end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2014

    Recommend yes.

    Another great one with all the ifs and ands to keep you reading well past bedtime. Read it yourself and you will see what I'm talking about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 5, 2014

    This is the second of the of The Chatsfield series I have read,

    This is the second of the of The Chatsfield series I have read, it has turned out to be an outstanding series I plan on reading them all. There are few men that are hotter than a Sheikh, they are so controlling, manly and strong. Deep down all of us women dream of having a man like this, do we really want a controlling man most likely not but oh the dreams we have. It is a lovely fairy tale Sheikh meets lower class women, sheikh must have. Truly a wonderful, fuzzy, touching outstanding read.

    Have you ever meet someone and couldn’t take your eyes off them? Just with one look know how hot life would be with the other? For Sayed and Liyah one look was all it took for them to know they wanted each other. Both knew this could never be, the Sheikh was engaged, Liyah knew she was out of his class. Things happen, things get in the way and one night of love can be devastating, one wrong choice and it can change your life. I know each of us has had one time we wish we could do over, change things, and rethink them. It is so in Sayed and Liyah but there is no redo button and life must go on.

    Sayed is a stand up guy, he has principals which he stand by, the story shows this from the very beginning. His life must take a path that has been planned out since birth, he will follow that path at every cost. He will not let his people down, he will do all that is requested of him for his people. But one night that all changed and he lets his wants and needs take over which leads him down a path he had never planned for. He is a wonderful character with outstanding traits that not only make him a better man but better than most man. I love his character, how he stood up for his country, parents, his people, and what he believed in without demeaning those around him. Yes he has a harem but does not use it the way most men do. He is the faithful type and was raised to not demean women. Sayed stand behind his word and his deeds, one night he made a mistake he will stand by it and make it better no matter what. He refuses to think of it as a mistake when all those around him feel it is, he will be the man he was raised to be and stand beside his women. I love this!

    Liyah is looking for one thing and that is meeting and getting to know her father. She has no time for men and has never let a man get close. She has had a very strong up bring, her mother told her to save herself for marriage and that is what she is going to do. She is so drawn to Sayed but knows it would never work, they would never have a chance. But one night with her father changes all that, she finds things out about her mother that changes how she feels and deals with issues and she is going for broke.

    This choice just might break her and chance her life forever. Liyah is a very strong character who takes care of herself and doesn’t need a man to live her life. Life is tough and her choice may lead to paths she would rather not take but take them she will. If she most go down the road alone she will.

    I really do not think I can tell anymore of the story without giving it away. I recommend this book for a night you want nothing heavy, just a sweet, sexy, glowing, wonderful read that you just want the stress to go away. For a night that you just truly want a Harlequin Romance like it use to be when you picked up a Harlequin and just knew it was going to give you a wonderful fairy tale of love and romance one that will reach your soul and curl your toes. That will leave you with a feeling of peace and love.

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

    Posted May 20, 2014

    Brfa

    These reviews are attached to a carol marinelli book. Anyone at b&n paying attention?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2014

    This is going to be such an incredible series! And not unexpecte

    This is going to be such an incredible series! And not unexpectedly Lucy Monroe has once again used her incredible talent to write a totally engrossing story of two people who grab your heartstrings and pull you into their story of honor, commitment and the strength to follow their destiny!! Wouldn't or should I say couldn't sit it down once I started it (usually what happens when I pick up a book written by Ms. Monroe)

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  • Posted May 4, 2014

    Lack of Conflict I continue to be disappointed in Lucy Monroe's

    Lack of Conflict
    I continue to be disappointed in Lucy Monroe's recent efforts.  This novel, as with her last title, "Million Dollar Christmas Proposal," lacks any real significant conflict between the hero and heroine.  Where is the angst?  Where is the misunderstanding?  Monroe's recent novels have lost the emotional intensity of her earlier works.  The only conflict presented in this story is resolved with little effort and no drama--and it's not even between the lead characters.  I miss the strong emotion evident in Monroe's older works.

    The characters are flawless.  That is not a compliment.  Sayed is too good looking, too noble, too arrogant (is that a flaw?) Liyah is beautiful, smart, self confident, self assured.  I mean, really!?! What's there to connect with?
    Monroe's writing is as always well executed, making my review three stars rather than something lower.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2014

    A great novel from Lucy Monroe.  Missing is the monumental angst

    A great novel from Lucy Monroe.  Missing is the monumental angst typical in Harlequin Presents, and present is the typical stumbling towards love that each person takes.  Great hero and heroine, with neither showing extremes, though he - as a ruler - is of course arrogant, but is not the huge obstacle typical in these books.  I've already read it twice :).

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  • Posted May 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Warm Romance

    To best enjoy this heart-warming, light and fluffy contemporary fairy tale romance, I suggest a soft and comfy couch or lounge chair, a gentle fire or the sound of waves lapping against the shore. Lucy Monroe has written a sweet, only slightly convoluted love story that is a romantic’s delight. Sheikh’s Scandal is pure Harlequin Romance! Liyah, a wonderful and caring young woman from the States takes a job at the posh and elegant Chatsfield Hotel in London with only one agenda besides providing the proper ambience and cultural service to dignitaries from the Middle Eastern country of Zeena Sahra. Liyah is determined to finally meet the father who had a brief affair with her recently deceased mother, leaving her mother shamed and disowned by her Zeena Sahra family.

    Meanwhile the future leader of Zeena Sahra, along with his entourage and his fiancé have their own political upheavals to deal with when Sayed’s fiancé secretly dashes off with another. As only a true romance writer can do, Lucy Monroe places the chambermaid and the royal in the perfect situation to find comfort in each other’s arms and a magnetic pull they both try to deny, further complicated by the slim possibility that Liyah could be pregnant. What to do? Hide away in Zeena Sahra until the pregnancy can be proven or not, of course. In the end, will it really matter? Where there is love, there is a way through anything, right?

    Lucy Monroe sticks to the romantic side of this tale, leaving the drama of international issues and fathers in denial as mere emotional potholes on the way. With two wonderfully likable main characters and a wonderfully wise royal family in the wings, Ms. Monroe gives us a true fairy tale type romance for a perfect getaway from the world we call reality. Nothing deep, nothing to truly ponder, just a straight to the heart love story.

    I received an ARC edition from Harlequin Presents in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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