Taking a gamble on love might never be so fun—and dangerous.
Kat McMaster is ready to take her rightful place as heir to her family's hotel legacy. The only thing standing in her way is a final test: prove her skills by resurrecting a run-down property in New Orleans.
The test includes a new, incredibly hot bodyguard assigned to keep her safe. If the lingering looks Cole keeps giving her is any indication, he'd like to do more to her body than just guard it. The only question now is who gives in first…
… Until Kat meets the hotel's sexy manager, Julien. Manager by day, musician by night, he makes it known that he wants Kat in his bed. And if he has to sneak around the bodyguard and break all the rules, well… isn't love worth taking a gamble on?
Torn between the two men, Kat decides to roll the dice–and it pays off. But is it just a lucky draw? Can their relationship survive pressure from outside, as danger hovers over the Majestic's re-opening, and conflict from within, as one of her men reveals a turbulent past?
All Kat knows is that to win big, sometimes you have to risk it all and let the chips fall where they may.
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About the Author
Sheryl Nantus was born in Montreal, Canada, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. A rabid reader almost from birth, she attended Sheridan College in Oakville, graduating in 1984 with a diploma in media arts writing. She met Martin Nantus through the online fanfiction community in 1993 and moved to the United States in 2000 in order to marry. She loves to play board games and write haiku, although not usually at the same time. A firm believer in the healing properties of peppermint tea and chai, she continues to search for the perfect cuppa. In 2011 she won two second-place Prism Awards from the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA for her steampunk romance, Wild Cards and Iron Horses and the first volume of her superhero romance trilogy, Blaze of Glory.
Read an Excerpt
Betting on Both
By Sheryl Nantus
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Sheryl Nantu
All rights reserved.
"New Orleans. What the hell am I going to do in New Orleans?" Kat McMaster put her hands on her hips and looked out the office window. The New York City skyline sprawled in front of her, various buildings stabbing into the air.
She turned to face the antique wooden desk and the man sitting behind it. "Seriously. What?"
Jacob McMaster leaned back in his chair and eyed her, his fingertips pressed together in front of him. "Learn how to run a business." The nearly bald man wore his usual daily attire, a black three-piece suit from his private tailor. Casual Day was an extinct creature in the McMaster offices; the staff were expected to dress professionally every day without exception.
She'd worn a black skirt and white blouse, a black suit jacket completing her outfit. When she'd been summoned to her grandfather's office she knew showing up in anything less wouldn't cut it. The neutral yet fashionable set had carried her through many a meeting and never failed to keep her mind in the game. Her long dark brown hair was in a tight bun, pulling at her scalp.
"I know how to run a business," Kat snapped. "I graduated at the top of my class, didn't I? I've worked two years in New York and Los Angeles at our properties, slogging away under your assistants' killer stares. Every move I made, everything I did was scrutinized and watched. Now I'm ready to go out on my own, make my mark on the world as a McMaster." She clamped her mouth shut, forcing herself to edit her thoughts before speaking. She knew the business, had damned well grown up at the old man's knee, picking it up by osmosis.
But Kat knew she also had her mother's temper, a fiery beast hard to keep at bay sometimes. It'd gotten loose a few times, and she'd paid for it.
She caught her breath and counted silently, biding her time.
Her grandfather nodded, the ancient pipe bobbing between his lips. "And you were competent. I got the reports; you did very well running the hotels and the casinos. But taking charge of a full property on your own, without any supervision — that's another thing."
Kat dug her fingernails into her palms, forcing herself to calm down. No one had ever won an argument with the old man and she doubted she'd be the first.
She might be his granddaughter but blood only went so far, even for the McMaster family.
"You want to take over the Belle Dame in Vegas." He rose slowly from the desk and orbited the room, pipe in hand. It wasn't lit, the latest in an attempt for him to cut back on his chain smoking. "Harry Willow's retiring and you want his place."
The well-chewed black mouthpiece stabbed the air over and over. "One of our top-of-the-line hotels and casinos. You think I'm going to hand it over to you without seeing if you can fly solo at a smaller, more manageable site first?"
Kat winced at his words, feeling them hit home. It had sounded a lot better on paper when she'd sent him the request a week ago, demanding she be allowed to take charge of one of the McMaster crown jewels.
"Katherine. When your parents passed, God rest their souls, I vowed to take care of you. Your mother ..." Jacob paused and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand before continuing. "She meant the world to me. And I've done the best I could for you. I've seen you through your teenage rebellion years and through college. You've done us proud and I've never thought for a second you weren't capable, that you weren't able to take your place in the McMaster business empire." He eyed her as he passed by. "I know I won't be here forever. Your uncles will take over when I'm gone as well as you and your cousins. I've prepared for that. You'll have your place. But not before you show me you deserve it and you can handle it."
Kat stayed silent.
"Daniel and Stephanie have a few years to go before they graduate. You're the first of the new generation moving into the business. I expect you to set an example for them. It's not going to be walking into one of our most successful complexes and taking over. I want to see you add on to the McMaster legacy, expand our properties. We've got to keep moving, keep growing. Without growth you become stagnant, stale. It's been the death of many a company and I won't have it happen here."
Jacob returned to his desk and sat. He studied the pages in front of him before shuffling them together. "I'm giving you the Majestic in New Orleans. It's a small hotel and riverboat casino. We acquired it a month ago and it's bleeding red. Go down, fix it up, turn a profit, and I'll consider your request to go to Vegas. You leave in three days on the private jet. Get the files from Helen on your way out and I'll send the rest via e-mail."
The tone left no room for discussion.
Kat turned to leave but a grunt from the old man held her in place.
"I'm also assigning you a personal bodyguard. Your usual security team won't be good enough this time."
"What?" She couldn't bite back her annoyance this time. "Why?"
He looked inside the bowl of his pipe and scowled. "Last thing I need is for you to get into trouble." Jacob raised one eyebrow. "Of any type."
Kat pressed her lips together into a tight line, choking back the words. Sure, she'd been a bit of a hellion during high school and college, but she hadn't gotten into that much trouble ...
The tabloid cover flashed into her mind's eye, the past rushing up to remind her of exactly how much trouble she'd gotten into.
Her, a bedsheet, and a room full of frat boys dressed in makeshift togas.
MCMASTER HEIR RUNS WILD! had been the headline.
It wasn't technically true, not that it mattered to the gossip sheets.
The party hadn't been that wild and she'd been with her sorority sisters, just not when the photographer had come around.
But the damage had been done. It'd earned her a nasty phone call from Jacob and a threat to cut her off if she didn't stay out of the papers. Her security team had been reassigned and she'd gotten new babysitters.
The message had been heard, loud and clear.
"Why now?" She waved her hand at the wall. "That was two years ago. I've behaved myself."
"True. You've kept your nose clean and there have been no incidents." He locked eyes with her, his cool steel blue matching hers for fire and intensity. "But you're flying solo in a city where we have no presence, no one on the ground to help you out or provide protection. New Orleans is a world unto itself. I don't want any surprises. You're still a McMaster and the name carries a risk all by itself." He paused. "I want to keep you safe, Kat. Is that too much for me to ask?"
Kat shook her head, pulling back the angry rant she'd been preparing. Her grandfather had been the major player in her life for over a decade and she owed him for stepping up and raising her.
Besides, she told herself, I can easily sidestep a babysitter if I need to.
"He'll meet you at the airport. Good man, been working for us a long time. Might make a good security director one day." He nodded. "Call me when you get settled, give me your impressions and preliminary report on the renovations. Stay safe and remember, I love you."
His attention went to the images on his laptop, dismissing her with a wave.
Kat smiled and walked around the desk to hug him and kiss his cheek, enjoying the gruff laugh and tight hug from the bear-like figure.
Family was always family.
"New Orleans? Are you serious?" Cole Harrison shook his head. "Who did I tick off to get this assignment?" He glared at David Keller, his boss. "What did I do wrong?"
"Nothing. Look at it as a final test." They were in his office, perched atop one of the McMaster buildings in New York City. It had a lovely view of the skyline, and Cole couldn't help wondering what he'd see when he got to New Orleans.
"I've already arranged for a security team to meet you there, help you organize the Majestic, and revamp the personnel. You take point, take care of Kat McMaster, and she'll take care of you. Do your job and in six months I'll get you out of there. Prove yourself and you'll be able to write your own ticket anywhere within the organization. Las Vegas, Atlantic City, overseas, you name it and you'll be on the next plane out."
"But she's —"
"She's a McMaster," David snapped. "Her last name is on your paycheck every week. So don't underestimate the importance of getting this right. Stay the course, keep her safe." He eyed Cole, his forehead furrowed with curiosity. "What's your problem with her?"
Cole shook his head. "I'm tired of babysitting the high rollers and the misbehaving big names who want to have fun but not get caught by the tabloids." He rubbed the back of his neck, fingers scratching over the skin. "I've smuggled my share of 'escorts' down the stairwells and given them a wad of cash before putting them in limos. I've made sure photographers didn't get the money shot because someone forgot to wear their underwear; jostled their arms and bumped cameras to the ground. This is more of the same and I'm worn out."
"I understand. But her rebellious days seem to be behind her and you shouldn't have to deal with any of that. Look, you're damned good at your job and I need the best on this. And that would be you." David looked at the file. "She's always had a team around her but it's been on McMaster territory. This is a new hotel in a new city and we can't risk anyone taking a run at her." He pointed at Cole. "Which is why I need you there. Stay close, be her shadow. Do your time and I promise you a transfer to the Belle Dame or any other McMaster location you want once the job's done."
Cole stayed quiet, keeping the biggest reason he didn't want to be Kat McMaster's bodyguard a secret.
He'd seen the pictures in her file. The tabloid images from a few years ago, the bedsheet barely covering her creamy white skin as she laughed with her peers and waved at the camera. The long brown hair falling over her breasts, the makeshift toga loose on her slender form. The playful blue eyes calling to him to be very, very naughty.
The most recent personnel files showed she hadn't lost any of her appeal, the official photograph of her wearing a business suit and holding a clipboard failing to detract from his initial flush of desire upon seeing her earlier pictures.
The woman was, in a word, gorgeous.
It'd be easier if she were a wobbly old senior, using her walker to get around. Instead Kat McMaster had to be a hot, available woman who not only possessed a fabulous body but a sharp mind to match.
Yeah, it'd be a whole lot easier.
Instead he'd have to be around a woman he couldn't touch, a stray thought away from dropping his guard and putting her in danger.
"Don't worry." David smiled. "She'll be locked up in her office trying to resurrect a dead hotel and casino. How much trouble can she get into?"
Cole winced inside. It wasn't good to tempt fate.
Three days later Cole held back a growl as he studied the planes lined up on the tarmac. The only plane he wanted to be on was one going straight to Vegas, to the job he should have running the Belle Dame security department. Instead he was waiting for his new charge to arrive, fashionably late and setting them behind schedule. All he wanted was to get to New Orleans and this assignment. The faster it started, the faster it'd be over.
And Katherine McMaster would be out of his life forever.
"So you're my new babysitter."
The soft voice cut through the residual noise around him, snapping him to attention.
He turned around.
The brunette walking toward him was exactly what he'd expected. The short white dress tight in all the right places, and with a swooping crescent in front, highlighting cleavage a man could joyfully die in. The loud, glittering jewelry adorning every inch of skin along with a set of expensive sunglasses. Her long hair was pulled into a ponytail, the edges brushing the small of her back.
A man followed close behind, juggling three suitcases.
"I'm Cole Harrison." He tilted his head. "Head of your security detail."
His pulse shot skyward as she lowered her sunglasses and scanned him, a touch of a smile on her lips. She dragged her eyes over his body, hovering at his waist just long enough to send a delicious flash of heat through his groin.
He couldn't help but do the same.
It was hard not to devour her with his eyes, his libido already drawing up suggestions for some naughty fantasies in the future.
After a long minute she nodded. "You'll do." Kat glided up the steps and into the plane. "Let's get the hell out of here."
The luggage carrier chuckled as he handed off the suitcases to the nearby handler. "Got a winner there, buddy. Good luck."
Cole scowled and boarded the jet.
They'd been in the air a good half hour before he approached the back of the plane where Kat sat sipping on what he assumed to be champagne. The window shade was up and she seemed to be studying the clouds.
He cleared his throat, drawing her attention.
"If you're not busy I thought we'd lay out the rules of engagement." He sat opposite her, noting her unwavering stare. "That way everything'll be clear when we get to the hotel."
"Let's." She raised her glass and waved the steward over, jingling the ice cubes. "A drink for my big, tough man here. And more club soda for me."
Cole held back his surprise at her drink choice.
The man hovered over them waiting for instructions.
"Coffee. Black. Thank you." Cole turned his attention back to Kat. "You understand I'm here to protect you. Keep you safe from harm." He glanced at the small airplane window. "There's going to be an entire team there monitoring your movements and standing guard, but I'm in charge. You have any issues, any problems, any requests regarding security, you talk to me. I'll be with you every place you go; every shopping trip, every nightclub, every time you step off the hotel grounds. Your suite will have a connecting door to my own room." He paused. "If you wish to entertain I'll need to vet the person or persons before you'll be allowed to have them in your room."
Her eyes locked with his with laser intensity. "I see. Well, I suspect you'll be bored stiff." She nodded at the steward as he returned with the drinks. "I had my wild time and that's in the past. I plan to spend most of my time in the office trying to figure out how to get the Majestic back on top. If it means working late, or overtime, I'm prepared to do that. And I don't plan to have any visitors in my suite or in my bed." Kat smiled. "Sorry if I'm not meeting your expectations. I'm not the party girl you saw in the tabloids a few years ago."
He took the coffee and thanked the steward. "There are plenty of reasons to have me around that aren't associated with your indiscretions in college. You're one of the heirs to a fortune and it makes you a target. I'll be there if you need me."
"And what qualifies you for that honor?" Kat sipped her refreshed drink. "A few self-defense courses at your local gym?"
"Two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan." Cole resisted the urge to shrug off his suit jacket and unbutton his shirt to display his battle scars. "Ground pounder. I'll be able to take care of you."
Her eyes dropped to his chest, studying him again. "Indeed. We'll see about that."
Kat resisted the urge to hold her breath. The man was hotter than hot.
The toned muscles under his shirt showed his excellent physique, the way he carried himself evidence he'd done his time in the military. She could have checked his résumé but his alert status said it all. The way his eyes scanned the area around her, behind her as she strolled up to the plane — how he evaluated the man carrying her luggage, assessing him as a possible security risk.
This wasn't a rented wannabe cop looking for a free ride and all the ass he could grab.
This man was a professional from the top of his cropped brown hair to his polished black shoes.
He was also damned handsome. The buzz cut actually added to his features with his piercing blue eyes and strong jawline making her feel safer just by his presence. He gave off an aura of security, a buffering zone around him of comfort and control.
And yet ...
Kat felt a dangerous shiver sneak up her spine, a frisson of desire stroking her insides as she imagined what he'd be like unleashed. What lay under that sharply ironed white shirt; what did he hide under those black pants? What was Cole Harrison like when he wasn't in charge, when he wasn't in control?
Kat forced herself to look away from him before her focus went elsewhere, places she didn't dare let it go.
Excerpted from Betting on Both by Sheryl Nantus. Copyright © 2016 Sheryl Nantu. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love a good ménage book. Especially MFM. So, going into this story I was expecting a great story to help fuel my dreams. Kat is an heiress to a hotel empire. When she travels to New Orleans to remodel and fix the hotel there and Cole is sent along as her head security officer in charge of keeping her safe. Cole has had the hots for the rich granddaughter of his boss and can’t get her out of his mind. When they get there, Kat meets the new manager, Julien, who is just as infatuated with the beautiful woman. Both men are hot and Kat can’t make up her mind about which man she wants. Her solution is to suggest both men please her…at the same time. While the story was good and the heroine was strong, I was left disappointed. The story lacked the depth, conflict, and heat that I expect from a ménage story. The heroes were too agreeable to pleasing Kat when she suggests the threesome and it felt too predictable. With that said, Betting on Both is not a bad story. It just was not the book for me. *Reviewed for Crystal's Many Reviewers. Copy provided for review.
Betting On Both, by Sheryl Nantus, was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review by NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and by the author. Sheryl Nantus is a new to me author and I am so glad I decided to give this a try. I loved the book and most definitely plan to read more by her. Kat McMaster was raised by her Grandfather. She never doubted he loved her but he raised her with a stern hand. Her future was all laid out for her. She would work her way up in the family business. Kat definitely had her wilder days in college. The McMaster name was well known and she was featured in the tabloids more than once. But now she is all grown up. She is ready to take on one of the company’s large hotel/casino sites and run it. She knows she can do this. But her Grandfather wants her to prove herself first. So he sends her to New Orleans. They have just acquired the Majestic, a run down hotel and riverboat casino that is bleeding money. If she can turn it around and make it profitable, she can go anywhere she wants. On top of that, Kat is assigned a new body guard, Cole Harrison. Kat wasn’t prepared for the strong attraction she felt for him. Once in New Orleans, Cole sticks to her like glue and a bond begins to form. “She wasn’t here to find a soulmate. She was here to save the Majestic.” At the same time, she meets the site manager, Julien Devereaux. Where Cole is the strong silent type, Julien is all smiles and flirtations. Kat is attracted to both men. The more she tries to choose, the more difficult it becomes. The answer is evident. She wants them both. But can she convince these two men that have stolen her heart that this could work? “You don’t like him.” “I don’t think he’s safe.” “Maybe that’s what we need. A bit more danger in our lives.” Together these three embark on a relationship, attraction soon turning to love. At the same time, they throw themselves into the renovation of the Majestic. It becomes a project of their hearts, seeing what she could become, what she was meant to be. I fell in love with this book and with these three main characters. I was surprised as well with a bit of suspense thrown in. I didn’t expect it at all! Can they make this unorthodox relationship work, or will it be a romance that will end when the project is complete? “Be brave. Be daring. Be mine.”
Kat is the heir to her family’s hotel legacy and her grandfather is giving her one final test before taking over. She must manage the Majestic hotel in New Orleans and turn things around there. Cole is being sent with her as her body guard and Julien is the hotel manager who had lots of plans for the hotel. As the chemistry heats up can she choose just one? I really liked the story as well as the characters and was very steamy. Really good ménage read.
HER BODYGUARD OR THE MUSICIAN...HOW WILL SHE CHOOSE? Heir to her family’s hotel legacy, Kat McMaster is ready to take her rightful place as head of the most prestigious McMaster hotel. The only thing standing in her way is her Grandfather’s final test: she must prove her skills by resurrecting The Majestic a run-down property in New Orleans. Being well known puts a target on her back so she is assigned a strong, silent, incredibly hot ex-soldier as her security detail. One look at her bodyguard and her blood turns hot. If the lingering looks he keeps giving her is any indication the feeling is mutual. About to give in to her desire Kat meets the The Majestic’s passionate manager. Manager by day musician by night he makes it known that he wants Kat in his bed. A strong woman who knows her own mind, she wants The Majestic to be great again and both men to be hers - in her bed and by her side - but will the unconventional relationship work or will everything she has ever worked for fall apart? Review: The thing that stuck out and I liked most about this book is Kat is really in charge of herself, her business and her love life. She goes for what she wants. Even if it is a menage with two men. Kat is strong, smart and feisty what I love in a heroine. I did have a little issue with the men who seem to be in a hate spiral with each other, agrees pretty quickly to share Kat and never really have issues with that sharing. Thought the writing was great, I loved the characters and wanted them to succeed as a trio. The tension with the kidnapping and everyone finding about the three of them added the right amount of drama. The sexy scenes had the right amount of heat to make them exciting to read. This is part of the Entwined Hearts series, but I do not see how they are related other than menage relationships, so this is self contained and can be read without any confusion. 3.5Stars *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*