Some choices are easy. Some choices are hard. And some choices will break our hearts...
When jaded movie director, Tyler Wentworth meets Mallory Hughes on the set of his latest movie, he immediately notices two things: she's too sweet and she's somehow familiar. But he has no time for mysteries – as long as she can do her job and continue to keep her notorious starlet out of trouble, she can keep her secrets.
Mallory knows exactly who Tyler is, the young man she had a huge crush on has grown to a Hollywood heavy–weight. But the last thing she wants is to be associated with the shy, awkward girl she was then. She's here professionally, managing her troubled sister who has the talent to be the biggest star on screen, but a turbulent past. This is Bobbie's last and best shot, and Mallory will do nothing to jeopardise it.
But as the filming begins, Mallory not only finds herself drawn more deeply to this grown–up Tyler, but that her attraction is more than reciprocated and she can't help herself from indulging in all of her girlish fantasies. However, when their pasts catch up, she is going to have to choose between the sister she's devoted her life to and the man who's won her heart.
About the Author
Lifelong romance addict, JC Harroway lives in New Zealand. Writing her very real obsession with happy endings and the endorphin
rush they create.
Visit JC on her website.
Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
By JC Harroway
Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty LtdCopyright © 2017 J C Harroway
All rights reserved.
Tyler glanced down at his watch, annoyance tugging at his shoulders and dampening his excitement for a project that was eighteen months in the making. He willed his hackles down, flaring his nostrils and inhaling deeply.
He despised lateness — as the minutes passed and the muted conversations around the meeting table grew increasingly stilted, he looked up from his notes, commanding silence. 'I think we'll make a start.' His face formed a reluctant smile, encompassing the fifteen sets of eyes focused on him. 'I'd like to thank you all for your part in this project, which is very important to me. This movie has been in the pipeline for some years now and as the co-writer, producer and director, I am thrilled to have all of you on board.'
He glanced again at his watch, where it rested on top of the script for tomorrow's scenes. 'By now you should all have your call sheets for tomorrow. Please note that the first scene will be —'
The door flew open, halting his speech. Sixteen pairs of eyes swivelled to the latecomer, who spilled into the room, disrupting the meeting and Tyler's well-versed speech.
'Shit.' The tardy brunette righted her footing and lifted huge blue eyes to survey the hushed audience. 'Sorry ...' She smoothed one hand down the front of her skirt, her gaze landing on him. 'I was ... held up in reception.' Her stare flicked away, completing a round of the other occupants as colour seeped into her cheeks, turning ivory skin pink. Her other hand left the strap of her bag and pushed the dark-framed spectacles further up her pert nose.
With heated prickles snaking down his spine, Tyler lifted his mouth into a welcoming grimace and indicated the two vacant seats at the boardroom table.
Her cheeks darkened to red as she sunk into one of the spare chairs, her focus on the call sheets on the table before her. When she reached one fine-boned hand, tipped with black-painted fingernails, for her nape, a bolt of recognition shot through him.
He knew her from somewhere.
Mesmerised, he watched her fingers come away from her short pixie cut, and she dropped her hands into her lap, followed by her conciliatory stare.
Fuck! He'd lost his train of thought. What had he been saying before he was interrupted by Little Miss Tardy? And who the hell was she? She certainly wasn't the woman he'd expected to see, the lead actress of his movie, Bobbie Lawrence, who was still notably absent.
He'd soon find out who'd dared to show up late to the first location read-through and welcome meeting. 'Let's introduce ourselves, shall we. I know some of you met at the readthrough at the studio last month, but as we're going to be working together for the next six weeks, I'd like us all to be on first name terms.' He eased back into his seat. 'I'm Tyler Wentworth, director and co-producer of Freeway, and I'm thrilled to be here in my native Canada for this location shoot.'
He looked to the person seated to his right, passing the baton to his First Assistant Director, Tom.
Tyler's mind tuned out as the meet and greet continued around the table. He knew everyone anyway — knew everything to do with this movie. It was his magnum opus, his atonement and his first foray into co-writing. The cast was small, all the actors present with the exception of Ms Lawrence, a fact he'd have to rectify with her manager. This was his movie and he wouldn't have it derailed by some ... self-absorbed diva.
At last the introductions moved to the latecomer brunette. Tyler hardened his stare from glazed over to keenly assessing. She was young, twenty-three maybe? Her short hair and heavy glasses gave her delicate features a tough air, as did the tiny black gem sparkling in her nose.
Tyler shifted in his seat, the familiarity an irritating burn at the back of his neck.
She talked with her hands, their fine-boned fluttering so distracting he almost missed what she said.
'... so we're both honoured to be here and very excited to be working on such an inspiring movie. Bobbie, who's been held up, sends her sincerest apologies.'
She was Bobbie Lawrence's manager?
That didn't explain why she was so familiar to him. This was the first time he'd worked with the notorious actress. And this softly spoken woman was terribly young to manage such a troublesome celebrity. Bobbie Lawrence would run demanding, high-maintenance circles around this diminutive mouse.
The round of introductions continued. The brunette, whose name he'd missed, surreptitiously thumbed her phone in her lap, her eyebrows pinched together and her chest rising and falling with rapid shallow breaths. Tyler's gaze dipped to her chest, which was concealed beneath a tight-fitting, scoop-necked cardigan. Nothing particularly alluring about that, but when teamed with the pencil skirt he'd glimpsed earlier and the four-inch heels she'd toppled from as she entered the room, she projected a rousing dichotomy that had him intrigued.
No, not a mouse — more of a chameleon.
Too bad he'd have to tear several strips off her for her unreliable client on their first meeting. He'd rather see those eyes dilated with pleasure than tight with animosity.
With the read-through complete, Tyler stretched out fatigued back muscles as his cast and co-writers gathered their things and filed out of the sumptuous boardroom. The Chalice Towers Hotel was the best Toronto had to offer and within easy travelling distance of all the location shoots planned for the next six weeks. Not that he didn't like sleeping in a trailer — he was used to it after ten years in the movie business.
Leaving his first assistant director in conversation with the studio executive, he strode to the door in time to halt the hasty exit of Ms Lawrence's manager.
'We haven't properly met.' His hand closed around her elbow and she spun as if his touch electrocuted her. One hand clutched her chest, and she laughed, regaining her composure with a roll of her wide eyes.
'Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you.' Tyler held out his hand. 'Tyler Wentworth.'
Close up she was tiny, barely five foot five, petite but curvaceous. The heavy-rimmed glasses concealed the largest eyes he'd ever seen, and as she corralled her embarrassment at her jumpiness, she blinked eyes rimmed with impossibly long lashes.
He was used to stunning women. In his line of work they came with the territory.
These days, he lived in LA where actresses and wannabes were everywhere. But this diminutive beauty before him cracked open the cynical shell jading his eyes, challenging conventional beauty with her unique, quirky sense of style.
'Mallory Hughes.' Her handshake was firm, her fine fingers clasping his with just enough pressure to make him re-evaluate his first impressions.
Colour spread from the skin above the neck of her cardigan up her neck, and she reached for the bridge of her glasses with her free hand.
He released her hand, his tongue-lashing mission returning to the forefront of his mind. 'Is Ms Lawrence indisposed?' He maintained a neutral tone but she correctly interpreted his words, standing taller in her heels and holding the tablet she carried across her chest like a shield.
'She was held up.' Her chin lifted, giving him a better view of her elegant neck and the small swallow she couldn't conceal. Pale skin. How would it taste. The British had an expression — peaches and cream complexion. Mallory Hughes was a walking poster child.
'Ms Hughes,' he instantly regretted his tone, which quashed her flushed and slightly flustered breathlessness, but he wouldn't be messed around, despite the allure of her creamy skin. Best Ms Hughes and Ms Lawrence were clear on that from the outset. 'This is my movie. This meeting was the first of many. I expect everyone concerned to attend, no excuses. I particularly expect my female lead to be present.' He offered a tight smile. 'It sets the right example to the rest of the cast.'
All that was left of her earlier blush coalesced into two spots of colour high up on her cheekbones. She stood taller, stepping a half step closer as if fronting up to a lion.
'I assure you, Mr Wentworth, Bobbie is fully committed to your movie and is normally a very punctual and reliable person. I can only apologise again for her uncharacteristic absence, but it must have been very unusual circumstances that kept her away.'
So, the chameleon had claws ... Tyler fought the twitch of his mouth grinding his teeth together before he informed the regrettably naive Ms Hughes as to the appalling reputation of the actress she managed. How well did she know her client? She was too young to have been in the industry for long and Bobbie Lawrence, despite her own young age, had already developed a name for herself in Hollywood. His gut clenched as the familiar roll of frustration sang through his blood. He'd been dead set against hiring a twenty-year-old former drug addict for his leading lady, but she'd done her stint in rehab and was the fastest rising star around. If she turned up and said her lines, she'd do wonders for Freeway. And ultimately, he'd been overruled by the studio executives.
His lips pursed to release a slow, controlled sigh. 'I take it you're her manager?' She nodded, small shoulders rolled back. 'Yes, and her assistant.'
He ignored the flicker of interest in his groin, this movie too important for ... distractions. 'Have you known her long?'
Her chin jutted an inch higher, and her blue eyes cooled. 'Yes. I can personally vouch for my client. This is very unlike her.'
He struggled to keep his face impassive, his annoyance with Bobbie Lawrence and his intrigue with her manager at complete odds. Fuck. This would be a minefield to navigate.
'Please see that she gets her call sheets. I'm holding you personally responsible for her timekeeping in future.' Holding his breath against the distracting scent of her light floral perfume, he strode away.
He didn't get far.
'You don't remember me, do you?' Her voice rang out, chasing him down the hotel corridor.
Tyler spun on his heel. 'We've met?' That would explain the kick of recognition. But surely he'd never forget a face like hers. Or a body.
She clutched her tablet, her knuckles whitening, and nodded. 'Our parents were friends. I knew your sister, Laurel.'
Tyler's gut clenched, the familiar spasm forcing bile into the back of his throat. He raised one eyebrow. He rarely talked about Laurel, but she had his curiosity pricked.
A small smile lifted the corners of her full mouth, the pleasing sight so violently opposed to the turmoil stirring through his blood, his teeth ground together. 'She used to babysit me, years ago. How is she these days?'
At his prolonged silence, the smile wavered on Mallory's lips. He wanted it back. But his answer would put a swift end to Ms Hughes's attempts at friendly reacquaintance. His peripheral vision darkened as the sickening impotence shrouded him. Forcing air out through flared nostrils, he clenched his hands into fists. There was no point sugar-coating it. 'She's dead.'CHAPTER 2
Mallory dumped her bag on the bed and collapsed onto the decadent sofa in the hotel's master suite. Bobbie's status commanded the best. Mallory barely registered the opulence.
She clutched her phone with enough force to crack the screen and tried to regulate her erratic breathing. An army of sharp prickles crept beneath her skin. Where was Bobbie, and why wasn't she answering her damn phone?
Slipping her heels off, Mallory sank back on the sofa cushions, lifting her feet up and closing her eyes. She forced herself to visualise her happy place — a vast, old-fashioned library in some English stately home, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, ornate ladders, spiral staircases and comfy wing-backed armchairs in front of a roaring fireplace.
When the pound of her heartbeat slowed to manageable levels and the buzz of interference from her brain seeped away, she replayed the scenes from the morning's meeting.
She'd recognised Tyler immediately. Even without his fame as a leading Hollywood director she'd have known him straight away. His sculpted features and grey eyes had occupied many of her teenage fantasies, her childish crush so huge, she'd blushed every time she'd spied him in the small Canadian town their families came from.
The six years that separated them was too great an age difference for her infatuation to be anything more that hero worship, and he'd never noticed her existence, but her parents' work schedules meant his sister, Laurel, had been a regular fixture in their home. And to Mallory's delight, her big brother, who'd moved to LA to attend film school, had been Laurel's favourite topic of conversation.
Mallory's throat tightened.
The last time she'd seen her, Laurel had been leaving for college. By spring break, Mallory's parents had decided to move.
Laurel, so young, so vibrant — what a waste.
The door to the suite opened and Mallory slammed open her eyes, dragging herself from her memories. 'Bobbie?'
'Yep.' Bobbie rounded the corner, tossed an armful of shopping bags onto the chair and collapsed onto the cushion Mallory's feet had just vacated.
No apologies? No explanations? A stab of pain speared Mallory's temple and she worked her jaw, releasing clenched muscles. 'Where have you been, Bob?' Bobbie kicked off her shoes, leaned back on the sofa cushions and struck a hollow-cheeked pose for a selfie, not once looking directly at her sister. 'I just had to have that sequined dress and Malbec closed the store for me, the darlings.'
'You went shopping? You were supposed to be at the read-through this morning.' Ice trickled through Mallory's veins, her shoulders lifting. She reined in her annoyance, making allowances, as she always did, for her younger sister. 'He was pissed, Bob. You could have warned me.' Mallory nudged Bobbie's thigh with her stockinged foot, her sister's distracted thumb-typing jarring her head with the prick of a thousand red-hot needles.
A shrug. 'It was a spur of the minute thing. I took Gary with me. Chillax, will you? Besides, I work hard. I deserved that dress.' Bobbie changed angles, firing off some photos of her stunning, famous face.
Mallory closed her eyes. She'd have to speak to Gary. The burly new bodyguard she'd employed for the duration of the location shoot knew the rules. She'd remind him to check with her before he escorted Bobbie anywhere. Mallory sighed, her frustration seeping out with the prolonged exhale from her lungs. She lost all their fights this way.
Since the death of their parents eighteen months ago, Mallory found it near impossible to begrudge Bobbie anything. Despite outward appearances, Mallory suspected Bobbie still deeply grieved their loss, in particular their father, who'd been her manager before Mallory.
'You're right. You do work hard.' Mallory massaged her temples, eyes scrunched closed. 'It's just this director is ... quite intense. This film is really important to him.' She sat up, demanding Bobbie's attention. 'I had to listen to a lecture on punctuality and responsibility, and he's holding me personally responsible for you.'
Bobbie laughed, rolling her eyes. 'Oh, he sounds fun.' Throwing her arms around Mallory's neck, she pulled her close and pressed gloss-slicked lips to her cheek. 'I'll make it up to him, don't worry — I'll act his socks off tomorrow, win him an Oscar for his movie and then I'll make him kiss your vintage Mary Janes.' With her arm banded around Mallory's neck, Bobbie held her captive while she angled her phone to capture a shot of them both.
Mallory pushed Bobbie away, a reluctant smile tugging at her lips and a wave of heat engulfing her face — Tyler Wentworth and kissing could not occupy the same headspace.
'Speaking of which, what are you wearing tonight? There's something in the bag for you too.' Bobbie lifted a hand and brushed the short mahogany strands over Mallory's ear, her fingers loitering on the arm of Mallory's spectacles while affection brimmed in eyes so like Mallory's own. So like their mother's.
'Stop buying me clothes — I don't need them.'
Bobbie grinned. 'The outfit I bought you is a want, not a need.'
Mallory ignored the recurring argument. 'I thought we weren't attending the party?' A sickening mass settled in the pit of Mallory's stomach. Bobbie had a five am start tomorrow. The last thing she needed was a night on the town, glamorous VIP nightclubs, being hounded by paparazzi.
'I know.' Bobbie dropped shifty eyes back to the screen of her phone. 'But the gang is flying in, and it's the opening night party. Besides, it will give me a chance to suck up to our director friend — the sooner he apologises to my favourite sister, the better.'
'I'm your only sister.' Mallory dampened the large sigh building behind her vocal cords. 'I thought we agreed, no partying until this film wraps.' She stood and paced to the minibar. Selecting a bottle of chilled water, she twisted the cap and took a swallow to dilute the ever-present unease swirling inside her.
Excerpted from Devoted by JC Harroway. Copyright © 2017 J C Harroway. Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd.
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
Devoted, JC Harroway Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre: Romance, I loved JC's Recovery, pushed my film star/Hollywood romance buttons and really enjoyed Entwined, the follow up, so when i saw this up for review I was excited to see it was back to film star trope. It proved a fun and entertaining read but didn't quite have the magic of Recovery for me. I expected Tyler to be older, it's kind of hard to feel someone can be "jaded" at just 28....I'd expected mid thirties or thereabouts. He does act as if he's around that age so its just technicalities in a way, but his age kept coming back to me. Its kind of hard to think heavyweight Hollywood director at 28, but then I know nothing of the realities of that life, only the fiction side! Likewise Mallory and Bobbie at just 20 and 22. Bobbie was a child star but given her rep, and the fact she's already spent time in addiction clinic, and has now been clean 3 years I'd have placed her a bit olderl. Mallory, could she really step into her father's shoes and manage Bobbie's career so well? Dunno? Just questions that made the story feel a bit unreal to me. I loved Mallory, she's so sweet, caring, an innocent in a tiger world, but shows her teeth when it comes to protecting Bobbie. I really didn't like Bobbie though, she's so selfish, doesn't seem to care that her actions impact heavily on Mallory's life, and I can see the sister bond in them, though Mallory doesn't resent Bobbie at all. I just wanted to get so cross with Bobbie, tell her to respect her sister, to look at what her life was doing to her, to look at what she'd given up so Bobbie could have the life she chose. That's a mark of good writing IMO, that it made me feel the characters were real, that their actions gave me real emotions. I liked Tyler too and the chemistry between him and Mallory was there from the start. Some serious steam gets generated by them and it fits the story perfectly. Regular readers of my reviews will know I Hate when sex overtakes the story, even though I love spice and sensuality in a book. Here its a perfect balance and that makes for a much better read IMO. Its a fun read, with some serious back issues for the characters. It seems its hard to stay away from addictions when fame comes knocking - its something we see reported in the media all the while, and it creates tensions in families, leads to heartbreak too often and surviving members struggle to get past events. When Mallory is looking at Bobbie's behaviour and wondering, is she using? - well, after what the past gave her I could understand. I think addicts have to accept however much they feel they're past the problems others will always wonder. It comes from love in Mallory's case, she wants to help Bobbie, but at times it seemed Bobbie really resented it. Trouble is surrounding herself with people like Jez doesn't help either of them. I really enjoyed the story, the romance worked well, the backstory felt very genuine, and the plots flowed one into another perfectly. There were hints given about events that I kind of picked up but not all, and what transpired came out a bit differently to what I expected. That's good, I like being surprised. I did feel the final events played out rather too quickly, that the Tyler/Mallory issues felt a bit overdone, storm in a teacup style but that's a small criticism. Overall its another fun read, solid romance with a good backing story. Stars: Four, a romance to sit back an
Received an ARC for my fair review for netgalley. It was a pretty good book, but there was a lot of emotional baggage to deal with. The main character Tyler, is directing a movie telling the story of his younger sister who died of a drug overdose, and he feels a lot of guilt with it, because he feels that he was the one who introduced her to to the entertainment industry, which led her introduction to drugs. With that guilt, his relationship with his parents is strained, and he does not does not have good thoughts on relationship, thanks to a horrible ex. Next we meet Mallory, and she is a nice person, loyal, shy, but unfortunately I feel she is a doormat, in regards to her sister, who she also feels responsible for after the death of her parents. Her sister Bobby, is a spoiled brat, who is also an actress and starring in Tyler's new movie, and she has also battled with drugs. When Tyler sees Mallory, she is familiar but he can't place it, and she is mortified because he was her long ago crush, and his sister was her baby sitter. They do give to the chemistry, but they have a lot of battles to overcome, a lot of issues, inner emotionally and out. I was happy that Mallory finally spoke up to her sister, and this book deals with a lot of stuff that tends to be overlooked, however, I am going to say, that for the stuff that they were dealing with, I think they had much more sex, than actually dealing with the issues. Some of it, I feel just glossed over, but again that is just me, you might feel differently.
The girl who played in the shadows has slowly learned to fly. However, can she keep her head above water when confronted with the ghosts of her past? Bright lights, big city. Broken hearts, shattered dreams. Devoted blends the wonder of newly discovered love with the ugliness that secrets can breed. J.C. Harroway characters are never easy to love, but the blessing lies in the lessons they learn along the way.