Girl Gone Wild by Joanne Rock released on Apr 23, 2004 is available now for purchase.
About the Author
USA TODAY bestselling author Joanne Rock credits her decision to write romance to a book she picked up during a flight delay that engrossed her so thoroughly, she didn't mind at all when her flight was delayed two more times. Giving her readers the chance to escape into another world has motivated her to write over eighty books for a variety of Harlequin series.
Read an Excerpt
Girl Gone Wild
By Joanne Rock
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSOME MEN COUNTED SHEEP to fall asleep. Hugh Duncan spied on people.
Peering out of the dark windows overlooking a deserted stretch of Miami's South Beach, he strolled through one of the quiet lounges at the back of the posh resort he was supposed to be investigating for his newspaper. At 4:30 a.m., the raucous partyers who had populated the hotel's nightclub had just stumbled out into the early morning air, leaving this section of the resort suddenly quiet. Secretive.
Skirting around a secluded seating area in one corner of the minimalist Art Deco-style lounge, Hugh searched for a diversion to occupy his mind through what had always been his most restless hours of the day. He'd never been one to fall asleep until at least 6:00 a.m., preferring to roam the streets of whatever city he happened to inhabit, looking for his next story. Some kind of intrigue he could write about, dissect, rant over.
Nine times out of ten, he unearthed the kind of subjects he preferred by simply watching. Observing details in a manner he'd come to realize was unique. The quirky way he'd always been able to fixate on the small, the seemingly insignificant, gave him an edge as an investigative reporter.
It also annoyed the hell out of most people, but how many guys had turned their most irritating habit into a Pulitzer? Annoying or not, he continued to indulge the practice, even in the case of stories he didn't want to write.
Like this one.
Sighing with frustration that South Beach's most notoriously hedonistic resort could be so damn quiet, Hugh paused to absorb the colors emanating from a nearby erotic painting. Georgia O'Keefe-like in its simplicity, the picture of a red poppy flower in bloom bore disconcerting resemblance to a woman's genitals. Then again, maybe men who'd been without sex for as long as he had simply started seeing women's genitals everywhere they looked.
Pivoting away from the picture, he considered heading for the next exit to see what he could find on the South Beach strip to entertain himself, when a woman's voice lifted in song caught his ear.
Whoever warbled out "Summer Wind" might not have had the greatest vocal ability, but he had to appreciate the musical selection. He probably wouldn't be able to find a cover of a Sinatra tune playing anywhere else on the strip.
Besides, he wouldn't unearth any material for the story he was being coerced to write on Club Paradise if he left the premises tonight. A stupid assignment more suited to a features reporter than a hard-hitting investigative journalist, but his editor was determined to take a piece out of Hugh's hide for an article he'd written that had stepped on the toes of British intelligence.
As if a month's worth of crappy assignments would make Hugh stop writing the kinds of stories that truly needed to be told.
Winding through the back halls of Club Paradise, flagrantly ignoring the Employees Only signs on one door after another, Hugh followed the source of the "Summer Wind." He could claim a distant, step-cousin-style relationship to one of the owners of the resort since his uncle had married founding partner Brianne Wolcott's mother at some point. Of course, his whole family was one big mass of step this and ex-step that, and he'd never actually met Brianne. No one in the Duncan or Simmons families had much of a track record in the marriage and family department.
Still, the relationship ought to be enough to justify his presence in the employees-only sections of the resort, right?
Scents of garlic and basil assailed his nose as he neared the kitchen, making his gut rumble in hungry approval. When was the last time he'd eaten? Snacking wasn't usually a part of his late-night spying rituals, but the distinct aroma of Italian cooking made him rethink his nocturnal surveillance traditions.
He paused just outside the door to the source of the incredible aromas, the feminine voice within hitting a high note and luring him with her siren's song.
Curiosity beyond professional interest pulled him closer to the doorway. The dynamic Sinatra rendition, even without musical accompaniment, coupled with the incredible scents had him salivating for a glimpse of the song stress. And - truth be told - the recent glimpse of the poppy had probably stirred his interest a bit.
Damned suggestive artwork.
But the one benefit to being back on U.S. soil was the freedom to engage in casual sex - a pleasure he never afforded himself while abroad. And from the way his body had kicked into overdrive at the sound of the woman in the next room, he knew he couldn't put off some serious fulfillment in that department for too much longer.
With the silent feet and stealthy grace that had long supported his nightly habit, Hugh nudged open the door and edged his way into the room.
Only to discover his efforts to be sneaky were totally wasted on the oblivious creature stirring up mayhem in the center of her kitchen.
She held a wooden spoon in one hand and a bag of decorator frosting in the other as she whirled between a granite-topped island and an eight-burner cooking range loaded with steaming cauldrons.
Dancing as she worked, a petite brunette in a sexy-as-hell red dress did a bump and grind as she bent over a shiny aluminum cookie sheet and applied frosting to some confection or another. Her abundant hair was pinned up on the back of her head in some little confining net, but a few wavy strands escaped to bounce in time with the rest of her.
Sinatra's music had probably never enjoyed such an enthusiastic performance.
He debated breaking out in applause as her voice died on the final strains of her song. Odd, because he'd always been a disinterested bystander on his other nighttime investigative outings. Why the sudden urge to blow his cover and announce himself to this brown-eyed beauty?
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the lithe little brunette emanated more sheer physical presence than many men twice her size. Or maybe it was because her dress happened to be the exact shade of the provocative poppy flower he'd spied in the hallway.
Then again, maybe it was simply because he'd never seen a woman so full of life, she practically bubbled over like one of those steaming pots on the stove. Before Hugh could make up his mind either way - to reveal himself or not - the woman launched into a rendition of "Witchcraft" as she twirled over to the range top to stir the cast-iron cauldrons wafting the rich aroma of what could only be spaghetti sauce. She dipped her wooden spoon into the first batch and spun it clockwise, counterclockwise, then back again before moving to the next pot where she repeated the process.
Excerpted from Girl Gone Wild by Joanne Rock Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Has a large rock in the middle
International investigative reporter Hugh Duncan is bored with his current assignment to write a report on Club Paradise until he hears someone singing ¿Summer Wind¿. Following the voice leads him to aromas of Italian cooking. His nose takes him to a feast for his eyes when he sees the singing chef........................... Giselle Cesare enjoys Sinatra, but right now relishes her freedom with her overly protective brothers on the road. Thank god for honeymoons and hockey teams. Giselle plans to have a fling without those two bruising siblings scaring away all males. Now Hugh is in her kitchen during off hours and both are hungry for more than just her Kama Sutra cream puff. As they follow up on that first combustible look, Giselle and Hugh fall in love, but he is there under false pretense as he is to write an exposé of her South Beach hotel.......................... The latest South Beach tale is an entertaining blending of business with pleasure with the emphasis on the latter. The lead couple is a fine pairing though both come across a bit fluffy in this lighthearted romp. Still, fans of the series will never look at dessert the same way again as the heated romance between the journalist and the chef gives new meaning to éclairs, cream puffs, cherries, and icing. Poor brother Nico will have to heat up one heck of an entrée to top this tasty tale......................... Harriet Klausner