In the final Nine Circles novel, there is a fine line between pleasure and pain, between sin and salvation. Jackie Ashenden shows what happens when a dangerously irresistible man and woman collide, in and out of the bedroom.
In Bed with the Billionaire
Known to the underworld only as Jericho, billionaire Theo Fitzgerald is one of the most powerful men in the world. But his plan is to tear down the criminal empire his father created from the inside outunless someone else does it for him.
He suspects a bold, seductive woman named Temple Cross might be trying to take him out with itbut for the chance to burn in the heat she gives off, he’s not sure if he minds…
A hired hit woman, Temple has been waiting to get close to Jericho her whole life. The man who destroyed her family is worth looking in the eye before she kills himbut when she’s finally alone with Jericho, he’s nothing like the ruthless barbarian she imagined. Her reaction to his touch is explosively sexualand their emotional connection is too powerful for her to ignore.
Is she his shot at redemption? Or will he have to risk losing her love to save her life?
Revenge and redemption, pain and passion collide in this stunningly emotional, edgy, sexy romance from Jackie Ashenden.
Don't miss the other books in the Nine Circle series:
Book #1: Mine to Take
Book #2: Make You Mine
Book #3: You Are Mine
Book #4: Kidnapped by the Billionaire
About the Author
Jackie Ashenden lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax, two kids and two cats. When she's not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband. Her dark, sexy contemporary romance novels for St Martin’s Press include Mine to Take, Make You Mine, and You Are Mine.
Read an Excerpt
In Bed With The Billionaire
By Jackie Ashenden
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Jackie Ashenden
All rights reserved.
Temple had expected a lot of things about the moment where she'd finally be in the same room as the man she'd been planning to kill ever since she was fifteen years old. Yet now the moment was here and nothing about it was as she'd expected.
For one thing she hadn't exactly imagined herself in one of the VIP rooms of the most exclusive and notorious strip club in Paris. Nor had she imagined that she'd be the stripper dressed only in a sparkly thong, a pair of silver star-shaped pasties, and silver eight-inch stilettos. She hadn't thought there'd be a pole, or a spotlight, or a black-velvet armchair facing that pole, the chair shrouded in darkness.
Hiding the man seated in it.
She couldn't see him because of the spotlight, but she knew he was there. Oh, yes, she knew.
The music began, filtering through hidden speakers.
Temple smiled in the direction of the armchair. The men who'd brought her in had been very clear: dance as if your life depended on it. Mainly because it did.
The choice was either dancing for the man they called Jericho or being sent straight away to the brothels of Eastern Europe the way they did with most of the other trafficked girls, where you'd be lucky to survive a month let alone a year.
Only the good ones, the pretty ones, were picked out to dance for Jericho and none of those chose the brothels. Everyone always chose the dancing. Because if you danced and you were good enough, you might get sent to one of the better establishments in Italy or Spain, where they looked after you, gave you nice clothes, made sure you looked good for their expensive clients.
But that wasn't why Temple was there. She was there because of the rumors. The ones that said that the notoriously secretive Jericho chose a girl from his latest "shipment" every Saturday night and kept her for the entire night. And if she pleased him, the rumors went, then she might get special treatment.
Temple wanted to be that girl. She wanted to be the one he chose for the entire night. Because she had some special treatment of her own to deliver.
She hooked her leg around the pole and arched her back, bowing her body in a graceful arc. Then she grabbed the cool metal with one hand and pulled herself up it. Keeping one leg curled tight, she leaned out and back again, her ribcage and breasts lifted, her copper red curls tumbling over her shoulders. The only thing keeping her on the pole was the strength of that one leg.
She wasn't a stripper. She hadn't had any practice. But before she'd gotten herself captured by the traffickers a week ago, she'd been to plenty of strip clubs and watched, replaying the moves over and over in her head. With her martial arts training helping her with the strength and balance aspect, it was almost easy.
Hanging there with her head back, she narrowed her gaze in the direction of the chair, trying to see past the glare of the spotlight to the man seated there. But she couldn't make anything out. Just his figure, long legs outstretched in front of him and crossed at the ankle.
He could be doing anything. He could even be fast asleep.
She knew he wasn't though. He was looking at her and she knew because she could feel the pressure of his gaze like a physical force. An intense, focused beam of light almost as powerful as that fucking spotlight.
It made her want to stare back. Stare him down.
But no, that was a bad idea. That would give her away. She hadn't worked this hard, for this long only to fuck it up now.
He was the most guarded, the most secretive, the most notorious crime lord in Europe and she had to be on her guard.
Gracefully she lifted herself back up, folding herself against the pole then sliding suggestively down it. As her feet touched the floor, she spun around so her back was to him and then she bent over, moving her hips in time with the music.
Some of the other girls she'd been brought here with had cried when their guards had tossed them the bag of stripper outfits and told them to get changed. Which was understandable given that they weren't strippers, just a bunch of lost girls who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Girls nobody would miss, nobody would search for.
Girls like Thalia.
Had this happened to Thalia? Had her sister performed for this man? Wearing this kind of outfit? Her beautiful, intelligent, protective older sister dancing for this ... fucking prick?
Temple whirled gracefully around to face the chair again, keeping her gaze on the shadows and her righteous fury in check. She'd picked up a lot of skills over the years, and teaching herself to be able to sense people even in the dark had come in useful.
Except it wasn't so useful now with the spotlight shining directly at her. A deliberate tactic to prevent the girls from seeing his face.
She gripped the pole again, moving against it like a lover, doing a bump and grind, letting her breasts sway. She didn't much care about the fact that she was nearly naked and her body was on show. In fact, she'd long since ceased to see her body as anything more than a tool, a vehicle she needed in order to get herself to this point. A weapon that would help her bring down the man sitting in that chair.
She didn't need a gun in order to kill a man. She could do it unarmed, had done so before, and would do it again.
She'd kill him. She'd get the information she needed from him, and then she'd take his life as he'd taken Thalia's. And after that? Well, she didn't much care what happened after that. Her life wasn't exactly a valuable commodity to anyone let alone herself.
Temple faced him again, trying to penetrate the darkness as she moved. Fuck. It was next to impossible to see anything. If she wanted to see beyond that damn light she was going to have to get out from under it. Which was going to be tricky. They'd told her to stay near the pole, that she wasn't to approach him on pain of death.
They'd probably shoot her if she did. There was no one else in the small room, but she didn't make the mistake of thinking that meant the man in the chair was unguarded. She could defend herself against most attacks but not from bullets, and certainly not in her current outfit.
But then she wasn't aiming to kill him yet, and she wouldn't be able to here anyway. No, she needed information first. And the only way to get that was to get closer to him, literally and figuratively.
Perhaps she could fake a stumble? Fall off those stupid heels? It might put at risk her chance of being chosen by him, but then at least she'd be able to see.
She was weighing up her options when very suddenly the music stopped. Caught in mid-grind, she blinked. Every instinct she had pulled tight, and she straightened, her body subtly tensing. Readying itself to launch into defensive mode.
There was a strange silence, full of the sound of her own heartbeat, already slowing in preparation for a fight.
"You're not afraid of me." A deep masculine voice rolled out of the shadows, rich and dark as the blackness around him. A beautiful voice, American, though she couldn't tell the region.
For some reason it hit her like a kick to the gut, and she felt herself tense even more. As if that voice was a threat, a ribbon of the deepest, softest black velvet wound around her throat.
She swallowed, an instinctive reflex. "I-I am," she murmured, injecting a shake into her voice and a small stammer for effect.
"No. You're not." He didn't sound annoyed, but there was a slightly harder edge to his tone now, the iron collar concealed beneath that soft, sensual velvet. "Most girls don't even look in my direction, but you haven't looked away. Not once."
Shit. That had been a rookie move. A thread of concern wound through her. She could not fuck this up. Not now.
Forcing herself to look away from him, she glanced down at the floor instead. The whole room had been carpeted in thick, expensive, dark-blue carpet, except for the area around the pole, which was wood. "I'm s-sorry," she said. "I didn't know."
Another silence. Then there came the sound of fabric rustling, the chair creaking as he shifted in it.
"Oh no, don't spoil it now." His voice was a low purr, pure sensuality this time, the iron gone. "You were doing so well."
A strange shiver chased over her bared skin. That voice, that goddamned beautiful voice. It was like a spell he cast.
Anger stirred, because being actually affected by him was the very last thing in the world she wanted, and it was a struggle to fight it down. She had to though. Any sort of emotional reaction wouldn't help her here.
"I-I'm telling the truth." She hunched her shoulders, trying to make herself look frightened and small. Could she squeeze out a tear? Maybe she could. "Why am I here? W-what are you going to do to me? I don't know —"
"Let's dispense with the histrionics, sweetheart. We both know you're lying." And now there was the faintest hint of boredom in the words.
Fuck. Boredom certainly wasn't what she was after. Okay, so clearly her lack of fear had intrigued him. Perhaps that hadn't been such a dumb move after all.
Slowly Temple put her shoulders back and lifted her head, stared through the blinding light of the spotlight to the shadow in the chair. "Okay," she said in her normal voice. "You got me. No, I'm not afraid of you."
Another stretch of silence, longer this time.
He was watching her, she could feel it. Except his focus had shifted, had become sharper, more intense. She fought not to fidget, something she hadn't done since she'd been a little kid.
"Why not?" Curiosity in the words.
Because I can kill you with my bare hands. And I will.
"Because I'm not afraid of the dark." She didn't bother to hide the fact that she was trying to see him or mask the note of challenge in her tone.
"You should be." That voice curled around her, the velvet around her throat pulling tight. "The darkness isn't kind to little girls."
It made no sense at all to feel a small thrill shoot down her spine at the implied threat in those words. Then again, considering how dull the last three or so years had been, maybe it wasn't any wonder. Just contract after contract of easy pickings. Dirtbags and assholes who'd needed taking down. All in aid of perfecting her skills for this final showdown.
The meanest motherfucker of them all. Jericho.
She'd been working toward this for so long, and getting to this point had been surprisingly easy. Disappointingly so. She was hoping for more. She was hoping for a challenge.
Perhaps, now, here it was. A man worthy of her skills.
Temple lowered her eyelashes. "Oh, but I'm not a little girl. And maybe I'm not the one who's scared either." She paused and let one corner of her mouth curl up. "Considering you're the one who's hiding."
It was a calculated risk to be so blatant. To reveal her lack of fear when every girl who came in here must reek of it. It would prompt all kinds of questions. Questions she didn't want him to ask. But if she wanted to get close to him, then she was going to have to take those risks, throw the dice a few times. It had worked in her favor before. Maybe it would work again.
More silence. So complete it was as if her hearing had suddenly been taken away.
She lifted her hand to the pole in a casual pose, keeping her gaze on the shadows, knowing he was studying her. Feeling the intensity of it, as if he was memorizing every part of her.
Somewhere deep inside her, something she hadn't felt for a long, long time shivered awake. Fear.
Then came the sound of movement. Fabric sliding against fabric. The creak of the chair.
She stilled, internally every sense she had on high alert.
A man stepped suddenly into the light.
She'd studied that file Zac Rutherford had given her on him so she'd known who and what Jericho really was.
He was Theodore Fitzgerald, the son of Evelyn, a well-known New York high-society figure who'd been murdered a month ago, apparently by a business rival. Theodore, who'd faked his own death sixteen years earlier, had infiltrated the crime syndicate his father had secretly been hoping to take over.
And somehow she'd expected the stunningly handsome young man of the file photos to have changed over the years. For him to have become bloated through excess, aged and stained and jaded by the crimes he'd committed.
That wasn't what she got.
In fact, he was as far from any of those things as it was possible to get. He had to be in his late thirties, if she had to guess, and was tall. Way, way taller than she was, which wasn't difficult since she was only five foot two. He, on the other hand, looked to be six three or six four at the very least, with wide shoulders that stretched the cotton of his plain white business shirt, which he wore with no tie, the top buttons undone, the sleeves rolled up.
Yet that wasn't what made her stare. It was his face. Because that stunningly handsome young man in the photos she'd studied had somehow become even more beautiful. Genuinely drop-dead beautiful. His hair was longish, dark tawny at the roots, fading to light gold at the tips, his straight eyebrows the same deep, dark gold. He had high cheekbones, a straight nose, a long and sensual mouth. It was the kind of perfect, masculine beauty that graced magazines and movie screens around the world.
At least, it would have been perfect if not for his eyes. Because it was his eyes that gave him away. They were green with the faintest hint of gold, like a cat's, like sunlight on a deep, green ocean. A beautiful, haunting color, just like everything else about him. Except there was no warmth in those eyes, only shadows. Only darkness. The eyes of a man who'd done every evil thing under the sun and then some.
Yes, he was beautiful. But in the way a man-eating tiger was beautiful. Lovely to look at, but you wouldn't want to get close in case you saw the blood on his fangs. And you definitely wouldn't want to touch.
Very much like herself in too many ways.
Temple's fingers tightened on the stripper pole.
Jericho smiled, and that beautiful, beautiful voice flowed over her. "Coming, ready or not."
And the alien feeling, the one she'd thought she'd gotten rid of long ago, that fear, deepened.
* * *
It had been years since Jericho had been able to appreciate beauty in a woman simply because she was beautiful. Without automatically pricing her figure, her hair, her skin, or her general demeanor. And he didn't now, the habit was simply too ingrained.
Small and slender as a whip. High, firm breasts. Muscled like a dancer. An air of fragility. Curls red enough to start a fire with the color alone. A delicate, cat-like face. Large golden eyes ... Yes, she would fetch a good price in any of his markets. Actually, probably more than good. She could fetch top dollar, especially with the dancing skills she'd just displayed.
Yet it wasn't her money-making potential that had propelled him off that chair, out of the protective darkness and into her spotlight. It was curiosity. Because it had been a long time since a woman hadn't been afraid of him, long enough that he couldn't remember what it was like to even have her meet his gaze. But she had met it. And she definitely wasn't afraid. He'd gotten to be exceptional at reading people, and this girl ... well, she wasn't lying.
She was surprised to find him standing in her spotlight, however. At least, he'd caught a glimpse of it in her magnificent golden eyes, the barest flicker before she'd managed to hide it. She didn't bother to look away like the rest of them did, though. She didn't cower or weep. She didn't have that familiar, sour smell of terror about her that those girls always did, and she didn't beg either.
She only looked at him from underneath thick, coppery lashes, one small hand holding onto the metal of the stripper pole. It was very nearly flirtatious, that look. Different from the way she'd stared in his direction before, when she'd been dancing. Then it had been focused and sharp, determined. As if she'd been looking for him on purpose. And that alone was enough to spike his curiosity, because no one looked for him. No one who valued their life at least, still less a woman.
"I thought you had to stay in the dark so we couldn't see you," she said, her accent American, her voice light with a slightly husky edge he found inexplicably compelling.
Excerpted from In Bed With The Billionaire by Jackie Ashenden. Copyright © 2016 Jackie Ashenden. 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
Enjoyed this story so much. Wow! Just so glad that the culmination to this story ended the right way. Proud and happy for both Theo and Temple. They both deserved some happiness. Their past lives were full of torment and no one more deseved a HEA like these two. I was also happy to see and hear the rest of the Nine Circles crew and the wonderful surprise for one of the couples. I'm not saying who as I don't want to spoil it for the rest of you, Lol. A fantastic read! Ashenden!does not disappoint.
Loved it, nice action, intrigue, drama, romance and a happy ending :) thumbs up
So much twisty goodness in this roller coaster of a dark read. Jericho and Temple together should not work but they do because Jericho really wants to bring down what his father has created and Temple has been sent to bring him down. Crazy, I know, but together they are explosive! I have not read the other books in this series but I am going to have to because this one was so good. **Received an ARC copy for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
This book was kind of amazing! With a title like that, I was expecting the usual Billionaire seducing the secretary type book. Imagine my surprise when I was put into a world of crime, assassins and human trafficking. This is a dark read. You will not find a sappy romance story about a rich guy seducing a poor girl. For those readers who like the anti-hero, you can't get more anti than Jericho. You even get the anti-heroine in Temple. Temple is an assassin who was hired for a contract on Jericho, the head of a huge human trafficking operation. This may be a job for her, but it's also personal. She has been searching for 7 years to find her sister who was sold to Jericho. 7 years, starting at the age of 15, to train and take on jobs that has finally lead her to Jericho. The problem is Jericho isn't exactly what he seems. Both may be doing bad things in the name of good, but they have delved into the dark for so long that they have blackened their souls and are hanging onto humanity by a thread. This is what was so intriguing about this story for me. This had everything in it that just draws you in deeper with each chapter you read. I wasn't sure I was going to like this book at first. I mean they both were set on killing each other and there was a couple of intense fighting scenes. The first fighting scene...uh, just whoa! Yeah, that's all I'm gonna say on that. It's the 5th book in the series and can be read as a standalone but it does have other characters from previous books. This book left me so intrigued that I immediately went out and bought book 1 and 2. ARC provided by NetGalley.
Jackie Ashenden has written a controversial story. The characters are dark and deadly. They have both lived in a world where there is no love or kindness. Temple is an assassin who has one goal. She is searching for he sister who was kidnapped seven years ago and sold to human traffickers. She knows that Jericho is responsible. Now she's been hired to eliminate him. Everyone thinks that Jericho is a man with no conscience. He is a ruthless adversary who is focused on one goal, but no one knows his heart. When he and Temple meet the tension ramps up. Their attraction is amazing. This book drew me in despite the dark topic. I wondered how these two damaged souls would find redemption. The book kept me on the edge of my seat. The action is non-stop combined with some surprising twists. I was stunned with how the story played out. This author is not afraid to go into uncharted territory. Be aware that not everyone will be comfortable with this storyline. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
This is the fifth book in the Nine Circles series and each book is a standalone, although the characters are loosely connected. This is an action packed, intense and sexy romance. Jericho and Temple are both dark, tortured souls. Jericho is a human trafficker with a good heart underneath his scarey exterior. He is a handsome, confident man with mean, cold eyes. He has many layers and they slowly unfold during the story. Even though he is involved in human trafficking, Jericho hopes to one day destroy all the heartless people he is dealing with. Temple is a paid assassin looking for her sister who was sold into sex slavery. When Jericho and Temple meet, sparks fly. They have an intense start to their relationship and they fight both physically and mentally. They are turned on as they try to physically hurt and outwit each other. At first, neither one of them appear to have any redeeming qualities, but over time, we discover they are good people. They are doing their best in a world filled with mean, vicious people. I have to be honest, it was hard for me to connect with the characters or the story. The writing is good, but I didn't like the characters or how they treat each other and I had a hard time getting past that.
I had tears in my eyes, this book was so good! Full of suspense and I could not put it down! I had to know the ending! I'm kind of sad to see the end of the series though?
I liked this series. You must read them all in order.. Dark sexy suspenseful.
I was given ARC copy for review and Loveswept. Temple Cross has been hired to kill Jericho, billionaire Theo Fitzgerald. However all doesn't turn how it should be. Intense characters that will keep a person on the edger of their seat. Sexy sizzling. A must read!!!!
IN BED WITH THE BILLIONAIRE is the fifth and final? installment in Jackie Ashendon’s contemporary, adult NINE CIRLES erotic, romantic suspense series focusing on a group of friends ‘bound together by power, secrets, need, family and love’. This is billionaire Theo ‘Jericho’ Fitzgerald, and assassin Temple Cross’s story line. Jericho is the brother of Violet Fitzgerald whom we met in book four-Kidnapped by the Billionaire. IN BED WITH THE BILLIONAIRE can be read as a stand alone but for cohesion and backstory I recommend reading the series in order as much of the premise of the current story line has been building throughout the series. If you have not read the previous story lines there may be some spoilers in my review. NOTE: IN BED WITH THE BILLIONAIRE contains graphic sexual text and scenes of questionable consent. Told from several third person perspectives IN BED WITH THE BILLIONAIRE follows hired assassin Temple Cross as she sets out to kill the man –Theo ‘Jericho’ Fitzgerald- she believes destroyed her sister’s life. Jericho is one of the world’s most powerful criminals with his hands in prostitution, nightclubs and human trafficking. Several years earlier Temple’s sister went missing and our heroine believes Jericho sold her sister into human sexual slavery. What ensues are Temple’s attempts to infiltrate Jericho’s personal life, and Jericho’s need to understand what makes our heroine ‘tick’. As the story line builds we learn that Theo ‘Jericho’ Fitzgerald is a reluctant criminal who hides the truth behind a powerful façade. Temple Cross, like Theo Fitzgerald, has a dark and dangerous past, and her powers as an assassin hide the true intent of what it is she is hoping to uncover. The relationship between our leading couple is highly sexual. Many of the $ex scenes are graphic, intense and not without some ambiguous consent; arguments and physical fights lead to rough and angry $ex but initial consent is debatable and unclear. There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including all of the previous story line couples. The final several chapters in the story reveal some of the back story for each of our couples, as well as their connections to one another and the current story line players coming full circle from beginning to the end. IN BED WITH THE BILLIONAIRE is an emotional story line with controversial and complex characters. The premise is thrilling and intense; the characters are tragic and broken; the romance is melodramatic and powerful. IN BED WITH THE BILLIONAIRE is a suspense filled, erotic romance with memorable characters and a happily ever after.
in bed with the billionaire is the fifth and final book in the nine circles series by jackie ashenden. i haven't read the other books in the series, but that isn't necessary since this books fills in the blanks as needed. my guess is that both temple and theo/jericho played min or and possibly villainous roles in the previous novels, and it is fitting that they are the couple that ties the whole thing together in the end. temple is a hired assassin, and there's a contract on jericho's life, a contract that she is meant to fill after she does the one thing that has driven her to this point. she wants to know what happened to her sister, thalia. all she knows is that she ended up being sold to jericho, and after that nothing. she wants to find her and atone for the past, and she believes that she can get the information she needs from jericho and that she will derive pleasure from finally besting him. except things don't go according to plan. jericho is more dangerous than temple gives him credit for. he is so broken, he is a man at the end of his rope. because the deep dark secret jericho carries, the deep dark secret that consumes theo is that he has built this criminal empire up in order to tear it down. he doesn't expect to be attracter to temple. no woman has caught his eye in years. and this attraction is most certainly a mistake. he knows she is more than what she claims to be. he knows how to tear down her walls, because they are equals and they are the same. their damage is the same. they have blackened their souls for one purpose, and when that purpose doesn't end up the way the expect, then maybe they'll at least have each other. the way it all unravels in the end is very satisfying. these two characters have a chemistry and connection that is not just steamy but so emotional. they are so far at the end of their rope that everything is raw and painful and so full of love that they can't even see it. these two are so broken, it makes sense that they would find redemption in each other. it's so worth it. even with the ridiculous title, one that actually makes this book seem more frivolous than it is. this is a romantic thriller not a harlequin presents, i wish people were better at titles sometimes. **in bed with the billionaire will publish on november 1, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press in exchange for my honest review.
In Bed With The Billionaire by Jackie Ashenden is a fairly quick read, perfect for those with limited time for reading. Ms Ashenden has delivered a well written book. Her characters are awesome in this story. Temple and Theo/Jericho's story is a dark mob type romance. This is not your average billionaire story. There is plenty of action, angst and sizzle that makes this story work. This is not my usual type of reading material, but I did enjoy reading In Bed With The Billionaire. In Bed With The Billionaire is book 5 of the Nine Circles Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley.
In Bed with the Billionaire is the concluding story in the five book Nine Circles series that spans Europe, Asia and North America with a global human trafficking ring as the intense and disturbing background setting. Though each story in the series has a standalone couple romance, the story arc does build from the beginning, with secrets being revealed to the reader (and the characters) in each book until this finale. As such, you can read this one on its own and get a grasp of what’s happened before (and the romance flows well) but to fully appreciate it, and the characters involved you’re better off to start at the beginning. Jericho. The name strikes fear into the seedy underworld of human trafficking and sex slavery as the mysterious ruler of networks spanning the globe. The devil himself some say, with his propensity to pick one woman from his shipments to entertain him for the night. It’s this habit of Jericho’s that Temple, assassin extra-ordinaire is counting on when she works her way into the hands of the brothel keepers to come to his attention. If she can get him to choose her, she can fulfill two missions – find out what happened to her sister who was sold into slavery under Jericho’s rule, and kill him once she knows the truth. Her plan works, and she gets swept off to Jericho’s suite for the night. But things don’t go quite as planned. Something in his eyes tells her that things aren’t quite what they seem and though she wants desperately to hate him, to her shame she finds herself attracted to him instead. An intense affair ensues, with Temple unable to resist the magnetic chemistry between her and Jericho. And soon enough she discovers that things aren’t quite what they seem. It should be a clear cut case of wrong versus right but Temple understands the gray morality with what she’s had to do to find out what happened to her sister. When Jericho’s plans are revealed, will she help him to enact the ultimate revenge or stick to her contract and destroy him and any chance of a happy ending for herself in the bargain? With the surprising twist that was thrown into the end of Kidnapped by the Billionaire, book 4 of the Nine Circles series, I expected this story to be a roller coaster ride and I was right! From the moment Temple garner’s Jericho’s attention in the strip club, it’s an intense and erotic read, the sexual tension between them giving way quickly to some very steamy scenes even as Temple is determined to fulfill her goals and get rid of Jericho. The fact that he’s incredibly handsome and intelligent only makes her more determined. Temple and Jericho are both conflicted souls as it turns out, doing what is necessary in order to pull off a long term plan, and understanding what they need to sacrifice to achieve them. It’s this commonality that eventually draws them together on an emotional level. The story moves swiftly and dramatically from one scene to the next and there are appearances from the other four couples in the previous books in the series, as they all have a vested interest in the outcome of Jericho's plans. The conclusion of the series was exactly what I’d hoped it would be, tying up the loose ends and giving a satisfactory ending for everyone involved, including Temple and Jericho who find in each other the way to healing and redemption. I highly recommend this story and the series as a whole for its combination of steamy sex and intrigue.
I love a wonderfully twisted roller coaster of a story and Jackie Ashenden never disappoints. In this wrap up of the Nine Circles series we finally get to meet the infamous Jericho and the twist and turns this story takes will keep you glued to the pages. Temple is a gun for hire but she has very special plans for Jericho before she puts the bullet in his head and fulfilling her contract. What actually happens after she meets him is hard for even her to believe. These two will battle for control and fight the flare of attraction between them but who will be the last man standing in the end?? A fantastic conclusion to the series and a book I highly recommend.