The privileged members of the Knickerbocker Club can never climb too high up the social ladder. But for one charming New York bachelor, does the ascent take precedence over love in the Gilded Age?
As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess—and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants . . .
Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she’ll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm’s length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious powerbroker turns out to be absolutely irresistible?
Raves for Magnate
“Original and captivating.”—Publishers Weekly
“Intense, poignant, and powerfully written.” —RT Book Reviews
“Engaging . . . opulent.” —Library Journal
About the Author
Award‑winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband. Please visit Joanna at www.joannashupe.com or on Twitter @joannashupe.
Read an Excerpt
By Joanna Shupe
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Joanna Shupe
All rights reserved.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
— Emma Lazarus
Chinatown New York City April 1889
She never expected to find her former husband in an opium den.
Lily inwardly cursed her terrible luck and turned to the person next to her, the man who'd found her quarry. "How long has he been here?" "Two days, ma'am."
Good heavens. Dark and depressing, the place reeked of a nutty, sweet scent, one that forced her to cover her nose and breathe through her mouth. Men and women of all ages and skin colors reclined, glassy-eyed, on small cots, long pipes remaining within reach. Several scantily clad women hovered nearby, as did the owner, who no doubt wanted her gone.
Which made two of them. She would rather be sailing on the Chesapeake or lounging in her family's home in Newport. Riding her horse in Palm Beach, or shopping in Paris. Anywhere but standing right here, looking at the one man she'd hoped never to see again.
Calvin Cabot. She peered at him while he slept and tried to assess the changes, if any, that had occurred over the last four years. Still long limbed and well proportioned. Impossibly handsome, despite the shaggy light brown hair and the whiskers covering his face.
He'd ignored her letters for almost two weeks, each one returned, unopened. Furthermore, every time she arrived at his office or his home, he'd disappeared. No matter the hour, no matter which day she chose, he remained one step ahead of her. Frustrating, considering they had a delicate problem, one he needed to help solve before someone else discovered it. There had been no choice but to hire Pinkertons to kidnap him.
Yet she never expected to find him here. Was he addicted to the pipe? One of the East Coast's most powerful publishers, Calvin was sprawled in filthy, wrinkled clothing, an unpleasant odor emanating from him. How did he possibly manage a hop habit and his empire?
Not that she'd ever understood him. Lily and Calvin had been oil and water — or, as he'd been fond of saying, oil and champagne. Though he hadn't always hated the wealth and privilege her family represented. ...
"What would you like to do, ma'am?" the man at her side asked. She'd hired twelve men to find Calvin, and this man Jessup had been the one to earn her two-thousand-dollar reward.
Lily turned to the den's owner. "How much does this man owe?"
Avarice lit the owner's dark eyes — far from the first time Lily observed that emotion when someone noticed her clothing and jewels. But she was her father's daughter, not some silly, easily intimidated female. For goodness' sake, she'd served as the president of the Davies Mining Company since her father's death. No one got the best of Lillian Davies.
She laughed at the outrageous sum. "Now the real amount."
The owner glanced at Mr. Jessup, obviously weighing his chances of flimflamming her out of more money without getting pummeled. Not that Lily would ask the Pinkerton to step in. Lily did not need a man to solve her problems.
"One hundred and twenty dollars," the owner said.
Lily nodded, though she'd have paid more. She desperately needed Calvin.
The transaction was completed quickly and she turned to Mr. Jessup, who hadn't left her side since they arrived. Pointing at the unconscious man on the cot, she said, "Throw him in the carriage, if you would."
Hotel Fauchère Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania Four years earlier ...
"Lily, darling, the skin on the side of my cock is beginning to chafe."
"Poor man." Lily bent and used her tongue to soothe the abused area. "Let me help you."
Calvin, her husband of less than three weeks, fell back on the bed and let out a moan comprised of equal parts pain and bliss. "You're not actually helping," he wheezed as she dropped kisses along the sensitive skin.
His body responded immediately, with his erection growing, expanding beneath her lips. Instead of pushing her away, strong fingers threaded her blond hair, pulling the strands away from her face, exposing her ministrations to his hungry blue gaze. "This is what caused the trouble in the first place. A man needs recovery time, woman."
Lily ignored him, fully focused on her task. She loved the way he tasted, how the smooth velvet length felt on her tongue. Soft skin stretched tight over hardness. Most of all, she loved how he responded to each and every thing she did, like he couldn't get enough of her. She well understood the feeling; she didn't ever want to stop touching or kissing him. Didn't want to stop breathing the same air. In fact, since the honeymoon had begun twenty days before, they had barely even left the bed.
The courtship happened quickly, the two of them introduced a mere two months before they'd decided to elope. While many would call her foolish, Lily hadn't been more certain of anything in her entire life. Calvin was everything she wanted. Intelligent and adventurous, he worked tirelessly as a reporter for the New York Bugle, where he championed the causes of those less fortunate. Exposed corruption. Revealed the hypocrisy in New York politics. He was handsome as well, with brown hair and bright blue eyes, and a tall, slim build that vibrated with energy and confidence. He had ambition and strong convictions, a man who would achieve wondrous heights in his lifetime. Lily looked forward to assisting him every step of the way.
No doubt her father would require convincing to accept the marriage, but Lily had her arguments ready. Calvin maintained that Warren Davies would be furious his only daughter had married a mere reporter, a man without money or prestige, but Lily had faith in her father. After all, he'd gone off to the Dakotas in his teens to earn his fortune and emerged with a prosperous silver mine. He respected hard work and determination, any man who relied on his wits and guts to make his way in the world. Undoubtedly he would come to like Calvin once the two became acquainted.
She released Calvin with a wet pop, and her husband's erection dropped to his stomach. "Do you want me to stop?" she purred, dragging her fingernails up the insides of his thighs.
Calvin shivered. "God, please no. I know I don't have much, but I'll sign it all over to you if you'll just let me in deeper — Yes, like that," he groaned when she reapplied hot, slick suction. "Oh, if this kills me, it'll be worth it."
He rarely stopped talking, even during intimate moments. Words were not only his livelihood, they were both a source of comfort and a weapon. Intent on shutting him up, she reached below to roll his balls in her palm, squeezing gently, and he stiffened. "Faster," he said. "Tighter. Jesus, Lily, I'm burning alive."
She doubled her efforts, bobbing up and down, lips pulling, tongue fluttering, until his muscles began shaking. The rougher she was with him, the more she scratched and squeezed, the more he loved it. Soon he cursed, his hips rocking as he thrust into her mouth. With a shout, he spent down her throat, his body atremble.
When the pulses finally ceased, she shifted to press kisses to the red scratch marks she'd left on the taut plane of his abdomen. Her own core was wet with desire, arousal throbbing in time with her heart. How long would he need to recover?
"Come here, you witch." Large hands slipped under her arms and lifted her over his body. His expression achingly tender, he pressed a kiss to her lips. She relished the taste of him, the way their lips fit together so perfectly, the rasp of his tongue as he invaded her mouth. Love burst in her chest, every pore filled with a sense of rightness that settled in her bones. "I love you madly," she whispered when they broke apart.
The backs of his knuckles found her cheek and he rubbed the skin gently. His blue eyes were dark, drunk with pleasure, his smile crooked. "I love you utterly and completely, Lily, my love. Forever and always."
Her heart swelled behind her ribs. "How lucky I am to have met you."
"The fortune is entirely on my side. You're Lillian Davies; you could have your choice of men —"
She placed a finger over his lips. "If that is true then I choose you, Calvin — and you're being modest. I know there is a string of women in your past." Though he may not be wealthy, Calvin was the type of man that women watched. Striking looks and a lithe frame, he exuded power and grace, with a swagger to his gait that stopped just shy of bravado. His sharp eyes missed nothing, while a twinkle in their blue depths hinted at a secret joke. This was a man who caused a woman's mind to turn to wickedness. To wonder what the devil might be capable of inside a bedroom ...
How fortunate that she no longer needed to stare and wonder. No, she knew precisely what talents he possessed in this area — and she had no intention of ever giving him up.
"In my past, perhaps, and that is where they shall stay." He cupped her breast, clever fingers teasing the nipple until it peaked under his touch.
"They had better. I have no intention of sharing you, not with anyone."
He squeezed the tender, plump mound, causing her to gasp. "Nor I you. All those beaux you were stringing along had better be cut when we return to New York."
"Stringing along?" She tweaked his nipple and he gave a gasp this time. "Take that back. I do not string men along."
"Are you growing angry? You know what it does to me when you're peeved." Removing her hand from his chest, he brought her fingers to his mouth and kissed the tips. "And I count no fewer than four of Manhattan's most eligible bachelors who hope to ensnare you, my lovely. Shall I name them?"
"They merely want my father's fortune, not plain Lily, the stubborn, bossy daughter of a miner."
"You are wrong. I see how they stare at you, with adoration in their eyes, not greed. It's the exact same manner in which I stare at you."
Her belly warmed and dipped, and she held the compliment close, never wanting to forget the sweetness this man had brought to her life. She tangled her legs with his, rubbing his rough skin with the soft pads of her feet. "The night we met, you asked me to dance. I had no idea who you were."
"I didn't know your name, only that you were the most beautiful, captivating woman in the room. I couldn't stay away. I had to learn all I could about you, touch you, even if just to dance."
"And you, the mysterious reporter in the room, watching the party with observant, clever eyes. No one quite had a clue what to make of you."
"I think most of the crowd mistook me for a footman," he said wryly.
"Not a chance. Your bearing is about as subservient as ..."
"Yours?" he offered.
She laughed and his lips found her throat. He nipped and licked, teased her skin, until she squirmed against him. Desperate. Wanting. "How much recovery time did you say you needed?"
He rolled her onto her back and settled between her thighs. "My lovely Lily, a man's mouth never needs any recovery time." Sliding down her body, he kissed a trail to the very heart of her and proceeded to steal her breath.
* * *
A knock on the hotel room door penetrated Calvin's brain. He stirred, fighting the effects of both sleep and an insatiable wife, stretching out the soreness in his lower back. Only one person would dare to disturb them, and Calvin knew he would not knock unless it was urgent.
Hoping not to wake his wife, Calvin shifted to the edge of the mattress and reached for his trousers. Wife. He liked saying that. He liked it quite a bit. His childhood was spent traveling the globe with parents, devoted to spreading their religion, never leaving them in one place for very long. Temporary lodgings, temporary friends. Never anything permanent or real — not until Lily. She now belonged to him.
He glanced over his shoulder to glimpse her sleeping form. Blond hair streamed over the cream sheets like a streak of sunshine. She lay on her side, both hands under her cheek, prayerlike. Emotion welled up in his chest, a bone-deep sense of rightness he'd never experienced before. And with this woman, of all people. They were from two different worlds; Lily's comprised of parties and champagne, while his was one of sheer determination and grit. Yet somehow it worked.
Another knock brought Calvin to the door. Hugo, his best friend and sometimes valet, stood in the hall, eyes full of worry. "Her father's here."
Calvin froze. "Her father? Lily's father? Here?" At Hugo's nod, Calvin's stomach plummeted. "Shit. He's supposed to be in Dakota."
Hugo shrugged. "All I know is he's downstairs, asking for you."
Calvin's mind spun. He hadn't met Warren Davies, but he knew the man's reputation. A hard-hearted businessman who crushed rebellion and dissension by any means possible, even bloodshed. The last attempt to organize a union at Davies's silver mine had resulted in the death of over fifty men. Davies was known for getting what he wanted ... and Calvin suspected this would not be a pleasant visit.
"Give me two minutes and I'll be down."
He shut the door and hurried to collect his clothes off the floor. Though he'd bathed regularly, he hadn't worn clothing in at least a week, not since he'd left the room to buy Lily ice cream from a parlor down the street — a treat he'd licked off her delectable, naked body, he recalled with a smile. He found his shirt, clean but wrinkled, and his necktie was a crumpled mess. Not exactly the way he'd wanted to meet his father-in-law.
After he dressed, he checked his face in the mirror. A two-day growth of unkempt whiskers covered his jaw. He winced. No help for it now, he thought and ran a comb through his unruly hair.
"Calvin? Where are you going?"
He spun at the sound of his wife's husky, sleep-roughened voice. "Your father is here."
"Daddy's here?" She sat up, the sheet dropping from her body and revealing the most luscious breasts he'd ever set eyes on.
"He's downstairs." Calvin reached for his frock coat and tugged it on. It was his best coat, a dark blue wool he'd purchased only last year. He brushed dirt off the sleeves and fixed his cuffs.
"How did he find out where we were?" On her feet now, Lily scrambled for her clothing. He noticed her hands were shaking as she fumbled with her chemise. "He's supposed to be visiting the mine."
"I haven't a clue. We'll soon find out."
He strode over and grasped her shoulders, stopping her frantic movements. "Darling, wait." She straightened and stared at him, eyes wide with panic. He kissed her nose. "We'll be fine. He will understand, I promise."
She swallowed but nodded. "Of course. You're right. I should come down with you, though."
"No, that's not necessary. I'll head down first. Take your time getting yourself ready. There's no rush."
"I will." Her fingers gripped his lapels. "Calvin, I love you."
He smiled at her, sliding his hands down to palm both her breasts. "And I you. Hurry, before he decides to storm the room."
He left Lily to dress and went into the hall. As he headed downstairs, he reminded himself of all the reasons Warren Davies should approve of him as Lily's husband. Like Davies, Calvin had grown up in poverty but was making his own way in the world. He was gainfully employed, had all his limbs. Even had all his teeth. He would never mistreat or harm Lily. Most of all, he loved her with all his heart. What father wouldn't want his daughter to be happy and well-loved?
Hugo waited at the bottom of the stairs, a scowl on his dark face. "He's in the front parlor," Hugo said. "And he does not appear pleased. Two men are sittin' outside in his carriage, one's at the parlor door. Got a forty-five on his hip."
That information did not bode well. Why had Davies brought an army with him? "Thank you. Lily will be down in a few moments. Will you see her shown in?" "Yes, sir. And good luck."
A large man guarded the parlor. At Calvin's approach, the man opened the door, then quickly shut it after Calvin passed through. Once his eyes adjusted to the afternoon light, Calvin found a stocky, well-dressed man at the front window. Warren Davies.
Davies came forward, and Calvin saw the resemblance to his daughter right away. The same whiskey-colored eyes, light brown with flecks of gold, and a similar stubborn jaw. Davies had short gray hair and a long mustache, one you might see on a cowboy out in the Dakotas. His expression held no warmth, however, and foreboding settled into Calvin's gut.
Excerpted from Mogul by Joanna Shupe. Copyright © 2017 Joanna Shupe. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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