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No Prince Charming

No Prince Charming

4.0 3
by Victoria Blue, Angel Payne

Once upon a time, there was a girl who dressed up and went to a big party at the palace. When she was there, she met a prince. They danced and fell in love…

Damn good line. Too bad I don’t believe a word of it anymore. My name is Claire Montgomery and I’m not a princess. I’m a fighter. I worked hard to earn my place on the


Once upon a time, there was a girl who dressed up and went to a big party at the palace. When she was there, she met a prince. They danced and fell in love…

Damn good line. Too bad I don’t believe a word of it anymore. My name is Claire Montgomery and I’m not a princess. I’m a fighter. I worked hard to earn my place on the emergency image repair team for one of the biggest public relations companies in the country. We’ve been called to the renowned Chicago headquarters of Stone Global Corporation, where it’s our job to clean up a heap of the Stone family’s filthiest laundry. Our success will be the biggest victory of my career. I’m on my game. I’m ready.

Why doesn’t ready include a contingency plan for Killian Stone?

My name is Killian Stone. They call me the enigma of Magnificent Mile and that’s the way I like it. Elite tycoons want into my bank account. Their wives and daughters want into my pants. They’ll all do anything for a piece of the enigma—until a crack in the castle is too huge for anyone to ignore. What they all don’t know is that I’m thrilled about the fissure. Their fascination with the scandal means nobody will look at the bigger secret of the Stone family. I’m safe. Until Claire Montgomery walks through my doors. Her honesty, her bravery, her humor… They pull me in, a prism against the gray walls of my tower. I’m captivated. For the very first time, I long to shed the enigma. To share my secret. But what the hell will that get me?

Even if she fits the slipper I offer…I’m no Prince Charming.

Product Details

Totally Entwined Group Ltd
Publication date:
Secrets of Stone , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Copyright © Angel Payne&Victoria Blue 2016. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.


“Have a seat.”

I tried to be diplomatic about it. Trey’s stoned eyes and clammy skin were evidence enough of how he’d tried to self-medicate the nightmare away last night. But this mess—his mess—wasn’t going away any time soon. I’d closed the shades, blocking out the panoramic view of the river and skyline, to force him to see it. All ten monitors on my office wall blared the headlines from the major news carrier websites.

Stone’s At It Again—Times Two

Throwing Stones? Looks Like He Did

Stones, Sex, and Politics—They Really Do Mix

Senators’ Daughters? He’ll Take Two, Please—At Once

Oh, Trey! Come and Play the Washington Way!

The titles progressed in creativity from there.

Trey didn’t sit. Instead, while taking a surly trip to the sideboard, he snarled, “Turn that crap off.”

I parked my ass against my desk and braced my legs. “Not happening.”

“Where the hell’s all your booze?”

“Forget it. Also not happening.”

“All you have here is coffee.”

“Because it’s nine in the morning.” I glanced at the monitors again and clenched my jaw. A blonde and a brunette this time. One of them was still in her school uniform. The other had waved hello to eighteen just last week. Yes, that was our single ray of hope. At least one of the girls was ‘legal.’

“I hate coffee.”

“Drink it. You’re going to need it.”

“I’ll gack.”

“Good. It’ll save me the money from having your stomach pumped.”

Trey hurled the coffee mug, thankfully still empty, past my head and into one of the monitors. “You know what? Fuck you, Killian!”

The hatred he flung from those bright eyes, now visible through a tangle of hair, hadn’t changed since we were kids. Neither had the stake of sorrow it drove into my gut. But unlike then, I wasn’t willing to share my Lego for a chance at his love. Because since then, I’d learned it wouldn’t make a difference. How’d the ditty go? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I could work with that.

“Sorry,” I drawled, “you’re not my type, brother. Besides, I’d have thought you were a little weary of fucking by now.”

“Nice,” Trey sneered. “I see the asshole factor of this office is seeping into you with no problem.”

“Probably true. But right now, my ‘asshole factor’ is keeping your ass from being nicknamed ‘gerbil bitch’ by prisoner two-fifty-six before dinner tonight. So sit.”

Watching the color drain from his pretty-boy cheeks was an odd relief. Maybe the dumb shit had started to comprehend how much trouble he was really in. He finally dropped into one of the room’s new conference chairs. The white leather didn’t do anything for his pallor.

Against my better instincts, I gave in to a moment of sympathy and sat across from him. Sympathy? That proved it—I had to be five kinds of fucked-up. His trip down Idiot Avenue was costing market share for Stone Global by the minute. My lunch with the Melbourne investors, carefully orchestrated for the wow factor of the sitting at the chef’s table at Alinea, would have an appetizer course of paparazzi flashbulbs. My real workday would end long after midnight.

But the way Trey’s hands shook, dragging through his hair, ripped my goddamn gut out.

“So how long is this shit gonna take? I’ve got plans for Mardi Gras, Kil. I’m supposed to leave tomorrow.”

So much for compassion. I surged to my feet. “You know the term jailbait, Trey? They call it that for a reason. You slept with a pair of senators’ daughters.”

“No.” The protest was as snide as the Mardi Gras hall pass request. “I slept with one senator’s daughter. The legal one.”

“So she brought her friend along for fun?”

“Ashley’s a curious kid! She wanted to watch.”

“In her bra and school skirt? With the movie option going on her phone?”

“Her sweater made her hot. And she wanted to capture everything as a memento.”

I gave in to pinching the bridge of my nose. It wasn’t a move I indulged in often, knowing Trey and Lance loathed its similarity to Father’s signature stress pose, but right now I prayed it made Trey’s goddamn eyes bleed.

“Memento,” I repeated. “You really believed that?”

Mirth gleamed in my brother’s eyes. “You want the real answer or the one we’re gonna fork over to the PR department?”

I almost gave in to the urge to laugh. “You really don’t get it, do you?”

“Come on, Kil. Of course I do. Hell, I get Christmas cards every year from the team down in PR. With the bonuses they make because of me, they’re buying cars for their kids and taking vacations to Bora Bora.”

“Better tell them to research economy models and a few days in a forest yurt.”


I leveled my stare, hard and unyielding, across the room. “You haven’t just spilled the milk this time, Trey. This is a world-class oil slick, meaning things are going to get stickier before they get better.” I stopped there. He didn’t have to be told the entire story. Not yet, at least. I still had trouble believing it myself. Despite Senator Wooten’s enraged call for a press conference later today, no doubt designed to paint Trey as a predatory pervert, could ‘little’ Emily Wooten have actually been acting with the full green light from her father? I’d turned down the housing development deal from Wooten’s cronies over a year ago. It had looked like beneficial low-cost housing on the outside, but the structures wouldn’t have lasted through their first exposure to a brutal Chicago winter.

It was very possible that Wooten had done his homework and unearthed the weakness in Stone Global’s massive hull. And now we had an oil slick.

“What the hell are you talking about?” Trey demanded.

I folded my arms and stated, “No in-house PR. Industrial-sized slicks require big guns for cleanup. Andrea Asher is on her way from California and she’s bringing her best team with her.” I checked my watch. “We have five hours until they arrive. Great timing. They’ll get here just before Wooten gets up on his soapbox.”

“Fucking great.” Trey looked like a man on his way to the gallows again. “Should I order beer and corn nuts?”

“No beer,” I snapped.

“Cold fish.”

I rose and crossed to the door that led to my private bathroom. “Sounds like a perfect temperature for your shower. Wash your hair and shave too. Then get some goddamn sleep. I’ve had Britta pull out the sofa bed in the anteroom for you.”

Trey closed the door on me with a furious whomp. Again, nothing I wasn’t used to. The filthier pieces of our family dynamic took up a lot of space under our rug. It was simply my job to carry a very big broom. The task had always been manageable, but I was smart enough to know when to ask for help. I was also smart enough to seek the best, and that meant Asher and Associates. Though it was the first time I’d used the woman’s number, I wasn’t saving the digits to speed dial. This effort would be massive and expensive, and I expected this PR dream team to put the fear of God into Trey at the same time they commanded his reputation to rise up, be healed and walk from the grave. After they performed that small miracle, we could all live happily ever after on our respective sides of the country.

And as long as they didn’t discover the darkest, dirtiest secrets under the family rug, we’d all get along fine.

* * * *


“You’re going down.” I threw the taunt at Chad as we deplaned. Sure, we were teammates, but that didn’t mean a little good-natured competition wasn’t in order. Besides, traditions were sacred, and this one had sprung to life on one of our trips over a year ago. Points were assigned for varying degrees of horror experienced during our coach class flights—a game we used to smile through the pain. Or acknowledge our masochistic sides. There was a difference, right?

The answer could wait. I finally had the drop on Mr. Chad Lerner, my geek-cute yet all-too-cocky teammate. I was sure of it this time.

“No damn way.” Chad laughed and readjusted his new Kliik eyeglasses as we strolled the jet way to the terminal. “Did you see the nightmare I was stuck with? You’re delusional to think you’re winning this one, little girl.”

From several feet behind us, Michael joined his laugh with Chad’s. He knew why we teased each other, though he’d been so far back in the plane, we didn’t know if he was still in today’s running. I glanced to where his head of thick gold waves appeared over the sea of other passengers. From this distance, the guy could be mistaken for Ryan Reynolds, especially when the top half of his handsome face became animated by a gloating waggle of brows.

I volleyed with a deep pout. “Damn.” The guy racked up automatic points for being stuck in the last five rows of the plane. Throw in a screaming kid or a gossipy seatmate and he’d have this sewn up, at least for today. Our final teammate, Talia Perizkova, was scheduled to join us in a few days, after wrapping up a job for the firm down in New Orleans.

Our little competition never included the other two members of the team, because they always sat in first class while we were herded to coach with the other cattle. Andrea was the owner of the leading PR fix-it firm in the nation, so she never sat in coach. Neither did her princess-zilla daughter, Margaux.

Okay, maybe the princess-zilla thing was overkill. Margaux had been my classmate at USD, even my pseudo-roomie for a couple of months, and I remembered a few people who’d strained to see her softer side despite the friendship-through-intimidation routine that’d served her well through life. I’d personally given up on the quest halfway through sophomore year, especially after the events of senior year, but that had been three years ago. Maybe it was time to give her a fresh chance.

Or maybe it wasn’t.

We passed the plane’s flight crew as we entered the terminal. The attendant who’d been serving the first-class cabin wore a tear-stricken gaze, gripping a wine glass rimmed with Margaux’s signature berry lip stain.

While giving the girl a sympathetic smile, I prayed Margaux had limited herself to one glass of wine before accompanying her mother to one of the most important meetings in Asher and Associates’ history.

There was no sign of Andrea and Margaux at baggage claim. They were likely outside already, watching as Stone Global’s driver loaded their bags into the company’s limo. That meant Michael, Chad and I would have to postpone a final points tally while hurrying through baggage claim then hustling our asses to the curb.

Watching the carousel vomit luggage was strangely calming. The thunks of the pieces as they touched down were predictable and steady, the last of life’s elements I could count on for the next few months. We were headed into a public relations DEFCON One situation. Trey Stone was a monumental embarrassment to his family’s company. Before the plane tickets had been purchased for Chicago, we’d all agreed this newest fiasco was likely a scrape on the surface of what the playboy was capable of. Experience had shown us how the drill went in situations like these. They usually turned worse before they got better.

Trey had two brothers, as well. Lance, eleven months behind him, was the dream-prone artist. The youngest was Killian, Josiah Stone’s hard-ass heir apparent as ruler of the empire—and the face that flashed into a million women’s minds in the greater Chicago area every night when they closed their eyes to sleep. The men’s labels meant nothing. We’d throw open their closets of secrets, too. Yank up their rugs until no dust ball or spider web was concealed anymore.

Meet the Author

USA Today bestselling romance author Angel Payne has been reading and writing her entire life, though her love for romances began in junior high, when writing with friends on “swap stories” they’d trade between classes. Needless to say, those stories involved lots of angst, groping, drama, and French kissing.

She began getting a paycheck for her writing in her twenties, writing record reviews for a Beverly Hills-based dance music magazine. Some years, various entertainment industry gigs, and a number of years in the hospitality industry later, Angel returned to the thing she loves the most: creating character-based romantic fiction. Along the way, she also graduated with two degrees from Chapman University in Southern California, taking departmental honors for English, before writing five historical romances for Kensington and Bantam/Doubleday/Dell.

Angel found a true home in writing contemporary-based romances that feature high heat and high concepts, focusing on memorable alpha men and the women who tame them. She has numerous book series to her credit, including the Secrets of Stone series (with Victoria Blue).

Angel still lives in Southern California, where she is married to her soulmate and lives on a street that looks like Brigadoon, with their awesome daughter and Lady Claire, the dog with impeccable manners. When not writing, she enjoys reading, pop culture, alt rock, cute shoes, enjoying the outdoors, and being a gym rat.

Victoria Blue lives in her own portion of the galaxy known as Southern California. There she finds the love and life sustaining power of one amazing sun, two unique and awe inspiring planets and three indifferent, yet comforting moons. Life is fantastic and challenging and everyday brings new adventures to be discovered. She looks forward to seeing what's next!

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No Prince Charming 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MBurton 4 months ago
No Prince Charming is loosely based off a modern day Cinderella story. Killian, our not prince charming, hires a reputation management firm to clean up the scandal left by his older brother, Trey. This is where he meets his Cinderella, Claire. She works for her soon to be step-mom and step-sister who own the reputation company. Claire's soon to be step-sister has called dibs on Killian and has threatened Claire with exposing her secrets if she she tries to go after Killian. Unfortunately for Claire, she is attracted to Killian and the feeling is mutual despite the many attempts made by the evil step-sister. This is the first in the Secrets of Stone series and ends on a happily for now, ending. Claire and Killian's story continues onto book two. While it wasn't a 5 star read for me, it was a really good story. It fit perfectly with the Cinderella theme with the evil step mom and sister who wanted the rich, handsome Killian. I felt it was maturely written and the story itself was unique. What I didn't like about the story was more of a personal preference in my reading. I really wanted Claire to stand up to her soon to be evil step mom and sister, especially towards the end of the book. She took everything they threw at her and never really made a stand that would have them back off. Since this does continue into book two, it's reasonable to believe this will eventually happen and I can't to see this happen! I also felt the push/pull between Killian and Claire lasted too long. The issue with that, is it made me want to skim over some of this push/pull until I felt there was actual improvement in the situation. Again, since this story is to be continued and we finally see Killian and Claire officially get together at the end of book 1, I don't think this will be an issue in book 2. Overall, I enjoyed the book and want to continue with the series. ARC provided by Netgalley.
Cheryl-S 7 months ago
Killian Stone, ruler of the SGC empire, has had it with his older brother Trey's antics. This time Killian will have to call in a professional PR firm to clean-up Trey's mess and that's when he meets Claire Montgomery. She's everything he didn't want to want. LOVED IT!!! I was hooked from the beginning to the end. The story flowed perfectly with no dull moments. Killian Stone is the stuff dreams are made of. His attention towards Claire never faltered, even when she thought it did. The writing style of these authors is amazing and I can't wait to read the next book in the Secrets of Stone series.
DaneWeimMama 9 months ago
Hot Hot Hot! This book was a super sexy read. The authors did a great job of creating sexual tension between Killian (a guy with this name has got to be hot) & Claire from the first moment they met. And keep the romantic tension going throughout the entire book. The story line was captivating & kept me reading way late into the night to see what happened. My only complaint was that it was a little wordy sometimes. But once you get used to the style of writing its not as noticeable. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.