Abandoned by her mother and spurned by her father, Reina St. James is tired of being treated like a dirty little secret. It wasn’t easy making her way into the high-risk, high-reward Wall Street world ruled by financial kings and trust fund tyrants. But now that she’s got a stiletto-clad toe into one of the swankiest firms in Manhattan, Reina is determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face hiding an ugly past.
For Tristan Xavier Bettencourt IV, escaping the shadow cast by generations of family fortune has been difficult, and success hasn’t come without sacrifice. Tristan has always put business before pleasure… Until Reina’s curved lips prove an invitation he can’t resist.
Walking away from their explosive night together won’t be easy, even if the heat between them might consume both of their careers. Will Reina and Tristan risk everything by betting on each other?
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@BettencourtBets: Anyone betting against IVy emerging from his father's shadow is having a bad day. His fund numbers r in & they r as hot as he is!
It took me a long time to realize I was broken. Maybe that's why I've always loved Manhattan, a city celebrated for its potholes and jagged edges. I have them too, except — with enough makeup, the right clothes, a body kept slim by too much stress and not enough french fries, and a smile that shines but never illuminates — I've managed to keep mine hidden. Almost.
Even as a kid, the glistening skyscrapers towering high above my head beckoned to me like trophies in some unknown contest. What would it take to win? I wanted to be on the other side of the shiny glass windows stretching into the clouds, envisioning a glamorous corner office and a staff that looked to me because I had all the answers.
Back then I wore shiny black Mary Janes and a starched drop-waist dress. But in my mind, redsoled stilettos click-clacked along the pavement, a sleek suit accentuating the curves I prayed my baby fat would become.
On occasional Sundays and holidays, my mother brought me to the Four Seasons for lunch or, as a special treat, to the Plaza Hotel for tea. Both the train ticket from our small Long Island row house and the restaurant bill were more than we could afford, and I knew it. Not that I ever dared voice my concern. My mother was a pretty woman, beautiful even, but on these days she glowed. Who was I to darken her happiness?
A Midwestern girl, she'd been lured to Manhattan by promises of making it big as a top fashion model. She was tall, taller than I'd ever become, and a natural, icy blond. She and another aspiring model lived in the Barbizon Hotel for Women. By day they pounded the pavement, rushing to go-sees and casting calls, booking the occasional paying job. By night they attended New York's swankiest clubs, often on the arm of the most eligible bachelors in town.
I know this because our lunches were filled with her stories, my attention only slightly distracted by the delicious food and glamorous setting. Groups of powerful men always seemed to sit nearby, their talk of business punctuated by captivated stares at my mother. She knew it, too, could feel the eyes of an interested male on her from one hundred paces. It was a skill I would inherit.
Without ever being told, I knew these men controlled much of what went on behind the smoked glass of the city's skyscrapers. Power exuded from their bespoke suits, shiny Patek Philippe watches, and Hermès ties. In a low whisper she told me about them, many of whom she recognized from her short stint as a model, occasionally chortling merrily when she remembered something particularly juicy. These moments were a bright spot in her mundane days as the wife of an aspiring novelist who spent more time reading than he ever did writing.
A year or so before she left us, both of us, I felt particularly drawn to a man sitting at a table nearby. Something about his face was immediately familiar; I couldn't take my eyes off him. My mother chided me for staring, then turned, probably planning to apologize to the object of my rudeness. Instead she swiveled back toward me, so quickly a hairpin fell onto her plate. Her eyes were bright and she looked sick, feverish.
"We have to go," she hissed.
I thought she was teasing. We were at the Four Seasons — there would be cotton candy for dessert. A delicate, cloud-like whorl of spun sugar, it melted on my tongue with just the slightest crunch when I bit into it. We never left before the cotton candy arrived, and I'd looked forward to it all week.
"But why, Mommy? They haven't brought dessert yet." I tried hard to keep my voice even. My mother hated when I whined.
She didn't answer, fumbling in her purse for a handful of bills and scattering them onto the table. Unceremoniously, she reached for my hand and dragged me out of the dining room, moving more slowly than I would have expected. Before we could walk outside, a waiter flagged us down and led us to the coat check. I thought it was because my mother had forgotten her coat, but the man from the table was waiting for us there. My mother didn't seem at all surprised.
Nervous, yes. Contrite, maybe. But surprised? No.
My mother's lips naturally turned upward, as did mine. When she was angry, most often with my father, they thinned to a horizontal slash of red lipstick. But that afternoon, the pull of her lips told me she was working hard to suppress a smile. That she was happy about this situation, but didn't want to show it.
Eventually I realized that all of our lunches had simply been preparation for that one chance meeting. Because it hadn't been chance, not on her part anyway. My mother had made the same gamble over and over, hoping the odds would turn in her favor just once.
Once was all she needed.
The man waiting for her in the coat closet, however, was very distinctly not happy. The girl who'd taken my mother's secondhand mink an hour ago made a half-hearted attempt to distract me, but their heated exchange lodged in my ears.
It was only much later, after I'd nearly cried myself to sleep, when my mother bent to deliver a kiss to my forehead, that I asked again, "Who was that man?" I already knew, though, because I'd overheard them talking. I just didn't want to believe it.
She sighed and walked away, but before the door closed, I heard her mutter something beneath her breath. Confirmation. The exact words came to me the next morning as I broke through the haze of sleep into consciousness. "Your damned father."
Except I already had a father. True, he'd always been more interested in fictional characters than me. And while I was practically the spitting image of my mother in the pictures she'd shown me from her youth, I didn't have a single feature in common with the man I called "Dad." But until that almost inaudible sentence, left lingering in the dark like the sweaty, smelly sneakers I was forever forgetting to leave on the back porch, I didn't allow myself to believe it.
If I had heard right, if what my mother said was true, what other lies had she told me? If the man I'd stared at in the dining room of the Four Seasons, so close I could have touched him, could have hugged him, was really my father — who was the man sleeping down the hall?
And as for the stranger who was really my father, why hadn't he wanted to hug me? Why had he glared at me like I was a Doberman on a threadbare leash? My mother had told him I was his daughter, I'd heard her.
He'd called me by a different name. Bastard.
I didn't rush to confront her, not that morning anyway. Who knew what kind of story she would spin? But I was determined to find out the truth.
And so I began spending recess in the library rather than on the playground. For the rest of that school year and into the next, I pored over every page in the Wall Street Journal, knowing that one day I'd see his familiar face staring back at me. That's probably where I developed my passion for business. After a quick glance through all the photographs, I would go back and read the stories that piqued my interest. Tales of mergers and takeovers and leveraged buyouts — these were my interests in middle school, not boys. My persistence paid off eventually, and on the day I finally saw his face staring back at me, I raced home to confront my mother.
But instead of surprising her with my pilfered newspaper page, I was greeted by a Post-it taped to the blue and white Entenmann's box I'd opened just that morning.
Smile, Beautiful! I'll come back for you soon!
Through the clear cellophane, the round crumb cake was missing the triangle I'd eaten for breakfast, and the sugary sweet Pac-Man confection taunted me.
Smile? Cryptic note in hand, I raced to her bedroom, flinging open the door of her closet. It wasn't empty, but I spotted several missing items immediately. The mirrored jewelry box she occasionally allowed me to sift through, piling on rings and bracelets and necklaces, pretending to be a princess. Her prettiest heels, the ones that would inevitably accompany my royal fantasies. And the suitcase that had always sat on the top shelf.
Not long after, the only father I'd ever known arrived home. There was no Post-it addressed to him, so I can only assume he was notified through some other means. He entered the house quietly, as if bracing for a meltdown of epic proportions. But what he found was a smiling tween. Perhaps more reserved than usual, but smiling.
I didn't cry, not that night or the next. Instead I plastered that smile on my face every day as if it were just another step in my morning ritual. Wash face, brush teeth, get dressed. Smile.
But she didn't come back for me. Not that night. Not ever.
As the latest tweet from @BettencourtBets flashed across my screen, I groaned. Ever since some shithead had the horrific idea to start up a Twitter account based on conversations he'd supposedly overheard in the Goldman Sachs elevator, similar clichéd accounts had popped up at every financial firm in Manhattan. And now there was one at Bettencourt. Did it piss me off? Fuck, yeah. But what infuriated me even more was that I hadn't figured out what to do about it. Yet.
"As hot as he is?"
Not only had my name, Tristan Xavier Bettencourt, admittedly the fourth, been reduced to IVy, all the hard-ass work I put into making the Millennial Fund successful over the past year was being compared, not to the S&P 500, but to the reflection I saw in the mirror every morning. Who wrote this crap? And didn't they have anything better to do with their lives — like actually work for a living?
Yes, it's true that I come from a long line of bankers, the fourth one to carry the same name. But I'm not a plant, certainly not a climbing, invasive species. And if IVy was a snub to the school I graduated from, let BettencourtFuckingBets try to manage a Harvard course load while leading Crimson's D1 hockey team to NCAA victory. IVy, my ass. If they had the balls to insult me on the ice, I'd send them off in a stretcher. Wouldn't be the first time, either.
Until today, I'd taken the ridiculous tweets with a grain of salt. It hadn't bothered me when the secretaries called me IVy with a flirtatious glint in their eye, but now even my traders were using the derogatory nickname.
Since @BettencourtBets was too much of a pussy to throw down using their real name, I was itching to shut up an overweight, overconfident trader or two. Satisfying as that would be, though, it still wasn't going to solve my current problem. Shit.
It had taken nearly a year to scrape together $50 million, which was chump change on Wall Street. But now that I'd proven I knew what to do with it, investors were knocking down my door to give me their money. And I'd be damned if my double-digit returns were going to be trivialized by some anonymous asshole hiding behind a Twitter account.
I would've preferred to go for a long run in Central Park or along the river to blow off steam, but instead settled for the ease of jumping on the treadmill in the spare bedroom of my penthouse. I didn't have time to brood. Tonight was yet another in the endless parade of charity fundraisers dotting the calendar of anyone with a bank balance above seven figures. I would have skipped it but my stepmother was chairing the Board, and my father (whose shadow I was apparently struggling to emerge from) had asked me to go.
After a quick shower, I reached for the nearest of three tuxedos hanging in my closet, a Prada that my (now ex) girlfriend insisted I purchase earlier this year. Like all of my ex-girlfriends, she wanted more than I was willing to give, specifically a diamond with a carat size in the double digits. And a prize worth more than any pressurized carbon rock — the Bettencourt name.
Tonight's fundraiser was at the Four Seasons. The hotel, not the restaurant. I brought my wallet, of course, but purposely left my phone at home. I'd already received at least a dozen texts about today's offensive tweet, and I didn't need any more aggravation tonight.
Getting a drink was first on my evening's agenda, although the bar was even more crowded than I expected it to be. Didn't these damn event planners know that they would get more money out of the poor sods packed into the ballroom if they had enough bartenders to get everyone drunk before the bidding began? I had yet to discover if tonight's auction would be silent, Chinese, or the kind run by an auctioneer poached from Christie's or Sotheby's for the evening, but I did know that I needed a scotch on the rocks. Immediately.
I also knew that money always speaks louder than words. From my inside pocket, I grabbed a crisp Benjamin and held it aloft. Within seconds it had the desired effect. "What can I get for you, sir?"
"Any Macallan 18 back there?"
"No sir, not here. But if you'd like, I bet they have it downstairs in the hotel bar. I'd be happy to get it for you."
I wasn't surprised, it had been a reach. "No, thanks for the offer. I'll take the best scotch you've got, then."
The bartender, an older man with graying hair and a stocky build, his flattened nose hinting at a pugilistic past, palmed the bill and offered an appraising glance before reaching for a bottle that was hidden beneath those displayed. "I've got a twelve year Glenlivet. Will that do?"
I grinned, reaching inside my pocket for another hundred. "Yeah, that'll do. When I want a fresh drink, keep an eye out for me at the end of the bar." I handed him my second bill and surveyed the crowd jockeying for position to get a glass of cheap wine or a watered-down cocktail. "I don't like waiting, especially for bad drinks."
He nodded, clearly thrilled with his good luck. "You won't get a watered-down drink from me, sir. And I won't keep you waiting."
I nodded, took a sip, and felt my bad mood start to ease. Enough that I considered looking around for my father. As crowded as the bar was, the ballroom itself had yet to fill up. I spotted my stepmother first, her pressed lips and pink cheeks telling me the woman carrying a clipboard and wearing a discreet but nonetheless visible headset with a microphone, obviously one of the event coordinators, was about to get an earful. My father was engaged in conversation with three men who ran successful funds nearby, their trio already surrounded by a cluster of acolytes hanging on their every word. Joining either of them was less than appealing.
Manhattan was ruled by hedge fund kings, and looking around, it seemed as if every single one of them had been dragged to tonight's fundraiser by their wives, who were no less cutthroat and ambitious. Bankers lived and died by the returns they generated for their investors, while their wives earned status by how much of their husbands' money they gave away.
Most of the faces in the room were familiar to me. I'd grown up with, worked with, attended school with, or fucked at least half the people there.
My eyes skipped over a blonde in a red dress, and then quickly returned. I hadn't realized I'd started walking toward her until a waiter nearly spilled my drink. She was gorgeous. And when she tipped her head back to laugh at something the man beside her said, I decided that word was entirely inadequate. Stunning was much more apt. Exquisitely stunning, actually. Her creamy skin was flawless. And she was tall — I looked down — or at least she appeared tall with the five-inch stilettos on her feet. When her open-mouthed laugh faded into a generous smile, her wide eyes met mine. If she'd been an investment, she would have been labeled high risk, high reward, with a warning — Don't buy if you can't afford to lose.
Her lips closed around the edge of the glass in her hands, our stare unbroken. Her eyes were the bright shade of freshly cut, well-tended grass. And after she took a sip, white wine by the looks of it, she didn't look away. Her open appraisal was a lure, and I took the bait. She could have been a model on a billboard in Times Square, or in the GQ magazine I subscribed to but never had the time to read. I know I should've turned away. This girl was clearly trouble with capital T, something I needed as much as a hole in my head.
After doing well with the first fifty million I'd been able to raise, I was just about to open my fund up to new investors. I didn't have any official commitments yet, but I had no doubt my fund was about to grow to at least $500 million. I had a lot to consider, and a ton of work to do. This was the most important time in my career and I couldn't afford to fuck it up by becoming a lovesick fool over some girl, exquisitely stunning or not.
Excerpted from "Penthouse Player"
Copyright © 2017 Tara Leigh.
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
Penthouse Player was a great read. It is the first book in the Billionaire Bosses series The author created a wonderful story with colorful & unique characters, I loved how Reina & Tristan created their HEA even though they had so much hurt & baggage. I look forward to reading more by Tara Leigh!! I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
A great love story about a strong and confident woman who doesn't let anything stand in her way of her dreams and goals, who falls in love with a man who builds their relationship on honesty, perseverance, and that true love can withstand any road blocks.
Hooked from their first scene together I was rooting for Tristan and Reina from the beginning. This well written debut novel shows promise for Tara Leigh’s future as I look forward to reading what she writes next. Tristan Xavier Bettencourt IV is a moneymaker on Wall Street. He has an Ivy League degree, played hockey in college and has chosen to work hard though he has family money. Into his life walks Reina St. James and he is smitten at first sight. When Reina’s hot suddenly goes to cold and she hurries out his door he is curious. When he walks in to a company orientation program for interns at the family company he more than surprised to see her there. From that point on there is a bit of chase but a lot of insta-love to go with the insta-attraction. The beautiful couple of alpha, older, wealthy wonderful lover and the younger new-on-the job, intelligent, driven-to-succeed woman have a few things to deal with before they can achieve their happily ever after. I felt like kicking Reina’s mother in the patoot and wished her childhood had been easier but it added to the story so all’s well that ends well. There was some predictability but it did not deter from the story and as I liked both Tristan and Reina I kept reading – in fact – I stayed up reading till 2am needing to finish the book before sleeping. Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press-Swerve and Barclay Publicity for the ARC – This is my honest review.
I was given an ARC in exchange for a honest review by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press. Reina St.James and Tristan Bettencourt, their eyes meet across the room a sparks fly . Until she realized who he is!! Secrets and lies just might tear them apart. A well written book with complex characters, secrets, lies, betrayal, and intriguing twists.
Penthaus player is an interesting love story on the Wall Street. At first, I thought this book will not be for my taste a rich playboy CEO and an opportunistic social climber. But no the story is so much more after you see what is behind the strong facade and under the expensive suit you see two completely different persons. Tristian and Reina are both really great person you can not help but to fell in love with them. I loved how did author hat escalate attraction between them how they were constantly denied the pleasure and tasted just a few bread crumbs. Tristian is truly amazing character down on earth and with a great relationship with his father. And Reina her story is just sad and heartbroken but she did it, and she overcame the fear and her anger transmitted in something good, the wish for success. With Tristian, she makes a great team they are both stronger because of their love and at the end, we see that sky is the limit. Great story with an unexpected twist and a lot of suspensions. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly
when reina st. james first encounters tristan bettencourt at a charity gala in penthouse player she is stunned by their connection. their flirtation quickly boils over to seduction, until reina recognizes his family crest and is horrified to realize that she's in bed with her future boss. you see reina has big plans for her future, she wants to take wall street by storm. she wants one of those corner offices with the floor to ceiling windows that look out over manhattan. reina has been shut out of this world because of her background, but she also belongs to this world. and she sees the bettencourt group as a way to gain access to this world she's always yearned to be part of. but she's not going to sleep her way into it. she wants to earn it. she's good at finance. and to muddy the waters before she even has a chance to step into the office is probably the worst thing that could have happened. when tristan realizes why reina ran he's shocked. and unsure of how to proceed because he can see her potential to be the dream employee, but he still wants her in his bed. and they try so hard to stay away from each other, but with chemistry like theirs there is no way. and things are even more complicated because reina's past ties into some of tristan's current connections. and everything blowing up is inevitable. you can't keep the connection they have a secret. but it shouldn't be the kind of secret that destroys everything either. and one thing i liked, is that when everything does go sideways, tristan has his moments of doubt, but he lets reina explain. and he believes her. and it's so nice when fictional characters behave like real human beings instead of total drama llamas. i appreciate it. **penthouse player will publish on september 5, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for my honest review.
I was really intrigued about this book starting with the blurb and the cover. I love a good "Sleeping with your Boss" trope and was going into this thinking it was going to be similar to others in the same category of romance. What I did not expect was two powerful and strong people were sort of broken from their past. Penthouse Player was sinful and very unexpected. You get the good, bad, and sexy all in one twist. Reina trumps the Queen card of what she takes on in life. Tristan will never back down from what he wants. I really was impressed with their first encounter. Tristan saw Reina and immediately claimed her from the arms of another man. This book had the high and lows. It was a true emotional rollercoaster.
'Penthouse Player' by Tara Leigh is the First Book in the New series called "Billionaire Bosses". This is the story of Reina St. James and Tristan Xavier Bettencourt IV. Renia mom left her and her 'Dad' when she was a young teenager. Renia had learned through over hearing her mother that the man she left them for was actually her real dad. It seemed that he was married and Renia was what he called a 'bastard' child. Her real father has to keep up an image and doesn't want legitimate kids to know about her. So her mom never came back to see her and her 'Dad' kind of left her to her on devices. Now Renia is working towards a great career and has taken a job at Bettencourt. Renia meets Tristan at a party and they almost have a one night stand before Renia realizes who he is an takes off. This puts a spin on her working for him and they both try to fight their attraction but can't for long. I enjoyed their story! "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
I really liked this read. Reina and Tristan have great chemistry the story has plenty of drama as Reina does her best to hide her background. An entertaining read.
Penthouse Player by Tara Leigh is a book I didn't really think I would like, just from the title. Wow, was I ever mistaken. Ms Leigh has delivered a well-written book. She gets an A+ for the characters, they were simply awesome. Reina and Tristan's story is a workplace romance with a twist. You'll have to read the book to find out what the twist is though. This is an alternating point of view book, not my favorite, but Ms Leigh made it work in this book. There is plenty of drama, humor and five alarm fire sex to keep readers glued to their e-readers. I totally loved reading Penthouse Player and look forward to reading more from Tara Leigh in the future. Penthouse Player is book 1 of the Billionaire Bosses Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley.
Reina has to work hard her whole life. She's smiled through everything and never lets anyone see behind her smile. She see's a man and it's holy attraction for both of them. When it really starts heating up, she beats feet and Tristan is stunned. At work the next day, he's even more stunned to be looking at the girl that ran out on him the night before. There's explosive chemistry between these two but she has secrets that she can't have him finding out about. When they can no longer fight the attraction will she come clean before it's too late? Once he finds out what her secrets are will he hate her and think the worst of her? Will they be able to see what they have is real and can last through anything?
Reina grew up knowing she was missing something and yet she wanted it all. Now she has the chance at a job with her father's competitor, her father who denied her. No worries. This is Wall Street and Big Business. Tristan has worked hard to get where he is even if he was born into it. A chance meeting at a party and sparks and heat and oh-la-la could it get any hotter? What they don't know at the time is Tristan is Reina's boss. So many secrets but if they can get past them they will be able to overcome all. So much chemistry and heat wrapped up in this morsel. **Received this ARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
Tara Leigh is a new to me author and I have to say she has a new fan! Penthouse Player was a great read. Great pace, great writing, and wonderfully developed characters. She took a fairly common trope and spun it in a new and fresh way. Reina St. James grew up as a dirty little secret. Her father never stepped up and claimed her. Now she's ready to make it in his world and show him she never needed him. Starting her dream job at Bettencourt, her father's main competitor in the financial world, is just the first step. Then she snags the eye of Tristan Bettencourt and everything changes. Fantastic read and one I recommend to everyone.
4.5 - "I kind of like having you as my boss..." Stars! The first book in the Billionaire Bosses Series gives us a romance with a bit of a forbidden twist, and who doesn’t love a bit of boss/employee after hours shenanigans. I’ll be honest and say I have been giving debut authors a bit of a wide berth lately, but when a trusted friend and fellow reviewer raves about a book to me, I pay attention because she is even pickier than I am generally. "I’m rather discriminating about the opportunities I choose to accept…" And I am glad I did, Penthouse Player delivered everything I want in an office based romance, chemistry, banter and plenty of sexy-times. I can’t say that there as anything particularly new and unusual about Tristan and Reina’s story, but I think when you love the characters as much as I did these two, it makes a massive difference, also the author has a really engaging writing style as well, which as a reader just pulled me completely into everything that was going on. "How about you make me an offer." Well written, it read well, and I cannot wait to see what the author has in store for us in the future. Not too long to wait as Deal Breaker is due before the end of the year.
So different, yet just the same. It's hard to piece your heart back together after having it broken so many times. Reina is the girl that nobody wanted, but the woman determined to succeed. Ambition has taken her far, but will her nuisance of a heart ruin her all over again? Tristan has it all. Or so it seems. Money, notoriety and success mean nothing, if you lose yourself along the way. Tara Leigh appeals to that vulnerability that makes us human. THE HEART! The emotions are raw and the heat is real. Penthouse Player is a look at life's tragedies and complications. Reina finds her inner strength as she struggles with a foolish heart and a sharp mind.