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Ready for Love

Ready for Love

3.3 19
by Gwyneth Bolton

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Maritza Morales and Terrill Carter may be partners in a mega-successful L.A. music company, but Maritza has no intention of making their personal relationship permanent. Even if the gorgeous, supremely arrogant record label exec is the most passionate lover she's ever known—and her best-kept secret….

The flamboyant ex-video girl isn't the type


Maritza Morales and Terrill Carter may be partners in a mega-successful L.A. music company, but Maritza has no intention of making their personal relationship permanent. Even if the gorgeous, supremely arrogant record label exec is the most passionate lover she's ever known—and her best-kept secret….

The flamboyant ex-video girl isn't the type of woman who kisses and tells, but Terrill wants to shout his happiness to the world. Doesn't Maritza know he doesn't care about her past? Mixing business with pleasure may be a risky proposition unless he can prove he's the only one for her. A wedding with all the trimmings is what Terrill has in mind. Because he's in love…and ready for anything!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This unconventional tale is filled with enough twists and turns to keep any reader eager to see what happens next." -RT Book Reviews on AT FIRST KISS

Product Details

Publication date:
Harlequin Kimani Romance Series , #260
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

First Interlude
If you stay ready, you won't ever have to get ready…

"Girl, you got some 'splainin' to do!" Samantha Hightower did a halfway decent mimic of Ricky Ricardo. The dark chocolate beauty was a dead ringer for a pre-Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson.

Maritza rolled her eyes at Joel Hightower's wife as she toyed with the ten-carat pear-shaped engagement ring on her finger and tried to figure out where it all had gone so incredibly wrong.

Wrong man.

Wrong ring. Wrong everything.

Wrong like the way she was thinking about Terrill Carter—the man who was undoubtedly the love of her life—instead of Andrew "Speed-Lo" MacGregor, the man she had agreed to marry…

"She doesn't have to explain anything to me! Little mamacita was double dipping and trying to get her vanilla-chocolate swirl on! She wanted two men and then she got caught up in the mix. Shoulda asked an ol' school playa like me how to play the game and not let the game play you. That's the truth." Carla, her best friend Penny Keys-Hightower's mother, was stretched out on Maritza's cream-butter leather sofa relaxing and popping off at the mouth—feet up and shoes on like she paid the mortgage or something.

Maritza could only shake her head because there was no point in trying to get into it with Carla. The petite firecracker looked spiffy in a peach maxi sundress and matching sandals. But her spiffy behind was going to hear it from Maritza if she left just one scuff mark on the butter leather.

The bright airiness of her downtown Los Angeles loft was cluttered with crowds of questioning people. The Hightower wives and their families, along with Maritza's parents and brothers, made for a pretty intense interrogation team. Everyone wanted answers after Maritza's fiasco of an engagement party hadn't gone exactly as planned, and Terrill Carter showed up trying to get Maritza to admit she loved him.

Her fiance's boys hadn't liked Terrill's impromptu interruption at all, and there had been a small scuffle that ended up with everyone being kicked out of the restaurant and possibly banned for life.

Yes, the people roaming around her loft wanted answers and they probably weren't going to go anywhere until they got them. Maritza had no idea how she would appease them all, once they started throwing questions at her. On her best day she could take whatever people threw at her without blinking. She could work a room full of normal people and have them exactly where she wanted them. But she was unfortunately not having her best day. And the people in her loft would be hard to handle one on one if she didn't want them all in her business, let alone as a pack of frenzied friends and family.

"Mommy, now you know you couldn't have schooled nobody the way you got caught out there between my daddy and C-Money, so stop playing." Penny rolled her eyes at her mother and sighed before turning to Maritza. Her bronze locks were hanging down her back and the black linen sleeveless pantsuit she was wearing had her looking like a sure stand-in for Janet Jackson in the "That's the Way Love Goes" video.

"But for real, for real, girlfriend." Penny offered in a need-to-knowall tone, "You are going to have to tell us what the deal is! How the hell did my boy, from way back in the day, end up crashing your engagement party like he was Dwayne Wayne and you were Whitley Gilbert in that classic episode of A Different World? Terrill was pouring his heart out on some ol' 'Maritza, please, baby, please^ tip."

Maritza ran an image-consulting firm called New Images by Keys and Morales with Penny. Both former video models and dancers, they had met on a rap video shoot years ago when they were both working their way through college and had developed a steadfast bond.

Since Maritza had grown up the only girl in a family of brothers and Penny had only ever had guy friends, developing a close friendship had been a challenge for the two of them. They had had to learn how to be good friends and trust the bonds of the sistah-girl-friendship. But they had worked at their friendship and it grew. Their business. New Images by Keys and Morales, was doing extremely well and was poised to do even better.

"They must have been having a secret affair. We all knew there was something there all along. But we just thought they liked each other and didn't want to admit it." Celia Hightower shook her head in disapproval and Maritza thought she couldn't have felt worse until her own mother, Sharon Morales, joined in.

The similarities between her own mother and Celia Hightower had always made Maritza hold the Hightower matriarch in high esteem. They didn't necessarily look alike, but both women had a regal air about them that seemed to say, "I shall not be moved." They also had a calm way about them; even when they were telling you off, they could do it without getting a hair out of place or looking bad in any way.

She admired both women as mother and other-mother as well as older sorority sisters. Maritza, like her mother and Celia Hightower, was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

She'd pledged in college just before she started dancing in music videos. And it was the one thing she'd done during her college years to actually please her mother. She also did it because growing up she had always coveted her mother's pink and green sorority paraphernalia.

"Maritza, I just don't understand you at all. Why would you agree to marry one man when you clearly have unresolved issues with another?" The look of disappointment on Sharon Morales's face and the tone of clear disapproval in her voice took Maritza down to her lowest point.

Sharon stood in a sleek black cocktail dress that showed off a perfect, size ten figure. Her creamy butter-pecan complexion held very few wrinkles. Her salt-and-pepper hair hung in naturally curled ringlets around her face and down her shoulders. Her hair was the only hint that she was the mother of four adult children, each in their thirties.

Maritza and her famous Black feminist academic mother had definitely had their issues in the past. Part of Maritza's reason for even becoming a video model was an act of rebellion against her mother, the world-renowned feminist theorist and women's and gender studies professor. She still got a kick out of getting a rise out of her mother.

But Maritza's rebellion was something she controlled and navigated. The kind of parental disappointment and disapproval on Sharon's face at that moment was new territory for Maritza and it didn't feel good.

How the hell did I get here?

Why couldn't I just admit that I loved Terrill?

Why couldn't she just trust that things would work out between her and Terrill and just step out on faith?

Why did she have to find a way to ruin the good thing they had going?

"I didn't know if I should have helped Andrew's boys kick Terrill's behind or help my man Terrill out." Maritza's older brother Victor had to add his layer to the guilt quilt their mother was weaving.

Her overprotective. LAPD detective brother was just getting started and she knew she had to nip it in the bud before all of her equally overprotective brothers and her massively overprotective father got in on the discussion.

"Nina bonita, you know your papi loves you with every breath in his body, but everyone is right, you have a lot of explaining to do. Now if Terrill didn't have just cause to try and break up your engagement party, then fine. But if by some chance you have feelings for this man, and keep in mind, nina bonita, your papi knows you like the back of his hand…" Her father paused for emphasis and gave her the don't-lie-to-me-because-Ialready-know-the truth look. "Then you need to come clean once and for all. We won't judge you." Manuel Morales Sr. wore the look of distinguished emeritus professor like a second skin.

His warm caramel skin and silver-trimmed hair, beard and mustache gave him an air of respectability. And it was sometimes hard to reconcile the fact that the man who was now known as the father of Afro-Latino Studies was once on America's most wanted list as a leader of the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican power group in the late 1960s.

But that's how her parents had met, Her papi had been a Young Lord and her mom had been a junior Black Panther. Both were staunch nationalist activists until her mother became a feminist and they both got involved with academics. Now, although they were still left-leaning activists, they were scholar-activists and most of their activism was in higher education or in the pages of their many nonfiction books.

"I don't know about all that. I could have been home maxing and relaxing instead of coming all the way out to Cali for some bogus party. So I am judging." Her brothers Manuel and Victor pushed their youngest brother, Louis, as soon as the words came out of his mouth.

Louis had big brown eyes, close-cropped black hair and a dimpled smile that belied his mischievous nature. A lot of people told her that her brother could be the fine actor Adam Rodriguez's twin, but she couldn't see it.

Louis shrugged and shook his head as he turned to push Maritza. "What? Papi's nina bonita can never do any wrong? And once again I'm the only one willing to call her on her crap. I could have been scoring big time this weekend instead of coming here for an engagement party, when she doesn't even know who she wants to marry. I knew she wasn't ready to get married!"

Maritza rolled her eyes at Louis. If she had to rank her three older brothers from most to least liked. Louis, the brother who was only a year older than her and the one who should have been the closest to her, would be number three and least favorite. She loved them all, but Louis knew how to work her nerves, probably because he had the uncanny ability to see right through her, just like Terrill.

Her brothers took the best traits from their African-American mother and Afro-Latino, Puerto Rican father. They were each tall, like her mother's basketball playing brothers, with strong, muscular builds. Their skin tones showcased varying shades of honey. Their jet-black hair had more wave than curl. Each had his own version of their father's devilish dimpled smile.

Compared to her absolutely gorgeous older brothers. Maritza had always felt like an ugly duckling growing up. It hadn't helped that she was also a tomboy until she started getting the curves that would one day make her a famous video vixen and the rest was history. She realized she might not be as fine as her brothers, but many men considered her looks and build eye candy.

Meet the Author

Gwyneth Bolton is a native of New Jersey who currently resides in Central New York with her husband. The oldest of five girls, she has earned her BA, MA and Ph.D. She is currently an Associate Professor at a local university and teaches courses in women's studies, writing and rhetoric. She has been nominated for numerous awards and has won 10 Emma Awards and the Romance in Color Reviewer's Choice Award for New Author of the Year. For more information please visit www.gwynethbolton.com.

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Ready for Love 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
daoDO More than 1 year ago
This book is excellent. I love the Hightowers. Seve know that this book is written from Terrills point of view. In "protect" it is written from Jasons view. I am glad to see Terrill had some back bones. I am also thrilled to learn the dynamics of his and Maritzas relationship and why they hated each other. If you read "Protect" first You will see Terrill does not speak his mind much. But in this book you find ou t he has a voice. Good job Ms. Bolton.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For some reason I'm not feeling the "Hightower" series. Most of the characters seem immature and silly. This one was the absolute worst!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For all of you that are fans of Ms. Bolten's previous books that are about the Hightower Brothers, this book is about Penny & Jason's best friends (Terrill & Maritza) and you will not be disappointed. I really enjoyed this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not one her best it was ok.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tkae1290 More than 1 year ago
The entire series is great but this book can be read without reading the others but I recommend you start from the beginning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really dissapointed in this book. The author is better than this . I think the characters deserved there own story not a retold story of characters is her past books. There was a story and this time the author did not tell it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! It was funny and sexy. I liked reliving the Hightowers! Grest job!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I so wish this story had turned out a little better. Gwyn is a fantastic author who writes about funny, interesting, sexy characters. So I was a little disappointed by this flashback story. There's nothing wrong with revisiting previous characters but I feel like Maritza and Terrell don't have a story that is truly their own. It wasn't horrible, but not even close to Mrs. Bolton's best. Next time Gwyn! Still love you to pieces!