Secret Love

Secret Love

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583140734
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 01/01/2000
Series: Arabesque Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 4.24(w) x 6.91(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Brenda Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred romance titles. Brenda lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and divides her time between family, writing and traveling. Email Brenda at or visit her on her website at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

He needed to have his head examined, Jake Madaris thought as he peered up into the sky. Dark clouds were forming, which meant there would probably be a torrential downpour later tonight. Evening was setting in and with the possibility of bad weather, he had more things to do with his time than sit at the airstrip and wait on, of all things, a woman.

    Maneuvering the vehicle's seat as far back as it could go, he stretched out his long legs and tilted his Stetson to cover his eyes. He frowned slightly and wondered how on earth he had let Sterling Hamilton talk him into this.

    Sterling had known exactly what he was doing during his last visit to the ranch, when he'd suggested that they play what was supposed to be a friendly game of poker. The stakes had been whatever either of them wanted from the other ... within reason. Sterling's desire had been a three-week stay at Jake's ranch, Whispering Pines.

    Jake had simply shrugged upon hearing that, thinking Sterling's request was an easy one. After all, since the time he and the well-known movie actor had formed a friendship over fifteen years ago, Sterling had been a frequent guest at Whispering Pines, often staying for weeks at a time.

    It was only after Sterling had won the poker game that he had dropped the bombshell that the three-week stay was not for him, but for a friend.

    A serious frown encased itself in Jake's expression as he remembered that night two weeks ago. He had literally blown his stack when Sterling had announced just who that friend was. Jake shook hishead, still ticked off when he thought about it. The last thing Whispering Pines needed was a visitor the likes of Diamond Swain.

    Granted, some people would be honored to have the most sought-after African-American movie actress as a guest. But he wasn't one of them. Whispering Pines was not a celebrity resort or a dude ranch. It was a working ranch that encompassed hundreds and hundreds of acres of land for grazing cattle.

    The Whispering Pines ranch was known worldwide to raise only the highest quality natural-grass-fed Texas Longhorn cattle. And although the ranch house was a real piece of art, a massive hacienda-style villa that he himself had designed, it was not a hideaway for the rich and famous. He had told Stealing that in no uncertain terms.

    But, as Sterling had pointed out, Whispering Pines was also like a fortress. No one got on its land unless Jake Madaris wanted them there. That meant there was no chance of Diamond Swain being bothered by pestering reporters. The other thing Sterling had been quick to point out was the fact that the people who worked for Jake were fiercely loyal to him and could be trusted. That meant news of Diamond Swain's visit wouldn't get leaked to the press.

    But Jake had not been appeased and had continued to put up a strong argument against her visit. Sterling had smoothly shot down every argument that he'd given, so here he was sitting and waiting patiently for the renowned Diamond Swain to arrive and not liking it one bit.

    Jake shifted in his seat when he saw the first signs of Sterling's private plane as it jetted across the horizon. According to the media, Sterling and Diamond, who had appeared together in numerous movies, were an item and had been for years. Sterling had always flatly denied the rumor, claiming he and Diamond were nothing more than the best of friends. Her father, Jack Swain, was one of the few African-American movie directors to make his mark in Hollywood during the late sixties. Sterling's first starting role, at the age of twenty-four, had been in one of Jack Swain's films. That particular movie, made nearly ten years ago, had been the first ever to be directed by an African-American and nominated for Best Picture of the Year.

    As Jake watched the plane land and then come to a stop on the runway, he wondered just what he was going to do with Diamond Swain for three weeks. He shrugged, deciding it would probably be best if he just ignored her. According to Sterling, her doctor claimed she was on the brink of physical exhaustion and needed a rest from the high pressures of her hectic lifestyle of moviemaking and public appearances. If that was the case, then hopefully she would closet herself in the cabin he had arranged for her to stay in, and keep out of his way. It was roundup time, and he and his men would be extremely busy. No one had the time to baby-sit some stressed-out movie actress who was probably used to getting attention.

    When Diamond stepped off the plane and Jake took a really good look at her, he knew at that very moment that ignoring her would definitely be a problem. Oh, he'd known she was a beautiful woman. Like most people, he had seen many of her movies at one time or another. But what he hadn't counted on was her beauty being so vivid, so rich and so knock-him-dead brutal. And he sure hadn't counted on the sudden surge of desire that jolted his body.

    He watched her graceful stride as she moved down the steps of the plane, thinking how elegantly her taut body moved—the lush curves of her hips in black denim jeans, not to mention the long legs. Her hair hung like a silk curtain around her shoulders.

    Jake shifted in his seat, feeling sweat pop out on his forehead and perspiration form in his hands. A breath hissed forth from his closed teeth as he studied her almond-colored features that went above and beyond drop-dead gorgeous. Another ripple of desire tore through his body.

    Jake clipped back a deep, gutted sigh. What had Sterling gotten him into?

    Diamond Swain threw her black denim jacket over her shoulder and walked down the steps of the plane. When her feet touched the earth, she gazed around at the beauty of the land that surrounded her. The aerial view had been gorgeous, simply magnificent. Even the clouded sky hadn't detracted from its loveliness. The mesquite-covered valleys had an unlimited area of canyons and mountains on one side, and miles and miles of lush green grassland on the other. Never had she seen a place so scenic. According to Sterling, the owner was someone by the name of Jacob Madaris. She wondered if anyone had ever approached him about filming a movie here.

    She spotted a black Jeep Cherokee parked a short distance away. Sterling had said Mr. Madaris would be picking her up and that he was a good friend of his. As far as she was concerned, any friend of Sterling was definitely a friend of hers. Besides, she appreciated Mr. Madaris for extending an invitation to her to stay at his ranch for three weeks. That was very thoughtful of him, and she could definitely use the rest.

    "I'll get your bags for you, Ms. Swain."

    The sound of Sterling's pilot interrupted her thoughts. "Thanks, John. I think Mr. Madaris is parked over there," she said. She looked beyond him to the parked vehicle. She couldn't help wondering why Jacob Madaris had not gotten out and come to greet her.

    No sooner had that question crossed her mind than the Jeep's door opened and what she saw nearly took her breath away. The man who straightened himself out of the vehicle had to be every bit of six feet seven inches tall. The Stetson on his head nearly covered his face, but even from a distance she could make out intense, dark eyes and skin the color of chestnut. Everything about him said diehard Texas cowboy. Dressed in western boots, jeans, shirt and his Stetson, he looked like the traditional cowboy. With the masculine swagger in his stride, he walked like the traditional cowboy.

    "Welcome to Whispering Pines, Ms. Swain. I'm Jacob Madaris," he said, tipping the brim of his hat in greeting when he reached her.

    Diamond smiled. With his slow, deep drawl he even sounded like the traditional cowboy. His voice was rough and sexy. And his smell, a musky male scent of outdoors, was enticingly cowboy. She looked into his face and her smile vanished when he removed his hat. The man, who appeared to be in his mid-forties, was dangerously handsome. His curly hair, damp from sweat, was a succulent blend of black and gray. The premature strands of silver gray were in stark contrast to his hard muscled body, and made him appear more mature, charismatic and sexy.

    Her breath expelled and her pulse stopped. He is gorgeous, she thought to herself. He is as gorgeous as the land he owns.

    "Ms. Swain?"

    Suddenly feeling like she had a mouth full of cotton and unable to get any words out, Diamond swallowed quickly and took the hand he had offered her seconds ago. "Yes, and thanks for the invitation," she recovered her voice to say.

    It was on the tip of Jake's tongue to tell her that he had not invited her, but decided not to. "I'll help John with your luggage."

    Tilting her head to one side, Diamond watched him walk off, thinking that Jacob Madaris definitely knew how to wear a pair of jeans. The back view of him was incredible, fascinating. His entire body was physically potent. And his walk ... he moved like someone aware of his surroundings and comfortable with them as well.

    She closed her eyes, swallowed sharply and pulled herself together. This was the first real vacation she had taken in years. Her agent, Shelton Penn, usually had her on an airtight schedule. There was no time in between filming to ever totally relax. That was one of the reasons her doctor had ordered that she find someplace to go and rest.

    According to him, she couldn't keep up her vigorous pace without some sort of break. At first he had ordered six weeks of rest. But after she had given him every reason imaginable as to why she couldn't take off six weeks, he had then pushed for five, not less than four. She had countered with three, and seeing that she wouldn't budge any farther, he had let it go at that. So here she was, in the heart of Texas on a ranch that was too beautiful for words, and whose owner could make her forget her vow not to get seriously involved with a man for a long time.

    Her short and unbearable marriage to Samuel Tate had taught her a long-lasting lesson. When it came to the women they were married to, some men were possessive, overbearing and insanely jealous. Samuel had been all three. Never would she place herself in a position to live through something like that again. He had gone so far as to actually pay people to spy on her. He had even tried to destroy her long-standing friendship with Sterling. She knew for a fact that he was the one who started the rumor that had begun circulating after her divorce that she and Sterling were having an affair. She would never forgive Samuel for trying to cheapen her and Sterling's friendship. And then last, but clearly not least, she would never forgive him for his betrayal of the vows they had taken.

    "I'm ready if you are."

    Jacob Madaris's deep, husky voice broke into Diamond's thoughts. She turned quickly. Her gaze went straight to his face and once again she thought the premature graying of his hair gave him a raw abundance of sex appeal. More than any one man should have. Breathing deeply, she felt a strong attraction to him. Diamond's forehead wrinkled. Nothing like this—something this quick, spontaneous and gripping-had ever happened to her before. And more than anything, she didn't want it to happen. She was here to get some rest, nothing more.

    "Is something wrong? You're frowning."

    Relax, Diamond commanded herself. This man didn't miss much. He was sharp at picking up on things. "No, I'm fine. Just tired," she responded, forcing a weak smile. She almost lost it again when she gazed into his dark eyes.

    He watched her for a few seconds before nodding. "That can be remedied. If you'll follow me, I'll see that you get settled in." He then turned and walked off.

    Not even trying to keep up with his pace, Diamond followed him to the vehicle.

    Jake's brow furrowed as he drove his Jeep toward the area where the cabin was located. He tried, against all odds, to ignore the woman sitting next to him. He couldn't remember a time any woman had caught his interest as seriously as Diamond had. And that was totally out of character for him.

    "Now you're the one frowning, Mr. Madaris."

    Jake couldn't help but smile at Diamond's observation. She must have been watching him pretty closely to notice. He took a glance over at her and his smile widened. "Yeah, I am, aren't I? And you can call me Jake."

    Diamond nearly groaned out loud. His smile was deadly. "Thanks, and I'm Diamond. I've never cared for nicknames so if you don't mind, I prefer calling you Jacob."

    Her voice was like silken oak. It stirred Jake's insides and sent his pulse spinning. It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her that she could call him anything she liked, but he decided it wouldn't be a good idea.

    "Does your frown have anything to do with the fact that you really didn't invite me here, Jacob?"

    Jake blinked in surprise at Diamond's question. He wondered how she had figured it out. "What makes you think that?"

    "From the expression that crossed your face when I thanked you earlier." She then let out a chuckle. "I'm an actress, remember. I'm trained to display a number of expressions, as well as being able to read them on others. Although the expression crossed your face quickly, I was able to pick up on it."

    When Jake still didn't admit one way or another whether she was right or not, Diamond glanced over at him. "What did Sterling do? Threaten you with bodily harm, or does he have some incriminating information on you?"

    Jake couldn't hold back his laugh. "It was nothing as bad as either of those two," he finally answered, deciding to level with her. "I lost a poker game to him. I'm still wondering if he played fair. I'm usually a better poker player than Sterling."

    Diamond smiled and her eyes lit up in a sparkle. "You're too trusting if you have to think about whether or not Sterling played fair. I doubt very seriously that he did. He knows how to cheat at cards when it suits him."

    Jake considered her words. They were spoken like someone who evidently knew Sterling extremely well. Suddenly and expectedly, he felt a tinge of jealously at the thought of just how well that might be. He was tempted to ask, but decided it was none of his business. Sterling had told him on numerous occasions that he and Diamond Swain were friends and nothing more. He knew that although his friend might have a tendency to cheat at cards every once in a while, he was fairly honest otherwise. Besides, Sterling had no reason to lie to him.

    Jake pulled the Jeep to a stop in front of the cabin. "Here we are."

    Diamond took a good look at the structure they were parked in front of and became speechless. Before them was the most luxurious log cabin she had ever seen. A deck surrounded the house on three sides that provided a beautiful view of a half-acre lake.

    She turned toward Jake. "Oh, Jacob, it's beautiful. I know that you really didn't invite me here, and a part of me feels I should do the noble thing and leave. But now, after seeing this, I don't want to leave. Please let me stay. I promise not to be a bother."

    Jake didn't think it would be possible for her not to be a bother, when her very presence was bothering him already. But for some reason, the thought of her leaving bothered him as well.

    "Of course you'll stay. Sterling may have cheated an invitation out of me, but I'd really like you to stay."

    What Jake thought was Diamond's most heart-stopping smile appeared on her face. "Thank you, Jacob."

    Jake felt his heart trip against his ribs with that smile and the sultry sound of his name from Diamond's lips. He stared at her mouth and his nostrils flared as he felt total awareness in the lower part of his stomach. He couldn't recall the last time a woman had gotten hold of his attention this much. He decided to get out of the vehicle before he did something really stupid like haul her into his arms and kiss her.

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Secret Love 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brenda Jackson, acclaimed romance novelist, tells a great love story about a rancher and an actress. Brenda also delights the reader with the older man, younger woman 'thing'. Jackson writes with the knack to make the reader look at an older man and actually wonder if they are 'missing something'. In this addition to the Madaris legacy, Jake a man about twelve years older than his lover and wife, Diamond is a jewel in his own right. I could appreciate the realistic way in which Brenda discusses Diamond's dilemma as how to maintain her marriage and her career. I could not, relate to the obsessed reporter, who wants Jake out of the picture. I felt that just exploring the way in which people with demanding careers that they love, have to compromise and yield to their passions and feelings is a strong theme in itself. This and all the other Madaris stories by Jackson are keepers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book ive read so far
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the Madaris Family novels. Brenda Jackson is one of the best.
Aline Reynolds More than 1 year ago
I recommend any book with Brenda Jackson name on it.
godschild4life More than 1 year ago
This was one of my first Brenda Jackson books that Ive read, I think I fell in love with being in love all over again. I have bought several other books. The Madaris men, all I have to say is WOW!!!!!
Yolanda20 More than 1 year ago
Brenda Jackson and the Madaris family did it again. I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to anyone, guaranteed you'll be holding your breath for more.
gardening More than 1 year ago
A need to read.
edcar More than 1 year ago
A great read! Once again Ms. Jackson has provided a "delicious" tale from the Madaris and friends. Jake and Diamond's love story is beautiful and touching. It will make you cry, laugh and love over and over again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a way to fall in love. Diamond and Jacob Madaris fell in love unexpectedly. Diamond was coming to Whispering Pines to rest not fall in love. Diamond was a people person. She just loved people. She was so down to earth that Jacob just couldn't help but fall in love with her. Diamond didn't like all the attention she was getting from the press, that's why she wanted to keep Jacob a secret. She soon saw the problems that caused with his family. They decided to come out of the closet. I am glad their story was told. It would be wonderful if we could all have a loving relationship like theirs. If you have never read any of Ms. Jackson's books, you are definitely missing a treat. All of her books are so well written that you know these people as well as your own family. Each story individual does give you a wonderful story, but together it's a continuing saga on one family and their close friends living in America. All the best to Ms. Jackson on a superb job.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Araya05 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A really good one. As usual, Mrs. JAckson does a wonderful job with the scenes and characters. My only issue with this one, is that the characters were to formal with each other. Entirely too proper. 4hrs 46mins
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic read. I really enjoyed it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lol. Bye, love ya!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my third time reading this book and it made me fall in love with Brenda Jackson all over again. Its refreshing to pick up a book years later and know the same giddy feeling are there, it reads like a first time read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A second read for me in anticipation of the Part 2 saga. Looking forward to it. LA-TXN
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