Ryan Donnelly’s past relationship may have failed, but he’s determined to make single fatherhood and his career a resounding success. He’s got his eye on the top of the ladder at an L.A. marketing firm when his gaze snags on co-worker Maiya Rossini.
She’s a feisty, witty, tattooed redhead who’s nowhere near his type, but she pushes every one of his hot buttons.
Maiya clawed her way out of her dysfunctional, trailer-park childhood to earn a college degree and establish a promising career. Her future dreams are big, bright and packed with full-throttle fun, but when it comes to matters of the heart and men—especially stuffy corporate types like Ryan—her past slams on the emotional brakes.
In the office and in the bedroom, Maiya and Ryan rub each other in all the right ways. Though Maiya is everything Ryan didn’t know he wanted, he’s got his work cut out for him convincing her she’s worthy of love—or the bright light she’s brought to his life could slip through his fingers.
Each book in The Donnellys series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1: Unworthy Heart
Book #2: Defensive Heart
Book #3: Shattered Heart
About the Author
Dorothy F. Shaw lives in Arizona where the weather is hot and the sunsets are always beautiful. She spends her days in the corporate world and her nights with her Mac on her lap.
Between her ever-open heart, her bright red hair and her many colorful tattoos, she truly lives and loves in Technicolor!
Read an Excerpt
"Cutting it a little close aren't you, Maiya?"
Dammit, she was. Her hair always took forever when she was in Los Angeles. And the last thing she wanted was to look like crap the first time she met Ryan Donnelly face to face.
"Of course, boss. There's no excitement in actually making it on time." Maiya stepped out of the elevator and pulled off her sunglasses. "Besides, I'm not in the office all that much these days. It takes time to change out of my work-from-home uniform of hair scrunchies, tank tops and boxer briefs to appropriate business attire."
"Very true." Tony tilted his head down, peering at her over the top of his frameless glasses perched on the end of his nose. "Three months is too long for you to not pay a visit."
She brushed her hair away from her face. Relocating from Las Vegas to Los Angeles eight years ago to start her job with Amaryllis Marketing Firm had been a leap of faith for her, but it'd paid off tenfold. And the man in front of her was a huge part of the reason why. Plus, when she had needed to move back to Vegas to care for her mother, Tony had allowed her to stay on, working remotely from home. He'd earned her respect and loyalty in spades and she couldn't imagine working for anyone else. "Blame the finance group and their travel budgets. You know I'd rather be out here at least once a month."
His handsome smile crinkled the corners of his eyes and he ushered her into the conference room. "Also true. Regardless, glad to have you here now."
Maiya entered and excitement raced through her. "Thanks." They grabbed a seat along the back row against the windows and she nodded to the familiar faces in attendance around the conference room table. She loved connecting with the people she worked with on a daily basis but rarely saw face to face. A sense of comfort spilled through her, like she'd come home again.
The senior marketing executive, Mr. Mawbry, spoke to the room, and the conference phone in the center of the table. "Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining the monthly project status meeting."
Notebook and pencil in hand, Maiya scanned her surroundings. Taking a deep breath, her excitement settled and pride took its place. Maiya had done hella good for herself sticking with this company. She'd worked her way up the corporate ladder, rung by rung, and found success.
There were a few new faces in attendance and curiosity pranced through her mind. Did any of them belong to Ryan? They'd only recently started collaborating on a project together. Their conversations, which had started out professional, had begun to slip into the land of flirtation. Dangerous territory, yes, but regardless, Maiya would kill to know what he looked like. She'd checked his Facebook account — in a purely non-stalkerish way — but had come up empty-handed. His page was locked down like Fort Knox. Sad thing was, she had a feeling Ryan resembled a corporate Ken Doll.
Annnd surprise, surprise, Maiya was nothing like Barbie.
At least meeting him face to face would be the dose of reality necessary to evaporate her physical reaction to him, and focus on work again. She hoped, anyway.
One of the project managers in attendance kicked the group off and reported on their campaign. Maiya checked her notes for any details she might need to report on for her particular project. At the sound of an additional male voice, her head snapped up. He sounds familiar.
The guy turned and looked at her.
Their eyes locked and a bolt of electricity arced between them. The jolt shot straight to Maiya's toes. Hello, Gorgeous and totally not my type. She drew in a deep breath and let her gaze roam over his short, sandy light-brown hair, high cheekbones and crystal blue-gray eyes. And his lips.
He flashed her a quick smile.
My God, that can't be Ryan. Jesus, if that's him, I'm in a fuckton of trouble. Maiya broke their stare and returned her focus to her notepad, tapping it with her pencil — a pale attempt to convince herself the guy was not Ryan.
A few minutes later, Mr. Mawbry spoke again. "Ryan, could you please report the status of your campaign?"
Maiya searched the unknown faces, desperate to find him among the team, when Mr. Gorgeous started talking. "Oh. Shit," she muttered.
Ryan glanced at her, a devilish grin adorning his lips.
Double shit. She couldn't stop herself from staring while he spoke. Especially at his lips. She really liked his lips. This was so not good. This wasn't in the plan. It was bad enough his voice got her aching and wet, but ... his face. That mouth. Those lips — she could not be attracted to him. Absolutely out of the question.
She had to work with him, for fuck's sake!
As the Senior Project Manager assigned, Ryan gave his report. Maiya answered the few questions some of the other executives in attendance had. She had to pry her tongue off the roof of her mouth in order to speak, but she'd managed. Maybe the corporate ladder hadn't paid off as well as she thought.
The group moved on to the next project on the agenda. Still warm and tingling from the intense eye lock with Ryan, Maiya blew out a harsh breath, trying to cool down. After a few more projects were discussed the meeting adjourned. She bent to retrieve her things from the floor by her seat. If she didn't get some air, and fast, she might spontaneously combust.
A set of long legs entered her line of sight.
Her gaze traveled up his casual khaki pants, over his chest, clad in a pale blue Polo shirt — the color emphasizing the blue in his eyes — and then settled on his lips. Dammit. With burning cheeks, she stood and raised her eyes to meet his.
"Maiya Rossini, I assume." Ryan extended his hand to shake hers. "Nice to finally meet you."
She placed her palm in his and drank him in. In hopes of playing it cool, she cleared her throat before speaking. "Ryan Donnelly. Yes, it's nice to meet you too."
His long fingers curled around her hand and he smiled. Tingles danced up her arm. Being right in front of him now and touching him queued up every hormone in her body. This is crazy! She was caught between wanting to run in the other direction or throw herself at him and beg him to drag her somewhere private.
They assessed each other for a moment, saying nothing before she mentally kicked herself in the ass and broke the silence. "My team is having a gathering tonight. You joining us?" With regret, she extricated her hand from his very warm one.
"I'll have to see if I can make it. What time again?"
"Thinking of blowing off fun team-building time?" She raised her brows. "Six, I believe. Check your calendar. I'm sure you were sent an invite."
He tilted his head to the side. "I wouldn't dream of blowing off 'fun team time'. As if you'd let me get away with doing that anyway."
"Good to know." Unable to help herself, she glanced at his lips again. With mammoth effort, she forced her gaze away, took her seat and finished gathering her things.
She was having a hell of a time looking him in the eye, and making small talk wasn't any easier. Her skin was tight all over and her cheeks were flaming hot. Struck stupid was a damn understatement. Her reaction bothered her.
And he bothered her.
Ryan stepped a couple feet away to talk to another team member.
Maiya took the opportunity to escape. She needed air. And a cigarette. Maybe a cold drink of water too. "See you later, Ryan. I gotta run."
"Bye, Maiya. Guess I'll see you la —"
Ducking her head, Maiya rushed from the room.
Ryan entered the banquet room of the restaurant and glanced around. There were plenty of work faces, but he was interested in finding only one. Zeroing in on the bar, he spotted her and so did his dick, which jumped to attention in his pants. Down boy. After seeing her in person, there was no way in hell he would've blown this little shindig off.
The woman was damn alluring. Pure temptation. Her long, flaming-red hair with streaks of blonde and black in it — not natural of course — suited her. The thick locks called to him, made him want to run his fingers through them, and then grip them tight in his fist. Full lips lined to perfection with a touch of gloss to enhance them — another Siren's call. What flavor did she use? Maybe strawberry? His favorite.
But damn, she was trouble. Trouble with a capital T, wrapped up in a hot body and a pretty face, with a smart mouth. The electricity shooting between them when he caught her gaze earlier today was intense as hell, but also a massive orange neon sign flashing Danger! Danger! Ryan needed to avoid her. Sleeping with anyone from work was off limits in his book. He needed to collaborate with her on his campaign, not wonder what her lips tasted like. Ryan was determined, no matter what the other brain located south of his belt thought, to maintain a professional relationship with her.
Easy. Yes. Easy.
He moved through the crowd to get a better view. She still wore her work clothes. A royal blue blouse, tailored to fit her torso, hugged her full breasts revealing enough cleavage to make his mouth water for more. She probably looked amazing naked. Damn! The woman was hotter than hell in four-inch heels, and more tempting than the devil himself.
Maiya sat on a stool with her back resting against the bar, glass of wine in hand, talking to her manager. With her long legs crossed, she bounced one high-heeled foot, her damn skirt clinging to her full hips.
The sight was enough to make any man go insane with lust.
Hanging back, Ryan exchanged hellos with some of their colleagues, but every few seconds he glanced over at her. He was stalling. Nervous even. He rubbed his palms on his thighs. It's just Maiya. He needed to get a grip on whatever emotion or fantasy she stirred in him. No biggie, right? They'd talked daily on the phone, and they were professionals.
Ryan drew in a deep breath and did his damnedest to put a lid on his thoughts ... and desires. Stepping to the bar, he was careful to stay a few feet away from her. He could do this. With his back turned, he ordered a Jameson on the rocks.
Maiya spotted Ryan when he entered the banquet room. The air around her had shifted and popped with electricity, dancing along every inch of her skin the minute he walked through the door. She'd been stealing little glances of him while he talked with colleagues and she chatted with her boss. He was still in his cut-out-of-a-magazine work attire. So not her type. Except for his lips, those were her type. And his eyes, and his ... Gah!
As she watched him make his way around the room, Maiya decided Ryan was edible. And that little admission annoyed the crap out of her. Regardless, call it denial or self-preservation, she was sticking to her first assessment. Ryan wasn't even in the same room, let alone the same building, as her type. Yet, here she was, salivating over Mr. Corporate Ken Doll.
None of her physical reactions made sense. Maiya dated bad boys — tattooed bikers or musicians. Pretty boys weren't attracted to her. Most times, she intimidated the hell out of them. Even in her teen years. And although she cleaned up nice, she'd never be the type the pretty boys brought home to Momma.
So what in the hell was with this attraction to Ryan? He made her laugh, yes, and he challenged her, daily. But that couldn't be it, right? Annoyed, and done with her mental tug of war, Maiya swirled her wine in the glass, took hold of the liquid courage pulsing through her system, and spoke up. "Well, well. Decided to show, huh?"
Ryan glanced over his shoulder, a smoldering fire burning in his eyes. Maiya licked her lips. He faced her. "You were waiting for me, weren't you?"
"Nah, not really. More like curious if you'd actually grace us with your presence. I have it on good authority you never make it to these things." She sipped her wine and met his gaze in flirtatious challenge, hoping he'd take the bait.
A look flashed in his eyes, but was gone faster than she could decipher it. "It's true, I can't always make these events, but I wouldn't have missed this one for the world, Maiya."
Raising her glass, she saluted his. "Hmm. Good to know."
Maiya hopped off the stool and sauntered toward the table where Rahul and Jodi were sitting. What did he mean by that? Because she was there? No, that couldn't be why ... could it? Damn. Maiya glanced over her shoulder. He stood there and watched her, a smirk adorning his lips. Those fucking lips. Kill me.
Jodi looked up, her blue eye shining. "Hey, girl."
Maiya tousled Jodi's long blonde curls when she passed behind her and then took a seat. "What's up, chica?"
Rahul's pretty brown eyes, framed by long, dark lashes, smiled right along with his lips. "Hey, Maiya."
Maiya blew a kiss to Rahul across the table. She took in the sight of her two friends and the deep sense of comfort returned, flowing through her veins. She missed them, Jodi especially, and having this time with them meant the world to Maiya. She lived for her business trips to L.A. "Work vacations", she called them. They brought her off-kilter world back to center, giving her what she lacked in Vegas: Freedom and normalcy. Not that she knew what normal was, but what she had here in L.A., with her friends, was the closest she'd ever gotten to it.
The waitress deposited a huge plate of nachos in the center of the table. Maiya leaned back in her seat and sighed.
Jodi dug in first, scooping up a chip heaped with meat and cheese, and shoved it in her mouth. "So what's up with you and Ryan?" she said around her mouthful.
"Nice. Your lack of home training's showing." Maiya grabbed her own handful and took a bite. "Nothing. Why do you ask?" She crunched the chip in her mouth.
Both Maiya and Jodi turned to him. "What?" they said in unison.
"Never mind." Rahul raised both brows and took a swig of his beer.
"Yeah," Jodi continued, "I'm soooo not buying the 'nothing' answer. There's something simmering between you two. It's as plain as the nose on my face." "I have no idea what you're talking about." Maiya swallowed the last of her wine.
"Mmhm. Right." Jodi shoveled in another helping.
Rahul set down his beer and then ran his palm over his dark, close cropped hair. "Incoming."
Maiya glanced to her left and her eyes went wide. Ryan approached their table, two drinks in hand: a glass of wine and a glass two fingers full of amber liquid with ice. Guess he took the bait. Her stomach tightened into a knot and her mouth went dry.
He set the wine next to her empty glass and then took the seat next to her. "Mind if I join you all?"
"Of course not, and thanks for the refill." Maiya took a sip of the fresh wine, trying to drown the nerves break-dancing in her stomach. "I definitely appreciate a man who brings me alcohol."
Ryan exhaled an exaggerated gasp. "Maiya Rossini, that was almost a compliment."
Maiya raised both brows and set her glass down. "I give compliments. Ask Jodi. I tell her how wonderful she is all the time."
"Yes, she does." Jodi sipped her beer.
"Maiya's really quite sweet." Rahul shrugged one shoulder. "You know ... when she isn't bossing everyone around and being a bitch." He snickered and motioned like he was about to hide under the table.
Jodi choked on her beer and coughed.
"Haaayy, I am not a bitch." Maiya's mouth dropped open and she looked among the three of them. "Jerks." She laughed.
Ryan cleared his throat, stifling his laughter and raised his hands in defense. "Whoa there. I know better than to say something like that."
Weenie. Maiya shrugged. "Okay, fine. I'm a bitch." She picked up her glass and turned to Jodi. "If getting the job done makes me a bitch, then call me the queen. Am I right, chica?"
Jodi tapped the tip of her beer bottle to Maiya's wineglass. "Got that right, girl."
"I couldn't agree more." Ryan took a swig of his whiskey.
"Oh, great. Thanks for the back-up." Rahul grabbed a chip off the plate.
"Hey, I'm no fool. I've got to work with her." Ryan shook his finger at Rahul.
Maiya brushed her hair off her shoulder and glanced at Ryan. He was being such a suck-up. After all the times he debated, argued and challenged her over work issues during their many phone calls, this new side of him was quite out of character. It made her wonder what his motive was behind it. "Damn straight you do."
Ryan gave her a nod and raised his drink to his lips. Their eyes caught for a moment, but she couldn't help but let hers travel over his face and then zero in on his mouth. He sipped his drink. Maiya licked her lips. God help me. Heat radiated through her body and her nipples hardened. She caught herself before she drooled down her chin, and jerked her gaze back to his eyes.
Excerpted from "Unworthy Heart"
Copyright © 2015 Dorothy F. Shaw.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
3.5 stars Hello, workplace romance! There's rarely a romance with work ties that I don't enjoy. That particular setting presents a complication that's provocative yet off-limits. In other words, it's a no-no that tempts even the most innocent of characters. Needless to say it's clear from the very beginning this story's going to be hot; Dorothy F. Shaw sets the expectation through her language, delivery and focus. Nothing left to do but hold on and enjoy the ride. I'll admit it took a bit for me to warm up to the early part of this book. I like Maiya and Ryan well enough, it's just that I'm a little frustrated with the push-pull, yes-no, in-out nature of their connection. I'd say relationship, but they're so adamantly not having a relationship that I feel like it's not quite accurate to call it one. The angst and uncertainty definitely ramp up the tension between them, but I couldn't wait for Shaw to dig deeper. She slowly lays the foundation, introducing us to the greater cast of characters and revealing the reasons behind all the false starts. Once the bigger picture comes into focus, things start clicking. It's not all sex and denial, and as Maiya and Ryan begin to communicate, Shaw creates a nexus of emotions, intimacy, complexity and vulnerability that builds a bond. They're getting in deep, and you can't help but go right along with them. So, I know what you're really wondering - just how hot is this book? On a scale of 1 to exploding ovaries, I'd say it could very well incinerate your panties. I credit that to the terrific chemistry Shaw writes between Maiya and Ryan. It's off the charts, and despite their best attempts to stay away, when they finally give in, it's glorious. They're everything you want and a whole lot more you were afraid to wish for. One fascinating little surprise for me is how much Ryan lets loose in the bedroom, but don't take my word for it. I hope you'll read it for yourself and come back to share your opinions. Part of that big picture I mentioned earlier is laying the foundation for a series. This is book one of The Donnelly's series, and in Maiya and Ryan's story we learn there's a whole ton of them. Donnelly's, that is. I believe they're Irish, so if stereotypes prove true, it's no surprise the family is large. In addition to being numerous, they also seem feisty and lively, so they're graced with the Irish temper as well. I'm really looking forward to what's to come for this clan and hoping we'll see more of Jimmy very soon. ;)
Amazing! I don't even know where to begin with this book. So I'll start with what I enjoyed the most - the banter. No one writes banter like Dorothy Shaw. It's at times laugh out loud funny, other times sexy, it can even be sarcastic, but it's never dull. The banter between Ryan and Maiya is definitely entertaining and is a huge part of what makes them such a perfect fit. Maiya gives new meaning to the term fiery redhead. She is a force of nature. At one point when Ryan starts to think he may have feelings for her, he describes her as "a red-headed, tattooed angel...With heaven in her eyes, and hell between her legs." Nothing could be more fitting. She shows the world her strength and determination but Ryan sees through the mask she puts on for the rest of the world. He wants nothing more than to be her safe place but she reminds him of someone from his past and he's not sure if he can put himself or his son through this. At the same time, Maiya hasn't been able to rely on anyone but herself in such a long time, she doesn't know how to trust someone else to be her safety net. The only problem is they have this intense sexual attraction that leads to the hottest, most satisfying sex either of them has ever had. The sex makes their emotional connection deeper and it becomes painful for them to stay away from each other even though they both hold on to their own stubborn reasons for not being together. When her mom becomes ill and Ryan tries to support her, it becomes too much for her to handle and she pushes away the first person in a long time who only wants to give her unconditional love and support. The demons from her past do their best to convince her that she is undeserving of it. I loved this story! It's a different take on a workplace romance. The characters are well-developed, the plot is original, the dialogue is interesting and the sex is off the charts H-O-T! The relationship between Maiya and Ryan feels incredibly real. It's messy, it's difficult, it's confusing, it's fun, it's sexy and all those things contribute to the feeling that you could be reading about people you know. The way they talk to and relate to each other is true to life. There's nothing fancy or over the top. That is a large part of what makes this book so great. It is completely believable. I'm interested to see how things work out for Ryan's brother Jimmy. We got a little taste of him in this book but it's obvious there is so much more there that hasn't been revealed. The same can be said for Ryan's sister Cyn. Dorothy gave us little teasers on several members of the Donnelly clan. If this first installment is anything to go by, the rest of the series will be incredible! Bring on book 2!!
Oh yeah, I'm totally on the Dorothy Shaw fan train thanks to this story and the sexy Ryan Donnelly. They say you don't really know what you need until you've had it, tasted it, and felt it. For Ryan and Maiya this is most certainly so. They are quite different on the outside, Maiya being more of a rocker chick while Ryan's a bit of classic corporate, but it's the chemistry between the two that makes them work. They can match wits, be comfortable teasing one another, and seamlessly fall into one another's lives. Sometimes the greatest leap of faith reaps the greatest reward and that is just what Ryan and Maiya have to figure out. While this is my first novel by Dorothy Shaw, I had no issue enjoying the novel. Her writing style is liquid, allowing the reader to easily drop into the story and intake it all. Shaw pointedly shows shades of grey with Ryan and Maiya, making them more than one dimensional characters which I loved! Ryan is a single father with a good heart. He is dominant enough to be a wicked dirty talker who takes charge in the bedroom and comfortable enough in his own skin to be a complete goofball. I loved Ryan, really freaking loved him. Maiya is a bit edgier, tattooed, sassy, and sarcastic. She has childhood hangups that still touch her today. The two balance one another out and push each other. The sex between them is explosive, the verbals spars are hilarious, and the chase is as good as the fall. I'm not a fan of blowing smoke up an author's rear end which could be part of the reason why I was gifted with this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I genuinely enjoyed the story and had a hard time putting it down to return to my job. The stars fall at a solid 5 out of 5 due to the easy way the story takes shape, the growth of the characters as individuals and together as a couple, and for the deliciously sinful sex. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, hoping for Jimmy's story because I love him and his tattooed self! Teaser: Taking her hand, Ryan led her up the aisle toward the exit. "Do you have any idea how many times I jacked off the past two weeks thinking of you?" She stopped short, halting his forward motion. "Fucking hell, Ryan!" She put her hand over her mouth and looked around at the other patrons, and then began in a lower tone. "Do you have any idea how hot that is? Jesus, I think I just had a mini orgasm."