About the Author
Bestselling Harlequin author Joanne Rock writes sexy contemporary romances and medieval historicals that have been reprinted in 22 countries and translated into 16 languages. A Golden Heart winner and RITA nominated author, Joanne has been recognized with numerous writing awards including a Blue Boa, a Beacon and a Romantic Times W.I.S.H. Award. A former college teacher and public relations coordinator, she has a master's in English from the University of Louisville and started writing when she became a stay-at-home mom, deceiving herself that she'd have more time. 20 books and three kids later, she lives with her husband and sons in the Adirondacks, committed to mass chaos and happily-ever-afters. Visit Joanne at: joannerock.com.
Read an Excerpt
Wild And Willing
By Joanne Rock
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSeth Chandler flipped up his eye patch and leaned against the ship mast of the Jose Gaspar to study the throng of milling pirates aboard the main deck. He could think of a thousand places he would rather yoho-ho with a bottle of rum today.
His empty office full of paperwork topped the list. There had to be seventy-five guys and a couple of women in swashbuckling gear sailing into Tampa Bay with him, yet Seth hadn't been able to pawn off today's mission on any of them. Not with his company's name on the line as corporate sponsor of this event.
Damn that lead buccaneer for quitting only two hours before Tampa's annual Gasparilla festival. Now Seth had no choice but to step in and assume the eye patch himself. He'd spent too many years building his company's reputation to have it compromised by any screwups with this very public assignment.
Someone had to abduct a wench. Actually, several festivalgoers would be carried off by the marauding raiders, but the lead pirate at the front of the boat would no doubt be captured on film for the six o'clock news. When the actor hired to play the role had quit, Seth hadn't wanted to hand over the part to just anyone. What if his last-minute fill-in copped a feel in full view of the media? Or what if thestand-in dropped the person he was supposed to be carrying?
Lawsuit alert! Without résumés and references in front of him, Seth wouldn't risk it. He'd strapped on a dagger, stripped out of his shirt, kicked off his Italian loafers and vaulted barefoot aboard the Jose Gaspar at the last minute.
Now, as the ship sailed at the head of a flotilla around Harbour Island toward thousands of waiting festival attendees on shore, Seth wished he hadn't been born so damn responsible. He didn't want to spend his Saturday leering at giggling maidens as part of the festival's entertainment.
Seth scanned the crowds lining the docking area in front of the convention center, searching for appropriate candidates for mock abduction. He dismissed the hordes of tourists braving the mild February weather in string bikinis. The last thing he needed was some racy media photo of himself with a beach babe thrown over his shoulder. He was definitely going for a local - a woman with enough clothes on to ensure he wouldn't look like a sleazeball for touching too much bare skin.
Bad enough he was half-naked. He didn't need the added trouble - or temptation - of a scantily clad woman in his arms.
All he had to do was find a safe woman, maybe a grandmotherly type, who would enjoy the adventure and generate great P.R. for Chandler Enterprises. He'd carry her off to the boat his brother had waiting for him, then treat her to dinner for her trouble. He could bring her back to the city later tonight.
Simple. Piece of cake, in fact, for a man who managed international mergers, could read financial newspapers in a dozen languages and had compiled enough venture capital to support himself and a small army for the rest of their lives.
He slapped his eye patch back down over his brow and clamped his teeth around a blunt dagger as the ship moved into position in front of the partiers on shore.
How much trouble could abducting a wench possibly be?
* * *
Mia Quentin elbowed her way to the front of the string bikini crowd, hoping to catch a peek at the incoming ship full of pirates, her last chance for adventure. Determined to put herself in the path of the first marauding invader she spied, Mia simmered with restless energy and uncharacteristic daring.
Damned if she didn't feel downright dangerous. She tucked a red hibiscus behind her ear and draped long brown hair over her shoulder. She just hoped one of those pirates appreciated a more artistic approach to fashion than a bikini made of dental floss. Mia happened to think her long floral sarong and black silk halter-top were much more evocative than the blatant message sent by miles of naked legs.
Then again, her knowledge of seduction was about as limited as the other women's scanty outfits. She'd been avoiding adventure - and men - for the past three years. Somehow she'd ended up practically celibate in an effort to assure her grandparents she wasn't following in the footsteps of her reckless mother - a woman who'd missed most of Mia's childhood in favor of chasing any surfer skimming past her beach lounger.
But Mia wasn't in her Twin Palms hometown now. She'd carved out a whole week to play in Tampa before she had to get down to business - wheedling a few months' extension from the bank on a mortgage note for the family tourist shop.
For now, Mia had promised herself she would stop living for her family and start living more for herself.
She'd realized in recent months that she'd slowly retreated from the world because she didn't ever want to upset the grandparents she adored. This notion slammed home with a vengeance last week when a vendor had brought some sample wares to the tourist shop. As Mia inverted a cheesy, water-filled pen that made a cartoon guy's pants fall down, it occurred to her that that was as close as she'd come to a titillating experience in too many years.
So this week, she planned to prove to herself she still knew how to have fun, to be adventurous. Once she secured the mortgage extension on the tourist shop, she'd be working double time to make sure the business could really pay it off. So if ever there'd been a time to have fun, the time was now, before she disappeared into a world of work and family obligations again.
And if an opportunity arose this week to see a real man naked, she certainly wouldn't be averse to peeking.
Mia lifted a small pair of opera glasses to her eyes in order to better drool over the wealth of musclebound men aboard the incoming ship. But before she could focus on the testosterone-laden Jose Gaspar, a scratchy voice beside her interrupted.
"You don't stand a chance in that getup, honey." The speaker was a woman at least seventy years old with white hair cut short in a sleek, sophisticated style. She wore a long green beach robe belted at her waist, which she slowly unfastened. "You've got to show a little leg."
On cue, the older woman's terry cloth cover-up fell open, revealing legs that would give Mia's a run for the money. Mia hoped she looked that good in fifty years. On the other hand, she hoped she could hold her own against grandma today.
Because Mia had her heart set on a sexy abduction scenario with a pirate.
Excerpted from Wild And Willing by Joanne Rock Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wild and Willing delivers a fabulous one sitting read! Wow! Right from the get-go, this story grabbed me with the steamy fun of a Florida pirate festival, a reluctant studdly pirate, and a determined modern day maiden focused on getting her guy! Mia and Seth make a wonderfully exciting and sympathetic hero and heroine. The secondary romance with Noelle and Brock is a bonus treat! And then there are those delightfully quirky grandparents with their sea-side tourist shop. Readers get more than their money's worth in this seamlessly woven story packed full of fun, steam, and romance. The prolific Ms. Rock delivers a winner, yet again!
When the actor quit two hours before the Tampa Bay annual Gasparilla Festival, Seth Chandler reluctantly decides to play the role of pirate captain. Seth knows his company the Gulf Coast Bank subsidiary of Chandler Enterprises is sponsoring the gala and he wants nothing negative to occur on the evening news. Mia Quentin is visiting the town and the event in search of adventure and romance as she takes a break from her very responsible yet dull life. When the pirates led by Seth begin the abduction of women, Mia screams to gain Seth¿s attention. He dubs her ¿Carmen¿ as he kidnaps her. As Mia and Seth become acquainted, they fall in love, but he struggles to persuade her that they can share a lifetime adventure together. Fans of torrid contemporary romances will enjoy WILD AND WILLING though Mia seems schizoid as she is assertive with her beloved, but timid with her grandparents and mother. The story line engages the audience form the moment Seth leaps off the pirate ship and never slows down until the final parry between the lead couple. Joanne Rock endows her fans with an exuberant pleasant tale. Harriet Klausner