Samantha Bennett put Dean Malloy out of her mind five years ago, when he broke her heart after a summer fling. But now he's back in her life, and ready to steal a heritage protection contract that could make or break her career--if he doesn't steal her heart first. Samantha's vowed to hate him, but it's more than anger heating the competition between them.
With sparks flying across the conference table and sizzling in every touch, Dean proposes a weekend liaison. Anything to have Sam again; anything to get her out of his system. But the unresolved feelings between them complicate both their personal and professional lives, and one wild weekend could turn into a disaster that would destroy the one job that means more to Samantha than anything. For a shot at love...is it worth the risk?
Each book in the Take a Risk series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Worth the Risk
Book #2 Risky Surrender
Book #3 His Million Dollar Risk
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Worth the Risk
A Risk It All Novella
By Robin Bielman, Adrien-Luc Sanders, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Robin Bielman
All rights reserved.
Somewhere between the first and third floors of the high-rise office building, Samantha Bennett leaned against the wall of the elevator and willed her rising temperature to cool it. She couldn't show up to her job interview looking like she'd run the six blocks from her hotel.
The strangers filling the elevator on their way to work weren't helping to ease her anxiety. And she really wanted to figure out who had decided to douse himself with cologne and tell him that less was more. Instead, she slid one sweaty palm down the skirt of her new black suit while the other squeezed the handle of the umbrella she'd bought this morning. Thank you, gloomy Idaho sky.
Five floors and a few deep breaths later, the nerves bunched across her shoulder blades had finally drifted away. But when the elevator doors opened and her gaze fell over the shoulder of the woman crowded in front of her, her legs shook. The man squeezing into the front swept a new kind of panic over her.
Quivers traipsed down her spine. She angled herself for a better look, but hopefully one where he wouldn't notice her.
God, he looked good. Better than she remembered. His caramel-colored hair was streaked with lighter shades, indicating he still spent a lot of his time outdoors. It hung a little longer now, more surfer-chic than Indiana Jones. Shoulders broader and a chest more developed hid behind a thin khaki T-shirt. Longing overcame panic. Her body tingled. Everywhere.
All the women in the elevator were eyeing him.
His nearness made everything she'd fought to forget come roaring back to the surface. Samantha worried her bottom lip. She wavered slightly, her hand twitching around the umbrella stem. The elevator doors shut, and —
The umbrella opened.
"Oh my God! I'm so sorry!"
The expanding nylon whacked several people in the back as bodies bumped. Gasps of annoyance filled the tiny space. Flustered, Samantha took a few seconds to close the damn thing.
Once the umbrella shut, she snuck a peek in his direction. He'd turned his head, but a swift duck while she'd gathered her dignity saved her from meeting his gaze.
"Sorry," she muttered again, feeling her cheeks heat and perspiration slide down her side.
His face was the same. The same one she'd dreamed about countless times over the past five years: the square jaw, slightly crooked nose, piercing aquamarine eyes that never wavered during a conversation. The tiny smile that had passed over his lips had her itching to see if he was still ticklish in that little spot on his hip.
Get a grip, Sam.
At this moment, if he asked her, she'd forget all about the job interview and once again follow him from Yosemite to the Badlands.
No, she wouldn't. She was indifferent to him now. And she needed to focus on the meeting, on landing the contract, or she might not be going anywhere but the unemployment line.
It should have been a done deal. The World Heritage Fund was the largest international nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving historical sites. Global climate change contributed more and more to the organization's plight, and they were looking for a partnership with another environmental company to preserve Route 66. The famous highway, stretching over two thousand miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, had been replaced by an interstate highway system a long time ago, but a recent bill signed into law to preserve and restore historic features like gas stations, cafés, and trading posts along the route had put it back on the map.
Samantha's employer, Global Site Preservation, wanted the job. It meant national exposure. It meant an unprecedented alliance. It meant Samantha's freelance position with the company could turn into something more permanent. If she didn't come through with the account, she feared they'd start looking for someone more established.
That could not happen. She needed to keep this job more than she needed anything else. It would prove to her father that she could make it on her own. His scathing words when she decided to leave his law firm still flooded her with sadness. And doubt.
The elevator doors chimed and people exited. Her body tensed at the loss of barriers. At the next floor, the woman she'd been trying desperately to hide behind abandoned her, leaving her feeling exposed. Naked. Uncomfortable in her own skin. She prayed Dean wouldn't turn around.
He'd left World Heritage Fund a year ago to start his own preservation company — Monument & Heritage Recovery — and Samantha hadn't been able to resist keeping track of the California-based organization. Dean had gained a great deal of respect in a short time. So why was he in town? If she'd known he'd be here, she could have prepared herself. Or better yet, done everything possible to avoid him.
The risk he posed to her was too great, even after all this time.
Dizziness swooped in as she realized they'd be getting off the elevator at the same floor. She blinked back the disorientation to glance at her watch. Was there time to pass her floor and circle back after he departed?
He'd probably come to town for a simple visit. His father owned World Heritage Fund, after all, and while everyone in the field knew Dean's departure had strained the father-son relationship, she imagined he still came to Idaho now and then.
Dean. His name conjured up all sorts of images she needed to extinguish from her mind. Pronto.
"Thank you," a woman said, exiting the elevator while he held out an arm to hold the doors open.
"No problem," he replied, his familiar voice causing all sorts of flutters in her stomach. Dammit. The smooth texture of his tone still affected her in ways she was powerless to control.
You don't care about him, remember?
She focused on the metal doors closing. If she didn't, she'd slide down the elevator wall like hot fudge on ice cream. There were only two more floors to go, so she needed to buckle down. She could do this. She had to do this. Sure, his presence rattled her, but she was meeting with his father, not with him. Besides, five years had passed since they'd seen each other. Reason indicated they could offer each other friendly hellos and be done with it.
Unless Samantha took into account the broken heart he'd left her with. The broken heart she hadn't let anyone else come close to healing.
Suck it up, she thought. The job matters and nothing else. She'd dedicated the past few years to getting herself to this point, and she had no intention of blowing it now just because Dean Malloy stood three feet away from her.
Finally they arrived at the twenty-third floor. She waited, pretending it wasn't her stop, so that Dean would exit first. After he did, she followed, catching the closing elevator doors with her trusty — not! — umbrella.
Hanging back, she watched him greet the receptionist before moving deeper into the office and disappearing from view. The sight of his broad shoulders, nice-fitting khakis, and easy swagger sent her entire body into an unwelcome mess of memories. She wondered what it would be like to touch him again, to hold his hand, to kiss him.
"Good morning," she said to the receptionist, her voice more strained than she would've liked. She cleared her throat. "I have a nine o'clock appointment with William Malloy. I'm Sam Bennett."
The fifty-something woman with warm eyes moved a mouthpiece away from her lips. "Yes, Miss Bennett. Have a seat, please, and I'll let him know you're here." She gestured toward a sitting area with dark green couches.
Sam willed her body to relax as she grabbed a magazine off the table beside the couch. It wasn't easy in her suit, the skirt riding up a little higher than she'd realized it would. She pressed her knees together, sat taller, and tried to pull it down. No luck. With a defeated sigh, she opened the magazine to a photograph of a backpacker on a mountain.
The image immediately reminded her of Yosemite, and the first time she'd met Dean. She'd decided to take a month off before law school to journey around the western part of the country, wanting to see the great outdoors that her uppity father had deemed too incidental for their family vacations. On her second day there, she'd bumped into Dean at the top of Vernal Falls.
Fresh off graduation ceremonies at Harvard, Dean was the daring adventurer she'd always dreamed of meeting. Not to mention his adorable charm and irresistible smile made her eager to follow him wherever he might go. Left to her own devices, she would have stayed on the straight and narrow, covered the routes most taken, and missed seeing anything out of the ordinary. Dean had offered more.
Her stomach knotted at the memory. She'd been unable to resist him.
His voice shook her from her memories, and she scrambled to lift the magazine in front of her face.
"Do you think you could get Henry O'Neill on the phone? He's supposed to meet Dad and me for lunch today."
With trepidation, Samantha peeked from behind her magazine. Dean stood at the reception desk — all calm, cool, six-foot-two-inches of him. His approachable posture, his muscular biceps, his confidence, were an irresistible combination that made her want to jump up and shout, Look over here!
But she didn't. She couldn't. The way her heart pounded in her chest, the way her body warmed in all the wrong places, the way she still daydreamed about him ... it wasn't indifference she felt. And she'd promised herself to forget any feelings of attachment where he was concerned.
Damn him for being here.
She tried to drag her eyes away, but she failed. Honestly, looking at him was better than looking at a sunrise, or a rainbow, or a snow-capped mountain. He must have sensed her heated gaze, because he turned to look in her direction. With about the swiftness of a three-year-old, she whipped her face back behind the magazine, lowered her chin, and squeezed her eyes shut.
"Henry," Dean said a moment later, saving her, she hoped, from discovery. And major embarrassment.
Samantha didn't dare look at him again, and she prayed his conversation would be short, because her arms were beginning to get tired from holding up the magazine. It was a good thing her pre-adolescent dream of becoming Nancy Drew hadn't panned out. She sucked at covert operations. Even at twenty-seven.
Thankfully, Henry quickly agreed to the time and place for lunch. Sam opened her eyes to read about "35 Dream Jobs: Turn Your Passion into a Paycheck" and wondered if someone were trying to tell her something. Footsteps, she assumed Dean's, sounded, then quieted, relieving her once again. Sort of. Just knowing he was in the same office created nervous tension inside her. No way would her mind win over her body's reaction to Dean, so she'd have to do whatever it took to stay away from him.
This was supposed to be a done deal, she thought again, willing her mind back to the task at hand. Then her body stiffened. Was Dean the hotshot environmentalist World Heritage Fund was also accepting a proposal from?
She dropped the magazine into her lap.
"Sam," Dean said, sitting across from her with a smile that slayed her.CHAPTER 2
It was her. His girl of summer all those years ago.
The pair of powder blue eyes he couldn't look away from made his gut clench. Her startled expression amused him. Her floral fragrance immediately unlocked memories he'd tried not to think about, and a smile he couldn't contain spread across his face. Lingered.
He'd noticed her the second he'd stepped back into the lobby. No. That wasn't true. He'd noticed her on the elevator, but he hadn't thought it possible she was the girl he'd spent a few summer weeks with. Now he knew.
To his surprise — and delight — her close proximity quickened his pulse and stimulated blood flow to all sorts of body parts. A rush of feelings bombarded him — heat, joy, desire, fear. The simple act of seeing her again stirred far too many complex feelings, emotions he thought he'd left on mountaintops and hiking trails of national parks years ago.
"Dean," she said, so softly, so innocently sexy, that his groin tightened.
They stared at each other. Speechless.
She still looked like an angel with a devilish edge he knew could be coaxed out with the right words. Her luscious heart-shaped lips spoke to him without movement. Honey-colored hair neatly pulled back indicated a more manicured appearance, yet there was no mistaking her youthful spirit. Her hiding behind a magazine confirmed that.
"Wow. It's good to see you." He stood and leaned over to kiss her cheek. The contact sent a jolt of electricity through him.
"Oh my gosh. It's good to see you, too." The corners of her mouth pulled upward to reveal a killer smile that brightened her almond-shaped eyes.
He carried her sweet smell back with him as he sat, and images of the two of them assaulted his mind. Like a thirty-second film clip, memories bombarded his brain in rapid succession: he and Samantha holding hands, laughing, touching, kissing, undressing.
Pausing for a moment before speaking, he really looked at her. God, she was even more breathtaking now. He couldn't believe he was seeing her in the flesh.
He could tell by the way her eyes narrowed that she was sizing him up, too. The trance between them filled the air with wonder and ... curiosity? Was she as interested in him as he was in her? It honestly felt like no time had passed since he'd last seen her, and suddenly he wanted something lengthier than a brief hello and how are you.
What the hell was he thinking?
He'd come to town to get a job. A very lucrative job that would catapult his company to the top of its field and give him the distinction he craved. His father wasn't handing over the partnership for Route 66, but was making Dean work for it. And adding competition from Global Site Preservation, a renowned environmental company based in Chicago with a much longer track record and better-known reputation than Dean's.
Hooking up with Samantha would be a really bad idea. He didn't need or want any distractions. Besides, the last time he'd seen her, she'd broken his heart.
"How've you been?" he asked, snapping the charged tension between them.
"I'm really well, thank you." She cleared her throat. "And you?"
"Good. Really good." He relaxed into the couch, his gaze stuck on the flecks of green in her blue eyes. "I'm surprised to see you here."
She squirmed a little, her hands gripping the magazine. "I could say the same to you. I'd read you started your own company in California, contributing to the preservation of important sites and striving to guarantee future generations get the privilege of knowing their history."
"Wow. You sound pretty knowledgeable on the subject. Have you been influenced by all the hype over environmental issues and climate change, or are you just keeping tabs on me?"
Her cheeks reddened and he imagined he'd caught her off guard with his directness. He remembered seeing her blush on several occasions that had been much more intimate. Shit. If he weren't careful, he'd get a hard-on right here in front of her.
"Last I remember," he continued, "you were headed to law school and then a career with your father's firm, doing contract law, I think it was." He had deliberately changed the topic of conversation to her.
"Actually, I'm in environmental law and preservation now." She sat up taller, straightened her back. "After law school I did work for my father, but then decided to go to night school to get my MBA in Environmental Policy and Management, too. Some guy I'd met really made an impression on me, and I didn't want to be stuck doing estate contracts the rest of my life." Her flat tone left no doubt that she wanted to keep her distance from him.
"Sounds like a smart guy."
"I've met smarter since."
Excerpted from Worth the Risk by Robin Bielman, Adrien-Luc Sanders, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2012 Robin Bielman. 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
Interesting premise - two rivals for a contract to direct the historical restoration of Route 66 meet. He's the son of the owner of the company that is awarding the contract, but broke away from his father's company and is now trying to convince his father to award the contract for his small but upcoming firm that is willing to push the envelope with new techniques. He's the adventure risk taker, and apparantly well off (despite the "my firm needs this" plotline), since he can afford rides in the vomit-commet (weightless airplane) for a spur of the moment date, and meets up with her later on a private charter aircraft. She's smart, pretty, but never really got over her carefree summer of adventure with him that inspired her current career choice, or her father's anger that she didn't stay under his thumb at a prestigious law firm. However,she's determined to win the Route 66 contract to cement her position as an environmentally conscious historic preservationist, and thrown off balance in meeting her competition for the contract, because he's the same guy who left her years ago, and never called. Lots of name dropping about interesting places and sites, but overall the story feels a bit choppy. There's not enough background on some af the dramatic angst that drives the two main characters, and minimal character development for her. As a female lawyer, strong enough to break with her father, and a strong contender for the contract, she seems too split on the romantic front -- telling herself "no" about repeating a relationship with someone who hurt her emotionally five years before, but then engaging in four-minute-long kisses with the same guy in a hotel bar, and falling into passionate sex with him back at her hotel room. This one's ok for a light read (only 111 pages), but not enough fascination with these characters to want more.
This series introduced me to the whole heritage architecture theme - the fixing up of old historic buildings, landmarks, and in the case roads, to bring the back to life again. Samantha has a passion for the industry that seems to be unmatched. But the reason she found that passion may just cause her to lose out on the biggest job of her career (more about that later). Sam is a very fun woman with a lot of personality and I really liked her, but she was just a tad one dimensional - I didn't see a lot of development in her and I crave that in a story. Now Dean on the other hand was quite a character. While he was a bit too confident for my tastes, he was definitely that way for a reason. I don't think the man had ever lost in his life! Of course, Sam may just be the first thing he really wants and can't have. This leads to a very interesting weekend stand agreement - this seems to be a new trend in writing and I'm starting to like it. It's a great starting point that is more believable than a one-night stand love story. I also like that these two books have at least mentioned the state of some of our historic landmarks. I don't know if that was Robin Bielman's intent, but she mentions things just enough to make you think about it a little - but she steers far from banging you in the head with it. I enjoyed book two a little more, but I just bonded with those characters better. Worth the Risk is a very good place to start. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Robin Bielman has written such a compelling, fun and sexy novella with WORTH THE RISK! I truly enjoyed every moment of this contemporary romance, from the earliest pages where Samantha Bennett and Dean Malloy cross paths again for the first time in five years...to the final chapter where we get to see the resolution of their love story. The pages in between are packed with both steamy scenes and the dramatic tension that comes from two hardworking, passionate people who are competing for the same job. I really had no idea which of the two would earn the contract until it was revealed, so that mystery kept me turning pages until late into the night. Plus, the "hot sauce kissing scene" was fantastic! A highly recommended romantic read!!
Great weekend read! This was a great weekend read! Dean and Samantha find themselves competing for the same contract for their companies. Five years has gone by since the two of them shared the best summer of their lives. The feelings they had for one another have come to the surface once again and only increase after spending the weekend together. I thought Robin did a wonderful job on this story. The characters had the right amount of chemistry and guarded emotions that you would expect and it was fun to see how they were going to handle this. She did a great job with the intimate scenes making them very romantic. I also wasn’t sure who was going to get the contract at the end and that was one of the reasons I kept reading! This was a very sweet book that reads very quickly with believable characters and a happy ever after.
A quick read that I did not want to see end. Samantha and Dean had a fling five years ago, that Dean broke her heart. Now they are pitted against each other for a job. They soon find themselves taking up where things were left off. Loved the re connection of Samantha and Dean, they are so perfect for each other.
I had no idea what I was getting when I clicked on Worth the Risk. I’m sure when I added it to my kindle it was a story line that sounded interesting to me, but I couldn’t remember the story details by the time I actually started reading it. Turns out, Worth the Risk is a second chance love story, which I have been feeling lately. They aren’t my normal choice, but I’ve read quite a few these last few months and have been enjoying them. Just more proof that we should vary our reading from time to time right? Worth the Risk is a cute and quick read (I finished in a little over an hour) for those that like a more traditional romance read. You won’t find a lot of angst in the story and the plot draws on quite a few often used devices, but there are still some good words to be read. The biggest factor that brought my rating of the book down was how much time we spent on descriptions. At one point there were pages used to describe just one kiss. ONE kiss. I need more butt kicking in my reads. There is also quite a bit of time spent in our heroine’s head analyzing how hot our hero is and how much she missed him during their time apart. Maybe it’s because I’m a cold-hearted wench but I often get bored when I find this in books. This is totally a reflection on me and not on the author or the writing of the book. It’s just one of those personal preferences things. Like I said, Worth the Wait is just a cute fluffy romance. It’s a nice escape if you’re looking to spend an hour or two lost in a simple love story. If you’re looking for something with a bunch of character growth or angst, you probably want to look elsewhere.
Connected with the second chance Sam &Dean have. Always wish the good books were longer or had a sequal.
Dean and Sam They broke each other hearts 5yrs ago. Now there fighting for the same job. They fall back where they left off but this time its a happier ending.
This is a good book and a quick read. I enjoyed Sam and Dean having a past that drew them together again and made it worth fighting for.
Great read! Enjoyed it
For a short read nothing felt rushed. Well written. Must read
An excellent debut, this story of reunited lovers kept my interest and kept me turning the pages. While I appreciated the glimpses of the history of Sam and Dean's first encounters five years ago, I sometimes felt a little too much attention was paid to the details of the past, if that's possible. But Robin did give us our happy-ever-after and did so in style. I really did enjoy this book.
This book was a quick hot read. Sam and Dean had a great connection. I always love the second chance at love premise. Theirs was one of pure gold. The way the met five years before was young and fun. Their reunion was grown up and mature. The way they never lost their true feelings was sweet. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. Ms. Bielman never disappoints in her books.
Robin Bielman writes with passion and humor. This novella is a perfect example. Lovers meeting after a long absence set the stage for a passionate reunion. Their parting broke both their hearts even though they won't admit it. The hurt still remains as does the desire. The author shows us the deeply buried emotions of her characters. She has the talent to write multilayered people that the reader can empathize with. I was drawn into the story from the first page. I liked Samantha and Dean. They are delightful characters. The emphasis on historic preservation was an interesting touch and struck a cord with me. The secondary characters added to story as did the Idaho setting. This was a very enjoyable and romantic escape.
Fun, sexy, heartwarming read that I hated to see end. One summer five years ago Dean and Samantha had the summer of their life and neither one forgot the other. This is the story of when the meet again. It's a great quick read you don't want to miss. Highly recommended.
This story is about Samantha finding that ONE person, Dean, that makes her heart beat just a little faster and then watching him walk away towards bigger and better things. Falling apart then pulling herself back together and five years later, seeing him again and all those feelings she thought she'd already dealt with come rushing back. After a weekend together, she has to watch him walk away AGAIN! How long will it take her to forget about the man she's fallen in love with? Does he feel the same way about her? It's a story about love lost and found again. It's about family and forgiveness. I loved it! A few times I was very irritated with Dean but then he'd make up for it. He and Samantha had amazing chemistry in and out of bed. The joy they experienced together, especially when they went zero-g, was so contagious that I found myself smiling right along with them. This is book one in the fantastic series Take a Risk by Robin Bielman. I can't wait to read book two. Received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
This was perfect Sunday morning romantic reading and I lay prone on the sofa from the moment I picked it up until I flicked the final page. Robin Bielman never fails to bring a feel-good romance, with wonderful loveable characters and a lose-yourself storyline, to life. Samantha and Dean had a meaningful holiday romance and parted on a misunderstanding five years previously. When they discover they are pitched against each for the same business contract their feelings are instantly reignited. And I'm all for mixing business with pleasure when it's as sexy and romantic as this... I simply loved the romance. I like my angst but I also love my books where I can completely lose myself in a sweet sexy romantic journey that has intimacy and passion that makes me feel all tingly inside. I adored Dean and Sam and with a five minute kiss that was just exquisite, Worth the Risk is exactly all this; many shorter reads have a habit of falling a little short for me, but this has left me a happy satisfied girl. Well worth reading. I received a copy of this courtesy of Entangled Publishing for an honest and unbiased opinion
Reviewed by Meli Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Samantha Bennett is a woman determined to make her father proud. The thing is that lot’s of things have happened since she set out to win this big account. Main thing and probably the biggest of her life is seeing the man that broke heart again. Dean Mallory was everything for her and the only guy to really understand her. I loved that even though they have been separated for years their love is stronger than ever. This is the first I have read from Robin Bielman and have to say it was really good. There is romance, sexual chemistry leaping off the first chapter and a man determined to make all the past regrets well a past. The storyline was smooth and easily kept my attention wanting to find out what will Sam do with a man like Dean Mallory getting to heart all over again. Great book.
My first taste of this author, I read this delightful novella in one sitting. I'll definitely be watching for more!
Loved this short story... Excellent characters and very good story line... Quick read (only 100+ pages)... Held my interest and I enjoy Ms. Bielman's writing style... She writes with a flair and a sense of humor... Her characters could be my friends and while sexy her love scenes are always in good taste...
I read all 3 this author has available and really enjoyed each one. They are not long books, but they are great stories.
I am new to the romance novels, but, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Robin Bielman is a wonderful writer who has crafted intriguing characters and wrapped them up in a compelling story. I had a hard time putting her book down and am ready to read more of her works! I would heartily recommend this book to anyone and everyone.