The protégé of a world-renowned artist, sculptress Phoenix Banister dreams of one day taking the art world by storm. Few people know that Phoenix has a secret that could ruin her career before it even starts. To protect that secret, Phoenix lives a very quiet life-and that means no scandal and no romance. But her well-ordered world is turned upside down when she meets Morgan Grayson, a powerfully handsome attorney. Morgan isn't the kind of man a woman can ignore-no matter how hard she tries...
An avid art collector, Morgan deeply appreciates beauty-especially when it comes in the form of a woman like Phoenix. With her elegant smile and soft, toffee-colored skin, Phoenix takes Morgan's breath away the moment he sees her. But he senses that the woman he is falling in love with has something to hide-something not even his soft kisses and tender embrace can reveal. When Morgan finally discovers the truth about her past, will he still think Phoenix is the woman of his dreams?
About the Author
Francis Ray is the New York Times bestselling author of the Grayson novels, the Falcon books, the Taggart Brothers, and Twice the Tempation, among many other romances. Her novel Incognito was made into a movie aired on BET. A native Texan, she is a graduate of Texas Woman's University and has a degree in nursing. Besides a writer, she is a school nurse practitioner with the Dallas Independent School District. She lives in Dallas.
Francis Ray (1944-2013) is the New York Times bestselling author of the Grayson novels, the Falcon books, the Taggart Brothers, and Twice the Temptation, among many other books. Her novel Incognito was made into a movie aired on BET. A native Texan, she was a graduate of Texas Woman's University and had a degree in nursing. Besides a writer, she was a school nurse practitioner with the Dallas Independent School District. She lived in Dallas. "Francis Ray is, without a doubt, one of the Queens of Romance." --Romance Review
Read an Excerpt
Morgan Grayson was in serious trouble.
Long, elegant fingers tapped out a synchronized beat on the steering wheel of his two-seater sports car as Aretha Franklin's unmistakable voice demanded respect. Morgan knew just how the lady felt.
Easing around the slow-moving Suburban, Morgan resisted the urge to press his foot down on the accelerator and take some of his growing frustrations out with a fast drive. The twisting roads beneath the Sangre de Cristo Mountains outside of Santa Fe were unforgiving when it came to fools and speeding vehicles. Morgan wasn't a fool, so he contented himself by increasing the volume of the CD and returned to pondering his problem.
His loving, stubborn, matchmaking mother.
Ruth Grayson had singled him out as the next one of her children to marry off. After she'd thrown Shelby in his path two weeks ago at Luke's wedding, Morgan had erroneously thought she'd need a little more time to regroup. After all, she had enlisted the help of her friends and associates from around the country in looking for a wife for Luke. Knowing she was too sensitive to thrust the same women at him anytime soon, Morgan thought he was safe. But she had outwitted him.
For him, she was staying local.
Last week, when he'd picked up his dry cleaning, he'd even heard there was a jackpota little something so the lucky winner could have a blowout bachelorette party. This morning he had stopped by his mother's house for breakfast and three of her single female colleagues from St. John's College, where she taught music in the graduate program, were there. You'd think she would be subtler or the women would have more pride. But no! They all acted as if this were some type of game. Unfortunately, he was the prize.
His mother had married off Luke, just as she predicted. As the second born, Morgan was next. In the past he had always been pleased that he was next in line. No longer. Brandon, Pierce, and Sierra were constantly urging him to hold out. Demanding might be a more apt word. His younger brothers and sister didn't have to worry. He had no intention of getting married.
He was happy for Luke, and Catherine was a fantastic woman, but marriage wasn't in his plans. His law practice was his mistress and he liked it that way. The woman hadn't been born who would make him even think about getting serious. But his mother wasn't listening to him.
His fingers flexed on the steering wheel as he wondered how Luke had coped, but since he and Catherine had been holed up in his mountain cabin since they returned a few days ago from their honeymoon in Bali, Morgan couldn't ask him. Probably just as well, Morgan thought as he came over a rise and saw the black iron gate of the Hendersons' ranch that signaled he was almost at his destination. Luke was an unwanted reminder that their mother had been right in her choice for her firstborn.
Slowing down, Morgan turned into the paved driveway and saw the white stucco ranch house at the end of the winding mile-long road. The red tiled roof gleamed in the bright morning sunlight. The aspen leaves were thick and shimmering with life, the air scented with the last, lingering scents of wildflowers. It was a beautiful fall day. Too bad he couldn't enjoy it.
Stopping in the circular driveway in front of the heavily carved red double doors, he cut the motor. The BMW roadster purred to a polite silence. He smiled. He'd always been a sucker for cars. He enjoyed the finer things in life and worked long, demanding hours in a job he loved to afford them. With his thriving law practice, his life was perfect in every way but one. His mother.
Thrusting his mother's matchmaking schemes from his mind, Morgan picked up the hand-stitched leather attaché case from the seat beside him and got out. He had business to take care of. Besides, he could handle any woman she pushed in his path.
Closing the door, he started up the walkway lined with purple sage. The neigh of a horse followed by the throaty laughter of a woman caused him to pause and turn toward the sound. He was just in time to see an elegantly shaped woman take a huge roan stallion smoothly over one six-foot rail, then another. Since Morgan had a fondness for women and horses, he watched the riveting combination of grace and beauty.
The woman's long legs were encased in tan jodhpurs pressed tightly against the animal's gleaming flanks as she guided him over another obstacle. It took strength, skill, and control to handle such a big, powerful animal and make it appear effortless. Morgan idly wondered if the woman was that controlled in bed or was as wild and as tantalizing as her laughter had been.
"Excuse me, sir. May I help you?"
The heavily accented voice effectively ended Morgan's speculations and his idle thought of finding out. Pleasure never outweighed business. Pushing the woman from his mind, he turned.
"Yes. I'm Morgan Grayson. I'm here to see Mr. Duval. He's expecting me."
The dark, austere face of the elderly servant dressed in unrelieved black became no less stern at Morgan's announcement. His closely cropped head of gray hair inclined slightly. "Yes, Mr. Grayson. Mr. Duval is expecting you. This way, please."
Morgan followed the man, his gait slow and deliberate, inside the rambling one-story ranch house. The interior was cool, the furniture sleek and ultramodern. Morgan knew the couple who owned the house but seldom lived there. They preferred the Mediterranean this time of year and saw the house as a tax write-off. Thanks to the investment advice of Morgan's brother Pierce, they were able to enjoy their retirement in style.
Crossing the slate gray carpeted floor, the servant knocked briefly on the heavily carved mahogany door. "Mr. Duval. Mr. Grayson is here."
"Send him in," commanded a curt male voice.
"Yes, sir." Standing to the side of the door he opened, the servant closed it as soon as Morgan walked through. Morgan saw Andre Duval turn from looking out the window, then take a seat behind his desk. Not by word or look did he acknowledge Morgan. Thankful that his business with Duval would be brief, Morgan crossed the polished oak floor and extended his hand.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Duval. It's a pleasure to meet you." He didn't even wince at the lie.
Duval ignored the hand and stared unflinchingly back at Morgan. "You're late."
Morgan's own eyes narrowed. He'd heard that Duval, a renowned sculptor, was temperamental. Apparently he was also rude. Slowly Morgan twisted the hand he had extended and glanced at the face of the eighteen-karat Rolex on his wrist. "I'm seven and a half minutes early."
"Where are the papers I'm to sign?"
Not even by a flicker of his thick lashes did Morgan show his irritation. If Duval were his client, he'd walk. He wasn't. He was the client of the Lawson & Lawson law firm in Boston. Kenneth Lawson, the senior partner, had been Morgan's mentor as well as his professor when he attended Harvard. He was now a good friend. Morgan respected and liked the crafty Lawson too much to disappoint him. His firm would get a sizable commission once Duval signed the contract to have Courage, the best of his earlier works, reproduced for limited editions. Besides, a lawyer learned early to deal with unpleasant people and unavoidable situations.
"May I?" Morgan asked, lifting the briefcase over the highly polished surface of the immaculate desk.
The affirmative nod from Duval was also curt.
Placing the case on the desk, Morgan opened it and handed copies of the two contracts to Duval. A black-gloved right hand emerged from beneath the desk, took the papers, and laid them carelessly aside. Cold brown eyes never left Morgan.
"You can leave now."
Morgan snapped his briefcase shut with a distinctive click. "If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them. I understand you were expected to sign today and I could overnight them to Mr. Lawson."
"You understood wrong." Duval stood. His left hand was already in the coat pocket of his loosely constructed black jacket. He slipped his right into the other pocket. "Good-bye."
Morgan knew when he had been dismissed. He pulled a card from inside the jacket of his wheat-colored suit and placed it in the middle of the desk. "In case you need to reach me. Good-bye." Lifting the briefcase off the desk, he turned to leave.
A brief knock sounded on the door before it swung open. Bubbling laughter preceded the striking young woman into the study. "Andre" She stopped her headlong dash, her smoky gray eyes widening on seeing Morgan. For a long moment she simply stared.
Morgan was doing the same. She was even more exquisite up close. "Hello."
"Hello," she murmured a bit breathlessly, then turned to Andre. "I'm sorry. I came in the back from the stable. I didn't know you had a guest."
"No matter, my dear. Mr. Grayson was just leaving."
Morgan noted Duval's voice had lost its sharpness and now almost crooned. Morgan could well understand why. If the woman's whiskey voice didn't get you, the smoky gray eyes and pouting lips would. She had the kind of face that a man would go to his grave remembering and a lush, curvaceous body created to satisfy any fantasy.
She flushed beneath her golden skin at Morgan's open appraisal. All that sex appeal and she could still blush. Innocence and carnality, an alluring and dangerous combination. Was she La Flame, the mysterious woman reported to be the inspiration and reason for Duval's sculptured pieces to have regained their fire and vitality after a seven-year absence from the art world? It would certainly explain his rush to get rid of Morgan.
Duval had an unimpeded view of the front of the house and the stable from the window in his study. It was safe to assume he had seen Morgan watching the vibrant young woman and hadn't approved.
Morgan smiled. Living on the edge kept a man sharp. "Mr. Duval, I didn't know you had a daughter."
"She's not," Andre snapped.
A smile tugging the corners of her enticing mouth, the woman came farther into the room. "I think Mr. Grayson is teasing, Andre."
"Phoenix, Morgan Grayson," Andre introduced them, obviously annoyed at having to do so.
"Hello, Mr. Grayson."
Morgan's large hand closed over the small, delicate one she extended and he noted the slight roughness of her palms. The unexpected contrast pleased him almost as much as the slight leap in her pulse at the base of her throat, the widening of her beautiful eyes. "Hello, Phoenix."
Moistening her lips, she withdrew her hand. He'd bet the farm that she wasn't the nervous type. Interesting. "Would you like something to drink?" she asked, her voice a fraction huskier than it had been.
Very interesting. "No"
"Thank you, dear, but Mr. Grayson was just leaving," Andre interrupted. "Besides, you need to change after riding."
Embarrassment replaced the warmth in her face. Her hand fluttered across the front of her wrinkled white blouse, then down the side of her dusty jodhpurs. "Please excuse my appearance. I was so excited about Crimson settling in so well, I didn't think."
Morgan's own smile increased to put her at ease. Twin dimples he had always detested winked. "No apology needed. It was a pleasure watching you ride."
The corners of her very tempting mouth curved upward again. "Crimson did all the work."
"Since I ride, I know better."
"Phoenix," Andre called, his voice tight. "You really need to change out of those clothes, and don't forget to remind Cleo that we won't be dining in tonight."
Her eyes flashed; her body tensed. Morgan had seen the same thing happen when his sister, Sierra, became angry. The quiet before the storm. Morgan waited for Phoenix to tell the bossy Duval to take a flying leap.
Instead, in the next breath, she seemed to retreat before Morgan's eyes, leaving only the facade and none of the brilliance of the vivacious woman who had entered the room. It was as if a shade had been placed over a bright flame. Again Morgan wondered what the relationship between the two was.
"Of course, Andre. Good-bye, Mr. Grayson."
"Good-bye, Phoenix," he said, unable to keep the disappointment out of his voice that she was leaving and that she hadn't stood up to Duval. The door closed softly behind her.
"I'll show you out." Coming from around the desk, Andre led the way out of his study. As soon as they emerged, the same servant Morgan had seen earlier appeared. The elderly man reached the front door seconds before Duval stepped onto the terrazzo entryway. Despite the man's stiff left leg, Andre had not slowed in his haste to rid himself of Morgan.
Hands stuffed into the pockets of his jacket, Andre stood to the side as Morgan passed. "I'll mail the contracts directly back to Kenneth. There is no need to trouble you driving all the way back out here."
Morgan stopped in the middle of the stone walkway and turned. Duval wouldn't care if Morgan slow-roasted on a spit. They both knew it. He wondered why Duval even bothered to lie and then caught a movement . . . a flash of white behind him. Phoenix.
Inclining his head in acknowledgment, Morgan opened the car door, tossed his briefcase onto the passenger seat, then got in. Driving away, he again wondered exactly what the relationship was between Duval and Phoenix. Neither gave out signals of their being lovers, but that didn't mean they hadn't been intimate.
Morgan might not like the snobbish man, but he was well respected and wielded a great deal of influence in the art world. Certain women were attracted to that type of man. But for some odd reason Morgan didn't think Phoenix was that kind of woman. In his profession he had learned to read people quickly and accurately. Users weren't guileless and they certainly didn't blush.
Flipping on the signal, Morgan pulled onto the highway and headed back toward Santa Fe. He didn't like puzzles. He liked even less the pompous way Duval had treated Phoenix. Before the roadster had gone another mile Morgan knew he was going to find out exactly what was going on between the two.
"I thought I'd find you in here."
Phoenix turned from slipping on her smock to see Andre enter the studio. Bright sunlight streamed through the three floor-to-ceiling windows behind her. The rays weren't kind to Andre. They sought out every line in his sixty-five-year-old face and delineated his thin frame. Unbidden came the contrasting and very vivid image of Morgan Grayson's muscular body.
The moment she'd seen Andre's visitor, she had been captivated by the intensity of his gaze, the raw masculinity his expensive suit couldn't hide. There had been something untamed and noble about him. Instinctively she'd known he'd make a good friend or a dangerous enemy.
"You aren't annoyed with me, are you?" Andre persisted.
She took her time buttoning the faded smock. They both knew it wouldn't matter if she were, just as they both knew he wasn't going to change. He was an artistic genius with the temperament to match. He could be rude, harsh, insensitive, but she never forgot he had saved her when no one else had cared.
She took a seat at the stool in front of the workbench. "Why were you so abrupt with him?"
"He was sizing you up."
Phoenix blinked, then laughed despite the sudden pounding of her heart. "He was doing no such thing."
"You always think the best of people," Andre sneered down his nose. "You believed the same of Paul Jovan."
Phoenix's entire body stiffened.
"I'm sorry you made it necessary to remind you of the incident," Andre said, his black-gloved hand sweeping over her hair. "Your naïveté and beauty attract the wrong type of men. I'm the only man you can trust. Remember that." Without another word Andre left the studio. There was no need for him to remain. He had accomplished what he intended.
Phoenix removed the cloth from the bust, lifted a pick, and began to delicately remove the excess clay. She couldn't argue even if she wanted to. Andre was right. He was the only man . . . including her father . . . who had ever wanted her for herself. It would be foolish, not to mention dangerous, for her to forget again.
Copyright © 2005 by Francis Ray. All rights reserved.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great, Great read! I no longer know which is the best! And to make matters better the friends novels are just as good! I've fallen In love with the Grayson's and their friends!
You will absolutely fall in love with this book once you've read it. As the series continue you wont want to stopp reading. when I first got this book there wasnt stopping me from reading it. while I'm in class I read it. the series of event and the atmosphere is so fantastic and romantic! anyone who believe's in love well prepare to be thrown off your feet. I think its very sweet that ruth is marrying off her children to see the happiness that she once had with her husband. The family is knit-close and no one can seperate them from one another. no matter what goes down there always behind on another 100%. A wonderufl powerful mother seeks her own happiness for her children thats very heart taking! I'm about to read all of the grayson's and falcon family book series i just love the way the stories end into happiness!
I didn't read any of the other Grayson novels, but you can best believe I'm trying to get my hands on every one of them now. I enjoyed the romance and the closeness of the Grayson/Falcon family and the friends that they included in the story. It was just a quick, sweet love story. Ruth Grayson is a woman who gets what she wants!
recall jumping for joy, shouting, 'The Graysons are coming! The Grayson's are coming!', when Francis Ray announced that she was going to continue her series on the Grayson family. I was overjoyed! I did something that I actually never do I preordered the book! When it arrived, I hunkered down to meet the latest Grayson hottie, Morgan. Uh- oh... Once again, Ms. Ray starts the book the EXACT same way she started her UNTIL THERE WAS YOU, at the wedding of the previous family member. I don't know if this was planned or a coincidence, but its getting kind of redundant. I mean, it's has been YEARS since the last book... has time stood still in Texas? Just a point to ponder. Moving on, we are reintroduced to the gorgeous Grayson children, who are multi-talented yet, tempermental. It amazes me how this group of beautiful people, who are talented in their respective occupations, can only find time to discuss how they DON'T want to get married and settle down. These siblings go throughout this book actually keeping tabs on each other's love life to make sure that the other one does not 'fall in love and marry'. Gimme a break! Don't these people have anything better to do?! The one question that is never answered is WHY these people do not want to get married! Another point to ponder. We then meet our lovely heroine, Phoenix Banister, the woman with absolutely no backbone or self esteem. She is a 'kept' woman by her older mentor, who he keeps her protected like a princess trapped in a tower. Alas, here comes Morgan on his white horse to save her from a life of lonliness! All throughout the book with her head downcast, Phoenix is dragging around this secret that will destroy any chance that she has at happiness. She finally lifts her head high enough to notice Morgan and feels that she could spend the rest of her life with this man... but there's that pesky, little secret! then after all of the build up, the secret is a huge let down and Morgan's reaction the reader like, 'Huh?' Morgan and Phoenix have absolutely NO chemistry whatsoever. Morgan spends half the book trying to coax this turtle out of her shell. He becomes more like her ghuru than her suitor. In my opinion, Phoenix had more chemistry with the horse than she did with Morgan. And the love scene?! We were robbed! But then again, maybe all the passion they had for each other could be summed up in just a half of a page! This book was long and drawn out and I had to deeply concentrate and focus to finish it. I thought this was going to be an all-nighter or what I respectively call, 'a six hour special'. Definitely, not the case with YOU AND NO OTHER. Perhaps Ms. Ray should have reaquainted herself and re-read her FALCON SAGA and UNTIL THERE WAS YOU before attempting to continue this series book. Maybe she could have captured some of the fire and taken some of the previous heat with her to put in this book. I can only give this book one star. Ms. Ray is capable of much better work than this. *SIGH* I guess I'll dig out and reread FOREVER YOURS... again. Makes a girl long for the old days of romance.
This was a very slow read for me. I have read better by this author. There wasn't a strong enough chemistry between the two lead characters and this story was missing something. I can't put my finger on it but there just wasn't that 'Umph'
I read this book in one day. I could not put it down. I was amazed at how creative she is. Morgan was the perfect man and Phoenix was so loyal. It is refreshing read about pure Love and Devotion. The Graysons and Falcons are the perfect family.
I WAS SO SWEPT AWAY BY THE DETAILING IN THIS BOOK.I COULD ALMOST FEEL MYSELF FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE CHARACTERS IN THIS STORY.IF YOU HAVE NEVER BELIEVED IN LOVE THEN THIS IS GOING TO MAKE YOU CHANGE YOUR WHOLE PROSPECTIVE IN THE LOVE DEPARTMENT.FRANCIS THANK YOU SO MUCH ,I AM TRULY SOLD ON YOUR NOVELS.
Once again Francis Ray has wrote another great story. I have enjoyed reading all of her books. She is my favorite author. Her stories of the Falcons and the Grayson's have also been a page turner.
THIS AUTHOR CAN TRULY WRITE A BOOK. SHE MAKES YOU FEEL THE CHARACTERS.. CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT RELEASE.
This was a great book.I really enjoyed this book. It has so much life in it. I wish I could have on of those Grayson's boys.
Francis Ray does it again with her continued tale of the Grayson/Falcon family search for true love. Another reluctant son refuses to see love when it stands in his face until is nearly too late. A quick read, yet I was mildly disappointed because the book lacks the usual passion found in a Francis Ray novel. It is still a satisfying read.
In Santa Fe, attorney Morgan Grayson delivers legal papers for a friend to highly regarded sculptor Andre Duval, but the pompous artist treats him with disdain and refuses to sign anything. When Andre¿s protégé Phoenix Banister enters the room, she and Morgan seem to hit it off on some level that disturbs Duval, who tells the lawyer never to come back. After Andre leaves, he warns Phoenix to stay away from the man as he is the only one she can trust.--- Morgan is very attracted to Phoenix, but has no plans to see her. He is concerned that his matchmaking mom Ruth has targeted him as her second of five children needing a spouse; though he admits that his brother Luke is very happy (see UNTIL THERE WERE YOU). Still he wants to see Phoenix and to his elation she reciprocates. As they fall in love Duval pressures her to stay away from him. Morgan knows he must uncover the hold that Andre uses to keep Phoenix in line.--- The Second Grayson novel is an enjoyable fine arts romantic suspense with the emphasis on the characters more so than the intrigue though the latter hooks the audience who want to know how ¿Svengali¿ controls his protégée. The lead couple belongs together, but with Duval the master puppeteer pulling the strings it looks doubtful that will occur. However, his opponent is not just Morgan, but in his corner are his college music teaching matchmaking mom and the extended family of Graysons and Falcons. Fans will enjoy Francis Ray¿s tale of ¿forbidden¿ love.--- Harriet Klausner