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A Tangled Affair Mass Market Paperback – June 5, 2012


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About the Author

Fiona Brand lives in the sunny Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Now that both of her sons are grown, she continues to love writing books and gardening. After a life-changing time in which she met Christ, she has undertaken study for a bachelor of theology and has become a member of The Order of St. Luke, Christ's healing ministry.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The vibration of Lucas Atraeus's cell phone disrupted the measured bunch and slide of muscle as he smoothly bench-pressed his own weight.

Gray sweatpants clinging low on narrow hips, broad shoulders bronzed by the early morning light that flooded his private gym, he flowed up from the weight bench and checked the screen of his cell. Few people had his private number; of those only two dared interrupt his early morning workout.

"Si." His voice was curt as he picked up the call.

The conversation with his older brother, Constantine, the CEO of The Atraeus Group, a family-owned multibillion-dollar network of companies, was brief. When he terminated the call, Lucas was grimly aware that within the space of a few seconds a great many things had changed.

Constantine intended to marry in less than a fortnight's time and, in so doing, he had irretrievably complicated Lucas's life.

The bride, Sienna Ambrosi, was the head of a Sydney-based company, Ambrosi Pearls. She also happened to be the sister of the woman with whom Lucas was currently involved. Although involved was an inadequate word to describe the passionate, addictive attraction that had held him in reluctant thrall for the past two years.

The phone vibrated again. Lucas didn't need to see the number to know who the second caller was; his gut reaction was enough. Carla Ambrosi. Long, luscious dark hair, honey-tanned skin, light blue eyes and the kind of taut, curvy body that regularly disrupted traffic and stopped him in his tracks.

Desire kicked, raw and powerful, almost overturning the rigid discipline he had instilled in himself after his girlfriend had plunged to her death in a car accident almost five years ago. Ever since Sophie's death he had pledged not to be ruled by passion or fall into such a destructive relationship ever again.

Lately, a whole two years lately, he had been breaking that rule on a regular basis.

But not anymore.

With an effort of will he resisted the almost overwhelming urge to pick up the call. Seconds later, to his intense relief, the phone fell silent.

Shoving damp, jet-black hair back from his face, he strolled across the pale marble floor to the shower with the loose-limbed power of a natural athlete. In centuries past, his build and physical prowess would have made him a formidable warrior. These days, however, Medinian battle was fought across boardroom tables with extensive share portfolios and gold mined from the arid backbone of the main island.

In the corporate arena, Lucas was undefeated. Relationships, however, had proved somewhat less straightforward.

All benefit from the workout burned away by tension and the fierce, unwanted jolt of desire, he stripped off his clothes, flicked the shower controls and stepped beneath a stream of icy water.

If he did nothing and continued an affair that had become increasingly irresistible and risky, he would find himself engaged to a woman who was the exact opposite of the kind of wife he needed.

A second fatal attraction. A second Sophie.

His only honorable course now was to step away from the emotion and the desire and use the ruthless streak he had hammered into himself when dealing with business acquisitions. He had to form a strategy to end a relationship that had always been destined for disaster, for both of their sakes.

He had tried to finish with Carla once before and failed. This time he would make sure of it.

It was over.

Lucas was finally going to propose.

The glow of a full moon flooded the Mediterranean island of Medinos as Carla Ambrosi brought her rented sports car to a halt outside the forbidding gates of Castello Atraeus.

Giddy delight coupled with nervous tension zinged through her as the paparazzi, on Medinos for her sister's wedding to Constantine Atraeus tomorrow, converged on the tiny sky-blue car. So much for arriving deliberately late and under cover of darkness.

A security guard tapped on her window. She wound the glass down a bare two inches and handed him the cream-colored, embossed invitation to the prewedding dinner.

With a curt nod, he slid the card back through the narrow gap and waved her on.

A flash temporarily blinded her as she inched the tiny rental through the crush, making her wish she had ignored the impulse that had seized her and chosen a sensible, solid four-door sedan instead of opting for a low-slung fun and flimsy sports car. But she had wanted to look breezy and casual, as if she didn't have a care in the world—

A sharp rap on her passenger-side window jerked her head around.

"Ms. Ambrosi, are you aware that Lucas Atraeus arrived in Medinos this morning?"

A heady jolt of anticipation momentarily turned her bones to liquid. She had seen Lucas's arrival on the breakfast news. Minutes later, she had glimpsed what she was sure must be his car as she had strolled along the waterfront to buy coffee and rolls for breakfast.

Flanked by security, the limousine had been hard to miss but, frustratingly, the darkly tinted windows had hidden the occupants from sight. Breakfast forgotten, she had both called and texted Lucas. They had arranged to meet but, frustratingly, a late interview request from a popular American TV talk-show host had taken that time slot. With Ambrosi's new collection due for release in under a week, the opportunity to use the publicity surrounding Sienna's wedding to showcase their range and mainstream Ambrosi's brand had been pure gold. Carla had hated canceling but she had known that Lucas, with his clinical approach to business, would understand. Besides, she was seeing him tonight.

Another camera flash made the tension headache she had been fighting since midafternoon spike out of control. The headache was a sharp reminder that she needed to slow down, chill out, de-stress. Difficult to do with the type A personality her doctor had diagnosed just over two years ago, along with a stomach ulcer.

The doctor, who also happened to be a girlfriend, had advised her to lose her controlling, perfectionist streak, to stop micromanaging every detail of her life including her slavish need to color coordinate her wardrobe and plan her outfits a week in advance. Her approach to relationships was a case in point. Her current system of spreadsheet appraisal was hopelessly punitive. How could she find Mr. Right if no one ever qualified for a second date? Stress was a killer. She needed to loosen up, have some fun, maybe even consider actually sleeping with someone, before she ended up with even worse medical complications.

Carla had taken Jennifer at her word. A week later she had met Lucas Atraeus.

"Ms. Ambrosi, now that your sister is marrying Constantine, is there any chance of resurrecting your relationship with Lucas?"

Jaw tight, Carla continued to inch forward, her heart pounding at the reporter's intrusive question, which had been fired at her like a hot bullet.

And which had been eating at her ever since Sienna had broken the news two weeks ago that she had agreed to marry Constantine.

Tonight, though, she was determined not to resent the questions or the attention. After two years of avoiding being publicly linked with Lucas after the one night the press claimed they had spent together, she was now finally free to come clean about the relationship.

The financial feud that had torn the Atraeus and Ambrosi families apart, and the grief of her sister's first broken engagement to Constantine, were now in the past. Sienna and Constantine had their happy ending. Now, tonight, she and Lucas could finally have theirs.

A throaty rumble presaged the glare of headlights as a gleaming, muscular black car glided in behind her.

Lucas.

Her heart slammed against the wall of her chest. He was staying at the castello, which meant he had probably been at a meeting in town and was just returning. Or he could have driven to the small town house she and Sienna and their mother were renting in order to collect her. The possibility of the second option filled her with relieved pleasure.

A split second later the way ahead was clear as the media deserted her in favor of clustering around Lucas's Maser-ati. Automatically, Carla's foot depressed the accelerator, sending her small sports car rocketing up the steep, winding slope. Scant minutes later, she rounded a sweeping bend and the spare lines of the castello she had only ever seen in magazine articles jumped into full view.

The headlights of the Maserati pinned her as she parked on the smooth sweep of gravel fronting the colonnaded entrance. Feeling suddenly, absurdly vulnerable, she retrieved the flame-red silk clutch that matched her dress and got out of the car.

The Maserati's lights winked out, plunging her into comparative darkness as she closed her door and locked the car.

She started toward the Maserati, still battling the aftereffects of the bright halogen lights. The sensitivity of her eyes was uncomfortably close to a symptom she had experienced two months ago when she had contracted a virus while holidaying with Lucas in Thailand.

Instead of the romantic interlude she had so carefully planned and which would have generated the proposal she wanted, Lucas had been forced into the role of nursemaid. On her return home, when she had continued to feel off-color, further tests had revealed that the stomach ulcer she thought she had beaten had flared up again.

The driver's side door of the car swung open. Her pulse rate rocketed off the charts. Finally, after a day of anxious waiting, they would meet.

Meet.

Her mouth went dry at a euphemism that couldn't begin to describe the explosive encounters that, over the past year, had become increasingly intense.

The reporter at the gate had put his finger on an increasingly tender and painful pulse. Resurrect her relationship with Lucas?

Technically, she was not certain they had ever had anything as balanced as a relationship. Her attempt to create a relaxed, fun atmosphere with no stressful strings had not succeeded. Lucas had seemed content with brief, cra...

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780373731794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373731794
  • ASIN: 0373731795
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,733,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

National Best-Selling Author Jules Bennett sold her first novel in 2005 and hasn't stopped since. She currently writes for Harlequin (Desire and Special Edition) and Kensington Publishing.

In 2015, Jules will have 6 releases from Harlequin and in 2016 she will launch her new single title series with Kensington, plus more Harlequin books!

When Jules isn't writing, she is spending time with her high school sweetheart, whom she's been married to since the age of 21, and raising a family.

Fan mail is appreciated so she can keep in touch with her readers and fans. You can e-mail her via her new, fresh website: www.julesbennett.com. Also follow Jules on Twitter and/ or "Like" her Facebook Fan Page.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hotcha on September 13, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Tangled Affair (Harlequin Desire)

Two years ago, Lucas Atraeus had a mad secret affair with Carla Ambrosi. Their families were riyals in the business world until Ambrosi Pearls hit financial troubles and his brother's engagement to her sister fell apart. Lucas had vowed after his marriage to a spoiled party girl when she died in a car accident that he wouldn't ever trust his heart and he knew Carla said she didn't want committeemen but her eye's betrayed her...........

Carla Ambrosi missed Lucas since he had been in the states for two months and she knew he was the best man at his brother's wedding and that she would see him there. He hadn't returned her telephone call nor her text messages and she had dressed with his seduction in mind.........

Fiona Brand spins a fiery story of Lucas and Carla's explosive passion as they tried to convinced themselves that their affair was over. Then they had unprotected sex.............
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jbarr5 (julie Barrett) on October 1, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Tangled Affair by Fiona Brand
Couldn't really get into this book as I felt bombarded with a ton of names that didn't seem to pair up with who they were to pair up with, their spouses. Although a bunch of places are mentioned there is no real detail to them, as to take me away from where I'm physically at right now. I didn't feel any part of this book. I did read she had to break up the couple because she just might be pregnant but he was going to marry the other woman anyways.
That just doesn't sit right with me and that's probably the one thing that stuck in my mind. Book just didn't seem to have a lot of substance. By the time you get to the end you do find out there was a ton of misunderstandings-the whole book but they set things right at the end.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cindee D on July 17, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I love books by Fiona Brand and was happy to discover she had three new books under the Desire category. I loved her previous series in the Intimate Moments category. I am just glad Harlequin is publishing her books again. I love the man's voice in her stories.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By An unbiased reviewer on July 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I thought this would be a good quick, enjoyable read. I liked the sound of the blurb and thought it would have some nice conflict.

Well it had conflict but unfortunately much of it didn't make sense and seemed a bit too contrived for me.

Carla and Lucas are having an affair, but for reasons I still don't understand (something about their family), they can't let anyone know they're having this affair. When the book begins, their siblings are getting married and the hero decides he must end the two year long affair he's been having with the heroine. As I said, I don't know why. He then immediately starts dating another woman before he actually can tell Carla he no longer wants to see her.

The story gets murky from that point on for me. I just couldn't understand why they couldn't be together. Then at the end the author throws this very contrived conflict in there which made no sense at all. I started to skim at that point. There is another book after this one, about the woman he was thinking of marrying and his brother??? I think it's the brother. I had intended to read it when it came out but I decided after reading this one I'd give it a pass.
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