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The Most Expensive Night of Her Life (Harlequin Kiss) [Kindle Edition]

Amy Andrews
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Her million-pound question! 

Supermodel Ava Kelly is more used to luxury yachts than London canal boats. But she desperately needs a refuge from the paparazzi and delectable Blake Walker's boat will provide the perfect bolt-hole. This brooding ex-soldier is bound to rescue her, right…? 

Wrong. Pampered princess Ava is the last person Blake wants in his personal space—she's far too tempting! But with a million-pound charity donation hanging in the balance Blake can't say no. Now that Ava's close enough to touch, keeping his hands off her is pretty difficult, too! Maybe money isn't the only thing at stake this Christmas….



Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Amy is an award-winning author who has written thirty-six romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon in both the Medical and RIVA/KISS lines. She's sold over a million books and been translated into a dozen languages. Amy works part time as a PICU nurse. She's been married for 22 years and has two teenagers. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane but secretly wishes it was the hills of Tuscany.

 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A roadside explosion in the darkest depths of a war zone three years ago had left Blake Walker with a finely honed sense of doom. Today that doom stormed towards him on a pair of legs that wouldn't quit and a ball-breaking attitude that was guaranteed to ruin his last day on the job.

Ava Kelly might be one of the world's most beautiful women but she redefined the term diva.

Doing this job for her had been a freaking nightmare.

'Blake!'

Her classy Oxford accent grated and Blake took a deep breath. He went to the happy place the army shrink had insisted he find—which at the moment was anywhere but here.

Last day, man, keep yourself together.

'Ava,' he greeted as she stopped on the opposite side of the beautiful maple-wood island bench in the kitchen where he was poring over some paperwork. He'd polished the top to glass-like perfection with his own two hands. 'Problem?'

'You could say that,' she said, folding her arms and glaring at him.

Blake did not drop his gaze and admire how the arm-crossing emphasised the tanned perfection of her cleavage. Even if it was on open display in her loosely tied gossamer gown that reeked of a designer label and through which her itty-bitty, red bikini could also be clearly seen.

He did not think about how wet she was underneath it. About the water droplets that dripped off the ends of her slicked-back hair or trekked down the elegant line of her throat to cling precariously to her prominent collarbones before heading further south.

Blake did not look.

Blake was in a good place in his life. He was fit and healthy after a long period of being neither. He was financially secure. He had direction and purpose.

He could get laid any night of the week with just one phone call placed to any of half a dozen women. He didn't need to ogle the one in front of him.

She was trouble and he'd already had too much of that.

Instead he thought about the month-long holiday he started tomorrow—no braving a clutch of paparazzi every morning, no twelve-hour days and, most importantly, no divas.

'Something I can help with?' he asked.

'Yes,' she said, raising her chin to peer down her nose at him in that way he'd got used to the last few months. 'You can ask your salivating apprentice—' she jerked her thumb in the direction of the male in question '—to put his eyes back in his head and keep his mind on the job.

My friends aren't here to be gawked at. They come into the privacy of my home to get away from objectification.'

Blake glanced over at the three women frolicking in the fully glassed indoor pool that ran alongside the magnificent internal open-air courtyard. They were all tall, tanned and gorgeous and if they were friends of Ava's then they were no doubt models too. Between them there were only twelve triangles of fabric keeping them from being totally naked.

He glanced at Dougy, who was installing some sophisticated strip lighting down the outside of the glass and steel staircase that led from the courtyard to a mezzanine level for sunbathing. Ava was right: he was barely keeping his tongue inside his head. Not that Blake could really blame him. This had to be every young apprentice's wet dream. And he was like a kid in a candy shop.

Sunlight flooded the courtyard through the open glass roof above reflecting off the stark white decor, dazzling his eyes. For a moment Blake tuned out Ava's disapproval and admired what they'd achieved—outside a semidetached, early-nineteenth-century terraced house, inside a vibrant contemporary home full of light and flair.

'Well?' Ava's huffy demand yanked him back to the conversation.

'Dougy,' Blake said, in no mood to humour her as her gown slipped off her right shoulder exposing more of her to his view. He kept his gaze firmly fixed on the smattering of freckles across the bridge of her perfect little snub nose placed perfectly in the middle of her delicate kitten-like face.

'His name's Dougy.'

'Well, do you think you could rein Dougy in? He's acting like some horny teenager.'

Blake sighed. Why was it he liked project management again? He made a note to tell Charlie no more divas. Their business was going gangbusters—they could afford to be choosey.

'Ava,' he said patiently, 'he's nineteen. He is a horny teenager.'

'Well, he can be that on his own time,' she snapped. 'When he's on my time, I expect him to have his head down and do the job I'm paying him for. And so should you.'

Blake contemplated telling Ava Kelly to quit her bitching and let him worry about his employees. Dougy was a good apprentice—keen and a hard worker—and Blake wasn't about to make an issue out of what was, to him, a non-issue. But he figured no one had ever used the B word around Ms Kelly—not to her face anyway—and he wasn't going to be the first.

Hell, what she needed was a damn good spanking. But he wasn't about to do that either.

The job was over at the end of the day, they were just putting the finishing touches to the reno, and he could suck up her divaness for a few more hours.

Blake unclenched his jaw. 'I'll talk to him,' he said through stiff lips.

Ava looked down her nose at him again and sniffed. 'See that you do.'

Then she spun on her heel and marched away. He watched as the edges of her gown flowed behind her like tails, her lovely ankles exposed with every footfall.

Higher up his gaze snagged on the enticing sway of one teeny-tiny red triangle.

The end of the day couldn't come soon enough.

A couple of hours later Blake answered the phone to his brother. Blake rarely answered the phone while at a job site but he always picked up for Charlie. His brother might have been younger but he'd been the driving force behind their design business and behind dragging Blake out of the maudlin pit of despair he'd almost totally disappeared into a few years back.

Blake owed Charlie big time.

'What's up?' he asked.

'Joanna rang. She's really upset. One of their biggest supporters is pulling out due to financial issues and she's freaking out they won't be able to continue to run their programmes.'

Joanna was their sister. She'd been widowed three years ago when her husband, Colin, a lieutenant in the British army and a close friend of Blake's, was killed in the same explosion that had injured him. They'd been in the same unit and he'd been Col's captain. And he'd promised his sister he'd look out for her husband.

That he'd bring him home alive.

Not a promise he'd been able to keep as it turned out.

She and three other army wives had started a charity soon after, which supported the wives, girlfriends and families of British servicemen. They'd done very well in almost two years but fighting for any charity backing in the global financial situation was hard—losing the support of a major contributor was a real blow.

And losing Col had been blow enough.

Blake understood that it was through the charity that Joanna kept him alive. It kept her going. It was her crutch.

And Blake understood crutches better than anyone.

'I guess we're in a position with the business now to become patrons ourselves,' Blake said.

'Blake!'

The muscles in Blake's neck tensed at the imperious voice. He took a deep breath as he turned around, his brother still speaking in his ear.

'We can't afford the one million quid that's been yanked from their coffers,' Charlie said.

Ava went to open her mouth but Blake was so shocked by the amount he held his finger up to indicate that she wait without realising what he was doing. 'Joanna needs a million pounds?'

He watched Ava absently as Charlie rattled off the intricacies. By the look on her face and the miffed little arm-fold, she wasn't accustomed to being told to wait. But holy cow—one million pounds?

'I need you to move your car,' Ava said, tapping her fingers on her arm, obviously waiting as long as she was going to despite Charlie still yakking in his ear. 'I'm expecting a photographer from a magazine and your beat-up piece of junk spoils the ambience a little.'

Blake blinked at Ava's request. She'd never seemed more frivolous or more divaish to him and he was exceptionally pleased this was the last time he'd ever have to see her.

Yes, she was sexy, and in a parallel universe where she wasn't an elite supermodel and he wasn't a glorified construction worker he might have even gone there—given it a shot.

But skin-deep beauty left him cold.

He quirked a you-have-to-be-kidding-me eyebrow but didn't say a word to her as he spoke to Charlie. 'I've got to go and shift my piece of junk car.' He kept his gaze fixed to her face. 'We'll think of something for Joanna. I'll call you when I've finished tonight.'

'Who's Joanna?' Ava asked as Charlie hit the end button.

Blake stiffened. He didn't want to tell Little-Miss-I've-got-a-photographer-coming Ava anything about his private life. But mind your own business probably wasn't the best response either. 'Our sister,' he said, his lips tight.

'Is she okay?'

Blake recoiled in surprise. Not just that she'd enquired about somebody else's welfare but at the genuine note of concern in her voice. 'She's fine,' he said. 'The charity she runs has hit a bit of a snag, that's all. She'll bounce back.'

And he went and shifted his car so he wouldn't besmirch her Hampstead Village ambience, the paparazzi blinding him with their flashes for the thousandth time.

It was close to nine that night when Blake—and the diva—were satisfied that the job was finally complete. The evening was still and warm. Tangerine fingers of daylight could be seen streaking the sky through the open glass panels over the courtyard. Blake was heartened that the long-range weather forecast for September was largely for more of the same.

Perfect boating weather.

Dougy and the other two workers had gone home; the photographer had departed, as had the paparazzi. It was just him and Ava signing off on the reno. Dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's.

They were, once again, at the kitchen island bench—him on one side, her on the other. Ava was sipping a glass of white wine while something delicious cooked on the state-of-the-art cooktop behind him. She'd offered him a beer but he'd declined. She'd offered to feed him but he'd declined that also.

No way was he spending a second longer with Ava than he absolutely had to.

Although the aromas of garlic and basil swirling around him were making him very aware of his empty stomach and his even more empty fridge.

He was also very aware of her. She'd pulled on some raggedy-arsed shorts and a thin, short-sleeved, zip-up hoodie thing over her bikini. The zip was low enough to catch a glimpse of cleavage and a hint of red material as she leaned slightly forward when she asked a question. But that wasn't what was making him aware of her.

God knew she'd swanned around the house in varying states of undress for the last three months.

No. It was the way she was caressing the bench-top that drew his eye. As he walked her through the paperwork the palm of her hand absently stroked back and forth along the glassy maple-wood. He'd learned she was a tactile person and, despite his animosity towards her, he liked that.

She'd handed the decor decisions over to a high-priced consultant who had gone for the typical home-and-garden, money-to-burn classy minimalist. But it was the accessories that Ava had chosen that showed her hedonistic bent. Shaggy rugs, chunky art, the softest mohair throws in vibrant greens and reds and purples for the lounges, beaded wall hangings, a collection of art deco lamps, layers and layers of colourful gauzy fabric falling from the ceiling in her bedroom to form a dazzling canopy over her girly four-poster bed.

Even the fact that she'd chosen a wooden kitchen amidst all the glass and metal told him something about her. He'd have thought for sure she'd have chosen black marble and acres of stainless steel. But clearly, from the smell of dinner, Ava loved to cook and spent a lot of time in the kitchen.

Blake wasn't much of a cook but he loved wood. The family business, until recent times, had been a saw mill and his earliest memories revolved around the fresh earthy smell of cut timber. His grandfather, who had founded the mill fifty year prior, had taught both him and Charlie how to use a lathe from a very early age and Blake had been hooked. He'd worked in the mill weekends and every school holidays until he'd joined up.

He'd personally designed, built and installed the kitchen where they were sitting and something grabbed at his gut to see her hand caressing his creation as she might caress a lover.

'So,' he said as their business concluded, and he got his head back in the game, 'if you're happy that everything has been done to your satisfaction, just sign here and here.'

Blake held out a pen and indicated the lines requiring her signature. Then held his breath. Tactile or not, Ava Kelly had also been demanding, difficult and fickle.

He wasn't counting his chickens until she'd signed on the dotted lines!

* * *

Ava glanced at the enigmatic Blake Walker through her fringe. She'd never met a man who wasn't at least a little in awe of her. Who didn't flirt a little or at least try it on.

But not Blake.

He'd been polite and unflappable even when she'd been at her most unreasonable. And she knew she'd been unreasonable on more than one occasion. Just a little. Just to see if he'd react like a human being for once instead of the face of the business—composed, courteous, respectful.

She'd almost got her reaction this afternoon when he'd been on the phone and she'd asked him to shift his car. The tightening of his mouth, that eyebrow raise had spoken volumes. But he'd retreated from the flash of fire she'd seen in his indigo eyes and a part of her had been supremely disappointed.

Something told her that Blake Walker would be quite magnificent all riled up.

Charlie, the more easy-going of the brothers, had said that Blake had been in the army so maybe he was used to following orders, sucking things up?

Ava reluctantly withdrew her hand from the cool smoothness of the bench-top to take the pen. She loved the seductive feel of the beautiful wood and, with Blake's deep voice washing over her and the pasta sauce bubbling away in the background, a feeling of contentment descended. It would be so nice to drop her guard for once, to surrender to the cosy domesticity.

To the intimacy.

Did he feel it too or was it just her overactive imagination after months of building little fantasies about him?

Fantasies that had been getting a lot more complex as he had steadily ignored her.

Like doing him on this magnificent bench-top. A bench-top she'd watched him hone day after day. Sanding, lacquering. Sanding, lacquering. Sanding, lacquering. Layer upon layer until it shone like the finest crystal in the discreet down lights.

Watching him so obviously absorbed by the task. Loving the wood with his touch. Inhaling its earthy essence with each flare of his nostrils. Caressing it with his lingering gaze.

She could have stripped stark naked in front of him as he'd worked the wood and she doubted he would have noticed.

And for a woman used to being adored, being ignored had been challenging.

Ava dragged her mind off the bench-top and what she was doing to an unknowing Blake on top of it. 'I'm abso-lutely…positively…one hundred per cent…' she punctuated each affirmation with firm strokes of the pen across the indicated lines '…happy with the job. It's totally fab. I'm going to tell all my friends to use you guys.'

Product Details

  • File Size: 514 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin KISS (December 1, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DPANL8U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,775 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.2 out of 5 stars
(13)
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hands down one of the best books!!!!! December 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read a lot of books lately especially with war hero's. However this book really touched my heart and I wasn't able to put it down. I loved the characters and their strength to go after what they wanted.

My only wish would be that she found away to get back at her mother.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars poignant contemporary November 16, 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Most Expensive Night of Her Life
Amy Andrews
Harlequin Kiss, Nov 19 2013, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373207404

Veteran Blake Walker hates the current renovation project due to the snobbish client, affluent supermodel Ava Kelly. His brother Charlie tells him that their widowed sister, Joanna's charity is short one million quid. Feeling survivor guilt since he was the superior officer of his late brother-in-law when Col died, Blake wonders how to make up the loss of a major financial backer while trying not to tell the spoiled pain in the ass to screw off.

Ava is in awe of unflappable polite Blake who showed no reaction to her beauty and her unreasonable orders; not used to being ignored behind a façade of good manners, Ava cannot stop herself from trying to make him react to her diva demands. The renovation completed, Ava displays a shocking appreciation of a job well done. As Blake goes to leave on his vacation, shots are fired. His reaction saves her life while he wonders who she pissed off. Frightened Ava asks Blake to protect her in exchange for her helping his sister's charity. As they hide on his London canal boat, they fall in love.

Paying homage to combat veterans and their families, The Most Expensive Night of Her Life is a poignant contemporary. Whereas Ava is more of a caricature, Blake is terrific as a vet suffering from coming home alive while many of his brothers-in-arms died; his feelings accentuated by his sister making him promise to bring home her husband alive (not in a bag). Readers will appreciate the tale of love between the super diva and the super soldier.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
All of us have run across a diva in our lives who appear haughty, self absorbed and totally lacking in emotions for their fellow man. Usually more down to earth people have suffered their presence, dealt with their idiosyncrasies and moved on. Only once in a while an event will happen when these people are around each other and we will see below the public surface of each one and catch a glimpse of the people are underneath. They may be the same all the way through or surprise you with warm compassionate people behind the facade. Ava and Blake were two such people.

At 27, Ava Kelly was at the top of her modeling career. Her gorgeous much photographed face and a body that hordes of fans envied were featured in ads, magazines and on billboards, but the climb to the top had been a long journey. Abandoned and betrayed by her mother at seventeen, she gave no one her trust as she fought to gain her status. And the best part along the way, every man wanted her. That is, except for the one she secretly craved… Blake. He didn't seem to need her or desire her, rebuffing her every overtures to get close. As he remodeled her home, she had imagined hot sexual fantasies with him on every new surface. She really didn't understand why he didn't reciprocate her feelings. No, he outright ignored her. Had she lost her touch? Or did he really not have any attraction to her at all?

A retired military hero, Blake Walker carried a sea of guilt and grief on his shoulders. Disappearing into the depths of depression, his brother was the driving force to rescue him and bring him into a partnership in their design business.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book. January 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book, It was an enjoyable book, I stayed up until 3AM just to finish the book, buy the book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Most Expensive Night of Her Life January 26, 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ava, a top fashion model & Blake, a carpenter & ex-soldier have a temporary seclusion away from the paparazzi on his boat, as he is hiding her from a shooter. Needless to say, they get very close, but her reality sets back in when the shooter is caught. These 2 go back & forth, with Blake mostly fighting the love. This is a satisfying read with a great HEA!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick moving February 25, 2014
By MBV31
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The mystery kept me in suspense from beginning to near the end. I would recommend this book as I enjoyed the story and how it was presented.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Most Expensive Night of Her Life January 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A war hero and a super model. What can happen? Add the tabloids and that love that they don't know has happened.
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More About the Author

Amy is an award-winning, best-selling Aussie author who has written forty + contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She has written for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins, Momentum and Escape. To date she's sold over a million books and been translated into thirteen different languages including manga.

She loves her kids, her husband, her dogs, cowboys, men in tool belts, cowboys in tool belts and happily ever afters. Please, DO NOT mess with the HEA! Also good books, fab food, great wine and frequent travel - preferably all four together.

She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

To keep up with her latest releases and giveaways sign up for her newsletter - http://www.amyandrews.com.au/newsletter.html

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