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A Devilishly Dark Deal (A Deal With the Devil) by [Cox, Maggie]
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A Devilishly Dark Deal (A Deal With the Devil) Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The day Maggie Cox saw the film version of Wuthering Heights, was the day she became hooked on romance. From that day onwards she spent a lot of time dreaming up her own romances,hoping that one day she might become published. Now that her dream is being realised, she wakes up every morning and counts her blessings. She is married to a gorgeous man, and is the mother of two wonderful sons. Her other passions in life - besides her family and reading/writing - are music and films.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Tipping up the brim of her wide straw hat, Grace Faulkner settled back in her deckchair, glanced through her over-large sunglasses at the glinting aquamarine ocean and sighed. She should be making the most of the tranquil scene and just relaxing, but it wasn't easy when her in-sides were deluged with querulous butterflies.

She was so besieged because very shortly she planned to confront one of this elite area's most revered and wealthy entrepreneurs and petition him to become a patron of the children's charity in Africa that was dearest to her heart. And not just to become a patron—but also to make a much needed generous donation so that essential building could commence on a new orphanage. The present one was all but being held up by hope and prayer alone.

What had fuelled her aim was hearing the owner of the cafe she'd been sitting in the day she'd heard the buzz that Marco Aguilar was visiting the area telling an American tourist that he'd known him as a young boy—that he'd grown up in a local orphanage and hadn't he done incredibly well for himself when you considered his start in life?

That overheard snippet had seemed more and more like divine providence to Grace as she'd mulled it over, and she didn't intend to let it go to waste. She knew she would probably only get the smallest window of opportunity to catch the businessman's eye before she'd be hauled off the premises by one of his security guards, and she should be prepared for that. But when it might mean the difference between helping to improve the lives of the children who had moved her so unbearably and returning to Africa with the news that she'd failed to secure them the funds they were so desperately in need of, a security guard trying to eject her seemed a small price to pay. Having recently seen for herself the squalor in which those orphans lived daily—a squalor that only the chance of a good education and caring patrons could help them out of—Grace had vowed to her charity worker friends before she left that she would do everything she could to help make that chance a reality. But first they had to rebuild the children's home.

The drowning noise of a helicopter coming in to land alerted her. It had to be him. Because she'd been so troubled and exhausted after her return from Africa, her parents had persuaded her to stay at their holiday home in the Algarve to take a much-needed break. For once she hadn't resisted their steering of her movements, and she was glad she had not—because on only her second day there she had heard the local buzz that Marco Aguilar was due to make a visit to one of his myriad exclusive hotels for a meeting. That particular hotel was situated in the resort complex right across the road from where she was staying, and if the rumours were at all to be relied upon today was the day. The arrival of the helicopter—the first she'd heard in three days at the resort—surely confirmed it?

With her heart pounding, she got up from the canvas chair positioned on the baking hot patio and quickly returned inside to the villa's pleasantly cool interior. Flying into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the refrigerator, she dropped it into her straw bag, repositioned her sunglasses on her nose, then pulled off her hat and threw it onto a nearby chair. Checking that she had her keys, she hurriedly left the building…

The helicopter had landed on a discreet pad somewhere amid the lush pine trees, and now there was a bank of sleek cars—mostly black—parked in front of the hotel. The impressive modern facade was edged by a pristine emerald lawn, and already there was a bevy of reporters and photographers running across it—a few that were ahead were moving swiftly through the revolving glass doors into the lobby. By the time the melee had disappeared into the hotel, and just as Grace was stealing a few apprehensive moments to decide what to do next, a gleaming black jaguar drew up at the front of the lawn. A burly cropped-haired bodyguard exited the car first then smartly stood holding the door wide as the man who was clearly his boss climbed out of the vehicle.

Due to his phenomenal success in business, and the purported enigmatic nature that was so indisputably appealing to admirers everywhere, photographs of Marco Aguilar were a regular feature in newspapers and magazines round the world, including the UK. There was no doubt that it was him.

Grace's first impression of the businessman that had made his fortune in the field of sports and leisure—in particular exclusive golfing resorts like this one—was that his physical presence was as commanding as his much-admired reputation. The impeccably stylish linen suit he wore was a perfect foil for his hard-muscled physique, and the moneyed air that radiated from the top of his shining black hair down to the tan-coloured Italian loafers he wore on his feet definitely suggested that the man had an unerring eye for the very best of everything. As he leaned over to speak to his bodyguard she saw even his eyes had the luxurious sheen of the finest dark chocolate. The sweltering Mediterranean sun was all but baking everything in sight, but in contrast he appeared ice-cool.

Narrowing her gaze to view him more clearly, she saw with trepidation that his hard jaw was undeniably clenched and the set of his well-cut lips formidably serious…per-haps even angry? Panicking slightly because if he was already ticked off about something then it was highly unlikely that he would even acknowledge her, she thought dismayed. Worse still, if he thought she was making a nuisance of herself he might call the police to arrest her.

Swallowing down her nerves, she tucked the leather strap of her straw bag neatly down by her side, then endeavoured to stroll casually towards the hotel entrance just as if she was a guest there—for surely this must be the window of opportunity she'd prayed for? it occurred to Grace that the reporters had made the mistake of assuming the VIP they so eagerly sought was already inside the hotel—perhaps smuggled in through a side entrance somewhere? Wishing that her heart wasn't beating so fast that she could scarcely hear herself think above the throbbing sound of it in her ears, she endeavoured to slow and deepen her breath to calm herself. She had to do this. The businessman's reputation and aura might be intimidating, but she couldn't let that stop her. Come what may, there was no backing out now.

'Mr Aguilar!' When she was about five feet away from him on the baking walkway she called out his name. The bodyguard immediately moved his intimidating bulk Grace's way, to prevent her from getting any nearer. 'Mr Aguilar…please can I have just a moment of your time before you go inside to your meeting? I promise I won't keep you very long.'

'Mr Aguilar does not talk to anyone from the press unless it is prearranged.'

The bodyguard's heavily accented voice was a growl as he reached out to physically waylay her. She flinched as the man's huge hands encircled her bare arms in her sleeveless cotton dress, and at the same time saw a bead of sweat roll down his ample cheek.

His manhandling of her lit a furious spark of indignation inside her. 'Let me go! How dare you grab me like that? For your information, I'm not a reporter.'

'You have no business trying to talk to Mr Aguilar.'

'For goodness' sake—do I look like I pose any kind of threat to your boss?' Grace couldn't bite back her frustration. To get so close to the man she desperately needed to talk to and then be denied access to speak to him at the very last moment was beyond frustrating.

'Let her go, Jose.'

The man behind them snapped out a clear-voiced command and her heart hammered even harder beneath her ribs. The bodyguard immediately released his hold and she stepped to the side of him, at last coming face to face with her hard-jawed quarry.

'If you do not belong to that mercenary rabble from the press, who are primed to try and get me to answer questions about my private life and then embellish them for their undiscerning readership, what exactly do you want from me, Miss.?'

Indisputably his accent was Portuguese, but his English was close to perfect. The intensity of Marco Aguilar's examining gaze threw her for a second. The rich caramel eyes with their fathomless depths seemed to bewitch her. 'Faulkner.' she answered, her voice not quite as steady as she would have liked. 'Grace Faulkner. And, just to reassure you, I'm not remotely interested in your private life, Mr Aguilar.'

'How refreshing' His remark was like a sardonic whiplash. He folded his arms.

Grace made herself press on regardless. 'I'm here because I'd like to tell you about an orphanage in Africa that badly needs help…specifically financial help…to rebuild the falling-down shack that houses it and to provide a school and a teacher. I've recently come back from there, and it's quite unbelievable how these poor children are living—not even living…just existing. There's an open sewer right outside where they're sleeping, and several of them have already died from drinking contaminated water. This is the twenty-first century for goodness' sake! We're so rich in the west. Why are we allowing this to go on without doing something more about it—without every one of us feeling outraged on a daily basis?'

'I admire the passion and dedication you exhibit in the name of your cause, Miss Faulkner, but I already give financial aid to several charities worldwide. Do you think it fair to corner me like this when I'm about to go into what is to me a very important meeting?'

Grace blinked. The rumour ran that he was there to oversee the takeover bid of a less prosperous resort. It was what he was known for excelling at…buying ai...

Product Details

  • File Size: 502 KB
  • Print Length: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Presents (July 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: July 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007UNC17U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,737 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

By jerseygirldownsouth VINE VOICE on July 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is a critical difference between reality and the book description - one that, in my opinion, makes this a much better read. Marco makes it clear from the beginning that his funding the charity Grace works with is not AT ALL contingent upon her being his mistress. It is entirely her choice as to whether she'll spend time with him - he gives her the check before she makes her decision.

There will be some spoilers sprinkled through this...

I found this to be a lovely story with good heart. As a change of pace, it lacks some of the (melo)dramatic elements of many HPs. Yes, Marco is incredibly wealthy - he has pulled himself up from the bottom rungs of society, having been an orphan essentially since birth. He is alpha, a ruthless businessman, cynical about people (women in particular) wanting to be in his company because they want something from him. So, those are all standard to HPs. But from the beginning, we see that there is a softer core - a wounded core - within him, and he doesn't try to pretend he is impervious.

What he wrestles with is the ingrained feeling that he does not deserve love, since he received so little attention in the orphanage - and his father placed him there as an infant (after his mother died in childbirth) without a second look back. We see that he craves that sort of attention and love, and has felt the lack of it quite keenly throughout his life. When he pauses for a moment, pulling back from the constant activities involved in building/running a huge business, he knows that he is lonely, isolated, and devoid of any deep relationships in his life. That said, he does try to keep that part of himself behind some pretty high, strong walls.
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This is one of the very best romance novels I have read in a long time. The story tells of two people who meet for a specific purpose on Grace's part only and immediately they both can tell they love each other. Kind of hard to believe unless you believe in love at first sight. But it was really a delight to read. The characters knew they were meant for each other after a few conversations and what was most likable was that neither denied it to themselves, as many romance novels do. This is a keeper for me for sure. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys a true love story, Thank you Maggie Cox.
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Pretty Grace Faulkner was a woman on a mission! Somehow, she had to get close enough to billionaire Marco Aguilar to make him listen to her plea to help the orphanage in Africa. It seems an impossible task. Aguilar's security team knows their jobs very well. What she didn't count on was how appealing she might seem to Marco.

Grace was like a breath of fresh air in a bevy of glamorous, mercenary females anxious to paste themselves to Marco for the publicity it might bring them. Grace asked for nothing for herself - no jewels or fancy clothes, and no dinners at expensive, romantic restaurants where all of the world could see her conquest. Grace's only desire was to have Marco listen to her cry for assistance for orphans in another land.

Marco well knew the horrors that could abound in an orphanage. Long ago, he'd been an orphan himself and the experience had left him scarred for life. Indeed, he was still hurting from his mother's untimely death and his father's rejection to take responsibility for him.

Little by little, Grace's sweetness soothes Marco's tortured soul. Marco cannot get enough of her company and asks Grace to become his companion for the duration of her holiday. However, he never anticipates an unexpected turn of events. Can the ruthless businessman find love in such an unexpected place? Can Grace climb past another man's brutal assault and be healed by a man who views emotion as a weakness?
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Love this author! This book has all the charm of a classic romance. It's such a breath of fresh air to find a non-typical romance novel. No ridiculous misunderstandings, no overblown egos. Just a great story of two believable people falling in love. A great read!
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