NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
She arouses his dominant and protective instincts
And he will do anything to possess her …
When billionaire Ian Dare gets one glimpse of the sensual and irresistible Riley Taylor, he knows that he must have her. But any future he might have with Riley means he’ll have to confront his past — a past he’d rather forget. And that’s something this NFL team owner won’t dare to do — not even for love.
To say the Dare siblings have a strained relationship is indeed an understatement. Robert Dare has two separate families, one with his wife, the other with his mistress. Circumstances led to him revealing the existence of his second family and as this book opens he is now married to said mistress. Ian is the oldest and is the owner of the Miami Thunder Football Team. As such he is very involved in the charity work the team supports. It’s at one such event with his mother and his siblings that he first sees Riley, unfortunately she’s on his half-brother Alex’s arm.
There’s a lot to the story of this family, there is plenty of animosity especially between the brothers of the two separate families of Robert Dare.
Riley is Alex’s best friend, he’s always been there for her and she considers him family, but he’s definitely in the friend zone. Riley has some problems, the company she works for was sold and the new owners are bringing in their own people. In a Hail-Mary attempt to save her job she pulls the possibility of an in with the Miami Thunder as a new client.
Why she thought this could possibly work when she only met Ian once? Even she doesn’t have an answer for that. The time allotted for her to pull this off is short and unfortunately during NFL draft week.
At first Ian is curious about the message from Riley, the kiss they shared still haunting him. He decides not to return the call because Alex had told him to back off.
The first person Riley turns to is of course Alex and he in turn confronts Ian, letting him know he’s screwed up. This happens in front of their father and Ian makes a deal with the ‘devil’ to get her contact information.
This is a favorite scene.
By the time she arrived home, she was exhausted. It didn’t help that during the drive home, she’d mentally mapped out her future options, which mostly consisted of sending resumes to the big sports and distribution chains, some out of state. The thought of having to start over, prove her worth, and work her way back up the corporate ladder once more made her sick.
She loved Miami and didn’t want to leave her stepmother or Alex and her other friends. There were other smaller local companies she planned to scope out, so all wasn’t lost yet. And until all was lost, she wouldn’t mention it to Alex. He’d only get upset and insist on helping. Obviously, people would bend over backward to help the superstar, and his best friend by extension, but Riley really wanted to try to find a job on her own first.
She let herself into her building, walked up one flight to her apartment, and was startled to find someone waiting outside her door. Even in the dimly lit hall, she recognized Ian Dare’s tall frame, dark hair, and handsome features. Excitement bubbled up inside her, followed by wariness.
“Finally,” he said, leading her to believe he’d been standing there awhile.
She fought against her rapidly beating heart. “What are you doing here?”
He pushed off the wall and strode toward her. “Do you realize I walked into the building without being buzzed in? I just followed behind a couple who were too busy groping each other to pay attention to who was entering behind them.”
He didn’t have to further sum up his point. Riley already knew the argument well from Alex and her stepmom. “It’s perfectly safe. I carry mace, and I’m careful. And you still haven’t answered my question.”
Ian ran a hand through his hair, taking the time to tamp down on the anger that had been brewing inside him as he waited for her in this tiny hall that, despite her claim, was far from safe.
Not for a woman with her full breasts and curvy hips. Not for a woman with that mass of untamed hair and wild beauty, dressed in a short denim skirt with a ruffled edge and black sleeveless top that bared a hint of her stomach.
He fought for control over his libido and the desire to take her in every way imaginable. “I realize I didn’t return your call, but I’m here now.”
She met his gaze, brave and unwavering. “Go home. Whatever I needed from you, it’s too late now.”
His eyes narrowed. “That’s what Alex said, but he refused to elaborate. He said it was your business, so I came to the source. I was busy this week. I had meetings for the draft, and I couldn’t call you back.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Bull. I’m guessing there are a whole host of reasons why you didn’t get back to me. At the top of the list is that you hate Alex.”
“I don’t hate him.” He clenched his hands and released them again, searching for focus. “Riley, you left me a message. Just tell me why.”
“It’s too late.” She walked toward him as she spoke.
She passed him by, heading for her door, key in hand. “I already lost my job,” she said as she slipped inside her apartment.
The door slammed closed behind her, leaving him basking in her scent.
“Son of a bitch.” He knocked hard.
When she didn’t answer, he tried again.
Worst-case scenario, he’d settle into the hallway for the night and wait to catch her when she left again in the morning. Unwilling to do that, he banged on the door again.
In the middle of his knock, she swung the door open wide.
“Fine. Come in,” she said, her eyes narrowed and wary.
He stepped inside. Once enclosed in her small apartment, her luscious scent wrapped around him once more. His cock took a definite hit as desire filled him along with that burning need only she inspired. Knowing those feelings wouldn’t be welcome, he took in her space. Bright colors on the walls, eclectic pieces of furniture, and a warm feel. She knew how to take a tiny area and make it feel like a true home.
“Can I get you something to drink?” she asked.
“No. I just want to know what happened.”
She expelled a deep breath, causing her breasts to rise and fall beneath the flimsy material. He glanced down, trying not to ogle her cleavage because that made him want to test the weight of her breasts. And once he started touching her, he wouldn’t be able to stop. Instead, he noticed her toenails were painted a bright orange, one toe surrounded by a thin silver ring. Even her fucking feet were sexy.
“I worked for Blunt Sporting Goods,” she said, unaware of his train of thought. “I was head of their distribution and sales department. The company was sold; the new boss is an ass and began laying people off. I pulled a Hail Mary and told him I had an in with you, that I could get some of our products distributed to the team. He gave me until Friday to get back to him with something substantial. I called. You didn’t. End of story.” She strode over to the door and swung it open, obviously eager to get rid of him.
He stared in stunned surprise. “You told him that after meeting me for the first time on Saturday night?”
She raised her chin. “Yep.”
“After our kiss.”
Her cheeks turned a healthy pink. “Mmm-hmm.”
“After you walked away from me without a second glance.”
She blinked up at him. “I looked back,” she said softly.
He narrowed his gaze. “You’ve got nerve.”
“So I’ve been told.” She grinned.
He smiled back.
She obviously realized they were sharing a moment and turned off the megawatt grin. “So now you know. You can go now.” She tilted her chin toward the hallway.
Pride. She had it in spades and didn’t like him knowing she’d lost her job. He respected that. Too bad he wasn’t about to leave her now.
He shook his head, silently telling her he was staying. The guilt he’d felt when his brother told him he’d caused Riley problems was only magnified now that he knew how. Based on how angry Alex had been on her behalf, he cared about her deeply. He looked after her. And that was something else Ian could respect. Friendship with his half brother, Ian could work around.
But first, there was the issue of her job.
“I realize you don’t know me, but you’re going to. Because you brought me into your world by calling me, I caused a problem for you. Now I’m obligated to fix it.”
She leaned against the still-open door. “You can’t, because we both know you’re committed to whoever you already purchase from, and I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth.”
So she’d realized the way of things in the business. Although that ought to alleviate his guilt over her losing her job, it didn’t. “Maybe not, but if I’d returned your call, there are other people I could have referred you to who could have given your company business.”
“We’ll never know, now will we?”
“About that? No.” Pretending to be tough and unconcerned didn’t fool him for a second.
She lived in this building, in a not-great part of town, because it was all she could afford. With Ian’s background in owning investment property, he could figure out her approximate income and rent and knew, though she might have a small savings, she couldn’t afford to be unemployed for an extended period of time. So she’d panicked and called him, which meant he owed her.
But that wasn’t why he was still here. He wanted to help. She might not let his brother do it, but Ian damned well intended to.
“What are your plans now?” he asked.
She slowly shut the door, obviously realizing he had no intention of leaving. “I’ll send out resumes like any job-seeking person would,” she said, as if he were dense not to have figured her next step out for himself.
“Or you could come work for me.”
The color drained from her face. “You’re offering me a job. With the Thunder.”
“Doing . . . ?”
If she was questioning, she wasn’t saying no, and his heart rate sped up at the possibility of seeing her day in and day out. “That remains to be seen. I know we have some openings. We’ll see what fits best.”
She swallowed hard and remained silent, but the color had returned to her cheeks. “So I wouldn’t be working directly for you.”
Interesting—the thought of working with him flustered her. Good, because that meant she wasn’t immune, no matter how high a wall she’d erected between them.
“No, you won’t be working for me. I can’t have that.”
She wrinkled her nose, making him want to reach out and stroke her soft skin.
“Why not?” she asked.
He stepped closer, and when she didn’t back away, closer still, until mere inches separated them. “Because I intend to get to know you personally, Riley Taylor. So I can’t be mixing business with pleasure.”
Phillips, Carly. Dare to Love (pp. 32-38). CP Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Even though Ian wasn’t her boss, the job with the Thunder presents a problem or two. Especially with Ian’s interest.
A fun tale with sibling rivalry, romance, and sizzling heat!
I have already started a re-read of the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Carly!
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Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love.
Carly’s career spans over a decade and a half with various New York publishing houses, and she is now an Indie author who runs her own business and loves every exciting minute of her publishing journey. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.