Excerpt: Will You Be My Wi-Fi?

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400A cookbook author wants peace and quiet. The groom’s lawyer wants her wi-fi…then her friendship, then more.

***

Around a bend in the path he found the source of the Wi-Fi signal. A house of gray stone sat in the middle of a garden, with a small patio facing him. And—he actually stopped walking and took a deep breath—the most heavenly smell drifted from the open windows.

Led by his nose, he walked right up to the edge of the patio. It smelled of chocolate and coffee, and made him realize he hadn’t eaten lunch, nor anything else today other than a wholly inadequate roll from an airport kiosk, washed down with a bottle of warm water. Oh God, what he wouldn’t give for a good cup of coffee right now, and if it came with a slice of chocolate cake—

The door opened with a bang, and a woman stalked out toward him. A very attractive woman, with light brown curls bouncing around her head and a mesmerizing sway to her hips. Archer started to smile, but it fell off his face as she drew near. “Whoa!”

“This is private property,” she said acidly in an unmistakably American accent.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” He took a step backward and kept his eyes on the large meat cleaver she was pointing at him. “There’s no sign marking the boundary of the hotel grounds.”

She seemed to bristle. “You’re staying at the hotel?”

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400“Yes,” he said warily. Her tone indicated that was not a mark in his favor.

“What the hell is going on up there?” She waved her free hand at the road. “A dozen trucks a day go up and down that road.”

“Just a wedding.” He kept his voice calm and unthreatening. She was holding the cleaver like she knew how to use it.

“A wedding. It’s not even supposed to be open!” She shook her head, and curls spilled over her face. She swiped them back, and shaded her eyes to peer up the hill. Unthinkingly Archer gave her another quick once-over. A long white apron hid most of her, but her fitted shirt showed off a nice pair of breasts. On her feet she wore clogs, but her legs to the knee were bare. Cleaver aside, she was damn fine.

 

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Excerpt: That Moment When You Fall In Love

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400

British media mogul Damien Knightly needs to publish a tabloid story about Jane & Dukes wedding. His girlfriend and reporter Roxanna Lane must protect the bride & groom’s privacy at all costs. What are these two lovers to do?

***

Damien only had eyes for Roxanna. That minx was slowly threading her way through the crowd toward him. Their gazes locked. His drifted to her perfect pout of a mouth, then lower. He had perfected the cool exterior. But he had not been able to tamp down the flames he felt inside whenever she was near.

Roxanna leaned in close to whisper in his ear, a rush of air stealing across his skin as she spoke: “I won’t put out unless you tell me why you need this story about Jane and Duke’s wedding.”

He breathed in deeply, inhaling that scent that was just her and that went to his head. And he said in a low rumble: “And I will not ‘put out’ as you Americans so crudely put it, until you write the story.”

“This is going to be a long week,” she lamented, tracing her fingertips down the lapel of his bespoke suit. In her other hand, a nearly empty champagne glass dangled precariously from her hand.

“Do we need separate rooms?” He didn’t mean it.

“Oh hell no,” she said in a low, throaty voice that made him aroused. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. You may retire to the floor if you find you are unable to restrain yourself from my gorgeous self.”

Roxanna Lane was everything he wanted in a woman: beautiful and bold, passionate, fiercely intelligent, outspoken, and not cowed by his aloof demeanor.

They had met when they were stuck in an elevator together at the Jezebel offices. Instead of spending the time fuming about being late for a meeting, or taking the opportunity to return calls and answer e-mails, Roxanna had had him laughing, sparring, and regretting the installation of security cameras.

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400A series of “accidental” encounters and casual invitations ensued. Then he began to pursue her in earnest.

She made him break all his rules about separating business and pleasure and about separating pleasure and emotions.

Which is why he hated to ask her to do this story. But there was only one thing that mattered to him more than anything and it was on the line.

 

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Excerpt: The Day It Rained Books

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400

An excerpt from The Day It Rained Books, a modern Cinderella story with a generous-hearted librarian and sexy millionaire playboy… and one big secret.

***

She moved toward the bookcases. The only book she really wanted to see wouldn’t be here now: an original 1813 three-volume edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It must be in safe storage somewhere. Still, she pressed her nose and palms to the sheer wall that separated her from the meager remnants of Lord Melbury’s collection.

A tearing sound.

A loud, cracking creak.

The plastic gave way under her hands.

Everything fell. Plastic. Volumes. Pouring down like rain. Cali jumped aside and slammed into the ladder. Something hit her shoulder. Books clattered on her head, knocking her over.

Hands clamped around her shoulders and dragged her from the deluge, slamming her face against a hard chest.

The bookcase thundered to the floor behind her.

Everything went silent. All she knew for an instant were her thudding heartbeats, the soft cotton of a T-shirt under her cheek, and the scent of delicious cologne.

The hands released her. She stepped back and looked into Piers Prescott’s handsome face.

His chest. His cologne.

Air compressed in her lungs. “Oh my God! The books!”

She twisted around.

Carnage.

Books everywhere. Smashed beneath the fallen bookcase. Spilling out to either side. Opened. Pages torn and folded. Bindings bent.

Her hands covered her mouth. “Oh.” No breaths. “Oh no. No no no.” Horror. All horror. All the time. Like one of those hole-in-the-wall theaters that only played The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween I–V.

“Are you all right?” she heard behind her.

She swung around to the bearer of the cologne that was too perfect and dreamy for this horrible moment.

“How are you?”

She rubbed her head where a big book had connected. “Fine. Mostly. Thank you for grabbing me.” She twisted back to the books. “But… Oh my God.”

“They said thunderstorms today, but it looks like it’s raining books inside.”

A little ripple of pleasure went right up her spine. He had the sexiest voice. Low and confident. And he’d read her mind.

She wrenched her attention away from the disaster to look over her shoulder. “I think I broke the bookcase.” Oh, God.

“You didn’t. Look. It wasn’t attached to the wall. A light breeze could have toppled it.”

“Are you sure?” Her voice sounded airy. His hand running along the edge of the wall was long-fingered, strong, just as handsome as the rest of him.

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400“Pretty sure.” He moved around the pile of books, plastic, shelves, and scattered plaster to the next case. He grasped the side and it wobbled. “This isn’t attached either.”

“Maybe they disconnected them for the renovation.”

“I suspect.” He returned to her and stood looking down at her. “Still fine?”

“Yes.” Except that she couldn’t really breathe. Now it was from both the disaster and him. She knew he was a corporate shark, that he ate struggling companies for breakfast, and that behind that carelessly tousled hair was a brain that had been summa cum laude at both Stanford and Wharton. But he was just so handsome. She’d never hung out with guys this handsome.

But he wasn’t any guy, and it wasn’t just his features. It was the warmth in his very blue eyes and the set of his mouth, like he might be about to smile, but could get really serious really quickly too. It made his classical good looks vibrate with grab-him-and-kiss-him sex appeal.

She wanted to. Now.

Grab him.

And kiss him…

 

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Excerpt: The Best Laid Planner

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400

Arwen Kilpatrick is planning the wedding of the year, but first she has to make sure Brampton house is ready in this excerpt of The Best Laid Planner in At the Billionaire’s Wedding.

***

The man, Harry she presumed, was on his knees fiddling with the plug and revealing several inches of skin between a black T-shirt and low-hanging blue jeans. Not to mince words, he was showing butt crack. Crack of mighty fine butt.

Harry, the handyman who knew everything, was tall and lithe with intriguing hints of strength beneath the tee. And what a fabulous butt. The hips were slender, but the glutes well developed, doubtless by constant manual labor in the service of his noble overlords.

Arwen’s notions of the British aristocracy were vague, gained from reading about the royals in People magazine and, more recently, in Jane Sparks’s historical romance novels. She was fairly sure they didn’t have much real power anymore, but she kind of enjoyed imagining this hunky guy shaking off the shackles of oppression and stringing up his cruel masters from streetlamps. Although that, she remembered from an old movie version of A Tale of Two Cities, was the French Revolution. She’d majored in Environmental Studies at Emory, with an undeclared minor in the history of party-giving.

Or perhaps he just worked out a lot, a boring explanation compared to the vision of him swinging a sledgehammer under the whip of a supercilious aristocrat in jodhpurs and a monocle. Or were those Nazis?

Time to shake off the jet lag fueled lust and move into intimidating professional mode. Pity she was wearing a crumpled silk robe selected because it took up very little packing space.

“Ahem.” She staggered to her feet and knotted her sash, tightly. As she coughed again, Harry stood up and turned.

“You! You were leaving,” she said stupidly.

“Yes I was, and I came back. I happen to live here.”

She inventoried a set of features that made her understand what chiseled meant: prominent brow, straight brown hair, blue eyes, the high cheekbones she’d noticed even under the shadow of the world’s least stylish rain hat, and lips that quirked attractively.

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400“What do you do here exactly?” She found it hard to believe such a scruffy guy was related to a lord. His T-shirt had a paint stain in a place that drew attention to the possibility of pectoral muscles to match his fine ass.

“This and that. I’m supposed to show you round so that you can finalize the plans for Mr. Austen and Miss Sparks’s wedding.”

“Mr. Austen is determined that his fiancée gets the wedding of her dreams and it’s my business to make sure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare. It’s what I do and I take it very seriously. I haven’t had an unsatisfied bride yet.”

He flashed white teeth in his perfectly shaped mouth. “I call that excessive devotion to duty.”

“Nothing is too much trouble to make her day perfect,” she said, lowering her eyelids. “After the confetti, however, I generally turn the matter over to the bridegroom.”

 

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The Prologue from At the Billionaire’s Wedding!

At the Billionaire's Wedding

Duke and Jane are getting married! But everything goes wrong on the way to happily ever after…

 

New York City
Duke and Jane’s apartment
Six weeks before the wedding
 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a romantically minded modern woman probably has her wedding planned on Pinterest. As a romance novelist engaged to a dashing billionaire, I was no exception. From the perfect venue (Kingstag Castle in Dorset, England) to the perfect dress (Monique Lhuillier), I had everything all picked out. And I had an amazing wedding planner, Arwen Kilpatrick, to make it a reality.

Now I just needed to count down the days until my dream wedding with the love of my life, Duke Austen.

“Look, our invitations have arrived!” I eagerly opened the box and lifted one out, admiring the heft of the paper.

“Better not let the gossips get ahold of one,” Duke murmured as he slid his arm around my waist and kissed my neck.

“Although now someone will have to spend hours licking envelopes.”

“If we’d just gone with Paperless Post…”

“You and your Internet-y things. I’m a traditional girl. We’re going to have a proper wedding with proper paper invitations.”

I held it up.

 

Jane Sparks and Duke Austen request the honor of your company at their wedding on August 26th at Kingstag Castle.

“Isn’t Kingstag Castle perfect?

“Yes. And private. Just you, me, our closest friends, and family.”

I turned and wrapped my arms around him, standing up on my tiptoes to kiss him. I had found the perfect guy for me. We were going to have the perfect wedding for us.

I was all set to lose myself in this kiss when the phone rang. It was our wedding planner. I ignored it and Duke laughed softly and we kissed some more. Then the phone rang again. This time, I picked up.

“Hi, Arwen! Great news! The invitations arrived. You have bad news? What?”

I sat down on the couch, pressing the phone to my ear.

“Okay, I’m sitting.”

Duke, looking concerned, came and sat down next to me, and tried to eavesdrop on the terrible, horrible news Arwen was delivering.

“It burned down?! But Kingstag Castle has been standing for eight hundred years! It survived the Wars of the Roses!”

Duke let out a low whistle. What followed was a very distressing conversation in which I learned that a fire had broken out in the kitchens and spread from there. Many of the public rooms had sustained damage that would result in a year of extensive repairs and renovations. A year!

This was a disaster. I hung up and burst into tears.

 ******

No one who saw Duke Austen would assume him to be a billionaire, or one of the most influential people in the tech world. To me, “billionaire” conjured images of distinguished men in suits. But Duke was a rogue all the way. He wore, as a uniform, broken-in Levis and free T-shirts that revealed his muscled arms and chest. His hair was mussed up. And when he smiled—he had a smile that made good girls like me desperate to do bad things.

They didn’t call him the bad boy billionaire for nothing.

He might not look like a hero, but oh he was.

As I was crying over the death of my dream wedding, he pulled me close and said, “It’s okay.”

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400“It’s not,” I sniffed.

“We’ll find another castle or big fancy house.” As if they were just littering the countryside. Well, they probably were. But…

“Everything will be booked.”

These things were booked out years in advance. I knew because I had reserved my castle a year in advance. There was no way we’d find another place that would be beautiful, luxurious, could accommodate our guests (who had already received their “save the date” requests), and be private enough (so the media wouldn’t find out or get in and cause problems on the special day).

“I’m sure there’s something out there,” he said, proving that though he was a tech genius, he was oblivious to the ways of Bridezillas. “Let’s see what we can find. I have an Internet-y thing that might help.”

“What is it?” I asked.

Duke took my hand and led me to his computer.

The Internet-y thing was Google. He typed in “English country house weddings.”

A million results came up and Duke started visiting all the different sites and making phone calls to England. I shuddered to think of his phone bill after two hours of this.

“You’re booked?” he asked. Again. “Bummer,” he said. Again.

I sighed and wondered about Vegas…

“No availability? Just curious—how much money would make you have availability?” Even Duke, who was perpetually good-natured, finally started to get frustrated at having the same conversation over and over.

“I think you have called every ancestral house in England that hosts weddings,” I said wearily. Then, adding sarcastically, “Surprisingly, they are all booked for every Saturday in August. Now we have to cancel our wedding.”

Duke took my hands in his and gazed into my eyes.

“Nothing is going to stop us from getting married,” he said. “Nothing is going to stop me from giving you the wedding of your dreams, okay?”

See: hero. My hero. I decided to have faith that this would somehow work out.

Duke seemed to be looking at something on the computer screen behind me.

“What’s that one?”

I glanced back. “Brampton House. I actually really like it, but it’s not even open yet.”

“Like hell it isn’t,” he growled, reaching for his phone. “What’s the number?”

I told him, he dialed. A conversation ensued. Duke paced. There was talk of renovations, the number of rooms, our need for privacy, and a huge check if it was all done in time. Duke hung up, turned to me, and said, “We’re having our wedding at Brampton House.”

“What?!”

“It’s a beautiful old ancestral house that’s being converted to a hotel that we can have exclusively for the week for all our friends and family. Best of all, since it’s not open yet, it’s unlikely the media will think that our wedding might be there. I know you were worried about keeping everything on the DL.”

“But we haven’t even seen the place yet! You can’t spend a fortune on a place you’ve never seen.”

“Do you want to go now?”

He wasn’t joking.

MirandaNeville_AtTheBillionairesWedding_1400“I have a book due and you have a new product launch. We don’t have time to see it and from what I overheard, it sounds like he’ll need every minute to get it ready in time.”

“We’ll send Arwen,” Duke said. “She’s sharp as a tack. If she thinks it’s a suitable location, our wedding will go ahead as planned. And let’s not tell anyone where it’s going to be.”

“It’s perfectly dreamy,” I said, throwing my arms around Duke. “Nothing can go wrong now. Absolutely nothing.”

 

Duke Austen and Jane Sparks request the honor of your company at their wedding. Please join the happy couple for a week of festivities and celebration.

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Greetings!

Welcome to the romance world of The Lady Authors!

We are four authors — Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, Maya Rodale and Miranda Neville — writing anthologies together. Our books include Regency historicals, time-travel and soon contemporary romance. We hope you’ll peruse this site, and when you’re finished click through to our individual websites as well. And if you’ve read one of our anthologies, let us know. We love hearing from readers.

Happy reading!