Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for My Beautiful Disaster, I have a real treat for you today!! As well as my review I have a whole chapter to share with you and a giveaway!! Before we get to the exciting stuff here is what the book is all about.
Daniel Dukes, millionaire extraordinaire has it all. A thriving business, good looks, power, money and women who’ll drop their drawers at the click of his skilled fingers. Just how he likes it. Everything changes one day when a stipulation in his deceased Uncle’s will, scuppers his visionary plans. The only way to get what’s rightfully his, is to marry. Who? It doesn’t matter, because the enigmatic bachelor will stop at nothing and play dirty to get what is his.
Sophia Lewis had nothing until she started working directly for Daniel at Dukes Industries. Having grown up in care, she’s tough, has an answer for everything and knows how to handle all varieties of men. For two years, Sophia has attended to her overbearing boss’ every whim. Gone above and beyond the call of duty.
When an indecent proposal presents itself, boundaries are pushed and limits are tested. Can Daniel and Sophia remain professional to fool the dead Uncle’s Lawyers? As lines become blurred and tempers become frayed, can two strong willed souls be the key to unlock each other’s hidden secrets? Or will the high price of the deal come at a devastating cost to them both?
*Warning* Mature themes and one hell of a cliff hanger!
There’s just something about two characters that are getting married and playing the happy couple for some stipulation or another that just instantly attracts me. So when the chance came up to read this book I jumped at it, and I’m glad I did.
First off I loved Sophia, she is a tough cookie and I liked that she didn’t fall all over Daniel. She is independent with dreams that she is working hard to achieve and she stays true to herself even when put in uncomfortable situations.
Daniel is, of course, the rich alpha male, used to getting what he wants and not taking no for an answer. As much as I love an alpha male it was nice to see him become a bit softer around Sophia, to see the other side to him.
Both Daniel and Sophia have troubled pasts, which gets revealed slowly throughout the book. I liked this because it’s not just all dumped on you, it only comes up when it’s relevant and it was a good way to get to know the characters and keep you wanting to know more.
The same can be said of the storyline, which is great, it’s got a good mix of tension, intrigue, and drama and all of this lends itself to great pace with enough suspense in the right places to keep the pages turning.
There was so much in this book, but it never felt out of place, like it was being thrown in as something else to happen. Everything had a purpose or a connection to something else.
My only little criticism is…near the end the story had been built up to this amazingly dramatic point and then there was a flashback that takes us to when Daniel and Sophia first meet. Whilst I appreciated getting to see what happened, it did make that previous excitement fall a little flat.
Despite that this was a brilliantly entertaining read, that you could devour in a day if you’re not careful., with characters that you can’t help but root for. I can’t wait to get my hands on part 2!!
So if it sounds like My Beautiful Disaster is your kind of book then here is chapter one for you to feast your eyes with…
Sophia, Eleven Years Later
Struggling through the frozen glass door with a magazine in my mouth, a hot coffee in my hands and my note pad and pen tucked underneath my arm pit, I kicked the door shut behind me. Placing the china cup and saucer down gently on his desk, I pulled the magazine from my mouth.
“Okay, one black coffee with extra sugar because I have a feeling you’re going to need it, and one glamour magazine as requested. And yes, you hit the number one spot again. Congratulations. Want me to send Gale Hardy a bouquet of white roses as a thank you?”
I rolled my eyes because his reply could only mean one thing. He slept with her.
“Did you just eye roll me, Lewis?” asked Daniel, leaning back comfortably in his chair ready for our usual eleven am briefing. Lewis, was how he’d always referred to me since day one.
“Me?” I smirked, retrieving the note pad and pen from under my arm and took my seat opposite him across his desk. “Never. You must be seeing things. Would you like me to book you an eye examination?”
He narrowed his eyes. “That won’t be necessary,” he replied, unamused in his cultured posh voice. He drank from his cup and glanced at the magazine under his nose.
It was no surprise Daniel Dukes, multi-millionaire, had topped the bill again ranking number one as the sexiest man in the world. Tall, dark, handsome and in his late twenties, he was most girls wet dream. Lean and strong, silky black hair and sparkling sapphire blue eyes, his enormous success only added to the illusion of the perfect man. With pronounced sharp features, a blade of a nose and long dark lashes, he’d make an artist punch the air in triumph. However, to me, he was the boss. And that’s where it ended.
Don’t get me wrong, the way he filled his Armani suits and was always preened to perfection didn’t go unnoticed. I’m human after all. But no, he didn’t do it for me. Too clean cut, impossibly serious and…clever. And, I knew without a doubt, I certainly didn’t do it for him. It’s probably the reason I’d lasted so long at Dukes Industries. Word on the lower floors was that Daniel’s secretaries never lasted long because they ended up underneath him. However, he’d never shown any interest in little ole me, and that suited me just fine. So what if he slept with Gale Hardy, the editor of Glamour Magazine? What he did was no business of mine. I was just the doting secretary who did as she was told.
“Good coffee,” he said, nodding his head with the cup at his lips, reading the article alongside his picture. “And you totally eye rolled me, Lewis.”
Chuckling, I shrugged my shoulders and crossed my legs at the knees under a long black skirt. “I’m not here to judge. Only to serve. What do you need?” and tapped the notepad with a pen.
Putting down his cup, closing the magazine, he leaned back in his tall black leather chair and smoothed down the navy tie that brought out his dazzling eyes.
“What I need and what I want are two different things,” he sighed, and looked over at the white oval table in the centre of his expansive office.
A blue hologram projected the incredible image of a small-scale town, Daniel’s next big venture. Ivy Pines was to be a large town next to the Forest of Dean that’d put Las Vegas to shame if he could secure the funds to give it the green light. With casino’s, luxury hotels, spa’s, shopping centres and a huge arena, his vision was almost a reality. Even though he was a self-made multi-millionaire in his own right, he needed more capital as all his money was tied up in stocks, shares and investments. And that’s where his dead uncle would come into play. As soon as he found out how much he was left, it’d be all systems go. Watching Daniel jump every time the phone rang or a skype call came through shouldn’t have made me smile, but he had a lot riding on this. This was his baby. Not usually twitchy, it was a different side to the ever elusive and impassive Daniel Dukes.
“Albert’s flight landed six hours ago. He’ll call soon I’m sure,” I chirped brightly, hoping to make him feel better. “You know what lawyers are like. They keep you hanging on so they can charge you more.”
“I wouldn’t put it past the old bastard,” he agreed. “That money will make all this possible,” and waved his hand in the direction of the glowing table. “It’s my chance to put my stamp on the world. My legacy.”
I thought briefly on the magnitude of his success as I peered around his vast office. Plush, light grey carpet lined the floor, a complete contrast to the other floors that consisted of cream marble tiles. With floor to ceiling windows that offered spectacular views of the London skyline, the room was bright and airy. T.V screens on a far wall displayed images of the news, stock markets and other business related programmes all on mute. Apart from the two sofas by the T. V’s, a drinks cabinet and a desk, the room was sparse. Clean, to the point of sterile. At the age of twenty-one, Daniel Dukes turned the inheritance from his grandmother into a fortune by investing in companies financially struggling and bought repossessed properties, selling them for four times their worth in the recession. Now, age twenty-nine, he was wealthier than my wildest dreams and was ruthlessly erudite in the art of business.
“Your gran would be proud,” I blurted out.
Subtly, he ignored my error of bringing up anything personal in office hours and sipped from his cup. Ivy pines would be named after his grandma. Ivy. She left a lasting impression on my boss and though he rarely talked about her, I knew he missed her. The only photograph he had in his office, was one of her, framed on his desk.
“Okay,” I said, needing to change the subject, addressing the list on my notepad and pushed my black rimmed reading glasses up the bridge of my nose. “Barney Thompson from the Union isn’t budging on the deal. I’ve scheduled a meeting with the representatives for next week and have already contacted catering. HR need your approval to advertise a position as they’re under staffed and Simon Stephens from Jameson Building Contractors is blowing smoke out of his ears. He’s jamming up my phone line. You’ll have the quarterly finance report ready by noon. And— ”I paused for breath because I knew my next sentence would alter his mood dramatically. “Your mother called.”
As expected, Daniel’s lips twisted in annoyance as he peeked up, the air around us altering significantly. “What does she want now?” he grumbled.
I cleared my throat. “Um…she said, and I quote. ‘If my son doesn’t start answering my calls, I will stampede through security and cause a scene. I’m his mother after all’.”
He sighed wearily. “That’s all I need right now,” spat Daniel, raking his fingers through his glossy black hair. “Camilla Dukes, displaying her status and causing uproar in my building. Tell me you’ve placated her, Lewis.”
I nodded. “For now, but I don’t know how much longer I can keep her sweet. Also, your sister Jennifer called. And before you offer poor excuses that you don’t have time, I’ve scheduled a lunch next Monday between meetings. She misses you Daniel. She’s family. Make time. I think I know your sister better than you these days.” The last sentence wasn’t supposed to come out as a grumble, but it did.
A mock smile tugged at his lips. “Sometimes I wonder who the boss is here.”
“If I don’t know what’s best for you after two years, I’m doing something wrong,” I grinned proudly.
“See, that’s why I hired you. You’re good for me.”
It was true. We were a team. I knew him better than he knew himself, and as far as working relationships go, we had a mutual respect. I’d go as far to say, I was probably one of the only people who could call him out when he was unreasonable and had an uncanny way of making him see things from different points of view. I’d worked at Dukes Industries for two years and knew almost everything there was to know about the gifted business man. His loves, his hates, favourite food, tipples, allergies, favourite designers and colognes. Even his passion for sailing. Hell, I knew his shoe size to every measurement of his body. Of course, being in close proximity five days a week, I also knew how to gauge his mercurial mood swings. Knew when to hide at my desk in the corridor behind the frosted glass that divided us when his temper got the better of him. His moods never lasted long though. As far as bosses go, Daniel Dukes wasn’t so bad.
Tapping my pen on my notepad, I pursed my lips together bracing myself. What I was about reveal would piss him off further. “I’ve also purchased your nephew’s present. I had to order it early as this Pokémon thingy is all the craze right now.”
“Shit, of course,” he replied, dragging a hand down his face. “It’s next week, right? How old is he again?”
Jesus Daniel! “Eight. Archie is eight on Wednesday,” I scoffed, a little irritated he didn’t know. “And I’ve promised Jen you’ll show your face at his party.”
His brows rose. “A kid’s party? Tell me you’re joking.”
“Yes, I thought that might be your reaction. Do you want to explain to your only sister why you won’t be at your only nephew’s birthday party? Believe me, your mother stampeding through Dukes Industries would be nothing in comparison.”
I waited a moment and watched multiple scenarios play through his mind. “Fine,” he eventually conceded, and threw his hands up in surrender. “I fucking hate kids.”
I smiled smugly. “Ten minutes’ tops. Show your face and leave.” I mentally high fived myself that I’d managed to trick him into submission and made a note to inform Jen that her big brother would make an appearance at Kid City. She’d be stoked. I rose and smiled. “That’s all for now. Do you need anything else?”
“Lunch,” he replied miserably. “I’m hungry.”
“You’re always hungry. Lunch is ordered and will be here at midday as per usual.”
“What would I do without you, Lewis?” he said sardonically, flicking through Glamour Magazine once more.
“Give me a pay rise and you’ll never have to find out.”
“Don’t push it.” He pointed at the door signalling for me to leave, then lifted his cup of coffee to a smirking mouth. “Actually, take the rest of the day off. I’m leaving early today myself.”
“With pay?” I asked optimistically.
He frowned as his drink halted mid-air. “No. I was trying to be nice.”
All hope extinguished. “You’re all heart Daniel,” I scoffed, with a fake smile.
A Skype call bleated around the office from the largest T.V mounted on the far wall. When I saw the name Albert appear on the screen, I smiled for real. This was the call Daniel had been waiting for.
“Are you going to get that?” I asked, watching the colour drain from his face. For the first time, ever, Daniel Dukes was beyond nervous. Not one to ever reveal his emotions, he appeared lost in a daydream. “Daniel?” I prompted louder, stamping my high heel on the floor alerting him to the here and now.
“Huh? Shit.” Pushing out quickly from his desk, he flew down the far end of the room dodging the oval table, ran between the white leather couches and pressed the touch screen accept button.
I closed the door.
Twenty minutes later, having typed up Daniel’s schedule for the following week, I was about to put files in alphabetical order when the lift opened to reveal Jesse Martin, Daniel’s best friend. Jesse was pressed up against the mirrored car with a seductive pose over his face. Licking his lips, he roared in my direction like a wild lion.
I let out a giggle and shook my head as he stepped out and walked over to me like a male model on a catwalk. How Jesse and my boss were best friends was beyond me. They were so different. Daniel, straight laced and high-brow. Jesse, far too relaxed and a proverbial joker. He sauntered over to me in a light brown suit and a white shirt with no tie, the two top buttons opened. “Hey sugar. How does dinner and falling in love sound?” he said in a ridiculous voice, batting his eyelashes and smoothed his sandy blonde hair from his forehead dramatically.
“Aw come on, what’s it going to take for you to fall for me?”
“Rohypnol and a blindfold,” I replied, grinning like a Cheshire cat. No matter how much his flirting was in jest, he made me smile. “Anything else original?”
“How about you sit on my lap and we talk about the first thing that pops up?”
“Shut up, Jesse,” I chuckled. “How’d you get past security anyway?”
“I have my ways,” he replied, resuming his normal posh accent. He wiggled his brows and perched his bum on my desk.
“Don’t tell me you’re shagging Raymond the security guard? I’ve heard he’s got syphilis, you know,” I teased playing along.
“I won’t hear a bad word against Raymond,” he said, picking up a green jelly baby from my sweet dish on the desk and popped it into his mouth. “The man is a devil in the sack and a God in the kitchen.”
I knew Jesse wasn’t gay, but ribbed him daily anyway. It was my way of keeping him at arm’s length. Jesse was a womaniser. It didn’t matter if they were short, tall, fat, thin or any colour of the rainbow. If it had a pulse, he fucked it, just like my boss. “So, when are you going to introduce me to your flat mates, Sophia?”
I once made the mistake of telling him that I lived with two strippers. A piece of information I should’ve kept to myself. “Never. They’d eat you alive,” I retorted firmly, and took out the water spray from my drawer to mist the purple orchid plant on my desk.
“Eat me alive? Bloody hell, now I have to meet them you little tease.” Tutting, I shoo’d him off my desk into a standing position. “Is the miserable bastard in?” he asked, his hands on his hips cocking his head towards Daniel’s door.
“Yes, but he’s on a call. A very important call,” I winked.
Jesse’s brows hit the roof, cottoning on. “Today’s the day then huh?”
“Yep. I haven’t heard any shouting, so I think it’s going well.”
“Great stuff. Shame his uncle is dead and all that, but bloody brilliant he’s going to get a shit load of wonga for nothing. Ivy pines is in sight then.” Jesse rubbed his hands together in delight. “So, back to these strippers.”
“Jesse, stop,” I chuckled, and pulled the trigger of the spray bottle in his direction. “It’s never going to happen. Besides I would have thought a rich good looking stockbroker like yourself wouldn’t need setting up. From what I see in the press, you manage fine all by yourself.” Being associated with Daniel had skyrocketed Jesse to fame. Not a day went by when Jesse wasn’t somewhere in the background of Daniel being papped.
“Aha,” he pointed cockily. “So, you admit I’m good looking?”
I cocked my head and said in all seriousness, “Well, yes Jesse. Of course, you’re good looking. One day I’m sure you’ll meet the perfect man who’ll be just as alluring as you.”
He frowned and pouted. “I’m not gay, Sophia. I don’t know what gives you the impression— ”
I tapped my nose. “Your secret is safe with me.”
“Come on. Those big brown eyes and sexy secretary glasses do it for me, you know. One night. As friends. Dinner? Maybe a movie? I’ll sit on my hands all night if that’s what it takes.”
My insides froze at the notion. Thanks to my past, relationships and I didn’t mix well. I busied myself plumping paperwork on my desk, anything to avoid eye contact. “Sorry Jesse, but I like my men fat and hairy. You see, I’m a sucker for a beer belly and fuzz. Unless you put on a hundred pounds and grow a beard longer than Santa, you don’t stand a chance.”
Undeterred, he replied, “Santa huh? I know a place that hires out costumes this time of year. Would that suffice?”
“Jesse, stop flirting with my secretary. Get in here, now.”
Daniel was at the door with a face like thunder, his jaw tight, eyes steeled in wounded confliction. I didn’t even notice he was there. Now jacket-less, the white cotton shirt stretched against his torso with every deep breath, the arms rolled up. It didn’t take a genius to work out something was horribly wrong. “Now,” he ordered again in a tone that dared not to be argued with. He stalked back into his office and out of sight.
What the hell was going on?
Jesse eyeballed me for answers. I shrugged, having no clue of what had occurred, but whatever it was, had to be bad. Jesse left me none the wiser, and closed the office door behind him.
A pain staking half an hour ticked by. And another. Then another. Daniel’s Macaroni cheese grew cold and had begun to curl on my desk. In that time, I deduced it could only be a smaller amount Daniel had inherited and not enough to get Ivy Pines off the starting blocks. All I knew was that if things were as bad as what I presumed, the shit would hit the fan and working at Dukes Industries wouldn’t be as pleasant for a long time to come.
The ringtone of Highway to Hell by AC/DC played quietly inside my top desk drawer, distracting my thoughts. Pulling it out, I smiled warmly when Shane’s name flashed on the screen.
“Hey, old man,” I whispered into the mouth piece, and tiptoed over to the window, hoping my heels click-clacking on the tiled floor wouldn’t disturb what was going on behind the frozen glass.
“Less of the old, Kitty,” laughed Shane huskily down the line.
Ah, his wonderful nickname for me.
Just hearing his voice took me to a better place instantly. As did the view of the London Eye down below with tourists lining the streets, licking ice cream in the glorious sunshine waiting to see and ride the attraction. “I miss you,” I added, tucking a stray strand of brown hair behind my ear. “It’s so good to hear your voice.”
“Really? Cause anyone would think you’ve forgotten all about me. You don’t call, you don’t write. Hell, the boys are going crazy down here wondering when you’re coming home.”
Home. Home was Devon, in a rundown clubhouse, situated between lush rolling hills in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of outlaw cannabis growing bikers, who were my family. The Saviours of Children. I missed the life, the parties, the feeling of family and security. But I couldn’t stay there forever. I had to grow up and spread my wings eventually.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I’ll be home soon, it’s just crazy here right now. How are you? How is everyone?”
I heard the rush of breath and pictured Shane on the decking of the clubhouse, leaning against a post looking out at the hills, smoking a big ole cigar. “I’m good Kitty. The boys are all good too. Kenny and Shia finally had their baby. Born yesterday. A girl. Tom’s cancer is eating him up but he’s still going. The old fucker refuses to give up,” he laughed. “Yeah, we’re all good, but I gotta warn you, Gabe is hell bent on coming up there to drag you back. He don’t trust those city slickers who only ride on four wheels.”
A warm feeling spread through my bones. Trust Gabriel King to think that way. We may not have been blood related but he was my brother in every other sense of the word. All of them were. Except Shane. He was the dad I never had, not that I’d ever tell him that. Bikers didn’t care for soppy shit. The only thing they cared for was a tank full of fuel and the open road.
“Don’t let him, Shane,” I warned with gusto. “I’ll be back soon I swear. When I’ve saved enough money to open the restaurant, I’ll come back for a visit, I promise.”
“And how long will that be exactly?”
I closed my eyes and pressed my forehead against the glass. “I don’t know,” I answered, feeling my heart strings being pulled. Every phone call was the same. Shane, unintentionally making me feel like shit. Me, living with the guilt of not returning home enough. “I’m saving every penny I can.”
I heard a scratchy noise down the line. The familiar sound of Shane itching his greying goatee. “It’s been two years,” he said forlornly.
My throat constricted as tears threatened. It felt longer than that. “I know. I couldn’t sponge off you guys any longer, Shane. I had to grow up sometime.”
He sighed wistfully. “You never sponged, Kitty cat. You earned your keep. We miss you that’s all. The clubhouse ain’t the same without you behind the bar listening to the guy’s problems, keeping the peace, or smashing a bottle over someone’s head.” We both chuckled as memories flooded my mind. If he could see me now dressed in a blouse, skirt and heels, he’d freak out. “Your room is exactly as you left it, you know, in case shit don’t work out and you need a place to crash.”
His last words made my heart hurt. Sure, London was exciting with its fast pace of life and freaky weirdos on every street corner, but it was the quiet life I missed. A small-town girl at heart, I missed the club. Craved the sound of the rolling sea that travelled on the breeze from the nearby town, Coverley. The smell of stale ale and cigarette smoke.
Leaving the boys had been the hardest thing I’d ever done. The plan was……
Move to London, find a high paid job.
Save enough dough to rent somewhere in London.
Open my Michelin five-star restaurant, Giorgina’s (Named after the mother I couldn’t remember).
Make a shit load of money.
Retire back in Coverley and die a happy old woman surrounded by beer bellied bikers.
Seriously, how hard could it be?
“Tell you what. I’ll book some time off work and come down by train real soon. How does that sound?”
“Yeah?” replied Shane brightly.
“Yeah.” I didn’t know when or how I would swing it with the boss man based on his current mood, but I’d tread carefully.
“Well now, that sounds like a plan.”
The sound of his joy made my mouth curve into a grin. “And I suppose I ought to come and meet Kenny and Shia’s new baby girl.”
“Well, I think that’s only fair seeing as they named her after you.”
“What?” I asked gobsmacked.
“Named her Sophia. In honour of you. They want you to be her Godmother.”
My hand flew to my mouth in shock. “They do?” It cemented how loved I was and how much they missed me too. “I’ll be home soon Shane.” Silly tears spilled down my cheeks.
“Are you crying?” teased Shane.
“Fuck no,” I laughed, wiping the end of my nose. “Crying’s for sissies.” I sniffed ungraciously and laughed some more.
“Damn straight. You take care of you.”
“Take care of you.”
The call ended and when I turned back to my desk, Daniel was at the door watching me. He’d obviously heard the tail end of my conversation and waited for me to finish. I waited for him to speak, half expecting a bollocking for taking personal calls in company time. Wiping my face with the back of my hands, I composed myself quickly.
He swallowed thickly, almost trying to figure out what to say, shuffling his weight from one foot to the other. Was Daniel nervous?
“Sophia, can you step into my office for a moment please?” he requested in a neutral tone.
Sophia? He never called me Sophia. Always Lewis!
“Sure. Should I bring my notepad?” I asked, feeling nervy and unsure.
“No,” he replied flatly, and disappeared inside.
Okay, something was most definitely off and I didn’t like it one bit. As I moved towards his office with a million questions whizzing around my head, I had the strangest feeling that this day was going end very badly.
So now that you’ve read a chapter I’m sure you really want to read the rest of it, which is lucky because if you click the link then you could win…
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour because you never know there might be another sneaky peek into the book…
J.D. Hughes writes fun, romantic suspense fiction. Born and raised in Worcestershire, she has lived in London and Northern Ireland but has returned to the city she loves.
Despite training in Musical Theatre and directing many productions, J.D. Hughes soon found she preferred making up her own stories, always completed with happy endings. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, walk her puppy and embarrass her three children. Her debut Novel ‘You Have My Heart’, published in 2016 was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite. ‘My Beautiful Disaster’ is the next release and is a two-part series.