Title: THE RENEGADE
Series: The Rockwell Legacy
Author: Jennifer Bernard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release: December 4, 2018
The last thing she expected was a billionaire under the mistletoe …
As a trauma surgeon, Isabelle Rockwell has devoted her life to helping others. Her life is too crazy for romance…despite a powerful attraction to a stranger during an unexpected layover in Italy. But there’s no time to obsess over the mystery man. Recurring dreams of her mother are calling her home to the family lodge, where a surprise guest is staying for the holidays—who else but her airport hottie!
Battling a takeover, billionaire Lyle Guero has been asked by his board of directors to lay low. What better place than Rocky Peak Lodge, his latest silent investment, home to the woman who’s haunted his thoughts since Rome? Independent, fascinating, equally career-focused, she’s the perfect temporary distraction.
But he didn’t count on the holiday spirit, the zany Rockwell family, or the danger lurking in the snowy shadows of the Cascades. How far will two renegade hearts go for a chance at love?
Lyle gestured at the trail ahead. “Race you back to the lodge?”
Isabelle waved a ski pole in the air. “Wait wait wait. Normally I live for a race, but we haven’t settled anything yet.”
“Fine, let the negotiations begin.” He leaned on his own poles. “That’s why I came out here. Jake said you’re at your most relaxed when skiing. I might disagree with that, but I only have that one night to go by.”
Even though Isabelle’s skin was still bronzed from her time in the Sudan, he noticed a quick wash of color on the delicate skin of her neck.
Good. The attraction on her side was still there, no matter how much she tried to squash it.
“I…I mean…like I said, it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re two grownups. We should be able to get along just fine. All I really want is to know why you’re here.”
“And if it has anything to do with you.” He finished that thought for her.
She turned an even deeper red. “I’m sure it doesn’t. Why would it? Our thing was months ago, I barely even remember it and I’m sure it was just a blip on your radar, and—”
“I already told you, I remember all of it.” He did. It was seared into his soul, every minute they’d spent together. Not just the nearly naked parts, but the talking and laughing and flirting. She hadn’t known who he really was, and probably wouldn’t have cared. Isabelle was driven, passionate, but also loose and relaxed after her break from the intensity of her work. He’d been drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Or maybe a bug-zapper.
But tell her that? Probably not a good idea, judging by her wariness.
He could tell her part of the truth, and that would have to do.
“I’m in the midst of a business crisis. It’s getting ugly, so the board asked me to step down while the lawyers work things out. We’re trying to keep it out of the press. I came here to finalize the funds for Rocky Peak and Jake suggested I stay for a while to experience what I was investing in. Seemed like the perfect way to lie low. So here I am.”
“So it’s just business, then? Nothing personal?”
“If you Googled me, you know my reputation. It’s always business.” A sense of sadness washed through him as he said those words. Since the age of seventeen, he’d been working to become a success. That left no room for anything “personal.”
Sexual, yes. But not personal. And the fact that ‘sexual’ and ‘personal’ could be two separate things was part of the problem.
Isabelle studied him, almost as if she could tell the direction of his thoughts. “Your reputation is that you’re a renegade who plays by his own rules. Is that true?”
“Careful. If you ask me too many questions like that, I might think you want to get to know me.”
She gave a mock-shudder. “God forbid. Like I need another billionaire in my life. They’re a pain in the ass, those guys.”
“Well then, you’ll be glad to know I’m de-billionaired at the moment.”
“Yes. For now. Long story.”
“Hm.” She glanced down at his skis. “At least you managed to snag a hot pair of G3’s before you became de-billionaired.”
He looked down at them too. “Yeah, they’re fast. Almost too fast. The edges—”
He realized she was gone, her trim figure skiing fast in the direction of Rocky Peak.
“Race you to the lodge!” she yelled over her shoulder.
“Lowest trick in the book,” he called back as he worked to get his skis moving.
“Oh, I have plenty lower than that. Three brothers, remember.”
In a minute, he was hot on her trail. He was physically very fit—he’d earned his first money in the boxing ring—but Isabelle was a born skier. So he gave up trying to pass her and simply enjoyed the sight of her graceful motion and round ass in her snow pants.
Come to think of it, had they actually “settled” anything?
They hadn’t, and that was fine with him. Because when it came to Isabelle, he didn’t plan to settle. He wanted more than that.
Which would probably scare the ski pants off her and therefore would remain his own private business.
About Jennifer Bernard
Jennifer Bernard is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her books have been called "an irresistible reading experience" full of "quick wit and sizzling love scenes." A graduate of Harvard and former news promo producer, she left big city life in Los Angeles for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She still hasn't adjusted to the cold, so most often she can be found cuddling with her laptop and a cup of tea. No stranger to book success, she also writes erotic novellas under a naughty secret name that she's happy to share with the curious.