It’s not long now until the release of Royal Passion, the first in my Royal Romances trilogy. Here’s an extract to get you in the mood. You can preorder it on your favourite platform right now by clicking here. Then you’ll get Royal Passion the second it goes live!
It’s not every day James Bond swims right underneath you.
The experience propelled Sara out of the water like a missile. It wasn’t 007 who met her on splashdown, but he was a water-slicked vision. His perfect teeth, bronzed skin and flashing dark eyes almost made up for getting the fright of her life.
With the sapphire Aegean Sea slapping at her, Sara didn’t have enough breath left for tact.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“You screamed, so I dived in,” he said, his voice rich with a foreign accent Sara couldn’t recognise.
The stranger lifted his arm to point at the granite crag above them. Water gushed from the sleeve of his sodden white shirt. Dragging the cuff across his face, he blinked the last water droplets from his lashes.
His long, thick, black lashes…Sara noticed, then cursed herself silently. Surging hormones weren’t to be trusted. They had dragged her out of her depth before.
Her toes brushed sand. With a few frantic strokes toward the shore, she found her feet and waded up the beach.
“You mean you saw blood in the water and made like a shark,” she said.
He was following her. She winced as salty breakers licked the gash on her shin.
“Something bit me.”
She stopped, bending to check the wound. Her leg had no tooth marks, only an extended, jagged cut. She blushed, and the pink stain spread like her bruises. Fancy thinking she was being attacked by a man-eating shark in the privacy of a place like the Paradise Spa! Relaxing with late-night TV had a lot to answer for.
“That’s unlikely. A rocky outcrop runs under the mouth of this cove. You probably scraped against it.” Her self-appointed rescuer studied her legs with interest. “You’ll live.”
Sara dug her toes into the sand. “Rock or shark bite, it’s still pretty painful.”
He gave her a calculating look. “The way you screamed, I suppose Jaws was on television again last night.”
She avoided his gaze by staring at her leg. It was as painfully red as her face. “I have no idea. There should be warning notices around here, telling people to take care.”
“They are all pinned up inside the summer house.” He nodded toward a building at the head of the beach.
“Then there should be warning flags out here, too.”
“Why? This inlet is safe enough. There’s a good depth of water at high tide. You just got too close to the rocks, and the swell did the rest.”
He was standing on his dignity, which was difficult, with a wetly transparent shirt clinging to his muscles.
They are rock hard, Sara noticed, wondering about the other parts of his body. This guy could win a Mr Wet Tee-shirt competition, hands down.
Her thoughts revealed themselves in a smile. It got wider at the sight of his disapproval.
The points of Sara’s nipples pushed against the thin fabric of her bikini top. She told herself it wasn’t a reaction to this gorgeous guy. It was simply the effect of a cooling breeze on her wet skin. She started doing some warm-down exercises as a distraction. Then she noticed her stretches were affecting him, too.
“I haven’t noticed Nick’s guests swimming out here before,” he said.
“Oh, come on! Everyone staying at the spa must love to swim in this beautiful bay.” Sara straightened up, looking around at the cliffs. Rising from the specially imported, cleaned and sifted silver sand, they towered against a clear blue sky.
“Lounging on the beach or swimming in the sea would get the paparazzi circling. The people who come here are trying to get away from it all. Calling it a spa lets them pretend they are here on doctor’s orders.”
Sara groaned. “Tell me about it! Relaxing is for people with time to spare. Nothing I could do would persuade my doctor not to make me take this break.”
The stranger had been sizing her up appreciatively but stopped when she said that.
“You must have a heart of stone not to enjoy a place like this.”
“…and you aren’t the first person to say something like that. I’m not keen on enforced idleness. And far too many people seem to know what is best for me.”
“You didn’t look to be idling. You were swimming like there really was a shark after you. The only exercise most of the guests take here involves lifting cutlery and glassware. I’ve never seen anyone in the water before.”
“You saw me.”
“You’re pretty unmissable.”
His bitter-chocolate eyes were penetrating. Unsettled, Sara tried to laugh.
“Oh, please! I’m sure a charmer like you can do better than that, Sir Lancelot!”
She felt the intensity of his gaze soften as she spoke, but he didn’t smile. Not yet.
“My name is Leo, not Lancelot. Leo Gregoryan.”
“It was a joke, Leo Gregoryan.” Sara hesitated, but despite his words, he didn’t have the air of a man trying his luck. “I’m Sara Astley.” She planted her hands on her hips, waiting for him to say more.
He didn’t answer. With time to think, she wondered if his surname rang a bell. She put her head on one side and eyed him quizzically.
“Should I know you?”
“I hope not. Nick assured me that his spa is reserved for those keen to spend time away from the public eye. I want to make the most of my freedom while I can.”
His face was unforgettable, but that didn’t help Sara to place him. “Well, I’m sorry, Mr Gregoryan. My day job doesn’t give me time to watch TV. I’ve met a few celebrities, though, and I haven’t liked them.”
“Good for you.”
She looked at him more closely. “You have just dived fully clothed off a rock, and you’re saying it wasn’t a publicity stunt?”
“Correct. I’m not keen on celebrities either. There’s a world of difference between tellystocracy and true aristocracy.”
His charm was effortless. That made puncturing it irresistible to Sara. “I assumed you had done it on the flimsy excuse of creating an online splash.”
“No, I did it because I thought you were in trouble. I was watching you from the terrace. It was much more interesting than yet another champagne reception.”
“Ah,” Sara nodded, “then that explains your clothes. And I thought only bridegrooms wore monkey suits at eleven o’clock in the morning.”
He grinned, flexing like a tiger anticipating a chase. “No woman makes a monkey out of me.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Champagne and chivalry – that’s an intoxicating combination.”
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