Yuletide Baby Surprise by Catherine Mann
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date:&nbsp;05/01/2013</div>Series: Billionaire and Babies
Series: The Alpha Brotherhood # 4
Back of the book
‘Tis the season to be jolly? It isn’t for Dr. Rowan Boothe when a princess on the run from the photo-hungry press invades his hotel room. He and Mariama Mandara had their professional clashes in the past, and Rowan has no desire to become involved in her latest predicament—until they discover an abandoned baby. Now he needs Mari’s help and soon discovers she’s no pampered royal but a desirable woman. Yet how long can their Christmas escape really last?
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4.5 Star Review – Yuletide Baby Surprise (Billionaires and Babies | The Alpha Brotherhood # 4 series)
I recommend this book.
Princess Dr. Mariama “Mari” Mandara is on the run from royal fans. She needs to find a way to escape the fans and fast. That is when she comes across a room service tray. She decides to pretend to deliver the tray to the assigned room.
Dr. Rowan Boothe is in town for a conference and is awaiting his evening meal. When his meal arrives he realizes that the delivery person is non-other than his professional nemesis Dr. Mandara.
Under the room service cart they find an abandoned baby. As Rowan has wanted Mari for a while he decides to keep her close any way he can. His plan is they will take care of the baby together so she is not in the system and sent to a group home. In order to care for the baby Mari should share his suite and they should take care of the baby as a couple.
Now they must learn to get along with each other without becoming attached to the baby. As they try to track down the mother with the help of resources from friends and the Royal fans they learn more about each other and develop feelings for each other.
Will they be able to set aside their work differences to come together and take care of this baby? What is going to happen when the mother is found? Where will that leave them?
The chemistry between these two is awesome. Love both the characters was a little mad about how the baby situation ended up. Rowan and Mari really draw you into the story.
Look forward to the next book in this series.
For the Sake of Their Son – Due out in January 2014
A few of my favorite parts:
“Ah, you said ‘if.'” He flicked a loose strand of hair over her shoulder, just barely skimming his knuckles across her skin. “Princess, that means we’re already halfway to naked.”
“If you were a good friend you would let me continue with my denial.”
“Crush? Good God, man. I’m not in junior high.”
She dug her fingers into his amazing tush. “Could you quit being so damn admirable? I’m very clearly propositioning you. I am an adult, a very smart adult, totally sober, and completely turned on by you. If’s that not clear enough for you, then how about this? Take me to bed or to the couch, but take me now.”
USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann resides on a sunny Florida beach with her military flyboy husband and their four children. Although after nine moves in twenty years, she hasn’t given away her winter gear! Now a RITA Award winner, Catherine writes action-packed military suspense for Berkley and Sourcebooks, and steamy romances for Harlequin Desire. With over two million books in print in more than twenty countries, she has also celebrated five RITA finals, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win. A former theater school director and university teacher, she holds a Master’s degree in Theater from UNC-Greensboro and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (with minors in both English and Education) from the College of Charleston. Catherine enjoys hearing from readers and chatting on her message board – thanks to the wonders of the wireless internet that allows her to cyber-network with her laptop by the water! Catherine and her family are also active volunteers in animal rescue, having fostered more than fifty puppies and special needs dogs for their local shelter. FMI on the latest news, upcoming releases and contests, check out her facebook page.
Dr. Mariama Mandara had always been the last picked for a team in gym class. With good reason. Athletics? Not her thing. But when it came to spelling bees, debate squads and math competitions, she’d racked up requests by the dozens.
Too bad her academic skills couldn’t help her sprint faster down the posh hotel corridor.
No matter where she hid, determined legions were all too eager for a photo with a princess. Why couldn’t they accept she was here for a business conference, not socializing?
Regaining her balance, she power-walked, since running would draw even more attention or send her tripping over her own feet. Her low-heeled pumps thud-thud-thudded along the plush carpet in time with a poly-rhythmic version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” wafting from the sound system. She just wanted to finish this medical conference and return to her research lab, where she could ride out the holiday madness in peace, crunching data rather than candy canes.
For most people, Christmas meant love, joy and family. But for her, the “season to be jolly” brought epic family battles even twenty years after her parents’ divorce. If her mom and dad had lived next door to each other—or even on the same continent—the holidays would not have been so painful. But they’d played transcontinental tug-of-war over their only child for decades. Growing up, she’d spent more time in the Atlanta airport and on planes with her nanny than actually celebrating by a fireside with cocoa. She’d even spent one Christmas in a hotel, her connecting flight canceled for snow.
Although simple wasn’t always possible for someone born into royalty. Her mother had crumbled under the pressure of the constant spotlight, divorced her Prince Charming in Western Africa and returned to her Atlanta, Georgia, home. Mari, however, couldn’t divorce herself from her heritage.
Finally, she spotted an unguarded stairwell. Peering inside, she found it empty but for the echo of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” segueing into “Away in a Manger.” She just needed to make it from the ground level to her fifth-floor room, where she could hole up for the night before facing the rest of the week’s symposiums. Exhausted from a fourteen-hour day of presentations about her research on antiviral medications, she was a rumpled mess and just didn’t have it in her to smile pretty for the camera or field questions that would be captured on video phone. Especially since anything she said could gain a life of its own on the internet in seconds these days.
Simply strolling back into the hall wasn’t an option until she could be sure the path was clear. But she couldn’t simply stand here indefinitely, either. If only she had a disguise, something to throw people off the scent. Head tucked down, she searched the hall through her eyelashes, taking in a brass luggage rack and monstrously big pots of African feather grass.
She peeked under the silver tray. The mouth-watering scent of saffron-braised karoo lamb made her stomach rumble. And the tiramisu particularly tempted her to find the nearest closet and feast after a long day of talking without a break for more than coffee and water. She shook off indulgent thoughts. The sooner she worked her way back to her room, the sooner she could end this crazy day with a hot shower, her own tray of food and a soft bed.
The sound of the elevator doors opening spurred her into action.
“Do you see her?” a female teen asked in Portuguese, her squeaky tones drifting down the corridor. “I thought you said she ran up the stairs to the fifth floor.”
“I’m certain,” a third voice snapped. “Get your phone ready. We can sell these for a fortune.”
Mari shoved the cart. China rattled and the wheels creaked. Damn, this thing was heavier than it looked. She dug her heels in deeper and pushed harder. Step by step, past carved masks and a pottery elephant planter, she walked closer to suite 5A.
Apprehension lifted the hair on the back of Mari’s neck. The photos would be all the more mortifying if they caught her in this disguise. She needed to get inside suite 5A. Now. The numbered brass plaque told her she was at the right place.
“Room service,” she called, keeping her head low.
Seconds ticked by. The risk of stepping inside and hiding her identity from one person seemed far less daunting than hanging out here with the determined group and heaven only knew who else.
Just when she started to panic that time would run out, the door opened, thank God. She rushed past, her arms straining at the weight of the cart and her nose catching a whiff of manly soap. Her favorite scent—clean and crisp rather than cloying and obvious. Her feet tangled for a second.
Tripping over her own feet as she shoved the cart was far from dignified. But she’d always been too gangly to be a glamour girl. She was more of a cerebral type, a proud nerd, much to the frustration of her family’s press secretary, who expected her to present herself in a more dignified manner.
Still, even in her rush to get inside, curiosity nipped at her. What type of man would choose such a simple smell while staying in such opulence? But she didn’t dare risk a peek at him.
She eyed the suite for other occupants, even though the room-service cart only held one meal. One very weighty meal. She shoved the rattling cart past a teak lion. The room appeared empty, the lighting low. Fat leather sofas and a thick wooden table filled the main space. Floor-to-ceiling shutters had been slid aside to reveal the moonlit beach outside a panoramic window. Lights from stars and yachts dotted the horizon. Palms and fruit trees with lanterns illuminated the shore. On a distant islet, a stone church perched on a hill.
She cleared her throat and started toward the table by the window. “I’ll set everything up on the table for you.”
“Thanks,” rumbled a hauntingly familiar voice that froze her in her tracks. “But you can just leave it there by the fireplace.”
Her brain needed less than a second to identify those deep bass tones. Ice trickled down her spine as if snow had hit her African Christmas after all.
She didn’t have to turn around to confirm that fate was having a big laugh at her expense. She’d run from an irritation straight into a major frustration. Out of all the hotel suites she could have entered, somehow she’d landed in the room of Dr. Rowan Boothe. Her professional nemesis.
A physician whose inventions she’d all but ridiculed in public.
What the hell was he doing here? She’d reviewed the entire program of speakers and she could have sworn he wasn’t listed on the docket until the end of the week.
The door clicked shut behind her. The tread of his footsteps closed in, steady, deliberate, bringing the scent of him drifting her way. She kept her face down, studying his loafers and the well-washed hem of his faded jeans.
She held on to the hope that he wouldn’t recognize her. “I’ll leave your meal right here then,” she said softly. “Have a nice evening.”
A very hard, muscle-bound place encased in a white button-down with the sleeves rolled up and the tail untucked. She remembered well every muscular—annoying—inch of him.
She just prayed he wouldn’t recognize her from their last encounter five months ago at a conference in London. Already the heat of embarrassment flamed over her.
Even with her face averted, she didn’t need to look further to refresh her memory of that too handsome face of his. Weathered by the sun, his Brad Pitt-level good looks only increased. His sandy blond hair would have been too shaggy for any other medical professional to carry off. But somehow he simply appeared too immersed in philanthropic deeds to be bothered with anything as mundane as a trip to the barber.
The world thought he was Dr. Hot Perfection but she simply couldn’t condone the way he circumvented rules.
“Ma’am,” he said, ducking his head as if to catch her attention, “is there a problem?”
Just keep calm. There was no way for him to identify her from the back. She would rather brave a few pictures in the press than face this man while she wore a flipping Santa Claus hat.
A broad hand slid into view with cash folded over into a tip. “Merry Christmas.”
If she didn’t take the money, that would appear suspicious. She pinched the edge of the folded bills, doing her best to avoid touching him. She plucked the cash free and made a mental note to donate the tip to charity. “Thank you for your generosity.”
“You’re very welcome.” His smooth bass was too appealing coming from such an obnoxiously perfect man.
Exhaling hard, she angled past him. Almost home free. Her hand closed around the cool brass door handle.
“Dr. Mandara, are you really going so soon?” he asked with unmistakable sarcasm. He’d recognized her. Damn. He was probably smirking, too, the bastard.
He took a step closer, the heat of his breath caressing her cheek. “And here I thought you’d gone to all this trouble to sneak into my room so you could seduce me.”
Dr. Rowan Boothe waited for his words to sink in, the possibility of sparring with the sexy princess/ research scientist already pumping excitement through his veins. He didn’t know what it was about Mariama Mandara that turned him inside out, but he’d given up analyzing the why of it long ago. His attraction to Mari was simply a fact of life now.
Her disdain for him was an equally undeniable fact, and to be honest, it was quite possibly part of her allure.
He grew weary with the whole notion of the world painting him as some kind of saint just because he’d rejected the offer of a lucrative practice in North Carolina and opened a clinic in Africa. These days, he had money to burn after his invention of a computerized medical diagnostics program—a program Mari missed no opportunity to dismiss as faux, shortcut medicine. Funding the clinic hadn’t even put a dent in his portfolio so he didn’t see it as worthy of hoopla. Real philanthropy involved sacrifice. And he wasn’t particularly adept at denying himself things he wanted.
Right now, he wanted Mari.
Although from the look of horror on her face, his half-joking come-on line hadn’t struck gold.
She opened and closed her mouth twice, for once at a loss for words. Fine by him. He was cool with just soaking up the sight of her. He leaned back against the wet bar, taking in her long, elegant lines. Others might miss the fine-boned grace beneath the bulky clothes she wore, but he’d studied her often enough to catch the brush of every subtle curve. He could almost feel her, ached to peel her clothes away and taste every inch of her cafe-au-lait skin.
Some of the heat must have shown on his face because she snapped out of her shock. “You have got to be joking. You can’t honestly believe I would ever make a move on you, much less one so incredibly blatant.”
Damn, but her indignation was so sexy and yeah, even cute with the incongruity of that Santa hat perched on her head. He couldn’t stop himself from grinning.
She stomped her foot. “Don’t you dare laugh at me.”
He tapped his head lightly. “Nice hat.”
Growling, she flung aside the hat and shrugged out of the hotel jacket. “Believe me, if I’d known you were in here, I wouldn’t have chosen this room to hide out.”
“Hide out?” he said absently, half following her words.
If anyone was too impersonal, it was her. And, God, how he ached to rattle her composure, to see her tawny eyes go sleepy with all-consuming passion.
He was five seconds away from an obvious erection. He reined himself in and faced the problem at hand—the woman—as a more likely reason for her arrival smoked through his brain. “Is this some sort of professional espionage?”
“What in the hell are you talking about?” She fidgeted with the loose waistband on her tweedy skirt.
Who would have thought tweed would turn him inside out? Yet he found himself fantasizing about pulling those practical clunky shoes off her feet. He would kiss his way up under her skirt, discover the silken inside of her calf…