Natasha Boyd (writing as Tasha Boyd) fuels our wanderlust with the scorching hot story of a young architect from Charleston, SC, who after suddenly quitting her job, agrees to nanny for a widowed, billionaire, single dad on a mega yacht in the South of France. But what was only supposed to be a summer gig while she looks for another job in her field ends up changing her forever… Page after page, I got utterly swept up by the way the author steadily builds the love story from both perspectives, but it’s the way Natasha Boyd leaves no emotional stone unturned in her powerful portrayal of a broken widower who is afraid to open his heart again that had me reading until 4am, two days in a row. I’m recommending this book with all my heart, and I am so honoured to share with you a little sneak peek.
As my head emerged on the top level, the evening breeze cooled my damp hair. My attention was immediately captured by a sparkling turquoise plunge pool glowing with underwater lighting in the twilight. Wow. A pool on a boat. The sounds of chatter, music, and clinking silverware drifted from the port-side restaurants. The smells were heavenly—garlic, charcoal, baking bread. I dragged my eyes toward the presence I could feel to my left, and the skin on my neck tingled.
Xavier Pascale sat at the teak table, leaning back on a matching chair, watching me. His face was expressionless, his blue eyes—glowing with the last of the setting sun hitting his face—were intent. He wore his white linen shirt from earlier and had changed from jeans into a pair of navy shorts and canvas white-soled boat shoes. His toned legs were tanned and sprinkled with dark hair and crossed at the ankles. An arm, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up to reveal corded forearms, was slung casually over the backrest of the chair next to him.
My stomach muscles clenched of their own accord, my ovaries jerking like racehorses in a starting block. I swallowed hard. Being attracted to my boss to this extent was going to be very, very dangerous. It was just lust, I told myself sternly, and pressed two fingers against the pulse on my wrist as if I could force my heart to slow down. And given one of the reasons I’d just dropkicked my career, also really ironic that I’d think my boss was hot. I just hoped I didn’t make a fool of myself.
He had papers and a phone spread in front of him, but the other end of the table was set with three dinner places.
“What are you thinking so hard about?” His voice broke the silence between us. It was gravelly yet smooth, like a bed of wet pebbles.
“Hi,” I managed, clearing my throat and feeling as if I’d been caught ogling.
My belly gurgled again.
His brows furrowed.
“That I’m very, very hungry,” I answered with a half-truth, smiling with embarrassment. “It’s been a while since I ate.”
He didn’t respond, and I wasn’t sure if I’d somehow stumbled into a cultural faux pas.
“Okay, well, um, also I’d like to know what you expect of me as Dauphine’s nanny.”
He inhaled through his nose, and then slipped his arm off the chair next to him and sat forward in a slow and deliberate movement. “Take a seat.” He gestured to a chair opposite him.
Obediently, I pulled it out and sat.
Several seconds passed as he perused the papers in his hand. My eyes were drawn to the long fingers and short clean nails of his hand that held the pages, then to his wrists. He wore a wide band stainless steel watch that glowed silver against his tanned skin sprinkled with dark hair. The scent of him danced elusively as I inhaled the sea air permeated with all the smells of the port. I breathed again deeply, trying to catch the thread of something that brought to mind worn leather, eucalyptus, and bad decisions. Was that what an honest-to-God pheromone smelled like?
He set the stack down, and I caught sight of my name amid upside down typed French. Then he leaned forward and clasped his fingers together. Blue eyes drilled me. “Why are you here?”
“Uh.” I blinked, my mouth drying. “To nanny for Dauphine.”
I didn’t feel like telling him I’d quit my job. It could make me seem flighty or temperamental. And frankly I didn’t want to relive the awkward experience. “I needed a change of scene. And you needed a nanny. It seems combined circumstance brought me here.”
His eyes flickered, and I imagined he’d expected the standard because I love children so much response.
Emboldened, I went on. “I haven’t worked for Tabitha’s agency before, and I am sure you’ve had more experienced nannies for Dauphine than I. But I am honest, I work hard, and I really need this job. If you want a better reason than that, then I don’t have one.” Holding his gaze, I tried hard not to let the forcefield of it cower me. The intensity level he emitted felt as though I was staring into the sun.
“You are attracted to me,” he stated.
A rush of heat hurtled up my neck to my cheeks as my mind stumbled to deal with the shock of his forthrightness. God, had I been that obvious? After only a handful of interactions? My family and friends always laughed that I wore my emotions on my face too easily. I tried to formulate a denial, but I wasn’t fast enough.
“I’m not interested,” he said dismissively before I could even form a response.
The heat that had come from embarrassment quickly seared to irritation. The arrogance! “Excuse me?”
“I said, I’m not interested. You are here for Dauphine and only her.”
My blood pressure rose as the tips of my ears burned. “I’m well aware of that fact,” I managed through stiff lips.
“Good. Then we understand each other.” He looked back at his papers as if the conversation was boring him. ‘“Unless you think it will be a problem?”
My blood pounded in my ears. “And just because you’re attractive, doesn’t mean I want to—that I would …” I stammered.
He looked up, an eyebrow raised.
Great. Now, I’d just confirmed I found him attractive. I wanted the boat to swallow me up.
Under the table my fists clenched tightly. I willed my embarrassment into something useful. I was reminded of just two days ago when I’d also sat with a boss who only saw women as sexualized Barbie dolls. Did this guy think all women wanted to jump him? Gross.
“Will it be a problem?” he asked again, calmly.
I’d fucking had enough. “No. It won’t,” I snapped icily, attraction utterly cooled. What a jerk. “I’m offended that you think so little of me, and you’ve only just met me. I’m doing a good friend a massive favor by taking this position. I wasn’t even aware you existed until two days ago. So if you could give me a tiny bit of credit, I’d appreciate it.”
“I find that hard to believe.” He snorted. “That you didn’t know I existed. You wouldn’t be the first trying to get to me through my daughter. I’m just making sure you understand.”
My mouth dropped open at his sheer level of arrogance. “Oh my God.” My chair screeched as I pushed back from the table, and I leaned forward on my hands, pushing my face close to his. His pupils flared, almost eclipsing the blue of his eyes.
“You might be a king in your part of the world,” I growled, realizing that tiredness and hunger were getting the better of me, but unable to stop myself. “But I’ve had bigger problems on the other side of the ocean in my own world than to waste my time reading gossip magazines and daydreaming about marrying a rich prince. I don’t give a continental how important you think you are. For me, you are a means to an end. A job. Nothing more.” My mind screamed at me to shut up. “I’m sorry. I’ve had a really shitty few days. I’m hungry. I’m tired. And I fucking hate boats.” So, if he was done with his misguided misogyny, I guessed I should go pack up my things and email Tabitha that this did not work out because my boss was an entitled, sexist, arrogant asshole. I wanted to help her out with this job, but not so much that I’d stand for being made to feel like a gold-digging piece of trash. “I don’t think this is going to work out. Good luck. You and Dauphine probably need to spend more time together anyway. You don’t need me for that. For the second time in three days, I quit.” I pushed back from the table and turned on my heel quickly, making my way back down the way I’d come. My heart thundered in my throat.
Paco looked up, surprised, as I hurried past without a word. Tears of impotent rage streaked my cheeks before I was even halfway back to my cabin. God, why did being angry and embarrassed always make me cry?
God knew where I’d stay in town while I tried to get home. But I’d figure it out. In the cabin, I grabbed my bag I’d stashed under the side table shelf, then turned to the dresser.
“You know you can’t leave, right?” Evan said from the doorway.
I scowled at him. “Excuse me?”
“You can’t leave. We don’t allow anyone on or off the boat twelve hours before we move. As his security detail, I have to advise you that you are required to stay put.”
I stared at him for any hint that he wasn’t serious. “You’re joking.”
He shook his head. “Nope.”
“I can’t leave?”
“Affirmative. Not tonight, anyway.”
“So, you’ll keep me against my will? I’m a prisoner?” I opened a drawer and pulled out pajamas, bras, and underwear, dumping them onto the bed.
Evan’s eyes stayed on me. “I wouldn’t call it that.”
I folded my arms. “What would you call it?”
“A chance to cool off. And a contracted employment period.”
“For a jerk?” Who I just totally went off on?
“I guess if you see him that way, then yes. But something tells me that won’t last long.”
“Have I told you how much I fucking hate boats?” I looked around before catching his eye again. “I don’t care how luxurious it is.”
His attention seemed to go somewhere, then his wrist came up to his mouth. “Yes, she is.”
I frowned and realized his attention had gone to his earpiece. “I’m what?” I asked.
Evan cleared his throat and stepped out of the doorway to my room.
In his place, and in no way less of a virile and commanding presence, appeared the object of my outrage—Xavier Pascale.