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Riggs Bates may be a billionaire, but he knows money can’t buy happiness. He keeps his financial status a secret and takes his women the same way he takes his meals—a different one three times a day. That’s until he’s caught sleeping with a married newswoman by none other than her ambitious assistant.

Daphne “Duffy” Markham wants two things in life: marry well and stay in the States. So when her almost-fiancé takes off to “find himself” and her work visa approaches expiration, Duffy resorts to the only thing she has left—blackmail. Luckily, Riggs needs an excuse to stay in New York as badly as she does, so their first meeting quickly leads to a begrudging engagement.

Armed with strict house rules and their mutual distaste for one another, Riggs and Duffy soon find there’s no denying the spark between them…or the fact that this fake marriage is starting to feel a little too real.


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Cold Hearted Casanova

L.J. Shen

Expected Release Date: 9 April 2024

Book Series: 

A witty new romance about a woman desperate to marry into money…and her fake marriage to a (real) billionaire reluctant to commit even to a zip code is out this week from author L.J. Shen, and I have a fabulous sneak peek for you.

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Excerpt

I stepped into the shower and lathered my body soap until bubbles ran down the expanse of my flesh. I turned the water to extra hot and closed my eyes, practicing deep, long breaths.

Everything is okay.

No. That seemed wrong.

Everything will be okay.

That sounded slightly more believable.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be o . . .

A loud noise of glass smashing came from the living room. It was followed by the sound of glass crunching over the floor, like someone had stomped all over it.

Riggs had a key, so it couldn’t be him. I lived on the second floor, but my window was directly in front of the fire escape.

Instinctively, I decided the best course of action was to wrap myself in a towel and confront the intruder in my living room. After all, there was no better thing to do than to greet one’s burglar half-naked.

Why not simply stick a RAPE ME note on your forehead, Poppins? Riggs’s wry voice taunted in my head.

Still in the bathroom, I caught myself. I couldn’t go out there empty handed. I needed a weapon. Something sharp and discreet. I looked around frantically. The only thing that was remotely practical was my pink shaving razor. I pulled it from the suction holder and dashed out of the bathroom, waving the thing in the air like it was a sword.

“Who is there?” I demanded in a shrill voice before coming to a stop in the middle of the living room.

My window—my only window—was smashed. Broken beyond repair. That was the bad news. The good news was that my burglar was also my fiancé. And the man I was about to murder.

Riggs was standing in the middle of the small room, calmly tucking his photography equipment into its cases, shards of glass adorning his gargantuan booted feet.

“Hey.” He popped a cinnamon gum, not bothering to look up. “Water must be hot after today, huh?”

The water was actually lovely. It was one of the things I liked the most about summers in the city.

Focus, Duffy, focus.

“Hmm. Did you just . . . ?” I motioned at the broken window.

He raised his head distractedly, then nodded. “Oh, yeah. Sorry. I smashed the tripod against it when I organized my shit. Don’t worry about it. I’ll call someone to fix it first thing tomorrow morning. Get them to install the triple-glazed stuff. You had a crack in the glass, anyway.”

How could he be so calm? This was going to cost a fortune. A fortune neither of us had. He couldn’t even pay for a subway ticket.

“Riggs, this is a rented flat!” I bellowed, balling my fists in anger. “You can’t just break things.”

“I said I’ll take care of it.” He bypassed me by stalking to the kitchen and filling himself a glass of tap water. He was uncharacteristically taciturn, but I wasn’t in the mood to ask how his day had gone.

“So what if you did?” I followed him, perching my fists on either side of my waist. “If something goes wrong, I’m the one who’s going to have to deal with it.”

“You’ll have a brand-new window in less than twelve hours.” He leaned against the counter and filled himself another glass. He threw open all the cupboards before rummaging through them relentlessly. “Shit. Where’s your Tylenol?”

“Second cupboard to your right,” I gritted out. He was making a right mess, and I was in the wrong mood for it.

Riggs had some nerve brushing me off. I was living off my savings, with no job prospects, in one of the most expensive cities in the world. “And do you reckon you’ll pay for that wind—”

“Duffy, just shut up for a sec, will you? My head feels like someone is trying to drill oil out of it,” he snapped.

For a moment, I was speechless. Did he actually tell me to shut up? He’d never spoken to me this way. I had two options: calmly explain myself or go mental on his arse.

Normally, with BJ, I would choose option number one and try to reason with him. After all, I had loads to lose. With Riggs, I felt confident I could be free to be who I was—whoever that may be.

Which was how I found myself flinging my arms in the air.

“HOW DARE YOU—”

I didn’t get to finish the sentence, because something terrible happened. Something so terrible, in fact, it took me a few moments to fully digest it. The first giveaway was the breeze between my legs, followed by my cold nipples. My gaze traveled south, down my body.

Yup. Suspicion confirmed. I was completely, gloriously, dreadfully naked.

My towel fell off halfway through my scream. Currently, my nipples were pointing at my future fake husband accusingly.

Oh God, my cellulite was my first thought. He can see my cellulite. And those horrible stretch marks on my waist. Followed closely by I haven’t shaved down there in a while, have I? There was no point now, with BJ gone. This was succeeded by Duffy, you daft cow, would you cover yourself up? He’s staring!

And he was. Riggs didn’t even have the decency to pretend otherwise. He flat out ogled me, his mouth agape, his pupils dilated, his penis . . .

Don’t look at his penis!

After a few moments of channeling my inner deer in headlights, I gathered the towel and secured it around me. My teeth were chattering with adrenaline.

“Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, BUGGER.” I was running like a headless chicken now. First, toward the bathroom, before realizing I didn’t have any clothes there, then toward my bedroom. Then sensible Cambridge Duffy left the building, and the one from Tooting Broadway finally reared her head, coming back from a decade-long sabbatical. “BOLLOCKS.”

“I didn’t even see anything.” Riggs was as believable as George Clooney in Batman & Robin.

“Yes, you did.” I made a beeline to my room, slamming against the wall in the process like a fly trying to penetrate a closed window. “You stared!”

“Okay, I stared.” In a few graceful strides, he was right in front of me, blocking my way to my door. “But I don’t regret it. It was the best thing I’ve seen all year.”

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