I’ve always been attracted to blond, blue-eyed, muscular men with sun-streaked hair and golden tans. Whether he’s on the beach in a lifeguard stand, wearing low slung cutoffs and work boots on a construction site, or dressed for business in a suit and tie, a blue-eyed blond will make my heart beat faster, every time.
I like blonds so much, I married one, and many of the heroes in my books have blue eyes like my husband and our son. The hero of Luxury Model Wife, Steve Carlson, is the embodiment of the rugged, blue-eyed blond archetype who wears jeans, a t-shirt and work boots, and could be a model for a home improvement store. He’s also an Afghanistan war hero and a successful businessman who owns an upscale antiques shop catering to the country club set. When he meets the beautiful dark-haired, brown-eyed young widow of his best customer, Steve begins the most challenging journey of his life…on the road to happily ever after.
About LUXURY MODEL WIFE
Antiques expert Steve Carlson must face the mistakes of his past to discover a treasure he never imagined: the heart of a vulnerable yet determined widow.
Twenty-eight-year-old Victoria Van Orr just lost everything. With the death of her billionaire husband went his mature patience and warm encouragement; and the veneer of acceptance from everyone else. His friends and colleagues now ignore Victoria, and if his son succeeds she just might be forced back to the streets upon which she was raised. But money was never her goal. All she wants is love. Real love.
Antiques expert Steve Carlson knows the value of everything. Pain and betrayal? Those he gave away–and now they’re coming back. His worst mistakes were all with one man: an old friend, the son of a father figure, now the stepchild of a beautiful young widow who wants Steve to help her auction off the family estate. To help Victoria, Steve must face his past and become a better man. To find true love, he will discover her surprisingly pure heart, vulnerable yet determined. And beyond price.
Steve tilted his head, his bright blue eyes sizing her up. “Sorry, but I gotta’ ask. Do you always talk like that?”
Victoria felt her cheeks warm. “Whatever do you mean?”
“There.” He studied her again with not-so-subtle curiosity. “You sounded like your late husband James just now. Funny, you don’t seem like the snooty type to me. More like a regular girl.”
His comment touched a nerve like hot wires to stripped cable. Victoria bit back a retort while blood rushed through her ears. She closed her eyes against the sound to clear her head. Twenty-eight was hardly a girl, and she was damn tired of defending her right to be a Van Orr.
For five years she’d tried and failed to fit into the privileged world of her older husband—learning couture, keeping her posture as straight as a modeling school graduate, rounding her O’s when she spoke —apparently fooling no one on either side of the social spectrum in the process.
Defeat swept over her and her shoulders sagged beneath five-thousand dollars’ worth of silk and linen. No matter how hard she tried, she’d forever be exposed as the abandoned kid who’d grown-up in shelters.
Strange though… when she opened her eyes and returned them to Steve Carlson’s handsome face, she sensed his remark was meant as a compliment, and not a reminder that she lacked James’s pedigree. It was like he saw her.
Her. Not James’s luxury-model second wife.
Still, his manners were disgusting. Even store-owner-janitors should know how to behave. Snooty type. Who was he to say that to her? She was a potential client for heaven’s sake.
Victoria stood to leave. She was sick and tired of people voicing their opinions about her and her late husband’s disparate lineage. She’d been bullied and belittled since the day she’d become engaged. “You don’t know me well enough to analyze me, Mr. Carlson.” She kept the annoyance out of her reprimand. The rich had taught her that cool distain wounded more deeply than anger.
Steve grimaced, rubbed his jaw, and then stood to face her, his expression sheepish. He waved her back to her seat. “Please. I’m sorry I offended you. I’m a friend. Really. We’ve gotten off on the wrong foot.”
He ran a hand through his hair and his bicep bulged with the movement. Victoria’s gaze followed the lines and curves of sinew and muscle and took in the military tattoo peeking from the hem of his tee shirt.
She resisted the images that teased her dormant libido, and brought her eyes back to his face. Damn. That didn’t help. Why did this annoying man have to be so good-looking? Her attraction to him only made her feel guilty, like she’d betrayed James’s memory.
Widowhood came with a unique set of baggage.
About the Author
Adele Downs is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than 20 romance titles, including those written under another pen name, and a former journalist with hundreds of articles to her credit. When not writing in her home office in rural Pennsylvania, she can be found reading a book on the nearest beach, taking photographs, or riding in her convertible.
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