My latest book, Colton’s Mistaken Identity, is Book 7 in the Coltons of Roaring Springs series from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. While each book in the series is standalone, meaning you don’t have to read any of the previous, it’s a richer read when you have. My heroine is an identical twin and poses as her (missing? kidnapped?) twin during a film festival in the idyllic setting of Roaring Springs, Colorado. Phoebe works at her parent’s Chateau resort, giving the setting a very Aspen/French Alps feel. Phoebe is attracted to the bigtime movie star Prescott Reynolds, but can’t even contemplate a sexy rendezvous or two, not with her sister’s mysterious disappearance and the festival to run. Of course, lots of scary suspense and life-threatening action ensues, along with intimate, intense sexy times. It’s why it’s called romantic suspense. What keeps me happily writing Harlequin Romantic Suspense is the depth of characters and the emotional honesty of their relationships. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.
Colton’s Mistaken Identity
The wrong twin…or the right one?
A Coltons of Roaring Springs romance
Marketing exec Skye Colton suddenly disappears, putting the Roaring Springs Film Festival in jeopardy. Enter Skye’s identical twin, Phoebe, who poses as her sister. In her starring role, Phoebe catches the eye of A-list actor Prescott Reynolds, and she can’t deny the electricity that erupts between them. With Skye still missing and a stalker at large, this is the worst time to fall in love, especially with danger racing toward them…
A flash of red, the distinct shade he’d first laid eyes on this morning in the copse of aspen trees, caught his attention. The same woman he’d seen on the trail walked past him and began to climb the stairs to the grand ballroom. He knew where the impressive stairs led, as he’d already memorized the layout of the hotel. His privacy had necessitated he know every nook and cranny to escape to if the paparazzi became rabid.
She wasn’t in running clothes any longer, and her hair was styled to show off the unique hue. From her profile he saw that she was wearing makeup, a little much for his taste, but he was used to being around women who enjoyed dolling themselves up. It was all part of being an actor.
This woman intrigued him when she shouldn’t. And yet as she’d walked by, oblivious to him, he’d caught a whiff of floral perfume that captured him like a trout in a net. The sight of her profile again, this time with makeup on and offset by the backdrop of the luxurious resort, struck a chord deep inside him. Prescott wasn’t a stranger to immediate attraction but this took it to a new place for him. Besides the obvious physical pull of her beauty, he sensed the potential for something deeper, more meaningful, between them.
What the heck was going on with him?
She wasn’t wearing anything exciting, and her business suit didn’t show off her curves as well as her workout clothing had. Still, in the view he had of her backside, there was no denying her very feminine shape under the jacket and dress pants. Insta-lust made him pause, not wanting to get an erection in public.
You’ve been alone too long.
After what he’d been through with his ex, he knew better than to even look twice at this stunning woman. But he couldn’t help himself. Truth be told, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. Nor how relieved he’d felt when he’d realized she wasn’t trailing him. It was always in the back of his mind that Ariella could show up again, and her penchant for ugliness wasn’t something he relished. He’d been drawn to Ariella’s intelligence and quick wit. And it had worked for a while, until her true nature of career-climbing at the expense of the men in her life reappeared. Or maybe he’d simply come out of his denial about her dark side. Either way, it had been a rough go of it for his dating life ever since.
But the redhead… His gut told him to go after her.
He didn’t entertain the rational side of his brain that told him he was out of his league. That not everyone was impressed by actors, not that he ever consciously used his job or status to seduce a woman. He believed more in allowing an attraction to grow organically.
This inexplicable urge to talk to the stranger, the only redhead he’d seen at The Chateau, was definitely organic on his part. But would she think he was odd?
What if she wasn’t available? Preston stopped midway up the staircase. He hadn’t even considered that she might be with someone already. Hell, she could even be married.
Prescott hadn’t had to go after a woman in years. And he missed it. The constant attention from the opposite sex had been heady when he’d arrived in Hollywood and been cast in his first roles ten, twelve years ago. But it quickly grew old, and he didn’t want to spend time with someone who only saw him as an actor. The redhead clearly worked here or had a role to play in the film fest, so she was probably used to celebrities. Would she see past the Caribbean-blue eyes that had become his trademark? Not that he’d ever expected to be known for his eyes. His dream wasn’t even so much to be recognized for his acting as to be give the opportunities to bring meaningful roles to life. He wasn’t a fan of the celebrity culture that came with it but he understood it was all part of the gig.
Except when he wanted a woman to see him as more than a contender for a tabloid’s annual sexiest man.
He walked through open, massive carved oak doors and into the hotel’s pièce de résistance—the grand ballroom. The floor was entirely parquet but covered with a huge red carpet that ran into its center, where the area delineated for dancing remained clear. Hundreds if not a full thousand round tables framed the open area, the crystal chandeliers catching the fading sunlight, their bulbs still dim. Soon they’d be bright and the room a cacophony of press, actors, studio executives and the teams of people it took to make it all happen.
It was that rare quiet moment before a major event launched. Right now it was hushed as workers rapidly set tables and moved last-minute lighting equipment into place. A DJ set up in a far corner of the room, her control panel as large as any he’d ever seen in a concert. But in another hour and a half, it would burst to life with an entirely different personality.
Prescott liked the quiet anticipation before an event. As much as he enjoyed the slow build of desire as he met and wooed a woman into his bed.
The redhead stood alone in the middle of the room, silently moving her lips as she read from her phone. Her running clothes were gone but she hadn’t upgraded her look that much, wearing easy black pants and a simple pale pink silk shell. Her skin was dewy, and as he’d already noticed she liked her makeup heavy, but on her stunning features it only emphasized her beauty.
His running shoes, silent on the plush carpet, hit the parquet floor, and a loud squeak sounded. The woman gasped as she startled and dropped her phone onto the carpet. Her caramel-brown eyes lasered in on him, and he knew how a bug felt under a magnifying glass. But it was more like an ant under a sunbeam as heat immediately flared in his chest, rushing toward his groin. The woman was so damned beautiful, from her glorious red hair to her full lush lips, down to her full breasts and hips. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so smitten, from the get-go.
Because you never have been.
He held up his hands. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” He bent down and retrieved her phone, on which he saw notes displayed before he handed it back to her.
“I-I’m not…scared.” She cleared her throat, and he had to consciously force his gaze from the creamy skin of her neck to her eyes. He swore he already knew what she’d taste like, how her soft skin would give under the pressure of his lips.
“What can I do for you?” She’d been surprised by his appearance but recovered quickly. The immediate shock in her brown eyes was already replaced by cool assessment. Yup, definitely someone used to working with celebrities. And not easily impressed, he’d guess.
“I know who you are, Mr. Reynolds. Is there something you need before tonight’s premiere?” Her tone burst with brusque efficiency, but all he could see was the way her pink-glossed lips formed the words.
“You didn’t notice, but this morning we were both on the hiking trail.”
“You mean the running path?” She bit her lower lip, and her cheeks flushed under the makeup. Why did she have an expression of guilt on her feminine features? “Sorry, but I’m not a runner. You must have seen my twin sister, Phoebe. She, ah, goes for a few miles every morning. I’m more of a night owl. Did you enjoy your time on the property?”
“Yes, of course.” He waved his hand around, motioning at the room. “This entire place is amazing. It’s easy to feel like I’m in the middle of Normandy or Burgundy while I’m here.” Too late he realized what a snob he sounded like. His global travel was a direct privilege of his celebrity status, and the Iowa farm boy inside him cringed at his careless mention of a destination so few ever afforded.
“Thank you. I’ll pass that on to my parents. Is there something else?” There was an air of impatience, no, make that desperation about her as she repeated her question. Maybe she had to practice red carpet introductions, or there had been some last-minute disruptions to the festival’s launch gala.
“Actually, it’s me who’d like to do something for you. What did you say your name was?”
Most women were impressed enough by this point to at least show a spark of appreciation in their gaze. But not this woman. She actually hesitated before she answered, as if reluctant to let him know anything so personal. Talk about the tables being turned.
The warmth in his center from her nearness exploded into something he hadn’t felt in a long while. Joy.
Prescott realized that he’d sorely missed having a woman turn him on his head. Maybe this film festival wasn’t going to be the laborious weeklong junket that he’d resigned himself to.
“I’m Skye Colton, the resort’s marketing director.” She held out a slim hand, and he took it. As they shook he was again distracted, this time by the silky softness of her skin that contrasted sharply with the firmness of her grip. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Not as pleased as I am. Call me Prescott, please.” He loved how she grasped his hand like a boss. She’d be incredible in bed, he instinctively knew. But what stunned him was that he wasn’t interested in that, not right now. Well, maybe he was completely enthralled by how seductive her mere presence was, but he was feeling something very different from first-meet attraction. Something more palpable.
All Prescott wanted was to get to know Skye Colton better. Suddenly his seven-day junket in Roaring Springs felt as if it was already half over. There would never be enough time to know this woman the way he wanted to.
But damned if he wouldn’t give it his best shot.
Phoebe knew she gripped Prescott’s hand too tightly, but to his credit the man didn’t even wince. She’d had no choice, as there was no other way to hide her nervousness. Thank goodness she’d wiped her palm on her pants before she’d shaken his. Otherwise he’d have known how rattled she was.
The photos and films didn’t do this man justice. Not even close. She’d never had a zing of awareness when she’d seen him on the big screen, nor had she grown wet with pure feminine need as she’d watched his performances. Standing so near to him, it was a shock to her that his star status wasn’t at play. She felt as she would with a non-celebrity man she was attracted to. Except her reaction was so far over the top. Between his deep voice, his words that made her feel like she was the only woman in the room, and the confidence in his posture and body language that hinted at his athleticism, her knees felt like her mother’s pepper jelly. All wobbly but with heat washing over her skin, making her want to run away before she did what her hormones were begging for: to kiss Prescott Reynolds right here in the ballroom and tell him to follow her to her room.
This must be what groupies feel like, and why they go after movie and rock stars.
This had to be some kind of sexual overreaction due to the morning’s upheaval caused by Skye’s disappearance.
Prescott flashed his familiar white-toothed I-leave-hearts-crushed-with-every-footstep grin that she recognized from his film promos and it snapped it out of her sexual trance.
It was nothing like the smile she’d witnessed in her favorite work of his—an historical period piece where he’d played a struggling artist amid the French Revolution. While his smile was part of his trademark good looks, as he looked at her, she was aware that there was more to this man than his celebrity. And he knew how to turn it on and off, not a virtue of many people she’d met who lived in the spotlight.
“Okay, then. Nice to meet you, Prescott.”
“Nice to meet you, too, Skye.” Phoebe didn’t like lying, ever, yet as she stood in the middle of the grand ballroom, her hair and makeup perfectly done in Skye’s signature style, it was surprisingly easy to fall into the role. Save for Skye’s effervescent presence. And extreme comfort around attractive, powerful men.
“You must be very excited for tonight. I’ll be announcing each of you, I mean the VIPs, as you arrive.” She’d watched from the sidelines as her twin had handled actors over the past three years since they’d both left college. Skye made it look so easy, but Phoebe was drained at the mere thought of having to play “happy to meet you” with countless actors.
He shrugged, his tall, muscular frame formidable in measure but his energy anything but. He made her feel as though she were the only person he wanted to be with. No doubt all part of his practiced Hollywood charm.
“It’s a thrill to know the world’s going to finally see something I worked so hard on, but to be frank, I left this film’s set almost a year ago. My mind is on other…projects.”
She couldn’t help but laugh, his flirting was so obvious. “I’ll bet it is.” It seemed silly, but she went ahead and batted her eyes anyway. And immediately felt like Skye. She wanted to tell him that she wasn’t really her twin, please forgive her, and would he call her Phoebe?
But she couldn’t. So she smiled, content to soak up his aura of good cheer as pseudo-Skye.
He smiled back, but it wasn’t the predatory grin of a man on the prowl. She’d watched plenty of actors behave poorly over the years, and this wasn’t it. Prescott seemed relaxed, and there was a special light in his eyes that she couldn’t attribute to the chandeliers, as they weren’t fully lit yet. She didn’t know the man, but if she had to name it, she’d say he was happy. A man in his element. Exactly where he wanted to be.
About the Author
Geri Krotow is the bestselling author of the Silver Valley PD series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and the Bayou Bachelors series with Kensington Lyrical Caress. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Intelligence Officer, Geri left her Navy career to pursue writing. Geri enjoys creating sexy contemporary romances and tingling suspense.
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