The Undercover Playboy: Chapter One

One week to go!

Have you marked the 14th of July yet? That’s when The Undercover Playboy is released. So excited to share Carter and Cassie’s love story with you. I have a good feeling you’d love it :)

But for today, here’s Chapter One. Enjoy!


The Undercover Playboy Chapter One

Cassie Stephens startled herself with the gushy breath she let out. Had she just swooned?

She hid her smile as she continued to watch the sexy Carter Garrett make his way towards a spotlighted section in the backyard of their newly engaged friends, Rick Donnelly and Lexie Mead. The dark-haired, blue-eyed hunk joined three other handsome men already standing there, snickering as they patted Carter on the back in a gesture of faux commiseration.

“I knew I wasn’t just imagining it before,” a teasing voice said beside Cassie.

She peeled her gaze off Carter to turn to Natasha Garrett, Carter’s younger sister and her flatmate of eight months.

“You are totally checking him out,” Natasha whispered as she slid onto the seat next to Cassie, which Carter had vacated.

Cassie shrugged nonchalantly even as she blushed. “What’s wrong with that? I’m not the only one.” She looked around to see if the other females at Lexie’s birthday party were indeed looking at Carter. She instantly spotted at least three single women openly gazing at him with admiring eyes. She frowned, not liking that her point had been proven.

But she couldn’t blame them. Apart from his crazy-good looks, Carter exuded authority and masculinity that made any red-blooded female stare. And right now, with Carter deciding to take off his leather jacket, it was easy to make out the muscular chest underneath the navy-blue shirt that hugged his torso. Who wouldn’t want to check him out?

Cassie was surprised, though, that Carter was feeling hot enough to strip off a layer of clothing. It was late autumn in Sydney, the temperature mild but slightly below average. Even though there were several patio heaters strategically scattered around the vast garden to make the place nice and comfortable for everyone, it was still a cool evening for just a shirt.

Was he nervous? She smiled, enjoying the thought that Mr. Confident could be rattled from standing in front of more than fifty people to parade himself with the other bachelors. She’d have to tease him about this later.

“You like him,” Natasha said, her tone betraying the fact that she was pleased with this development.

“I never said I didn’t.”

“But you keep on insisting you’re not interested in him.”

“Liking him and being interested in him are two different things, Tash. Your brother might be one hell of a looker but I have no intention whatsoever of going out with him.”

“Why not? The two of you get along so well. Whenever Carter joins us for dinner, he spends more time chatting with you than he does with me.”

She chuckled. “I’m sure it’s so I won’t mind that he freeloads dinner whenever he comes around.”

A snicker made Cassie turn to her other side, and she noticed that everyone else sitting with them at one of the elegantly decked-out dining tables was looking at her and Natasha. Her three best friends—Lexie, Jade Tully and Erin Baker—along with Rick and Lucas Renner-Bilton—Jade’s fiancé—were smiling widely, not hiding the fact that they were listening in on their conversation.

“Well, I’ve never seen you show interest in a man so obviously before, Cass,” said Jade.

“What?” she whispered in shock.

“Yes, I’ve noticed how flirtatious you’ve been lately,” Lexie said from across the table, winking at her.

Her jaw dropped. “I have never! And definitely not in public. If you noticed anything, it’s just me being friendly with Carter, that’s all.”

“Oh, Cass,” Erin said with a shake of her head. “I don’t know why you’re lying to yourself.”

She opened her mouth to utter another protest when the voice of the gorgeous Marilyn Grant came through the wireless speakers. Everyone hushed to listen intently to one of Rick’s long-time friends.

“Do we seriously have only four bachelors in the running for this round?” Marilyn asked, squinting her eyes at the guests, who were sitting and watching the proceedings, trying to spot an eligible man who hadn’t joined her on the makeshift stage.

“Remember that two of the guys are overseas and one’s in Melbourne,” Rick called out.

Marilyn nodded. “Well, we can’t include them if they’re not here. So, everyone, here are the contestants for this round’s Captured by Love betting game. At some point during the night,” she said, holding up a sheet of paper, “please write your name here, plus the name of the bachelor you think will come off the singles market next, and the amount you’re willing to bet. Whoever correctly chooses the next guy to fall in love and renounce his single status will be the winner, and the losers will have to hand over their money to the winner’s favourite charity. If we have more than one winner, the amount will be split equally among the selected charities.”

Whistles and applause came from the guests.

“Two of these guys are here for the third time,” Marilyn continued, grinning at the four men beside her.

Simon Alexander and Tristan Grant raised their arms in the air in a triumphant gesture.

Simon leaned towards Marilyn to speak through the mic. “Girls, I’m still happily single,” he said in a low, sexy voice. “And I’d love your phone numbers.”

Marilyn pushed him away playfully. “Ladies, don’t be fooled by this playboy talk from Simon,” she said. “He’s really looking for his soulmate.”

Simon laughed out loud, throwing his head back.

Marilyn sighed. “Admittedly, I’ve already lost twice because I picked Simon. Maybe I’ll bet on my cousin this time around.” She stood next to Tristan and swept her hand in front of him with flourish. “Ladies, may I say that Tristan is a great catch? Sure, he can be aggravating sometimes, but deep inside he’s fiercely loyal. You’ll be doing my auntie a favour if you ensnare him. She’s dying to have her son finally settle down.”

The audience laughed while Tristan rolled his eyes, shaking his head in bemusement.

“And we also have two new bachelors joining this round,” Marilyn said. “Most of you already know Brad.”

Lexie’s older brother bowed theatrically as the audience clapped.

“So, Brad, can you tell our friends why they should bet on you?”

Brad snorted. “Well, I can tell them they shouldn’t. Settling down isn’t on my to-do list yet.”

“Hey!” Vivian, Brad’s mother, called out. “Shouldn’t the older sibling get married first? Since Rick proposed to Lexie tonight…”

“Mum,” Brad said with a chuckle. “The four of us up here intend to stay single for a while. Where would the fun be in this game otherwise?”

Vivian frowned. “How can anyone give money to charity if none of you settle down?”

Brad shrugged. “Well, don’t look at me.”

Marilyn exhaled loudly through the mic. “Carter, maybe you’re our best hope. Do you want to say something to the punters?”

Carter good-naturedly took the mic Marilyn offered him. “Well, all I can say is that I’m honoured to have been invited to this party and meet you wonderful people. Oh, and that I was really enjoying myself until Cassie there practically forced me to walk up here and offer myself up as a pawn for this game,” he said with mock displeasure, narrowing his eyes at Cassie.

Cassie grinned at him and gave him two thumbs up.

“She said she’s not betting on me, though,” Carter said, his lips twisting. “And you guys should follow her lead and pick someone else.”

“Honestly,” Marilyn said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “I don’t believe any of you with your I’m-happy-being-single posturing. Rick and Lucas said the same thing, and look at them now.”

Everyone turned their heads towards Cassie’s table, where the two men in question were sitting next to their fiancées. Rick and Lucas grinned at each other, then Rick turned to Lexie, grabbing her face and kissing her passionately on lips. Not to be outdone, Lucas did the same to Jade.

The crowd cheered.

A vision popped into Cassie’s head as she watched her engaged friends smooch in front of everybody. Her gaze involuntarily went back to Carter… then travelled to his crotch.

She blushed, quickly looking away. Damn it. What the hell was wrong with her?

If anyone had asked her last month if she had a thing for Carter, the answer would have been no. Sure, she found him attractive. Incredibly so. But she wasn’t looking for a relationship. She was too busy studying for her MBA, wanting to finish it with flying colours. To add to that, she was going for several job interviews so she could leave the dead-end role she hated. Her main priority was to get her career on the right track first. She’d already wasted four years with a company that zapped her energy and humour for a salary less than what she knew she deserved. A relationship would distract her from her goals.

But distracted was exactly how she’d been since she had that dream. It had been so vivid that she could still remember every single moment in her head. More frustratingly, she instantly got hot and bothered every time those memories came, unbidden.

She shifted in her seat as certain scenes played in her mind. Of course, she had no idea if the bottom half of Carter’s body really was as magnificent in real life as it had been in her dream. Her breath caught as she recalled wrapping her hand around his hardness and—

Stop it, Cassandra!

She crossed her legs, feeling the tingling sensation she now constantly suffered whenever she remembered that dream—which was too damned often for her liking! These days she was always craving. For Carter. Which wasn’t good.

He wasn’t boyfriend material. Every time Natasha quizzed him about his dating life, he always mentioned a different woman.

But then again… Hadn’t Cassie herself said she wasn’t into anything serious at this point? So what would be the problem if she and Carter hooked up?

The problem is you’ve lost your mind!

She shook her head, annoyed at herself. She shouldn’t forget that she needed to focus on her MBA studies first. She’d already got her CPA designation two years ago, but she still wanted to enhance her qualifications. First and foremost, though, she wanted to find a better job so she could say goodbye to her hellish current boss once and for all. She was already twenty-six. She wanted to settle into a good role with a good company now, not later.


Wouldn’t having something casual with Carter help with getting him out of her system so she could concentrate on her studies?

Oh, for heaven’s sake, Cassie! Shut up already! Why would Carter want you?

That last thought hit her hard, and she took a sharp breath. Why indeed would someone like Carter be interested in her? She was the quiet type who hated stereotypical girly things like clothes shopping. If it weren’t for her best friends, who constantly helped her with her wardrobe, she’d always be wearing the same black dress at parties. And if it weren’t for contact lenses, she’d be wearing the thickest glasses among anyone she knew.

No, someone like Carter went for supermodel-looking women—those who were born to be the centre of attention at parties because of their bubbly personalities and fashion sense. Why wouldn’t he? He was a gorgeous, outgoing person himself.

Heck, she really should be grateful for that dream. At least she’d got to see Carter in all his naked glory—even if it was just in her head.


Carter smiled wryly as he watched the other guests cheer and laugh as Rick and Lucas kissed their fiancées. Here was a group of friends and family who enjoyed each other’s company, letting their hair down and revelling in the celebrations.

It had been a long time since he’d been to a real, fun party like this where he’d felt free to relax and be himself—well, up to a certain extent. With his job as an undercover detective, it wasn’t always possible to fully open up just because he wanted to.

Melancholy hit him. He missed times like this. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d been to a gathering where people knew who he really was. In the last couple of years, most of the parties he’d attended had involved him rubbing shoulders with characters he’d only pretended to be friends with so he could get what he needed in order to catch criminals.

Fortunately, he had the time to attend Lexie’s birthday party tonight. He usually didn’t accept invitations like this when he was in the middle of a case, but he’d become good friends with Rick. The two of them had bonded after he’d saved Rick from a gun-wielding perp. Then their friendship grew from Rick providing information that eventually helped catch a whole gang of criminals.

And then there was Cassie, his sister’s flatmate.

He glanced at the brown-haired, brown-eyed woman who, incredibly, had no idea how beautiful she was. Tonight, she was shining. She had on a new red dress that she’d said Jade had helped her pick. And she had matching high heels on, which made her shapely legs look even sexier.

He knew, though, that she’d prefer to be wearing flats. And from the way she constantly blinked, she’d also be hoping she had on her comfortable black-rimmed eyeglasses rather than her contacts. She was pretty without her glasses, but frankly, he preferred her with them on. They made her look attractively studious. He had a thing for brainy women.

He chuckled mirthlessly. If he could, he’d ask Cassie out. Unfortunately, that was out of the question. All he could allow at this point in time was the light flirtation they exchanged regularly—the kind that wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.

Marilyn turned to him and the other three guys and he pulled himself out of his musing.

“See? I bet that one of you would soon end up like those two,” Marilyn said, gesturing to Lucas and Rick.

“Can I ask one of the bachelors a question?” Katrina, one of the single ladies, called out.

“Sure,” Marilyn answered.

“Carter, I’m so glad that you’re here with us tonight,” Katrina said with a sultry smile. “I’m curious… how old are you, and what do you do for a living?”

“Ooh, Katrina’s taking a special interest in Carter,” Marilyn said in a teasing voice, then handed the mic to Carter.

He took it, hiding a sigh. “I’m thirty, Katrina, and I’m an electrician. Currently, I also do part-time work as a personal trainer for a friend’s fitness company,” he answered, flashing a smile. He hoped it covered up his unease with his answer.

Out of everyone in this party, only his sister and Rick knew that he was an undercover detective. And there were several people in this group that he hated lying to, including Cassie. They’d considered him a friend and welcomed him with open arms. Unfortunately, the cases he worked on called for discretion and secrecy. And lies.

He usually stayed undercover for a lengthy period of time. Twice already, his life and those of others had been jeopardised because he’d bumped into acquaintances who’d recognised him and inadvertently blown his cover. Similar situations had to be avoided as much as possible.

But expecting each and every single person who knew him to immediately pick up that he was undercover and play along with it was near impossible. The best way was to tell people that what he did for a living was his undercover role. Only family and close friends knew the truth.

His “part-time” work changed whenever he worked on a different case. But being an electrician was the constant answer he gave. Fortunately, he really was qualified as one. His parents owned one of the most successful electrical services company in Australia.

“So do you see clients in a gym? And do you work with them one-on-one?” Katrina pressed.

“Yes. And sometimes I see clients at their homes,” he answered. “The personal trainer gig is only temporary until the guy I’m filling in for comes back from an overseas holiday.”

Katrina smiled cutely at him, but didn’t have any more questions to ask.

He breathed a sigh of relief as Marilyn gave the okay for the four of them to return to their tables. He saw Natasha return to her original seat next to Erin, giving him back the place beside Cassie.

He hid a snicker, knowing what his sister was up to. His mum and Natasha had been conspiring for a while now to find him a date. They believed that a steady girlfriend was one more person of influence who could convince him to take extra care while working on his cases. From Natasha’s recent actions, it was obvious that Cassie was her selected candidate.

“Mum would be happy to know that you’re one of four men racing to be the first to fall into a relationship,” Natasha said as he sat back down.

“Sure,” he said sarcastically.

“Watch out for Katrina,” Rick said, leaning across the table. “She’ll be beating a path to your door in no time.”

“Yeah. She can be pretty intense,” Lucas said conspiratorially. “And I think Vicky’s also eyeing you.”

Carter sighed as he turned to Cassie. “Your fault for telling me to go up there.”

“Why is it my fault? You’re the hot one,” Cassie replied, before her eyes widened. “I mean… you know… ’cause you’re the… uh… personal trainer,” she said weakly, blushing furiously.

He smothered his grin. It hadn’t escaped his attention that even though Cassie flirted with him in private, she was shy about it in public. She wasn’t the type to openly go after a man.

It was a shame that Cassie seemed intent on not dating while she focused on her career and studies. Not that it mattered to him, because he couldn’t date her anyway. In fact, he couldn’t date anyone. He was supposed to be a loser playboy so he could catch that heartless bitch who’d shot his best friend Gavin Redford, and had Gavin fighting for his life.

***End of Chapter One***

Chapter Two’s coming tomorrow!

You can pre-order The Undercover Playboy right now from the following stores:

Amazon US | Other Amazon Stores | Apple iBooksBarnes & Noble | Kobo

Links to Google Play, All Romance Ebooks and Smashwords will be available on July 14th.

And to celebrate the upcoming release of The Undercover Playboy, The Unwilling Executive is on sale for a limited time!

Unwilling 99c promo1

Much love,
Miranda xxx


The Unyielding Bachelor Release Day + Other Stuff

TheUnyieldingBachelor-FullCover MediumToday is release day for The Unyielding Bachelor. Yay!

There are other things I want to mention to you today, but first things first. If you’ve pre-ordered The Unyielding Bachelor, your copy should already be sitting in your device, waiting to be enjoyed :)

If you haven’t ordered it yet, here are the links to the stores:

For ebooksAmazon US | Other Amazon Stores | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play | All Romance Ebooks | Smashwords | Scribd

Paperbacks are also available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository and other stores.

I had a ball writing about Rick and Lexie’s love story, so I hope you have a thoroughly enjoyable time reading about this lovely couple!

Now, on to other things.

The Undercover Playboy

Book 3 in the Captured by Love series, The Undercover Playboy, can now be pre-ordered! Here’s the cover. Isn’t our hero hot?

TheUndercoverPlayboy-200x300It will be released on July 14, and I’m furiously working hard to make sure the book is ready by then :)

Click here to go to the page where you can find the book description and pre-order links for The Undercover Playboy.

A Request:
First, I want to say that you being interested enough in my books to go to the trouble of checking them out is already wonderful. And if you’ve taken the time to get them and read them, then I really couldn’t ask for more.

But if you’re someone who’s into reviewing stuff, I was wondering if you would consider leaving reviews for my books? Authors like me depend a lot on word of mouth to get our work discovered by new readers, and reviews help tremendously in that process. An honest review on Amazon (or the other stores) for The Unyielding Bachelor (once you’ve finished reading it), and also for The Unwilling Executive (if you’ve already read it), would be greatly appreciated. (If you feel like reviewing the other books as well, that would be awesome 😉 )

Thank you so much! And if you’re not into reviewing, no worries at all! (And I sincerely mean that.)

Become one of my ARC Reviewers:
If you don’t mind reviewing books, you might also be interested in becoming one of my ARC (Advance Reading Copy) Reviewers. ARC reviewers get free copies of my ebooks prior to them being released in exchange for an honest review to be posted on Amazon (and/or the other stores) on release day.

Unfortunately, places are limited so I can’t promise that everyone who expresses interest will be accepted. But I will try my best to accommodate as many interested readers as I can.

If you want to be considered, or if you want further information, please send me an email.

Well, that’s all for now! Hope you have a great day!

Much love,
Miranda xxx


The Unyielding Bachelor: Chapter Two

Hi again! Hope you enjoyed Chapter One of The Unyielding Bachelor. Without further ado, here’s Chapter Two 😉

TheUnyieldingBachelor-200x300The Unyielding Bachelor: Chapter Two

“Ow,” Lexie said under her breath as she gingerly walked towards the elevators.

“You okay?” Rick asked, clasping her arm in assistance.

“My feet are killing me,” she said with a rueful laugh. “I should have sat out that dancing marathon game. These heels weren’t right for it.”

“Mine are killing me, too,” Jade said, her steps as short and slow as Lexie’s as she hung on to Lucas.

“I’ll make sure Drew’s already waiting for us at the front,” Lucas said, fishing his phone from his jacket pocket to call his driver.

“Thanks, Lucas,” Lexie said, grateful for the thought and the fact that she and Rick were getting a lift with the couple.

In the past, she hadn’t taken full advantage of the time she’d spent with Rick whilst in the company of their friends. When surrounded with other people, she’d toned down her flirting, not wanting to appear as desperate as some of his admirers.

Right now was a case in point. Rick still had his hand on her arm, ensuring she had some support while she tried to walk with dignity. But what was she doing with this unexpected benefit from her aching feet? Nothing.

Well, that was about to change.

“Ow,” she said again—deliberately—and clung to him.

“Not far to go now,” Rick soothed.

That was a shame, because she was now hugging his arm. She only had to rest her head on his shoulder and they would look as sweet as Jade and Lucas.

“It’s funny how women’s shoes are so expensive, yet can be so uncomfortable,” Rick said.

“The things we do for fashion,” she murmured, wondering if Rick was minding the way she was grasping his bicep.

“And how do you know how much women’s shoes cost, bro?” Lucas teased.

“Try having a fifteen-year-old sister who’s starting to want to dress up like a grown-up,” he said dryly. “I tell Shelley she’s too young for high fashion and she tells me I’m too stodgy.”

“You sound more like a dad than a brother,” Lexie said with a chuckle.

“I do, don’t I?” he murmured. He had been both a brother and father to Shelley ever since their dad passed away three years ago.

“Have you seen her much lately?”

“Last time I saw her was almost a month ago,” Rick said wryly. “Funny how she used to be my shadow when she was younger. Not anymore.”

They made it to the hotel entrance, where the limo was already waiting for them. Drew opened the back door and Jade walked in first. Lucas stood aside so Lexie could follow but she pretended not to notice his gesture. She continued to hold on to Rick’s arm and patiently waited until Lucas took the hint and got in the car.

She could feel herself blushing. She was being obvious. But so what?

She rolled her eyes at herself. What happened to the promise she’d made not to chase after a man or fight over one ever again? Since finding out that the ex-boyfriend she’d set out to win back had been cheating on her for so long, that had been her motto.

But, no. She didn’t think she was softening her stance with Rick. This was a different situation. Besides, simply letting him know how she felt wasn’t exactly chasing after him.

She climbed into the limo and was grateful to see that Lucas and Jade were already cuddling inside. That meant she was definitely sitting next to Rick.

“I’m so tired,” Jade said, yawning.

“Well, you’ve had a bit to drink,” Lucas murmured, kissing her forehead.

“Hey, maybe Drew can take you guys home first,” Rick said to the couple as he settled himself next to Lexie. “Your place is closest from here.”

“Good idea,” Lucas said, then gave instructions to his driver.

Lexie cheered silently. She’d be alone with Rick at the back of the car for at least fifteen minutes.



Lexie smiled as she felt Rick’s lips against her hair.


“Hm,” she said, keeping her eyes closed to savour the moment. It was nice hearing him say her name so softly. She shifted so she could snuggle against him even more, snaking her arm around his waist.

Rick chuckled. “Maybe I should carry you inside. I don’t think we can stay in here. Drew has to go home.”

The fog of sleep lifted and she bolted upright, reddening as she realised how she’d practically wrapped herself around Rick as she snoozed.

“Sorry,” she said, glancing at Jade’s and Lucas’s empty seats. “Have they gone?”

“Yes. You slept through the goodbyes.”

“Oh.” Great. She’d wasted her alone time with him.

Drew opened the door from the outside and she didn’t have a choice but to get out. To her delight, Rick followed.

“I’ll walk you to your door,” he said.

“I thought I heard you say you’ll carry me,” she teased.

Next thing she knew, he was sweeping her off her feet and into his arms. She let out a high-pitched shriek, clinging to his neck in surprise.

“Never let it be said that I disappoint a damsel with distressed feet,” he said with a grin as he strode towards her apartment building.

She giggled, suddenly shy and speechless. She tried to think of something funny or sexy to say, but all that ran through her head was how Rick must be hearing how hard and fast her heart was hammering in her chest. Gosh, she wasn’t expecting this.

With a sigh, she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes.

“You’re not falling asleep on me, are you?”

Was he kidding? Fall asleep when she was in his arms? “No,” she answered. “Just enjoying the ride.”

He chuckled. “Well, we need your key,” he said as he stopped by the main door of the building.

She waited for him to put her down. But he didn’t.

“Key, Lexie,” he said, staring at her expectantly.

“Oh.” She hid her grin as she fumbled with her purse while still hanging on to his neck. “Here it is.”

Rick angled her so she could insert the key in the lock. Together, they managed to open the heavy front door with Rick still carrying her.

“You don’t have lifts,” he observed, looking around the foyer for the elevators.

“No. There’s only three floors in the building.”

“What floor are you on?”

“Second. So I guess you’ll have to put me down now.”

With a sigh, he did.

Holding on to him for support, she unstrapped her stilettos and dangled them in her hand. “See? Next best thing for distressed feet,” she said with a grin.

Rick chuckled. “Well, I guess you don’t need me anymore, so I better go. See you tomorrow night for dinner at my place,” he said. Then he waved and started to walk away.

She stared at his back in hurt disappointment. That was it? There was nothing more to carrying her than being a gentleman who was helping a friend with aching feet?

“Rick,” she called out.

He looked back just as he was about to open the door.

“You can’t go without getting your thanks.”

Rick raised his brows.

With as much sexiness as she could muster, she sashayed to him and slung her arms around his neck. “Thank you,” she whispered, then kissed him on the lips. Lingeringly.

Her heart was galloping, but at the same time there was calmness about her. He had to know. No more being coy about it.

She ended the kiss and watched his face for his reaction. His eyes were wide, his breathing shallow.

“Wow,” he said. “You’re very welcome.”

She smiled, staring into his eyes.

Rick cleared his throat and stepped out of her embrace. “Well, goodnight, Lexie,” he said in a too-loud-and-cheerful-for-the-moment tone. “That was a great way to end the day. Bring your appetite tomorrow night.” Then he left.


She exhaled her chagrin. There was no way anyone could have mistaken that kiss for a friendly gesture.

She waited to see if Rick would at least turn back and wave. But no. He got into the car and closed the door without a backward glance.


He was plainly and simply not interested.

She took one long, deep breath to compose herself before she turned around and trudged up the stairs. When she opened the door to her apartment, a sleepy Erin Baker was walking out of the bathroom.

“Hi, Erin,” she said glumly to her other best friend and flatmate.

“What’s wrong?” Erin asked in a drowsy voice.

She smiled sadly. “Nothing.”

Erin frowned. “Nothing? When you and Jade called earlier to say that we’re all celebrating their engagement at Rick’s house tomorrow night, you sounded super excited. So what—or who—burst your bubble?”

She plopped on the sofa. “The same man. Rick.”

“What happened?” Erin asked, sitting next to her.

“You know how I’ve decided to be more overt with my feelings for him?”

Erin nodded, now seemingly wide awake.

“Well, I kissed him downstairs. And now I don’t have to wonder anymore. He’s not interested in me.”

“Oh, Lex,” Erin said with sympathy, putting a hand on her arm. “Did he push you away?” she asked softly.


“He didn’t kiss you back?”

Lexie’s brows furrowed. “Actually, he did. There was even some tongue there.”

“So he did kiss you back and he didn’t pull away?”

She nodded. “But when I ended the kiss, he just said goodnight as if the kiss meant nothing.”

“He didn’t say anything else?”

“Well, he did say ‘wow’ and that I was very welcome—because I thanked him first before I kissed him.”

“He said ‘wow’?” Erin asked, her brows lifting.


“So he did enjoy the kiss.”

“I guess. But like I said, after that, he brushed it off.”

“Hm. Maybe because it’s late and he’s tired and you surprised him?”

She stared at Erin. “You think? But that’s how he always reacts every time I flirt with him. I thought before that I just haven’t done enough to make him notice that I like him. But this kiss was different. It definitely wasn’t friendly.”

Erin sighed. “I don’t know then, Lex. Sorry.”

“But do you think kissing me back and saying ‘wow’ could be something?” she asked, wanting to hang on to whatever possibility was left. “Plus, he carried me to the door.”

“Carried you?”

She told Erin the whole story.

“Geez, it’s hard to tell, Lex. But if you’re game, why don’t you keep persisting with your flirtation plans? Who knows what might develop from there?”

She chewed her bottom lip, worried and uncertain.

“Alexia, I know what you’re thinking,” Erin said with soft censure. “But you’ve gotta be a little more flexible with this no-chasing-after-a-man thing. I think you’re backing away too early. Why don’t you see how he interacts with you tomorrow night and go on from there?”

“Okay,” she said, marshalling her courage again. “I guess I could just have surprised him tonight. Tomorrow might be different.”

“I’ll be watching his reaction, too,” Erin said.

She nodded, eager and apprehensive for what was to come.


“Hey, gorgeous!”

“Hi, Rick,” Lexie said with a bright smile, preparing to tiptoe and kiss him as close to his lips as she dared with people watching.

But she wasn’t fast enough. Rick had already leaned down to plant a peck on her cheek. A very light, almost-nothing peck.

Well, what should she make of that?

With a sinking feeling, she watched as Rick gave her friends smacking kisses and warm hugs.

“Shelley’s in the kitchen. She’s excited to see you guys,” Rick said, walking towards the back of his impressive house and motioning for everyone to follow.

Erin pulled her so they lagged behind.

“He is most definitely different with you,” Erin whispered.

“What did I tell you?” she asked dryly.

“That’s a good thing, I think.”

She frowned at Erin. “How can kissing the air instead of my cheek be a good thing when everyone else got something more enthusiastic? If that wasn’t a clear hint that he’s not interested, I don’t know what is.”

“But I also saw the way he looked at you.”

Her heart jumped. “How did he look at me?”

“It’s hard to explain, but there was something in his eyes.”

“What something?”

“Something different.”

“That doesn’t help, Erin.”

“Well, there was… tenderness, I think. Or warmth. I don’t know. He might have been distant with his kiss, but his eyes gave me the opposite impression. To be honest, I’ve noticed him look at you differently before. I just didn’t want to bring it up because I’m not sure what it meant.”


“Hey, didn’t Jade say that Rick could have a good reason to stay single?” Erin said. “What if he’s interested in you but just can’t act on it?”

She frowned. “So how can I find out if that’s the case? And what’s stopping him?”

“We’ll work on finding out,” Erin said with determination.

She smiled at her friend, giving her a quick thank-you hug. Even though Erin was still getting over her recent breakup with a guy she’d been with for a couple of years, Erin had remained upbeat about love. She was an incurable romantic.

“All our guests are here, Shel,” they heard Rick say as they entered a large kitchen fit for a serious chef.

“Hi, guys!” said a pretty blonde girl who ran to them with exuberance. “I’m so glad to be feeding all of you tonight.” She gave each of them a massive bear hug, with a shriek of congratulations for the engaged couple.

Lexie grinned, returning Shelley’s greeting with a tight embrace. She loved Rick’s sister. She wasn’t a brat at all, even though Rick had that nickname for her. Shelley was warm and open, with a delightful sense of humour. Tonight, she was wearing an apron that said I’m my brother’s boss.

“Nice apron, Shel,” Lucas commented.

“Well, it’s true in some ways,” Shelley said with a grin.

“Having it printed on your favourite piece of clothing doesn’t make it true, brat,” Rick said, patting his sister on the shoulder.

“I’m so excited, Shelley,” Jade said. “And we’d all love to help.”

“Yes, we’re here to get our hands dirty,” Lexie added. “Tell us what you want us to do.”

“Well, since this is an engagement dinner for Jade and Lucas, maybe the two of them can just sit and watch. I do need extra help or we won’t be eating for another couple of hours because Rick is sooo slooow with everything.”

“Gee, thanks, sis,” Rick said sarcastically. “Glad to know my efforts are appreciated.”

“Why don’t you just pour your guests some drinks?” Shelley asked him with an unapologetic but sweet smile, then proceeded to give instructions to Lexie, Erin and Cassie.

The three women happily did what Shelley had assigned to them, leaving the girl to focus on preparing some special sauces for her dishes.

Lexie was reminded why Shelley impressed her. The girl was a pro in the kitchen. At this rate, they’d be having dinner in no time. She couldn’t wait. She was starving.

But busy as she was, she made sure she took the time to give Rick provocative looks. She even gave him flirty nudges whenever the opportunity presented itself. She wanted him to know that kissing him last night wasn’t meant to be a one-off thing.

He didn’t respond in kind, though, which was a bit of a downer. But she wasn’t going to let his lack of enthusiasm get to her. For all she knew, Rick was just feeling self-conscious in front of their friends. That was a possibility, right?

“By the way, Rick,” Shelley said, looking up from her task after quietly concentrating on it for long minutes. “I was talking to Aileen earlier today. She said she might pass by here tonight to drop something off.”

Lexie noticed how Rick’s head jerked towards Shelley.

“Didn’t you tell her we’re busy tonight?” Rick asked, glaring.

“Yeah. But she said she won’t be staying long. She just wants to hand me something.”


Shelley shrugged just as the doorbell rang. “That’s probably her,” she said.

Lexie stared surreptitiously at Rick as he walked out of the kitchen. He was clearly uncomfortable with the arrival of this Aileen woman. Why? And who was she?

“Who’s Aileen, Shel?” Lexie asked casually.

“His girlfriend. I mean his ex-girlfriend,” Shelley answered, looking very pleased, like things were going the way she’d planned. It wasn’t hard to guess the girl’s intentions.

Gloom swiftly descended onto Lexie. But this wasn’t the time and place to wallow in the reasons for Rick’s ex being here, so she tried to push it away.

“Hi, everyone!”

Lexie looked up and saw a brunette standing by the threshold.

“Aileen!” Shelley cried delightedly.

Lexie’s heart sank. Aileen was absolutely stunning.

###End of Chapter Two###

That’s it for now. You can enjoy the rest of the story when it comes out on the 19th of May :)

Can’t wait for release day! Until then, take care.

Much love,
Miranda xxx

You can pre-order your copy of The Unyielding Bachelor from:

Amazon US | Other Amazon Stores | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play


The Unyielding Bachelor: Chapter One

Not long to go before May 19! That’s the day when The Unyielding Bachelor (Captured by Love, Book 2) is released. Yay!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about Lexie and Rick’s love story, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

It’s time to share the beginning with you, so check out the hunk on the cover, then enjoy Chapter One!


The Unyielding Bachelor: Chapter One

Lexie Mead cast a narrowed gaze towards the hunky Rick Donnelly, sipping the excellent wine he’d poured for her as she wracked her brains for fresh ideas that would help her fulfil her mission.

It was exactly twelve months to the day since she’d first met him—right here in the same ballroom of a five-star Sydney hotel—and it frustrated her how little progress she’d made in making him take her flirtations seriously. What else could she do, apart from acting desperate, to make him see that she wanted to be more than friends?

They’d been introduced to each other at this same function last year—the Staff and Partners Halloween Dinner held by Bilton Machineries, Lexie’s employer and Rick’s business partner. Back then, she’d fallen in an instant crush.

Today, she’d be lying to herself if she didn’t admit that in one year, not only had their friendship developed, but her feelings for him had grown deeper. Much deeper.

With mutual friends and work connections, it had been easy for her to find ways to get into Rick’s circle of friends. With Rick also rekindling his friendship with Lexie’s older brother Brad—his former schoolmate—after years of losing contact, Lexie had been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Rick in the past year.

But Rick couldn’t seem to see past the friendship barrier. Even right now, the gorgeous man was oblivious to her attention as he chatted with Minda, the recently hired business development manager, who was being way too tactile with him.

Lexie huffed. She knew Minda’s game. She was sure that the woman’s friendly gesture was to hide the fact that she simply wanted to feel Rick’s bicep. Lexie wouldn’t even be surprised if Minda would soon try to—

Ah, there! The flirt had grabbed Rick’s hand, giving him a come-hither look as she tried to pull him to the dance floor.

Lexie gave her officemate an evil eye although, of course, it had gone unnoticed. Fortunately, Rick shook his head, raising his wine glass, probably indicating he wanted to finish it.

Good! So he should. An expensive, limited edition Cabernet Sauvignon shouldn’t be ditched just because some female wanted to dance with him.

Unless, of course, that female’s name was Lexie Mead.

Lexie sighed. Sometimes she wondered if Rick meant more whenever he hugged and squeezed her tight, or teased her with that tender look in his eyes, or made sweet comments that made her heart race. But with Rick never asking her out on a date, she had no option but to believe she was merely reading more into his actions than what was really there.

Minda finally left and Rick noticed her gaze. “You look deep in thought there, Lex,” he said, grinning in that cute way of his.

She smiled mysteriously. “Yes. I’m trying to come up with a plan to make you fall in love,” she said lightly, stopping short of adding ‘with me’ at the end of her sentence. Last thing she wanted was to scare him off.

“You’re not really gonna bet on me, are you?”

She grinned at the scepticism on his face. His squinting brown eyes and lopsided smile indicated he didn’t believe she’d go ahead with her intention to join the betting game set up by some of his female friends. With the number of bachelors in Rick’s circle fast dwindling, some of the women had decided to bet on who would be next to come off the singles market.

“I am most definitely betting on you,” she answered.

Rick shook his head. “Don’t waste your money, Lex.”

“Your warning and concern are duly noted. But I understand that the winners have to donate their winnings to charity. So if I lose, I won’t mind. Besides, I’ve had an unexpected windfall. I can afford it.” She waved the gift certificate she held in her hand. It was her prize for coming first in tonight’s pantomime game—the highlight of every Bilton Machineries Halloween Dinner. The amount on the gift certificate was eye-popping. As one of Australia’s biggest companies, her employer was well known for being generous to its staff.

Rick smirked. “You’re gonna risk your hard-earned prize to bet that little-old-me would be the next guy to be captured by love?” he said, a hint of mockery in his tone. “I’m trying to help you here, Lex. I’d feel guilty when you have to pay up.”

She shook her head. Clearly, the man had no idea why she was joining the game—and why she was going for him.

“I think Lexie would win this bet, Rick,” teased Jade Tully, one of Lexie’s best friends who was also PA to the Bilton Machineries’ CEO—and who’d gotten engaged tonight to the CEO’s son, Lucas Renner-Bilton.

“C’mon, Jade,” Rick said. “I’m telling everyone not to put money on me, and here you are, encouraging your friend to squander her fortune on a lost cause. Lucas, say something to your fiancée.”

Lucas, who also happened to be one of Rick’s closest friends, shrugged. “I’ve already told Jade that Lexie’s chances are slim if she’s picking you to be the next to fall,” he said.

“Aw, Lucas,” Lexie said. “You, of all people, should know that men like Rick do fall. Look at you. No one won the first round of bets because no one picked you. And yet just a few minutes ago, you were up on stage proposing to Jade.”

“And you think Rick would follow in my footsteps? I’m just lucky to find Jade, Lex. Rick doesn’t have the same kind of luck I have,” Lucas joked.

She could only smile because she wasn’t at all certain that Rick was ready to get into a serious relationship. In fact, he’d openly declared that he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend.

Nothing surprising about that. Rick was a ladies’ man who had attractive women flirting with him left, right and centre. And at thirty, he was a successful entrepreneur who owned a chain of luxury car dealerships. His clients were among the wealthiest people in Australia.

Any guy who had lots of wannabe girlfriends like he did would find it hard to want to settle down. What for, when there were plenty of girls who weren’t demanding exclusivity?

She repressed a sigh and smiled instead as Jade sat next to her. “Had enough of snogging your new fiancé at our company party?” she teased.

“No,” Jade said with a giggle.

“You are so glowing, Jade,” she said with a smile, truly happy for her friend yet envious at the same time.

“Thank you. But let’s talk about you and the bet. You ready to let Rick know how you feel?”

She glanced at Rick and Lucas, who were busy having their own conversation. “Since my flirtations are going unnoticed, I think I need to come out a little bit more,” she whispered.

“Lucas said something to me a few minutes ago.”


“He said that Rick has a very good reason for staying single,” Jade said conspiratorially.

She frowned. “What reason?”

“Lucas said he’s not at liberty to say.”


“Yeah, it’s intriguing,” Jade said. “I could cajole Lucas into telling me about it, but I don’t want to pressure him. It sounded like he’s made a promise to Rick to keep it confidential.”

“Maybe Rick himself would tell us.”

“Well, since you’ll be seducing him…” Jade teased.

She grinned. “You know what? Now that I’m quite set on it, I can’t wait to start.”

“Rick better watch out,” Jade said with a laugh. “His days as a free man could be numbered.”

Lexie sighed. “And I aim to be the one to put an end to it.”


“Are you gonna tell Lexie?” Lucas asked Rick in a low voice.

“Tell her what?”

“The reason why you have to stay single for a few more years?”

Rick shook his head. “You know I’ve gone down the path of telling a woman that in the past, with almost disastrous consequences. It’s not worth the risk. Besides, I don’t really see the point in letting Lexie know.”

“The point is she’s interested in you. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.”

“Of course I have,” he answered, trying not to stare at Lexie, who looked extra stunning tonight. Her long caramel hair was in a bun with curly wisps flowing freely around her beautiful face. Her light brown eyes—he liked to think of them as honey—were perfectly framed by those extra-long lashes of hers. And hell, her black evening dress accentuated her sexy curves so well that he had to constantly remind himself not to drool.

No, Lexie showing interest in him had never gone unnoticed.

“And you do know what she meant when she said she was betting on you, right?” Lucas asked.

He nodded, exhaling a heavy breath. Lexie cranking up her flirtations would drive him crazy. It was hard enough to pretend that her actions didn’t affect him. If she pushed the envelope further, even by just a notch, he’d be in big trouble. He didn’t have much resistance left when it came to her.

Acting like he only saw Lexie as a friend was taking its toll. He knew that when he got home tonight, he’d be staring at his ceiling with a heavy weight on his chest, wondering what it would be like if he could let her know he was attracted to her, too.

His jaw tensing, he silently cursed his stepmother for his predicament. If Betty Donnelly weren’t the scheming woman that she was, there’d be no need for all this pretence.

His phone vibrated in his pocket. He checked it and excused himself to take the call.

“Hey, Shel,” he said to his fifteen-year-old half-sister, whom he loved to death.

“Hi, Rick. Can I stay with you tomorrow night?” Shelley pleaded.

“Why? What’s wrong?” he asked, frowning.

“Nothing. Mum’s taking home this new man for dinner tomorrow and I don’t wanna be home for that.”

“Ah. And I thought you were just missing me. I should have known better,” he said with a mock sigh, loving to tease her.

“Hey! Just because I get too busy spending time with my own friends doesn’t mean I don’t miss you. You know you’re still my favourite guy in the whole wide world.”

He smirked. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” His sister was a responsible kid with maturity beyond her years, so he didn’t usually worry about her getting into any trouble.

“So can I sleep over at your place tomorrow night? Please?”

“And here I was, looking forward to a no-brat weekend.”

“Why? Do you have a new girlfriend coming over? Remember I’m not twenty-one yet!”

“Can’t you grow up faster?”

“Sorry,” Shelley said, her tone turning remorseful. “You have to wait another six years before you can have a proper relationship.”

He relented. “Hey, it’s not your fault. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

“Aileen still calls me and asks how you are.”

“Does she? You don’t need to entertain her calls, you know.”

“She said she’s still waiting for you.”

“Oh, God,” he said with a groan. “Shel, please don’t keep her hopes up.”

“But you only broke up with her because you had to! Because Mum is just so… so… unreasonable!”

“I didn’t have to, Shelley. Aileen and I weren’t working out.”

“Well, I still think it’s nasty of my mother to force those conditions on you,” Shelley said with resentment.

He sighed. He didn’t have a problem disliking Betty. They weren’t blood related. But it saddened him that the woman lacked certain traits to be the ideal mother Shelley could look up to.

“Can we talk later, Shel? I’m at a corporate function.”

“Oh, sorry. I thought from the noise that you’re in some club. So can you tell Mum that you want me to stay over tomorrow for some brother-sister bonding time? You know how disappointed she gets when I refuse to meet her dates. Apparently, she really likes this one. His name’s Todd.”

“Will you cook something for me?” he quipped.

“No problem.”

“And clean up afterwards?”

“That’s child slavery! I’ll cook, but you clean up.”

“Hey, who’s doing who a favour here?” he said with a chuckle. Shelley hated cleaning up as much as she loved cooking.

“You can always leave it to your housekeeper,” Shelley suggested hopefully.

“No, Shel. She has the weekends off.”

“Well, then, tell you what,” Shelley said. “There’s a couple of new dishes that I’ve learned how to cook and I want to practice making them in bigger quantities. Why don’t you ask some of your friends to dinner? I’ll cook for everyone. Then you can ask them to help you with the cleaning up.”

He laughed. Shelley was one smart cookie who knew how to twist his arm. At a young age, she was already a phenomenal cook who was always keen for opportunities to show off her culinary skills.

“Maybe I’ll invite Lucas and Jade. They got engaged tonight.”

“Ooh, did they? Let’s make it a special engagement dinner for them, then,” Shelley said excitedly.


“Great! You’ll have to pick me up early, like three o’clock.”

“Why so early?”

“Because we have to go grocery shopping first. And I’ll need plenty of time to prepare.”

“Right. But I still have to ask Lucas and Jade. If they can’t come, it’ll just be you and me, okay?”

“Okay. By the way, Mum asked me the other day if you’ve decided to increase my monthly allowance.”

“Why?” he asked with instant suspicion.

“Something about the cost of living going up and how I need to pay more towards food and the house upkeep.”

“What?” He suppressed his curse words for Betty. “House upkeep already comes out of your account because you own the house. You know she doesn’t pay a cent towards it. So what did you say?”

“Nothing. I told her to talk to you and, of course, she won’t. She’s just being her usual self—always complaining how unfair everything is.”

Rick bit his tongue to stop himself from ranting against Betty. He didn’t want to say anything else that would make Shelley lose respect for her mother. Even with Betty’s obvious faults, Shelley was still keen to maintain a good relationship with her mum. She did have a lot of love for the woman who’d given birth to her, and vice versa.

“I’m glad it’s you who’s now managing my money, Rick,” Shelley said quietly.

He pressed his lips. That came at a high price. But he had no choice but to bear it for both his and Shelley’s sake.

“You’ll talk to Mum about tomorrow night, right?”

“Yes. And I’ll drop you off to school on Monday.”

“Thank you, best big brother in the world,” Shelley crooned. “I love you heaps.”

“Love you, too, brat.”

He hung up and went back to join Lucas, Jade and Lexie.

“Hey, you guys doing anything tomorrow night?” he asked, including Lexie in the conversation. Why not invite her too, right? Shelley wouldn’t mind.

“We’re having a get-together with Erin and Cassie to celebrate our engagement,” Jade said.

Damn. Jade and Lexie’s two other best friends had beaten him to it.

“Why do you ask?” Lucas said.

“I was just talking to Shelley. She wants to stay over at my house tomorrow night. When she heard that you guys got engaged, she said she wants to cook a special dinner for us.”

“Ooh,” Jade said, a delighted smile appearing on her face. “I’m sure Erin and Cassie won’t mind if we reschedule.”

Rick laughed. These guys had tasted Shelley’s cooking once before. Needless to say, they’d loved it.

“Erin and Cassie can come, too,” he offered, “so you don’t have to miss out on your girlie night.”

“Shelley won’t mind?” Lexie asked. “There might be too many of us—although we’ll be more than happy to help her in the kitchen.”

Rick pulled out his phone and rang his sister, who was ecstatic at the thought of more people eating her food. “The girls said they’ll help, too,” he added.

“But I’ll be the head chef, right?” Shelley asked.

He rolled his eyes. “She wants to be the head chef,” he said to Lexie and Jade.

“Of course!” the women responded.

“I heard that. Yay!” Shelley said.

He was grinning when he hung up.

“I can’t wait, Rick,” Lexie said. “I’ll have to remember to bring my special recipe notebook so I could jot down some notes. Your sister’s such a genius in the kitchen.”

“I have to say that’s not an exaggeration,” he said proudly, smiling at her.

Lexie grinned back, and something in her eyes hit him hard.


The kind that he could wallow in for hours on end. The kind he’d find hard to leave.

He shook his head surreptitiously and peeled his gaze off her. He already knew how dangerous it was to stare into Lexie’s eyes. How many times did he have to remind himself to keep eye contact to a minimum?

He could always suggest the no-strings thing with her—that wouldn’t be against the rules. But he had a feeling that would be such a bad idea. He only had to look at her and his heart would go freaking haywire. Why start something that could get him in deep trouble?

He hid a sigh. He’d never had a problem avoiding women who could rope him into wanting a relationship. But Lexie had been sorely testing his restraint. And he was getting exhausted of pretending. So exhausted.

Unfortunately, he had no choice but to stick with the only safe thing: keep Lexie at a distance.

###End of Chapter One###

The Unyielding Bachelor is now available for pre-order from the following stores:

Amazon US | Other Amazon Stores | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Book Description:

He has to stay away from her.
Thirty-year-old entrepreneur Rick Donnelly is under contract to remain unattached until his fifteen-year-old half-sister turns twenty-one. If he breaks the rule, not only will he have to hand over the management of his half-sister’s substantial inheritance to his reckless stepmother, but he’ll also have to transfer twenty percent ownership of his company to the untrustworthy woman. When the tempting Lexie Mead decides to knock down his heart’s defenses, he finds himself in danger of breaking the contract’s strict condition–something he simply cannot afford to do.

She intends to win his heart.
Twenty-six-year-old Lexie Mead has long had feelings for the hunky Rick Donnelly. Tired of being treated as just another one of his friends, she sets out to win his heart from prettier and more aggressive women admirers. But Rick has complications to deal with… and enemies who will do anything to see him fail. She doesn’t want him to lose the things he’s worked hard to keep. But how can they have a future together when she is forced to walk away and Rick can’t ask her to stay?

The Unyielding Bachelor can be enjoyed as a stand-alone or as Book 2 of the Captured by Love series. I recommend reading the books in order to fully enjoy the series.

Book 1: The Unwilling Executive (Lucas Renner and Jade Tully) – still only US$0.99! Click here if you haven’t got your copy of this book yet.


Stay tuned for Chapter Two of The Unyielding Bachelor!

Much love,
Miranda xxx

The Unwilling Executive: Out Now!

TheUnwillingExecutive-FullCover med

Lucas and Jade’s love story is now live! If you’ve pre-ordered, please check your devices to make sure you got your copy. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, please click here to find all the store links to the book. It’s currently only US$0.99.

Thank you so much for being with me as I continue to write more steamy and stirring romance novels for your enjoyment. I truly hope The Unwilling Executive finds its way into your hearts. Lucas and Jade challenged me but in the end, even I was touched by how their love story unfolded :) .

Happy reading and feel free to let me know what you think!

Much love,

Miranda xxx

P.S. Book 2 of the Captured by Love series, The Unyielding Bachelor, is now available for pre-order.