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by Joanna Shupe
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Knickerbocker Club #2
Purchase Links: KensingtonBooks
New York City’s Gilded Age shines as bright as the power-wielding men of the Knickerbocker Club. And one pragmatic industrialist is about to learn that a man may make his own destiny, but love is a matter of fortune . . .
Born into one of New York’s most respected families, William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city’s highest echelons of society, he’s now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract him from his next pursuit—except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never saw coming . . .
Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how. As “Madame Zolikoff,” she hoodwinks gullible audiences into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life—and lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his campaign—unless he’s the one who’s already put a spell on her . . .
“And what will you tell them?” He dragged a fingertip through a smudge of flour on the side of her neck. She slapped his hand away.
“That we are friends. Only Tom would suspect otherwise, and I hope to be able to convince him this is innocent.”
He leaned in and heard her breath hitch. Satisfaction caused his heart to pound. “If he believes that, then he is a fool. You are far too beautiful for innocent friendships with men.”
Her eyes warmed considerably, her skin flushing once more at his compliment. “I cannot be your mistress. I just…cannot.”
“If it’s the word you object to, then we need not use one. I don’t want to own you, Ava. I don’t need to have you languishing on silken sheets at my beck and call. But for God’s sake, don’t tell me I cannot bed you a second time. I cannot stop thinking about you.”
“Tell me you haven’t thought of me—not once in two days and I’ll walk away. You’ll never see me again. Otherwise, we will repeat what happened the other day. You have my word.”
She bristled, her shoulders straightening as her jaw tightened. “Your word is not law here, railroad man, not with me. Everyone else may jump and do your bidding, but I won’t.”
“You did not answer my question. Have you thought of me? Of what happened in that hotel room?”
“Of course I have—but that doesn’t mean I want to meet you again.”