Award Winning Author Gwyneth Bolton
                                    
Booklist

Rivals in Paradise

Rivals in Paradise Kimani Press, Harlequin
ISBN-10: 0373861869
ISBN-13: 978-0373861866
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Mass Market Paperback
November 2010

Read an Excerpt

Settling scores has never been this hot...

Cicely Stevens needs the vacation of a lifetime. After being cheated on by her boyfriend and passed over for a promotion, she's off to the Caribbean for a weekend of hot island fun. And there's no sexier bad boy than her old college rival Chase Yearwood, who's on the same plane en route to his lush estate...and whose kiss Cicely never forgot. When he takes her in his arms again, he's more irresistible than ever. But will she lose her heart before this fling is flung?

They call him the "Wolf" because of his legendary skills in the boardroom—and the bedroom. Now is Chase's chance to even the score with the woman who once beat him at his own game. But can rivals in business become passionate partners in love? Under a romantic tropical moon, he'll seduce her with a passion that will have her begging for more!



Dear Reader,

There is something about the rivals to lovers story that never gets old for me. Most of my favorite television couples have some element of rivals to lovers in their stories. Who can forget that on A Different World Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert traded barbs in the early days of the show when he thought he was head over heels in love with Denise? We all know how that turned out, with the famous wedding crasher show and Dwayne begging… "Whitley, I love you! Please, baby, please!" And then there is my all-time favorite couple Maxine Shaw and Kyle Barker from Living Single. They took the "I hate you! I love you!" push and pull of rivals to lovers to passionate new heights. These couples made crossing that thin line between love and hate oh so much fun! And if you enjoy journeys to love that are just a little vexed but also a whole lot of fun, then you are going to enjoy Cicely "Cee Cee" Stevens and Chase "The Wolf" Yearwood's trip down love's rocky road immensely. From the minute Cicely stepped on the scene in If Only You Knew, I knew she'd have a wonderful story to tell one day. This younger sister was spicy and sassy and I knew I had to find just the right hero for her. It took me a minute, but I found him. You're going to love Chase. He's smooth, funny, 100% alpha male, every-bit-of-fine and he loves Cicely to distraction (even if it takes him a minute to realize it…) I hope you enjoy Cicely and Chase's story.

Gwyneth



Read an Excerpt

Rivals in Paradise

"This must be my lucky day. If it isn't Cicely Stevens," came a deep, sexy and taunting male voice from above her.

Cicely stared at the passenger waiting for her to move so that he could sit in the seat next to hers, and her heart stopped. She looked him up and down. Tall, russet brown, built like nobody's business with passionate, daring brown eyes and a mischievous dimpled smile-in a word, gorgeous.

Chase Yearwood.

It couldn't be. Fate isn't that unkind. The universe doesn't have that sick a sense of humor. If it didn't seem too totally melodramatic she would have thrown her head to the sky and cried out, "Why?"

A weak half smile flickered across her face, and she knew it must have looked like a cross between a grimace and a sneer. Yet she couldn't force her lips to give up a full, bright, but very false form of greeting to save her life. The shock of seeing him of all people seemed too much.

There was no way that Cicely could endure a three-and-a-half hour flight sitting next to her arch- nemesis from college after finding out that she didn't get the promotion she'd wanted and finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman.

The timing of it all sucked. No way in hell was her biggest rival supposed to be a part of her get away from it all soul-searching trip to Dahinda!

Granted, she probably should be on Carlton's private jet with Latonya and Gran headed for the family's Thanksgiving celebration in NYC instead of taking a solo island vacation and looking for a fling to help her get her groove back, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. She only hoped that the family would understand that she had to get away. She needed some time alone to process and reevaluate everything in her life from her failed relationships to her stymied work life. She refused to believe that she had really and truly peaked in college and there was nothing left for her to excel in.

Judging by the fact that she was ending up sitting next to Chase Yearwood—The Wolf as he'd been called in college—the universe wasn't very forgiving about her blowing off Thanksgiving with the family.

The universe is so-oo freaking mean!

Chase Yearwood. Seriously? What, is Satan too busy to sit next to me on a plane to Dahinda? That was the only thing she could think of that would be worse than Chase, the devil himself.

She never thought she would see him in person again. Oh, she couldn't help seeing him in print. From the business pages to the society pages, The Wolf was media fodder. Corporate takeovers. Love them and leave them. You name it, The Wolf did it. And the press wrote about it. As far as she could tell, she was the only person in the world who could actually say that she had beaten The Wolf at his own game.

That small victory had cost her a piece of her heart.

Shouldn't have sprung for the first class ticket, she thought as she eyed him wearily. The Wolf wouldn't be caught dead in coach!

Cicely got up and let Chase get into his window seat. While standing, she glanced toward the back of the plane.

Packed. Full. No chance of changing seats.

Dang.

She sat back down and fastened her seat belt, mentally preparing herself for what could only be a very long flight.

"So, little Cicely Stevens, what have you been up to since FAMU?" The Wolf leaned back in his seat and glanced at her. A smug smirk spread across his face, showing more teeth than lip. And, oh, what perfect teeth they were.

Cicely thought about just ignoring him. Really, just because the flight was full and she couldn't move to another seat, did not mean she had to talk to him.

She glanced at him sideways and expelled a deep breath to let him know that she was going through great pains to speak. "After finishing my undergraduate degree I went on to get an MBA in finance. I work in finance." She crossed her arms and twisted her lips.

He squinted and opened and closed his mouth quickly. Staring at her for a second, he finally spoke. "Interesting. I would have thought that you'd be somewhere running the city by now. You know, given the way you blew into FAMU, trying to run things."

Doing a double take, she tilted her head and thought, trying to run things? Whatever!

She pursed her lips a moment before responding. "Well, given the fact that I was elected student government president in the second semester of my sophomore year and I beat a guy who was going to be a senior. A fancy frat boy, sports star, and all around Mr. Popular... oh wait... that was you... wasn't it? Anyway, I think it's safe to say that I didn't try, I succeeded."

He arched his eyebrow as he observed her. "Modesty has never been your strong point."

"Yours either."

"Touché." A predatory smile, which highlighted those perfect teeth, crossed his lips. The russet brown complexioned man with almond-shaped eyes that made a woman long for the bedroom could be likened to a taller, finer, Tyson Beckford.

"So what do you say," he started and smiled at her before finishing, "we bury the proverbial hatchet and let bygones be bygones?"

Cicely pretended to consider his suggestion. There was no way she would do such a thing. Chase and his flunkies had run a horribly slanderous campaign and spread so many lies that people had still been whispering about her well into her senior year.

But the lies weren't the reason why she'd vowed never to be nice to Chase again. It was the truth that he let creep out that firmly placed him on her hate-with-a-capital-H list.

This time she found herself able to manage at least a fake smile. "Burying the hatchet would be the mature thing to do, huh? I mean, why hold on to silly college grudges when we're both adults."

His smile didn't appear genuine to Cicely, either. "Right. I for one am over the fact that you and your sorority sisters stole that election from me and ruined the legacy that I was going to leave for FAMU." He took a deep breath, looking all magnanimous and pompous. "I'm ready to forgive you."

Forgive me? Why, you arrogant, smug, pompous jerk! I'll show you forgive me, she thought as her right eyebrow arched slightly.

"You know, you might be on to something. I think it would be wonderful and very big of me to forgive you and your trifling fraternity brothers for running such a slanderous campaign. Especially since, even with all the lies you told, you still lost. Forgiving you for your lies... is..." She let out a long, exaggerated sigh before finishing, "the very least I could do. Especially since my winning the election and becoming student government association president was the beginning of the very rich legacy of dynamic leadership I left to FAMU."

Chase's eyes narrowed and he stared at her a full minute before his face moved and the hint of a smirk appeared.

The close quarters of the small first-class cabin seemed to move in on her with that smile.

First class was supposed to be roomy. Wasn't it? Chase and his overwhelmingly sexy, larger-than-life persona took up all the dang room. She steeled herself to his magnetism by remembering who and what he really was. An arrogant, self-serving wolf!

Rivals in Paradise

Cicely sighed, making strategic use of the stylized attitude that sistahs had perfected across the ages with just enough huff and a slight roll of the eyes for good measure.

"Well, I'm glad we can agree to let the past be the past. Forgive and forget," he said.

Forgive? The jury's still out. Forget? Not even on a bet.

She offered a fake laugh, a "hahahahaha" that was movie-ready. "Yes. It was a silly college rivalry, after all. Life goes on. People change."



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