cover image The Wicked Billionaire

The Wicked Billionaire

Jackie Ashenden. St. Martin’s, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-12281-0

Ashenden’s second Tate Brothers military contemporary is an intoxicating, fast-paced romantic thriller with potent sexual tension. Stoic billionaire Navy SEAL Lucas Tate avoids civilian drama and anyone who causes it, which is why he’s perturbed when a letter left by his deceased father drops him into the middle of some. The letter asks Lucas to protect his friend’s widow, Grace Riley, from arms dealers her husband was involved with. When Lucas brings headstrong artist Grace back to his ultrasecure New York home and then instructs her not to leave—for her own protection—a battle of wits ensues, which soon turns into deep and meaningful conversation. Gradually, Lucas and Grace succumb to their mutual desire. Lucas plans to return to base once the threat to Grace is eliminated, so neither expects their dalliance to give rise to romance, and both lovers are carrying loads of guilt that leave them feeling unworthy of true happiness, but together they learn that the past does not define them. The action neatly melds into the love story without stunting the relationship development. Ashenden has created an exceptional romance with a fresh plot, complex characters, and a mind-blowing ending. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Oct.)