|Название||The Master Player|
|Автор произведения||Emma Darcy|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Modern|
THE MASTER PLAYER is my 100th romance. I know there are some of you who have read every one of them. What an amazing journey we have shared! I wonder if my most memorable stories over this writing span of twenty-six years are the same as yours…
THE WRONG MIRROR and MERRY CHRISTMAS for their sheer life drama—I wept many tears living those situations.
My first sheikh book, THE FALCON’S MISTRESS—so wonderfully exotic—and THE SECRET MISTRESS—huge drama in South America with my one Argentinian hero.
THE UPSTAIRS LOVER and JACK’S BABY—for the sheer fun in them.
BRIDE OF HIS CHOICE and The Outback Kings trilogy—very strong stories driven by family history, as so many lives are.
But my all-time favourite is THEIR WEDDING DAY: a magnificent hero slays all the heroine’s dragons and is the perfect father—a fairytale prince in their minds—for the children who have been deserted by her husband.
Because I loved this story so much, I wanted to choose another wonderfully masterful hero and a similar theme—White Knight to the rescue—for this, my 100th book. I do hope you enjoy it.
It has been the longest pleasure of my life, being a romance author—like being a fairy godmother who can wave a magic wand and make everything turn out right—and I want to thank you, my readers, for making it possible.
With love always
Initially a French/English teacher, Emma Darcy changed careers to computer programming before the happy demands of marriage and motherhood. Very much a people person, and always interested in relationships, she finds the world of romance fiction a thrilling one, and the challenge of creating her own cast of characters very addictive.
Recent titles by the same author:
RUTHLESS BILLIONAIRE, FORBIDDEN BABY RUTHLESSLY BEDDED BY THE ITALIAN
BILLIONAIRE BOUGHT FOR REVENGE, BEDDED FOR PLEASURE
THE BILLIONAIRE’S CAPTIVE BRIDE
THE MASTER PLAYER
MILLS & BOON
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I dedicate this book to all the readers who have travelled through my worlds and shared the smiles and the tears with me.
HE watched her. The launch party for the new hit television show was packed with celebrities, many of the women more structurally beautiful than the one he watched, but to Maximilian Hart’s mind, she outshone them all. There was a lovely simplicity about her that attracted both men and women, a natural quality that evoked the sense she would never play anyone false. The quintessential girl next door whom everyone liked and trusted, Max thought, plus the soft sensuality in her femininity that made every man want to go to bed with her.
There was nothing hard, nothing intimidating about the way she looked. Her blonde hair was in a soft short flyaway style that invariably seemed slightly ruffled, not sprayed into shape. There were dimples in her cheeks when she smiled. Her face had no sharp lines. Even her nose ended in a soft tilt. And her body was how a woman’s should be—no bony shoulders, no sticklike arms, every part of her sweetly rounded and curved, not voluptuously so, not threatening to other women but very inviting to any man.
Though her eyes were the real key to her attraction, their luminous light blue colour somehow suggested that her soul was open for listening to and empathising with anything you wanted to tell her. Nothing guarded about those eyes. They drew you in, showing every emotion, transmitting an almost mesmerising vulnerability that stirred a man’s protective instincts as well as the more basic ones.
The wide generous mouth was almost as expressive as the eyes, its soft mobility reflecting the same feelings from a grimace of sympathy to a scintillating smile of shared joy. She had the gift of projecting whatever you wanted from her and you believed she truly felt it, not an actress playing a part. It was a gift that could turn her into a huge star, and not just in the television show he’d bought and had rewritten to showcase what he’d seen in her.
Oddly enough, he wasn’t sure she wanted to be one. Her domineering mother wanted it. Her ambitious script-writer husband wanted it. She did what they wanted, never raising any objection to it but there had been occasions when Max had glimpsed a lost look on her face—moments when she thought no-one was watching, when she wasn’t required to be someone else’s creation, when she was not on show.
She was on show tonight and the party people were flocking to her, wanting to share her spotlight, fascinated by her unique charisma whether they wanted to be or not. The crowd around her kept shifting, changing, forced to give way to others who wanted a piece of her if only for a little while. Although Max noted that those most closely connected to her life left her to shine alone.
It didn’t surprise him. Neither her mother nor her husband enjoyed the role of background person, which they inevitably became if they attached themselves to her in public. He tore his gaze away from her to glance around, unsurprised when he spotted her mother schmoozing up to a group of television executives, increasing her network of contacts she could use. Max had disliked dealing with her. Unavoidable since she had appointed herself her daughter’s agent. He kept any business meeting with her short and coldly rebuffed any attempt at a more personal connection with him.
Pushy, full of her own ego, Stephanie Rollins was the worst kind of stage-mother. Her vividly dyed carrot-red hair yelled notice me, remember me, even without its butch shortness, which accentuated her abrasive attitude of I’m as good as any man and better than most. Though there was nothing butch about her body, which she dressed with in-your-face sexiness; cleavage on show, tight skirts, extremely high heels to bring attention to her shapely legs.
Everything was used as a weapon in her fight to win her own way and there was nothing Max liked about her. Even the name she’d chosen for her daughter—Chloe—seemed deliberately artful, aimed at being remembered. Chloe Rollins. It rolled off the tongue, yet it always struck a false note with Max. It seemed too contrived for the person he saw in Chloe. Something simple would have suited her better.
His mouth twitched with amusement at the fanciful addition of his own surname. Marriage had never appealed to him. He didn’t want a wife. Sexual urges were satisfied with one woman or another and his butler and cook did everything else a wife could do. Besides, Chloe Rollins already had a husband and Max didn’t believe in poaching other men’s wives, not even for a casual affair. Having a messy private life had no more appeal than having a messy business life. Max stayed firmly in control of both.