Cassie Hartman knows what she needs to do to get her life under control. First, she'll get herself promoted. Then she'll update her appearance. Steps three and four—marriage and family—well, those will have to wait.
Then Ronan McGuire shows up. The too-sexy, too-polished business consultant has the power to derail Cassie's plans before she's even really started. If he doesn't approve her promotion, she'll be back to square one—and that's not an option. Cassie needs to keep her focus on that first step, no matter how much Ronan tempts her to skip ahead to the third and fourth ones….
Harlequin Super Romance
ISBN: 0373717695
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Sweat prickled the back of his neck. It was too hot for a suit, but professional pride insisted he drag his Hugo Boss jacket from the backseat and shrug it on anyway.
Funny, he hadn't thought he had any pride left.
Ronan Conroy surveyed the scene from inside the car a bit longer, delaying the moment he'd need to turn off the engine and lose the blast of cool air from the vents—little as it was doing to assuage the heat.
Two women stood outside the Country Style furniture warehouse in the grimy, industrial outskirts of Melbourne. Heat shimmered in air that smelled of dust and smoke, perceptible even inside the car. Concrete buildings and asphalt roads only magnified the temperature. It was hot as hell and that was probably fitting—this was, after all, supposed to be a punishment.
The women were talking animatedly. Stacks of furniture—chairs, tables, cabinets, bed frames—were haphazardly arranged around them. Guys dripping sweat emerged from inside the warehouse, grabbed an item and disappeared back into the darkness with it.
As jet lag pulled at his eyelids, Ronan watched the women continue to talk, each of them occasionally pointing at a clipboard one of them was holding.
The one closest to where Ronan had parked was short, blonde and dressed in a light green skirt and matching short-sleeved suit jacket. Her hair was cut in a neat bob, shiny and precise. Even from a distance he could see her lips were outlined in bright lipstick.
The other was taller. She wore dark trousers and a pale blue shirt with the Country Style logo emblazoned over one breast, the sleeves rolled up. A streak of dust marred one pant leg, and her cheeks were flushed. But her hair. .long, dark, wavy. It was barely constrained by a clip at her nape and hung down to midway between her shoulder blades. As he watched, she tucked a stray lock behind one ear. If that beautiful mane was out, allowed free, it would swing forward, over her shoulders. Would it cover her breasts? Maybe. Maybe not quite. Maybe just—
Ronan gave himself a mental shake. It was just this sort of thing that had got him into trouble before.
It was why he was here, on the other side of the world, while his disapproving father was back in San Francisco waiting to see if he could prove himself. Again.
He grabbed his briefcase and turned off the engine, stepping out of the car. This one was going to be strictly business. There was too much riding on it for it to be anything but. His chance to finally prove that he was good enough for the partnership in Conroy Corporation that should have been his long ago—even if it was by completing a job that barely matched his skill level. It was going to be a walk in the park.
He'd been sent here to work with Cassidy Hartman, the head of operations for Country Style. He straightened his shoulders and headed toward the women. He'd bet she was the one in the suit.
Cassie noticed someone approaching out of the corner of her eye, but she was too absorbed by the figures on her assistant's clipboard to pay much attention. The delivery was short—very short—and they were going to have a problem meeting customer orders, never mind having floor stock for display in the fifty-seven Country Style stores around Australia. The tedious task ahead of them now was to match the consignment note with every item that had been delivered and then she'd be on the phone to the manufacturer, making her displeasure clear. This was the third time this company had short-delivered and Cassie's patience was running out.
"I'm not standing for this, Mel," Cassie said, one hand going back to play with her hastily gathered-up ponytail. Her other hand grasped her paper coffee cup dangerously tightly.
"I know, I know," Melanie said soothingly. "They've tried this on us before. But don't worry, we'll get on to it and it will be sorted."
"As if we didn't have enough to deal with today," Cassie said under her breath. Being caught in the middle of an argument with a supplier was the last thing she needed.
A surprise phone call from her boss the previous afternoon had informed her that some high-flying international business analyst would be arriving this morning to begin a review of the entirety of Country.
Style's operations. Graham Taylor, the owner of Country Style, hadn't needed to spell out that Cassie's own performance was what was really under the microscope here.
Cassie checked her watch. It was only just before eight, so she figured she had at least another hour or so to prepare. She did a mental run-through of her to-do list, checking off priorities on her fingers. "I still have to confirm the travel arrangements for the store visits, finalize the contracts for the new ad campaign and iron out the problems with the signage on the new Hawthorn store before the opening next Monday."
"I know," Melanie repeated sympathetically. "I'll deal with this and I can work on the travel stuff. You just focus on Hawthorn and do what you need to do."
Cassie was grateful for her assistant's encouraging smile and composed demeanor. Normally a very cool, calm and collected businesswoman herself, today's inspection had Cassie feeling jittery, doubting herself and her management abilities. She'd barely slept last night after staying up late to prepare herself for the inquisition. She'd worked through every possible scenario, rehearsing her responses to any question she could think of. It hadn't helped. Now she was just nervous and sleep deprived. She took a long sip of her coffee, hoping that the caffeine would give her a jolt, get her back to her normal, take-charge self.
Still caught up in self-analysis, Cassie was just taking another sip of coffee when a tall, suited man suddenly appeared next to them, making her gasp in shock.
He held his hand out to Melanie.
"Hello, you must be Cassidy Hartman." Smiling broadly, his American accent rang out as if someone had just turned on a TV. "I'm Ronan C—McGuire from the Conroy Corporation. I understand Graham called to let you know to expect me."
Cassie's world slowed for a moment.
This was the pencil-pushing number-cruncher Graham had sent to check up on her?
But there wasn't a bow tie, pocket protector or pair of horn-rimmed glasses in sight. Instead, everything about this man screamed money and sophistication, from the tailored shoulders of his fine wool suit all the way down to the shiny, no doubt Italian, leather lace-ups. His dark hair was artfully tousled, just enough to look as though care had been taken, but not so much that it would look fussy.
If this was a sitcom, then the star had just walked in—straight out of central casting, with "tall, dark and handsome" written in script under his name. Cassie half expected to hear whoops and mad applause in the background.
Melanie, flustered, looked from the man who held his hand out toward her to Cassie and back again, her pretty face creased with confusion and anxiety.
Cassie, for her part, remembered to breathe at the same time as she also remembered to swallow her mouthful of lukewarm coffee. Bad idea.
Choking and spluttering, she struggled to draw breath.
"Um, I'm…" Melanie stuttered, clearly unsure whether to introduce herself, deal with Cassie's coughing fit, or maybe just run away.
Ronan looked over at Cassie and patted her on the back firmly a few times. "Are you okay?"
His eyes sent a ribbon of heat through her that had nothing to do with the oppressive northerly wind whipping around them. Blue. Perfect reflections of the summer sky above them. Sultry and flirtatious, his gaze made Cassie's heart skip, even as she tried to swallow and breathe normally.
She fought to restore her composure. "I'm fine," she said hoarsely. She blinked back the tears threatening to stream down her cheeks from the coughing fit.
"Good." Ronan nodded and turned back to Melanie. "So, Ms. Hartman, I know Graham probably told you to expect me at nine, but I like to arrive a little early so we have a chance to get to know—"
Finally Melanie recovered enough to speak. "Sorry, but my name's Melanie. Cassie is—"
"I'm Cassidy Hartman." Cassie drew herself up straight and held out her hand. She knew her face was red and not just from the coughing. This was Graham's consultant, and he'd mistaken Melanie for her. who could blame him? She was filthy from crawling through the recently arrived stock trying to do a rough estimate on quantities. She'd barely slept so she knew her eyes were baggy and her hair was in its usual messy pony-tail. Whereas Melanie—well, she was Melanie. Cool, crisp and utterly perfect.
After years of writing press releases, employee newsletters and speeches for CEOs and politicians – none of which included any kind of kissing – Emmie Dark finally took to her laptop to write what she wanted to write. She was both amazed and delighted to discover that what came out was sexy, noble heroes who found themselves crossing paths with strong, determined heroines. And plenty of kissing.

Emmie’s overnight success has taken about five years to achieve. She began fiddling around with story ideas when the urge to write fiction became overwhelming. In July 2011 she sold her first book to Harlequin SuperRomance and she’s not looking back, with her second sale in September. Both books will be out in 2012.
Emmie lives in Melbourne, Australia, and she likes red lipstick, chardonnay,  sunshine, driving fast, rose-scented soap and a really good cup of tea. Like, a really good cup of tea. She’s particularly fussy about it, and has been known to pack her own teabags when she travels. Most members of her family are too scared to make her a cuppa, in case they get it wrong.

ANGI: How often to you get lost in a story?
EMMIE: All the time – and not just when reading. I easily get lost in movies and TV shows as well. In fact sometimes I prefer a movie or TV show because I find it easier to turn off my “writer’s brain” and just enjoy it, instead of trying to analyze the style or structure.  
ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading? 
EMMIE: I remember my Dad reading me “Peter and the Wolf” (with the accompanying music) when I was very young. Perhaps that’s why I now find a writing soundtrack to be indispensible!  

ANGI: What’s your favorite “love” word?
EMMIE: I’m not sure if I have one. My favorite endearment is “sweetheart” – heroes saying that melt my heart.  
ANGI: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
EMMIE: I’m not positive of the official name, but I think it’s called “The Dancing Princesses”. It’s the story of princess sisters who manage to disappear from the castle each night and dance their shoes into ribbons. The king offered one of them in marriage to the prince that could discover where the princesses went to. I remember they had to walk through forests of silver and gold to get to their dancehall, and I also loved the fact that the successful prince chose the eldest sister to wed as his bride. I was the eldest sister in my family and I felt that fairytales unfairly favored youngest siblings!  
ANGI: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
EMMIE: Music is such a personal thing – it’s hard to dictate to others what might be good to listen to. But I certainly did have a playlist for writing this story. It was lots of indie-pop-style stuff, like Seeker Lover Keeper, Mates of State, The National, The Panics, as well as some occasional hoary old rock anthems like “We Belong” by Pat Benatar – the ultimate romance cliché! 
ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
EMMIE: Usually in bed, at night, to help switch my brain off at the end of the day. And usually every day, although sometimes tiredness will overcome my good intentions.  
ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
EMMIE: It’s hard to beat the sound of a champagne cork popping! 
ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
EMMIE: Ooh, can I have both? I especially love TV shows that combine both elements – like Supernatural, Once Upon a Time and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – where you get a great, action-packed story with traditional, fairy-tale-like good and evil battles.  
ANGI: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
EMMIE: Writing, definitely. With the release of Cassie’s Grand Plan, I’ve had numerous occasions where I’ve had to answer the question “So, what’s it about?”. I think I’d rather write a hundred books than answer that question! I’m much better coming up with words with a keyboard in front of me than with a person or a microphone. 

ANGI: What’s something you’d like to tell your fans?
EMMIE: That I’d be thrilled if there were actually any!  
ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: Your bio states that you like a really good cuppa. Okay, share the secret…what makes it so grand?
EMMIE’S GOTTA ANSWER:  Oh, you’re really going to make me admit to my tea snobbishness, aren’t you! Well, I think there are two key secrets to the perfect cuppa. One is the water temperature. Water that’s still boiling is too hot (so is water that comes out of those coffee machines, unfortunately!). You have to let the kettle sit for a minute or two before you pour. The second secret is how long to leave the tea to steep. That’s a very individual thing, and why it can be very difficult to make someone else the perfect cup of tea. I have different preferences depending on the type of tea. You can see why my family avoid making me tea if they can!
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UP NEXT FOR EMMIE’S READERS:  My next book is called “In His Eyes” and it will be out in August with Harlequin SuperRomance. More information will be coming soon! 
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be available to international addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.

DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter (#GetLostStories) or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. We’re very excited to celebrate Simone St. James’ debut novel release ALL NEXT WEEK. Join us for drawings and to discover THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE. ~Angi 
As a new author, I’m still excited about the idea of people actually reading my book. (Although I don’t know if that ever wears off, really!) If you’d like to go into the drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card, send me a photo of you reading my book. Visit my website (www.emmiedark.com) to find out more.


  1. Hello Emmie! Many congratulations on your new release. You have every right to be excited that people are reading your book. I can't imagine how that must feel.

    I really enjoyed reading the excerpt for Cassie's Grand Plan. I can't wait to see what Ronan did to be punished by his father.

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Hi Emmie,

    Congrats on your first book. I know you will have many many fans.

  3. WELCOME to GLIAS Emmie !!

    Since you're on the opposite side of the world... We're going to leave your drawing until Sunday to get all of your friends a chance to participate.

    And Emmie, I don't think the excitement SHOULD wear off.

  4. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share with us today. I wish you all the best with your release and much joy in your success. May the excitement and wonder never fade!


  5. Congrats on your release! It sounds like a great story!
    chey127 at hotmail dot com

  6. Hi StaceyD -- I'm glad you enjoyed reading the excerpt. Hope you enjoy the whole of Cassie and Ronan's story!

  7. Hi Tammy -- thanks! I would love to have fans! Thanks for your good wishes.

  8. Hi Angi -- thanks for that! Time zones are always tricky to manage...

  9. Hi Denise Z -- thank you so much for your good wishes. From what I hear from other authors, the excitement of seeing your words in print doesn't wear out -- so that's a great incentive to keep writing!

  10. Hi Emmie,
    Congrats on your new release - I know how excited you are and so are all your friends :) I can't wait to read it! (Hopefully my copy is winging its way to Australia from the Book Depository as we speak)

    I remember Peter and the Wolf! The haunting music and how you knew when the wolf was nearby. Scary!

    I expected to see a-ha on your soundtrack list ;-P

    Hugs and, again, mega congrats!!

  11. Hi Serena, You're right, how could I have neglected to include a-ha?? LOL

  12. Great excerpt and interview! The book sounds very good.


  13. The book sounds really nice I would love to read it! Thanks for the giveaway and great interview !

  14. I do pretty much all of my reading in bed too. It's so cozy and I can take the story with me into my dreams. That is if I don't stay up all night reading! Cassie's grand plan sounds like a fun read.


    You've won a copy of Emmie's CASSIE'S GRAND PLAN.

    Shoot me an email to GetLotInAStory@gmail.com and I'll get you two connected.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog.