Sometimes life is not fair. For Julia Patterson meeting Luke Buchanan opened the door to a new life and brought her to life as a woman. In his arms she learns for the first time how real passion and emotion can enrich your life. He claims her body with the pleasure of erotic sex and his heart with unrestricted love. But Fate was laughing at Julia, just as she is about to step over the threshold into a wonderful new life. When her almost-ex-husband Charles is diagnosed with a fatal heart condition her divorce is put on hold along with the rest of her life. Turning her back on Luke and the intense passion and emotion they shared is the most difficult thing she’s ever done. But Julia has a secret, one that Charles has discovered and uses like a club. Thirteen years later when Luke walks back into her life the passion and emotion are just as explosive as ever. Will they finally have their chance at happiness or will her secret destroy it forever?
Finding Julia Background
She came from a middle class family with a domineering father and a mother who spent her life trying to please him. Her father, an accountant who came from a financially strapped background, always ascribed to a higher place in society than he was able to achieve and put them in a precarious financial position trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” They moved several times in is effort to “be someone,” sometimes to a better neighborhood, sometimes to a smaller house in a “good” neighborhood,” as their finances fluctuated. He was very dictatorial with both Julia and her mother and controlled both of their lives as much as possible. He agreed she should go to college where she could “meet a wealthy man and get married and put us all in a better situation.” She met Charles, who swept her off her feet, treated her with care and made her feel special. She was vulnerable, unsure of herself, and Charles, the vulture, picked up on that. She saw with Charles the opportunity to create the loving family she’d never had. To treat her children with love and respect and create a strong family structure. It wasn’t until after they were married and the twins were born that she realized she not only hadn’t gotten away from the trap her life had been but fallen into a worse one. She had thought when she met Charles he was the key to her finding herself, having a happy marriage and a strong family with a lot of love. And maybe when the children were a little older, a career.
The wives of Charles’s friends disdained her as an outsider to their circle, his parents were no warmer to her than they were to their own son. In their circles nannies raised children until they were shipped off to boarding school, the husbands made a great deal of money and had discreet affairs and the wives satisfied themselves with gossip, alcohol and society functions. Not an environment Julia could fit into.
They say women marry men like their father’s and unfortunately for Julia that’s exactly what she did. If not for her friends Claire, her college roommate who remained her friend, she would be virtually isolated, since her parents live far away and she seldom sees them. When she does, her father is still the same bully he always was, just like Charles. She has created her own nightmare.
A clone of his father, he grew up in typical wealthy fashion—prep school college, law school. Belonged to the top fraternity. Had the trappings of wealth his father believed were necessary, just as he himself had them. The word privileged was created for them and their friends. And like many of his friends, where no boundaries are set for behavior, he had a cruel streak. Unfortunately for him the women he felt would be his social equals but who would be malleable knew his reputation. When he met Julia he fastened immediately on her vulnerabilities. She was pretty, booksmart, more than presentable to the public and—most important for him—gave off all the signals of someone who could be molded and controlled. He could make her into the perfect wife for him. She would ask nothing, be grateful for what he gave her and be presentable in public. He bided his time, playing the charmer, until the twins were born and he had his son and heir. Then the control freak came out and stayed out. For Julia it was the nightmare of her childhood all over again, but she did her best until the twins were six and Charles began making plans to send them to boarding school (as he and his friends had done) and to dictate every aspect of their lives. He was unprepared for Julia to find some hidden spirit and begin to challenge him.
I am of two minds here for something that is behind is over the top dedication to Charles.
1) In college he developed a bad gambling habit. Unfortunately he was neither good nor lucky and ended up owing a lot of money to the wrong people. He saw his life disintegrating, his future disappearing, his parents cutting him off. When he used up all of his own resources, to save himself from broken bones and/or death, he asked Charles for help. Charles tapped into his trust fund to pay his debts and monitored Rod after that to make sure he didn’t backslide. Rod has since gone n to be a successful lawyer, a partner in the same firm as Charles, but he has never forgotten that Charles saved him from certain disaster.
2) Rod is a closet homosexual. Charles is the only one who knows and has kept his secret, shielded his activities and protected him all his life. Even helped him pick out a woman to marry who would make few demands on him, service as an icon of a society wife and leave him alone most of the time.
3) A remote possibility and it may be too outrageous for this story. Charles and Rod are both homosexuals, and have had a relationship since they went away to boarding school together. It is their deep dark secret. While Rod chose a wife that was part of their circle, one he could totally control, Charles had to look elsewhere because his overt cruelty didn’t make him a good catch despite all the money. He thought Julia too dumb to suspect anything and if she did who would she tell? So their relationship carried on all these years. He also was very much against the divorce. He saw the marriage as the shield he and Charles needed for their relationship. Another wife might suspect or question. When Charles has his heart attack, Rod is so beside himself he becomes enraged with Julia. And when Charles dies, robbing him of the only person he ever believed loved him, he is determined to have his revenge and make sure she never has a moment’s happiness.
Julia’s illegitimate child, proof of her lover, sticks in Rod’s craw. Why should she have happiness when he has now been robbed of his? He tells her after Charles dies that if she even tries to contact her lover he will find out who it is and go after him. As a very powerful lawyer with connections everywhere. He can make someone’s life miserable, so miserable that it would be to the man’s advantage to save himself by breaking away from her. He tells her she has no idea how easy it is for someone in his position to frame someone for any kind of wrongdoing. By the time the truth emerged the person would be ruined. Julia is frightened at the thought of what Rod’s power and money can do. She can’t put Luke in that kind of situation. He’s already survived a disastrous marriage and difficult relationships with his sons. He doesn’t need any more grief in his life.
Why doesn’t Julia just take Charles to court to force the divorce? Bright Ideas, the agency she owns with Claire, is the boldest thing she has done to find herself, find who she is, not get lost in the prison Charles has created for her. he hates it and denigrates it at every opportunity. They are having mild success but as Charles continues to try and block the divorce, he tells her that his law firm can destroy the business. It’s very easy, he tells her, in the climate where he and his partners operate, to start sly rumors, dirty their reputation, start rumors of shady business practices, or that they are overcharging clients and falsifying invoices and bills. If it were just her she might go to war, but she has Claire to think of.
Why is she so desperate to hold onto the house? Because her own childhood was so unsteady. She moved so many times she didn’t know where home actually was. She desperately wants to guarantee security for her children, to have them grow up in the same place until they move out.
Also, when Rod comes to see her after Charles’s death, he threatens her again, tells her if she doesn’t toe the line he will have her declared an unfit mother, have the twins taken away from her. Charles’s parents will get custody and then ship them immediately off to boarding school. She’ll be lucky if she sees them twice a year.
His threats are reinforced every time she is at a public event for business and sees him there also, making it a point to engage one of her clients in conversation. Courtney, her child with Luke, is difficult from the moment she is born. Julia struggles with the child’s behavior, which escalates as she gets older. She resents being shunned by the elder Patterson, although Andy and Beth tell her she’s really lucky. And maybe Courtney is just a difficult, rebellious child despite Julia’s best efforts. (I know, I raised one! LOL!) I can get rid of “brat”-Beth uses it as kind of a term of affection but maybe we need to ditch it.
“Our executive vice president is tied up in a meeting right now,” Howard whispered as the executive staff filed in. “He’s the one who says yea or nay. He’ll join us as soon as he can.”
Great. Would he expect her to do it all over again for him?
She sighed and began her presentation again.
It was well into the afternoon and she was pulling out copies of the proposed budget to distribute when the door to the boardroom opened quietly, and Julia’s stomach dropped to the floor. She felt as if an electric surge slammed into her, plucking at every one of her nerve endings.
The man who silently took a seat at the end of the table wasn’t necessarily handsome, but he was one hundred percent male. Liquid brown eyes were framed by the thickest lashes she had ever seen on a man. She noticed the strong jaw and the lines of character etched on an incredibly masculine face. Straight brown hair, a hint of silver reflecting in the lights, was worn just a little long, giving him a slightly rakehell look.
The classic dark business suit barely concealed the power he radiated. More than that, he exuded an aura of self, of authority, of comfort in his own skin few men were able to attain. She could think of only three words to describe him. Dark. Edgy. Dangerous. In her entire thirty years, no man had ever affected her the way this man did. Certainly not Charles. She clamped down on her reaction, forbidding herself to let her thoughts wander into forbidden territory. As she’d learned, her judgment where men were concerned left a great deal to be desired.
“Let me interrupt a moment.” Manning jumped to his feet. “Julia, meet Lucas Buchanan, our executive vice president. He’s been in another meeting until now.”
“I’m pleased you could join us, Mr. Buchanan.” Julia pasted on her professional smile and hoped her voice sounded firmer to the others than it did to her.
Lucas Buchanan nodded at her. “Luke, please. Sorry to be late. Please don’t let me interrupt.”
She struggled to pick up the threads of what she’d been saying, her brain suddenly addled, and her hands unsteady. It took every ounce of personal discipline to keep focused on her presentation.
About Desiree Holt
Known the world over as the oldest living author of erotic romance, and referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, Desiree Holt
is three times a finalist for an EPIC E-Book Award (and a winner in 2014), a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, winner of the first 5 Heart Sweetheart of the Year Award at The Romance Studio as well as twice a CAPA Award winner for best BDSM book of the year, and winner of the Holt Medallion for Excellence in Romance Literature. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications.
“Desiree Holt is the most amazing erotica author of our time and each story is more fulfilling then the last.” (Romance Junkies)
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