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About the author:
Avery writes romantic fiction for Blue Crow Books. Her SIN CITY TYCOONS series includes A Tycoon's Jewel, A Tycoon's Rush, and A Tycoon's Secret. A Tycoon's Bargain comes out in fall 2018 and A Tycoon's Deception in spring of 2019.
As you probably guessed, Avery Laval is a pseudonym—you've probably read her bestselling women's fiction novels. Avery lives in the midwest and enjoys sailing, playing with adorable rescue dogs, and teaching creative writing when she's not writing novels. She loves hanging out with her girlfriends and swapping good love stories.
What inspired you to write your book?
I love a good New York love story. When I started the Sin City Tycoons series, I knew one of the books had to take place in NYC. I wanted Cassie to have her own business—she's a sassy, straight-talking NYC lady after all. And I wanted her to meet a guy who would totally sweep her off her feet. He can be an alpha, but he had to be a good guy at heart. I like a take-charge kind of guy, but there's nothing hotter than a big brain and a big heart.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Standing behind the stage curtains at the hottest nightclub in New York City, Cassie Harris tugged frantically at the seams of the saran-wrap thin, far-too-small, but apparently super-chic designer dress. “Stop tugging,” Janessa Patrick told her. “You look gorgeous. Get some confidence!” “I look like a porpoise dancing Swan Lake,” Cassie growled to herself. Of course Janessa said she looked good. She was the one who was lending her the dress, a neon pink nightmare of beading and lace that cost more than she made in a month. But then, Cassie was the idiot who had agreed to this ridiculous affair. A bachelorette auction for charity? It had sounded like such a good idea when Janessa had suggested it. Cassie was single—that is, a bachelorette—and she loved the idea of being able to raise big bucks for a great cause. What else did she have to do with her Saturday night? Left to her own devices, she’d spend her time working. But Janessa hadn’t given Cassie all the information. Namely, that Janessa had volunteered to coordinate the bachelorette auction at the very last minute, with the sole purpose of showing off her new boyfriend and his big, ahem, wallet. “There he is!” Janessa’s piercing exclamation cut through the staging area where they stood, waiting to take their turns on the auction block. Through the lush red curtains that hid the merchandise, a crowd of well-dressed bidders mingled and sipped on Champagne and martinis. At first Cassie saw nothing but suits and cocktail gowns, but then someone came forward in her vision. Way forward. In fact, once she’d located him, she couldn’t look away. He had to be six-feet-and-a-lot, a full head taller than most of the other patrons. And huge—broad, like a football player, only with a discernible neck. His suit, a tasteful charcoal two-button, bulged over his arms and stretched across an expanse of chest that seemed a mile wide. Whoa. So this was Janessa’s latest boy-toy? Man-toy, more like. No wonder Janessa was willing to cram everyone she knew into tiny dresses and put them on parade. Even Cassie, who wasn’t really her friend—Cassie was only Janessa’s employee. And Cassie was clearly not the same size in the bust or tush department as Janessa. This dress was going to be stretched beyond recognition when Cassie returned it to her. “Do you see him?” Janessa was up on the balls of her shiny purple shoes, trying to get a better look from behind Cassie. “Nope,” Cassie fibbed. “Which one is he?” But all she could see was him. “He’s the six-foot-five, stunning dirty blond with the tan, duh!” Janessa hissed. “Are you blind?” Cassie took advantage of Janessa’s ogling to tear her own eyes away. “I guess I do see him,” she admitted. Janessa was way over the top with her fawning, but pointing that out was not in Cassie’s interests—the divorcée’s penthouse apartment was Cassie’s biggest rooftop garden project so far, and she was working to make it her masterpiece. That one job would single-handedly pay for the season’s business expenses in one fell swoop. And Janessa and Cassie had gone to the same high school in the outer boroughs—they’d known each other for years. So Cassie knew there was no reforming her bad habits. “He’s cute.” Cassie tried to say the words casually, but it was hard not to cough at the term “cute” when applied to such a hulking, masculine man. It was like calling a fire-breathing dragon “cuddly.” “Forget cute,” said Janessa, leaning in. “He’s rich as Midas. That man is my meal ticket if I play things right.” Cassie tried not to show her distaste at the words, but she couldn’t stop herself from saying, “You could be your own meal ticket.” After all, Janessa’s divorce settlement had been very generous. For a moment, Janessa looked at Cassie skeptically. Finally, she gave her a condescending smile, like she was a child. “Maybe you can live that way. But my meals are very expensive.” Please let this charity event be over before I seriously maim the coordinator, prayed Cassie silently. Then she turned her biggest, best smile on Janessa and channeled what she thought was heroic patience. “Maybe so,” she said, knowing that she couldn’t talk her client out of her determination to use men for their money. “But right now we’ve got to focus on raising money for the truly hungry.” Janessa looked at her with a cat-that-ate-the-canary expression. “That’s the beauty of my plan,” Janessa said. “I raise money for charity, and then I hook the hottie.” “Your plan?” Cassie’s stomach clenched at the term. “Well, of course. You’ll go out there first, looking—no offense, darling—like a sausage in a tutu, and then I’ll go out looking ridiculously hot. Thom will spend a fortune on me, and then he’ll think of me as an investment. Which is perfect because he’s a very successful fund manager and all he thinks about are investments. I mean, I’ve never met a man so obsessed with his work before.” Cassie stared at her companion with her mouth open. “You’re not serious.” “What do you mean?” “You swore up and down this dress would fit me!” “Well, it fits.” Janessa’s tone was defensive. “Snugly.” Cassie fumed. “That is so, so…” She debated which words she would use to ruin her biggest gig ever. Insane? Selfish? Manipulative? They were all tempting. But before she could decide, Janessa took her by both shoulders and gave her a little squeeze and an air kiss. “I’m a mad genius, right?” she said. “Anyway, thanks for helping out, sweetheart. You’re a darling.” Cassie was about to explain that there was no way she was going out there now, but it was too late. She heard her name being read, along with her brief bio—landscape architect, owner of her own garden design firm—and description of the date the winning bidder would accompany her on. And then, in what felt like a split second, there was silence and all eyes turned to the empty stage, looking for her. “Go get ‘em, Tiger!” Janessa said, shoving her out on the stage. * * * She stood on stage, holding her breath so the dress wouldn’t split and praying for a bidder. Someone, anyone. Please. Bid. Her prayers were met with silence. Painful, humiliating silence. In that moment, she imagined what everyone else might be seeing. When she looked in the mirror, she saw a healthy, hippy woman who had dirt under her nails, unruly brown hair best tamed by a ponytail, and cheeks pink from the sun, not makeup. What did that same woman look like to a room full of society’s brightest stars? A sausage in a tutu? The auctioneer finally broke the long silence. “Come on, everyone! Remember. This money is for charity!” Cassie wished she could sink through the small stage and to the earth’s core, where she could melt in peace. Then she heard a voice. Way in the back. A deep, rich, resonant, accented voice that called, “Twenty thousand dollars.” She couldn’t see who spoke because the bright stage lighting blinded her. For the second time in as many minutes, Cassie’s mouth fell open. “What?” she said aloud onstage, as surprised as everyone else. Her question caused ripples of laughter to move through the audience. The voice spoke again. “Twenty thousand US dollars for tea with the beauty up there.” The auctioneer jumped to attention. “Twenty thousand dollars from the Australian gentleman in the back! Do I hear twenty-one?” He started his quick rattle of words and numbers, and within seconds she heard the magic words. “Twenty thousand dollars. Going once! Going twice! Bachelorette Cassie is sold!” The winner strode forward, and the crowd parted for him. He cut through, moving directly to the front of the stage. He held a ready check in one hand as he approached. Cassie’s mouth went dry. It was him: Janessa’s boyfriend Thom. What was he doing bidding on her? He had the wrong woman, she thought frantically. This was some kind of mistake. But the man did not seem mistaken. He climbed the four stairs that led onto the stage and handed the auctioneer a check for that enormous sum of money. Then he spun around, crossing the distance to Cassie in three long strides. Her heart was pounding. What was happening here? Why was Janessa’s boyfriend paying such an exorbitant sum of money to go out with Cassie? He stopped two feet from her, looked her up and down like he’d really bought her, not made a symbolic donation to a worthy cause. “Well, hello there,” he said, his rich Aussie accent making shivers run up and down her arms. “That’s some dress you’ve got there.” And then, before she could say a single word to him, before she could offer him an out or thank him for sparing her humiliation or even ask the man what his full name was, he stooped slightly, slid one strong arm underneath her knees, and scooped her up in like she was nothing more than a pile of down pillows. He carried her right off stage, through the wildly whispering crowds of people, and out the front door of the club. And she didn’t know if she should be mortified, or thrilled.