Even the Score by Kate Meader

EvenTheScoreTour Even the Score by Kate Meader and Texan, Dark, Tall Publication Date: July 21, 2015 Genres: Contemporary, Romance Even the Score Cover

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Synopsis: He’ll make her an offer she can’t refuse…
Actress Tess McKenzie is performing in the Tenth Circle of Showbiz Hell—dinner theater. All she really wants is to start a theater of her own. Then Tess receives an offer she can’t refuse. She’ll get her funding…if she pretends to be the fiancée to her nemesis, Texan property tycoon Hunter Dade. If she’s going to pull this off, she’ll need all the luck she can get.Break a leg, indeed. On the verge of a big business deal, Hunter needs to hire a fiancée. He hasn’t quite forgiven Tess for ruining his wedding, but when their chemistry goes from combative to straight-up lust, the “no sex” clause in their mutually beneficial arrangement is tested. Which is a serious problem, because if Tess isn’t careful, she’ll go from breaking a leg to breaking her heart…
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About Kate Meader

Kate Meader
Originally from Ireland, Kate cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boon thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip.

Excerpt #1

A flash of temper ignited in her eyes, but she scooted over all the same and put a hand on his bicep. Even with the barrier of his shirt, her touch sizzled. Tentatively, she inclined her head, leaned in. Breathed deep.With a mild press of her lips, she brushed lightly across his unyielding mouth, and sat back.
His pulse spiked and his blood roared, the kiss no less arousing for its chasteness. If that was Tess when she wasn’t trying, he couldn’t wait for when she made the effort.
“Hell, I’m not your brother. Do it properly.”
There was that flash of anger again, and his cock stirred in response. Taking her would be a pleasure. Making her beg as he fucked her tight, curvy body would be the ultimate prize. Patience was key, though. She had to want him bad. Need what only he could give her. He fought to keep his beast leashed, the victory so sweet he could taste it.
She moved in again. This time, she tugged gently on his lower lip and…laid one on him, moving her mouth over his, working his lips until he had to bite back a moan. Drawing back, she swallowed, eyes blinking with apprehension. “Well?”
He cocked a brow, gave a desultory sniff.
A riot of fire flagged her cheeks. “You’re not helping,” she grated.
“Hey, simmer down.” He regarded her speculatively. “You know how sometimes you see a movie and you just know Actor X and Actress Y were likely going at it like rabbits between takes in the trailer?”
“Yes?” Tentative hope sounded in that itsy-bitsy word.
“I guess that’s not us,” he said, battling a smile.“We’ve got no chemistry.”
That set her off. She bolted to a stand and started to pace, though the coffee table didn’t really give her much space. Nevertheless, she was stunning, all fire and spirit and hip-swaying power. He’d never had as much fun as when he was fighting with Tess. Which was incredibly arousing and strangely disturbing.
Eyes wide in a hurricane of passion, she stopped, fisted her hands at her hips, andgritted out whatever words her mouth was having trouble forming.
“Get. Out.”
It took a lot to surprise him, and Tess McKenzie had just managed to pull off the nearly impossible. Seemed he’d underestimated her fury threshold.
 “Now, Tess, honey—”
She jabbed a finger of shut-it in his direction. “You come in here, with your Texas squinting and your ice-cream fuckery and your amazing foot rubs. You won’t even have it out about what happened last year, like a—like a regular person. Instead, you demand my help and then expect me to audition like this is a 1950s casting couch. Frankly, Hunter Dade, I’m all assholed out tonight. Fuck your job offer and fuck you!
Excerpt #2

Her eyes sparked in awareness: something had occurred to her, and she was pretty damn pleased about it. “You know what, Mr. Dade? How about you audition for me?”
Say what now? He shifted on the sofa to accommodate his hard-on, and was making a decent job of it when—holy shit—she straddled his lap and placed her hands on his shoulders.
“I should make you pony up a hundred K for being such a gold medal asshole.”
God, she was as light as air, a slip of a thing with all that female power. Did she have any idea how intoxicating she was, the kind of woman men fought wars over? Died for? She settled in on his thighs, the slight weight of her driving him close to insanity. Desire hummed through him, potent and dangerous.
“Now, Tess,” he said, keeping it so casual his bones practically ached with the effort, “I just told you the job is yours.”
“Oh, but haven’t you heard? I’m hiring, too. This girl’s in the market for a guy she can lead around by the dick for, oh, maybe, a weekend. Auditions start tonight.”
The surprises, hell, they just kept on coming. Staying level with Tess was going to require fast thinking, which was mighty difficult, considering all the blood he needed for said thought processes was now hurtling south.
“What would this job involve?”
“Only one task. Make. Me. Believe.”
“That I’m your fiancé?”
Cue her smile, sly and sexy. First time she’d let him in on that action, too. “That you want me more than your next breath.”
If she moved forward a couple inches, his boner would make her believe.
“I’ve worked with a lot of great actors,” she continued with a finger poke in the well of his shoulder, “so if I’m going to take this role on, I need to know you’re not going to screw it up with your amateur dramatics. Let’s see if you’ve got game.”
Oh, he had game all right. Every part of his hardening anatomy was screaming, put me in, Coach.
“I dunno,” he murmured. “I’d hate to force it.”
“Let me help you along, cowboy. I’m used to the director telling me what he wants. So what’s my motivation?”
She wanted motivation? That he could do. His hands fanned her waist, opening onto her hips, and he worked the silence for a full thirty seconds before he spoke.
“Imagine we’re in a room full of strangers, and I brush against you. You’re not completely sure it’s me, but your body knows ’cause it shivers under my touch. Maybe you’re talking to somebody, and you look up because you feel my eyes, heavy on your skin. Your nipples harden. Your panties get wet. Just soak right through.”
Negotiating deals was his forte. She didn’t stand a chance.

Excerpt #3
She had shaved above the knee, packed her suitcase with her skimpiest lingerie, and the instructions on the Sexy Weekend Fun Box said, “Just Add Texan.” What she had not expected was Hunter putting her on a Tex-free diet.
 “You might think it’s clear, but I need it explained to me.”
He strummed his long fingers on the armrest. “Given that there’s a lot of money in play, we— I thought this would be for the best. That way, there’s no confusion.”
She jumped on his stumble. “Who’s we?”
His expression was pained. “My business partners.”
“You discussed not having sex with me with your business partners?”
“Now, Tess—”
“You discussed how you would not be getting down and dirty with me, and you felt it necessary to put it ina contract. What if we have sex anyway?” What if it had gone the way she had expected all along? Every heated look, touch, promise fulfilled beyond her wildest dreams. “Does that void the contract? Do I not get my money?”
Bewilderment improved his hotness by a factor of ten thousand. Damn his sexy confusion. “Of course not. As long as you stay the entire weekend and play your part, you get paid. The clause is there so you don’t feel pressured. So you don’t feel I’m paying—”
“Me to have sex with you?”
He gave a slow, southern gentleman nod.
“Are you worried I’ll turn into mush and fall for you? Because newsflash, your penis is nowhere near that powerful, Hunter. I’m not interested in a relationship.”
His handsome features turned to granite. “I’m not good enough for Jenna, so I couldn’t possibly be relationship material for you. Is that it?”
“No—no, that’s not what I mean.” Heat scalded her cheeks and that uncomfortable sensation in her chest came back. The one that reminded her of his hurt at losing sweet, perfect Jenna. Never mind that her friend was cheating on Hunter. “You and Jenna would have…destroyed each other.”
He stared, undiluted disdain hardening his eyes. “Is that what you told her, princess?”
She swallowed back a near-hysterical laugh because Tess’s life was so unprincess-like it wasn’t even funny. Damn, she wanted to strangle Jenna for messing with Hunter’s mind, but the woman was still her friend. No matter how wrong she had been to string Hunter along, it wasn’t Tess’s place to tarnish his perception of his former fiancée—or melt that chip on his shoulder he had about people with college degrees or an appreciation for the Arts.
“I told her it couldn’t work between you.”
His brows slammed together. “Guess I have my uses, though. Or maybe that’s how you view all men.”
“Is that so surprising?”
“I’m just a country boy, so it’s mighty hard for me to wrap my head around you city girls.” His headshake was more sad than confused. “A woman who doesn’t want a ring on her finger after that screaming orgasm I gave her a week ago? Hell, I must be losing my touch.”
She rolled her eyes indulgently, relieved they appeared to be back to the flirtatious vibe between them.
“I didn’t scream, you ass.”
“Nah, you made those soulful little sounds in your throat. More like, Unh, unh, oh, oh…oh,Huuuunter.” He had not just mimicked her O sounds.
Excerpt #4
Tess’s opaque gaze clearedand was replaced by something more challenging.
“And the proposal was perfect.”
The proposal? Shit, the proposal. With Jenna, he had taken her to the Signature Room on the ninety-fifth floor of the Hancock, a traditional place for romantic dates and the unveiling of engagement rings. Soft music, so-so food, a stunning view of the city: all calculated accessories to the perfect popping of the question. Sliding his ring on Tess’s finger ten seconds before they arrived at the ranch had been the opposite of romantic.
Funnily, it had felt a hundred times more real.
The ladies leaned forward in expectation. “Tell us about the proposal!” Denise chirped.“I love a good proposal story.”
“Yes, do tell, honey,” Tess murmured, the little minx.
A few seconds ticked over while Hunter scrambled for a likely tale. It would have to be something unique, something worthy of this special woman. His neurons untangled for a brief, illuminating moment.
“Tess is on her feet a lot with this latest show of hers, so she’s rather partial to foot rubs.”
“While eating ice cream,” Tess added, quick as a whip. “Ladies, you haven’t lived until you have your man rubbing your feet while you eat ice cream.”
“Sounds like heaven,” Tawny said, a hint of green in both her skin tone and voice.
“So we were on the sofa at home, just our usual. Foot rubs, ice cream, chatting about our day,” Hunter went on, warming to the tale while his palm heated on the silky soft skin of Tess’s ass. A flash fantasy of their “usual” becoming a reality tried to take hold, but he shoved it deep into his brain’s attic. “And I slipped the ring on her pinky toe.”
He looked into Tess’s eyes, seeking approval. The catch in her throat and the bloom on her cheeks were his answer. Relief flooded his veins at pleasing her. Raising her left hand, she rocked the perfect Home Shopping Network move with her fingertips on his chest, displaying the sapphire engagement ring to perfection.
Atta girl.
“I asked her if she’d be okay with me giving her foot rubs for the rest of her days and—”
“I took another bite of Phish Food first.” Tess sounded a tad breathless. “For strength, and well, no life-changing decision should be made without the benefit of ice cream. Amirite, ladies?”
The ladies nodded in awe, even the usually skeptical Buffy who hung on every single word. Christ, they were knocking this out of the park.
“Hunter had already eaten all the chocolate fish, so I had to have a serious think about whether I was prepared to spend my life with someone who steals the best part. But…” She paused, her eyes filled with warmth and love. Hell and damn, she was something else. “I decided he’d already stolen my heart and soul. AndI deserved those foot rubs.”


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