For as long as I can remember, escapism has been a big part of my life. Whether it was getting lost in my favorite films and TV shows or discovering new places and cultures as I traveled around the world, I’ve always had the itch to lead other lives than my own. One of the best and easiest ways to do this of course was through reading, and later, writing. It shouldn’t be a surprise then to know how much I love creating the perfect escape in my novels, ones that whisk readers (and myself) off to exotic destinations, falling for deliciously sexy men, all without leaving the comfort of your home. After all, even when I was young and single and traveling all over, I dreamed about meeting the perfect guy around every corner and the whirlwind romance that would follow. I remember one time I was supposed to meet a guy on a blind-date in Paris but he stood me up. Guess I’ve been trying to rectify that situation through my stories ever since!
When I write, I try to capture that same hopeful feeling that I had back in the day. I tend to write very real, flawed and relatable heroines because I personally believe that connection is one of the best ways to get lost in a book. If you don’t feel a connection or you can’t understand where a character is coming from, then it gets hard to really put yourself in the story. The stakes don’t feel as high because you don’t feel there’s anything to lose. But when a character is the “every girl,” someone that you get and can relate to, then it’s easier to put yourself in their shoes. What they feel, you feel, and there you are, living another life.
My novel Discretion is a good example of that. We have our every girl, Sadie, who is an American student trying to figure out what she wants out of life during a summer trip to Europe. She’s not sure if she’s taken the right path in school and is uncertain about her future, she’s broke, she has a complicated relationship with her mother because of her mother’s mental illness, and to make matters worse her long-term boyfriend dumps her while abroad. To me, Sadie represents so many young women right now who are looking for answers about life while trying to discover who they really are and dealing with all the bullshit in between.
Enter the insanely sexy French billionaire Olivier Dumont. The heir to the Dumont fashion dynasty (think Chanel), Olivier meets Sadie under dramatic circumstances – he saves her from a mugger. At first Sadie doesn’t know who Olivier really is and is distrustful of him (you can’t blame her, she’s literally having the worst trip ever and her opinion of men is at an all-time low). But over time she becomes drawn to Olivier, seeing a part of him that he doesn’t show many people. It helps that he’s handsome as sin and devilishly charming. It also helps that he’s extremely rich. In fact as Sadie gets to know him, she does so in a famous luxury hotel on the French Riviera, a hotel that Olivier happens to own. Talk about your wildest fantasy!
Here we have escapism at it’s most decadent. You have the relatable average girl getting swept off her feet by sexy, rich French man in a gorgeous and exotic setting. Yet despite the novel’s soap opera tendencies (because, believe me, the Dumont family is a family of suspenseful secrets and sin), there’s something realistic about the whole relationship. Sadie and Olivier may seem very different on the surface but underneath they’re two lost souls recognizing something in each other. Even Olivier, for all his wealth and privilege, feels conflicted with what he wants out of life, discovering that happiness isn’t found in money and fame but something else. Or someone else. It turns for both of them that what they’re looking for may just be in each other.
But taking a chance on love always brings a lot of risk and when it comes to Sadie and Olivier, the risks may end up being more than they bargained for.
Are you ready to find out more and escape with Discretion?
Pain invades my dreams.
Then light behind my lids.
In the moments before I open my eyes, I try to figure out where I am. There’s a bit of a delay to my thoughts, and for that I’m grateful. I know normally I would be panicking because—
I should be panicking.
Flashes of last night come back like a hailstorm.
Walking to the train station.
The man following.
The wild look in his eyes as he attacked me.
The pain from my ankle, my shoulder striking the ground.
Then . . .
Swooping in to beat the man.
Did that really happen?
Did he really . . . save me?
Who is Olivier, really?
Where am I?
I open my eyes and blink hard at the light streaming in through gauzy curtains. The light is soft, and there’s a breeze coming through the French doors. It smells mineral-fresh. The sea.
I slowly lift my head and see the Mediterranean glinting blue in the distance, the surface shimmering like diamonds. But closer still is a large terrace with lounge chairs and a giant, round hot tub built right into the teak floor. It almost looks like I’m on a ship.
I gingerly turn my head and look around the room, which is about three times the size of the last dorm room I stayed in that housed six bunk beds.
I let out a whistle under my breath as I take it all in. From the four-poster king bed to the embroidered chairs and the chandeliers, it looks like I’ve been holing up in some luxurious seaside chateau.
For a split second, it feels like getting attacked was the best thing that could have happened to me—until the slightest movement brings shooting pain back to my ankle.
Ow, ow, ow.
I roll up my pant leg and stare at the bandages. I don’t remember what the doctor said about them. Do I change them? Tighten them? How long do I stay off my foot? I don’t even remember using crutches. And yet there they are, looking woefully out of place, resting against an antique white wardrobe across from the bed.
A knock at the door.
My heart leaps.
“Hello?” I cry out, trying to figure out how to hobble to the door to open it. I move to swing my legs over the edge of the bed, but it’s already so painful I have to stop.
“Sadie?” Olivier’s voice comes through the door. “Are you decent?”
“Yeah,” I say, and before I can force myself to get up and limp over, the door starts to unlock.
What? How does he have a key?
The door swings open, and his head pops around the corner, brows raised in concern. “S’il vous plaît, don’t get up!”
Then the door opens wider, and suddenly what looks to be a butler is pushing in a cart topped with metal-domed plates.
“Merci, Marcel,” Olivier says quietly to the butler, who exits as quickly as he came in. The door closes behind him, and I’m left in the room with Olivier, my eyes jumping from Olivier to the cart and then back to Olivier.
Of course, there’s no secret why my gaze keeps going back to him because, Christ on a cracker, now that it’s the light of day and I’m out of danger and the pain is only somewhat excruciating, I’m really seeing him for the first time.
The man is gorgeous.
I mean, like the kind of guy you see on an ad for Hugo Boss or something. The kind of guy God definitely didn’t make enough of. The kind of guy you can probably only find in the South of France.
And he’s here. In my hotel room.
Or maybe this is his hotel room?
“How did you get in here?” I ask after I find my voice.
He holds up a room key. “La clé.”
“I assume that means key? Why do you have a key?”
He tilts his head as a small amused smile teases his lips. “Why wouldn’t I? This is my room.”
“Your room?” I exclaim, looking around. My God, did he sleep here with me? Holy hell, the mere thought of that shouldn’t be turning me on.
“No,” he says matter-of-factly. “I slept in the villa. I would have put you in there, but it’s a bit out of the way. Usually occupied by royal families or celebrities on getaways, but it was free last night.”
I stare at him. “I don’t understand.”
He gestures to the cart. “This is your breakfast. I didn’t know what you wanted, so I ordered pretty much everything on the menu.”
I shake my head, scoffing. “No. This can’t be real. You are not real.”
“I’m very real.”
“I’m dreaming then.”
“I can pinch you if you want,” he says, his silken voice dropping a register, a devious glint in his eyes. I’m in trouble. He should know how dangerous those looks are when they’re coming from him. Or maybe he does know.
I take him in again, the V-neck white T-shirt that looks especially soft, showing off his olive skin, darkened from the summer sun. He’s taller than I remember, at least six foot, which makes him a giant compared to my five-foot-two frame, and he’s all muscle. Not the big and bulky kind that one would get from hours in the gym, the kind that seems to come naturally—strong forearms, wide, firm chest, broad shoulders, slim hips.
Okay, I need to stop staring.
I sit up straighter, trying to make sense of everything and knock some reality into myself. On top of everything he’s already done for me, I’ve taken his hotel room, which probably costs a small fortune, and he’s brought me room service.
Everything on the menu.
“What’s your endgame in all of this?” I can’t help but ask. I know I should just be grateful, but still, this is so much to do for a stranger.
“Endgame?” he repeats, folding his arms, his watch gleaming.
Wow. Wow, yeah, I’m a sucker for those forearms.
“Uh-huh,” I say slowly. “Are you trying to, I don’t know, seduce me?”
I regret it the moment I say it.
He breaks into a devastating grin, the kind that could steal my breath away and never give it back. “Do you want me to seduce you?” he asks, running his long fingers down the length of his jaw, like he’s now considering it.
“No,” I say quickly.
I’m pretty sure I’m lying.
“Good,” he says, still smiling. I see a hint of pink tongue as he bites his lip. “Because, believe me, lapin, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.”
The Riviera means indulgence—if you’ve got money. For Sadie Reynolds, a down-on-her-luck student, the Riviera means dingy hostels and back streets. When a wrong turn puts her in jeopardy, the last thing she expects is to be saved by the most handsome stranger she’s ever locked eyes with. When she later wakes up in a luxury suite with a Mediterranean view, she’s in the tender care of her rescuer: Olivier Dumont, France’s most eligible bachelor, billionaire hotelier, and heir to the Dumont fashion fortune.
Olivier also owns his reputation for scandal. But Sadie is unlike any woman he’s ever met. Her humble persona and wild innocence promise real passion. He’s promising Sadie something too: anything she wants. From Bordeaux to Cannes to Paris, Sadie’s past in America is swept away and replaced with a fantasy too good to be true.
Pulled into Olivier’s orbit of wealth, glamour, and excess, Sadie discovers that the Dumont dynasty comes with a legacy of wicked secrets. And Olivier’s secrets may be the most damning of all…