Dear Reader,

My life has been in chaos and mess for the last couple of months. We’ve been having alterations and improvements done on the house. So for some time I’ve been thinking about  kitchen units, bathroom fittings, flooring, paint colours . . .  It’s  been  fun, exciting – a challenge  but at last it’s all done. The builders have moved out, peace and calm have descended again, and I can get back to normal.

And just in time. Because for me, this month, getting back to normal means celebrating the publication of my latest book. The Devil and Miss Jones is out this week in Harlequin Presents Extra and I’m really looking forward to having this book out in the shops.

Martha Jones has never taken a risk in her whole life. Until the day she runs out on her wedding and succumbs to the magnetism of a man she has only just met! A man she knows only as Diablo.

Lone wolf Carlos Ortega won't promise Miss Jones more than one searing-hot night. Yet Carlos is shocked by Martha's sweet innocence. This runaway bride is a virgin, and it seems the repercussions of their sizzling encounter could last forever . . .

Lots of people have asked me about that title – The Devil and Miss Jones.  Well, obviously it’s not about a real devil. This is a contemporary romance, not a supernatural story!  Diablo – the devil - and Miss Jones are the names my hero and heroine share with each other when they meet in the most unexpected circumstances – on the moors on a cold, damp afternoon. That is all they tell each other because both my sexy Argentinian hero Carlos Diablo Ortega, and Miss Martha Jones are running from something in their past. Something they want to get away from and so they’re hiding their real identity.  

What Martha is running from is pretty obvious from the start – she’s wearing   full bridal regalia – the gown, the satin slippers, even down to the floating veil – when Carlos first meets her.  She’s left behind her wedding and the fiancé who never loved her. Carlos is running from someone who doesn’t love him either. But in his case it’s the love of his family that he feels he has lost. And with the loss of his family, he has also lost his whole sense of identity  and just who he is and where he’s going in this life.  They’re both lost souls and when chance and Fate bring them together so unexpectedly they find a surprising connection. It’s a hot, passionate, sizzling at first, burning them up when they least expect it - but could it actually turn out to be more than that?

Carlos and Martha share one heated night together. And one passionate night is all that each of them thinks they want – and need. But that one amazing night brings with it consequences that neither of them expected. And those consequences mean that just when they thought they could go on their way and start life all over again, they are brought back together again to face the prospect of a very different future.   Carlos thinks he knows exactly what Martha is after. But his Miss Jones surprises him by proving that she’s nothing like the clinging virgin he expected her to be.

In the UK The Devil and Miss Jones has been selling really well for the past month. There are several five star reviews  on the Mills & Boon site and on Amazon.   One reader called the book ‘a little gem’ and another said it was : ‘very satisfying read, filled with emotion and passion. Loved the characters. Highly recommended.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt from The Devil and Miss Jones that I’m sharing with you here.

Warmest wishes and happy reading,

Kate Walker



Excerpt from The Devil And Miss Jones

© Kate Walker


‘So, your wedding  -   just why did you run out on it? What did this guy do to you?’

She didn’t know if he was asking to distract her from the time it was taking to free her from the veil or because he really wanted to know but because she couldn’t see his faced and, more importantly, he couldn’t see hers,  she found it surprisingly easy to answer him.

 ‘Why did I turn round  and get out of these as fast as I could, never even looking back?’ she asked  trying to  bring her chin up in defiance, adopt  an  I-couldn’t  -care -less attitude that she felt might not be fully convincing.

‘You have to admit it’s not the usual  way these things go.  Normally by this time the bride and groom would be. . .  ‘

‘Gazing into each other’s eyes as they made their loving vows? So are you  feeling sorry for my poor, deserted groom, now that his wife-to-be has run  out on him?  Well,  don’t  -  he’ll be  more than happy having hot passionate sex with my chief bridesmaid  - that is if he hasn’t already exhausted  himself shagging her on the bed we were supposed to have shared tonight. ‘

‘The bastard  did that?’

A blazing sense of outrage was like a wildfire in Carlos’s voice and his hands tightened in her hair, twisting  sharply so that she caught back a  cry of pain. But in the same moment that she felt the small discomfort in her scalp, she also knew a sudden rush of relief mixed with a surprising bubble of unexpected delight. He cared enough to be angry at what Gavin had done.  His outrage was like a balm to the wounds she’d carried with her from the Hall. Some of them at least.

 ‘I walked in on him – on them – while they were hard at it. I walked out again pretty damn fast,’ she added with brittle flippancy.  ‘I don’t think they saw me – they were  - totally absorbed. I managed to get out of the place without anyone seeing me and after that I just ran  and never looked back.’

Until she had reached the road across the moor and, too tired and too cold and miserable to go any further in her stupid wedding finery she had stopped on the verge and tried to hitch a ride.

She wasn’t going to tell him the rest. I She couldn’t yet even bear to look at those other words for herself and  take in just what Gavin had said. She hadn’t even been a woman to him – not a real person, just a source of a future income.

‘I’d like to deal with  this snake.  No man should treat a woman that way. You should let me take you back there.’

‘And  do what?’  Martha challenged,  finding the disgust in his voice almost too much to bear. ‘Storm into the Hall, all guns blazing and challenged him to a duel?   No thanks! That way everyone would have known exactly why I’d pulled out of the wedding – just how badly humiliated I’d been – instead of just thinking I’d got cold feet at the last moment.’

A raw, bitter laugh bubbled up in her throat, almost choking her.  She’d had pretty cold feet by the time he’d found her. She could swear that it was only now that they were fully thawed out.

‘Which actually was the truth. And I’d much rather that  Gavin could think that I’d walked out on him before  I found out how he’d been spending the  hours before our wedding.  He’ll never know for sure whether I caught him with his pants down or not  - ‘

And would never have the cruel satisfaction of knowing that she’d heard herself described as someone he would have to lie back and think of the money when he slept with her.

 ‘That’s definitely  the way I prefer it. Besides I can fight my own battles, thank you. I’ve been doing it for long enough.’

‘How so? What about your family?’

‘I don’t have one. I never knew my father – he ran out on my mother as soon as he knew she was pregnant, so it was always just the two of us.  Three years ago, Mum was diagnosed with liver cancer – she died last summer.’

And it had been  in the aftermath of that loss that on an uncharacteristic impulse she had bought the winning lottery ticket that had changed her future. If only she could have done that earlier so that she could have  made her mother’s last months more comfortable. If only she hadn’t spent those years isolated as her mother’s carer so that she had no experience of life and  men that might have helped her realise just what Gavin was up to, see past the pretty lies he told her

‘I’m sorry.’

His words were kind, as was  his tone, but Martha still found that they made her tense in nervous apprehension. If he made a move towards her, if he  touched her, perhaps tried take her into his arms to express his sympathy and then she would shatter, go  to pieces and she had no idea how she would ever put herself back together again.

But perhaps something of her mood communicated itself to the man at her side. The sympathy she’d feared – dreaded – didn’t come. Instead Carlos tossed one last pin away, completed his task and straightened up. The tiara dangled from one set of strong fingers, the veil clenched in the other hand. He held them out to her.

‘There.’

 ‘Brilliant!’ 

With the new sensations buzzing inside her it felt almost as if she had been set free, released from something that was more than just the restrictions of the  wedding finery. She’d hit the lowest point just hours before. And if that was the lowest point in her life then surely the only way was up.

‘Now I can move on  - leave it all behind me. A really, you know I’m not running away but going forward-  getting away from what would have been terrible mistake, starting again.’

She moved forward to take hold of them.  But the new lightening of  her mood pushed her feet further than she had anticipated, the lift in her spirits making  her  almost dance towards him. And suddenly she was on tiptoe, leaning forwards,  retching up to plant a impulsive  kiss on lean plane of his cheek.

‘Thank you!’

And that was when everything changed. When it seemed as if the world stood still, the countryside freezing around her in the same moment that her breath stopped in her lungs. The birds in the trees  stopped singing, the wind stilled in the branches,  dropping into sudden silence. The skin of his face was cold and damp against her mouth, the taste of his skin suddenly intense and smoky against her tongue. She was frozen where she stood, looking up into his eyes so that she saw the sudden darkness in them, the way that  the irises had expanded until there was only the tiniest line of deep green at the rim.

She read what was coming in those eyes.  Read it and welcomed it, her heart kicking sharply against her rib cage as she  held her breath. She didn’t have to wait long. His arms came round her, warm and tight, strong as steel bands, lifting her even further off the tarmac and crushing her firmly against the powerful toned shape of his chest. His head came down fast, his mouth coming  over her own, hot and hard, demanding and powerful. Her lips were crushed, parting slightly on a gasp of shocked response as she gave herself up to the pressure of that kiss.

She had never known anything like it, she recognised hazily, struggling to bring her thoughts under any sort of control. Never experienced a kiss – or a response – like this at any other time in her life. She had kissed of course. Kissed and been kissed but it had never been anything like this. And  the caresses she had exchanged with Gavin had been like tepid water  when compared with this deluge  of  red hot lava  swamping her, taking her control, her senses and her ability to think at all rationally with it.  Her heart was pounding, her head whirling.

This was how she should feel when she wanted a man.

When a man wanted her? The thought piled  another shock on shock.

 ‘Belleza . . . ‘ Carlos muttered roughly against her lips, her cheek, her throat as he took the kiss over her face,  down her jaw, along her neck. . .

Diablo .. . ‘

Somehow it was only his second name that came to her lips,  the surname that suited him so much more than just Carlos. Diablo – the  word that described him as much as it labelled   him. Diablo – the devil – and he had all the seductive  power and enchantment of the Prince of Darkness right now. The  sensual temptation that could pull her right off the path she had been following – the path of common sense and sanity – and lead her straight down a newer,  wilder route. One that offered her a chance to be a woman she had never been before.

How had she got to the age of twenty three and never known sensations like this before? How could she have kissed before, been kissed and caressed before,  have  imagined herself in love when she had never experienced anything like this?  Carlos’s hard, demanding mouth worked a dark magic on her senses, stirring them into swirling heated life that drove away the cold damp of the afternoon and set her blood racing in her veins. It was all she had never known and yet all she had ever wanted. And she wanted this. Wanted more of the sensations firing through her body. More of the sensual demand of those firm male lips, more  of . . .

But at that moment her thoughts were stopped dead in their tracks, the heated moment destroyed in a heartbeat as a huge clap of thunder broke almost directly overhead,  a torrential downpour following  straight after. A torrential, icy downpour that swept away their heated ardour and  soaked them through to the skin in seconds.

‘Infierno!’ Carlos swore, snatching his mouth away from Martha’s . ‘Let’s get out of here!’

Grabbing her arm, he  hurried her to the bike, their feet splashing in the water that was already creating a torrent along the road. Pausing only to place dump the helmet rather unceremoniously on top of her now loosened hair, he swung a long leg over the powerful machine and started the engine. Martha  didn’t allow herself any sort of second thoughts as she followed him, clambering up behind him a lot less elegantly and huddling up close to his long, powerful back.

‘Hold on tight,’ Carlos tossed at her, his words barely audible above the rain and the roar of the engine.

It was only when she moved to do just that that Martha realised she still held the tiara and the delicate veil, the latter now hanging like just a damp rag from her fingers.  Looking down at them they seemed like  rather shabby, damaged symbols of the life she had thought was going to be hers.

But not any more.  She knew now that the life she had believed was ahead of her had been nothing but a fraud, a fake.  Gavin had never loved her – he hadn’t even wanted her. The only thing he had been after was the money she brought with her. She was well rid of him.

 ‘Hang on!’ Carlos said again, revving the engine impatiently. ‘If you’re coming with me.’


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Contest!


Kate is really excited about her new release to celebrate, she's hosting a contest just for you! For a chance to win, just visit Kate's website  and find the answers to the following questions:

1. What does Carlos think of when he first sees Martha at the side of the road?
2. What was the title of Kate's previous book published in Presents Extra in October?

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answer by midnight on April 18th, 2012. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and please mark the subject heading as 'Devil & Miss Jones'.

1st prize: A $25.00 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble and a copy of The Good Greek Wife?.
2nd, 3rd and 4th prizes: A copy of A Good Greek Wife? and The Proud Wife.

Good luck!

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