Once a coldhearted brawler who ruled the streets with his fists, now a billionaire contractor who rules society with his wealth, Malcolm Bradshaw has only one priority: Pharaoh Construction. Built on lies and ghosts that need to stay silent, it’s his gateway to Texas elite. But when he agrees to restore a centuries-old estate for the wedding of American royalty and long-buried human remains are found during excavation, his self-made kingdom is put in jeopardy. He’ll walk through hell before he backs down from anyone—especially Cate Lois, the introverted archeologist sent to look over his shoulder. From the shyness of her smile to the secrets in her eyes, she’s a drug he knows he shouldn’t touch.
It looks like sin. It talks like temptation.
Mysteries of the past and backroom business dealings don’t faze Cate. Taking what she needs and walking away was never a challenge before. But shadowing Malcolm, who beneath his expensive suits and easy charm is a tattooed son of a bitch, rattles her. What started as a plot to appease her blackmailer and steal a collection of rare artifacts becomes irrevocably complicated the moment Malcolm strips her down to bare skin and naked lust.
And what it doesn’t destroy, it turns into pure, decadent ecstasy…
Hellion, the first book in Emmy Joel’s three-book Billion-Dollar Bastards series, is an unforgettable story about a female archaeologist looking to discover a house’s secret and a man trying to restore the same house. This, of course, leads to a great deal of friction and a fascinating suspense plot that will play out over the course of the entire series. If pressed, I would have to call this story a quirky romance that surprised me and delighted me.
Cate Lois is an academic archaeologist who is getting ready to go on vacation when her father badgers her into going to Texas to excavate the site where a body has been discovered. Malcolm Bradshaw, one of the owners of Pharaoh Construction is working at the site to prepare it for an upcoming wedding. The house belongs to a locally important and wealthy woman, so the job is critical to Malcolm and his partners. Malcolm is the one that must deal with Cate and her presence on the job site - and he isn’t very happy to have her around. Of course, he really isn’t happy that a dead body has been found on his construction site leading to delays..
Despite Malcolm’s annoyance, he can’t help his attraction to Cate. Okay, and it doesn’t help that the first time he sees her, she is naked, stretched out on a chaise in the house.
Perhaps this was indecent, but she wasn’t violating a house she’d already decides she respected. She trusted it. Naked, she was vulnerable and powerful, and she was sharing her strength and weakness with an old piece of furniture and the drawing room that held them both.
While Cate is in town, she is determined to discover more about the history of the house, the dead body and the missing rare-diamond-purple solitaire ring known as the Violet Eye. The ring’s value is immeasurable, and the mystery surrounding the house is something that everyone needs solved.
Despite the initial friction between Cate and Malcolm, the two can’t stay away from each other (they totally have a hate attraction thing going on) and find themselves indulging in heated exchanges that lead to sexy shenanigans at various places in the house. In one encounter in the library against a ladder, the two have such vigorous sex that something drops off a shelf from above:
Malcolm held her, teasing her clitoris this time as a stinging sensation of pleasure swept him from scalp to heels and gathered in his balls. And when she grabbed his wrist to control his touch, crying out loudly and probably forgetting where they were in a battered old mansion with a construction crew outside, she collapsed into an orgasm and hauled him down with her.
Kissing her, he reached to gather her in his arms, but she shrieked as more books tumbled along with a container.
It took a moment before his eyes registered it as a plastic container --
“Holy shit. . . “
-- with a human hand inside.
Admittedly, this is the first severed hand I’ve encountered during that special post-coital moment. And, of course, the severed hand has the Violet Eye on it!
Beyond the murder mystery, both Cate and Malcolm have issues with which they both must deal. Cate has personal issues with her friend (who maybe isn’t so much) that leave her vulnerable to blackmail which does have some impact on the story. Malcolm, meanwhile, has troubles of his own stemming from his criminal past. The fact that he (and his partners) are ex-cons make them particularly worried about the police presence at the house investigating the dead body.
Hellion by Emmy Joel is a unique and sexy romance. The mystery of the body and the ring are not fully solved because this arc carries through the entire series. But Cate and Malcolm do find their way past the hostility to open up to each other. This book kept me on my toes with its enemies to lovers theme and twisty suspense plot. I am totally hooked on the series arc, and I cannot wait to read the next two books!
Emmy Joel: http://www.emmyjoel.com/
Book Disclosure: An ebook was provided by the author via NetGalley.