Welcome to Romance Sweet Reads! Today, we’ll be featuring Escape to Paradise, by author Nancy Fraser, the ninth book in the new multi-author series, A Summer Vacation Romance. We're nearly to the end of this wonderful sweet/inspirational, contemporary romance series set among some of our vacation destinations. Sit back, enjoy a sneak peek, and let’s see just how far we can arm-chair travel!
Jace Bailey, thirty-three, is the new head of security for Tech Savvy Apps, Inc. After ten years as a member of the military police, Jace had always planned to return to the family business once he’s discharged. However, when a good friend and former mentor recommends him for a job in corporate security, he jumps at the chance to remain a ‘protector’.
His first major off-campus assignment requires him to escort his employer’s corporate attorney to the island paradise of Grand Cayman to close a major business deal. The job should be simple until he realizes the attorney in question is the woman known around the TSS watercooler as ‘Viper’. Unfortunately, their routine business trip turns into a game of cat and mouse with a handful of corporate spies.
Can these two distinctly different individuals navigate their growing attraction while still keeping themselves and those around them safe? And, once they’re back on their home turf, will they find a way to make their relationship work, despite their differences?
Jace Bailey took a seat in the office of Nate Perkins, head of security for Tech Savvy Apps Inc. The man was imposing, only his salt and pepper hair giving away the fact he was pushing sixty with a vengeance. He didn’t say anything, just sat there scanning the contents of the file folder in front of him.
Jace hated interviews. He hadn’t done many in the past twelve years, other than at promotion time. Yet, he was pretty sure a private sector interview wasn’t nearly as complex as those of the military. Not for the first time since he’d returned to Simi Valley, he wondered why he hadn’t just followed his original plan and returned to the family business.
Because you have no interest in being a construction foreman. Face it, guarding people is in your blood.
Perkins looked up from his perusal of Jace’s resume. “Major Bailey, you come highly recommended. Your record is impressive.”
“It’s just Jace,” he said firmly. “I’m no longer military.”
His comment drew Jace’s nod and a smile he couldn’t quite hide. “I suppose you’re right. Mustering out hasn’t been nearly as simple as I thought it would be.”
“Brent Walters tells me you’re one of the best he’s ever served alongside,” Perkins commented, his gaze firmly set.
“Next to you,” Jace countered. “Brent loved regaling us with his early career exploits, and you were always prominently featured in his stories.”
“We did have some good times. And, unfortunately, some were not so good.” He paused, then asked the question Jace had been expecting since he arrived. “So, why’d you get out?”
Jace felt certain Nate Perkins would know a half-lie if he heard it, so the unvarnished truth seemed the easiest option. “I’d had enough of guarding people who had no business touring a war zone to further their political career. Especially those who refused to listen when you gave them an order.”
“I take it you lost one of your escort assignments.”
“I did,” Jace confirmed. “However, it was the fact I also lost two good buddies because of the man’s stupidity that really turned the last screw in my desire to re-up.”
“Well, we’re not concerned with why you got out, only why you want to work here?”
“My original plan was to go to work for my dad at his construction firm. However, when Brent mentioned you were looking, I couldn’t resist applying. I’m far better at security than I am at building things. I did enough of that in my teens and throughout four years of college.”
“While our work here is highly confidential, we rarely have cause for physical security of any kind. Your assignments would be—”
“Nate! Have you seen this latest report?” A woman’s sharp voice preceded her push through the half-open door. “Are these people out of their ever-loving minds?”
“Ah, Allison,” Nate responded, nodding in Jace’s direction, and narrowing his gaze toward the tall, willowy brunette at the same time. “I’m a bit busy at the moment.”
“Oh. Sorry,” she spit out. “But these numbers clearly indicate we have a problem.”
“I realize that, and I’m in the process of hopefully hiring someone to fill out our staff. Then, I can assign a cyber analyst to dig deeper into the problem.”
“Great.” She turned her attention to Jace and offered a somewhat apologetic smile. “I’ll let you get back to it then. I’ve got a brief to prepare for our—” Backpedaling to the door, she apologized, “Sorry for the interruption.” She was about to close the door behind her when she poked her head back in to add, “McKendrick’s breathing down our throats, so—”
“Out, Allison,” Perkins ordered. “Now.”
Once the door shut, Jace smothered a chuckle and asked, “Who was that?”
“That was Allison Dow, our corporate attorney in charge of contract negotiations.” Nate paused, then explained, “She’s a pistol.”
“An attorney? No wonder she seems so intense,” Jace observed.
“Oh, you don’t know the half of it. However, if you come on board, you’ll soon get used to her outbursts. She’s a perfectionist, dedicated to her job, and in line to be our General Counsel in a couple of years when our current GC retires.”
“An overachiever,” Jace guessed.
“I’m pretty sure the phrase was created with her in mind. Even if they didn’t realize it at the time.”
“You do have to admire the dedication, though,” Jace decided to point out. After all, it didn’t hurt to compliment another member of the staff.
“Oh, I do,” Perkins agreed. “A company like TSA relies on dedication and discretion. Our clients expect both. In spades.”
“I’d appreciate the opportunity to show you I can provide both attributes, and any other security-related skills you may require.”
Perkins leaned back in his chair and stared Jace straight in the eyes. He’d seen that look before. From lowly privates all the way up to four and five-star generals. He was being judged. All he had to do to secure the job was not blink or look away.
“How are your computer skills?” Perkins asked.
“Top notch. I can write code for a half dozen different programs, and in a few foreign languages.”
Perkins grinned. “How many languages do you speak?”
“Four, fluently. I can stumble through another two or three. About the only one I can’t grab a handle on is ‘women’. Believe me, I’ve tried.”
A loud snort of laughter and shake of his head sent Nate Perkins to his feet. He stretched out his hand, offering it to Jace. “None of us can do that, at least not as well as we’d like. I think we can find a spot for you here at TSA, if you’re willing to join us.”
Jace took Nate’s hand and shook it. “I think I’d like that very much. Even if I don’t get to dodge bullets on a daily basis.”
“God willing, son, you’ll never have to worry about that again.”
Her spicy romances have won top awards year after year and received cover quotes from some of the most recognized names in the romance industry. Her sweet romances have gained the attention of a number independent reviewers and she was named a “bright new voice in sweet/inspirational romance.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.