Audra Lee Covington, a diamond heiress and daughter of a US Senator, is a highly sought-after jewelry designer for celebrities. Darius Taylor-Pratt is the founder and chief designer of Thr3d, a rapidly growing performance wear company. He is taking his clothing line to LA Fashion Week shortly and is elated and stressed. Both of them love their work and their success.
They meet in Royal, TX where he is there to collaborate with a health and lifestyle company to create a line of athletic wear and she is there to meet her affianced clients for design consultations for their wedding rings and other jewelry pieces.
Unknown to Audra, Darius is reeling from the shock of finding out that he is the son of a hugely wealthy banker, who had abandoned his mother and him because he was already married. After ensuring that Darius was never told of his existence while he was alive, he made him his heir in his will. Now Darius has to navigate new familial relationships with his step siblings and an avalanche of emotions. His feelings are so raw over this that he feels he is not ready to share them even with his own parents, much less Audra. And yet…he has feelings for Audra and they seem to be mutual, so he agonizes over the fact that he is not being above-board about something so fundamental to him.
Five years ago, in graduate school, they had been passionate lovers and very much in love. And yet, inexplicably, he had lied to her and cut ties. Now that they are back in each other’s company, the attraction is still very much there, but it is tempered by his past behavior How can she trust him again? He had broken it — what she then thought, irrevocably — and yet, inexplicably, she finds herself teetering on the cusp of trusting him again. Trust is a like a porcelain pot; once broken, the repair still leaves a crack that any stress can widen. So what kind of binding agent — words and actions — could repair it permanently? That is at the heart of this story.
When an author shows their characters working, it always reveals such a complex aspect of their personalities. After all, we spend so much time at our jobs; our work and our hobbies — especially if we are passionate about them — shape us immeasurably. I enjoyed seeing both Audra and Darius involved in their projects and how much their creativity is innate to themselves. Ryan shows us that not only do they respect each other’s work and accomplishments, but they recognize and respect each other’s creativity. This creative connection between them is what eventually draws them closer together in love. Yes, the attraction between them has always been incendiary, but their love flowers from their creative spirits.
What I liked about Secret Heir Seduction is that Ryan allows us to get to know Audra and Darius through a slow (re)building of their relationship. Despite them having known each other five years ago, Ryan doesn’t shortchange the reader by having her characters gloss over the preliminaries. And in so doing, she shows us that her characters respect that the other has grown in maturity and experience since those early days and that they need to learn about each other anew. She has them work through all their issues, including their trust issues, on page, thus convincing us how ultimately binding their HEA is.
If you have never read Reese before, I recommend starting with this novel.