New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

of Contemporary Women's Fiction, Romantic Comedies, and Historical Romances

 

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A Seductive Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Working during the holidays definitely has its perks…

 Ad execs Matt Davidson and Jilly Taylor have two things in common—they hate to lose and they want each other…badly.  Only, neither one is going to chance losing the upper hand by giving in to their mutual attraction.  But when their boss sets them up to compete for the same account—in the same inn, in the same bed—something has to go.  And it starts with their clothes…

 

As Matt and Jilly scheme to win the account, more than the competition is heating up.  Suddenly they can’t keep their minds on their work…or their hands off each other!  Still, when the holidays are over, they’ll have to go back to the real world.  And then the only question will be, which one of them will end up “on top”?

Copyright © Cover Art by Harlequin Enterprises Limited 
® and are trademarks of the publisher.
From the book: A Sure Thing
By: Jacquie D'Alessandro
Imprint and Series: Harlequin Temptation 954
Publication Date: December 2003
ISBN: 0-373-69154-8
Copyright Ó 2003
By: Harlequin Enterprises Limited
® and are trademarks of the publisher. 
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A. 
For more romance information surf to http://www.eHarlequin.com

 


Excerpt

 

Prologue
 
     Winning a one hundred million dollar ad campaign.  Now that would be one hell of a Christmas present.
     Adam Terrell, CEO of Maxximum Advertising, pressed the button to disconnect his call, rose from his chair behind his curved granite desk, and barely refrained from indulging in an undignified end-zone type victory dance.
     The chance for Maxximum to represent ARC Software in its new ad campaign--definitely not a bad way to start off the day.  The account wasn’t yet in the bag, but as he’d just learned during his phone conversation with Jack Witherspoon, ARC’s CEO, Maxximum was on the short list of agencies being considered.
      “And it’s my job to make sure Maxximum is the only agency left on that list,” Adam murmured to himself.
      Unable to remain still, he crossed the wide expanse of pale blue carpet to stare down at the busy street below from the vantage point of his tenth-floor, Madison Avenue office.  Pedestrians, their collars pulled up against the blustery winter cold and lingering snow flurries, trudged along the busy Manhattan street, many laden down with colorful holiday shopping bags, vaguely reminding Adam that only ten days remained before Christmas.  No doubt what he wanted sitting under his tree--a contract with Jack Witherspoon’s signature.
     But since Maxximum wasn’t the only firm vying for the account, he needed an edge. Something to make Maxximum stand out.  And unfortunately he didn’t have much time.  Witherspoon wanted an ad campaign in place before his next shareholder’s meeting.  Adam needed his best and brightest on this.
     Two names instantly popped into his head.  Matt Davidson and Jillian Taylor.  Both openly ambitious, exceptionally talented and creative, and able to focus on their jobs with single-minded concentration and determination.  And both were highly competitive--most often with each other.  They circled each other like two wary fighters in the ring, viewing each other as the enemy, and had done so since Matt joined Maxximum a year ago and promptly landed prestigious Strattford Furniture--an account Jilly had been courting for several weeks.  The gauntlet had been thrown, and over the past year, Adam had watched with calculated interest how Jilly and Matt constantly tried to outdo each other.  Sure, their rivalry brought tension to the office, but who cared?  It also brought results, with Maxximum the big winner.  If Jilly couldn’t bring in a particular client, then Matt could, and visa versa.
     “Jilly and Matt,” he mused.  “Yeah...”  If he sent them both after ARC, no doubt one of them would land the account.  And if there was one thing Adam liked, especially where hundred million dollar accounts were concerned, it was a sure thing.
     Of course, Jilly and Matt wouldn’t like it.  Last summer Adam had purposely pitted them against each other for the Lone Star Steaks account, certain that one of them would win it for Maxximum.  And Jilly had, with a brilliant campaign, fired by her determination to beat her nemesis.
     Adam had shrugged off their displeasure at his tactics.  Sure, it was devious.  But the only way to survive in the cutthroat world of advertising was to wield a sharper machete than the next guy.  He sure as hell hadn’t built Maxximum from a start-up company to one of the best ad agencies in New York in under ten years without shedding a little blood. But, if Jilly and Matt didn’t realize they’d been pitted against each other again until it was too late...
     One corner of Adam’s mouth lifted.  Crossing to his desk, he picked up the phone.
     A little bit more blood was about to be shed.
 

Chapter 1

     Matt Davidson exited Adam Terrel’s office, closed the heavy oak door behind him and awarded himself a mental high five.  Yes!  He’d waited a long time for a chance like this, and he had every confidence in his creative ability to land the ARC account.  Goodbye, cubicle—-hellooo multi-windowed corner office.  And hellooo promotion, raise, bonus, and perks, too.
     His mind already buzzing with ideas, he made his way toward Adam’s secretary, Debra’s desk.  Per Adam’s instructions, Matt needed to get Maxximum’s travel agent’s number from Debra, then book himself a room at Chateau Fontaine for this weekend.  Adam had already arranged a suite for Jack Witherspoon at the Chateau--one of Long Island’s most exclusive resorts, built on the property of the Fontaine Winery--the perfect place to schmooze wine aficionado Jack.  Jack had even cleared his calendar for Monday, affording Matt an extra day to reel in his fish.  Between the winery, the five-star restaurant, wine tastings, cigar bar, spa, indoor pool, and luxurious rooms, Matt didn’t doubt for a minute that ARC would sign with Maxximum.
     When he arrived at Debra’s desk, the secretary was on a call.  She smiled, held up her index finger to indicate she’d only be a minute, then returned her attention to her computer screen.  Matt nodded and leaned his back against the white marble pillar near Debra’s desk.  A cheerful holiday song telling of a winter wonderland filtered softly from the recessed stereo speakers, and casting his gaze around, he noted blink of twinkling lights adorning the six-foot Christmas tree in the corner near the bank of windows, a colorful reminder that time was running short to complete his Christmas shopping.  He still needed to pick up a DVD player for his sister and brother-in-law and few stocking stuffers, but at least the Barbie Dream Mansion for his niece and the surprise he’d spent weeks planning for Mom and Dad were done deals.  God knows his parents deserved something special after what they’d recently weathered.  Mom’s test results were expected this weekend--hopefully the news would be good and the dark cloud of worry that had hung over the entire family for these past weeks would disappear.  He refused to consider any other alternative.  Yup, this was going to be a great Christmas.  Certainly better than last year...
     “Sorry to keep you waiting.” Debra’s voice pulled him from his reverie.  Her blue-eyed gaze glided over him in a slow, top to bottom ogle--an ogle he pretended not to notice.  Probably he should have been flattered by her obvious interest, but in spite of the fact that Debra was attractive and smart, she didn’t kindle the least reaction in him, which was just as well.  Even if her flirtations had set him on fire, he’d squash any budding desire like a pesky insect.  He’d learned the hard way not to fish off the company pier, and it was a lesson he had no intention of suffering through again.
     “What can I do for you, Matt?”  She pursed her full lips and gave him a look that clearly indicated she’d be happy to do anything he wanted.
     He offered her an easy smile, making sure he was merely polite and not overly friendly.  “I need the number for the corporate travel agent.”
     “Sure.”  She flipped through her Rolodex, copied the information onto a sticky note, then handed it to him.  “Several of us are going to Little Italy for dinner at Carmine’s after work tonight,” she said in a suggestive murmur that made it sound more like they were going to a porno flick.  “Would you like to...come?”
     Oh boy.  Keeping his expression bland, he shook his head.  “Thanks, but I already have plans.”
     “A date?”
 Probably he should say yes--with my fiancée and put an end to her interest, but he no longer had a fiancée, and he didn’t like to lie.  About anything.  After having been the victim of painful lies, he hated being lied to--and that being the case, his conscience balked at telling untruths.  Besides, his dad had always told him if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
     “Thanks to a deadline, a date with my computer, working up some new ideas,” he said.
     She waggled a glossy-nailed finger at him.  “You know what they say about all work and no play, Matt.”
     “Yup.  That’s me.  A dull boy.  Burning the midnight oil.”  Which was the gospel truth.  Since today was Thursday, and he’d be leaving for Chateau Fontaine after work tomorrow, that didn’t leave him much time to gather his thoughts and pull together a knock-out presentation.  He’d probably be pulling an all-nighter.  Not that he had anything better to do.  Ever since his breakup with Tricia last Christmas, his social life had flatlined.  But that was okay by him.  Work was a lot safer and helluva lot less trouble than women.
     A movement in his peripheral vision caught his eye and he turned, then barely suppressed a groan.  Speaking of trouble and women, Jillian Taylor, the worst of both those worlds was making her way down the hallway, heading in his direction.  As usual, her dark hair was pulled back into a severe, neat, reserved chignon.  In fact, everything about her screamed severe, neat and reserved.  Her hairstyle, her discreet makeup, her tailored suit.
     Today she wore brown pinstripe, double-breasted, with slim pants and shoes that looked like high-heeled tassel loafers.  A “don’t mess with me” aura surrounded her like an inter-galactic force field.  Thanks to his experience with Tricia, he recognized Jilly’s type only too well--reserved exterior hiding cold, competitive, ambitious interior, and lookin’ out for numero uno.  From his first day Maxximum, he’d realized she could mess him up the same way Tricia had, and he’d therefore pegged Jilly Taylor as the one to beat.  Public enemy number one.
     Even though he firmly kept himself out of the office gossip loop, he wasn’t deaf, and on several occasions in the break room he’d heard male co-workers refer to Jilly as the Freeze Queen--a full rank up from the mere Ice Princess he’d mentally dubbed her.  The few times he’d found himself wondering if her office nickname was directed at something more personal than her aloof demeanor, he’d banished the thought to the Siberia of his subconscious.  Sure, she didn’t exude warm fuzzies, but who needed that?  Not him.  Been there, done that, have the scars from the knife in my back to prove it.
     An image of Tricia flashed through his mind--Tricia with her sultry blue eyes, come-hither smile, and promises of love.  Annoyed that he’d allowed his former fiancée to enter his thoughts at all, he firmly pushed aside the memory, relieved that it now only brought irritation rather than the gut-twisting sense of betrayal it once had.  But it was it was hard not to have thoughts of her sneak into his mind whenever Jilly Taylor was around, raising his “Danger Approaching!” radar, since Jilly and Tricia were so clearly cast from the same mold.  Oh, they didn’t look anything alike--Tricia was blond and petite and favored more feminine styles in contrast to Jilly’s dark coloring and tailored suits.  But they were both smart and talented--and very, very ambitious.  Just the sort of co-worker who should come with a warning sign tattooed on their forehead.
     He narrowed his eyes, watching Jilly pause to exchange a brief word with someone.  Then she walked toward him once again, her head down as she studied the papers she held.  Even from a distance, Matt could see that her lips were pursed in concentration, and that her brows were bunched in a frown.  She walked with a brisk, no-nonsense stride, her black, slim rectangular frame glasses perched on her nose.
     Yes, she was the epitome of professional competence, and as much as he hated to admit it, she was immensely talented.  She’d started working at the agency the year before him, and they were both on the fast track to promotion.  But after I land ARC, you’ll be left in the dust, Jilly.
     Something that felt suspiciously like his conscience pricked him, but he firmly swatted the feeling aside.  It was every man for himself in this business.
     As Jillian neared Debra’s desk, she glanced up from her papers.  Her gaze riveted on him, and her steps slowed.  Her expression remained coolly professional, but he’d caught that flash in her eyes, the one clearly indicating she wasn’t thrilled to see him.  He bit back a smile at that slight ruffling of her always-in-place feathers.  Some perverse part of him enjoyed rocking her boat and engaging in their verbal sparrings.  What it would take to really break through that professional veneer and get her fired up and out of sorts?
     He’d expected her to march right on by, but she surprised him by stopping.  Matt inhaled and caught a whiff of the elusive scent he’d noticed the first time he’d sat next to her in the conference room.  As always, Jillian Taylor smelled fresh and clean--like clothes that had dried outdoors in the spring sunshine.  Since it was winter, it couldn’t be her clothing that smelled that way.  Must be something they used at her dry cleaners.  Either that or the Ice Princess had discovered a fragrance called Clean Laundry.
     “Debra, Matt,” she murmured in a voice that somehow managed to sound both smooth and a bit just-got-out-of-bed husky.  She looked at him over the top edge of her glasses.  “Nice job with the Heavenly Chocolate account.  Very clever, fresh, and hip.”
     He searched for a sign of insincerity in her expression or voice, but found none.  Man, she was good.  “Thank you.  It was a ‘sweet’ deal.”
     Her lips didn’t so much as twitch.  “Of course, I would have given you a run for your money if I hadn’t been laid low with the flu.”
     “I know you would have.  But I still would have been the one to bring in the account.”
     “I’m sure you like to tell yourself that.”
     He smiled.  “Well, I’m glad you’re feeling better.”
     She smiled back.  “I’m sure you like to tell yourself that as well.  How are you doing on the Fabulous Feline Food account?”
     “Fantastic.  But you know me--I’m a creative magnet.  I’m like catnip.”
     “Hmmm.  I think I feel a hairball coming up.”  She turned to Debra, effectively dismissing him as if she were the Queen of England and he a lowly footman.  “Is Adam in?”
     Debra nodded.  “He’s expecting you.”
     With a nod at both of them, she strode down the corridor, then knocked on Adam’s door.  Seconds later she disappeared into the office, closing the door behind her.
     Matt’s competitive and suspicious instincts kicked into gear.  What sort of meeting were the two of them having?
     “Well, now I understand,” Debra said, pulling his attention back.
     He looked at her, and the speculation gleaming in her eyes triggered his male “uh oh” gland.  “Understand what?”
     “Why you haven’t picked up on any of the signals I’ve sent your way.  Your receptors are all clogged up.”  Her gaze shifted pointedly toward the door where Jilly had just disappeared.  “I saw those sparks between you.”
     An incredulous laugh escaped him.  “You couldn’t be more wrong.”
     She hiked a skeptical brow.  “I know sparks when I see them.”
     “Well, if you saw sparks, they definitely weren’t those kind of sparks.  More like sparks of annoyance.”
     “Doesn’t matter,” Debra said, with a knowing gleam in her eye.  “Any kind of sparks can start a fire.”

I hope that whets your appetite!

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Reviews

 

Robin Peek Writers Unlimited Reviewer

Wonderful characters who can laugh and love together…

What happens when you pit two competitive people against each other to close a high dollar deal? You get explosive passion, desire and a whole lot of fun. A Sure Thing? by Jacquie D’Alessandro is perfect for the Harlequin Temptation line. Ms. D’Alessandro certainly knows how to capture this reader’s attention with her book, A Sure Thing?. I just love it when the hero and heroine are rivals and think they hate each other, but realize their feelings aren’t hate at all. Matt and Jilly are wonderful characters who can laugh and love together and yet still keep a reader interested. I enjoyed reading A Sure Thing? and look forward to reading more from this author.    


 Cathy Sova - The Romance Reader

…light, breezy, and entertaining. Jacquie D’Alessandro’s trademark snappy dialogue is here in force.


Catherine Witmer – Romantic Times Magazine

Jacquie D'Alessandro's A SURE THING? puts a brand-new spin on a popular plot, with an entertaining and engaging result.

 

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I do not normally write letters to authors since I read three or four books a month from the Harlequin Temptation series, however, I make time to write authors that really make me fall in love with the characters while I read and so far in two years i have written one author. I found Jilly and Matt's romance completely humorous and romantic. I completely loved the last night seen, and the proposal seen. I fell in love with Matt as well and if Jilly did not love him so and if he was real I would steal him away. I look forward to your books because this is the type of books I love, the humor, the reality, the romance. Thank you, because I loved reading the novel, I got lost in the story and forget my surroundings at times. I really enjoyed this novel because it gave the man's point of view and not many authors do that and I am very pleased that you did that. It gave me an idea of what goes on their head, since in reality it is almost impossible to describe.  Thank you again.


Hi, I just finished reading your book A Sure Thing and I loved it. It was very good and very sexy. I also loved Matt and Jilly. Thanks, Heather 

Love your books!!!!


Your books are so interesting they are very hard to put the book down and continue the daily chores . Wish you all the best in more books to come forth..Good work ,love the reading.


Just wanted to thank you for the hours of entertainment your books have brought me...I love the romance and the adventure, but especially the humor and humility of your characters. 


I loved reading A Sure Thing? I'll definitely miss The Wrong Bed series when Temptation stops publishing.


At the Dallas convention I got "A Sure Thing" as I had all the rest of yours. And now the newest "Love & the Single Heiress" are just so good. Now I've gotten my sister and sister-in-laws to reading you also. They are that good. Thanks for becoming a writer.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write to me.
I love hearing from Readers!

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Awards

Maggie Award of Excellence Finalist

 

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